“I heard from a lot of people,” Davidson said. “The one that shocked me the most, I heard from (former Falcons interim) coach Raheem Morris. Coach Raheem had my back a lot last year. He felt like I was one his guys last year. He hit me up and was like ‘Congrats. That’s big-time Bro.’ That meant a lot to me.”
Davidson was drafted in the second round (47th overall) in the 2020 draft. Thus far, his career has been slowed by injuries. He played 124 snaps (24%) as a rookie.
He’s part of the defensive line rotation and has played 224 defensive snaps (35%) this season. He has 19 tackles, a sack, quarterback hit and a tackle for loss in nine games.
“He’s like all of our guys, there’s some things he’s got to work on week to week,” Smith said. “Things we can all do better, but it was nice to see Marlon make a play. To have the awareness right there on the screen, and it was a big play for us.”
The Falcons’ offense fumbled on the first possession of the third quarter, missing the chance to take the lead, but that didn’t minimize Davidson’s play.
A force of nature moved Davidson to get into position to make the interception.
“Man, I don’t even know how it happened,” Davidson said. “Just blessed. I couldn’t even tell you. I’m still kind of shaken up about it. It was just me making a football play.”
He thought about it more and figured out what happened.
“I was coming out for contain, but then one of my other guys already had contain,” Davidson said. “I (saw) the back and just veered off. Something just pulled me that way. I just made a football play.”
Davidson was lined up next to Dante Fowler, who rushed inside. Davidson went out to his right and stepped in front of running back Leonard Fournette. He stuck out his right hand out gathered in his first NFL interception.
Cornerback Darren Hall was the first to come over and hug Davidson. Then Steven Means jumped on his back before Grady Jarrett made it to the party scene.
“I had a sack dance (planned),” Davidson said. “It was going to be real nice on my sack dance. I wasn’t expecting an interception dance. So, it was kind of surprising. Man, it was one of those deals where I had to do something.”
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady had been cutting up the Falcons defense via the air.
“Of course, it’s a highlight,” Davidson said. “It was Tom Brady. Who wouldn’t want to do something good against Tom Brady. There are a lot of defensive backs that haven’t (intercepted Brady).”
Davidson recalled a pre-draft interview with an NFL team.
“Coming into the league, they were like what is the one thing you want to do, and I was like, ‘sack Tom Brady,’ ” Davidson said. “I got the first sack of my career against Tom Brady in the first game against Tampa, and then I come back with an interception for a touchdown. Man, it’s like, what else can you ask for.”
Davidson made the interception look easy. He traced it to playing catch with the other defensive linemen before practice starts.
“I thought I was going to run about 30 yards,” Davidson said. “But we do this stuff all the time just playing around before (practice). We’re just playing catch all the time, acting like we are receivers or something like, we always want to be small. Big guys always want to be small, small guys always want to be big. So, we’re just doing those types of things. Literally, like catching it with one hand all the time. It stuck. It just stuck to me. That’s all I can say.”
The Falcons have been pleased with Davidson’s development.
“Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game and set him back a little bit,” defensive line coach Gary Emanuel said. “But he’s bouncing back from that. He’s working hard and improving on the things he needs to work on, which is all parts of the game like all the rest of the guys. He’s been doing a great job. We’re really happy with where Marlon is headed.”
The Falcons gave up a season-high 203 yards rushing in the 19-13 loss to the Panthers on Oct. 31. Davidson believes he’ll be needed to help stop the run against quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers.
“That’s a big-time player that we are playing against in Cam Newton,” Davidson said. “Coming from Auburn (where Davidson played, too), running quarterback. Everybody hates a running quarterback. Just playing against Carolina again, I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth. It’s a work week.”
The Bow Tie Chronicles
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Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo
Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores
Eagles 32, Falcons 6
Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25
Falcons 17, Giants 14
Washington 34, Falcons 30
Falcons 27, Jets 20
Falcons 30, Dolphins 28
Panthers 19, Falcons 13
Falcons 27, Saints 25
Cowboys 43, Falcons 3
Patriots 25, Falcons 0
Falcons 21, Jaguars 14
Buccaneers 30, Falcons 17
Final Five games
Falcons at Carolina, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12
Falcons at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19
Detroit Lions at Falcons, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26
Falcons at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2
New Orleans Saints at Falcons, 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9