ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan had little to show for his two possessions — no completions, no first downs and no fun.
At least he could then enjoy watching Matt Schaub’s successful homecoming.
Making a successful return to his first NFL home, Schaub passed for 179 yards, leading three scoring drives, and the Atlanta Falcons beat the Washington Redskins 23-17 on Thursday night.
“It was good to be back in the Georgia Dome,” Schaub said.
Schaub began his career with the Falcons as Michael Vick’s backup from 2004-06. He played seven seasons as Houston’s starter and the past two years with Baltimore and Oakland.
Schaub, 35, played most of the first half and solidified his status as Ryan’s top backup.
After Ryan was 0 for 4, Schaub moved the offense by finding Aldrick Robinson for long passes of 47 and 68 yards. The two also were together last season in Baltimore’s camp.
“I worked with him a lot last year,” Schaub said. “So I kind of just picked up where we left off.”
Schaub completed 10 of 15 passes for 179 yards, giving Atlanta a 13-3 halftime lead.
Falcons rookie J.D. McKissic returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown to open the second half.
Redskins starter Kirk Cousins completed each of his five passes for 39 yards on his only possession.
“Good first step, as preseason game number one ought to be,” Cousins said.
Colt McCoy played the remainder of the first half, completing 7 of 11 passes for 53 yards. McCoy led Washington to its only scoring drive of the half, a 41-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.
Atlanta led 23-3 before rookie quarterback Nate Sudfeld led Washington on two touchdown drives. The 6-foot-6 Sudfeld completed 10 of 15 passes for 89 yards, including a 6-yard scoring pass to tight end Marcel Jensen.
Redskins: RB Keith Marshall, a seventh-round pick from Georgia, had two catches for 10 yards, but lost 2 yards on three carries.
“It was a great experience,” Marshall said. “I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a little kid. … I feel like I’ve had a great camp so far.”
Undrafted rookie RB Robert Kelley from Tulane possibly gained ground in the competition for a backup spot. He had seven carries for 40 yards, including a 1-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
Falcons: McKissic could use special teams to help him earn a roster spot at receiver. He had a 14-yard punt return in the fourth quarter after his big kickoff return. … LBs Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell had a deflection and big stop, respectively, on the same second-quarter possession. … RB Brandon Wilds had nine carries for 25 yards, including a 1-yard scoring run.
Redskins: Among players held out were TE Jordan Reed (thumb), WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring), WR Reggie Diggs (knee), and LT Trent Williams (sore knee).
Falcons: S Kemal Ishmael left with a shoulder injury, but is expected to be back for Sunday’s practice. … Rookie S Keanu Neal (trunk), TE Levine Toilolo (hand) and RB Terron Ward (ankle) were held out, but are expected to “participate in some fashion” in Sunday’s practice, according to coach Dan Quinn.
Redskins: It was difficult to learn much about the depth chart at running back. Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Marshall combined for no yards on eight carries. Jones had only two carries, and his status as the starter is firm.
Falcons: There was evidence of why coach Dan Quinn lists wide receiver as one of the team’s deepest positions. With Julio Jones having no catches on his only series on the field, there were 15 completions to 10 players. Robinson was the standout with three catches for 118 yards. Mohamed Sanu had two catches for 18 yards. Eric Weems had a 48-yard catch. Justin Hardy and rookie Devin Fuller had 17-yard receptions.
NO ROOM FOR RYAN
The Falcons opened their first possession at their 1. Ryan was low on one pass attempt to Jones and high on another on the three-and-out possession.
“We’ve got to do a better job of being able to punch that out and change the field position,” Ryan said.