Defensive football is never easy, and against an offense with playmakers like the Falcons have, it’s especially difficult. Did I expect Rob Ryan and his defense to completely hold Atlanta in check? No, I didn’t. But with that said, when it was time to make a stop and get off the field in the final 5:21 of the game, I did expect better results and I am sure Ryan did so as well.
On that final Atlanta possession, the Falcons go with a bunch formation to the right with receiver Julio Jones to the wide side left, one-on-one with cornerback Morris Claiborne
. At the snap, Claiborne begins to carry Jones up the field from a press technique. What you have to know about Jones is that he is not a great route-runner and he likes to grab and push to try and buy himself space. In this case, Jones uses his right hand to push off Claiborne, knocking him to the ground as the ball sails out of bounds. The official calls offensive pass interference, which was a huge break for the defense.
The penalty now makes it first-and-20, so the Cowboys go into their nickel package, with six in the box. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan makes a check and hands the ball to running back Michael Turner, who starts inside, on the front side (the right side of the Cowboys defense) with Anthony Spencer
, Ernie Sims
and Kenyon Coleman
all blocked. On the backside, defensive end Jason Hatcher
gets cut off and guard Justin Blalock gets on linebacker Bruce Carter
, knocking him inside, although he is able to adjust back to his right to disengage off the block. Turner now has the ball on the second level with safety Danny McCray
trying to fill from the inside, but his angle is poor and off balance. Turner runs through his arm tackle before Carter can make the tackle 10 yards down the field.
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