Editor's Note: This feature on Falcons director of pro personnel Steve Sabo is the sixth story in AtlantaFalcons.com's "Meet the Scouts" series.
The series provides insight into key members of the Falcons' player personnel department, and behind the scenes looks at how the Falcons discovered some of their top players.
By Scott Bair
The New Orleans Saints lined up for a massive 2-point conversion late in a tense game with the Falcons. Success meant going up three with a minute left. Failure created the possibility of getting beat by a field goal.
The Saints chose to give the ball to their best player and let him run behind their best offensive lineman. But, by the time Alvin Kamara received the handoff and headed toward left tackle Terron Armstead, the Falcons had foiled their rival.
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James Vaughters and Anthony Rush collapsed the Saints line of scrimmage, Jaylinn Hawkins prevented an outside escape and the defense swarmed to get Kamara on the ground.
Somewhere in the Superdome, Steve Sabo must've smiled.
A monumental play got made by two guys recently signed off the street, scouted by the director of pro personnel's department as the first part of a full-team effort designed to churn the bottom of the roster and improve the Falcons one addition at a time.
Vaughters and Rush helped make a pivotal play. We all know what happened next.
Matt Ryan hit Cordarrelle Patterson on a 64-yard strike and Younghoe Koo kicked the game-winning field goal two plays later to seal a dramatic comeback victory. Without that two-point stop, Koo ties the game and there's no telling what happens next. That defensive stand allowed Koo to win it.
While Ryan, Patterson and Koo were lauded after that 27-25 result, head coach Arthur Smith was quick to praise the "unsung heroes" of that victory you may not have known.
He counted Vaughters and Rush in that group.
Vaughters had a strip sack that set up a Falcons touchdown and was vital to shutting down that 2-point conversion. Rush had three tackles, including one for a loss, and got the good push required to stop Kamara.
"It was really fun to see those players have success," Sabo said. "It's encouraging for those coaches who got them ready, but it's also encouraging for [GM Terry Fontenot and director of player personnel Kyle Smith] and the pro department."