The Atlanta Falcons struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm against the New York Giants during Sunday's NFC Wild Card game. Two key plays factored heavily into the Falcons' 247-yard performance. On fourth-and-inches from the Giants' 24-yard line in the second quarter, head coach Mike Smith opted to run a sneak with Matt Ryan instead of kick a field goal, and was stuffed by a swarming Giants' defensive line. Smith made the same decision in a similar situation from the Giants' 21-yard line in the third quarter, and once again Ryan was rebuffed. After the game, Smith defended his decision making.
"It was less than a yard, it was about half a yard, maybe even less than that," Smith said. "That was the play, again, we go through and sequence those things all through the week and felt like that was the play we had up and we just didn't execute it. We felt like at any point and time we ought to be able to move less than a half-yard with the quarterback sneak."
Smith called controlling the line of scrimmage "the crux of what we believe will lead us to success," and harped on the Falcons' inability to do so throughout his post-game press conference. Michael Turner was bottled up all day, managing just 41 yards rushing on 15 carries. The Falcons now heads into the offseason having lost three straight playoff games in three seasons.
"It's not the type of football we want to play and we'll start on the 2012 season, starting tomorrow," Smith said. "That's the way our coaching staff is going to pursue this. It's the next season already. We're going to learn from this. We're going to learn from every game that we play and try not to be in this situation again."