The Atlanta Falcons won by overcoming slippery turf and an enormous, raucous crowd full of Los Angeles Rams fans, including Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr., last night. Now they’re headed to Philadelphia to face a quarterback not named Carson Wentz. Win and they’re headed back to the NFC Championship. Assuming that’s their goal, cornerback Robert Alford will surely play a substantial role.
Alford signed a shiny new four year, $38 million contract extension in December 2016. It’s proving to be a shrewd move by general manager Thomas Dimitroff. The knock on Alford has always been his uncanny knack for getting flagged. But then again, we always knew he’d thrive when he learned to rely on his natural athleticism and trust himself.
Alford was targeted eight times on Saturday night. He deflected two passes and only gave up two receptions that went for 18 yards. Wonderboy Jared Goff’s passer rating when targeting Alford was a paltry 39.5. That earned Alford a Pro Football Focus grade of 85.8, second only to Deion Jones among Falcons last night. (His 83.3 PFF rating in ‘17/‘18 ranks 31st among cornerbacks.)
It’s only fitting that Alford intercepted the Cam Newton pass the essentially clinched a playoff birth in week 17. If you combine his week 17 performance with last night’s performance, he’s only surrendered five receptions over his last 48 targets. (I suck at math, but that means roughly one of out every ten passes thrown in his direction over the past two games have resulted in receptions.)
Want the Falcons to beat the Eagles on Saturday? Then you’d better hope Alford stays hot.