Three years ago when former Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall returned to Atlanta for the first time since new general manager Thomas Dimitroff and new coach Mike Smith traded him to Oakland after two Pro Bowl years in his four seasons, the fiery cornerback got in the middle of a scuffle along the sideline that started after safety LaRon Landry's late hit on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.
Hall, who had gotten into a yelling match with former Falcons coach Bobby Petrino during a 2007 game, was the main instigator, to no one's surprise.
"I was pretty sure that he had something to do with it," said Falcons star receiver Roddy White, whom Hall will have to cover at some point when the teams square off on Sunday in Landover for the first time since that near-brawl in the Georgia Dome three years ago.
"Guys just started coming at me," Hall said then. "It wasn't any mindset to break the fight up. It was in a mindset to try to get some licks in. Even the head coach came over there. Mike Smith said some stuff, said some words to me, cussed me out. He was grabbing at me, pulling at me."
Smith, who joined Dimitroff in deciding to trade Hall to Oakland less than two months after they took command of the Falcons in January 2008, said then that he didn't even realize who was in the middle of the melee which he said he was trying to end.
But any bad blood between Hall and Smith ended 15 months later when the coach guided the player in the Pro Bowl. Hall was named the game's MVP.
"Me and Mike are cool," Hall said Wednesday. "We were able to sit down and talk and hang out. We're good. If that's the story line going into the game, it's gonna be a boring game."
Hall and the rest of the Redskins' 31st-ranked pass defense should be so fortunate Sunday against NFL passing leader Matt Ryan, Smith and the unbeaten Falcons.
"It's gonna take all of us, every facet of the game," Hall said. "(Atlanta) is a pretty good team. I always said (that) team was missing a little attitude on defense. I feel like (new Falcons coordinator) Mike Nolan has definitely brought that attitude to those guys. They're playing lights-out so it's going to be a challenge for our offense. Their offense is rolling. They're clicking. Everything's going right. We'll try to mix some things up ... and go out and mess with those guys."
Lesser passing attacks such as those of St. Louis and Tampa Bay have sliced up Washington's secondary. Opposing quarterbacks have a 99.7 passer rating against the Redskins, who have been torched for a league-high 19 touchdown throws.
"Sixty perfect snaps, one bad (one) and the sky's falling down," Hall said after second-half bombs to Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams accounted for 119 of the Bucs' 299 yards last Sunday. That's part of the beast. Luckily we were able to pull the game out (24-22) so we didn't feel as bad. We gotta be better. We all know we gotta go out there and make more plays, try to get the ball back. We've got a lot of things we've got to work on to try to get better. We finished (the first quarter of the season) 2-2, but offensively we played lights-out. We can't ask them to do it for 16 games. They've carried us. It's kind of on us to right the ship."
Said cornerback Josh Wilson: "As long as we're winning, our defense is happy. If we do everything everybody wants us to do and we lose, no one cares. At the end of the day, it's all about winning."
SERIES HISTORY: 22nd regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 14-6-1. The most memorable game was the 1991 NFC divisional round game in which cocky Falcons coach Jerry Glanville had heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield and other celebrities on the visiting sideline but the Redskins overpowered Deion Sanders and Co. in the rain. Washington fans rained seat cushions on the field as the 24-7 victory ended.