Clayborn’s 6-pack sack attack propels Falcons

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn set a franchise record with six sacks and may have helped to turnaround the Falcons season.

Clayborn destroyed backup tackles Chaz Green and Byron Bell on his way to Cowboys quarterback Dak Presscott.

In addition to the six sacks, Clayborn had seven quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in the 27-7 victory Sunday.

“He energized the entire organization today,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said.

The Falcons were 4-4 and in danger of slipping before .500, with the Panthers (6-3) and Saints (7-2) playing well in the NFC South. A loss to the Cowboys would have be devastating.

“I feel like we now know what we can be,” Clayborn said. “We showed proof of that. We have to take it and keep going.”

Chuck Smith and Claude Humphrey shared the old team record of five sacks in a game. Clayborn was modest after the game.

“You always envision it, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” Clayborn said. “I’m no Everson Griffen or somebody like that, my pass rush isn’t as good as (his). But I play the same way every game. It lucked out for me today.

“I only have one move and it works.”

The Cowboys, who played without Pro Bowler Tyron Smith, tried to give their backup tackles some help.

“They chipped me some and it hurt,” Clayborn said. “When they didn’t I just took advantage of it.”

Clayborn knew the Falcons were in a must-win situations.

“You just have to take yourself to that mindset that you not going to get beaten,” Clayborn said. “That’s where I went today.”

Now, that the defense has turned in a dominating performance they hope to build on it.

“It shows that we can do it,” Clayborn said. “We’ve been knowing that we could do it. Now, we’ve shown it. We got that feeling. We know that we can do it.”

Clayborn’s showing energized the rest of the defensive linemen.

“Pass rushers get paid the most money in the league,” defensive end Takkarist McKinley said. “That’s the honest truth. Pass rushers, offensive line and quarterbacks get paid the most money. A.C. came in clutch today. The defense in general came in clutch today. For us to have a statement game like this, we have to build on it.”

Linebacker Vic Beasley, who led the league in sacks with 15.5 last season, was in awe of Clayborn.

“It was pretty amazing,” Beasley said. “I’ve never seen a person put on physical actions like that. It was great to have him on my team.”

The Falcons are set to play the Seahawks on Monday Night Football next week.

“I think collectively, it was our best performance,” Beasley said.