Falcons hope for repeat pass-rush performance


Kroy Biermann 4.5

Osi Umenyiora 2.5

Cory. Peters 2.0

Jonathan Massaquoi 2.0

Jonathan Babineaux 2.0

Paul Worrilow 2.0

Dwight Lowery 1.0

Stansly Maponga 1.0

Ra’Shede Hageman 1.0

Paul Soliai 1.0

Dezmen Southward 1.0

Robert McClain 1.0

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan hopes the pass rush continues to have some success against Carolina on Sunday.

The Falcons had a season-high five sacks and six quarterback hits against Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

They’ll face a more difficult challenge against Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who runs away from pressure. The Panthers, who’ve been juggling their line this season, have given up 41 sacks, which ranks 22nd in the league.

The Falcons have 21 sacks, which ranks tied for 30th in the league.

“Every game is a new challenge,” Nolan said. “I thought we applied a lot of pressure. …As we have been saying for the last five weeks, we were getting pressure, but no numbers at all. We just happen to come up with the numbers the other day and that contributed to the win. That was good.”

The Panthers took note the Falcons’ revived pass rush.

“I think the decision early to attack and be aggressive was good for them,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. “I thought some of the coverages that they mixed in were really good. Then it was just their physical and aggressive nature.”

The Falcons sacked Newton twice in their 19-17 win over the Panthers on Nov. 16. Linebacker Paul Worrilow and safety Dezmen Southward each had a sack in that game.

Outside linebacker Kroy Biermann, free safety Dwight Lowery, defensive end/tackle Jonathan Babineaux, defensive tackle Corey Peters and rookie Ra’Shede Hageman all had a sack against the Saints. Biermann leads the Falcons with 4.5 sacks.

The number against the Saints could have been higher.

“I’m sure Osi (Umenyiora) will tell you that he missed three,” Nolan said.

It was Hageman’s first NFL sack.

“He’s getting better,” Nolan said. “He’ll continue to get better and he’ll continue to play.”

The versatile Babineaux led the surge against the Saints.

“He’s always been anything from a tackle to an end,” Nolan said. “He stands up sometimes outside as a linebacker in the option game. He’s got very good quickness. Babineaux is a very disruptive player.”

Nolan was pleased with the entire defensive line.

“I don’t think any of them had a losing grade,” Nolan said. “All of them had winning grades. I think that was evident during the ball game.”