Atlanta Falcons: ‘Different team’ vows to end playoff flops




The Falcons say this season won’t end like the one in 2008 . . . or 2010 . . . or 2011.

That’s three playoff busts in three tries for the Falcons with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan. That’s a lot of baggage for the Falcons to carry when they open the playoffs on Jan. 12 or 13 as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Rather than pretend the weight isn’t there, the Falcons say they are ready to carry it.

“This is a very different team from last year, two years ago, three years ago,” Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said. “Our players are much more mature. I think we are ready to go. We feel like we’ve got a lot to prove in the playoffs because we haven’t won a game and we want to win one so bad.

“I don’t think anybody is pressing. We just want to go win.”

The Falcons (13-2) have done all they can to set themselves up with the easiest possible path to the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

They secured the top seed with 31-18 victory at Detroit late Saturday. Atlanta earned a first-round bye, home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and will play the lowest-seeded wild card team to advance to the divisional round. The result of Sunday’s regular-season finale against Tampa Bay at the Georgia Dome won’t affect any of that.

It’s only the third time in franchise history the Falcons earned the No. 1 playoff seed. They don’t need to be reminded of what happened last time they finished with the NFC’s best record.

The 48-21 loss to the Packers in the 2010 playoffs was deflating for the Falcons because they were the top seed playing at home. They lost 30-24 at Arizona in the 2008 wild-card round and 24-2 at the Giants in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.

The Falcons are 7-0 at the Georgia Dome this season but, like everything else with this team, it won’t mean much if they can’t keep it up in the playoffs.

“I like our chances way better at home with the dome rocking and how comfortable we are at home and how we’ve played (there),” Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said. “But we still have to go out there and play. (The top seed) doesn’t mean we’ve arrived; it doesn’t guarantee anything.”

Gonzalez is among the key skill players remaining from the 2010 team along with Ryan, wide receiver Roddy White and running back Michael Turner. Key additions since then include wide receiver Julio Jones, cornerback Asante Samuel and running back Jacquizz Rodgers.

Atlanta’s depth chart may look much the same but quarterback Matt Ryan said the intangibles are different.

“I think our chemistry is as good as I’ve ever been around,” Ryan said. “We’ve got guys in that locker room, both players and coaches, that are committed to doing everything the right way. And we have fun doing it. When you have a combination of guys who enjoy what they do and put in the time and put in the work, it’s enjoyable to be around.”

At the very least, Smith knows what not to do during the team’s bye week this time after the Falcons fell flat against the Packers.

Smith said the lessons learned from that experience prompted him to come up with a different practice plan if the Falcons earned the bye again.

“We’ll handle it differently in terms our workload and the days that we are going to work during our bye week and what our schedule will be,” he said. “We are not going to do anything like we did last time.”

During the bye week Smith and his staff will have to scout three of the four wild-card teams since they could end up facing any of them except the No. 3 seed in the divisional round.

Atlanta’s opponent will have to contend with an offense that’s clicking, especially in the passing game, and a defense with a knack for creating turnovers at key times. The Falcons recovered from a lackluster effort in a loss at Carolina and turned in strong efforts to beat the Giants and Lions.

The Falcons say their roll will continue in the playoffs this time.

“We are right where we wanted to be,” Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson said. “When we started talking about it in training camp, we wanted to be a good team by the end of the year and control our own destiny. So far things are working out. We have to just go out and finish the deal.”

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161 comments Add your comment

Answered All Questions

December 24th, 2012
9:26 am

Answered All Questions

December 24th, 2012
9:32 am

Go Falcons. I have supported you for 40 years. I will continue to support you no matter the outcome in the playoffs. Thanks for the memories.

DirtyBirdsFan02

December 24th, 2012
9:37 am

I really hope that these Falcons can prove all the haters wrong and win the Super Bowl. I would love to hear those ESPN “experts” have to announce the Falcons as the Super Bowl Champions.
RISE UP!!!

HATinGA

December 24th, 2012
9:48 am

Play action on 1st down, don’t try and prove Turner is not old, Defence aggressive, no soft zones, Teams that win in Jan “take” they don’t “wait” are the keys to getting by that first game, once the monkys been removed lookout!

kd

December 24th, 2012
9:49 am

come on falcons, the city deserves a championship, lets make it happen. The real falcons fans have your back

Go Falcons..!!

December 24th, 2012
9:50 am

To Rest or Not to Rest…..that is the question.

Not convinced

December 24th, 2012
9:50 am

ATL Falcons defense is really weak. They will flop in the first playoff game like they ALWAYS do. It doesn’t matter where they play their first and only playoff game. They will lose as usual. No suprises there.

Answered All Questions

December 24th, 2012
9:57 am

@Not convinced.

You will never convince a real FALCON fan to give up on this season. Thanks for the non support.

Get Back Jojo

December 24th, 2012
9:58 am

@DBF02….Right on!! I’m so tired of all the naysayers saying we aren’t anything, or not saying anything when we do shine.

Stay focused, and keep your eyes on the Lombardi Trophy. And to win it in N.O. Priceless!!

GO FALCONS!!!

