KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon had a simple reason for the defense’s slow start.
“I don’t think we played tough in the first half,” said Weatherspoon, after Sunday’s 40-24 victory over the Chiefs. “We ended up playing a little bit tougher in the second half and we got some takeaways.”
Kansas City moved the ball at will in the first half and trailed 20-17 at halftime.
The halftime meeting with new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was not very pleasant.
The Falcons defense came up with turnovers on three straight third quarter possessions to flip the tables on the Chiefs and hold them to only seven points in the second half.
Some of the defenders feel that the soft practice schedule, which basically bans tackling in training camp, was a contributing factor to their slow start.
“When [14-year veteran] Mike Peterson first came into the league, camp was camp, and you were going to know how to tackle because you’ve been doing it for a month,” Weatherspoon said. “We don’t get that many opportunities, so we kind of used the preseason games for tackling. That’s all we have and that has hurt us a little bit. We tackled better in the second half.”
Defensive end John Abraham got things started with a sack and strip on Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel.
Safety William Moore followed with an interception and Cassel, trying to make something happen, threw another interception to linebacker Stephen Nicholas.
The Falcons turned those three turnovers into 13 points to make it 40-17 with just 10:44 to play.
“That’s how you have to do it,” Weatherspoon said. “You have to go in, regroup. We didn’t play so well in the first half. The guys knew it. We knew it was on us to go out there and give some support to our offense because they were rolling the whole game.”
Nicholas led the Falcons with 12 tackles and also had two passes defensed. The interception was Nicholas’ second of his career.