ATLANTA -- The Falcons have featured inconsistent play throughout the 2019 season, usually leading to huge halftime deficits and then sometimes narrower defeats at the end of games. That happened Sunday in Atlanta's, 27-20, loss against the Seattle Seahawks.
But during the defeat, in addition to inconsistent play, Falcons coach Dan Quinn made some conflicting fourth-down decisions.
On back-to-back drives in the second quarter, the Falcons faced fourth-and-1. The first time, Quinn elected to kick a 51-yard field goal, which Matt Bryant missed. On the next fourth-and-1 from the Falcons 34-yard line, Quinn decided to stick with his offense, which converted for a first down.
Between those possessions, the Seahawks scored a touchdown. The Falcons were behind 3-0 when Bryant attempted the long field goal and then in a 10-point hole when going for the second fourth-and-1.
During his postgame press conference, Quinn explained why he wanted three points in the first situation but then chose to "grunt" on the next short fourth-down situation.
"(We said in the first situation) 'Hey, let's get on the board, let's get some points and get rolling,'" Quinn said. "We ended up missing that, and then when you're behind, you have to make some bold decisions to go, be aggressive."
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There's a lot to dissect here. Quinn is correct that he probably needed to be more aggressive on the second fourth-and-short, but from his own 34, he was guaranteeing points for Seattle if the offense didn't convert. The Falcons missed two fourth-and-shorts a couple weeks ago against the Titans, which helped turn the tide in Tennessee's favor, and the decision to go for the second fourth-and-1 against Seattle could have easily done the same.
The Falcons converted so everything was fine (until Matt Schaub threw an interception a few plays later), but with that amount of aggressiveness, it's very odd Quinn didn't go for fourth-and-1 from the Seahawks 33-yard line just minutes prior.
Quinn may have went with these conflicting decisions because he saw the Falcons needed to be more aggressive once they faced a double-digit deficit. Or, after the missed field goal, perhaps he regretted not giving the offense a shot and elected to do that on the next fourth-and-short.
On one hand, these decisions are moot points because the Falcons fell behind 24-0, but Atlanta scored a touchdown with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter to pull within 10 and had no choice but to go for two to get the deficit down to one possession. After the failed two-point conversion, the Falcons then had to try an onside kick, which didn't work either.
If Quinn goes for fourth-and-1 the first time, and the Falcons convert, assuming they take care of the ball, they at least make Bryant's attempt a little shorter. Or maybe even score a touchdown.
The other thing to consider is Quinn made his decision with the assumption his kicker was going to give him three points, but that didn't happen, making his choice look like the wrong one.
Getting any type of points on the drive where the Falcons settled for the long missed field goal could have changed the complexion of Atlanta's comeback attempt.