Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud turns in big game

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud made it look easy against the Chargers on Sunday. (Associated Press)

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud made it look easy against the Chargers on Sunday. (Associated Press)

By Kirk Kenney

SAN DIEGO — Atlanta came into Sunday’s game as the NFL’s leader in takeaways.

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud single-handedly took it upon himself against the Chargers to keep it that way in Atlanta’s 27-3 victory at Qualcomm Stadium.

DeCoud recovered a second-quarter fumble and he added two interceptions — including one in the second quarter that required replay before he was rewarded.

The effort — along with a fumble recovery by teammate William Moore — gave the Falcons 11 takeaways on the season. Four of them are compliments of DeCoud, who also had an interception against Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.

“That’s one of the things William and I have taken to heart as safeties, especially in this new system,” said DeCoud. “You’ve got to get the ball back, and we have a lot of opportunities to do that. It’s evident in our play right now.”

DeCoud’s fumble recovery came at a crucial moment, with the Chargers driving for a potential go-ahead score early in the second quarter. Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon separated San Diego running back Ryan Mathews from the ball and DeCoud was there to jump on it — with the Chargers just three yards from the end zone. Atlanta took it the other way with a nearly eight-minute touchdown drive that shaped the remainder of the game.

“They put a pretty nice drive together,” said DeCoud. “They were moving the ball a little bit. We pride ourselves on our red zone defense, made a play, got it out and got the ball… . If they get down there, we’re going to stiffen up and hold them to three, at least not give them seven.”

DeCoud’s first interception came just after the two-minute warning in the second quarter when Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers tried to force a ball into tight end Antonio Gates.

“That’s just one you shouldn’t throw,” said Rivers. “It was one of those, ‘See if Gates can go up and out jump him.’ It wasn’t that he couldn’t. I didn’t really give him a chance to.”

DeCoud had inside position on the play, but the pass was initially ruled incomplete. Officials claimed DeCoud did not gain possession before going out of bounds. Replay suggested otherwise, the Falcons had the ball at San Diego’s 29 and less than a minute later they had a 20-0 lead.

Notable on the interception was how DeCoud grabbed the ball at his waist and brought it up toward his head, pinning it against his helmet. It brought to mind David Tyree’s famous catch for the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, under, of course, somewhat less dramatic circumstances.

“Yeah, I saw [Tyree’s catch] on film and worked on it in the offseason,” DeCoud joked.


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24 comments Add your comment

The Real Rick

September 23rd, 2012
10:12 pm

Man it’s good to see these guys stepping up…who would think 3 games in to the season, an article would be written about how great our banged up secondary is playing…..hats off to the coaching staff of this team….I’ve had a wait and see attitude about the changes, but I’m sold now

(Never) SeenThisB4

September 23rd, 2012
10:21 pm

Falcons are the team to beat in the NFC

(Never) SeenThisB4

September 23rd, 2012
10:22 pm

Mike Nolan is the best move the Falcons made since, well, since getting rid of Van Gorder.

Answer this

September 23rd, 2012
10:24 pm

Nice game for the Defense….again! Keep it up Decoud

John John

September 23rd, 2012
10:25 pm

DAWGS 4-0……beating Vandy 48-3!!!

FALCONS 3-0 beating Chargers 27-3!!!

IS this not the greatest fall EVER for Atlanta FOOTBALL????!!!!!! Plus Braves in postseason yet again??

John John

September 23rd, 2012
10:29 pm

Falcons are 3-0 because they have a plus 10 turnover ratio ……….

11 takeaways and only 1 giveaway (Matt Ryan’s first int today).

Falcons Defense is ferocious with the turnovers….DeCoud now has 3 int’s on the season


September 23rd, 2012
11:04 pm

Falcons’ D really stepped up and dominated this game. Falcons gave up NO TOUCHDOWN!!!!! Let’s keep it going against Carolina!! :)

Brian Hunt

September 23rd, 2012
11:43 pm

The new scheme clearly lets the secondary get after it, and they are a better defense because of it.


September 24th, 2012
12:02 am

Mike Smith’s loyalty to ex coordinators keep the falcons down, despite all the talent. Confidence
Is contgious folks!!


September 24th, 2012
12:03 am

Mike Smith’s loyalty to ex coordinators keep the falcons down, despite all the talent. Confidence
Is contagious folks!!


September 24th, 2012
4:21 am

Really enjoyed seeing DeCoud celebrate the interception on the sideline by thowing westside gang signs. Very classy for the Falcons franchise!!!


September 24th, 2012
8:08 am

@thesuzravn- Very classy of you to even know what a “westside gang sign” is. DeCoud is clearly not a gang member. Since you seem informed on the topic, are you one and was DeCoud holding up your little competitors “westside gang sign”? Are you upset he did not flash your “hoods” signs? Colors, colors colors, colors. LMAO!!!

Michael M.

September 24th, 2012
8:37 am

Get lost STBzip…………………….lmao………………

Decoollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll ! ! ! ! ! !


September 24th, 2012
8:39 am

Aints can’t even win the battle of the unbeatens……all that SB talk and they couldnt even win the loser bowl LMFAO


September 24th, 2012
8:41 am

$100 million “da man” ……… FAIL !

Preston Thompson

September 24th, 2012
8:57 am

Where are all the DeCoud haters. Seem like I remember a lot of talk about him being dead weight and being the real drag on the secondary. Where are you folks? You still here?


September 24th, 2012
9:51 am

Preston, I have to admit…….If it had been my decision, DeCoud would have been GONE after last season. It appears that he was just another victim of the VanGorder’s scheme. I’ll gladly eat the crow on this one. It’s great to see our defense so active and aggressive. Great teams have always had great safety’s. Looks like we may have 2 of them.

one luv

September 24th, 2012
9:58 am

I wish people would stop including UGA in Atlanta football. UGA is in Athens!! duh!!

North FLA Falcon

September 24th, 2012
12:47 pm

DeCoud had a great game. But Dunta is still getting beat too often. He whiffed at least twice on tackles. And then he unloaded helmet-to-helmet on his own guy, as the SD receiver ducked his head at the last minute. Didn’t Dunta learn anything after the Eagles game last year, when he got a concussion? Stop going for the bone crunching hit and just bring the guy down. He did have some well-defended passes. And we went into a very soft cover prevent D in the second half. I’m surprised Rivers did not try and run more often. I don’t think he ran it once that I can remember. We had him totally confused and under pressure all day! Very strong defense overall. GO FALCONS


September 24th, 2012
4:05 pm

Did Dunta get called for an illegal hit? If not why whine about a clean hard hit that didn’t cost the team a penalty? Football is a physical game. If hits scare you maybe badminton is more your speed. #Falcons

[...] Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud turns in big game Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon separated San Diego running back Ryan Mathews from the ball and DeCoud was there to jump on it — with the Chargers just three yards from the end zone. Atlanta took it the other way with a nearly eight-minute … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


September 24th, 2012
4:58 pm

Great team defense. The D-Line is getting pressure on the QB, making them unconfortable. The LB’s are showing great range by playing well against the run and in coverage. The CB’s are playing tight coverage (even Dunta), which is allowing the Safeties to fly all over the field and make plays. DeCoud and Moore are playing great, but only because the rest of the defense are all doing their jobs. All of this makes me think the Falcons are serious contenders.

Marietta Heating

September 25th, 2012
1:47 pm

Nice blog. I have really enjoyed reading your blog.


[...] play from safety duo Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, providing a big boost to the defense. Kirk Kenney of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports DeCoud takes a lot of pride in that. That’s one [...]