Atlanta tried mixing in some zone defenses, but that really isn't Glanville's style. "Zones are like being unconscious," he has said. With time to throw, Montana will eat up any zone, as the Falcons found out in their 19-13 loss to San Francisco on Sept. 23, when Joe burned them for two TDs through busted zones.
Atlanta was in a zone in the second quarter on Sunday when Montana threw his longest scoring pass of the day, 43 yards to former Cowboy wideout Mike Sherrard, who split playing time with John Taylor. It was a swivel-head zone, everyone turning his head to watch as Sherrard ran through it like an express train speeding through local stops. After that, Atlanta bagged the zone.
But how about benching Dimry for a while to let him get himself together and replacing him with veteran Bobby Butler? How about moving Sanders, who gave up short stuff (seven completions, 81 yards) but nothing serious, into a straight player-versus-player alignment, Deion versus Rice, as the Redskins do with cornerback Darrell Green? Dimry on Rice was like watching someone trying to catch feathers.
"Everyone saw what was happening," Glanville said. "It wasn't one guy's fault. If there's one guy to take the blame, it's me for putting us in the defense we were in."
At times, Rice almost looked embarrassed by the game he was having. After he hauled in his fourth scoring pass, he turned to the fans and shrugged, as if to say, Don't blame me, I can't help it.
"I was kinda telling them, It's just one of those days when everything's going right," he said. "Look, I don't go into every game figuring I'm going to dominate, but when I've got a guy going, I've got to take advantage of him. Dimry's a good cornerback, but it's one on one out there, and the defensive backs don't know where I'm going."
The loss was especially tough on Glanville, who, in his first year in Atlanta, had turned the town on with his flamboyant style and 2-2 start. The Falcons had played hard for him, and they had a shot in both games they lost. "A week after he got here," said defensive end Tim Green on Thursday, "I told him, 'I hope they never get rid of you, because I want to play the rest of my career for this staff.' "
On Sunday, though, the Falcons were caught in that burst of rockets. "So darn hot, Joe was just so darn hot," said Sanders. "He was hitting everything. If you're not on your guy when he makes his break, you're not gonna get there."
For Montana, it was business as usual. "Talk to him," said his former Pro Bowl receiver, Dwight Clark, who's now a 49er executive, "and I'm sure he'll tell you about the two or three bad throws he made."
Talk to him. Yeah, good luck. You and about 50 writers and TV people with minicams, not to mention the security guys crowding around. Montana appeared briefly, standing on a chair in the midst of this mob, answering questions in that matter-of-fact, no-big-deal way of his. The play in which Case leveled him as he was throwing?