PITTSBURGH – The Falcons suffered their most lopsided defeat of 2018 on Sunday, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 41-17. In a season that has been as much defined by the players who are not on the field for the Falcons as those who are, there is an obvious temptation to use the injuries as a crutch for the slow start.
Dan Quinn isn't about to do that.
Following his team's loss, which included lapses in all three phases, Quinn reaffirmed his belief that the talent on hand is capable of succeeding in the NFL.
"I do," Quinn answered when asked if he has enough players left to be a good team. "In some cases there's some on the job training, and we expect that. But by no stretch is our entire team decimated. And by no stretch are the guys that we have playing not up and capable for the job. I stand by who we are and the talent that we have to play well. We missed it this afternoon, in the second half, especially."
The Falcons entered halftime against the Steelers down 13-10, but they appeared to be in the game despite a sloppy first half. In the second half, the problems compounded and the Falcons couldn't right the ship.
Pittsburgh converted a third-and-13 on its opening drive of the second half with a 28-yard screen pass to running back James Conner, who slipped several tackles on the play and finished the game with 185 total yards and two touchdowns. That conversion extended a drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.
The Falcons' ensuing series ended in a quick three-and-out, but Matt Bosher's punt was blocked and the Steelers' offense began their next drive at Atlanta's 18-yard line. Three plays later, the Steelers led 27-10.
That start to the second half wasn't what Quinn and his staff were envisioning, and it showcased some of the problems that plagued the Falcons in their loss on the road.
"Truth is, the second half [we] clearly missed the standard that we uphold for one another today," Quinn said. "Coming in at the half it was 13-10, we certainly had our thoughts and chances for how it would go for the second half, and we completely missed our mark."
Defensively, the Falcons had a number of missed tackles, which partially led to the Steelers converting 75 percent of their third-down opportunities. Offensively, Atlanta had trouble containing Pittsburgh's pass rush, which sacked Matt Ryan six times.
There has been clamoring among the fan base for the Falcons to bring in a big-name free agent or trade for a high-profile player. But Quinn and his staff believe in the system they've put in place and the players who have learned under that system.
"For us to become the team we need to be, it has to be from us," Quinn said … "For us, the answers are within our own locker room to play like we're capable of playing."