DENVER — Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan led five scoring drives against the Broncos’ vaunted defense, and Denver’s offense struggled in the absence of injured quarterback Trevor Siemian as the Falcons won their fourth straight, beating the Broncos 23-16 Sunday.
Rookie Paxton Lynch, making his first career start with Siemian sidelined due to a left shoulder injury, completed 23 of 35 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. He threw one interception and was constantly harried by linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., who had 3 1/2 sacks.
Atlanta’s defense, which allowed an average of 31 points in four previous games, kept the Broncos out of the end zone until Demaryius Thomas caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Lynch with 2:38 remaining.
The Falcons (4-1) recovered Denver’s subsequent onside-kick attempt. Denver (4-1) got the ball back and little time to work but managed a third field goal from Brandon McManus, from 45 yards.
One more Broncos onside kick ended in the Falcons’ hands, and Ryan took a knee to run out the last few seconds.
McManus also kicked field goals of 35 and 45 yards for Denver, which had a nine-game winning streak dating to last season snapped.
Ryan threw for one touchdown, Devonta Freeman had a 1-yard touchdown run, and Matt Bryant finished three other Atlanta drives with field goals.
Up by 10 at the half, the Falcons stretched their lead to 20-3 on running back Tevin Coleman’s 31-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Safety Ricardo Allen got Atlanta’s drive going by intercepting Lynch.
The Falcons took a 13-3 halftime lead, putting Denver’s defense on its heels with a game-opening touchdown drive ending in Freeman’s short scoring run on fourth down. Coleman got the Falcons within striking distance, breaking free along the left sideline for a 49-yard reception to the 15-yard line.
Coleman finished with four receptions for 132 yards.
Denver’s defense recovered to twice stop Atlanta drives short of the end zone, leading to field goals of 46 and 33 yards by Bryant.
The Broncos, meanwhile struggled to find any rhythm offensively under Lynch.
Denver’s only score of the first half came on a 35-yard field goal by McManus after Lynch overthrew Emmanuel Sanders in the end zone on third down.
The field goal kept alive the Broncos’ scoring streak for a 378th consecutive game, the longest active streak in the league.
Ryan completed 125 of 28 passes for 267 yards. Freeman ran 23 times for 88 yards.
Sanders caught seven passes for 80 yards.
NOTES: Denver LB Von Miller sacked Atlanta QB Matt Ryan in the third quarter, the sixth consecutive game in which he was in on a sack. … Broncos TE John Phillips played in his 100th career regular-season game while starting for the third consecutive week in place of injured TE Virgil Green. … S Ricardo Allen recorded his first interception of the season and became the fourth different Falcons defender to snare a pick. … The Falcons have won three of their past four meetings with the Broncos.