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Deion Jones, defense keep the Falcons in playoff hunt
09-12-2017, 02:43
Post: #1
Deion Jones, defense keep the Falcons in playoff hunt
ATLANTA -- A swarm of bright red submerged Deion Jones as he held the ball tightly in the end zone. The Atlanta Falcons linebacker, decked out in his all-red color rush uniform, gave the home crown an adrenaline rush in the final moments of Thursday night's showdown with the New Orleans Saints.
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Deion Jones's interception in the end zone with less than 90 seconds to play Thursday Marc-Edouard Vlasic Authentic Jersey sealed a http://www.floridapanthersofficialonline...son-Jersey crucial victory for Atlanta. AP Photo/Danny Karnik
Jones intercepted Drew Brees in the end zone with 1 minute, 25 seconds Mike Piazza Authentic Jersey to play, capping a stellar defensive effort against a potent Saints offense in what no doubt was the biggest Falcons' victory of the season, a 20-17 triumph over their biggest rival and the NFC South leaders. Now 8-5, the Falcons can continue the playoff conversation. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Falcons' chances to make the postseason increased from 36 percent to 52 percent with the win. Had they lost, those chances would have dropped to 19 percent.
Most figured the offense would be what guided the Falcons to victory, if anything. But reigning MVP Matt Ryan struggled miserably, throwing three interceptions, two of which appeared to be solely on him. Penalties were a factor again on offense. And there was a questionable declined penalty late by Falcons coach Dan Quinn that allowed the Saints to convert a fourth-and-1 and keep a potentially game-winning drive alive.
Then Jones, the New Orleans native who grew up rooting for the Saints, stepped in and stole the show. Literally. It was Brees' first red-zone interception of the season and just Atlanta's fourth overall. And the Falcons limited the Saints to 3-of-10 on third down, part of the reason a team that entered Thursday scoring 29.4 points per game managed only 17.
Give defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel credit for dialing up pressure at the right time. Both Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn had key third-down sacks to foil Saints possession. True, the Falcons benefited on offense from a slew of New Orleans penalties that resulted in first downs. But no matter how they got it done, it was an important victory. Touchdowns by Devonta Freeman and Mohamed Sanu, along with two field goals by Matt Bryant -- who reached 1,000 points with the Falcons -- helped secure the victory.
Now the Falcons -- still seventh in the playoff picture, right behind the Carolina Panthers (8-4) -- have to build off the win, no matter how ugly it was. They have consecutive road games against Tampa Bay and New Orleans before finishing the season at home against the Panthers. The postseason is within reach ... if the Falcons handle their business. The fact that Jones and the defense are stepping up the right time is a positive sign that could lead right to a postseason berth.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There are times when Rob Pelinka will walk down the hallway from his office at the UCLA Health Training Center, past Magic Johnson's office, where a flat-screen television is almost always tuned to sports shows, and down to Luke Walton's office.
Sometimes, the sounds of the Grateful Dead and other '70s classic rock will be blaring out of the head coach's office as Walton gets "in the zone." Other times, Pelinka will find the room as quiet as a library, with Walton deep in meditation. "I usually keep going when I see that," the Los Angeles Lakers' general manager said, laughing. "Man, I keep it moving. I wait until he is back in the present."
Luke Walton's present, however, is deeply connected to his past and to a collection of champions who had the most influence on his life: From his father, Hall of Famer Bill Walton, to his longtime coach and mentor, 11-time champion Phil Jackson, to the first boss of his professional coaching career, Steve Kerr, who collected five rings as a player and already has two more with the Warriors.
It takes a certain type of unflappable personality to handle coaching in the entertainment capital of the world with a point guard who has Hollywood-sized hype and comes with the most opinionated father in all of sports. Perhaps the type of even-keeled personality that has been molded by Walton's Richard Panik Jersey eclectic championship collection of mentors.JEANIE BUSS POPS her head into an early October practice and finds Walton gathering his team at the center of the court to discuss the shooting in Las Vegas that took 58 lives just days before the Lakers are set to play a preseason game there.
The Lakers' owner watches the team meeting and sees Jackson's Zen fingerprints all over it."[Jackson] knew that Luke was going to be somebody that would be a great coach," Buss said at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit in early October. "So now because of that relationship, he was talking to them about the emotions that people were feeling, and he was encouraging them to share how they were feeling."I thought this is like a touch of something that Phil brought to him, and I was so proud of what he was doing with these young men."
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