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Falcons coach Dan Quinn reflects on goal-line misses versus Titans

"There was no hesitation on my end to go for it," Dan Quinn said."We thought it could be a two-score game." Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- For the second day in a row, Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn spoke up about his team's playcalling on two goal-line plays in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 10-7 win over the Tennessee Titans. He emphasized how going for it on fourth down rather than attempting a field goal was the correct choice instead of second-guessing the play calls themselves.

Both plays occurred after official turned away what appeared to be a 4-yard touchdown reception by Julio Jones on second down. With the Falcons facing third-and-goal from the Titans' 1-yard line with 7 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in regulation, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan went with a fullback dive for Patrick DiMarco rather than handing it to top back Devonta Freeman. DiMarco got smashed in midair and dropped for a no gain as the Titans linebackers didn't play wide to stop the outside-zone look. Shanahan obviously felt like a bit of deception would work best in such a situation.

Then on fourth down, the Falcons called a play-action pass to tight end Tony Moeaki off a downhill lead. Maybe Moeaki could have sold it better, but the Titans covered it well. The end result was a Matt Ryan pass to tight end Jacob Tamme that was tipped and intercepted in the end zone.

"That's a good topic to talk about -- while we're at it -- on the goal-line series," Quinn said Monday when asked why there was no handoff to Freeman. "There was no hesitation on my end to go for it. We thought it could be a two-score game. And, we go for it a lot on fourth down. And I think that's the trust and the belief that we have in our players, No. 1.

"Through the preseason, I think we had four runs and a pass (in goal-line situations). On the last one, we thought we had a good shot on the fullback play to get it. On the (fourth down), we were expecting a certain coverage. And let's give them credit. They took the coverage away that they had. But the belief for Devonta in terms of our mindset and what he can do, he's a factor in everything. So, yeah, it would have be great to have that come back. But as we're playing our goal-line offense, there's lot of ways to attack. As we go through it, we'll continue to find ways to attack."

Immediately after the game, Quinn was asked about the two plays calls.

"The decisions at the end, really we felt like we had two downs, and we we're going to exercise both of them if we had the opportunity to do so," Quinn said Sunday. "As you look back and it didn't work, yeah, you're disappointed that we didn't execute it like we're capable of. But I don't regret decision to go for it and have that type of belief and trust in the guys, which I certainly do."

Tamme, who was part of the fourth-down play, credited the defense.

"When it got tipped, I brought it back toward me with my left hand," Tamme explained. "I saw great view of it on the TV copy. I was going to catch it. I felt like I was getting ready to bring it down to my body when I was on the ground there, and Avery (Williamson) made an unbelievable play. He came over the top of me as I was getting ready to grab it. I was a split second away from having it, and he made phenomenal play.

"Look, he made a great play, but when the ball gets thrown to me in the end zone -- in my mind -- I'm going to get that ball. There's little stuff all over the game we could have done better."

The Falcons know they have to be better in the red zone regardless of the play calls. They were 1-of-3 against the Titans and had two red zone turnovers in a loss to the New Orleans Saints.