Stat corner: Falcons can’t go 1-of-11 on third downs

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Former Falcons coach Dan Quinn, now the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, shut down the Falcons’ offense on third downs in a 43-3 loss Sunday.

The Falcons were 1-of-11 on third-down conversions and 0-of-2 on fourth-down tries.

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With the offense unable to sustain drives, the Falcons’ defense was hung out to dry against Dallas’ elite quarterback and fleet of wide receivers.

“Give credit to Dallas,” Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone said. “They did a good job of erasing some of the things we were trying to do. They were able to get to the passer on some of those things.”

On his team’s first third down, Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage appeared to make a catch for a 12-yard gain to pick up the first down. However, Dallas challenged the play and the pass was ruled incomplete.

The Falcons settled for a field goal and things went down hill from there.

Ragone and the offensive staff looked at the failures on third down and found a common theme.

“Again, always evaluating what you did well and what you didn’t do well,” Ragone said. “We can put guys in different positions. (Run) different route concepts. At the end the day, be able to wait for certain coverages and making sure that we are doing a good enough job as coaches of putting our player in the right spots for them to be successful.”

On the season, the Falcons are converting on 40.3% of their third downs, which ranks 14th in the league. Kansas City ranks No. 1 in the NFL, at 53.3%.

Coach Arthur Smith, Ragone and the rest of the staff are hoping the Dallas game was an outlier.

“Specifically last week, we had the back-to-back three-and outs,” Ragone said. “We started the first two possessions in which we were obviously moving the ball. Again, you want to give yourself opportunities in the National Football League to stay on the field and by doing so you have to convert on third down.”

When they do move down the field, the Falcons must stop giving kicker Younghoe Koo so much work on his short-range field goals.

“We have to be better there, we know that,” Ragone said. “We have to score points. When we get down in the red (zone), throughout my whole career as a player and a coach, the four-point swings in the red (zone) have decided more games than anything else.”

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Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons 30, Dolphins 28

Panthers 19, Falcons 13

Falcons 27, Saints 25

Cowboys 43, Falcons 3

Next four games

Patriots at Falcons, 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18

Falcons at Jacksonville, 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 28

Tampa Bay at Atlanta, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5

Atlanta at Carolina, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12