ATL-DEN grades: Beasley, Falcons defense power win

Falcons get big contributions from defenders, running backs and QB Matt Ryan in win over Broncos.

| 9 months ago
(Justin Edmonds, Getty Images)

(Justin Edmonds, Getty Images)

ATL-DEN grades: Beasley, Falcons defense power win

Atlanta Falcons 23, Denver Broncos 16

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Atlanta Falcons’ 23-16 victory over the Denver Broncos:

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan leans on his running game

Quarterback grade: Matt Ryan, 81.7

After a shaky start, Matt Ryan settled in and relied on the Falcons’ ground game to open up some passing lanes. Ryan relied heavily on his backs in the passing game, as they accounted for 180 of his 267 passing yards. Ryan was under pressure often during the game, no surprise given the Broncos’ electric pass rush. In all, he was pressured on 13 of his 31 dropbacks. The majority of his completions were on throws of less than 10 yards, as he was 12-of-16 for 155 yards in that range.

Top offensive grades:

T Jake Matthews, 82.4

FB Patrick DiMarco, 82.1

G Andy Levitre, 78.9

C Alex Mack, 78.7

RB Tevin Coleman, 74.0

Falcons take advantage of mismatches at the skill positions

Matt Ryan took advantage of matchups the Broncos presented him with, although not the ones you would expect, as star wide receiver Julio Jones, coming off his 300-yard performance against Carolina, was relatively quiet on the day as the Broncos secondary kept him contained. On two notable occasions, the Broncos had a linebacker lined up on speedy running back Tevin Coleman in coverage, and in both cases Ryan took advantage. Tackle Ryan Schraeder had a tough day going up against Denver edge rushers Von Miller and Shane Ray, as he finished with an overall grade of 42.9 and pass protection grade of 36.

Top defensive grades:

S Keanu Neal, 87.5

S Kemal Ishmael, 84.4

ED Vic Beasley, 84.3

CB Desmond Trufant, 81.9

ED Adrian Clayborn, 81.4

Falcons defense owns the afternoon

This was the game of the season so far for the Falcons defense as they absolutely owned the Broncos’ offense all afternoon. Up front, Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn combined for nine total pressures (including five sacks, four for Beasley) on 61 pass-rushing snaps between them. Two of Beasley’s sacks caused fumbles by Denver QB Paxton Lynch, and Beasley also led the defense with five run stops on the day (a stop is a solo tackle that constitutes as a loss for the offense, given the situation). In the secondary, the defense did an excellent job at bending without breaking, often times allowing easy/short completions but closing in to make a tackle. Keanu Neal and Desmond Trufant combined to allow eight of the 13 passes targeted their way to be completed, but for just a total of 76 yards, including just 13 yards after the catch.

Denver Broncos

Quarterback grade: Paxton Lynch, 38.3

Lynch struggles in first career start

It was a rough game all-around for the rookie QB, who finished the day with a 38.1 passing grade while also coughing up a couple of fumbles. Lynch especially had his struggles when he was put under pressure. On 17 pressured dropbacks, Lynch was able to manage just six pass attempts, and he completed three of them for 40 yards and an interception go with a 31.9 QB Rating. Lynch found most of his success today when he was throwing quick passes in the short-to-intermediate range. When Lynch got the ball out of his hands in 2.5 seconds or less he completed 16 of 20 passes with a 112.3 QB rating, but when he held onto the ball for 2.6 seconds or more he was just 7-of-14 with a 39.0 QB rating.


Top offensive grades:

OT Russell Okung, 72.0

TE John Phillips, 66.4

RB Devontae Booker, 60.0

WR Jordan Norwood, 54.4

G Darrion Weems, 53.8

The Denver offense falls flat in all facets

You really have to do some digging if you want to find a positive takeaway from the Broncos’ offense on Sunday. Denver was absolutely worked at the line of scrimmage, where their offensive line failed to get a sustainable rushing attack going while allowing 14 total pressures between them in pass protection. Paxton Lynch was able to connect with WR Emmanuel Sanders (whose overall grade suffers from an offensive pass interference penalty coupled with a fumble) on a few plays – Sanders’ catch along the sidelines to pick up a first down on Denver’s opening drive sparked the offense momentarily – but that’s really about it.

