Atlanta Falcons: How Are They Winning in 4th Quarter?
The Atlanta Falcons have won all three of their games this year in 4th quarter comebacks. How are the Dirty Birds able to deliver in crunch time with great regularity?
This is a new era of Atlanta Falcons football, where the team is relentless and no deficit is insurmountable. Whether it was at home on Monday Night Football versus Philadelphia, in the former house of horrors that is MetLife Stadium, or against the best offensive line in the NFL in Dallas on the road, the Atlanta Falcons have come away with three terrific come from behind victories. Where is this drastic change in playing style emanating from? How are the Falcons now a fourth quarter team?
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It starts with new HC Dan Quinn and his ‘Championship Sunday’ mentality he brought with him to Flowery Branch. There is a level of focus late in games that wasn’t here previously in the latter part of the Mike Smith Era. The Atlanta Falcons under Dan Quinn gameplan to win the game when it’s most on the line.
I see three facets of the Falcons’ game in particular that are giving the Dirty Birds flight late in ball games: forcing turnovers that result in points, being able to sustain well-orchestrated drives on offense, and having swagger on special teams.
Dan Quinn preaches winning the turnover battle religiously. Though the Atlanta Falcons have only forced four turnovers in three games, three of the four resulted in point-scoring drives for the offense, the other one set up victory formation against Philadelphia. Being able to take away the football from the other team and turn it into points for the offense is how the Falcons are cutting into deficits in the second half of ball games.
This is because the team is able to manufacture drives on offense in a multitude of ways. Atlanta can go for the quick strike with a vertical route or dominate time of possession late in a game with an improving ground game. What this does for the defense is it gives them an opportunity to recover and play their best football when it counts. By sustaining successful drives on offense, the pass rush can play at its optimal level, the linebackers can hit with more conviction, and the defensive backfield’s legs are a bit fresher should the opponent want to air it out.
Lastly, when your team exudes tremendous confidence in the kicking game, you’re able to dictate the game through field position. Getting the football inside of the opponent’s 40 yard line essentially means that Atlanta will get at least three points out of that drive. Kicker Matt Bryant is automatic and rarely misses field goal attempts.
Having a punter like Matt Bosher who can both boom it and sustain great hangtime puts the opposition in usually tough field position to start drives on offense. Not every offense can put together 80+ yard offensive drives with great regularity. Even if the Falcons don’t perform well in an offensive series, there is comfort in knowing that Bosher’s punts will likely put the other team in less than opportune situations to attack the Falcons’ defense on offense.
Of course playing with passion and mental toughness late in the game overrides everything. By having a team that can capitalize on mistakes, sustain drives and dominate the game on special teams give the Atlanta Falcons a formula for success to win games when it counts, in the 4th Quarter. Rise Up!
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