Falcons fall to Chiefs in preseason action
By Paul Newberry
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — After a dismal showing in the first preseason game, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons found their offensive rhythm Friday.
Ryan guided the Falcons right down the field for a touchdown on their first possession, hooking up with Austin Hooper on a 4-yard scoring pass, and led another impressive drive before calling it a night in a 28-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Ryan finished 5 of 7 for 90 yards, looking very much like the quarterback who won the MVP during the 2016 season even though two of his top weapons, receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman, were held out for the second week in a row.
It was certainly an encouraging contrast to the preseason opener, when the Falcons (0-2) were blanked 17-0 by the New York Jets and Ryan played only one brief series.
With a resting Jones watching from the sideline, Calvin Ridley got a chance to shine for the Falcons. The first-round pick from Alabama hauled in the first touchdown of his professional career on a 7-yard pass from backup quarterback Matt Schaub.
Ridley finished with three receptions for 49 yards.
Kansas City’s new starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, had an up-and-down game. The second-year player was intercepted on a deep throw by Falcons safety Damontae Kazee , who drifted over from the middle of the field to pick a ball intended for Sammy Watkins.
Mahomes caught a break when another ill-advised throw into the end zone was dropped by Falcons cornerback Blidi Wren-Wilson, allowing the Chiefs to salvage a field goal.
But, with just 17 seconds left in the first half, Mahomes made the most of his final pass. Three Atlanta defensive backs inexplicably allowed Tyreek Hill to get behind them, and Mahomes delivered the pass in stride for a 69-yard touchdown .
Mahomes was 8 of 12 for 138 yards.
Chad Henne took over for Mahomes to begin the second half. He connected with Gehrig Dieter on a 27-yard touchdown that put the Chiefs (1-1) ahead for the first time, capping a 10-play, 76-yard drive.
Ben Niemann finished off the scoring with a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown after picking off a baffling throw by Atlanta’s third-string quarterback, undrafted rookie Kurt Benkert.
While many Atlanta fans were still backed up in security lines outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Ryan began his impressive showing by converting on third-and-11 with a 29-yard pass to Hooper.
Tevin Coleman, the other half of the Falcons’ dynamic 1-2 punch at running back, broke off a pair of 15-yard runs before Ryan rolled to his left and hit Hooper on the short scoring pass. The tight end showed impressive athleticism, hurtling into the end zone over cornerback Steven Nelson .
After the Chiefs went three-and-out, Ryan guided the Falcons deep into Kansas City territory once again. The big play was a 36-yard completion to Ridley , who beat David Amerson to haul in the pass.
On fourth-and-2 at the Chiefs 20, the Falcons passed on a field goal attempt, which was essentially irrelevant since 43-year-old kicker Matt Bryant skipped his second straight preseason game. Ryan’s pass for Ridley was broken up by Kendall Fuller, halting a seven-play, 69-yard drive.
Nelson was kneed in the head by Hooper on Atlanta’s first touchdown and staggered off the field. He was evaluated for a possible concussion.
Another Kansas City player, linebacker Terrance Smith, sustained an ankle injury.
The Chiefs also were missing star safety Eric Berry, who didn’t dress while he continues to nurse a sore heel.
Chiefs: Hit the road again to face the Chicago Bears on Aug. 25.
Falcons: Travel to Jacksonville that same day to face the Jaguars in a matchup between 2017 playoff teams.