Falcons Colts FootballAtlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn shouts during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett played brilliantly Sunday.
He was poised, accurate and turnover free. He helped the Colts score points, avoided mistakes and capitalized when opportunities arose.
He was virtually flawless.
Brissett completed his first 16 passes, threw for two touchdowns in the first half, led the Colts to scores on their first four drives and even converted a late third down with an 11-yard completion to Jack Doyle to close out a 27-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
"I was feeling like everyone was open and I was throwing it to people in my color jersey who were open," he said. "It was just one of those days."
One of those days Colts fans might have expected from Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck.
But in his first game at Lucas Oil Stadium since Luck announced his surprise retirement last month, Brissett stepped onto the big stage and delivered a masterpiece. When the Falcons tried to load up on Indy's emerging ground game, Brissett spread it around, completing 28 of 37 with 310 yards, his second-highest single-game total and third 300-yard game of his career, even as Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton missed the second half because of a quad injury.
Brissett took one sack and kept Indy's final scoring drive alive by scrambling 6 yards on third-and-5.
"We won't decide those until tomorrow, but I can guarantee you Jacoby will get a game ball," coach Frank Reich said.
Why wouldn't he?
The Colts scored on five of their seven possessions, punted once and picked up three first downs on the final drive to prevent Matt Ryan and the Falcons (1-2) from getting a chance to win it or force overtime after cutting the deficit to 27-24 with 4:11 left.
Indy (2-1) has won two straight overall, seven straight at home and won its home opener for the first time since 2013.
"It means we're on the right track. We're doing enough to win in the NFL," Brissett said. "In the fourth quarter, we just made it up in our minds that we were going to take over the game and finish with the ball in our hands."
They did even though Ryan did his best to give the Falcons a chance after trailing 20-3 at halftime.
After Ryan threw two TD passes to Austin Hooper to make it a 20-17 game early in the fourth quarter, Brissett answered quickly.
He ran for one first down, picked up another with a defensive holding call, hooked up with Zach Pascal for 35 yards on third-and-1 and then watched Marlon Mack score on a 4-yard run to make it 27-17 with 8:40 to play.
Ryan's 10-yard TD pass to Julio Jones made it a three-point game but Atlanta never got the ball back.
"I think everybody's angry with not performing the way that we can," Ryan said. "The penalties, turnovers, those kinds of things, we've had too much of that in the first couple weeks of the season. We had too much of that today."
After missing five of his first eight kicks, 46-year-old Adam Vinatieri reverted to his traditional form. He made all five Sunday, starting with a 49-yard field goal that he banked in off the left upright.
"We expect it," Brissett said. "He's the greatest of all-time for a reason."
Falcons: Safety Keanu Neal was carted off the field late in the first half with an Achilles tendon injury. He missed last season after tearing an ACL in the season opener. ... Running back Ito Smith left with a concussion in the first half.
Colts: Hilton aggravated the quad injury that slowed him in practice this week and defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis (ankle) did not play in the second half. Cornerback Kenny Moore II (forearm), defensive tackle Denico Autry (eye) and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (stringer) all returned.
Falcons: Ryan was 29 of 34 with 304 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He passed John Elway for No. 9 on the league's career list for completions and broke a tie with Elway for No. 11 in TD passes. Ryan now has 4,144 completions and 303 TD passes. ... Jones had eight catches for 128 yards and Devonta Freeman had 16 carries for 88 yards. ... Atlanta committed 16 penalties for 128 yards, one penalty short of matching the franchise record.
Colts: Indy had two scoring drives of more than 90 yards. ... The defense has not allowed a 100-yard runner in 21 straight games. ... Hilton had eight caches for 65 yards and one TD. ... Mack ran 16 times for 74 yards.
Falcons: face a second straight AFC South foe, Tennessee, next Sunday in Atlanta.
Colts: stay home to face Oakland next Sunday.