Although the defense allowed their opponent to rush for over 100 yards for the third consecutive game and give up 23 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Nolan‘s defense did just enough in rising to the occasion and making key plays when they needed it the most.
For the first time this season, the Atlanta Falcons‘ defense came out in attack mode, as they have been non-existent in the last five games thus far. Not only did the Dirty Birds ambush the pirates in an effective way, but they were a wrecking crew at the beginning of the game to set the tone for a defense that has struggled to put up any resistance against every single team they have played so far.
On the first series, safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud finally played like the dynamic duo they were supposed to be on defense, and made their presence felt. Moore sacked the rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and caused a fumble, as his partner in crime DeCoud scooped up the fumble and returned it for a 30-yard touchdown.
While Nolan’s defensive unit was far from perfect, they exhibited confidence and played with an intensity that has been missing in their previous five games. Nolan was much more aggressive in his play calling, as he dialed up exotic blitzes from left to right that caused five quarterback hits and three key sacks.
Although the secondary continued its struggle with its passing defense, the unit played much better, as they ended up with six pass breakups. Nolan also made adjustments out of the Bye Week, as he moved Desmond Trufant to take control of the nickel back chores and allowed Robert Alford to man the right cornerback position.
Despite their history of being a bad defensive team, against the Buccaneers, the Falcons’ defense overall made improvements and did just enough to secure an important victory in their first game of a three-game stretch that will determine the future of their season.
As the offense took a step forward in preserving their season, the Falcons’ defense took a leap forward and needs to continue in being an aggressive defense moving forward.