With RG3 out, Ryan leads Falcons past Redskins

While Matt Ryan was on the field leading another late comeback,

Robert Griffin III was hidden from view, getting treatment for a

concussion that changed the game.

The Atlanta Falcons are off to the best start in franchise

history and are the only 5-0 team in the NFC, with Ryan blazing the

trail with consecutive come-from-behind, fourth-quarter wins.

The defense is chipping in as well, knocking the Washington

Redskins’ No. 2 overall draft pick from the game in the third

quarter Sunday in a 24-17 victory.

”This team’s got a whole different attitude about going out

there,” Atlanta receiver Roddy White said. ”And expecting to

win.”

A week after pulling out a two-point win over the Carolina

Panthers, Ryan and the offense didn’t have their usual fluid

passing game – they scored just seven points through three quarters

– but the early season MVP candidate cobbled together a trio of

scoring drives in the fourth.

Julio Jones dexterously got both feet inbounds for an 18-yard

catch just beyond the pylon. Matt Bryant stayed perfect on the year

with a 53-yard field goal. Michael Turner ran 13 yards for the

go-ahead score with 2:46 to play. The defense gave up a long

touchdown pass by Griffin’s replacement, Kirk Cousins, but redeemed

itself by intercepting the fourth-round draft pick twice in the

final two minutes.

But the play of the game was made by Sean Weatherspoon, who made

the hit that took Griffin out. Scrambling on third-and-goal,

Griffin fell forward near the sideline. His helmet slammed into

Weatherspoon’s upper body, an undisputed clean hit.

”It felt like a good play,” Weatherspoon said. ”I think it

gave us a little energy.”

Once he got to the sideline, Griffin didn’t know the score or

the quarter, according to coach Mike Shanahan. Team spokesman Tony

Wyllie said the Heisman Trophy winner was examined by an

independent neurologist before being sent home and will be

evaluated again Monday. Griffin also got a cut on his chin.

”I’m ok and I think after all the testing I will play next

week,” Griffin tweeted about three hours after the game.

It was an ironic wound for the Redskins (2-3), losers of eight

straight home games. There had been abundant concern that Griffin

was susceptible to injury when he was taking hard hits while

running option plays frequently in his first three games.

But Shanahan scaled back the option over the last two week.

Griffin didn’t have a designed run play Sunday. He ended up getting

hurt while on the run because he couldn’t find an open receiver –

something that every quarterback does.

”He usually does a great job extending the play and making a

play,” Shanahan said. ”And it’s unfortunate what happened.”

The Falcons owned the rest of the game, except for one

miscommunication on defense that allowed Cousins to find Santana

Moss for a 77-yard touchdown pass. Take away that play, and the

rookie from Michigan State threw for just 34 yards and two

interceptions.

”With Robert not being in there, definitely allowed them to

change up their scheme,” said Redskins running back Alfred Morris,

who ran 115 yards on 18 carries. ”They were flying downhill a lot

faster. It definitely affected our running game. Once he wasn’t in

anymore, they were just able to pin their ears back.”

Ryan finished with 34 completions on 52 attempts for 345 yards

with two touchdowns and one interception – a screen pass picked off

by Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and run back 28 yards for

the game’s first score. Ryan also fumbled away a snap, Atlanta’s

first lost fumble of the season.

Tony Gonzalez caught 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Jones had 10 receptions for 94 yards. White snagged four passes for

68 yards. Turner ran for 67 yards on 18 carries. Impressive numbers

– until you remember that Washington has one of the worst pass

defenses in the NFL.

Still, it was enough.

”I don’t know why you want to ask me any questions,” White

joked when he saw reporters at his locker. ”We stunk it up in

early in the game.”

Notes: Washington K Billy Cundiff – already on thin ice after

missing three field goals the previous week – was wide right from

31 yards in the second quarter. He made a 23-yarder on the play

after Griffin was injured. … Dunta Robinson and Thomas DeCoud had

the fourth-quarter interceptions for the Falcons. … Atlanta

injuries: RB Antone Smith (hamstring) and LB Stephen Nicholas

(ankle).

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