Panthers left tackle Mike Remmers was expecting Falcons defensive end Dwight Freeney’s famous spin move and that’s what he saw—until he didn’t.
When Freeney started to spin back inside, Remmers stepped to his right in anticipation. But Freeney spun back to the outside, leaving Remmers flat-footed as Freeney ran free to quarterback Cam Newton and sacked him for a an eight-yard loss in the second quarter.
At 36-years old and near the end of what probably will be a Hall of Fame career, Freeney apparently still has some new tricks.
“I’ve got to keep pulling them out,” Freeney said. “The older you get, the more tools you better have. You can’t just be athletic and beat everybody. I’ve got a bunch of them. If I’ve got to do a cartwheel, I’m going to do a cartwheel. Whatever it takes to get there.”
Freeney had his second strong game rushing the passer in as many weeks, and this time he got plenty of help from his teammates.
Freeney had the only sack for the Falcons against the Panthers but they registered eight QB hits and several other pressures. Freeney and Adrian Clayborn had two QB hits and four players had one each: Derrick Shelby, Ra’Shede Hageman, Brooks Reed and Vic Beasley.
After generating little pass rush in their first two games, the Falcons harassed Saints QB Drew Brees last week and this time they got after Newton and then backup QB Derek Anderson when he took over after Newton left the game with a concussion in the fourth quarter.
“This is a work in progress,” Freeney said. “We are never going to be satisfied. I don’t care if we got eight sacks, we should have got nine. And I don’t care if we hit the quarterback five times, we should have hit him six. That’s the mentality we have up front.”
The Falcons took advantage of Carolina’s reshuffling on the offensive line. With regular left tackle Michael Oher out with an injury the Panthers moved Remmers—a former practice squad player playing for his fifth team—from right tackle to left and inserted Daryl Williams into the lineup for his first career start.
With the Falcons’ offense humming and Carolina unable to establish the run (49 yards on 15 carries), their pass rushers were able to crank up their intensity.
“We did a pretty good job,” Freeney said. “We did a great job on coverage. We stopped the run great today. Especially when you are playing a team like this where that’s what they want is to dominate you on the run game. If you can stop that and get them one-dimensional then you can have this kind of outcome.”