Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones looks over his shoulder on his way to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Cover 9@9: Koetter breaks down the game-winning touchdown

1. Koetter on the final  touchdown: The Falcons made the Eagles pay for their blitzing ways with the game on the line in Sunday’s victory. 

“When you are in empty formations one of the things they like to do is go to a zero pressure,” Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “They ran several zero pressures in the game. If you noticed in that last series, we went empty multiple times. We were actually trying to get them to do it. We had all of those plays tagged with a check.”

Finally, the Eagles showed their zero cover blitz. Matt Ryan checked to the slip/tunnel screen to wide receiver Julio Jones and the play busted open for a 54-yard touchdown and sent the Falcons on their way to a 24-20 victory on Sunday. 

“When they finally did it on the fourth-and-3 play ... sometimes you have stuff that you want to get to and the way the game flows, you can’t always get to everything,” Koetter said. “So, that was just something that we were trying to get to and it worked out well there at the end. 

“We had other stuff that didn’t work as good, obviously.”

Koetter was up in the coaches box and knew Ryan would make the right audible call. 

“Matt is great about that,” Koetter said. “That’s the kind of stuff that we work on during the week.”

After the game, folks were praising the pancake block that left tackle Jake Matthews put on Eagles safety Avonte Maddox, but wide receiver Mohamed Sanu actually had the key block. 

“When you really look at that play, the guy who set up the block was Mohamed,” Koetter said. “Mohamed was on what we call a reverse-push-crack. ... The timing by Mohamed on that was beautiful. He just got enough of a piece of the corner so it was the guy over Mohamed that Jake hit and the timing of it was exactly like we practiced it. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that was pretty good for sure.”  

2. Next up: The Falcons (1-1) play at the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts lead the series 14-2. The Colts won the last meeting 24-21 on Nov. 22, 2015 in the Georgia Dome. Kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 43-yard field goal with 52 seconds left in the game. 

3. McGary’s injury: Falcons right tackle Kaleb McGary left the game on Sunday with an apparent left knee injury, but returned. He ended up playing 37 of 66 offensive snaps (56%). 

 “We knew we had a good (medical) report and I think it showed a lot of toughness for him to come back and enter the game,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Like a lot of guys, when you have something sore, but (we’re) hoping (there is) no further setback. ... We’ll kind of take him through the week and hopefully, he'll progress and do well.”

Quinn also described McGary’s knee as “clean.”

4. Bosher watch:  Punter Matt Bosher suffered a groin injury and didn’t handle the kickoffs against the Eagles. Sanu warmed up as the backup punter. Matt Bryant handled the kickoffs. 

“We'll definitely keep our eye out and see how he's progressing,” Quinn said when asked about Bosher availability for the Colts game.

If Bosher is not able to punt later in the week, the Falcons will bring in a punter as late as Saturday. 

“You can take it all the way to then,” Quinn said. 

5. About the Colts: The Colts, who saw their starting quarterback Andrew Luck retire, lost their season opener 30-24 to San Diego and beat Tennessee 19-17 last week. 

6. Duke’s Dance Studio: Falcons linebacker Duke Riley threw one heck of a dance party in the locker room after the Falcons win over the Eagles. It’s gone viral on the internet. 

“No, there was no dancing by me, but there was some good dancing going on in the locker room,” Quinn said. “There is zero chance that you are going to see me in Week Two get into the middle of that floor.”

7. Vinatieri struggling: Vinatieri has struggled early this season. He’s missed two extra points in the win over Tennessee. In the six-point loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, he missed two field goals and one extra point. 

His missed field goals of 46 and 29 yards were both wide left.

Colts head coach Frank Reich issued a statement on the storied kicker on Monday.

“I know there’s been a lot of discussion about Adam,” Reich said. “Just want to make this clear: Adam’s our kicker. Like I said yesterday, we have zero concern. He’s not only our kicker, he’s an instrumental leader on our team. When we talk about toughness and what we’re all about as a team and a program, there’s probably no one who epitomizes that more than Adam. So just want to make sure that’s clear.”

Vinatieri, 46, is widely considered to be the next kicker to follow Morten Andersen into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Reich points blame at Vinatieri’s holder and snapper for the missed extra points. 

“It was not a good operation,” Reich said. “The snap and hold was not clean, the ball barely got on the ground. It was not clean. So, it is what it is.”

8. Hageman released: Defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman, who finished his two-game suspension, was waived/injured by the Falcons on Monday. 

Hageman, 29, was trying to make a comeback after being out of the NFL for two seasons. He was on the reserve/suspended list after joining the Falcons in training camp. 

Hageman was drafted by the Falcons in the second round of the 2014 draft. He spent three seasons with the Falcons before being cut after a domestic violence case. He started in Super Bowl LI for the Falcons. 

9. Depth chart: Here’s the official depth chart for the Colts’ game:

OFFENSE
WR 11 Julio Jones, 18 Calvin Ridley, 83 Russell Gage
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 John Wetzel 
LG 68 77 James Carpenter, 71 Wes Schweitzer
C 51 Alex Mack, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RG 68 Jamon Brown, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RT 76 Kaleb McGary, 74 Ty Sambrailo, 73 Matt Gono 
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Luke Stocker, 87 Jaeden Graham
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 14 Justin Hardy, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 25 Ito Smith, 38 Kenjon Barner, 23 Brian Hill, 32 Qadree Ollison
FB 40 Keith Smith

DEFENSE
DE 98 Takkarist McKinley, 99 Adrian Clayborn
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford
DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 94 Deadrin Senat
DE 93 Allen Bailey, 50 John Cominsky
DE 44 Vic Beasley
LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 42 Duke Riley
LB 45 Deion Jones, 53 Jermaine Grace
CB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 27 Damontae Kazee, 20 Kendall Sheffield
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 28 Jordan Miller
S 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman
S 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael

SPECIALISTS
K 3 Matt Bryant
KO 5 Matt Bosher, Matt Bryant
P 5 Matt Bosher (Mohamed Sanu)
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher
KOR 38 Kenjon Barner
PR Kenjon Barner, (Mohamed Sanu and Justin Hardy in practice) 

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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