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First Quarter: Falcons Looking Good


Maybe it was the bye week. I heard all week the statistic about NFL teams' coming off bye weeks winning 60 percent of the games. The Falcons are certainly looking like it helped them.

Honestly, considering the opponent, I think this is the best I've seen them so far this season on both sides of the ball -- minus Brent Grimes' missed tackle on Josh Morgan that set up the 49ers' touchdown. The Falcons have pressured the quarterback, caused a turnover, scored in the red zone and hit for a long touchdown pass for the first time this season. But maybe most of all, the best sign looks like their running game is back with 35 yards against the NFL's fourth-best run defense. Now, if they can only cut out the penalties.

The Falcons certainly are clicking, but maybe the 49ers were believing their own hype. The Fox broadcasters are certainly hyping the 49ers' defense. Tony Siragusa compared them to the 2000 Ravens' defense that he was a part of. Gentleman, we're four games into the season of a rebuilding team. I didn't hear anyone on the 49ers making that boast this week. Can we get a little perspective please?

Among the quarter's big plays was Brian Williams' interception. After the play, I immediately thought back to something that Falcons Defensive Backs Coach Alvin Reynolds said to me this week when I wrote a story about Williams: Williams is a play-maker. In four games, Williams now has a fumble recovery, a blocked punt and an interception. I'd say he's been a key acquisition already.

Great analysis by Daryl Johnston on Michael Turner's touchdown run. He showed how wide receiver Roddy White went wide to the right, taking the run support defense of corner back Nate Clements with him. Then he showed a block by Tony Gonzalez walling off 49ers' linebacker Takeo Spikes. Gonzalez pointed the finger at himself this week for not doing enough on his blocks in the run game. Looks like he's making up for it. Although, later Gonzalez was called for a hold but the penalty was declined.

Maybe the most interesting thing that happened in the quarter was Roddy White's 31-yard touchdown catch after 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary called timeout to regroup. Fhe Falcons were dominating his team at the time. The broadcast showed Singletary with his team gathered around, jawing in animated fashion. White's long touchdown followed.

Said Johnston: "This team is not playing the way you would expect them right now... They are not playing Mike Singletary-style of football... They got chewed out during the break and this is how they respond?"

Said Siragusa: "Wow, wide open, too."

After the commercial more Siragusa: Singletary "really went off. I thought they were going to respond."

Johnston then commented that San Francisco "is not a come-from-behind team."

However, both were "sensing a momentum shift" at the end of the quarter. We shall see.

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