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Week 1 NFL Grades: Falcons QB Matt Ryan shreds Saints defense

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

The person responsible for updating the Falcons record book is going to have a few changes to make this week thanks to Matt Ryan.

Ryan threw for a franchise-record 448 yards as the Falcons topped the Saints in overtime, 37-34. Ryan also threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions, marking the 12th time in his career that he's thrown three or more touchdown passes along with no interceptions.

Atlanta's record in those games? 12-0. So maybe Ryan should just plan to do that every week, all season.

The three touchdown passes gave Ryan 156 for his career, moving him to No. 1 on the Falcons' all-time list, ahead of Steve Bartkowski, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, who threw 154 during his 11-year Falcons career.

Coming off a disastrous 4-12 season where almost everything went wrong for Ryan and the Falcons, the opposite happened in Atlanta's regular season opener and almost everything went right.

Matt Ryan played what might have been the best game of his career.
Matt Ryan plays what might have been the best game of his career in Week 1. (USATSI)

Ryan's performance was even more impressive because he did it against a Saints defense that ranked fourth in the NFL last season, including No. 2 against the pass. Ryan's 31-for-43 showing was good news for everyone except for the Saints defense and this guy.

Overall, the Falcons put up 568 total yards on the Saints, the second-highest total that New Orleans has ever given up in franchise history. That's a franchise history that dates back to 1967 and there are some years in there -- like every year until 1987 -- where the Saints were really bad.

Ryan was the catalyst for everything the Falcons did on offense. The 29-year-old quarterback even scrambled for 15 yards in the game, which is about 19 yards more than he ever scrambles for.

The Falcons quarterback got everyone involved, hitting nine different receivers with his 31 completions. The Falcons had five receivers finish with over 50 yards and four receivers who caught at least five passes.

After the game, Ryan should've said something like, "That's the worst defense I've ever seen," but he didn't, he spoke like a guy who played on a 4-12 team last season. "It's a good start," Ryan said. "But it's a long season."

The lesson the Falcons probably learned Sunday? Maybe they should be on Hard Knocks every season.

