An area that has been a success this season for the Falcons has suddenly become a bit of a hindrance. Last week against the Saints, the Falcons offense converted only one of 11 third downs. On defense they allowed the Saints to convert 50 percent of their chances. Coming into Sunday the Falcons were second in the NFL, converting 45.57 percent. On defense, they were allowing first downs 38.62 percent of the time.
On Sunday, the once-positive trend continued in the opposite direction.
On defense, Atlanta allowed 60 percent of Carolina's third downs to be converted as they continued to move the ball up the field, working a game plan to eat yards and keep Atlanta's offense off the field. Once on the field, the offense seemed to never find their rhythm.
In the first half the Falcons never gave themselves much a chance to get in the game. They were limited to 35 yards and didn't convert any of their three third-down opportunities. The first third down conversion for the Falcons came just before the third quarter ended. They ended the day converting only two of eight.
After their efforts against New Orleans, head coach Mike Smith identified third downs as an area they wanted to fix quickly so they wouldn't repeat their performance. In the last three games before Carolina, they were converting 40 percent of their opportunities. Sunday's numbers will push that percentage even lower, below the 40-50 percent range Smith said he wanted his team at consistently.