(SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Ryan had perhaps his worst game as a professional when he faced Arizona last season.
The Atlanta quarterback, though, is coming off one of his better games of this year and will try to lead the Falcons to a second straight victory on Sunday in a road matchup with John Abraham and the Cardinals.
Ryan is coming off a 273-yard, three-touchdown performance in last Sunday's 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one that produced a career-high 148.4 passer rating.
It was a much-needed victory for Atlanta, which was coming off its bye week having lost three in a row. It remained third in the NFC South, a game back of second-place Carolina.
"I think our preparation and the sense of urgency has been pretty good all year," Ryan said after the victory. "I think, specifically coming off of the bye, I think people were refreshed mentally, physically, emotionally and I think we had a great week of practice."
Ryan had a solid game despite missing his top two wide receivers. Julio Jones was placed on injured reserve during the off week because of a foot injury and Roddy White's nagging hamstring and ankle injuries finally forced him out of the lineup for the first time in his career.
White had played in 133 straight games and joined No. 1 running back Steven Jackson (thigh) on the sidelines. However, running back Jacquizz Rodgers caught eight passes and two touchdowns out of the backfield and Harry Douglas hauled in seven catches for a career-high 149 yards with a score.
"Harry had a career day," said Falcons head coach Mike Smith. "Harry's role changed two weeks ago because of our situation at wide receiver. He stepped up to the plate and did an extremely good job today."
The Falcons also picked up a defensive score after safety William Moore's strip-sack was picked up by safety Thomas DeCoud, who went 30 yards for a score. That helped set the tone as Atlanta improved to 5-1 under Smith following the bye week.
Atlanta will play its next two on the road looking to reverse a trend in this series that has seen the home team win six straight. The Falcons kept that streak going last season with a 23-19 victory over Arizona despite Ryan's career-high five interceptions.
Five different Cardinals got their hands on Ryan picks, including linebacker Daryl Washington, who added a game-high 11 tackles.
Ryan posted the second-lowest passer rating of his career at 40.5, but Arizona managed just 178 yards of total offense, 137 of that coming on the ground.
Abraham had two sacks and a forced fumble for the Falcons, who he will play against for the first time since joining the Cardinals this offseason. He was released by Atlanta on March 1.
Arizona is looking to avoid a third straight setback ahead of its bye week and was defeated 34-22 by the Seattle Seahawks last Thursday night. Carson Palmer struggled with a pair of interceptions that were turned into Seahawks points and was also sacked seven times.
The Cardinals were held to 234 yards of offense, including just 30 on the ground. Running back Rashard Mendenhall ran for a score, but was limited to 22 yards on 13 carries.
Abraham logged his first two sacks of the season and both forced fumbles as well, but the Cards defense allowed a pair of long touchdown drives early in the game, contributing to what head coach Bruce Arians called a sluggish start.
"Everybody needs to step up their game, mainly me being the quarterback. That's your job. But we've got to keep growing. There's not enough things (that) got better, obviously," said Palmer.