While the Atlanta Falcons' high-powered passing attack gets most of the credit for the team's 12-2 record this season, the defense has certainly been an improvement. The Falcons have given up only 18.5 points per game, which ranks fourth in the NFL. It's that scoring defense that head coach Mike Smith was particularly proud of at his weekly press conference.
Smith said that while his defense might have given up its share of yards up to this point, that stat isn't nearly as important as points allowed.
"Much like you can have empty calories eating, you can have empty yards in the game of football. You can give up a lot of yards and if you don't give up points they don't really amount to anything. So many times I think people want to talk about the best defenses are the ones that give up the fewest yards, it's really all about points and our guys have done a very nice job this year. We're starting to trend in the right direction at the right time."
The Falcons are in the middle of the pack when it comes to yards allowed per game, giving up 354.4. But Smith said as long as his team keeps the opponent out of the end zone and keeps forcing turnovers, they'll continue to be successful:
"I think the thing that you have to be able to do to keep people out of the end zone is you have to win the turnover battle. We started the season very good at that and then we kind of had a lull. We're starting to get back getting the opportunities to take the ball away. When you have those fourth down situations that we had last week, those are basically turnovers if you stop them you keep points off the board. Those are the things you have to be able to do to keep your scoring average down."
The Falcons' defense will have its hands full with Calving Johnson, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions on Saturday night. The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN.