The Falcons’ offense shredded the Redskins defense with running back Tevin Coleman leading the way. The Falcons’ injury-ravaged defense would not let Redskins quarterback Alex Smith beat them with check-down passes after being handed a 21-point lead to protect.
The Redskins, where in first place in the NFC East, dropped to 5-3.
Here are the five things we learned from the victory:
1. Ryan and Coleman lead the way: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed 26 of 38 passes for 350 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He finished with a passer rating of 121.6. Coleman had 18 touches for 156 total yards and two touchdowns.
Ito Smith added 60 yards rushing on 10 carries and a 12-yard touchdown run.
Ryan came out hot and helped the Falcons build a 14-0 lead. He connected with Coleman for a 39-yard touchdown on screen pass to start the scoring.
On the Falcons’ second possession, Ryan threw a rare interception. Ryan had gone 213 pass attempts without being picked off. Washington cornerback Quinton Dunbar intercepted the pass intended for wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the first quarter on his 13th attempt of this game. He was last intercepted in Week 2 by the Panthers’ Donte Jackson.
Smith’s touchdown run on the Falcons’ third possession made it 14-0.
“Ito’s run for a touchdown was awesome,” Ryan said. “It was impressive. I was able to kind of watch it from behind and I didn’t think he was scoring at first and then he just kept going. It was cool to watch.”
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who had
gone 12 regular season games without catching a touchdown pass, caught a 35-yard touchdown pass with just under four minutes to play to end his scoring drought. He dragged Redskins safety Ha Ha Clinton into the end zone.
“I just can’t let one man take me down in that situation,” Jones said.
Jones’ last touchdown catch was in the 26-13 win over the Rams in the wild card round of the playoffs on Jan. 6.
He last regular-season touchdown catch was against the Buccaneers in a 34-20 win on Nov. 26, 2017. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ryan. Earlier in the game, he caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
2. Ridley's big touchdown: After the Redskins closed to within 14-7, the Falcons answered with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Ridley with 36 seconds left in the second quarter.
The touchdown put the Falcons up 21-7 and was important because they received the ball to start the second half. The Falcons won the coin toss and deferred until the third quarter.
The Falcons came out and scored a touchdown on the first possession of the second half to take a 28-7 lead. Ryan connected with Coleman on a 10-yard touchdown pass, his third of the game.
Ridley later left the game to be examined for a concussion. He was cleared and returned to action.
“It was huge,” Ryan said of Ridley’s touchdown. “Points before the half have such an impact on wins and losses. For Calvin to be able to create the explosive and come out of the back end (of the offense) was awesome for us.
“To turn around and get the ball at the beginning of the second half, that game goes from a seven-point game to (21 points). ... That’s tough on a team and to do that on the road is fantastic.”
3. Peterson held in check: Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, who was coming off this third 100-yard rushing game of the season, was held to 17 yards on nine carries.
“Just being physical up front and guys making good tackles and being gap sound,” defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said about the keys to stopping Peterson.
The Falcons got an early lead and the Redskins could not lean heavily on Peterson. The Falcons swarmed to the ball and maintained good outside containment on Peterson.
Also, Jarrett was a disruptive force inside. He continued to flush Smith outside and he was ready inside when Peterson didn’t have anywhere to run inside.
Coleman was the best player wearing No. 26 in this game. He rushed for 88 yards on 13 carries and caught five passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
The defense gave up 366 total yards, but the Redskins got 43 yards after Ridley’s touchdown with 36 seconds in the second quarter and 72 after Giorgio Tavecchio’s field goal in the fourth quarter.
Those were considered 115 empty yards and knocked the yards allowed down to 251.
4. Winning on third down: The Falcons offense converted of 8 of 8 on third downs to start the game. Punter Matt Bosher was not summoned into the game until 6:04 left in the third quarter.
The Falcons finished 10 of 13 on third down.
5. Offensive line woes: The Falcons took advantage of the Redskins' injury depleted offensive line.
Starting left tackle Trent Williams didn’t play. Left guard Shawn Lauvao (knee) and tackle Morgan Moses (knee) left the game. Moses returned, but right guard Brandon Scherff later went down.
Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley picked up backup tackle Geron Chrisitian Sr. and threw him to the ground.
The Redskins struggled as they had seven holding penalties and two of them were declined.
The Falcons finished with three sacks and five quarterback hits.
The Falcons defense has missed four starters in six of their eight games. The one-time reserves are starting to blend into the unit.
“With guys having more experience they are stating to play a lot better,” Jarrett said. “You can see it and it was exciting, too.”