Posted: Sunday, September 23rd 2012 at 7:29pm
Falcons impress on the road, down San DIego
By The Associated Press
SAN DIEGO -- Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons looked right at home in San Diego -- again.
Ryan threw touchdown passes to three different receivers and safety Thomas DeCoud had two interceptions and a fumble recovery for the Atlanta Falcons, who overwhelmed the San Diego Chargers 27-3 Sunday to remain undefeated.
The Falcons quickly turned a matchup of unbeaten teams into a one-sided fight. Not only did the Falcons (3-0) improve to 6-0 all-time in San Diego, but they've opened the season with three straight wins against AFC West teams.
Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes for 275 yards, with his first interception of the season, and a passer rating of 107.8. DeCoud's three takeaways, plus William Moore's fourth-quarter fumble recovery, extended the Falcons' NFL-high turnover differential to plus-10.
With Philip Rivers having one of his worst statistical performances, the Chargers dropped to 2-1. Rivers was 21 of 38 for 173 yards, with two picks and a QB rating of 45.2.
Ryan led two impressive drives in the first half as the Falcons took control. He threw touchdown passes of 8 yards to Jacquizz Rodgers, 7 to Tony Gonzalez and 9 to Julio Jones.
Ryan led a precise opening drive, moving the Falcons 80 yards without having a third down. He found Rodgers on an 8-yard scoring pass. The PAT failed due to a bad snap.
Ryan Mathews made his season debut for San Diego and looked good until fumbling inside the Falcons' 5-yard line on a hit by Sean Witherspoon, with DeCoud recovering at the Atlanta 4.
Ryan was sacked by Antwan Barnes at the Atlanta 1 on the drive's third play but was bailed out on a holding call against San Diego safety Atari Bigby, giving the Falcons a first down on the 14. The Falcons converted four more third downs on the drive before Ryan hit Gonzalez for a 7-yard score to make it 13-0. Fond of slamming the ball over the crossbar after scores, Gonzalez, a former college basketball player at Cal, stopped and popped a jump shot instead.
The Falcons got the ball back with 1:53 before halftime when DeCoud intercepted Rivers along the right sideline. The call originally was ruled an incomplete pass but overturned after a review, giving Atlanta the ball on the San Diego 29. Four plays later, Ryan threw a 9-yard TD pass to Julio Jones for a 20-0 lead.
Jones hurt a hand when hit by safety Eric Weddle at the end of a 19-yard reception on the game's first play from scrimmage. He returned in the second quarter.
DeCoud made a diving interception of a pass intended for Antonio Gates late in the third quarter. Rivers, flat on his back, put his hands on his head in disgust and briefly had words with coach Norv Turner on the sideline.
Ryan had Atlanta's first turnover of the season when he was intercepted by Antoine Cason at the goal line early in the fourth quarter.
Michael Turner, who was with the Chargers from 2004-07, scored on a 7-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. He was arrested on a DUI charge hours after the Falcons beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 27-21 on Monday night.
San Diego's Nate Kaeding kicked a 41-yard field in the third quarter.
Mathews had 10 carries for 44 yards.
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