After the Falcons' loss in New Orleans, Dan Quinn chose to turn down the practice music for a while.
Though loud noises help Atlanta prep for hostile environments, the coaching staff decided communication, which had been an issue on defense, needed to be a priority. So the ambiance at Flowery Branch changed, and the team tried to streamline its on-field conversations.
That work made an immediate difference. On Sunday, Tennessee drove deep into Atlanta territory near the end of the first half and, had they scored a touchdown, would have likely come away with a win. But with 18 seconds on the clock, Zach Mettenberger fired an ill-advised pass right to Paul Worrilow, who came down with an interception to make sure the Falcons would only trail by four after 30 minutes.
It was a bad throw, yes, but Worrilow made his job easy by listening to teammate Justin Durant: Right before the snap, Durant figured out Tennessee's intentions and told his middle linebacker to drop back into coverage rather than look for a run.
"So I got my eyes back to the quarterback, and then the ball was right there," Worrilow said. "The things we stressed in practice, they pay off.
"It's all about talking. You have to—pre-snap, alerts, everything—especially down in the red zone, because offenses have things they lean on, things they're going to do."
Officials negated the long INT return due to a penalty, but the turnover itself—Tennessee's first of two on the afternoon—was massively important. Since the Titans got zero points on that drive, the Falcons' TD and field goal ended up being enough to come out on top.
"That's what being a great teammate is all about," Quinn said of Durant's advice. "'Hey, this play may come up.' If you're able to share that information and articulate and he makes a play—what a cool opportunity that is."