First Quarter: Falcons Moving the Ball

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On Monday when Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith addressed the media he said as part of his opening statement that he wanted to correct something he said the day before after the team's 34-7 loss to the Eagles. The Falcons did not get beat in all three phases of the game against the Eagles -- offense, defense and special teams -- they got beat in all four, Smith said, including coaching.

Thus far, the Falcons have executed a very successful offensive game plan.

Chris Redman has completed 5 out of 6 passes for 66 yards and they are all of the short variety that are easy for Redman to complete, including two to fullback Ovie Mughelli. The Falcons have outgained the Saints, with the NFL's top offense, 125 yards to 65 and hold a 6-3 lead. (The Saints have just begun their second possession with the Falcons having the benefit of two full ones).

One positive sign for the Falcons was the way Redman started. Last week, offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey also seemed to try to get him some short passes to get him in a rhythm. On Redman's first try last week, he bounced a wide receiver screen into the turf. This week, his third-and-3 try to Jason Snelling went for 38 yards on his first attempt. The Falcons went with a four wide receiver-formation and snuck Snelling, the lone back, over the middle for a short pass. The middle of the field was wide open and Snelling had plenty of room to run. That nine-play, 57-yard drive put the Falcons up 3-0 -- a good start.

Mularkey also called a reverse to Eric Weems that went for 31 yards and set up the second field goal.

About the only down side for the Falcons offensively so far has been on third-down conversions. They are 1-for-3 and two drives stalled in the red zone, forcing the Falcons to kick field goals. They might need touchdowns to beat an offense as good as New Orleans'.

Defensively, Smith was harping all week on explosive plays -- those of 20 yards or longer. The Saints lead the league in them with 63 and the Falcons rank 31st on defense in terms of yielding the most. On the first drive, New Orleans had two: a 20-yard reception by receiver Marques Colston and a 24-yard catch by Pierre Thomas. Fortunately, for the Falcons, Thomas DeCoud got a tackle-for-loss on first down and Chevis Jackson was able to defend a pass to Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey to hold the league's top offense to a field goal.


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