Atlanta Falcons: With Spoon back, run defense flexes its muscle





By SCOTT PURKS

TAMPA – Many folks in Tampa predicted Buc running back Doug Martin – the heralded rookie with the famous nickname “Muscle Hamster” – would run wild against Atlanta.

And why not? Martin had already gained 1,000 yards on the season, and Atlanta’s run defense ranked 26th in the league (130.5 yards a game) and had repeatedly been gashed for long runs. Last week against Arizona, for example, a relatively unheralded back, LaRod Stephens Howling, had runs of 40 and 52 yards and finished with 127 yards on 22 carries.

But not so on Sunday.

By SCOTT PURKS  Tampa - Many folks in Tampa predicted Buc running back Doug Martin - the heralded rookie with the famous nickname “Muscle Hamster” - would run wild against Atlanta.  And why not? Martin had already gained 1,000 yards on the season, and Atlanta’s run defense ranked 26th in the league (130.5 yards a game) and had repeatedly been gashed for long runs. Last week against Arizona, for example, a relatively unheralded back, LaRod Stephens Howling, had runs of 40 and 52 yards and finished with 127 yards on 22 carries.  But not so on Sunday.  Time and again during the Falcons’ 24-23 victory, Martin, who carried 100 percent of Tampa’s rushing load, was turned back and often turned flat on his back. He not only failed to gain a lot of yards (50 yards on 21 carries) but his longest rush went only for 10 yards.  Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said it came down to plain old, “Intensity.”  “We knew (the Bucs) were going to run the ball because they’ve been doing it pretty well (averaging 128.9 rushing yards a game for ninth in the league),” Babineaux said. “I mean they had a thousand-1,000-yard rusher coming into this game. So we got ready for it. We were determined.”  It didn’t hurt that Falcon linebacker Sean Weatherspoon returned with a vengeance after missing the previous three weeks with a sore ankle.  “I felt great and my ankle felt great,” said Weatherspoon, who tied for a team-high six solo tackles. “I was kind of emotional at the beginning of the game, but once I got back out there with my guys it just felt like being out there at the beginning of the season.”  If one series of downs defined Atlanta’s run defense on Sunday, it came with 5 minutes, 1 second remaining in the second quarter with the Bucs standing first and goal at Atlanta’s 3-yard line.  What followed was a handoff to Martin, who gained two yards before getting stuffed by Weatherspoon and defensive tackle Corey Peters. On the following play, the Bucs threw an incompletion, which set up for a third-down rush that proved to be one of the most pivotal in the game.  Martin ran around left end and sprinted toward the left corner. Atlanta linebacker Mike Peterson ran parallel and then lit Martin up with a straight-on collision.  Martin flew back for a three-yard loss and Tampa settled for a 22-yard field goal.  “I was just doing my job,” said Peterson, a 14-year veteran. “We were just reading the keys.”  From the perspective of Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman, the Falcons’ defense kept the Bucs thinking.  “(Atlanta) loaded the box and did a lot kind of outside their tendencies,” Freeman said. “All in all when you can contain a guy like Doug, as explosive as Doug, that’s saying a lot.”  Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson thought stuffing Martin had everything to do with preparation.  “We really worked on (stopping the run) and focused on it all week in practice,” Robinson said. “We understand what kind of a defense we can be when we stop the run. We came out (on Sunday) and did a great job (on the run).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) eludes Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (95) to score a touchdown during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Time and again during the Falcons’ 24-23 victory, Martin, who carried 100 percent of Tampa’s rushing load, was turned back and often turned flat on his back. He not only failed to gain a lot of yards (50 yards on 21 carries) but his longest rush went only for 10 yards.

Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said it came down to plain old, “Intensity.”

“We knew (the Bucs) were going to run the ball because they’ve been doing it pretty well (averaging 128.9 rushing yards a game for ninth in the league),” Babineaux said. “I mean they had a thousand-1,000-yard rusher coming into this game. So we got ready for it. We were determined.”

It didn’t hurt that Falcon linebacker Sean Weatherspoon returned with a vengeance after missing the previous three weeks with a sore ankle.

“I felt great and my ankle felt great,” said Weatherspoon, who tied for a team-high six solo tackles. “I was kind of emotional at the beginning of the game, but once I got back out there with my guys it just felt like being out there at the beginning of the season.”

