With the 23-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday, Falcons coach Mike Smith joined Dan Reeves for most wins (49) in franchise history.
Smith, who has guided to the Falcons to four consecutive winning seasons and the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, tried to deflect any attention about the milestone.
“No, it’s not my victory,” Smith said.
“It’s the Atlanta Falcons victory. There are lot of guys and lots of people in that locker room that aren’t here that have contributed to wins. It’s all about the Atlanta Falcons. My focus is on one thing and that’s to try and make our football team the best that we can be.”
Reeve posted a 49-59-1 record and took the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance.
Since being named the Falcons’ head coach in 2008, Smith has climbed the franchise’s coaching chart quickly, amassing a 49-21 record after Sunday.
The players were not able to recognize the accomplishment.
“Smitty slipped out of here before we had an opportunity,” safety William Moore said. “He broke the team down and got out of here, but we’ll get him when we get back.”
Linebacker Stephen Nicholas, who suffered an ankle injury against Washington, played on special teams.
He was replaced in the run defense by Mike Peterson and in the nickel package by Akeem Dent.
“We had to juggle a number of things,” Smith said.
There were no Falcons’ injuries reported in the press box during the game.
“It’s a good thing that we have some time off because we’ve got a long list of guys that are banged up right now,” Smith said.
On the final drive, the Falcons wanted to throw some deep passes, but the Raiders had wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones double-covered with safeties.
“We wanted to get a chunk and they were not allowing us to do it,” Smith said. “The coverage told us to check it down. We did a nice job of checking it down. We had two timeouts so we felt like we have a chance to use the entire field at some point in time and we were able to do that two times. The crucial completion was the one to Tony Gonzalez to set the 55-yard field goal.”
Samuel the flash
Smith was elated to see Asante Samuel’s streaking up the sideline with his first interception as an Atlanta Falcon.
“That’s what he’s known for, intercepting the ball,” Smith said. “He’s a ball hawk and he’s an athletic guy that can return it. He’s got great skills once the ball is in his hands. He understands how to jump routes and play the coverages. When he gets it in his hands he can do a lot of things.”
Samuel read Palmer’s drop.
“It was a three-step drop,” Samuel said. “(William Moore) gave me the wrong coverage, so I just said… I’m just going to do my thing. I read the three-step drop and he threw the little out on me and I picked it off and went to the house.”
Samuel made a nice cut back move on Palmer at the 22-yard line.
“I got kind of scared,” Samuel said. “I thought he was going to catch me. But he didn’t get me. Shout out to my blockers who helped me get in the end zone. …I was out of gas.”
Matt Bryants 55-yard field goal was the second longest of his career and his longest as a Falcon. It was the 14th game-winner of his career… Matt Ryan has led 19 game-winni’ng drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his career which is the most in the NFL since 2008 and most by a quarterback in his first five seasons since 1966.
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