I don't think anyone expected this: a 35-10 Falcons' lead at halftime? The Falcons' offense finally has broken out and it's doing so against arguably the best defense it has played so far this season. You're going to see the league observers stand up and take notice of this one.
The Falcons already have reached a season-high for points (35) in a game this season and they did it in about 25 minutes. Those 35 points, by the way, set a franchise record for points in a half, breaking the 29-year-old record of 34.
Fox broadcaster Daryl Johnston put it this way: "Such a shock to me against this defense."
Turnovers -- one of the things that had propelled the 49ers to a 3-1 record -- combined with the Falcons' ability to move the ball have been the keys to this game. San Francisco had only turned the ball over twice entering the game, but they duplicated that in the first half. The 49ers had forced six turnovers in four games. They have forced one so far. San Francisco's defense had entered the game as the NFL's 6th overall defense (284 yards per game). The Falcons have already rushed for more yards at halftime (82) than the 49ers had been allowing per game (73.8) and have a whopping 340 yards total offense.
Back-to-back big plays allowed the Falcons to blow this one open. First was Roddy White's 90-yard touchdown on a third-and-2. White is showing in this game why the Falcons chose to reward him with a new contract after White held out for the first few days of training camp. He has 185 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. That's a career best game for many players and White has done it in a half.
Here are some of Johnston's comments after White's touchdown:
White beat 49ers corner back Nate Clements on the play: "Nate Clements is one of the best corners in the league." *
"The Niners are gambling and they're not making the play and Roddy White is making them pay for it." *
"How about the speed?" *
"Another element that was missing from this offense, the explosive pass play." *
The second big play came as a result of San Francisco rookie Glen Coffee's costing the 49ers a timeout in the first quarter when he wasn't ready to go on the field. They had to burn one to get him out there. Television cameras showed 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary chewing Coffee out after the play.
Well, guess what? It looks like that play cost the 49ers a touchdown. San Francisco had used all of its timeouts, for which it's necessary to have at least one in order to issue a replay challenge, when Delanie Walker fumbled on a kickoff with about seven minutes left before halftime. Replays seemed to indicate that the ball came out when Walker hit the ground. The ground cannot cause a fumble, but the 49ers could not challenge the play because of their lack of timeouts. Singletary appeared livid on the sidelines talking to an official.
Michael Turner then ripped off his biggest run of the year, 33 yards. Two plays later -- both runs by himself -- Turner scored to make it 28-10. Huge.
Johnston after the touchdown: "Glen Coffee on the sidelines when 49ers in their offensive group -- that may have just cost them a possession.... Once it[the game] starts getting away from you, it gets away."
Kroy Biermann is having a huge game. He has a sack, for three on the year -- to lead the team, amazingly -- then he recovered Walker's fumble after Tony Gilbert caused it. Gilbert, by the way, was inactive for every game last season.
Biermann took an inside lane to beat 49ers tackle Tony Pashos on his sack, an insight pointed out by Fox sideline reporter Tony Siragusa, a former defensive lineman who once played under Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith when Smith was a Baltimore assistant
Siragusa added this about Smith: "It's great to see him as a head coach. The players love him in Atlanta."