ATLANTA – Falcons coach Dan Quinn began his postgame press conference Sunday talking about turnovers and, predictably, segued into taking questions about the team's mounting injuries.
And understandably so. Both continue to pile up for the Falcons. Atlanta turned the ball over three times and lost three more players to injuries in a 23-17 home loss to the Bills.
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Yet, despite the turnovers and injuries, the Falcons (3-1) still had a chance to pull out a win in the final minutes of the game. And one of the things Atlanta did well for the third straight game was run the football.
The Falcons combined for 149 rushing yards against the Bills (3-1), led by Tevin Coleman's 79 yards on nine carries. Devonta Freeman added 59 yards and a score on 18 carries. Against the Lions and Packers, the Falcons gained a total of 292 – 151 and 141, respectively – on the ground.
The Falcons outgained the Bills 391 to 281 in total combined yardage and held on to the ball for 31:15, compared to 28:45 for Buffalo.
"Number one, pleased with the run game," Quinn said. "To have that kind of action for the running backs and the factor they were, that's what we expect from our offensive line. I'll have to go back and have a better look in terms of the pass protection, but I thought we had our opportunities today and we missed them. … But running back-wise, offensive line-wise, play action, the run game, that's a big part of what we do and we'll continue to emphasize that."
Trailing by six when they took over on what would be their final drive, the Falcons were forced to go to the air with 3:06 remaining in regulation and operated out of the shotgun formation during the final 12 plays.
On fourth-and-1 on the Bills' 10-yard line with 49 seconds left, many thought the Falcons might go back to the run. Instead Matt Ryan's pass to Taylor Gabriel fell incomplete in the end zone.
"We had two plays called, one for a certain look, one for another," Quinn said of the fourth-and-1 play call. "We thought heading in, it would give us a good opportunity on a third-and-one to go convert it and get right back on the ball and get rolling again. We'll give them credit to have the play defended, and it was certainly a disappointing way for us to finish it."
Quinn said the Falcons were ready to run to the ball there, if they got the right look.
"Yep, that was going to be the plan if the other look had come about," Quinn said. "Either way, we could stay in that personnel group. It just so happened that we had enough time there that you could have changed personnel group to take three or four shots into the end zone. The first thing was getting the first down and then get back on the ball, and then we would play again in hopes of getting the touchdown.
"That was the game plan going in, in that scenario: get the first down, get back on the ball and give us the option to throw it in the end zone."