Atlanta Falcons: Still Lacking "Killer" Instinct in Closing Out Opponents

By Daniel Chi
NFL: St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the Atlanta Falcons took their first step forward as they narrowly escape the St. Louis Rams comeback with a 31-24 victory, they still lack a “Killer” instinct in finishing off their opponents, a trait that is required in becoming truly an elite team in the NFL.

Never mind the quick start that included Matt Ryan‘s 81-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones or even the 68-yard interception returned for a touchdown by newcomer Osi Umenyiora. In the end, the Falcons 21-0 lead quickly dwindled to a less-impressive 31-24 victory.

The fact of the matter is, the Falcons have always been a team with the ability to start fast and score in electrifying ways that can stun opponents with a single play. But for three years straight, they continuously give life to their opponents and fail to finish strong at the end of games.

In Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons started of fast by racing out to a 10-0 lead in a dominant fashion. They were in the driver’s seat until a rare fumble by star receiver Jones in the second quarter energized the Saints to defeat the Falcons 23-17.

Yes, you can argue that if not for the Falcons’ turnovers, they would have been able to finish off the Saints and come out with a victory. But history has proven that the Falcons are just incapable so far in finishing games.

Last year in the 2012 NFC Championship game, the Falcons were up 17 points before the infamous meltdown where they ended up being 10 yards shy of making it to the Super Bowl for only the second time in franchise history.

In many games, the Falcons have proven to be an explosive team and at times, be one of the best teams in the league. With that being said, the Falcons have also proven that they are not “Super Bowl” ready. At the least, they’re not ready right now until they learn how to play not just three great quarters of football, but four.

All the great teams know how to finish off teams and demolish any life to their opponent, and most importantly have the last say in any game. In any sport, players and teams must be able to understand the difference between being great and being a champion.

Two games in and the Falcons have yet to prove that they are even great, as they continue to struggle in the same areas that have haunted them year after year.

For every Michael Jordan game-winning shot in the NBA Finals or Santonio Holmes game-winning Super Bowl catch, having a “Killer” instinct is a requirement and not an option. Until that is understood, the Falcons can win 12 or 13 games, but none of it will matter in the end.

It’s time for the Falcons to take their game to the next level and stop being a “nice” team, but become a team that can finish off opponents with a knock-out punch instead of throwing jabs every now and then.

The Falcons will get their first chance to work on closing out opponents against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3, and prove that they are capable of learning from their mistakes and take out their old habits to the dumpsters in 2013.

Daniel Chi is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @DanielChi24, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google 

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