Top defensive grades:

OLB Von Miller, 89.7

CB Aqib Talib, 84.2

S T.J. Ward, 82.3

OLB Shaquil Barrett, 76.2

ED Shane Ray, 75.0

Von Miller is Denver’s top-graded defender

The Broncos had their pass rush going against Atlanta, and they contained Julio Jones. That didn’t spell a win for them today, however, as they struggled against the running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, particularly in the passing game. Linebackers Todd Davis and Brandon Marshall were exploited in coverage as they both gave up long receiving gains to Coleman, with one going for a touchdown. Miller had a great day, as he recorded three hurries and a sack. Perhaps more impressive was the ability he showed in run defense, as he graded a 92.0 in that area of the game. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. combined to do well in shutting down Jones, as he caught just two passes for 29 yards on five targets.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Falcons edge rusher Vic Beasley

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • Andy

    Ishmael played really well mostly at LB filling in for Weatherspoon. Great return on 7th round investment. I hope the Falcons re-sign him.

    • rodrell green

      Yeah I’m happy they opted for the 3 safety set instead of hoping linebackers could cover decently.

  • David Japhet-Mathias

    I wonder why Demaryius Thomas’ grade is so low. I can only remember him making on mistake and that was on the deep ball that basically landed on his head. Other than that I remember his Herculean effort to get the touchdown.

    • rodrell green

      Running weak routes creating little to no separation maybe?

  • Mike Jones

    mvp goes to denver coaches for having a 2nd string tackle with 1 arm out there making garbage vic beasley look like the second coming of LT : )

    • rodrell green

      Funny I don’t recall Brooks Reed and others taking advantage of that tackle when Vic was out…

      • Mike Jones

        because brooks reed is about half as fast as vic beasley so a simple swim and speed rush wont produce the same results

      • Vitor

        Well, stopping the “great” Brooks Reed shouldn’t be an accomplishment

  • Chrisdub23

    member when keanu neal was the worst pick of the 2016 draft? Oh yeah I member!

    • Brad Barber

      Easy bud it’s like his second start against a rookie qbs first. Darion weems being a starter should tell you the broncos had no time to throw lol

      • Chrisdub23

        Well what about his positive rating against cam in carolina. All im saying is keanu is outplaying his lousy draft grade by PFF.

      • rodrell green

        Lynch actually held onto the ball to long. If coverage hadn’t held up for two seconds he could have dumped it off to the TE/RB more.

    • Refman

      They also said Deion Jones was a bad pick but they look like they’re going to be two studs at their respective positions for the next decade.

  • newreader19

    I’m curious as to why Matt Ryan’s grade isn’t lower. He benefited from a lot of yardage after the catch. Additionally, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib both dropped interceptions that they usually make (and Talib’s probably would’ve been six). Seems like an average day at best.

    • Johnny

      Agreed, as a Falcon fan I’ll take the win, but I’m still hesitant to believe in the team, If the broncos caught those two ints(both looked to be pick sixes) the game may have been different as moving the ball vs the broncos wasn’t easy. Matt also missed Julio wide open twice. I’d like to know why Matt’s grade wasn’t lower too.

  • crosseyedlemon

    After back to back double digit round victories it was probably inevitable that the Broncos were due for an off game. Falcons used a balanced attack effectively knowing that the good teams like Denver can easily dominate once an opponent becomes one dimensional.


    Ishmael is such a good tackler— it’s going to be hard to keep him off the field when Deon Jones and Campbell come back. This defense has a lot of room to get better, they just need all their rookies and Jalen Collins to get back on the field at the same time. That offense is cooking right now.

  • Malachi

    surprised von’s run grade was that high, he completely lost contain on two different outside runs.

    hope trevor is ready by thursday night