Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons lost ground in the NFC playoff race after suffering a 14-9 defeat against the Minnesota Vikings. The home-standing Falcons are now 7-5 on the season, one game out of the final playoff spot and two games behind their next opponent, the New Orleans Saints. The Saints lead the NFC South at 9-3.
One of the key stats from Sunday’s loss was the Falcons’ inability to convert on third down. Atlanta was 1-for-10 on third down. However, Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn made sure everyone knew his team failed with regards to situational football.
“I went back through it again last night, and you know, some of the ones are situations and how they played out,” Quinn explained Monday. “For instance, in the game, we had a third and eight and had a long 25-yard run that went to third and 12. On that one, we said ‘if we can get half the distance back, we’ll go for it’ and we were able to do that. We went to fourth and two and we converted. So, I didn’t look at that one as a negative play because we were able to extend the drive.”
“Another one happened on a third and 17 that we ran a draw for 12 yards and we ended up kicking a field goal in that situation to get in the red zone. I didn’t see that as a negative. We had another one later on that was for a third and 13 that we ended up kicking off it. My bigger question was how the hell did we get into third and 12 and third and 17 and third and 13?”
Untimely penalties did the Falcons in Sunday. Atlanta committed seven penalties totaling 55 yards. Meanwhile, the Vikings were 6-of-12 on third down.
“I didn’t think we would go one-of-10, but we always put a big emphasis on third down,” Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer explained. “It is always a big part of the game, we were six-of-11 on offense on third downs. That really ended up being a big factor in the game. We allowed them to rush the ball a couple of times early in the game, so we had to change some things up. Our guys battled, and I thought the four-minute drive at the end of the game to put it away was a huge part of the game. It was a test of wills to be able to run the ball for first downs, with Latavius [Murray], being physical running and then the third down catch by Adam [Thielen] and throw by Case [Keenum] was big.”