If one series of downs defined Atlanta’s run defense on Sunday, it came with 5 minutes, 1 second remaining in the second quarter with the Bucs standing first and goal at Atlanta’s 3-yard line.

What followed was a handoff to Martin, who gained two yards before getting stuffed by Weatherspoon and defensive tackle Corey Peters. On the following play, the Bucs threw an incompletion, which set up for a third-down rush that proved to be one of the most pivotal in the game.

Martin ran around left end and sprinted toward the left corner. Atlanta linebacker Mike Peterson ran parallel and then lit Martin up with a straight-on collision.

Martin flew back for a three-yard loss and Tampa settled for a 22-yard field goal.

“I was just doing my job,” said Peterson, a 14-year veteran. “We were just reading the keys.”

From the perspective of Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman, the Falcons’ defense kept the Bucs thinking.

“(Atlanta) loaded the box and did a lot kind of outside their tendencies,” Freeman said. “All in all when you can contain a guy like Doug, as explosive as Doug, that’s saying a lot.”

Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson thought stuffing Martin had everything to do with preparation.

“We really worked on (stopping the run) and focused on it all week in practice,” Robinson said. “We understand what kind of a defense we can be when we stop the run. We came out (on Sunday) and did a great job (on the run).

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51 comments Add your comment

Falcon James

November 25th, 2012
8:34 pm

Welcome back Spoon! Did you get to see the Saint loose?

Big Crimson 75

November 25th, 2012
8:41 pm

Nice read D-Led.
Our Team never gets enough credit for what they do accomplish.
The muscle hamster was held in check.

Sly Boarders

November 25th, 2012
8:50 pm

As much as I hope Samuel is ok, I would really like to see McClain get a start. (I may have misspelled his name). I don’t see every game, but the one’s I do he is always making plays.

LDawg

November 25th, 2012
8:50 pm

Let them all think we aren’t good enough. I like flying under the radar.

Big Rod

November 25th, 2012
9:09 pm

I like flying under the radar too!!

Michael M.

November 25th, 2012
9:16 pm

ha ! ha !………oh my, still laughin at STB4 and hiram about what the who datters was going to do this season………….come on out of the closet girls and get u a whippin………..lmao

Fred Macmurray

November 25th, 2012
10:23 pm

Enter your comments here

Fred Macmurray

November 25th, 2012
10:24 pm

The Caints are comming, Time for some payback.

Blackcow

November 25th, 2012
10:30 pm

I wonder what exactly is wrong with Samuel’s arm

lowdownjj

November 25th, 2012
10:38 pm

Say what ya will bout Donte’s cover skills (I say they’ve improved greatly under Nolan). The one thing ya MUST say is he will lite your a$$ up on a tackle…might knock himself out in the process. But the dude is a thumper

DemDirtyDirdz

November 25th, 2012
10:54 pm

D-Led,
What’s the word on our injuries on defense? I’m a bit (a lot) worried with such a quick turnaround against our nemesis.
Peters, Samuel and Robinson?

Never First, But the Best!

November 25th, 2012
10:55 pm

The only way we should lose thursday night is a bad ref called game. We should be ready and waiting to get a change to end ALL playoff hopes of the Who-dat nation! RiSeUp!
FALCONS 31 CAINTS 17.

DR. FALCON

November 25th, 2012
11:37 pm

WHAT? I THOUGHT THE ‘AINTS WERE BACK! LOL! HEY HIRAMSAINT, BE PROUD OF YOUR 5-6 RECORD!

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

D. Orlando Ledbetter

November 26th, 2012
1:59 am

DemDirtyDirdz — Peters and Dunta were fine. Samuel said his shoulder felt like it was on fire after the game. Spoon had a big sack of ice (normal) on his right ankle.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

November 26th, 2012
2:03 am

Blackcrow – He said it was “on fire.” Falcons won’t give out a detailed report.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

November 26th, 2012
2:13 am

Big Crimson 75 — Thanks, but Scott Purks is the man on this one. Agree with your statement. Don’t understand all the fussing over being 10-1?

fanATicaL

November 26th, 2012
2:43 am

A great win,possibly an statement win. Enough to propel us the rest of the season.The Aints,Giants,and Tampa again will all give us thier best game. But this game may mentally prepare us for the rest. A win against them all will mentally prepare us for the playoff run

JosephDaKoolest a.k.a No Answer For Julio

November 26th, 2012
2:51 am

Welcome back Spoon we needed your energy and play making on the feild. And Akeem Dent played a solid game. Want to see Dent and Nicholas hit the right holes more on the run, but overall outstanding effort guys. And Corey Peters was huge in this game. Awesome Job D.

