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Young defense taking shape for Atlanta

Dan Quinn is a defensive coach. The first half of the season wasn't what the guru had in mind for his Atlanta Defense as the young Falcons unit struggled to keep opponents out of the end zone.

Atlanta's defense on average surrendered 29 points per game through their first 8 contests, but the NFL season is long and teams can make major improvements.

One of the youngest defenses in the NFL, with the average starter at age 26, the Falcons turned it on in the second half of the season stifling opponents and soaring into the playoffs.

"I think it shows we got great leaders on the team," said Defensive Back Brian Poole. "They take it slow with us and kind of bring us along. I think it kind of shows that we're a mature young group."

Since a mid-November meeting with the Packers, the Falcons have only given up more than 30 points once. The defense says they not only improved as a unit but also became a more cohesive group.

"Everybody bought into the brotherhood and all of the things Coach Quinn preaches here day in and day out," said Linebacker Courtney Upshaw. "I think with that it helped us get to this point.

Through the postseason, the Falcons have a plus 4 turnover margin and have outscored opponents 80-41.

The Falcons now face their biggest test in the league's most efficient offense led by Tom Brady. Both New England and Atlanta lead the NFL with 11 total giveaways.

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