The Atlanta Falcons are getting ready to head back to the Georgia Dome on Sunday to take on division rivals, the Carolina Panthers. Check out these photos of the Falcons at work in Week 16.
When the Falcons returned home from their 38-0 loss in Charlotte, Dan Quinn pulled Robert Alford aside, sat him down and turned on the tape.
Alford gave up several explosive plays against Carolina and didn't perform up to his self-imposed standards. So he welcomed any advice Quinn had to offer. They spent time going over some mistakes, talking candidly and figuring out ways to improve mechanics. Alford sought out defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel, too, making sure he had the feedback needed to get back on track.
Those one-on-one sessions appeared to pay off right away. Alford rebounded last Sunday in Jacksonville, where he played a technically sound game and broke up a fourth-down pass that sealed a win for Atlanta.
"I knew I had to come back strong to help my team win," Alford said Wednesday. ""It feels good to come away with a victory. It wasn't just me on that fourth down. It was the play calling, it was my D-linemen, it was my other cornerbacks on the side of me. We all were in coverage, they happened to throw it to my side and I happened to make a play on it."
Blake Bortles targeted the 27-year-old cornerback seven times, according to Pro Football Focus, yet completed only two passes for 31 yards. On the Falcons' side, only Adrian Clayborn, Matt Ryan and Kemal Ishmael earned higher PFF grades from that contest.
"I wasn't surprised that (Alford) came back and had a rock-solid performance," Quinn said. "I had no doubt because it went that way in practice, and he's a great competitor. So for him to have the performance that he did—man, he was down. But the competitor that he is, he was ready to get back to work and that's what happened all the way throughout the week."
Given how much attention their mistakes receive, it's important for DBs to be able to brush off past struggles. Alford on Sunday will get a crack at redemption, and if he can keep his last matchup versus the Panthers out of mind, he'll be in the right place mentally to succeed.
"You have to have a short memory in this league," Alford said. "Even the greats have bad games. It isn't about how you play that one bad week—it's how you bounce back from it. Last Sunday I think I bounced back from the Carolina game and I'm just trying to keep that motivation going this week and through the end of the season."