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

MTGUMMIBEAR

November 26th, 2012
4:31 am

The ebbs and flows of an NFL season are just amazing. After weeks of complaining/wondering about run defense, Falcons do a great job of that.

But who would have thought, after such clutch peroformances over the last few years, we would have to worry about Matt Bryant. Hope he gets his head on straight and gets his “mojo” back. Those 2 misses against the Bucs could have been disastrous.

Maybe this just means the Falcons will be hitting on all cylinders in the playoffs.

Samuel

November 26th, 2012
5:11 am

Defense played well, and stopped the run. We’ll need that kind of performance in the playoffs. The truth of the matter is everybody is banged up. And whoever makes those adjustments will end up on top.

DemDirtyDirdz

November 26th, 2012
7:15 am

D-Led,
Thanks for the follow up on the defensive injuries. You’ve put my troubled mind at ease.
Inreguards to Bryant. I couldn’t help but notice that he was listed on the injury report for the past two weeks with a back injury. As a kicker, I’m sure that could easily throw off his balance. Any idea how such an injury occurred?

North FLA Falcon

November 26th, 2012
9:10 am

We have ebbs and flows on this team. Last week Ryan looked bad but the defense saved the day. Normally our special teams (Bryant) are great but yesterday he blew 2 FGs. On the first one, a very short chip shot, it looked like a bad snap? Those are actually pretty tough to make — but he should have made it, obviously. I have a problem with the 2nd FG … why kick this at all? Punt it, pin them down at worst on their own 20 yd line … then they have a few seconds (with no time outs) to try and go for a FG. Strange late game play calling … but that is Mike Smith sometimes. Bottom line — great win and very excited about Thursday night!!!

Mikey

November 26th, 2012
9:17 am

Until this point in the season, tackling has been an issue with this great team. However, they demonstrated remarkable improvement in that aspect of the game on Sunday. The tackling was great across the board in this one and the results were evident. They held a strong and elusive running back to 50 yards on 21 carries. That is an accomplishment and was the difference in the outcome of the game. That hit from Peterson during the goal line stand was a thing of beauty! GO FALCONS! YOU ARE RISING UP!

North FLA Falcon

November 26th, 2012
9:36 am

Can anyone tell me how many sacks we had? We need to get pressure on Breezy … when he gets rattled he does tend to throw a few picks!

Enkinan

November 26th, 2012
9:48 am

Luckily a penalty called back the one big run Martin broke on us, the rest of the game was pretty solid on D.

Loyal Falcon

November 26th, 2012
11:06 am

If we can put a little pressure on Brees and tackle well. We’ll be just fine.

old falc

November 26th, 2012
11:18 am

great team, they refuse to lose

shesoleo

November 26th, 2012
11:31 am

There were a lots of plays worth mentioning from yesterdays victory, but the one that stands out the most to me was Julio’s touchdown. They thought on first down they was going to do the same thing they always do, whats that you ask????????? MT down low up the middle, but they fooled’em an went up top and DEEP what a great play????

[...] out there with my guys it just felt like being out there at the beginning of the season.”" Click here for full article Share on Facebook [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

Panic fan

November 26th, 2012
3:02 pm

Each week we find out more about our team as they learn more about themselves and getting better in the process sounds to me like a 10-1 team that is going to be relevant in the playoffs (we hope) this year GO BIRDS

Mr. Hankey (Pankey.)

November 26th, 2012
3:59 pm

Sounds like a Samuel stinger to me which could develop into bursitis which I have and hurts like a mofo. I like McLean, too. Robinson is smoking hot these days and laying the lumber. And turner is eating a pizza with a pitcher of But Light (Gotta watch the calories.) seriously, dude HAS to weigh 260. I’ve seen burial mounds flatter than his gut.

tfalcon

November 26th, 2012
4:41 pm

We have to get ready fot the Aint’s cant let them win in our house this year,
they need every game that’s left for a post season run.An we got to take it from them.
We have to be thier spoiller this yr

Pp

November 26th, 2012
6:58 pm

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]

[...] With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense flexes its muscle on the Muscle Hamster [...]