LANDOVER, Md. — After the Atlanta Falcons knocked Robert Griffin III out of the game, Matt Ryan kept throwing and throwing and throwing until he finally scraped up enough points to give his team its first 5-0 start in franchise history.
Michael Turner ran 13 yards for the go-ahead score with 2:46 to play, and Ryan completed 34 of 52 passes for 345 yards Sunday as Atlanta beat Washington 24-17, handing the Redskins their eighth consecutive home loss and leaving their Heisman Trophy winner woozy.
Tony Gonzalez caught 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown on a day when the Falcons' usually powerful offense was just a bit out of sync, producing lots of numbers without much payoff against one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Julio Jones had 10 receptions for 94 yards, including an 18-yard catch with both feet barely inbounds that gave Atlanta the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Griffin was injured early in the second half while trying to scramble for the end zone on third-and-goal from the 3. As he went down, he took a solid hit to the helmet from the upper body of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Clearly rattled, the No. 2 overall draft pick had his head examined on the sideline before being taken to the locker room.
Griffin's susceptibility to injury was a concern when he was hammered hard while carrying the ball frequently in the option in the Redskins' first three games, but coach Mike Shanahan went with a more conventional approach in the last two games. Griffin did not have a designed run on Sunday, yet he nevertheless had to leave a game for the first time in his young career.
Griffin was 10 for 15 for 91 yards when he was hurt. The play after his injury, Billy Cundiff converted a 23-yard field goal that gave the Redskins (2-3) a 10-7 lead.
Kirk Cousins, a fourth-round pick from Michigan State making his NFL debut, entered in place of Griffin and went three-and-out in his first possession. The Falcons then took advantage of Sav Rocca's shanked punt to drive 47 yards for a touchdown on Jones' catch.
But Cousins gave the Redskins the lead again about a minute later, when Santana Moss ran deep down the middle without a defender anywhere near him. The 77-yard pass made the score 17-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Ryan then cobbled two scoring drives that gave the Falcons the win. Matt Bryant's 53-yard field goal with 7:42 remaining tied the score, and a 29-yard pass to Jones was the key play in a 69-yard drive that led to Turner's decisive touchdown.
Cousins had two more chances to rally the Redskins, but he was intercepted twice in the final two minutes. He finished 5 for 9 for 111 yards.
Alfred Morris ran for 115 yards on 18 carries for Washington.
Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company