PATRIOTS TOP FALCONS 28-10
New England's Clock Control Offense Wears Down Falcons
In 2009, the Falcons ranked second in the League with 30 five-minute drives. Atlanta opened Thursday night's game with an 11 play, 5:32 drive that covered 49 yards and ended with a 46-yard field goal from K Matt Bryant.
QB John Parker Wilson orchestrated an 8:32 second drive in the fourth quarter that spanned 80 yards and 16 plays, finding WR Troy Bergeron for a 19-yard score and cutting New England's lead to 28-10.
The Falcons scored points on 73 percent of their five minute drives last season including 14 touchdowns, which ranked second in the NFL and Atlanta's 121 points on five minute drives ranked third in the League.
The Break Up
S Erik Coleman broke up a would-be touchdown on a deep pass intended for WR Randy Moss during the Patriots first drive. New England called a play-action pass on first and 10 from their own 44 yard line, but Coleman did not bite on the play fake, staying with Moss all the way to the goal line and knocking the pass away to save a touchdown. Coleman also led the team with five total tackles.
One of the Falcons veteran leaders, Coleman paced the Falcons secondary with 139 tackles (96 solo) in 2009, as he helped tutor a young defensive backfield.* *
Catch It If You Can
In 2009, the Patriots and Falcons were two of four teams boasting two receivers with 83 or more catches, with Falcons' duo WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez combing for 168 catches. In Thursday night's game the duo combined for four catches and 44 yards in just three offensive series.
Falcons QB John Parker Wilson threw Atlanta's first touchdown pass of 2010 when he connected with WR Troy Bergeron for a 19-yard score late in the fourth quarter to cap a 16 play, 80 yard drive.
Falcons quarterbacks utilized their tight ends early and often as Justin Peele led the team catching three passes for 30 yards, while Tony Gonzalez hauled in a pair of passes for 18 yards, including a 11-yard pickup to help set up Bryant's early field goal.
For the second straight game DE Kroy Biermann recorded a strip sack when he brought down Patriots QB Tom Brady for a seven yard loss and forced a fumble.
Nowhere to Run
DE Lawrence Sidbury made his presence felt in both the running game and the passing game as he totaled four tackles (three solo), recorded a tackle for a loss, quarterback hit and brought down Patriots' QB Zach Robinson for an 11-yard loss late in the fourth quarter.
K Michael Koenen booted both his first kickoff and the opening kickoff of the second half deep into the endzone for touchbacks preventing the Patriots from gaining any momentum in the return game.
All five of Koenen's kickoffs in the preseason have resulted in touchbacks.
The Falcons coverage unit led the NFL, holding opponents to an average start of the 21.4 yard line. Much of that success came from Koenen's ability to kick the ball deep into the endzone preventing teams from having the chance of long returns.
Success on Third Down
The Falcons offense converted 8 of 15 (53%) third down attempts against the Patriots defense, picking up nearly half of its total first downs (17) up against the wall on third down.
Last season, Atlanta ranked 10th in the NFL with a 41.1 conversion rate on third down. The team has made it a point of emphasis to have better success on first and second down in order to set up manageable third down situations to remain among the League leaders. The Falcons saw five third and long situations, converting three against the Patriots.