Down by four points and needing a touchdown to take the lead with less than three minutes to go in Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn made a perplexing decision on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line. The Falcons had issues running the ball against the 49ers all day, but considering the alternative was a fairly useless field goal, it seemed like Quinn would certainly be forced to go for the touchdown.
Instead, Quinn lined up and kicked the field goal, making it 17-16 and forcing the Falcons’ defense to make a stop to get the ball back while also forcing the offense to have to make a furious attempt at scoring again just to take the lead. Unfortunately, the Falcons never got that far as the 49ers ran out the clock and sealed the game.
After the game on Sunday, Quinn defended his decision to kick in his post-game press conference, as transcribed here by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“Yeah, I think, I’m always prepared for them. The way I chose to do it in that one was to, ‘Let’s kick it, get the stop.’ I felt like we were stopping defensively and we’d go stop it again and go win it that way. Looking back, yeah, it’s always a chance to second guess. You have two ways to go win it, go try and get it right there, kick, get another stop and then go down. So, could have went either way. I chose to go the way to kick it and get a stop and go win it in two minute. I just have such belief in our guys both offensively and defensively. That’s just the way I chose and that didn’t work out for us today.”
A first-year head coach, Quinn and the Falcons are on a pretty brutal skid, losing three of their last four games after jumping out to a 5-0 start. The Falcons have a bye next week before taking on the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 22.