The Atlanta Falcons have held a second-half lead in all five games this season. In the first three, they came within a few whiskers of dropping each only to eke out victories. In the last two games, Dan Quinn's team faltered down the stretch. Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins saw a 17-0 halftime lead wiped away.
Quinn called the Week 6 loss a "tale of two halves," but said he didn't think the late-game struggles were a "systematic" or "game management" issue.
"I wouldn't say it's a letdown. It's not a case of like a letdown," Quinn said when asked why teams are able to close the game in the second half. "Sometimes, and I'm not saying this is [the case], but you can over-try. I'm trying so hard not to foul up, and you're not playing into your own self. We'll look at everything. We looked at the four games that we had. We liked some closes that we had..."
Sunday's closing was a collapse in all three phases, as the NFC champs saw a 17-point lead wiped away. The Falcons defense allowed a heretofore punchless Miami offense to score on five straight second-half possessions to take the lead. The offense got bulled at the line of scrimmage and didn't score in the second half, with Matt Ryan throwing the game-ending interception in field goal range.
"Hats off to them today. They were the better team," Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones said of the Dolphins, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. "But it's on us. It's a player-led team. We've got to find ways to win games. ... We just have to go out there and finish the game."
"We've got to reset," safety Ricardo Allen said. "It ain't no other way. What you going to do, just lay down? There's s--- else you can do. You've got be a man. You've got to know what we work for when we wake up every morning. What we grind for. What this team stands for. We've got to reset."
Added Vic Beasley: "I feel like we have to have a short-term memory. We've got a big game coming up with New England, the Super Bowl rematch. If we want to go back to where we were last year, we've got to definitely win."