Mr. Efficient
Ryan effective in Falcons' win over Carolina

ATLANTA - Matt Ryan had a game against Carolina that would have made Tom Brady proud.

Talk about being efficient.

The second-year Atlanta Falcons quarterback completed 22 of 27 passes, including 13 in a row during one stretch. Three of the passes were for touchdowns. His rating was an impressive 122.2.

Brady, coming back from knee surgery, only wishes he had been nearly that good this season.

Next Sunday, Ryan and Brady will go up against each other for the first time. It is hard to say which team will have to do more extensive game planning for the opposing quarterback.

The Falcons take a 2-0 record up to New England after their 28-20 victory over Carolina at the Georgia Dome. The Patriots, who had to rally late to beat Buffalo in their opener, are 1-1 after a 16-9 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.

Brady was just so-so against the Jets. Ryan was much, much better than that against the Panthers.

"It was a good rhythm," Ryan said. "I didn't know it was 13 (straight completions). We did a good job of getting open, running our routes at the right depth. Protection was very good."

Ryan always is sure to pass the credit around and his performance was only almost perfect. He did throw an interception.

"I think I've got a long way to go," Ryan said. "... Your tape is never as good as you think and it's never as bad. Even though you might think you completed a lot of passes, there is still room for improvement."

The game at New England will be a measuring stick for Ryan and the Falcons, who have won their first two games for just the seventh time in franchise history.

"We're ready," said Falcons cornerback Chris Houston, who made a late interception against the Panthers.

"We're up for the test," said linebacker Mike Peterson, a key offseason addition for Atlanta. "We have to build off this 2-0 record and keep getting better."

The Falcons wore throwback uniforms from their first season in 1966, but this is hardly a team with a rich history. Atlanta has never had back-to-back winning seasons.

With Ryan, that appears to be ready to change. He played at Boston College and got to watch a dominant NFL team close up.

"We've done a pretty good job so far, but we've got to get better if we want to do the kind of things we want to do," said Ryan, who led the Falcons to a 11-5 record last year as a rookie.

"We're trying to do something special here," said Michael Turner, who had 105 yards rushing against the Panthers.

The Falcons have beaten Miami and Carolina, both playoff teams last year. But New England is more of a challenge and this game won't be at the Georgia Dome.

"You know you're dealing with a veteran team, a team used to winning," Peterson said.

While Peterson has given the defense a boost after coming over from Jacksonville, the Falcons' major offseason move was adding All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez to give Ryan a big prime target.

Gonzalez has a touchdown catch in each game, making seven grabs against the Panthers after five against Miami. He is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Patriots.

"Any time you go up against Tom Brady, especially in New England, that's going to be a test," Gonzalez said. "And really, that's something we need."

ATLANTA - The Falcons, who already had concerns about their interior defensive line, will be without rookie nose tackle Peria Jerry for more than just next Sunday's game at New England.

Jerry, the team's first-round draft choice from Ole Miss, injured his left knee in the fourth quarter of Atlanta's 28-20 victory over Carolina and will miss the rest of the season.

Thomas Johnson replaced Jerry against the Panthers and the injury will also create more playing time for Trey Lewis. Vance Walker, a rookie from Georgia Tech, will move from the practice squad to the regular roster.

Atlanta lost running back and kickoff returner Jerious Norwood in the first period against Carolina because of a head injury. Jason Snelling filled in as Michael Turner's backup and had a touchdown catch.

- Guy Curtright

SideBar: Falcons at Patriots

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: Foxborough, Mass.

TV/Radio: Fox/92.9-FM