The Falcons have talked about starting fast since coach Mike Smith arrived in Atlanta. Usually fast starts are associated with jumping out of the gate quickly on offense on the first series, but a defense can keep fast starts going throughout the game and this season the Falcons defense has done just that.
Atlanta's 17 takeaways this season are no secret. Lifted by a smart scheme by coordinator Mike Nolan, the Falcons have been forcing mistakes by opponents and they're tied for first in the NFL in takeaways. Maybe more impressive than the actual number of takeaways by the Falcons this season is how they're doing it ...or how quickly they're doing it.
Of their 17 turnovers this year, 11 have come on drives that lasted four or fewer plays, including two last week against the Raiders that occurred on the second play of both drives.
The Falcons have forced six interceptions and five fumbles on those quick-start drives this season and those 11 total turnovers forced on drives of four plays or less ranks first in the NFL.
In total, the Falcons have at least one takeaway in 39 of their last 41 games, including a streak of 27 straight games from 2010 into the 2011 season. The Falcons now have a 32-2 record when winning the turnover battle since 2008 under Smith.