Smith bemoans his Falcons’ second-half woes
Coach Mike Smith says the Atlanta Falcons can’t take much
satisfaction from almost rallying against the San Francisco
For Smith, Atlanta’s season-long inability to play a
mistake-free third quarter wiped out the gains made in an improved
final period Monday night.
”The explosive plays have been an issue for us all season
long,” Smith said Tuesday. ”We continue to not defend the deep
balls as well as we need to or we have a missed tackle on a running
play. We’ve given up way too many explosive plays.”
The Falcons have been outscored by 74 points in the second half
this year, due to big plays allowed by the defense, abundant
three-and-outs dragging down the offense and untimely penalties
hurting both sides.
Such was the case against San Francisco, which capitalized on
the miscues to keep Atlanta from winning consecutive games for the
first time since last December.
On the opening series of the third, the Falcons would have
forced a three-and-out had defensive end Osi Umenyiora not been
flagged for being offside.
Colin Kaepernick connected with Michael Crabtree on two of the
next three plays for 63 total yards, and the 49ers tied the score
one snap later on Anquan Boldin’s 10-yard touchdown catch.
”Once they got the momentum, it was hard to get it back,”
rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant said. ”They had the crowd behind
them. They’re a good team. We were holding them for a while. We
couldn’t get the stops when we needed them.”
Atlanta’s offense followed with a punt, and rookie linebacker
Paul Worrilow’s subsequent interference penalty on third down led
to a field goal that gave San Francisco the lead for good.
The flag on Worrilow looked questionable to safety William
Moore, but the Falcons likewise were undermined in the third by two
additional catches by Crabtree that netted 41 yards and a scramble
by Kaepernick that gained 22.
Midway through the fourth, Kendall Hunter ran past Stephen
Nicholas’ tackle attempt to break off a 44-yard run and set up
Frank Gore’s 1-yard run for a 10-point lead.
”That one play, we have to make the tackle and have
communication all the way around,” Moore said. ”It was just one
missed play, and you see what happened.”
The Falcons (4-11) have one last opportunity to change their
second-half fortunes when playoff-bound Carolina (11-4) visits the
Georgia Dome on Sunday.
Smith knows that close won’t be good enough against the Panthers
team that’s won two straight and 10 off 11, particularly after
watching the scenario play out in the last regular-season game at
In the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan orchestrated two long drives
that ended with touchdown passes to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez,
but after the Falcons recovered an onside kick, the quarterback’s
pass to Harry Douglas was tipped and intercepted by NaVorro Bowman
for an 89-yard TD return.
At least the yearlong nightmare is almost over for Atlanta,
which finished last season 10 yards shy of the Super Bowl in a
narrow NFC title game loss to San Francisco.
”We’re just not making the plays when they’re presented to us
to win those types of games,” Smith said. ”And that’s something
that we have to continue to work on and get right for this last
game against Carolina.”
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