*In Sunday's win over the Panthers Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson came up with his first interception, closing his inaugural season with the franchise in style. Though the corner's presence in Atlanta's secondary has benefited the entire team, his personal numbers took a hit as few teams tested his side of the field often. On his way to the playoffs for the first time, Robinson's glad to have that first Falcons pick out of the way. *
ATLANTA —It had been a while since Dunta Robinson experienced the thrill of a true job well done.
While the Falcons have been winning this season and the cornerback's presence has improved the team's secondary, Robinson hadn't come away with an interception during his first year in Atlanta.
In Sunday's 31-10 victory over the Panthers Robinson's time finally came in the third quarter. While the game was in hand with the Falcons' 24-3 lead, the seventh-year veteran helped shut the door, taking away a deep Jimmy Clausen pass to set up another touchdown for the Falcons.
Facing a third-and-20, Robinson lined up against the six-foot-3 David Gettis, knowing the Panthers would take a shot deep. Using his speed he stayed ahead of him and beat Gettis to the top of his jump, catching the ball before the receiver had an opportunity to contest it.
"I just tried to get in there before he did and was able to bring it down," Robinson said. "I hadn't gotten a pick all season so I definitely needed that. I was desperate for it and I got it done."
After a missed opportunity for his first interception last Monday against New Orleans, Robinson heard from his teammates all week about the zero he had in the stat column. Even some of his less interception-focused defensive teammates like defensive lineman John Abraham had more interceptions than the cornerback and none of it was lost on Robinson.
"I left one on the field Monday night so I definitely had to come out here and make up for it today," he said. "I definitely didn't want to drop two, so I made the catch and the offense went back out there and put points on the board. That's what we're supposed to do on defense."
Later in the fourth quarter, Robinson almost came away with his second takeaway on a tipped pass from Clausen. Hungry from his earlier pick, he stretched as far as he could to get it, but didn't quite have enough length. Even though the second didn't come there, he knows he'll have more opportunities this season for that next one as he and the Falcons are moving on to host playoff games at home.
"I wanted it," he said. "I want as many as I can get. You get greedy. Once you get one, you want more. It was definitely a great feeling. The thing about it is I have the opportunity. We're in the playoffs. Someone's going to have to come here and play us and I'll get another shot."
A native of Athens, Ga., Robinson signed with the Falcons in the offseason after six seasons with the Houston Texans. While he envisioned better numbers playing for his hometown team, he mainly wanted to be a part of building a winning tradition in Atlanta.
"This is definitely what I had in mind," Robinson said. "I knew this was a great football team, I knew it was just missing a couple of pieces. When I signed my name on the dotted line I knew we were trying to accomplish something major here. I wasn't just coming here for the money, not just come here to play football, I was coming here to win football games. Thirteen and three, NFC South champions is definitely a great feeling."
Robinson's first interception in 34 games came on his way to the playoffs, his first during his time in the NFL. A relieved Robinson stood in the Falcons' postgame locker room, among his playoff-bound teammates, happy to have a milestone kind of day, smiling about having two firsts out of the way.
"That's what we wanted to do," he said. "We brought all these pieces in here for this moment; to conquer this division. We got it done today and we tip our hats to the coaching staff, Mr. Blank and everybody. So far it's been great. Now we just have to finish the deal."