Tony Gonzalez left the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009 because he wanted to play for a team that could get him a Super Bowl ring. The Falcons showed that Gonzalez made the right choice coming to Atlanta as they trounced Gonzalez’s former team 40-24 in the 2012 season opener.
Offensively, Atlanta deserves an A for effort
Atlanta scored early and often. Matt Ryan’s first of two touchdown passes to Julio Jones was the first Sunday touchdown of the season. As a team, the Falcons scored on each of their first seven possessions. Ryan finished the game with 299 yards passing, four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and no turnovers.
Gonzalez enjoyed his return to his original NFL city. “It’s been like a homecoming for me,” Gonzalez said. “I just want all the fans to know, ‘I love you very much and thank you for letting this day be special.’” Gonzalez should probably be thanking the Falcons for making this day so special.
In addition to Jones’ two touchdown catches, Gonzalez was the recipient of Ryan’s third. When Gonzalez caught his TD pass, the ball squirted loose into the end zone. Ryan chased it down and gave it back to Gonzalez, who promptly dunked the ball over the goalpost, a celebration he did many times as a Kansas City Chief.
While the majority of the fans booed him for this one celebration, there still is a level of respect and love from the Chiefs Nation. “He’s such a great part of this organization,” Ryan said. “I think deep down in their hearts, Kansas City fans were happy to see that one more time.” Showing his sense of humor, Ryan did add “”Maybe not at the time. Maybe in retrospect.”
Kicker Matt Bryant deserves an A for his play
The first half of the game was closely contested. Thanks to their special teams, Atlanta went into halftime with a slim 20-17 lead. Kicker Matt Bryant deserves an A for his play, going 4 for 4 for the Falcons on field goals and gave the Falcons their permanent lead with 10 seconds left in the second quarter with a 21 yard chip shot field goal. Atlanta punter Matt Bosher was only needed one time, with his sole punt going for 52 yards.
In the third quarter, Ryan Succop missed an early field goal. That was all Atlanta needed to open the floodgates against Kansas City. Atlanta went on to score 20 straight points as they put the game out of reach.
Falcon’s defense brought their A game
The Falcon defense appeared to have been in a “bend but don’t break” style of play for the first half. In the second half, they definately brought their A game, forcing the Chiefs to commit three turnovers.
Jones may have led the Falcons with six receptions and 108 receiving yards, but he was far from the only passing threat for Ryan. Ryan completed passes to seven different receivers (including Jones) and ended up at the Falcon’s second-leading rusher of the game with 25 yards.
One of the possible reasons for the Falcon’s second-half dominance were the missing Chiefs defenders. Starting safety Kendrick Lewis, cornerback Brandon Flowers and defensive tackle Anthony Toribio were out of the lineup because of injuries. These men were three of the top five Kansas City tacklers last year.
Never one to make excuses, Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel did not cite their absence as the reason for his team’s loss. “The fact that they weren’t there, really no one cares,” said Crennel, “because all anyone wants to know is did you win or did you lose, and we lost today.”
The Chiefs travel to Buffalo for their week 2 matchup. For the Falcons, they get an extra day of practice (or rest, depending on their coaches mood) in preparation for their home opener against the Denver Broncos Monday night, September 17.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found onExaminer.com.