Sep 19, 2012
Falcons safety William Moore is off to a great start this season.
He has stepped forward to be the enforcer the Falcons' much-maligned secondary has been looking for under head coach Mike Smith.
He set the tone against the Peyton Manning and the Broncos and will be called on to do the same against Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.
In addition to the tone-setting interception, Moore has been delivering some bone rattling hits and playing with the speed and tenacity that led to his selection in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft.
With Moore marauding on the back end of the defense and coming up strong in run support, four of the Broncos' first five possessions turned into three interceptions and a fumble recovery for the Falcons.
The defensive unit, under the direction of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, has created seven turnovers in two games.
The Falcons defense was 20th in the NFL against the past last season, allowing 236.6 yards passing per game. Much of the blame was place on the secondary.
“Hopefully it makes a big statement throughout the league,” Moore said. “I wouldn't say we were underestimated or underrated, but I feel like we went out there and did our job. We went out there and played some football against, I would say, the best quarterback in the National Football League right now. It was excellent for our secondary. We haven't been together long with Asante coming in, Brent Grimes down. We stepped up man.”
Moore nearly had another interception and broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Demaryius Thomas. He also had a sack of Manning, on third down with less than eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, which halted a drive as the Broncos mounted a comeback when the Falcons offense stalled.
“I watched him growing up,” Moore said. “That was my first time playing him. I hope he remembers No. 25.”
The Falcons defense beat up Manning and the Broncos with a depleted secondary. Cornerback Asante Samuel missed a first-quarter series with a neck injury. Nickel back Christopher Owens, who moved into the lineup when Brent Grimes was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon in the season-opener, left the game with a head injury in the first quarter and did not return. Owens was replaced by Dominique Franks, who was waived as part of the final roster cut down to 53 players and then signed again following the Grimes' injury.
The Falcons played nearly the entire game in their nickel package with an extra defensive back. They didn't run their first -- and only -- play from a base defense until stopping the Broncos on a third-and-one with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
In particular, the hybrid safety tandem of Moore and Thomas DeCoud has made an impact. The Falcons have five interceptions after two games, three by the safeties.
“It proves that when we need to play big, when we play against a good quarterback, we can get it done,“DeCoud said.