Tuesday, December 21, 2010
NFC South Week 15 decisive moment
By Pat Yasinskas
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If people could just ignore his spot as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, Atlanta defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson would be a decent player.
But it’s tough for fans and media to forget the lofty expectations that came with Anderson. The current Atlanta coaching staff and front office, however, deserve a lot of credit for quietly adjusting their expectations of Anderson and salvaging something out of his career.
Sometime before or early in the 2009 season, the Falcons came to the conclusion Anderson never was going to be a dominant pass-rusher. That’s when Mike Smith and his staff turned Anderson into a situational player and started shuffling him between defensive end and defensive tackle.
Anderson’s main strength is against the run, but he also has showed the ability to generate a little bit of a pass rush from the inside. On Sunday, for one of the few times in his career, Anderson generated a pass rush from the outside.
With the Falcons leading 17-10, punter Michael Koenen pinned the Seattle Seahawks at their 4-yard line with a 56-yard punt early in the third quarter. On the first play after that, Anderson lined up at left defensive end and beat his blocker. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, rolling to his right, was on a collision course with Anderson, who stripped the ball loose.
Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux fell on the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and the Falcons were firmly in control of the game, in which they recorded their eighth consecutive victory and improved their record to an NFC-best 12-2.