ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan took advantage of Denver’s thin secondary to throw three touchdown passes and the Atlanta Falcons turned back Denver’s bid for a second consecutive comeback to beat the Broncos 34-27 on Sunday.
Ryan completed 25 of 35 passes for 284 yards with one interception. Atlanta (3-6) improved to 3-1 under interim coach Raheem Morris.
Atlanta led Denver (3-5) 20-3 at halftime. Drew Lock, trying to lead another fourth-quarter comeback, threw two touchdown passes and ran for a 10-yard score in the final quarter that made it 34-27. With Atlanta leading by seven points, the Broncos took the ball at their 20 with 44 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Following three incompletions by Lock, a fumbled snap ended the possession.
One week after throwing three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead Denver to a 31-30 comeback win over the Chargers, Lock tried to spark another rally. With Atlanta leading 27-6, Lock threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Jerry Jeudy early in the fourth quarter, On Denver’s next possession, Lock was under pressure when he overthrew Jeudy and was intercepted by Ricardo Allen, who returned the ball 20 yards to the Denver 12.
Two plays later, Todd Gurley’s 4-yard scoring run extended Atlanta’s lead to 34-13. Lock answered with a 9-yard scoring pass to Tim Patrick with less than four minutes remaining.
Lock completed 25 of 48 passes for 313 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Denver lacked an effective running game to help Lock. Phillip Lindsay had eight carries for 23 yards.
The Falcons scored on their first four possessions, thriving on Ryan’s ability to find holes in the Broncos’ depleted secondary. Denver’s starting cornerbacks, A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan, were held out with a concussion and ankle injury, respectively.
Atlanta converted six of seven third downs in the first half. The offense had no difficulty overcoming the absence of starting receiver Calvin Ridley, who was held out with a mid-foot sprain. The Falcons’ backups moved up to complement Julio Jones.
Olamide Zaccheaus beat Davontae Harris for a 51-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. Zaccheaus made the catch for his first touchdown of the season even though Harris was called for pass interference on the play.
Zaccheaus added a 42-yard catch in the second quarter to set up Ryan’s 9-yard scoring pass to Brandon Powell. It was the first career touchdown for Powell, Atlanta’s top return specialist.
Broncos: TE Albert Okwuegbunam left with a knee injury late in the third quarter and did not return … TE Noah Fant limped off the field with an ankle injury following a 32-yard catch on Denver’s first possession. After being listed as questionable, Fant returned in the second quarter. OT Demar Dotson also returned in the first half after leaving with a hip injury.
Falcons: Defensive ends Dante Fowler (hamstring) and Takk McKinley (groin) did not play. Ridley missed practice all week with the left foot injury he suffered in the team’s win at Carolina on Oct. 29.
Broncos: Denver will make its first visit to Las Vegas next Sunday.
Falcons: Following their bye, the Falcons play at New Orleans on Nov. 22.