“We wanted a fast start, and I thought we did that,” said Mike Smith, who had never been a head coach at any level until the Falcons gave him a shot.
Indeed, Atlanta scored on its first three possessions for a 21-0 lead. Ryan, the third overall selection in the draft, looked worthy of the starting job bestowed on him after just three preseason games. In keeping with that numerical theme, he hooked up with Michael Jenkins on the third snap of the game for a 62-yard touchdown pass.
Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons releases a pass for the first touchdown of his NFL career against the Detroit Lions at the Georgia Dome on September 7, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)