Atlanta Falcons Continue To Self-Destruct After Hot First Quarter Starts
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons’ offense continue the trend of crumbling after explosive starts to begin games.
The constant trend of the Atlanta Falcons plummeting after the first quarter seems as though it won’t reach an end in the near future. In Sunday’s loss against the division rival Carolina Panthers, Atlanta finished the first quarter with a 10-0 lead and would not score again until almost the halfway mark of the fourth quarter.
The first quarter was productive as the Falcons opened their drive with a 53-yard field goal by Matt Bryant to give the Falcons the early lead (He would go on to play through a sustained leg injury). The end of the period was followed by a six-yard touchdown catch from wide receiver Mohammed Sanu.
Things looked bright for Atlanta on the road, but then it all crumbled.
Not only was Atlanta unable to find their rhythm following a solid first quarter performance., but they failed to turn positive momentum into points. The opponent was forced into three turnovers in the first half, but the Dirty Birds failed to translate those Panthers miscues into touchdowns.
Atlanta did well of moving the chains for first downs, but failed to convert these plays into points as punts were the result. Wide receiver Julio Jones made explosive plays despite playing through an injury with six receptions for 118 yards, but failed to pull in a wide open pass from Ryan in the end zone which could have narrowed the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian must find a way to keep their foot on the proverbial pedal and find a way to continue whatever earned them a solid lead to start games. This was the best offense in 2016 in every category and it is puzzling how they cannot be consistent throughout the course of 60 minutes after putting up quick points in the early stages of the first quarter.
The Falcons face a tough Dallas Cowboys team back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 10 after a grueling three-game road trip. If Atlanta is to break their struggles and win this season-saving game, the offense must revert back to the fundamentals that helped them average 34 points per game in 2016.
Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott can make huge plays through the air and on the ground. Running back Ezekiel Elliot may play against the Falcons after another ruling was made that he could play shortly after a suspension was originally handed down earlier this week. Should he again suit up, this poses another threat to Atlanta as the team’s defensive line will face a tough task of slowing down Dallas’ run game. This will require the Falcons to put up points in a hurry, especially when finally reaching the red zone.
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Hot starts have been great for Atlanta but consistency and playing well mentally for four quarters will be the key to turning their season around and making a return for a deep playoff run. It all starts with going back to the basics and winning against Dallas next week.