Not all sacks are created equal.
The New Orleans Saints managed a season-high eight of them in Sunday's 24-9 victory over Atlanta in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and each carried a singular significance to the player and the team.
But Cam Jordan's second sack, in the second quarter, just might have been the one that truly broke the Falcons as New Orleans (8-2) won its seventh consecutive game.
The Saints led 10-9 at the time, but Atlanta (3-7) had possession as the game neared halftime. Better for the Falcons, at third-and-2 from the Saints' 39-yard line and 33 seconds left in the quarter, they were in position to at least attempt a long, lead-taking field goal if they didn't gain another yard, or possibly score a touchdown if they gained the two yards and earned another set of downs.
Thanks to Jordan, neither of those scenarios unfolded.
Quarterback Matt Ryan – Jordan's favorite target during a decorated career – took a shotgun snap, looked downfield and saw the same thing that he would see for the majority of the game, covered receivers.
That was all the advantage Jordan needed.
He broke through on the left side and sacked Ryan for minus-8 yards – his second sack of a three-sack game, and the 20th of the 21 times Jordan has sacked Ryan in Jordan's 10-year career.
That play was enough to push Atlanta out of field goal range. And when Ryan's fourth-down pass to the end zone was intercepted by Marcus Williams on the final play of the first half, the Saints were able to enter halftime with a 10-9 lead.
The Falcons never managed to put themselves in better scoring position the rest of the game against the Saints, whose defense continued to dominate after Jordan's play.