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Senior NFL Columnist

Falcons D comes up big

ATLANTA -- All we heard about this offseason was the Atlanta Falcons offense, and after an impressive opener at Kansas City that appeared to be the main storyline for the season.

But maybe it's time to look at the defense, too.

Eight days after Peyton Manning lit up the Pittsburgh Steelers in his first game with the Denver Broncos, the Falcons defense picked him off three times in the first quarter, making him look old and confused on their way to a relatively easy victory Monday night at the Georgia Dome.

The Atlanta defense, which lost top corner Brent Grimes last week for the year, dominated the Denver offense from start to finish, playing with the speed and coverage skills you haven't seen from this team in a long time. The new-look aggressive approach under new coordinator Mike Nolan could be one of the most-improved units in the league.

William Moore, a talented safety who has been inconsistent in his first two seasons, might have had his best game, opening with a pick to set up Atlanta's first touchdown.

Then Thomas DeCoud got a pick, followed by backup corner Robert McClain getting one of his own.

They made Manning almost look befuddled at times, which was a shock after he looked like the old Peyton Manning in his first game. Manning finished the first quarter with a 31.2 passer rating.

Manning did get his team to to 27-21 late in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons ran out the clock out and held on.

Atlanta is now 2-0 and Monday night they served notice that they just might be the second-best team in the conference right now -- not far behind the 49ers.

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