|Atlanta QB Matt Ryan spread the ball out to seven different Falcons and had a 136.4 passer rating in his team's season-opening win on Sunday. (US Presswire)|
No Tamba Hali pass rush. No Brandon Flowers coverage. No chance for the Chiefs.
Ryan threw for 299 yards, three touchdowns and also ran for a TD against Kansas City's injury-riddled defense in Atlanta's 40-24 win.
"Matt has played some really good games for us in his four years here," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "That might be the best game that's he's played."
The Chiefs had four defensive starters out, including two in the secondary. Flowers was replaced by third-string CB Jacques Reeves, who hadn't played a regular-season down since 2009. Atlanta's offense hummed all day. The Falcons scored on their first eight possessions and did not have to punt until late in the fourth quarter.
Matt Cassel nearly kept pace until Ryan Succop missed a 40-yard field goal that would have tied the game at 20, and the Chiefs turned the ball over on their next three possessions as the Falcons stretched their lead to 23.
When the game turned: The Chiefs had matched the Falcons score for score until Succop's missed field goal. On Kansas City's next possession, DE John Abraham came around the corner to force Cassel to fumble, and former Chief Tony Gonzalez rubbed it in on the next play with a touchdown, which he celebrated with his patented dunk over the cross bar to a chorus of boos.
Highlight moments: Pick your Ryan touchdown. All were easy pitch and catches except for the 7-yard TD toss to Gonzalez, who was well-covered on the play. Ryan put the ball where only Gonzalez could catch it.
Top-shelf performances: Second-year WR Julio Jones found holes throughout Kansas City's secondary to catch six passes on nine targets for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Jones showed his ability to run after the catch on his second TD catch. He ran through several arm tackles on his way to the end zone.
What the Chiefs said about their battered defense:
- Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson, who played with a hurt ankle -- "It's not that hard. You know you're missing guys, but when we go out there, there's not a big sign up saying, 'We're missing this guy' or everybody's feeling sorry for us. The offense doesn't care one bit about that."
- Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel -- "The fact that they weren't there today, really, no one cares. All they want to know is did you win or did you lose, and we lost today. So we've got to try to do what we can to win the next one."
- Chiefs DT Glenn Dorsey -- "We just need to keep playing. When it is time for us to do our job, everybody has to do their job. It is a good team that we played against today; we made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized on them. We just can't make mistakes -- we have to correct them and come back next week."
- Cassel -- "There's going to be days like that where the defense plays lights out and we're off, and they need to pick us up. And then there will be days like today where we're trying to pick them up in the first half, and we've got to do a better job in the second half."
Numbers you should know: The Falcons were 7-1 last season when they won the turnover battle. They repeated that formula against Kansas City, forcing three turnovers and not giving it away once, which was the deciding factor in the second half.
Injury update: Atlanta CB Brent Grimes left the game with a calf injury and did not return.
Going forward: Chiefs -- Maybe what the Chiefs secondary needs to face is a struggling quarterback. That's what they'll get next week in Buffalo against Ryan Fitzgerald, who threw three interceptions Sunday in a 48-28 loss to the Jets. The Chiefs will also get back Hali and possibly Flowers. … Falcons -- Atlanta gets to go against the AFC West for two more weeks with next week's home opener against Denver and then a trip to San Diego. Cassel had a great first half against Atlanta -- he was 10 of 12 for 123 yards at halftime -- and the defense will need to step up against Denver QB Peyton Manning.