TeamGradeAnalysis
Cardinals 18, Chargers 17
B-The Chargers went on the road and lost by one point to a team that went 10-6 last season, so you can't punish them too much for that. However, you can punish the Chargers defense for letting Carson Palmer throw for 80 yards AND 2 TDs in the fourth quarter. Also, you can punish Philip Rivers for letting a shotgun snap go through his hands in the fourth quarter, a blunder that cost San Diego a chance at three points.
A-If Carson Palmer was supposed to be the main thing holding the Cardinals back from success this season, then Arizona might be a surprise. Palmer looked impressive, which feels weird to type. The Cardinals QB threw passes to 11 different receivers and led a 91-yard fourth quarter TD drive that led to the game-winning points.
Lions 35, Giants 14
FThe Giants offense looked bad during the preseason and somehow, it managed to look worse on Monday. Oh, and the defense didn't look much better. The only redeeming factor for New York is that Eli Manning only threw 2 interceptions. And yes, we're at the point where Eli only throwing two interceptions counts as good news for the Giants.
BIt would be easy to give the Lions an 'A,' but they played the Giants, so we don't really know how good they are. What we do know though is that Calvin Johnson is unstoppable. Megatron had more receiving yards (164) than Eli Manning had passing yards (163).
Broncos 31, Colts 24
B-The Colts' strategy of 'throw on every down' in the second half almost worked, but the 24-7 halftime deficit they dug for themselves was too big. The problems in the first half? The defense had no answers for Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck had no protection.
B+Peyton Manning probably would have liked to beat the Colts by seven touchdowns, and it looked like he was trying to in the first half. The only knock on Denver is that the Broncos took their foot off the offensive gas in the second half and let Indy back in the game.
Seahawks 36, Packers 16
A+Dominant start to the defense of Seattle's title, just an old-fashioned dismantling of the Packers on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks offense is improved, clearly, and the defense is going to be as good or close to as good as it was last year, especially at home.
DLosing Bryan Bulaga early and dealing with a rookie center made it tough for the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, who finished with mediocre numbers despite a little garbage time action. Green Bay will be fine, but the defensive questions are still there for sure.
Falcons 37, Saints 34 OT
B-The Saints offense doesn't look like it's lost a step, but the defense, well, that was a historically bad performance on Sunday. The 568 yards were the second-most yards the Saints have ever given up, trailing only the 605 the Vikings put up on New Orleans in 2004.
AThe Falcons put up 568 total yards on a Saints defense that gave up more than 440 yards exactly zero times last season. In the battle of who gets to keep their last name, Matt Ryan picked apart Rob Ryan's defense throwing for 448 yards and three touchdowns.
Vikings 34, Rams 6
B+The Vikings might finally have someone who can compliment Adrian Peterson on offense and that person is Cordarrelle Patterson. The 2013 first-round pick touched ball six times against St. Louis and totaled 128 yards and a touchdown.
DWe knew the Rams offense was going to be bad because no offense can be good with Shaun Hill or Austin Davis at QB, but we didn't think the Rams defense would be bad enough to give up 27 points to Minnesota (The Vikings defense scored the other 7). Yikes.
Steelers 30, Browns 27
BThe Browns were supposed to be bad this year and for the first half they were. But then Brian Hoyer led the Browns on a wild comeback to tie things up at 27. Hoyer played just well enough that fans in Cleveland might hold off the "start Manziel" talk for another week.
BHopefully Ben Roethlisberger has a good chiropractor because he might be carrying this team all year. Big Ben threw for 365 yards and a touchdown -- and more importantly, he orchestrated a 33-yard game-winning drive that kept the game from going to OT and saved the Steelers from what would have been a very, very embarrassing loss.
Eagles 34, Jaguars 17
C+For one half, the Jaguars looked like the best team in NFL history. Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes to rookie Allen Hurns as the Jaguars jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead. But then the second half happened.
B-It's tough to grade the Eagles on this game because they were supposed to crush the Jaguars -- and they did -- but they did it in a way that makes you want to dump Nick Foles from all 8 fantasy leagues you're in. Foles turned the ball over three times in an ugly first half.
Jets 19, Raiders 14
C+The Raiders started a rookie quarterback in an east coast game that kicked off at 10 a.m. PT. A 19-14 loss is arguably a moral victory.
BGeno Smith might not be the answer at quarterback in New York, but it doesn't matter if the Jets run the ball like they did against Oakland. The Jets totaled 212 yards on the ground, with Chris Johnson (68) and Chris Ivory (102) both going over 65.
Bengals 23, Ravens 16
B+The Bengals gave Andy Dalton the big money to win them games and that's what he did, throwing for 301 yards, including a 77-yard fourth quarter TD pass to A.J. Green that won the game. Bad news for Bengals: Geno Atkins was carted off the field at game's end.
DJoe Flacco threw the ball 62 times. Joe Flacco should never throw the ball 62 times.
Bills 23, Bears 20 OT
B+Coach Doug Marrone was so worried that EJ Manuel would be bad that Buffalo brought Kyle Orton in. KYLE ORTON. Manuel responded with an efficient game against Chicago, going 16 of 22 for 173 yards and a TD. The beleaguered QB also ran for a TD.
CJay Cutler did exactly what everyone expects from Jay Cutler at this point: He looked sharp for most of the game, but made a few pivotal turnovers. Cutler threw two picks against Buffalo, including one that setup a Bills second quarter touchdown.
Texans 17, Redskins 6
C-If you had high-hopes for the Redskins offense, then Sunday's game wasn't horrible. RG3 looked decent and threw passes to eight different receivers. What RG3 didn't do though was score points and that's kind of important in the NFL.
B+It wasn't a pretty win for the Texans, but when you haven't won since Sept. 15, 2013, wins don't have to be pretty. The Texans won the game with defense and special teams, which is something we might start seeing regularly with them this year.
Titans 26, Chiefs 10
A-This game really couldn't have gone much better for the Titans: Jake Locker threw two touchdown passes. Kendall Wright proved he has what it takes to be a No. 1 WR and the Titans completely shutdown Jamaal Charles (11 touches, 34 yards)
D-This game really couldn't have gone any worse for the Chiefs: Alex Smith looked bad (three INTs). They lost LB Derrick Johnson to a season-ending injury and their former kicker, Ryan Succop, scored more points (14) than the Chiefs did (10).
Dolphins 33, Patriots 20
C-Tom Brady was 2 for 18 on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield against Miami. Brady struggled with accuracy in 2013 and if he continues to struggle in 2014, the Patriots could be in for a long season in a what looks to be an improved AFC East.
A-If this grade was for the second half only, the Dolphins would have gotten an A+. Miami's defense shut the Patriots down in the second half, holding New England to zero points. The Dolphins offense? It scored on the first three possessions of the second half.
Panthers 20, Buccaneers 14
B+I told myself before the game that Carolina automatically gets a B+ if Derek Anderson starts and the Panthers win. Anderson didn't really make any mistakes, which is a good thing in Carolina because when the offense doesn't make any mistakes, the defense can carry them to a win.
DJosh McCown proved on Sunday that he's probably not the answer in Tampa Bay (22 of 35, 183 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs). Well, he might be the answer if the question is 'Name someone who's not going to lead Tampa Bay to the playoffs this year.'
49ers 28, Cowboys 17
BBy the time the 49ers ran their fourth offensive play on Sunday, they were already up 21-3 thanks to four Cowboys turnover. Were the 49ers good? Or was Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense horrible? I'll say a little of both and give the 49ers a B.
DDallas is called 'The Big D,' so it makes sense to give them 'The Big D,' and surprisingly, 'The Big D' wasn't the problem in Dallas. The Cowboys defense actually looked decent considering the position they were put in most of the day. Tony Romo threw three interceptions and the Cowboys turned the ball over four times in the first half, leading directly to two San Francisco touchdowns.

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