Quinn Addresses 4th Down Decision
Over the weekend, someone asked head coach Dan Quinn what he would've done differently last year if he were given one do-over. He didn't hesitate to respond: In Week 9, down four points in San Francisco with 2:56 left in the fourth, he sent out the field goal unit to cut the lead to one. Atlanta lost 17-16. The choice to not go for a touchdown in that spot bothered Quinn all season and offseason, he said, "because it didn't send the message to the team that I believe."
With this in mind, Quinn told the media he doesn't regret his overtime gamble against San Diego, when the Falcons tried to get a first down on 4th and 1 from their own 45-yard line. They didn't convert, and the Chargers promptly kicked the winning field goal on their ensuing drive, but Quinn stands by the risk he took.
"I know you've heard it hundreds of times. It's a gut call when to go (for it on fourth down). I understand when it's a good one, it's a gutsy call, and when it's a bad one, you blew it. I understand that comes with the job," he said. "What I have learned from the coaches I've worked with — and now I get to call it on my own — is we're going to play our style, and we're going to play it aggressively.
"I lost sleep last night because of the outcome. I didn't lose sleep because of the decision to go for it. I can promise you that. We have one of the very best offenses in the NFL, and we're going to ride that horse."
Penalties Hindered Offense
Though Atlanta's offense got off to a promising start, it managed to score just three points in the second half. Quinn doesn't think the Falcons got conservative in the final 30 minutes of regulation; rather, he believes the number of penalties they took made it difficult to move the ball.
Altogether, officials called four false starts and two holding infractions on Atlanta's O-line. Each of the Falcons' first two drives of the third quarter began with a penalty.
"We had some fouls right off the bat (in the second half)," Quinn said. "When you get into 1st and 15, and in one instance 1st and 20, you can imagine how difficult that can be. So for us, to have that many fouls, that was uncomfortable for us. … To have that many fouls, that'll set you back as much as anything."
All About the Finish
Quinn often talks about the importance of finishing, so he decided to show the team footage of a 1979 boxing match between Vito Antuofermo, the reigning middleweight champion, and Marvin Hagler. Antuofermo held onto his title in a controversial, 15-round draw; in 1980, however, Hagler got another crack Antuofermo and won in the fourth round with a technical knockout (TKO).
Hagler made sure the outcome of his rematch was in nobody's hands but his own, Quinn explained, and said that's the mindset he wants his team to adopt.
"We've got to get to that spot," Quinn added. "When we have the lead, when it's time to close, we're not going to put it in anybody else's hands, it's not going to be anybody else who is going to have to make a call. We're going to own it. And that's what we're working to do."