Allen seals victory in first start at safety

Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen had some big plans for the game-ball he received after sealing the Falcons’ 26-24 victory over the Eagles on Monday night.

“That one is going to Mom,” Allen said.

Allen, a former fifth-round pick, who was cut by the team last season and later added to the practice squad, bailed out the defense, which had squandered a 17-point lead.

With the Eagles attempting to drive down for a potential game-winning field goal, Allen, whom the new staff converted from cornerback to free safety, intercepted a Sam Bradford pass that clanked off the shoulder pads of Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews.

“They really just ran to the middle of the field,” Allen said. “They tried to get into the middle of our zone. Our defensive line got pressure. Our (defensive ends) were rushing really fast and he ended up trying to get the ball out…He tipped it up and I was in the middle of the field and just ran up, the ball was there.”

Allen credited the tip drill in practice for the play.

“We practice tip drill every day,” Allen said. “That’s all I did, I just finished the game.”

The Falcons defense, after a strong start, was floundering in the second half. In addition to blowing a 20-3 lead, they gave up a 95-yard touchdown drive.

But with the game on the line, Allen came up to the rescue.

“He’s grown a lot,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “He’s always working. He went from corner to free safety, and it looks like he has been playing there his whole life. He has a lot of big things ahead of him.”

Allen finished with seven tackles and one pass breakup.

He didn’t want to make too much of a big deal over his interception.

“It was just an overthrow,” Allen said. “Every day, we go over it. My defensive line, linebackers and corners, they didn’t want to throw at my corners. They wanted to throw to the middle of the field.

“Our line was getting a lot of pressure. … It tipped up and just landed in my lap.”

Allen could have returned the interception for a touchdown. There was an open lane up the sideline.

But with the game in question, he went down to the turf.

“They didn’t have too many timeouts left,” Allen said. “I just wanted to get down and give our offense the ball to finish it off.”

Allen was elated with the victory.

“Anytime that you come out with a ‘W’ in this league, you are playing pretty good,” Allen said. “There is a lot that we can work on. We are still building as a team. We are still building chemistry and we are a very young team. But every day, we’re going to come out and compete.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn liked Allen’s speed, range and tackling ability when he reviewed him on tape. He thought Allen had the necessary skills to make the transition to free safety.

“That’s what we work for,” Allen said. “We put in all of these hours. After hours, long nights, long days. It’s just good to end up with a win.”

The Falcons met the challenge of keeping up with the Eagles fast tempo offense.

“They ran the same things over and over again,” Allen said. “We practiced for that. They made plays. We made plays and we came up with the win.”