The Vikings capitalized on Atlanta’s turnover issues in the red zone when veteran cornerback Terence Newman intercepted Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan midway through the third quarter last Sunday.
Newman picked off Ryan’s attempt into the end zone on Third-and-goal from the 14-yard line to collect his third interception in the last three games. Newman had a pair of interceptions at Oakland in Week 10.
The turnover killed what could have been the go-ahead scoring drive for Atlanta and led to a Vikings’ field goal on the ensuing possession for a 10-3 lead. The Vikings went on to win 20-10. Here’s a look at how the play developed:
Frame 1: The Falcons lined up in the shotgun with five receivers, three to the right, including wide receiver Roddy White. Ryan’s eventual target, tight end Jacob Tamme, is to the left. The Vikings are in a nickel defense with all five cornerbacks and two linebackers off the line and four linemen in the box. Newman is on the left with safety Antone Exum Jr. and strong side linebacker Anthony Barr.
“It starts with me. I’ve got to be better in terms of decision-making and knowing when to throw the ball away and cut our losses and kick a field goal,” Ryan said after throwing two interceptions Sunday. He’s thrown five in the last two weeks. “But we’ve got to really look in the mirror hard on Monday and Tuesday before we get out on the practice field on Wednesday to see what we can do differently to stop that from happening.”
Frame 2: The Vikings only rush four linemen, but Falcons guard Andy Levitre fails to pick up defensive end Everson Griffen’s cut to the inside. The extra pressure forces Ryan to scramble to his left and eventually throw across his body with little zip behind the pass.
“Get those guys around the quarterback,” Newman said, “and there are going to be some balls that aren’t perfect, and we’re going to have a chance to get our hands on them.”
Frame 3: Ryan sees Tamme with some space in the back of the end zone and White calls for the ball after getting behind two Vikings defenders. Ryan, however, is unable to get much on his throw that winds up somewhere in-between the two receivers and in Newman’s hands. The Vikings veteran cornerback said he tried to bait Ryan to make the tough throw and it worked.
“I tried to bait [Ryan] a little bit. I knew I only had the tight end back there, so I let him get a step on me knowing I could come back,” Newman said. “And when I saw Ryan go left, I knew he had to throw across his body. Then I undercut him. It worked out.”