Washington entered its Week 5 contest at the Georgia Dome first in the NFL in rushing yards per game. By the end of the night, it fell all the way to 12th.
RBs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones, a formidable duo through four games, on Sunday managed just 15 and 20 yards on the ground, respectively. The Falcons didn't surrender any runs longer than nine yards and, thanks to deep, talented front seven, prevented Washington from developing much of an offensive rhythm.
On a day when the defense needed to carry its team to an overtime victory, this success proved to be essential.
"They were moving around a lot and stuffing an extra guy in the box a lot," said Washington head coach Jay Gruden. "They did a nice job. We ran the ball on the outside they were forcing our backs inside which wasn't very good, and they were getting off blocks. I'll have to check the film on that. They did an excellent job, as far as being able to read the course, and making us come back. Their backside pursuit was outstanding."
Among the contributors to Atlanta's run D has been free agent addition O'Brien Schofield. A Seahawk under Dan Quinn and know for his ability to disrupt the passer, the 28-year-old has given the Falcons an edge presence with value in all situations.
Schofield made three stops on Sunday, bringing his season total to seven. So far, he's executed a stop on 15.9 percent of his snaps against the run, tops in the league among qualifying 4-3 defensive ends.
"I think it's his strength that he plays with," Dan Quinn said of Schofield. He's a really good edge setter. And I think it dates back to his time as an outside linebacker, as well. He's very comfortable at the end of the line, whether it's against a tackle or a tight end … He's such a versatile guy. He plays linebacker, he plays D-end, he can stand up. We move him around at a number of spots, so that's probably where it came from."
As a veteran of Quinn's system, Schofield had little trouble adjusting to his new surroundings. He's also been able to help his teammates transition to the 4-3 under scheme that's been so effective through five games.
"Schofield plays a key point on this defense," said DT Jonathan Babineaux. "These last few years being up in Seattle, he's been able to give us insight. We always talk about stuff that can make us better, how we can adjust to certain things. Talking to him from experience, it helps us understand the game better."