Without the services of Desmond Trufant, Atlanta's cornerbacks stepped up admirably vs. the Cardinals, helping limit Arizona wide receivers to just 10 receptions.
Robert Alford made several big plays downfield. Jalen Collins broke up two crucial throws — one on a fourth down snap, the other on a two-point conversion attempt. And Brian Poole, despite being a rookie signed as a college free agent, looked like a veteran from start to finish.
Poole saw time outside and in the slot, allowing five catches for 43 yards on 37 pass coverage snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. The 5-foot-10, 211 pounder held his own when matched up with future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, who finished the contest with only four catches for 53 yards.
Poole made two big plays behind the line of scrimmage, as well. With 3:59 left in the first half, he sniffed out a screen pass to Markus Golden and wrestled the wide receiver down for a one-yard loss. And midway through the fourth quarter, he blitzed and earned his first career sack by bringing Palmer to the turf.
"It's nice. He was undrafted so he has a chip on his shoulder. He's going out there and showing each and every Sunday, each and every practice, every day, that he deserves to be in this league," Alford said about Poole. "I'm proud of him. I'm proud to see the progression and the way he's improving each and every week."
The Falcons' defensive backs are confident they can succeed without their Pro Bowl corner, and the progress Poole has made is a big reason why.
"It's not going to take one man to replace (Trufant), it's going to take all of us," rookie safety Keanu Neal said. "We have to really put some extra effort into make sure that we represent him well knowing that he wants to be out there with us."