Vic Beasley Jr. may not have earned a sack last week against Arizona, but the second-year pass-rusher still made a significant impact on defense.
Beasley was constantly in the Cardinals backfield, notching eight pressures and two quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Focus. He likely would have added a sack in the second quarter, too, if Palmer hadn't taken a 12-yard intentional grounding penalty when he felt the heat. That infraction set up a third and 32, which Arizona failed to convert. The Falcons scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive.
And in the fourth quarter, Beasley applied more pressure and forced an errant throw into the arms of De'Vondre Campbell, marking the rookie's first career interception.
"I know he affected the quarterback a lot," head coach Dan Quinn said about Beasley. "I think he was responsible, in my opinion, for a foul that ended up in intentional grounding, another one for a caused interception that went to Campbell. Those are the type of plays that don't show up on the stat sheet, but their teammates do (notice). Those are the plays we try to illustrate in team meetings to say, 'Hey man, because of this, this is the result.'"
Atlanta's pass rush made matters difficult for Carson Palmer, who completed just 25 of 45 throws at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons' D was especially effective in the second half: During the third and fourth quarters combined, Arizona possess the ball for 9:35, gained 119 net yards and scored six points.
Beasley, who regularly bested RT Ulrick John, was certainly a factor in that success (or lack thereof).
"Atlanta did a good job, they're a good football team. They adjusted to some of the things we were doing, they did a great job of negating some of that. They also have some great pass rushers, Vic Beasley and some of those guys were able to get a push," future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald said.
Heading into Week 13, Beasley has 9.5 sacks – the third-most in the NFL and two more than anyone else in the 2015 NFL Draft class. He has 8.5 sacks since his dominant Week 5 performance in Denver, good for tops in the league over that span.