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First Quarter: No First Downs for Birds


They didn't do it in the first quarter, but one would expect the Falcons will manage at least one first down in the game. Only 10 yards total offense in the period, too.

That may be confounding the pundits a bit. Entering the game, consensus among one network's pregame show was for the Falcons. In fact, only one of the panelists picked Chicago.

Take a wild guess as to which of the ESPN quintet of Keyshawn Johnson, Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Tom Jackson and Mike Ditka it was. If you picked the former Bears' Super Bowl-winning coach and Hall of Fame tight end, you win. Otherwise, it would have been a clean sweep. That would have been impressive.

The biggest play of the quarter went to Falcons' second-year safety Thomas DeCoud, who intercepted Jay Cutler's pass at the Falcons' 9 yard-line with 7 minutes 1 second left and returned it five yards. Cutler had completed his first six passes, then threw an incompletion while looking for Devin Hester on a fade route in the right corner of the end zone.

On the interception, Cutler was looking for Hester again – maybe one too many times? Hester had two catches on the first drive when DeCoud notched the first interception of his career, reading Cutler's eyes as he looked for Hester over the middle.

DeCoud had two chances for interceptions against New England. Here's what Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith had to say of those plays during the bye week:

"There's a couple of things that you've got to be able to do when the chance is there.You want your guy to be able to make the play. It's very difficult and one of those -- the deep ball, I think -- was a tough play. But when we tell our guys, hey, if you can get your hands on it, you have to have the mindset that you're going to make those plays."

A few other observations from the quarter:

Hester's speed is scary. Coy Wire made a big tackle on the first punt return of the game and DeCoud made one on a pass play. Those could have been big plays. With 34 seconds left in the quarter, Stephen Nicholas stopped Hester from behind after a 33-yard return. Seemed like Michael Koenen outkicked the coverage with a 61-yard punt on that one. *

The Bears converted three third downs on their first drive before DeCoud's interception. The first was a five-yard pass to tight end Greg Olsen on third-and-one, then a six-yard pass to Earl Bennett on third-and-four and Cutler's quarterback sneak on third-and-one from the 15. *

Chicago is outgaining the Falcons in yards 85 to 10. *

Matt Ryan had Michael Jenkins open for a long third-down conversion but threw it behind him on the Falcons' final possession of the quarter. *

Kroy Biermann would have had his team-leading fourth sack but it appeared that he was held – or tripped. *

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