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Monday, December 9, 2013
Falcons linebackers get their kicks in loss

By Vaughn McClure

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It wasn’t the ideal way for Sean Weatherspoon to score his first career touchdown, but he’ll take it.

Weatherspoon
Weatherspoon
The Atlanta Falcons linebacker’s 71-yard interception return for a score Sunday was the result of Weatherspoon grabbing a ball that bounced off the foot of teammate Paul Worrilow. Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn delivered the pass, which was initially tipped by Falcons defensive lineman Peria Jerry before it bounced off Worrilow’s right foot.

Most of the Packers seemed confused by the play and stopped. Weatherspoon didn’t.

"We’re just coached to finish," Weatherspoon said. "You want to sell it, even if it ain’t ... so what if it hit the ground, you still have got to take that chance.

"That’s a great play by Worrilow. I’m not sure what happened to the ball before he hit it -- before he kicked it, actually. It’s awesome, though."

Weatherspoon, who missed seven games with a Lisfranc foot sprain, made the play much more dramatic with his long run and a smooth sidestep to avoid 318-pound Packers offensive guard T.J. Lang.

"I had to cut back," Weatherspoon said. "That’s why we kind of have to time it up where I didn’t want to exert too much. And I cut back on him, and the guys just led me."

Robert Alford threw the key block on Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin while Worrilow raced down the field also looking to clear a path for Weatherspoon. Worrilow explained how the play got kick-started.

"It was just a reaction," Worrilow said of the kicked ball. "It’s not like I was trying to kick it to myself. I really had no control over it. It was just a natural reaction. I was just trying to keep the ball in play. Fortunately, it went to Spoon and not somebody else.

"As soon as I saw he had it, I took off trying to make a block for him. It was a big play. It was a big momentum swing."

Yet the Falcons couldn’t sustain the momentum. They scored two touchdowns as a result of turnovers: the Weatherspoon return and Matt Ryan's 2-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez after Malliciah Goodman recovered a Flynn fumble, caused by William Moore.

Although the result was a victory for the Packers, the kicked interception is sure to be the most memorable moment of the game.

"That was a unique play in terms of the ball was tipped and then it was kicked up in the air," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "Sean made a great run after the catch. And we had some guys doing a nice job blocking downfield."