Originally created 01/27/99

Smith looking for win, recognition for team



MIAMI -- Defensive end Chuck Smith knows the name "Bomb Squad" for the Falcons' front four hasn't caught the attention like the "Steel Curtain" once did for the Steelers or the "Purple People Eaters" did for the Vikings.

But he's not giving up hope of marquee billing just yet.

"The winner gets the spoils," said Smith of Sunday's meeting with Denver in Super Bowl XXXIII. `And, if we win we will finally get some recognition for it. I'm telling you this is the best defensive line in the NFL."

There's not a whole lot of support for Smith's assessment among NFL scouts or fans, but the Falcons probably picked up a few votes for his cause after the team's 30-27 victory over the Vikings in the NFC Championship game.

The motley crew including Smith, fellow end Lester Archambeau and tackles Travis Hall and Shane Dronett, controlled the biggest and perhaps the best offensive line in the NFL, which includes three NFC Pro Bowlers in center Jeff Christy, left tackle Todd Steussie and left guard Randall McDaniel.

"We should have some respect after doing what we did to Minnesota," Smith said. "We banged them around pretty good. We can play against anyone, big or small. We just go after people and give it all we got."

The Falcons couldn't have picked a better opponent to test themselves.

Denver went into last year's Super Bowl, with its under-sized line, and ran over and through the defending champion Green Bay Packers to secure the team's first NFL championship. Now, the Broncos are back for an encore.

Leading the way, is Terrell Davis, the former University of Georgia Bulldog, who became the fourth person in NFL history to run for more than 2,000 yards during the regular season while also earning the league's MVP award.

"We feel like we can stop almost everybody," Hall said. "You are not going to hold Denver to nothing. We are going to have a much better chance of winning this football game as long as (Davis) doesn't have a monster day."

The Falcons don't have to look back very far to figure that out.

On Dec. 21 at Pro Player Stadium -- the site of Sunday's game -- Davis was held to a season-low 29 yards on 16 carries by the Dolphins, who won 31-21. Davis has averaged 161 yards a game in team's three wins since then.

The Falcons, who finished second in the NFL this year in run defense by allowing only 75 yards a game, believe they are up to the task.

"We are just going to play defense like we have all year," Hall said. "We have been able to stop running backs all season. We feel if we play the defense that we are capable of playing, everybody taking care of their responsibility and gaps, we can stop him. We can contain him."

And that's from a quartet including a Pro Bowl bride's maid in Smith, a veteran who toiled in obscurity in Archambeau, a native Alaskan in Hall and Dronett, who was rescued off of the NFL scrap heap by coach Dan Reeves.

"They call Chuck an under-sized defensive end," Archambeau said. "The guy plays strong against anybody. Shane is good at stopping the run and getting in the backfield. Travis is another prototype. He is 6-5, 300. The guy can run. He is quick and fast. They say he is going to be next the Howie Long. The guy is that good.

"Playing with three other guys like that on the defensive front makes my job easier. They can't key on anyone of us. They have to worry about our tackles inside, which frees up Chuck and I. Anytime you have an entire group that plays well it lifts everybody's play."

And if the four of them can help lift the Falcons on Sunday, the "Bomb Squad" may finally get rewarded by blowing up the Broncos' repeat bid.