The League

David Larimer
Two-time defending Gameday pick-em champion

David Larimer

An assistant NFL editor at the The Washington Post

Atlanta at Tampa Bay, Week 2


Sunday, 4 p.m.

You could understand Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan jumping for joy at his NFL debut, in which he led a 34-21 defeat of the Lions and threw a 62-yard touchdown pass on his first attempt. But frolicking?

"He was frolicking down the field," Atlanta fullback Ovie Mughelli told the Associated Press of Ryan's celebration of the touchdown.

Forcefully frolicking, apparently. Ryan also bowled over his 301-pound center, knocking Todd McClure to one knee. "It was like that commercial where the guy sees a girl on the beach and he thinks she's running at him and she's actually running at the guy behind him," McClure told the AP. "That was kind of what I felt like. He just kind of pushed me to the side and kept going to the end zone."

After that, Ryan could basically settle down and hand off to running back Michael Turner. With "the Burner" rushing for 220 yards -- a team record and the second most on opening day in NFL history -- and the team rolling up a team-record 318 rushing yards in all, Ryan attempted only 13 passes.

There are likely fewer frolicking quarterbacks in Tampa, with Coach Jon Gruden potentially opening the door to a controversy at the position. Gruden said in the days before the game that Week 1 starter Jeff Garcia had a sprained ankle, but that Garcia's poor play was also a reason he will turn to backup Brian Griese for Week 2. Gruden called it a "week off" for Garcia, but we'll see if the time off lasts longer should Griese help keep the reigning NFC South champions from opening 0-2 in their division.

Perhaps a bigger concern for Tampa Bay is its defense. Normally a regular in the league's top 10 under coordinator Monte Kiffin, the unit was strafed for 438 total yards and three touchdowns of 39 yards or longer in a 24-20 loss at New Orleans.

By David Larimer  |  September 12, 2008; 10:00 AM ET  | Category:  Post Gameday Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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