ShaneOmac

December 24th, 2012
10:00 am

I feel it this year I really do. This is our time now

kd

December 24th, 2012
10:01 am

@not convinced- who is your team? have we played them??

Get Back Jojo

December 24th, 2012
10:01 am

@Not convinced…..How does it feel to always drink from a cup half empty?

Atlanta Native

December 24th, 2012
10:03 am

@ HATinGA……agreed

We have some weaknesses – every team does. However, we have been able to come up with the plays that we need and when we need them. I’ve been a fan for a long time and won’t stop now. Sometimes us fans forget that this is a different team, coaching staff and front office than when the previous owner was more concerned with having a place for his family to work than on winning.

Go Falcons.

Answered All Questions

December 24th, 2012
10:04 am

@Not Convinced

Ask the Manning brothers and Brees about that defense. 13 ints……

GregKennesaw

December 24th, 2012
10:05 am

haters gonna hate.still sore about 2008

aaron ashmore

December 24th, 2012
10:07 am

Falcons will disapoint as usual.

PaulWinchester

December 24th, 2012
10:08 am

I know everyone keeps saying its a different team and I am convinced it is a better team than the 2010 team that lost to Green Bay in the playoffs. For most years I would think that the Falcons would advance all the way to the superbowl, just like the 1998 team did with Dan Reeves as head coach. The only problem this time is that this edition of the Falcons have FLAWS that they have not addressed and have not fixed yet which surfaced in the Detroit game. Maybe I am the only one who is seeing these flaws, but what I am seeing from the Falcons is a LACK OF FOCUS FOR 60 MINUTES OF A FOOTBALL GAME. The Falcons went up on Detroit and led 21-3; but in the closing minutes before the half I saw a very UNINSPIRED FALCON TEAM that allowed Detroit to march down the field and score a field goal and move to within 21-6 at halftime. That last drive before halftime, I SAW MISSED TACKLES and A LISTLESS EFFORT GOING INTO THE HALF, and Detroit capitalized by getting a field goal before the half. These little lapses in the games where the effort is not there is something I have been seeing repeatedly throughout all the games. It continued on the second half as the Lions pulled to within 21-16 where the Lions were in striking distance of taking the game away from the Falcons. The same thing happened in just about all the games with the exception of the Giants game where the Giants could never get into an offensive rhythm. What I see from the Falcons is that they come out of the gates strong, build a lead (regardless of how tenuous that lead might be), then they tend to relax, take their foot off the accelerator and try to coast to a win WITHOUT GIVING THEIR MAXIMUM EFFORT. This is what I am seeing repeatedly from this team, and with that attitude which is a reflection of their coach (mike smith), the Falcons will never win anything unless they change their attitude of putting their foot on the accelerator and leaving it there for 60 minutes. Yesterday, Green Bay stompted their opponent 55-7 and wouldnt let up off the throats of their opponent. The Seattle Seahawks have scored 150 points in their last 3 games, which is an average of 50 points over that 3 game period. Either of those two teams if the Falcons faced them, unless the Falcons kept pouring on the offense for 60 minutes, they would have no chance of beating either of those teams. The Falcons need to look themselves in the mirror and decide that they want to win a superbowl, and decide that they will play 60 minutes of relentless football, without letting up until the final gun and whistle is blown. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I SEE THE FALCONS BECOMING SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS THIS YEAR. THE TALENT IS THERE, THE FALCONS MUST DECIDE THEY WILL PLAY WITH RECKLESS ABANDON NEVER LETTING UP OFF THE THROTTLE.

Ghost of Norm van Brocklin

December 24th, 2012
10:13 am

Go Birds, we will not flop but fly like a true Falcon, devastating its prey.

Answered All Questions

December 24th, 2012
10:13 am

@aaron ashmore

If 13-2 is a disappointment in the NFL. May the Falcons continue to be blessed with disappointment.

Mario

December 24th, 2012
10:26 am

The league still isn’t on notice about the Falcons. We have the best record IN THE LEAGUE yet it’s like we don’t exist. It’s maddening but I understand why. We have to win in the playoffs. That’s the bottom line. If we don’t at least make it to the NFC title game or even the Super Bowl, we’ll become a joke and will never be taken seriously again.

Falcon fan 24-7

December 24th, 2012
10:35 am

It must be said that the three teams that beat us in the playoffs , went to the Super Bowl . Green Bay and New York won and Arizona lost in a nail bitter to the Steelers. Hopefully, we can close the deal this time.

Falcon fan 24-7

December 24th, 2012
10:37 am

The Falcons will play the Broncos in the Super Bowl again! Write it down .

Falcon fan 24-7

December 24th, 2012
10:40 am

There are 20 teams out there, that will not be in the playoffs. Out of 32 teams, we have the best record. Go figure, haters.

Answered All Questions

December 24th, 2012
10:41 am

@Mario

40 years as Falcon fan. We have always been considered a joke and never taken seriously. But with the second best regular season record over the last 5 years… if the worst thing you can say me is win a playoff game… I say THANK YOU. At least we have been afforded the opportunity to lose.

