Falcons foes never lack motivation Glanville's ways make him a target

December 26, 1991|By Vito Stellino

When the Dallas Cowboys were fighting to keep a 31-27 lead over the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale Sunday, they needed motivation.

The outcome of the game was meaningless to the Cowboys, while the Falcons could have won the NFC West title if they had scored a touchdown from the Cowboys' 16 in the final minute.

But the Cowboys got all the motivation they needed when they looked at the Atlanta sideline.

"We looked over, saw him and we all said: 'No way! No way, we're going to let him win,' " said Dallas linebacker Jack Del Rio. "We don't want to have to listen to his stuff all week. We didn't want to have to hear him on ESPN every night."

The "he" Del Rio meant is Jerry Glanville, the black-clad Falcons coach who never has met a controversy he didn't like.

Nose tackle Tony Casillas, who was traded by the Falcons to the Cowboys this year, said: "Our motivation was who the Atlanta Falcons are and what they represent. It would have made us sick to see that guy across the sideline, looking ridiculous, win the game."

The Cowboys held on and cost the Falcons the NFC West title (the New Orleans Saints won it by beating the Phoenix Cardinals later in the day) and then tried to get in the last word after the game.

Referring to the fact that the Falcons listened to a private concert by Jerry Jeff Walker the night before the game, Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said: "While we spent Saturday night working in meetings, the Falcons were listening to country-western music. I guess some teams prepare differently than others."

Johnson didn't mind needling Glanville because the Atlanta coach likes to point out how fortunate Johnson was to be hired by his college roommate, Jerry Jones, after Jones bought the Cowboys.

The gloating the Cowboys did after the game shows how Glanville riles his opponents.

Not that they managed to shut Glanville's mouth.

After the game, he brushed off the loss. "The worst thing we can do is let a loss spoil the season we had. I couldn't be prouder of this team," he said.

Glanville has to be given his due. Even though the Falcons lost the division title, they're in the playoffs and will meet New Orleans on Saturday at the Louisiana Superdome.

If the Falcons win that one (the Falcons split with the Saints in the regular season, with the road team winning each game), they'd return to RFK Stadium to play the Washington Redskins on Jan. 4.

The last time the Falcons were at RFK Stadium, Nov. 10, the Redskins blew them out, 56-17. Glanville tried to play his usual blitzing defense against the Redskins, even though cornerback Deion Sanders was out due to injury. The blitz left the cornerbacks isolated one-on-one with the Redskins' Posse, a mismatch that enabled Mark Rypien to throw six touchdown passes.

Not that Glanville second-guessed himself after the game.

Instead of rethinking the way he played the Redskins, he accused their offensive line of holding.

"Their offensive line tackles better than our secondary," he said.

Glanville did concede the Falcons play a high-risk defense. "If the throw is perfect, if the protection is good, you have a shot at getting us," he said.

Glanville then added the zinger. "It helps to have people having to block you legally. That's a real plus. A lot of things work better when we're [defensive linemen] not being tackled," he said.

That's why few people believe the Redskins when they say they don't care which team they'll play in their playoff opener. They'll be rooting for the Falcons to beat the Saints because they'd like another crack at that Falcons defense and Glanville. That's better than playing the Dallas-Chicago Bears winner.

As usual, Glanville has been talking this week in preparation for the Saints game.

Since neither team normally sells out, fans from Atlanta and New Orleans often make the 500-mile drive to the opposing city for Saints-Falcons games.

It's different this time because the playoff game at the Superdome is a sellout, so there were virtually no tickets available for Atlanta fans.

That's not unusual in the playoffs, but Glanville couldn't let that pass. "The Saints fans, you have to love. They've been so gracious they've offered our city over 100 tickets so we'll have people there," he said.

Oh, yes, then there's the football. Running back Steve Broussard, the Falcons' leading rusher, was put on injured reserve after suffering a hairline fracture of his leg two weeks ago. He'll be replaced by Erric Pegram and Mike Rozier.

But then Glanville doesn't worry much about football. He has too many other things on his mind.

Before last week's game against Dallas, he was searching for the "electrician guy" at Texas Stadium.

"Where is our electrician guy?" he bellowed at stadium workers. "Any way we can get this music in here turned up louder?"

Win or lose, Glanville's Falcons always march to a lively beat.

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