ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons went into the second half of their game against the Buffalo Bills without their two leading receivers on Sunday. The Bills handed the Falcons their first loss of the season, winning 23-7.
Julio Jones left with a hip injury in the first half. Jones went to the locker room in the second quarter and did not return when the team came out for the second half. Jones had three catches for 30 yards before leaving the game.
Jones suffered a lower back injury against the Detroit Lions last week and was limited in practice this week.
Receiver Mohamed Sanu also left the game Sunday with a hamstring injury and did not return after halftime. He had one catch for 3 yards and one rush for 4 yards that set up the Falcons' touchdown in the first half.
The Falcons went into the game with several key injuries, including safety Ricardo Allen, right tackle Ryan Schraeder and defensive linemen Courtney Upshaw and Vic Beasley.
Head coach Dan Quinn seemed relieved to know the team was headed into a bye week.
"You never know when you’re going to get a bye. Sometimes it’s late in the season and it’s good. Other times, it’s early. And before the season, you may think to yourself that’s early. In our team’s case this time, we’re hopeful that we’ll get a good amount of the guys back," Quinn said.
Quinn said Jones didn't look explosive in the first two series he was in. Jones wanted to stay in the game, but they could tell he was struggling.
"That’s the unique thing for him, the speed and the explosiveness. When he wasn’t able to do that, that’s when we had to pull him," Quinn said.
Ryan struggled without his top two receivers. After they left, he had three turnovers. A strip sack that was returned for a touchdown by Tre'Davious White, and he threw two poor passes for interceptions. One was a deep ball to Taylor Gabriel, and the other was a ball Nick Williams tried to catch but was tipped and picked off.
Williams had a couple key receptions, including a fourth-down reception on the final drive. However, Ryan's throw to Gabriel on the Falcons' last chance on fourth down was incomplete. Gabriel had no catches, but he was targeted five times.
Justin Hardy had a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Running back Tevin Coleman had four catches for 65 yards on Sunday.
"Those guys are a big part of what we do. When you lose one of them, it’s tough. When you lose two, it’s difficult. I’m proud of the ways our guys stepped up," Ryan said. "Both those guys are doing everything they can to stay in the game. They’re just great competitors and sometimes you just can’t. Your body just won’t go."
Ryan completed 24 passes for 42 yards and one touchdown. His QBR was 61.8.