While the Falcons did win the ball game, many fans and coaches will likely leave the game feeling slightly underwhelmed. In a game that the Falcons absolutely dominated they were only able to secure a victory by a margin of 6 points.
The game started just as the Falcons would have wanted a quick 3 and out by the Titans, and a resulting TD on the ensuing Falcons drive to go 7-0 up. After shutting down the Titans again the Falcons were able to drive down the field into the redzone once again. This time the Falcons faced a stiffer challenge in the redzone and had a decision to make on 4th and goal at the 1. The Falcons showed the sign of things to come, electing not to go for it, and to take the field goal.
Whilst I praised Mike Smith for his aggressiveness last week despite the OT loss against the Saints. I was very disappointed by his decision making in this game. He was too conservative at times on 4th downs (something he never is on 4th down), in all likelihood, due to the backlash Smith suffered after last weeks OT call going south. Along with that call the Falcons had another opportunity to go for late in the first half, just outside of field goal range on a 4th and 2. In another situation you would expect the Falcons to take the chance, they elected to punt the ball. The Titans with just over a minute left were able to pounce on that decision and drove down the field to get 3 points before the half, on a drive that the Falcons should not have let happen.
Despite having the game comfortably in hand, the Falcons were not able to kill the Titans off. The turning point was the introduction of Titans rookie QB Jake Locker, who ignited a quick touchdown off some poor Falcon defensive play, to bring the game back to 23-10.
Even with this new threat, the Falcons should have put the game away. Up by 13 points, in the Titans redzone, Michael Turner fumbled the ball, letting the Titans right back into it.
Locker orchestrated another drive for a tocuhdown against a reeling Falcons defense and the lead was reduced to 6. Thankfully, Matt Ryan and crew were able to run the clock out on the next drive to secure the win, but it was a lot closer than it should have been.
Our execution in the redzone was poor for a start, this urgently needs to be changed in the next few weeks. In truth, the Falcons should have one this game by 20 or even 30 points on the basis of the game’s play. We need to learn how to kill off teams, this week we escaped but against better teams we may well end up on the losing side.
Next week, the Falcons face the struggling Minnesota Vikings in the Georgia dome.