MINNEAPOLIS -- When quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked by linebacker Anthony Barr on the first offensive play, you knew the Atlanta Falcons were in for a rough day, a day that ended with a pathetic showing in a 28-12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Ryan was under duress all day as the offensive line, backs, and tight ends couldn't keep the pressure off. The defense couldn't stop the Vikings' running game, led by Dalvin Cook's 111 yards, and struggled to set the edge. And special teams couldn't get it right either, allowing a blocked punt that resulted in a Vikings score.
Ugly, ugly: The Falcons were supposed to be much improved and ready to compete with Dan Quinn now coordinating the defense, Dirk Koetter running the offense, key players such as RB Devonta Freeman, DB Ricardo Allen and DB Keanu Neal back from season-ending injuries, and a general vibe of optimism based on the "brotherhood'' in the locker room. Well, none of that worked, as the Falcons got outcoached and manhandled, physically.
QB breakdown: Ryan didn't have a chance to get into a rhythm while getting sacked twice, hit five times, and intercepted once in the first half while posting a QB rating of 65. Of course, Ryan played behind a revamped offensive line with rookie first-rounders Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary starting on the right side and vet James Carpenter starting at left guard. Ty Sambrailo rotated with McGary, and Lindstrom was replaced by Wes Schweitzer after a foot injury, so the line is still in flux. Ryan really couldn't get into a good rhythm with star receiver Julio Jones, although they did connect on a touchdown pass late. The overall performance wasn't what you expected with the talk of him reconnecting with his former offensive coordinator (Koetter) and tight ends coach Mike Mularkey.
Pivotal play: We talked about the early sack Ryan absorbed and the blocked punt. Freeman also had an uncharacteristic fumble. But the play that might be remembered most is Ryan's interception in the end zone on second-and-goal from the 3-yard line. It came after the Falcons couldn't punch it into the end zone with heavy personnel on first down, losing a yard on an Ito Smith run. Score there and maybe the Falcons get back in game. Instead, the Vikings took it 80 yards to go up 28-0 and all but put the game away. And the Falcons have worked so hard on their red zone offense after struggling under former coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
Silver lining: The Falcons come home to play the Eagles (1-0) in Week 2. They don't want to be embarrassed again, especially in prime time. ... Another bright spot? Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett's play along the defensive line was a positive versus the Vikings.