It wasn't until the 14:36 mark in the second quarter that the Atlanta Falcons recorded their first red zone possession of the game following Tony Gonzalez's 21-yard reception that reached Cincinnati's five-yard line. Matt Ryan was forced to quickly release the football on first down after eight Bengals players punished the line of scrimmage on a blitz, including the unblocked Reggie Nelson that entered Ryan's line of sight.
Atlanta's quarterback targeted Julio Jones, still at the line of scrimmage, on a quick slant.
Terence Newman, on an island with no help due to Cincinnati's blitz, gave Jones room. However the quick pass and virtual no progress made by Jones on the pass allowed Newman to step into the receiver for an obstructive stick, giving Vontaze Burfict and Jamaal Anderson time to get back and help Newman on the tackle.
Atlanta showed a running formation, offset-I strong-side to the left with 13:59 remaining in the second quarter. Ryan faked the handoff to Michael Turner and looked downfield. Taylor Mays and Michael Johnson were cruising on a pass rush to Ryan's left while Turner allowed both to pass, flipping around on a running back screen over the middle.
As Ryan tried flipping the pass to Turner, Michael Johnson and his unholy wingspan knocked the football down for the incomplete.
Atlanta probably should have scored a touchdown on third down. Roddy White and Henry Douglas are on the left with Tony Gonzalez in a two-point stance from his tight end position next to the left tackle. Ryan takes the shotgun snap with 13:52 remaining in the second quarter. Vontaze Burfict is at middle linebacker.
Gonzalez runs a yard-deep into the endzone, well separated from a trailing Burfict.
The pass was well-thrown and on target. Uncharacteristically it appeared that Gonzalez wasn't ready for the football, barely having enough time to lift his right arm.
Falcons convert the field goal to tie the game at three.
During Atlanta's passing assault later in the second quarter, the Falcons entered the red zone for the second time of the evening with 5:57 remaining in the first half. It wasn't even tense. We're not even going to set this up. Ryan faked the handoff and floated a touchdown pass to Lousaka Polite.