Sean Salisbury's Super Bowl breakdown

Focal Point: In the line of fire

Focal Point: Here's the kicker

Focal Point: Super backs

Focal Point: Reeves vs. Shanahan

Focal Point: Romo vs. Tuggle

Garber: Older and wiser

QBs make for Super contrast

Peyton trying to take things slowly

  Friday, Jan. 29 3:58pm ET
Focal Point: Chandler vs. Broncos secondary

The Matchup:
Falcons QB Chris Chandler vs. the Broncos secondary.

The Question:
If the Broncos stop Jamal Anderson, will Chris Chandler beat able to beat them?

Chris Chandler   Broncos secondary
COMP: 190 | ATT: 327 | YDS: 3,154
TDs: 25 | INTs: 12 | RATING: 100.9

By Mark Malone
Special to

Mike Shanahan said it best: Anybody in the NFL can stop any one thing at any time. But at what expense?

That's what happened when Minnesota was able to shut down Jamal Anderson in the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings went into the game saying, "If we shut Anderson down, we win the game." As we saw, what that does is put the cornerbacks on an island in single coverage.

You'll see Broncos safety Steve Atwater playing near the line of scrimmage a lot, but that's no different than what Denver has always done. The Broncos will develop some schemes to get some help for cornerbacks Ray Crockett and Darrien Gordon outside. But if you take Anderson away and force Chandler to beat you, he has proven he's as capable as any big-game quarterback in football.

Chandler believes in himself and has been able to stay away, for the most part, from the big injury this season. He makes good decisions. He got away with a couple of bad throws against Minnesota, but he's fundamentally sound in terms of reading. He's a very accurate passer who can make all the throws you have to make in the NFL.

All season, the Falcons came up with big plays in the passing game. They did it very quietly because everyone was enamored with the story of Randy Moss and Randall Cunningham in Minnesota. But the Falcons have put up big numbers and come up with big plays, and that won't change.

Tony Martin and Terance Mathis finished only seven receiving yards short of Cris Carter and Randy Moss, the Vikings' prolific duo. O.J. Santiago has come into his own as a receiving tight end. Anderson can catch the ball out of the backfield.

Chandler has a lot of weapons to work with. If the Broncos overcommit themselves to the running of Anderson, Chandler is more than capable of taking advantage of that Denver secondary.


By Sean Salisbury
Special to

Chris Chandler is as good a red-zone quarterback as there is in the league. When healthy, he's among the top seven or eight quartebacks in the NFL. He has a lot of moxie and understands how to play.

But if Jamal Anderson isn't running and the Falcons are stuck in long-yardage situations, you can have Chandler, John Elway and Dan Marino back in the pocket. It doesn't matter; it's hard to beat anybody.

If Chandler is throwing on third-and-eight all day, it becomes a lot tougher, and the Broncos secondary has the advantage, regardless of who's back there at cornerback and safety. The Denver linebackers can get deeper drops in pass coverage and force Chandler to force the ball. If it's a short-yardage situation, Chandler is as effective as anyone.

Darrien Gordon (pictured) and Ray Crockett, the Denver cornerbacks, are underrated. They're not as bad as the statistics might say. Teams are almost always in a chase mode against Denver. When teams are behind, they throw more and rack up more passing yards than they normally would in a tight game.

Both Gordon and Crockett have big-play capability. Gordon had two interceptions against the Jets in the AFC Championship. Crockett can do the same thing on the other side. They might not be consistently great or that flashy, but they're smart and always around the football. Atlanta can pose a problem for the Denver secondary, but it all depends on down and distance.

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