EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes and the Atlanta Falcons slipped and slid to a 25-20 victory over the New York Jets on a soggy Sunday.
Fumbled snaps, dropped passes and a big-time drenching at MetLife Stadium had both squads trying to find their footing, but the Falcons (4-3) steadied themselves just enough to snap a three-game skid — all to other AFC East teams.
Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu each caught touchdown passes from Ryan, who finished 18 of 29 for 254 yards. The Falcons quarterback had lots of trouble with the weather, fumbling four snap exchanges from center Alex Mack and losing two of them.
The Jets (3-5) had their own issues while losing their third straight. Josh McCown had a bad snap exchange and fumbled on another play — but recovered — and Jeremy Kerley had a costly muffed punt.
McCown finished 26 of 33 for 257 yards with touchdown passes to Robby Anderson and Eric Tomlinson.
The Jets missed a chance to increase a 17-16 lead early in the fourth quarter when Chandler Catanzaro missed his second field goal of the game, going wide right on a 48-yard attempt.
It gave the Falcons their best starting position of the game at their own 38 — and the Falcons took advantage.
Tevin Coleman eluded a few tackle attempts on a 52-yard run that got the ball to the Jets 10. After Coleman ran for 5 more yards, Ryan fumbled the snap and recovered. Ryan then hit Sanu for an 8-yard touchdown to make it 22-17, but the Falcons quarterback again fumbled the snap on the 2-point conversion and the Jets recovered.
New York cut the deficit to two on its next possession on Catanzaro’s 46-yard field goal with 8:42 remaining.
The usually sure-handed Kerley muffed Matt Bosher’s punt and Kemal Ishmael recovered for Atlanta to put the ball at the Jets 13. New York’s defense stiffened, though, and held the Falcons to a 29-yard field goal by Bryant to give Atlanta a 25-20 lead with 5:19 left.
The Falcons nearly put the game away with what appeared to be an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown by Andre Roberts, but Atlanta’s Sharrod Neasman was called for an illegal block in the back — negating the score.
The Jets opened the game with an impressive drive, going 75 yards in eight plays and capped by McCown’s 20-yard touchdown toss to a wide-open Eric Tomlinson.
New York got the ball right back four plays later, when Ryan botched the snap from center Alex Mack and Jordan Jenkins recovered. But the Jets couldn’t take advantage as Catanzaro’s 46-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
Atlanta tied it on its next possession, with Ryan marching the Falcons down the field through the driving rain with four passes to his tight ends — including a 1-yard touchdown to Hooper with 5:03 left in the opening quarter.
Ryan botched another snap exchange on the Falcons’ next drive, and Jamal Adams recovered for the Jets. This time, New York took advantage as Catanzaro kicked a 43-yarder to put the Jets up 10-7.
Atlanta nearly took the lead midway through the second quarter, but Hooper had the ball go through his hands in the end zone. The Falcons settled for a 23-yarder by Bryant to tie it at 10.
The Jets took a 17-10 lead with 2:26 remaining in the first half when McCown connected with Anderson on a perfectly placed 24-yard pass through a driving rain for a touchdown.
Bryant’s 45-yard field goal as time expired in the opening half made it 17-13, but it appeared the Falcons might get more before the drive stalled. An unnecessary roughness call on Darryl Roberts put the ball at the Atlanta 46 and was followed by a 23-yard catch by Sanu. Three plays later, Ryan took a shot at the end zone, putting up a ball to Jones and Morris Claiborne was flagged for pass interference — but the officials picked up the flag, saying the ball was uncatchable — and coach Dan Quinn fumed on the sideline.
After another incompletion, Muhammad Wilkerson got his first sack of the season to push the Falcons back to the 27 to set up Bryant’s kick.
Bryant booted a 37-yarder in the third quarter to cut the deficit to one at 17-16 on a drive that started on a 54-yard catch by Julio Jones. The Falcons wide receiver had been held to just two catches for 20 yards by Claiborne, who left with a foot injury.
WHOOPS: The Falcons had fumbled just four times coming in and lost just one — also by Bryant.
Falcons: at Carolina next Sunday.
Jets: home vs. Buffalo on Thursday night.
(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)