Starting Fast, Third Downs Crucial to Falcons’ Success

Starting Fast, Third Downs Crucial to Falcons’ Success

Jay Adams

Published December 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM

It’s easy to let things get a little cloudy after a loss like the one the Falcons suffered against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, but now that the fog has cleared a bit and the Falcons are fully focused on preparing for the defending Super Bowl champions, it’s important to remember just how successful the Falcons’ offense has been this season.

Against the New York Giants, the Falcons certainly need to remember, too.

Sunday’s sluggish and flat start against Carolina was uncharacteristic of the Falcons under Mike Smith, and the numbers bore out just how important it is for the Falcons — in every game — to start out strong, hot and in a scoring fashion.

Since 2008, the Falcons have posted a 40-10 record in games that see them make a mark on the scoreboard first. The Falcons also lead the league since 2008 in points scored on their first offensive possession with 217, ahead of New England (201) and New Orleans (182) — no slouches when it comes to offensive production.

This year, the Falcons are leading the league in points scored on opening possessions with 44.

The crucial down — third down — has given the Falcons some trouble in recent weeks. In fact, the Falcons have converted just five of their last 22 third-down opportunities, going back to the second half of the Nov. 25 win over Tampa Bay.

Even still, the Falcons are among the best teams on third-down conversions this year, making good on 44.6 percent, which is good enough for third in the NFL.

The Falcons are also in the top 10 in the league in first downs, earning 287 total — 58 running, 204 passing and 25 by penalty. Since 2008, the Falcons are 39-14 when recording 20-or-more first downs.

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