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'This was what it's supposed to look like': Falcons pass rush overwhelms Colts with a season-high in sacks

ATLANTA — After rookie defensive end Zach Harrison recorded the first sack of his career last week against the Carolina Panthers, he wanted more.

He got just that Sunday, recording two more sacks in the Falcons 29-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

"You get that first one off your chest and you're kinda like, 'OK. I can do this,'" Harrison said. "It's another real confidence booster."

It wasn't just Harrison, though. The entire Falcons pass rush overwhelmed the Colts with a season-high six sacks.

Defensive end Calais Campbell added 1 1/2 to the sack total, and outside linebacker Arnold Ebiketie contributed a half-sack when assisting Campbell in bringing down opposing quarterback Gardner Minchew in the first quarter. Meanwhile, inside linebacker Kaden Elliss and safety Richie Grant tallied one each.

"It's a credit to the unit, the room that the coaches put together and the trust we have in each other," Harrison said when asked about multiple Falcons defensive players getting in on the pass rush action.

The Falcons defense has recorded at least one sack in all but two games (Lions, Texans) this season and reached five sacks in Week 6 before their season-high effort Sunday.

It helped that Atlanta had veteran starter David Onyemata back on the front line. Onyemata missed the last two games with an ankle injury. Harrison was asked about Onyemata's presence as he returned to the lineup this Sunday.

"David's a great player in this league. I came in and didn't really know who he was and watching him play I go, 'Why is his name not bigger than it is?'" Harrison said. "One of the best players I've ever seen, real talk."

Atlanta forced the most sacks that Indianapolis has allowed all season, while it tied the most times Minshew had been sacked in his career thus far. The Falcons hadn't reached six sacks in one game since Nov. 2019. This performance was the team's most sacks since Week 15 of the 2018 season when Atlanta notched seven sacks against Arizona. 

Coupled with a stellar defensive performance by safety Jessie Bates III, who came down with his sixth interception of the season, the unit helped keep the Falcons alive in the ultra-tight NFC South playoff race.

"I felt like it was the first time where we played to the level we're capable of playing," Campbell said. "This is what I expected at the beginning of the year and just get things rolling. I feel like it took a while for us to really gel, but wow, this was what it's supposed to look like."

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Indianapolis Colts during Week 16.

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