After leading 20-3 at halftime, the Atlanta Falcons found themselves trailing the Philadelphia Eagles 24-23 midway through the fourth quarter. No worries. Matt Bryant hit a 47-yard field goal on the ensuring drive, and the defense stopped Philly on its final two possessions for a 26-24 win.
Still, things got a little dicey in the second half.
“Yeah, that third quarter, they came back and they did a really good job coming out at halftime,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They had a plan and they played us well. I thought Dan (Quinn) and his coaching staff did a really good job of persevering through the third quarter and into the fourth quarter. Dan’s been talking a lot about finishing and making sure we continue to play every play and every series. Everything he’s been preaching over the last few months came to fruition there and I thought it was really good for our team. As you can imagine, pulling that game out was really good for Dan. It was great for Dan’s first win on Monday Night Football in the NFL.”
Atlanta’s defense, one of the worst in the NFL last season, looked vastly improved under Quinn’s tutelage. Guys were flying around, making plays in the pocket, making plays in the secondary.
It’s as though Quinn changed things overnight.
“I think he’s done a really good job,” Dimitroff said. “He came in from the very beginning during OTAs and really preached the idea of compete. The idea of playing fast, free and physical was a big thing for him. He’s about making sure that he doesn’t over-complicate and he’s able to let the players be the athletes they are. They love playing for him and they think he’s a very authentic coach in his approach and they did fly around. Good for him again.”
Scott Ferrall was highly impressed with Eric Weems, who had 77 return yards, and Ricardo Allen, who had seven tackles and the game-sealing interception.
“I think Eric Weems, he’s the quintessential special-teams guy,” Dimitroff said. “Tough, really aggressive, fits into Coach Quinn’s scheme very well as far as putting himself on the line – not only as a returner but as a special teams guy covering kicks. He’s one of the toughest guys on our team. Pound-for-pound, he probably is.’
Allen, meanwhile, found redemption after being cut and relegated to the practice squad last season.
“The kid really stepped up,” Dimitroff said. “It was his first game starting in the NFL and he came up with the game-winner, so good for Rico.”
While Julio Jones was a freak – he had nine catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns – Tevin Coleman was more than solid in his rookie debut, rushed 20 times for 80 yards.
“He’s an outside runner, but he can also pick it inside,” Dimitroff said of the Indiana product. “He’s got some really nice run skills. He doesn’t look at it like he’s a rookie. He has a swagger about him. I know it’s the first game, but we’re excited about what we have in him.”
Atlanta (1-0) will take its show on the road each of the next two weeks. The Falcons face the Giants (0-1) on Sept. 20 and the Cowboys (1-0) on Sept. 27.