Matt Ryan passes Falcons past Saints in shootout

Matt Ryan passed for a franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a 37-34 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints in Sunday's season opener. Our takeaways:

NFL Replay


Relive the Atlanta Falcons' thrilling 37-34 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

  1. If he stays healthy, Ryan is a strong bet for his first career 5,000-yard season. The Falcons' defense is weak enough that the offense will be involved in shootouts. Julio Jones and Roddy White look fantastic after injuries ravaged their 2013 seasons. Devin Hester had a major impact, with five catches and 99 yards -- two yards shy of his career high. Atlanta is going to run a lot of four-wide receiver sets.
  1. Four Falcons running backs combined for 181 yards from scrimmage. This a true committee attack, as Steven Jackson led the way with 13 touches. Rookie Devonta Freeman picked up a huge first down in the red zone that led to one touchdown. His role is going to have to increase as the season goes along.
  1. Playmaking rookie Brandin Cooks is going to be featured in the Saints' offense. Entering halftime of his first game, Cooks led the team with six catches, 86 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Coach Sean Payton even aligned him in the backfield on occasion, similar to the Seahawks' deployment of Percy Harvin.
  1. Mark Ingram's preseason success carried over to the regular season. He took over in a strong second half, powering into the end zone for a pair of touchdowns, including a go-ahead score with a minute left in the fourth quarter. Sunday's usage suggests Ingram is the lead back, Khiry Robinson is a dangerous change-of-pace option and Pierre Thomas is a passing-down specialist.
  1. If the Saints have a weakness, it's at cornerback. By the start of the fourth quarter, Ryan already had a better stat line than any quarterback that faced Rob Ryan's defense in 2013.
  1. Left tackle Jake Matthews never returned after leaving with an ankle injury just before halftime. With veteran Sam Baker already out for the season, Atlanta can ill-afford an extended absence from their top rookie.
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