ATLANTA -- Without Desmond Trufant, their top cover corner, the Falcons defense made steady improvement over the second half of 2016. While nobody would claim Trufant's absence was the reason for that improvement, it did make it easier to forget the type of impact he can have on the unit.
In front of a national television audience on Sunday night, Trufant issued a huge reminder.
Just before halftime, Trufant grabbed hold of an overthrown pass by Aaron Rodgers to give the Falcons an opportunity to build upon their first-half lead. Atlanta did just that, scoring on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Tevin Coleman and extending the lead to 24-7.
After halftime, Trufant once again made a momentum-grabbing play. On the second play of the third quarter, Vic Beasley Jr. hammered Rodgers and jarred the ball loose. Trufant picked up the fumble and returned it 15-yards for a touchdown.
"What a night for him," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after the game. "That will be one to remember, for sure. He had an interception in practice on Thursday, and he was really on his game and really talked about that during the week. And then for that to come to life tonight, we knew we were going to get challenged (with) how effective they can throw the ball.
"So, that was just a big play by him getting the interception at the end of the half, and then a smart play to start the second half on the forced fumble – you've got to scoop it up and take it back. So, it was his awareness, and, man, what a great way to have him back and that kind of performance tonight. We're really pumped for him."
Trufant finished with two tackles, a pass defense, an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Packers largely chose not to test Trufant on Sunday night, and when they did, he made them pay. According to Pro Football Focus' initial review of the game, Trufant was targeted just four times, and he allowed only two receptions for 26 yards. With two big plays on either side of the half, Trufant proved vital in helping the Falcons put 14 points on the board. Atlanta's final margin of victory: 11 points.