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Cornering the Market on Talk : Falcons: Cornerbacks Sanders and McKyer will tell you how good they are, but they back it up.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cornerbacks Deion Sanders and Tim McKyer of the Atlanta Falcons are perfectly matched in temperament. They began talking at the age of 18 months and haven’t stopped. They have never met a tape recorder they didn’t like.

But Sanders and McKyer don’t just talk a good game, they also play a good one.

“I keep telling people that I can’t think of a better pair of cornerbacks than us,” McKyer said. “They’ve got a lot of good guys out there, but as a pair I think Tim McKyer and Deion Sanders are something special.”

Said Sanders: “I don’t know if people would vote for us (as the NFL’s best cornerbacks) because a lot of people dislike us, but we feel that we’re among the top tandems in the game. I’m not going to say we’re the best, because it’s not for me to choose that. But I think we’re doing a helluva job.”

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McKyer and Sanders immobilized the Raiders’ deep strike passing game in the Falcons’ 21-17 victory Sunday at Atlanta-Fulton Country Stadium.

Raider quarterback Jay Schroeder, who persisted in throwing deep, completed only 10 of 32 passes for 116 yards with two interceptions. Sanders intercepted a pass in the first quarter, and McKyer killed the Raiders’ final drive with an end-zone interception.

Sanders made a big hit on the third play of the game when he sacked Schroeder and jarred the ball loose. Linebacker Jessie Tuggle picked up the ball on one bounce and ran 18 yards into the end zone to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead.

Sanders’ weakside blitz seemed to catch the Raiders by surprise, because no one touched him before he blindsided Schroeder. Sanders said it was second time he’s blitzed in his three-year NFL career.

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“We call that our ‘Homey’ blitz after Homey D. Clown on ‘Living Color,’ ” Sanders said. “The guys had been teasing me all week, asking if I was going to make the hit on (Schroeder). I just tried to get that ball out of there, and Tuggle picked it up and scored.”

After helping the 49ers win back-to-back Super Bowls, McKyer talked his way out of San Francisco and was traded to Miami last year. He lasted only one season in Miami before the Dolphins traded him to the Falcons last April.

Playing for his third team in five years, McKyer may have found a home in Atlanta, which has a coach who also loves to talk.

“When I came here I think a lot of eyebrows were raised,” McKyer said. “It was like, ‘Tim McKyer, who is this guy? . . . A loud mouth. . . . Can he come in and help us?’ But I fit in well here with my personality. I don’t even stick out.

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“Unfortunately, I’m not known for how I do my job. I’m known for what I say. You explain that to me. But that’s the dilemma of my career. It doesn’t bother me, because when I go out there and play well I get attention.”

McKyer and Sanders have blended in well together.

“I was a little anxious when I first came here because I didn’t know what kind of guy Deion was,” McKyer said. “But I’ve gotten to know him and we’re like brothers. We’re real tight because we have a lot in common as far as believing in ourselves and confidence.”

And McKyer and Sanders were confident they could stop the Raiders from throwing deep Sunday. Although the Raiders had little success doing it in the first half, they didn’t abandon the strategy.

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“That was crazy,” Sanders said. “But I wasn’t surprised (that the Raiders stuck with their long passing game) because of the speed of their receivers.

“But their receivers talked so much trash out there that it’s hard for me to respect them after this game, and I had a lot of respect for them before.”

Who was talking trash?

“Guys like Mr. (Willie) Gault,” Sanders said. “They get into public and act like they’re goody-goody guys, and then they get on the field and talk all kinds of trash. We’re supposed to be the trash-talkers, and I never say nothing.

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“I heard things about my mother that I didn’t even know she’d done.”

Gault denied making any comments to Sanders and McKyer.

“That’s not my game,” said Gault, who didn’t make a reception against the Falcons. “I don’t do that. They might have been talking, but I wasn’t.”

Were the Falcons surprised that the Raiders didn’t trash their game plan of throwing deep?

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“No I wasn’t surprised at all,” said McKyer. “That’s Raider football. They’re going to try to catch you napping. They must have thrown deep at me eight or nine times, but we weren’t going to give up any big plays. We came into this game saying, ‘Nothing deep and nothing cheap,’ and I think we accomplished our goal.”

Said Sanders: “I think the real bad boys prevailed.”


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