Maligned Arizona defense strong against FalconsPosted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- There are two faces to the Arizona Cardinals defense.
The ugly one surrendered 514 yards at New England. The handsome one shut down the Atlanta Falcons in the Cardinals' biggest game of the season.
The Falcons managed just 250 yards in their 30-24 wild card playoff loss to Arizona on Saturday, a season-low 60 on the ground.
Michael Turner gained 42 yards in 18 carries, an average of just 2.3 yards per attempt.
The Cardinals defense is a bit small by NFL standards but fast. At its worst, it is plagued by missed tackles and missed assignments.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt described his defense's play on Saturday as "very disciplined."
Arizona sacked Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan three times, one by Antonio Smith for a safety. The defense also scored a touchdown when tackle Darnell Dockett disrupted an attempted handoff from Ryan to Turner.
The ball popped into the hands of safety Antrel Rolle, who returned it 27 yards for a score.