The fact that Atlanta’s defense played well Sunday and safety William Moore was back after an eight-week absence from a shoulder injury was not a coincidence. The Falcons have desperately missed Moore, and there was little doubt his return was important in the 11-point win Sunday against the Cardinals.
Moore forced a fumble and had four tackles and played in every defensive snap in the game against the Cardinals. He was glad to be back on the field.
“It was great to be back,” Moore said. “This is what I do. I love to do it.”
Moore’s forced fumble came in the second quarter as the Cardinals were driving down the field. He stripped the ball away from receiver Michael Floyd and the fumble was recovered by Atlanta’s Desmond Trufant.
“It was an opportunity,” Moore said. “We were in man coverage. Unfortunately, he caught the ball. I work on it all week in practice. I went out there and just tried to take advantage of the opportunity he had. He wasn’t looking. It was too late when he did look. I work on that every day in practice.”
The Falcons also had an interception from Moore’s teammate at safety, Dwight Lowery. Head coach Mike Smith appreciated the play of his defensive backs, especially Moore’s forced turnover.
“It was a great strip,” said Smith. “It was good to have him back out on our defense. He created one turnover. Those two guys are very physical football players. When they’re rolling back in the deep, people are going to be aware they’re out there.
Unlike Arizona defensive back Patrick Peterson, who sounded off all week before the game about his matchup with Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Moore kept quiet about his return to the playing field after a long absence.
“I didn’t want to talk much because I had a level of expectation for myself,” Moore said. “I wanted to go out there and not talk about it but be about it. That’s one of the reasons I feel like I’m here to try to be from a leadership standpoint… these guys give me the torch and I’m going to take advantage of it.”
The Cardinals got a garbage touchdown late in the game to get to 18 points, but the Falcons defense did a great job to hold down an offense that was desperately missing quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Regardless of Arizona’s injuries, the Falcons still played its best game of the season on defense.
“We did an awesome job,” Moore believed. “It wasn’t me; it wasn’t just me. Our team did an awesome job. That’s why we won.”
But Moore’s presence on the field mattered. He’s the leader of the defense, and he’s been needed for a team that went through a tough stretch without him.
Smith said, “We’ve missed him. He’s a damn good football player. When he attacks the ball and there is contact, there is usually somebody going backwards.”
“It was great to have Willie Mo back out there bringing the energy on the back end and just getting out there and having fun,” said defensive lineman Jonathan Babineaux.
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Moore made a difference in return
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