In addition to quarterback Chris Chandler, these are five players who need big games for the Falcons to win:
RB Jamal Anderson
The powerful Anderson doesn't have to gain 100 yards to keep the Falcons in the game, but he must convert short-yardage, third-down plays to balance the attack. The Broncos are allowing just 1.1 rushing yards per carry in the postseason, and Anderson will have to do much better than that to keep the defense honest.
RT Ephraim Salaam
The rookie right tackle will be going against either five-year veteran Harald Hasselbach or 11-year vet Neil Smith. The Broncos almost certainly will try to rattle Salaam early with blitzes and stunts on his side. How critical is this matchup? No team starting a rookie offensive lineman has ever won the Super Bowl.
DE Chuck Smith
His matchup with left tackle Tony Jones could be a classic. They're both quick and powerful. Smith made a huge play in the NFC championship game, stripping Randall Cunningham of the ball in the first half. He needs to make at least one more big play like that.
CB Ray Buchanan
The Falcons have smallish cornerbacks and a height disadvantage. Buchanan, at 5 feet 9, gives away eight inches to Ed McCaffrey and three inches to Rod Smith. After a busy week of guarantees and dog collars, Buchanan better deliver.
FS Eugene Robinson
It's not too far-fetched to suggest that if the Green Bay Packers had kept Robinson, they might have made it back to the Super Bowl. Even after 14 years, he is still a splendid, big-time player. He needs another interception against John Elway -- he had one in last year's Super Bowl -- to set up the secondary.
Pub Date: 1/31/99