Published September 18, 2012
| Sports Network
Atlanta, GA – Matt Ryan threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns as the Atlanta Falcons withstood a fourth-quarter rally by the Denver Broncos to take a 27-21 victory on Monday.
Ryan completed 24-of-36 passes and improved to 27-4 in regular-season games at the Georgia Dome in his career.
Roddy White led all receivers with eight catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, while Tony Gonzalez hauled in seven passes for 70 yards and a score for the Falcons (2-0).
"It's only two games. We got a long season so we just got to take the win and improve," Gonzalez said.
Michael Turner rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, including a 15-yard gain late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Peyton Manning went 24-of-37 through the air for 241 yards and a touchdown, but could not overcome three first-quarter interceptions for Denver (1-1).
Willis McGahee carried the ball 22 times for 113 yards and two scores in the defeat.
The Broncos entered the fourth quarter trailing, 27-7, but quickly cut into their deficit when McGahee powered across the goal line from two yards out with 11:48 remaining in the game.
Denver would later get the ball back at the Atlanta 45-yard line after the Falcons were forced to punt from inside their own end zone, and Manning found Eric Decker for an 18-yard gain on the first play to move the ball deep into Atlanta territory.
After converting a 3rd-and-1 at the 18-yard line with a 3-yard run by McGahee, the running back converted a 4th-and-goal at the 2-yard line with a rush into the end zone to bring Denver within 27-21 with 3:25 left.
However, the Broncos would not see the ball again as Ryan converted a 3rd- and-5 with a 6-yard pass to Julio Jones on a crossing route over the middle just before the two-minute warning.
Two plays later, Turner reeled off a 15-yard gain to the right side to burn the Broncos' final time out, allowing Ryan to kneel the ball twice to kill off the remainder of the clock.
"I felt like had we gotten the ball back, I thought we had a chance to go down there and score," manning said. "We certainly had a little momentum going our way and Atlanta did a good job of converting on that third down there in the end."
Denver received the ball first, but William Moore intercepted Manning on the third play of the drive and returned it 33 yards down the Broncos 1-yard line.
On 3rd-and-goal, Turner rushed up the middle and leaped over the pile for a touchdown.
Manning suffered the same fate as the first drive on the Broncos' next touch, as Thomas DeCoud stepped in front of a deep pass over the middle and took the ball to the Denver 43.
The Falcons, though, were forced to settle for Matt Bryant's 37-yard field goal after Jones failed to hang on to a pass on the left side of the end zone to make it 10-0, just over five minutes into the game.
The Broncos seemed to find their offensive rhythm on the ensuing possession, marching across midfield to the Atlanta 40-yard line, but Robert McClain recorded Manning's third interception of the first quarter on a deep pass attempt and returned it 32 yards to the Falcons 47.
Denver later suffered its fourth turnover of the first quarter following a series of punts when Stephen Nicholas punched the ball away from backup running back Knowshon Moreno, giving the Falcons the ball at their own 17- yard line.
Bryant was true on a 42-yard field goal at the end of an 11-play drive that stretched into the second quarter for a 13-0 advantage.
"A great job by our defense turning the football over. Three picks early, that's huge," said Ryan. "We need to do a better job offensively scoring touchdowns off those turnovers."
After a Broncos' punt, Ryan connected on passes of 16 and 15 yards to White and Gonzalez, respectively, before finishing off a 7-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez with less than five minutes left in the half.
Denver was able to get on the board on the ensuing drive as a defensive holding penalty on Atlanta on a 4th-and-1 at the Falcons 43-yard line kept the drive alive, and Demaryius Thomas capped the 13-play, 80-yard march with a 17- yard catch on the left side of the end zone.
The play was initially called an incomplete pass, but a review showed Thomas was able to sweep his second foot against the turf before getting pushed out of bounds, bringing the Broncos within 20-7 at the break.
"We put ourselves in a hole. I thought we could find a little momentum there and find some rhythm, which we did," said Manning. "I think we will learn from it and I think we'll be better for it."
The teams traded punts over the first two possessions of the second half until White highlighted a 6-play, 64-yard drive with catches of 21 and 20 yards before grabbing a 4-yard score on the left side of the end zone.
Ryan's touchdowns pass to White was the 100th of his career ... Jones finished with four receptions for 14 yards ... Thomas had eight catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, while Decker contributed four receptions for 53 yards ... Denver leads the all-time series between the teams, 8-5 ... The Broncos recorded 336 yards of total offense, compared to 275 for Atlanta.