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Falcons use ‘spies’ to corral Russell Wilson


The Falcons were concerned about Russell Wilson sneaking out of the pocket to make plays, so defenders took turns “spying” on the elusive quarterback Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

“He can get off the spot and run,” Falcons safety Keanu Neal said. “He’s dangerous. We had a few plays where we would spy on him a little bit.”

It was an effective strategy for the Falcons, especially in the second half of their 36-20 victory in an NFC divisional playoff game.

Several times Wilson escaped the initial surge of the Falcons’ pass rush only to be forced to throw the ball away when the “spy” chased him down outside of the pocket. Wilson dropped back to pass 38 times, and the Falcons had three sacks, seven hits and (unofficially) 17 hurries.

Falcons players who spied Wilson included Neal, Jonathan Babineaux, De’Vondre Campbell, Brooks Reed and Vic Beasley.

“We tried to get him to beat us with his arm,” Beasley said. “He was able to make plays. You’ve got to give him credit. He’s a good quarterback. He’s going to make plays here and there. But I think we got him off the spot enough to frustrate him a little bit.”

Wilson was 17-of-30 passing for 225 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 49 yards on six carries, with a long of 14.

The Falcons had trouble getting a handle on Wilson early in the game. When they rushed him hard from the inside, Wilson scooted to the outside. When the Falcons aggressively rushed Wilson on the outside, he found running lanes in the middle.

The Falcons did a better job corralling Wilson after halftime. He was 9-for-21 for 133 yards passing in the second half. Wilson had completions of 40 yards to Paul Richardson and a 31-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin, but the Seahawks were in a big hole by then.

“I think we did a great job,” Neal said. “He got a few plays on us, but that’s part of the game. You get up and move on and focus on the next. He’s an awesome quarterback, and we held our own this game.”



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