This might surprise NFL fans and Falcons fans alike — Dean Pees’ unit has forced at least one turnover in 11 straight games, which is the longest active streak of consecutive games with a takeaway.
— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) December 26, 2021
Eleven straight weeks with a takeaway is undoubtedly a surprising statistic for this porous Falcons defense, which is easily a bottom-five unit in the league. However, it is true. Beginning with the Jets in Week 5 and all the way through Sunday’s matchup with the Lions, Atlanta’s defense has been opportunistic in some capacity.
Against New York, Jaylinn Hawkins picked off Zach Wilson. Then after their bye, the Falcons intercepted Tua Tagovailoa twice. The following week against the Panthers, the defense forced a fumble on Chuba Hubbard that Ade Ogundeji recovered. In back-to-back division games, the Falcons came away with another fumble recovery against the Saints; this time, it was Steven Means who fell on the ball.
Surprisingly, the Falcons forced turnovers against the Cowboys and Patriots in what was the worst two-week stretch of the season. Ezekiel Elliott fumbled, and Mac Jones threw an interception, which kept the streak alive even if the team as a whole was performing poorly. Against the Jaguars the following week, the Falcons forced a Trevor Lawrence interception and James Robinson fumble.
Then in back-to-back weeks against the Buccaneers and Panthers, the Falcons intercepted Tom Brady and Cam Newton, respectively, for touchdowns. Richie Grant kept the streak alive the following week against the 49ers when he recovered a JaMycal Hasty fumble. Most recently, the takeaway against the Lions came at a critical juncture in the game and likely the play of the game. Foye Oluokun picked off an arrant Tim Boyle pass on a potential game-winning drive, which effectively sealed the team’s seventh victory of the season.
Though it may seem improbable, this defense has strung together 11 weeks of taking away the ball at least once. The Falcons have 17 total forced turnovers, tied for 20th in the league. So the unbelievable statistic is a bit misleading because the Falcons really haven’t been forcing that many turnovers.