This has nothing to do with this Saturday’s game, but I thought you’d be interested. I’ve been doing the Falcons playoff memories stories this week, which featured Wallace Francis, Jeff Merrow, Chris Hinton, Moe Gardner and, Saturday, T.J. Duckett. In making sure I got somebody for Saturday, I also reached out to former linebacker Artie Ulmer, who I spoke with Thursday.
Ulmer, you may remember, recovered Mark Simoneau’s blocked punt in the 2002 wild-card game in the Falcons’ 27-7 win over the Packers, which was the first time a visiting team won a playoff game at Lambeau Field. I helped cover the team then and that certainly ranks as one of the most memorable games I saw. (Least memorable? Most of the 2003 season.) It was stunning how the Falcons went into Lambeau and just took the game from the Packers. Anyway, Ulmer was always a good interview when I covered the team then and was no different Thursday.
“I just remember them talking about no one had ever won at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. I don’t even remember what the temperature was, it was freezing or snowing, no one was cold. I don’t know what the deal was. I think for some reason we just believed we were going to win. We weren’t intimidated at all. The mystique and all that, that’s more for fans and media. It’s good to talk about, but once the ball is snapped, that’s all over with. I do remember just something in the air that night, just the confidence. Everybody kind of knew the deal.”
On the blocked punt (which gave the Falcons a 14-0 lead in the first quarter): “The center kind of dropped his butt right before he snapped the ball, so we keyed on that. As soon as he dropped his butt, everybody just kind of took off. We were able to run a stunt on ‘em. Simoneau came free and the rest, as they say, is history. That was a good little tidbit that I think (then-special teams coach) Joe (DeCamillis) and them came up with. It worked to perfection.”
After his career, Ulmer completed his degree work at Georgia State and is now an assistant coach at Heritage High in Conyers.
“It’s different,” Ulmer said of coaching high schoolers. “You can’t overload ‘em. You still have to remember they’re 14-, 15-, 16-years-old. They’re still worried about who’s sitting next to their girlfriend in the stands.”