FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Falcons coach Dan Quinn isn’t fond of putting games in the hands of officials.
He would prefer to have the outcome already decided as the fourth quarter winds down.
A confluence of interceptions and penalties kept that from happening Sunday at Detroit. The Falcons eked out a 30-26 victory after video review showed cornerback Brian Poole touching Golden Tate as the receiver’s knee went down just shy of the goal line .
The touchdown was nullified, the last 10 seconds were run off the clock, and the Falcons (3-0) were headed home as the NFC’s only unbeaten team.
“The emotions of going from the dagger to the heart to, ‘OK, that’s a good win’ — those emotions would feel different (with a loss), but we’ll go right back to the process and treat it the same,” Quinn said Monday. “For us, we feel like we’re just getting rolling. Just three games into it, there is lots of work to get done, but it was definitely one of the most unusual endings to a game that I’ve been a part of.”
When Atlanta hosts Buffalo (2-1) this weekend, Quinn hopes to build a substantial lead and maintain it.
The Falcons squeaked by in the opener at Chicago when Brooks Reed sacked Mike Glennon for a 9-yard loss on fourth-and-goal at the 5. Two weeks ago against Green Bay, the offense failed to convert a third down that gave the ball back to the Packers with 1 minute remaining.
Quinn can take comfort in knowing that all three opponents needed at least a touchdown to win or force overtime, but Atlanta still is making enough mistakes to avoid feeling overly confident.
Quarterback Matt Ryan’s pick-six gave Detroit a big touchdown late in the second quarter. Ryan threw two other interceptions that Tevin Coleman and Mohamed Sanu should’ve caught, and Desmond Trufant drew pass interference penalties twice on the closing drive.
Quinn said the game’s big picture — a victory on the road — was more important than a few blown plays. Ryan passed for two touchdowns and nearly 300 yards. Coleman had eight touches that averaged over 9 yards. Sanu had an acrobatic touchdown catch on the game’s opening drive. Trufant had a pass breakup that prevented a touchdown late in the third quarter.
“I told the team earlier that I was really impressed on the sideline,” Quinn said. “Sometimes when a turnover happens, there’s a roll of the eyes or ‘What happened there?’ It was just the opposite. ‘Don’t worry about it. We got you.’ “
Most encouraging for Quinn is that his defense made enough plays at Detroit and Chicago to keep both teams from crossing the goal line on the game’s final drive.
“We’ve put a lot of work into that part of our game from the offseason, into training camp and now into the season,” Quinn said. “What you emphasize sometimes is what comes through and we emphasize situational football. It’s paying dividends for us.”
Notes: Quinn said RT Ryan Schraeder, still in the NFL concussion protocol, hopes to get cleared so that he can practice this week and play against the Bills. Schraeder’s replacement, Ty Sambrailo, has blocked well in the run game but has struggled in protection. … FS Ricardo Allen left the game with a concussion on the closing drive. He will spend the week being evaluated and likely will be out. … Quinn said it’s too early to tell if DE Vic Beasley (hamstring) and DE Courtney Upshaw (ankle) will be able to practice. … Quinn was pleased with rookie Takk McKinley, who had one sack in Beasley’s place and was disruptive in 48 snaps. “I’m very excited about where he’s heading,” Quinn said, “The physical style that he plays with really suits how we want to play.”
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