The Atlanta Falcons held on for a 27-20 victory over the New York Jets because the NFL made a jubilant return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The Falcons have been in management at half-time, with touchdowns from Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst serving to them right into a 20-3 lead.
Ty Johnson acquired into the tip zone at first of the second half to present the Jets hope, they usually acquired inside three factors late on as they adopted Michael Carter’s landing with a two-point conversion.
Nearly all of a boisterous crowd of 60,589, relishing the NFL’s return to London after the pandemic pressured final season’s worldwide collection to be cancelled, hoped for a area objective to take the sport into additional time.
However Mike Davis ran in Atlanta’s third landing of the day to make sure the Falcons, who’ve had a nasty knack of throwing away large leads, didn’t add one other to the gathering, bettering to 2-3 for the season.
It additionally ensured rookie Pitts might rejoice a milestone day in his fledgling profession. With the Falcons lacking their prime two receivers, Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson needed to shoulder the offensive burden.
And Pitts, who turned the highest drafted tight finish in NFL historical past when Atlanta made him the fourth general choose, stepped as much as declare his first NFL landing.
The 21-year-old was named the sport’s star man after ending with 9 catches for a game-high 119 receiving yards, whereas Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, the quantity two draft choose, didn’t shine as his facet slipped to 1-4.
“Kyle gained his one-on-one match-ups and made some big-time performs for us,” mentioned Atlanta coach Arthur Smith. “All people needs the recent take after week one however you’ve got simply acquired to see continued enchancment. That is why Kyle’s right here. We just like the participant he is turning into.”
Falcons’ veteran quarterback Matt Ryan added: “I’ve informed Kyle I am pleased with him. I believe there’s going to be lots of these [performances] sooner or later for him. He may very well be an excellent participant on this league.
“There’s lots of noise, each constructive and destructive, that may distract you for that however he is finished properly as a younger man to focus and I count on him to proceed that.”
Pitts already displaying price to Falcons
Either side are rebuilding underneath first-year head coaches and Pitts, anticipated to be an early choose heading into the draft, was an early present to Atlanta’s new boss Smith and Ryan.
Having beforehand been the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator, Smith was anticipated to reboot the Falcons’ offence and final week’s loss to Washington, once they misplaced 34-30 regardless of main 30-22 with 4 minutes left, whet the urge for food of UK followers.
They have been denied the possibility to witness Calvin Ridley within the flesh because the 26-year-old, who supplanted the since-departed Julio Jones as Atlanta’s prime huge receiver final season, didn’t cross the Atlantic “because of a private matter”.
Fellow receiver Russell Gage was additionally out so the Falcons feared the worst when Patterson, who scored three receiving touchdowns final week, got here out of the sport’s opening drive to be assessed for a doable concussion.
Atlanta settled for a area objective and Patterson made an immediate affect when given the all clear to return for the Falcons’ second possession. The working again made a 16-yard catch to arrange a two-yard rating for Pitts on the subsequent play, rounding off a 92-yard drive.
Ryan made one other large cross to Pitts on their subsequent drive, with a penalty nudging them into the purple zone, and three performs later Ryan picked out Hurst down the center for a 17-yard rating.
Atlanta got here in having conceded probably the most factors within the NFL and if anybody would lose from there, it will be the Falcons, who famously let a 28-3 lead slip towards the New England Patriots to lose Tremendous Bowl 51.
The Jets rallied to make it a three-point recreation with almost seven minutes left to play however Ryan, nicknamed ‘Matty Ice’, stored his cool on the subsequent possession to seal victory.
He kicked it off with a 39-yard cross to Pitts earlier than Davis wrapped up the 80-yard drive. Ryan completed with 342 passing yards to cross Eli Manning for eighth on the all-time record, and likewise turned simply the seventh quarterback to succeed in 5,000 profession cross completions.
“You aren’t getting many alternatives to work with gamers like that,” mentioned Smith. “He is fairly darn particular. He is the chief of this workforce and I am unable to say sufficient good issues about him.”
Wilson unable to work wonders once more
The New York Jets have not reached the play-offs since 2010 and never had a successful season since 2015, however the long-suffering Jets followers dared to dream of a brand new daybreak after final week’s additional time win over Tennessee.
After struggling in shedding his first three NFL video games, Wilson led the Jets’ fightback with two landing passes within the ultimate quarter that demonstrated his thrilling arm expertise.
However the Jets went three-and-out on their first two drives earlier than Wilson threw an interception on their third. They did not acquire a primary down till halfway via the second quarter, a drive which resulted in a area objective which acquired them on the board.
Though Wilson accomplished simply 5 of 13 passes for 42 yards within the first half, Tevin Coleman gave them a shot within the arm with a 65-yard kick-off return at first of the third quarter.
Johnson ran it in from a yard and regardless of the Jets making a fumble restoration late within the third quarter, Atlanta’s defence pressured them to go three-and-out once more.
Wilson lastly started to let fly within the fourth quarter. Extra importantly, he started to search out his goal.
He made two large performs earlier than a cross interference penalty from one other deep throw marched the Jets 41 yards upfield to Atlanta’s two-yard line, from the place Carter powered into the tip zone on the subsequent play.
However Wilson could not repeat final week’s heroics and now has probably the most interceptions by a Jets rookie of their first 5 profession begins (9). The Jets got here in having scored the fewest factors within the NFL. They must endure a couple of extra darkish days but.