The Atlanta Falcons (0-2) lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) on Sunday, dropping their second game of the season 40-39 on a game-ending field goal after leading throughout the entire afternoon.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn was asked during his post-game press conference if he was planning on any immediate changes to his coaching staff with special teams mentioned specifically due to Dallas converting an onside kick late in the fourth quarter.
Quinn's answer was succinct: No.
"I think, No. 1, you just want to attack it a week at a time," Quinn said. "I'm obviously disappointed in the way that the game ended, because, as I said, there's lessons to be learned in a loss that say you have to go finish it out. I think this is going to be a very good team. We're not there today, but the improvement we want to make, what we can become, that is all out there for us."
There were clear positives for the Falcons to take away from their second performance of the year, but Atlanta will enter Week 3 still seeking its first win of the season. As the Falcons begin preparation for their next game against the Chicago Bears, Quinn said it would be important to find the lessons to take away from this loss so that they will improve from this moment moving forward.
"It's tough to put a loss like that in place," Quinn said. "I told the team there would have to be a lesson in the pain of that loss. I'm sure we will work into that as we head into our preparation for next week, but definitely one that stings."
Dan Quinn on challenging Michael Gallup's late-game catch
A key play for the Cowboys occurred late in the fourth quarter that helped spur their final comeback attempt. Third-year receiver Michael Gallup leapt over Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver and hauled in a 38-yard pass before landing on the turf. While one ref initially signaled the receiver out of bounds, the official call on the field was ultimately that Gallup had gotten down in bounds before his elbow touched the sideline.
It appeared to be a close enough play to warrant a challenge, which Quinn decided to do. The call was not reversed, however, after the review, and Quinn explained what the refs told him about their decision.
"I thought it was worth a challenge to go for it," Quinn said. "[The referees] had said it was butt first and then the elbow, so one in, one out and a bang-bang kind of movement as opposed to the elbow being out first. We thought it was definitely worth taking a shot at it in that space."
Dan Quinn explains decision for early two-point conversion
After scoring their third touchdown of the game, the Falcons held a 26-7 lead over the Cowboys midway through the second quarter. Atlanta opted to go for the two-point conversion at that point in the game, a decision Quinn explained afterwards.
"I thought just at that space, get it to where it goes up to three scores," Quinn said. "You're back to your normal spacing of points to go. More just chart related to get the score going, nothing too deeper than that on that one."
Dan Quinn lauds player's mentality for forcing turnover
Atlanta's early lead was made possible thanks to a defense focused on creating turnovers. The Falcons defense forced four fumbles on the Cowboy's first five possessions, and secured three of those loose balls. Those three fumble recoveries led to 17 points for Atlanta, and it reflected a mindset Quinn wants to see in his defense.
"[In our preparation there wasn't] something that they showed poor ball security or anything in that space," Quinn said. "I thought it was more in conjunction with the players really having a mindfulness for it. It just felt, early on in the game there were some bounces a PBU - I think Ricardo [Allen] had one that knocked it up in the air - it just like they were really on it, taking shots. But it didn't feel like something we saw from tape specifically."
Julio Jones drop on deep pass not a total "momentum shift"
With a deep pass from Russell Gage to Julio Jones on a third-and-2 in the third quarter, the Falcons showed their desire to remain aggressive while playing with a lead in the second half. While the pass from Gage was perfectly place, the normally sure-handed Jones couldn't bring it in. On the Cowboys' next possession, Amari Cooper reeled in a one-handed catch on a deep shot that flipped the field for Dallas and led to a touchdown that cut the Falcons' lead to 5.
"I don't know if there was a momentum shift, but it was one of those examples of an opportunity, whether it's on offense, or on defense, or on special teams," Quinn said. "It could be in the third quarter, it could be in the fourth quarter, there's these moments that come up, man, and you pounce and you attack. When they happen for you, you recognize it and you feel it. When it happens to you, you also have the same emotion. I think at the end of it, there were a lot of plays in the game ... but sometimes they get highlighted, certain ones. It wasn't the entire momentum shift, I didn't think, no."
Calvin Ridley "really on his game" with second-straight two-touchdown day
Arguably the biggest positive for Atlanta through two games this season is the play of third-year receiver Calvin Ridley. In Week 1 against Seattle, Ridley caught nine passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. He followed that up with seven catches for 109 yards and another pair of touchdown receptions. He entered Week 2 tied for the league lead in touchdown catches, and he now has four touchdowns in two games.
"He's just really on his game," Quinn said. "The opportunities with him and [Julio] and Russell [Gage], now kind of making his space. We saw some good ones to Hayden [Hurst], I think Matt [Ryan] is finding his rhythm with all of the players. But Calvin came into the season with maybe some extra that I saw in the improvement side, and it's really carrying over into the games."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks with top photos from inside AT&T Stadium in Week 2.