NFL essentials from Sunday: Atlanta Falcons flying high

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones put on an incredible performance Sunday afternoon, highlighting a day with some impressive quarterbacking.

Ben Roethlisberger’s five-touchdown performance on Sunday night was quite a show, but Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons flew higher on Sunday afternoon.

While Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns in a Pittsburgh Steelers 43-14 blowout win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Ryan threw for 503 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-33 win, the 19th time an NFL quarterback has passed for 500 yards in a game.

WR Julio Jones was the main man, hauling in almost 60 percent of those yards from Ryan. Jones had 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown in the win over the NFC South rival Carolina Panthers, becoming only the sixth player in NFL history to record at least 300 receiving yards in a game.

Together, Ryan and Jones combined to make the Falcons the first team in NFL history with a 500-yard passer and 300-yard receiver in the same game, and their yardage marks are both franchise records for their positions in a single game.

But, per usual, Sunday created more quarterback-driven headlines in the NFL. Ryan wasn’t the only one to throw four touchdowns.

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr had four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 28-27 win over the previously undefeated Baltimore Ravens. Carr, who also had four TDs and no interceptions on Nov. 1, 2015, became the first Raiders quarterback to do that in back-to-back seasons since Rich Gannon in 1999 and 2000.

Russell Wilson, whose status was in doubt last week because of injury, threw three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 27-17 Seattle Seahawks win, giving Wilson 25 games with multiple touchdowns and no interceptions, the most by an NFL player in his first five seasons to begin a career.

Even the young quarterbacks were getting into the act. Dallas Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott continued his impressive start to a career by completing 23 of 32 passes (71.9 percent) for 245 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Cowboys’ 24-17 win. Prescott hasn’t thrown an interception yet – a timeline that spans four games and 131 pass attempts, the most attempts by a rookie without an interception to begin a career. Prescott’s 131 pass attempts are also the most by a player who did not throw an interception in his first four career games.

Philadelphia Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz, who was on bye in Week 4, could still match or surpass that. Wentz hasn’t thrown an interception in his first 102 pass attempts in three games.

Brian Hoyer’s fill-in duty for Jay Cutler with the Chicago Bears didn’t produce massive touchdown numbers, but Hoyer completed 78 percent of his 36 attempts for 302 yards, the second-highest single-game completion percentage by a Bears quarterback who threw for at least 300 yards (Vince Evans, 82 percent), according to Elias Sports Bureau.


  • With so many good quarterbacking performances on Sunday, it makes sense that receivers in addition to Jones would be making their mark. Michael Crabtree was the recipient of three Carr touchdown passes to become the first Raiders receiver to have three touchdowns in a game since Joey Porter in 2004.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson caught a Blake Bortles touchdowns in a 30-27 win, giving him 17 touchdown catches since the start of the 2015 season, the most in the NFL in that span.
  • Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed had nine catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-20 win over Cleveland, giving Reed 207 catches in his career and making him the fastest tight end in NFL history to 200 catches, doing it in 38 games.
  • Houston Texans rookie Will Fuller had a 5-yard touchdown catch and a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 27-20 win over Tennessee, making him the fourth rookie in the past 15 years to have both a touchdown catch and punt-return touchdown in the same game, joining Tavon Austin (2013), T.Y. Hilton (2012) and Dez Bryant (2010).
  • It wasn’t all good for quarterbacks. According to Elias, Andrew Luck’s 14-game streak of division wins with the Indianapolis Colts came to an end with the loss to the Jaguars in London, ending what was tied for the second-longest division winning streak for a quarterback since the 1970 merger (Jim McMahon, 19 games from 1983-97; and Peyton Manning, 14 games from 2010-2013).
  • Comebacks led to rare franchise feats, according to Elias. The New Orleans Saints recorded a franchise first when they scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes to beat the Chargers, 35-34, the first time in Saints history they won a game after trailing by at least 13 points more than one minute into the fourth quarter.
  • The Washington Redskins made another fourth-quarterback comeback, giving them their first back-to-back wins after trailing in the fourth quarter since December 2012.
  • Colts RB Frank Gore moved into 10th place for career rushing yards in NFL history. He had 68 yards rushing against the Jaguars, giving him 12,293 for his career, passing Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk in one day.


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