Falcons vs. Lions: Atlanta's running game looking for consistency

Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Even with a 12-2 record, the Falcons' running game could be a concern with the playoffs looming.

Perhaps lost amid the 34-0 beat down the Atlanta Falcons handed the New York Giants last week was the fact that the Falcons' running game continues to sputter. Still, the ground game did enough for head coach Mike Smith to consider it effective, as Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.

Smith pointed to opening the game with four-straight rushes that resulted in a touchdown by Michael Turner, as well as various times throughout the game when Atlanta kept New York off-balance with run calls. While the final result wasn't the 4-plus yards per carry Smith seeks, he didn't use stats to count the running game as a success:

"I thought we set the tempo early with our run game and it goes hand-in-hand when you're able to run the football," Smith said. "They have to start committing more resources to the run and it opens up the pass game. We got some looks that we really liked based on running the ball effectively and efficiently in the first quarter of the ballgame."

Still, Atlanta's rushing numbers aren't stellar, and after a good start against the Giants, the Falcons finished with 10 runs of two yards or fewer. For the season, Atlanta ranks an abysmal 30th in rushing with 3.7 yards per carry.

Still, as quarterback Matt Ryan said, the Falcons (12-2) must be doing something right to continue winning:

"The (rushing) numbers, I don't think anybody is too concerned with, from our perspective," Ryan said. "I think running the football is important but winning is most important. And finding ways to get it done is, at the end of the day, what we are focused on."

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