Dan Quinn defends fourth-and-1 OT call: 'Just a gut feeling I went with'

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Monday, October 24, 2016

ATLANTA -- Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he went with his gut on a crucial fourth-and-1 play from his own 45 in Sunday's 33-30 overtime loss to the Chargers. Theplayresulted in a 1-yard loss for running back Devonta Freeman and set up San Diego's game-winning field goal.

"Honestly, I had a real belief we were going to make it and just keep the drive going and keep extending it," Quinn said. "Just a gut feeling that I went with. It didn't work. We can second-guess. That's easy to do, but it was more a mindset. I had such a belief in the guys to go get aggressive and get that half a yard that we needed. So when we didn't, that was a costly mistake.''

Quinn said the success of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and the offensedid not factor in his decision not to allow his defense back on the field. The Falcons surrendered 426 total yards and allowed Rivers to throw for 371 yards.

"That didn't have a factor on it in that particular time," Quinn said. "It was really just a factor of, 'I think we're going to get it and this drive is going to keep going, and we're going to finish with some points at the end of it.'"

The Falcons won the coin toss and received the ball first in overtime. Quinn was asked why he settled on the outside zone run play on fourth down against a tough Chargers defense, which came into the game ranked fifth in defending the run. Linebacker Denzel Perryman was the one who dropped Freeman for a loss.

Perryman, who knows Freeman from their high school playing days in Miami, was confident about making the big stop.

"Honestly, it was instincts," he said. "It was fourth-and-1. They were successful running the ball today and were able to stop them a couple of times. But it was fourth-and-1, so it was no-brainer that they were going to run the ball. The defensive line did their job, and I did my job. All 11 did their job. I made the play. So, I give credit to the whole defense. It wasn't just me."

Freeman defended his coach's play call.

"Coach Dan, he's aggressive," Freeman said. "We're aggressive. That's what we do. If we get in a situation like that next game, we're going to do the same thing."

Added Quinn: "I just thought we had a good shot. We had a good look at a good run on that one. We didn't execute like we can. We had the look there and what we wanted, and we liked the call. We just didn't execute it, and they did.

"It wasn't a matter of if we had a different one. Obviously in those times, you can throw it. We just thought, 'Hey, here's a chance for us. Let's get behind the line.' They made a good play, too. I've got to give them credit as well."

Quarterback Matt Ryan was asked if he was surprised by the fourth-down play call after he got stuffed on a third down sneak. Timeouts by both sides preceded Freeman getting shut down by Perryman.

"Absolutely not," Ryan said. "That's the way Dan [Quinn] is and that's the way our entire team is -- we want to attack and we want to be aggressive. As players, it's our responsibility to make him right and to go out there and make the plays, and we had two chances on third-and-short and then fourth-and-short and we didn't get it done. From a player's perspective, that's the point that's very disappointing."

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