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Atlanta Falcons and the game of inches

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The 10-second runoff is the #1 rated NFL rule, according to Pro Football Focus

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

There is a famous quote by the lovely poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou that states: "If you're always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

One thing is for sure about the Atlanta Falcons under head coach Dan Quinn: Normalcy was tossed out of the window a long time ago.

Statistically, the Falcons were the leader in every category in their 30-26 win over the Detroit Lions to move to 3-0 on the season. In terms of yards (428 to 324), first downs (26 to 21), yards per play (6.6 to 4.9), time of possession (32:35 to 27:25), and ultimately the scoreboard, the Falcons pretty much won in every facet. However, it did not come in a fashion that was "convenient" for majority of Falcons fans.

The reigning league MVP, QB Matt Ryan, tossed three interceptions. Granted, two bounced off the hands of his intended targets but of course most will forget that notion and pay attention to the ultimate result. For the second time in three games, the Falcons relied on their young defense to defend the field against an NFC North opponent. In week one, it was Chicago who knocked on the door of victory at the Falcons 5-yard line only to have linebacker Brooks Reed deny entrance on a game-winning sack.

This time around, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was on his way to his magical game-winning drive. It seemed inevitable. It seemed to be Detroit's destiny. Until, it was not.

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Merely an inch of Lions wide receiver Golden Tate extending the ball over the invisible plane could have resulted in the Falcons having their first loss of the season. Merely an inch of Falcons cornerback Brian Poole's index finger may have been the difference in ruling Tate down after making the catch at the half-inch yard line. They say that it is a game of inches and on that last third down play against Detroit with under 10 seconds remaining, the saying itself was interestingly brought to light.

Winning in this particular manner is Falcons-like. Forget putting a team away early in the fourth quarter when the opportunity arose. Never mind possibly blowing out the Lions with touchdown ending drives instead of settling for field goals. It only made sense to allow a game end this way for Atlanta. With fans sweating profusely while their blood pressure is reaching unhealthy levels.

Despite all of that, my optimism (which I've mentioned in recent articles before) saw a young team learn another lesson in how to win football games. While the offense in Atlanta is dynamic and arguably the league's best, it showed against the Lions that immortality may not be on display every given week despite the abundance of talent that exists within this unit. Where the growth has shown is a young defense that held the Lions scoreless in their last three drives spanning over the final eight minutes of the game.

The glitz and glamour of the Falcons week two win over Green Bay was very much worth it. It was a mirror image of how the Falcons won often last year. However, after just three games, it appears that the Falcons are embracing the suck by winning by any means necessary.