It was poetic, how the Falcons sealed the 23-20 win against the Browns on Sunday evening.
On second and 15, Grady Jarrett pinned his ears back and sacked Jacoby Brissett for a loss of eight. Then, on third and very long, Brissett let a pass fly, and Dee Alford jumped in front of the intended receiver, intercepting the ball and icing the game.
It was almost play-by-play symmetry of how the Falcons ended their win in Seattle a week ago.
On third and eight, Jarrett sacked Geno Smith for a loss of 10 before Richie Grant intercepted Smith on fourth and very long.
Symmetry. Poetry. Whatever you want to call it, the sentiment is the same: This 2022 Falcons defense is making plays when it matters most.
"When we get a chance to go win the game we don't take it lightly," Lorenzo Carter said. "Everybody understands the moment. Coaches, players, everybody is on one accord, and when it's time to go get it, we go get it."
However, it's not just in the end-of-game moments that the Falcons defense is stepping up, their red zone defense over the course of the last two games has been an overlooked part of their success.
Sure, the Falcons have given up significant yards against the Seahawks and Browns (823 total to be exact). But they're not giving up enough points to lose, and that's the difference.
Through two games, the Falcons defense has held both Seattle and Cleveland to a 37.5 combined red zone conversion rate (3-for-8). Seattle was 1-for-3 in the red zone while Cleveland was 2-for-5.
When it comes down to it, the Falcons are protecting the line that matters most, which is the goal line.
As Mykal Walker described, it's a "bend, but never break" mentality that they carry with them.
Let's be frank, too: This game was going to be a fight for yards on the ground regardless of how you looked at it. After the game, Arthur Smith said the team that ran the ball best was going to be the team that came out on top. That thought rang true when the final second ticked off the clock.
The Falcons out-gained the Browns 202-177 on the ground. And even though a 177-rushing yard day is quite the accumulation for Cleveland, those 25 yards made all the difference on Sunday.
"Lemme tell you: Them boys are good over there," Walker said. "They have a great o-line, great running backs. It was a challenge, but one we were excited for. I think guys stepped up when it matter."
Walker continued by saying, yeah, there were some missed tackles and plays the Falcons would have liked back, but when it came down to the moments that truly mattered (particularly when coming up with stops in the red zone) the defense showed up.
And though everyone will be talking about the end-of-game highlight, make no mistake about it: The Falcons red zone defense is keeping Atlanta not just in games, but in the position to win them.
"We have the right guys, the right group of guys," Carter concluded. "Nobody is going to fold. Nobody is going to blink. When they get down there we know what we have to do. We can't concede points... When we can keep them out of the endzone, make them kick a field goal, I'll take it every day."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cleveland Browns during Week 4.