1. Up-And-Down First Half: The Falcons started quickly, putting together two solid drives in the first quarter and although they only came away with field goals on each, the offense moved up the field efficiently. They mixed the run and pass well in the first half and the defense did the rest to keep the Titans off the board. Atlanta's D limited the Titans to only 40 yards in the first quarter and although they gave up 158 yards in the second quarter, the game never got away from them, holding the Titans to only one touchdown and two field goals. Atlanta's offense had some troubles with Tennessee's pass rush and couldn't keep the hot streak going in the second quarter. During that period Ryan was sacked four times and the Falcons D gave up a touchdown and two field goals.
2. Biermann On The Loose: After giving up the touchdown to begin the second quarter, the Falcons defense settled down and kept the Titans out of the endzone into the half. Central to the effort was Kroy Biermann who showed that a player that plays all over the field can make a lot of plays. He lined up in a lot of places and he ended his night with seven tackles and two sacks. Both sacks amounted to big plays for the Falcons defense. His first came in the second quarter on a third down to end the drive. His second came later in the quarter, but on first-and-10. This time he dropped quarterback Jake Locker for a 10-yard loss and the Titans couldn't gain enough yardage to get closer, settling for their second field goal. Biermann generated a pass rush from a variety of places on the field and looks on his way to thriving in coach Mike Nolan's system.
3. Jackson & Jones In Form: Despite the lack of endzone success, the Falcons offense got a lot of production from some of their key stars. Steven Jackson was the only running back the Falcons used in the first half and came out in the third quarter with the starters as well. He carried the ball 12 times for 51 yards, moving the chains at a 4.2 yards-per-carry average. Jackson also got involved in the passing game, catching three passes for 15 yards. Julio Jones did what he normally does, catching four passes for 81 yards in essentially one half of work, with 42 of those yards coming on one play.
4. Bryant Out Vs. Titans: The other kicker with the Falcons this preseason is undrafted rookie Jeremy Shelley from Alabama. He got a lot of extra work in the week leading up to Saturday's game and when the game began we found out why. Veteran Matt Bryant did not play and Shelley stepped in, hitting three of four field goal attemps. During the CBS broadcast, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Bryant was dealing with some "tightness in his back". Last week, Shelley connected on his one field goal attempt against the Ravens and later that week in practice he was accurate from 51-yards out. Though Shelley missed one in Saturday's game, he's showing himself to be a reliable option should Bryant's injury be serious.
5. Bartu Takes Key Snaps: With starting linebacker Stephen Nicholas out against the Titans, many were curious to see what the Falcons would do on passing downs with the linebackers opposite Sean Weatherspoon. Rookie Joplo Bartu, an undrafted addition in the offseason, was on the field a lot during the first half with the starters on third down. He also came onto the field in some second-down situations. Coaches have spoken positively about Bartu's coverage ability against tight ends and he showed that nose for the ball with a forced fumble in the first quarter. The linebacker met a scrambling Locker in the open field and knocked the ball away. Safety Thomas DeCoud covered and the Falcons' offense put together a field-goal drive in response. Bartu's surprise play along with fellow rookie Paul Worrilow is going to make for some tough decisions for the coaching staff entering the final week of the preseason.