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Atlanta trying to clean up special teams problems
Question of the Day
He doesn’t want him to have to do it against Cleveland on Sunday.
“As special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, tells his guys all the time about, that one play is their series,” Smith said this week. “It’s not like you’re going out there and having a 10-play drive on offense, or a three or four or five-play drive on defense. It’s one play.”
Without Bryant’s last-second heroics, the Falcons might be two games under .500. When Atlanta (3-1) plays at the Browns (1-3) on Sunday, special teams will need to be on their games to contain Browns return specialist Josh Cribbs.
Cribbs ranks fifth on the NFL career list with 10 touchdown returns. Eight have come on kickoffs, including three last year.
Though Cribbs hasn’t run back a TD this season, in a home win last week over Cincinnati he had his 32nd game with at least 100 kickoff return yards.
“It’s a huge challenge,” said Falcons punter and kickoff specialist Michael Koenen. “We’ve got a lot of things to get right before we face a guy like that.”
His 9-yard holding penalty on a kickoff return forced the Atlanta offense to start a drive at the 7. Four plays later, San Francisco fooled Mughelli, the upback, by overloading the left side of the formation.
With Mughelli’s attention focused to his right side, Dominique Zeigler ran easily past long snapper Joe Zelenka, who was blocking the man in front of him, and had a clear path to block Koenen’s end-zone punt for a touchdown.
“It’s a mistake I made and a mistake that I will clean up,” Mughelli said this week. “I’ve watched extra film to I can prepare because their idea is to try and come back with something like that again, but they’ll be sorely disappointed because it won’t happen again.”
Atlanta ranked first in opponents’ starting field position last year and second the season before. In ‘08, the Falcons set an NFL record with 43 total net punt return yards allowed.
Other mistakes have been equally glaring.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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