NFL Atlanta FalconsSan Francisco 49ers

Atlanta Falcons Utilize Big Plays to Take First-Half Lead

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons got off to a hot start in their first NFC title game in years. Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan started the game just like he needed to, keeping the ball in the air and engineering an 80-yard drive to begin the game.

The Falcons know all about making big plays and that’s exactly what they did in the first half against the San Francisco 49ers.

Ryan led the Falcons to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and that didn’t quite show the dominance they had over the 49ers. At the end of the first quarter, the Falcons racked up 182 yards and Julio Jones had a good chunk of those with 100 yards and a touchdown catch.

The Atlanta defense was a question mark going into this game and after one quarter of play, they prevented the 49ers from gaining a yard, actually keeping them on the negative side of things with -2 total yards.

The second quarter went a bit different after the Falcons’ Jones caught yet another 20-yard touchdown pass and put Atlanta up 17-0. Following this play, the 49ers went on a bit of a run of their own, accumulating 159 yards and cutting the Atlanta lead to 17-14 with two minutes remaining in the first half.

After a sluggish start, Colin Kaepernick started gaining some momentum, passing for 99 yards and a touchdown pass.

The big play that came on a late-second quarter drive was a huge third-down conversion pass from Kaepernick to tight end Vernon Davis. Later in that same drive, Kaepernick had a huge 23-yard scramble that gave the 49ers good field goal position that led to a four-yard touchdown pass to Davis.

Matt Ryan then engineered an 80-yard drive in just over a minute to give the Falcons a 24-14 lead at halftime. Big momentum swing in Atlanta’s favor going into the second half. Ryan finished with 271 passing yards and three touchdowns. A tremendous start for a quarterback said to crumble under pressure.

Watch out for the Kaepernick-to-Davis connection in the second half as well as the Ryan-to-Jones connection. Both of which have been extremely successful in the first half, resulting in big plays for both teams.