Falcon fan 24-7

December 24th, 2012
10:41 am

You haters, must have a miserable life.

Not convinced

December 24th, 2012
10:43 am

To all of you falcons fans, don’t get your hopes up. It has been proven time and time again how sorry your team really is. Let the record show I warned you all regarding your team not winning the first and only playoff game they will ever play this season. Your team is not championship material. You all know this to be true. Time will tell and when it is revealed yet again how sorry your team really is then lets’ talk. I will return to this board after your sorry team lose their first and only playoff game just to say I TOLD YOU SO. :)

GatorMark

December 24th, 2012
10:44 am

Practice everyone hard this week and play EVERYONE the last game of the season…the entire game if necessary for a win (don’t be concerned with injuries). Then, rest them the bye week and get back to work HARD the week of the game. They can’t have TWO weeks off.

Answered All Questions

December 24th, 2012
10:48 am

@ Not Convinced

If the worst thing you can say to me about the FALCONS is “I TOLD YOU SO” after a playoff game… I say THANK YOU. At least we EARNED the opportunity to play in it. How about your team?

ramguy68

December 24th, 2012
10:59 am

@Answered All Questions If the worst thing you can say to me about the FALCONS is “I TOLD YOU SO” after a playoff game… I say THANK YOU. At least we EARNED the opportunity to play in it. How about your team?

Oh don’t be too hard on all the Skip Bayless wannabes on the AJC Blogs…..They’ve only been able to say I told you so 2 times out of 15 games this year. If they are ever right about their predictions they like to crow about how smart they are and forget about all the times they wee wrong. They probably watch old WWII movies and pull for the Japanese when they attached Pearl Harbor. .

True American Hero

December 24th, 2012
11:01 am

I don’t know what some of you saw Sat night, but I saw two really good teams playing each other. One team (us) trying to get our home field advantage and the other (with a record that doesn’t reflect their game play) trying to stop us. Detroit has lost the LARGE majority of their games by less than three points. We have won the Large majority of ours by less than three points. So, if you were expecting the Giants game again, sorry. The Falcons won as expect, but I never thought it would be a roll over game. From here out (with exception of Tampa Game that doesn’t matter) every game is going to be a fight so, expect them to be close. I just pray the lack of running game isn’t going to hurt us in the playoffs.If it does Ill still be proud of what they accomplished this year and hope they replace a few linemen and running backs next.

FalconPride70

December 24th, 2012
11:06 am

There was a time where getting to the playoffs ment somthing.

hbcuclassics

December 24th, 2012
11:09 am

HBCU Classic Sports
2012 All-Americans

Defense LBs

LB Keith Pough, Howard
LB Lynden Trail, Norfolk St
LB Leron Furr, FVSU
LB Jarkevis Fields, Bethune
LB Bill Ross, UAPB
LB Keven Woods, MSVS
LB Carlos Fields, WSSU
LB Brandon Hepburn, FAMU
LB Brandon Houston, Morehouse
LB Corey Jones, Lane
LB Ernest Adjei, Delaware St

http://www.hbcuclassics.com

violet123

December 24th, 2012
11:12 am

We love you FALCONS!!!. Keep up the good work.

violet123

December 24th, 2012
11:14 am

I asked Santa Claus for Falcons to win the Super Bowl.

Dwayne

December 24th, 2012
11:17 am

HBCU…no one cares

ramguy68

December 24th, 2012
11:21 am

lol….Just heard Skip Bayless on 1st Take that he wouldn’t have picked SF if…………lol

WD

December 24th, 2012
11:28 am

I love the birds and been a fan all my life. But I;m scared to death we’re gonna be one and done again. Seattle will most likely win the wild card and adavnce which means we will probably draw them. Seems like we draw the hottest team in the league every year. Lets hope we can get past the first round but I;m not sure we can stop Seattle.

FalconPride70

December 24th, 2012
11:32 am

San Fran beat the Patriots then last night they look like a one and done football team. We shut out the Super Bowl champs and the lead story wasnt the Falcons convinced me(Sports Commentators) But how the NFC East was shook up..
I havent figured what it is about this team that(Sports Commentators) have issues with giving them their due this season.
It is what it is That alone should keep them motivated and push through to the Super Bowl!

not convinced about not convinced

December 24th, 2012
11:34 am

@not convinced: I’m not convinced that you’re not a D-bag. In fact I’m convinced that I’m leaning that way.

flatsdawg1

December 24th, 2012
11:36 am

The Falcons offense is among the best, if not the best ,despite a very spotty running game,porous defense but they don’t care about numbers, they just keep opponents out of the end zone enough and Ryan and company do their thing. Great team chemistry.The thing about them is they are very mature, and have learned how to win as a team, which is huge. They can do the impossible, hell they have already advanced and they didn’t even have to play! Matt Ryan and company are who you want with the game on the line.Let’s do this Dirty Birds! Do it for Tony and do it for your fanbase, yourselves, and the idiots who say we can’t!

Falcons 73

December 24th, 2012
11:39 am

This will be my new stupid argument for all the idiots that post “until the Falcons win in the playoffs they will not earn any respect”.

The Falcons went to the Super Bowl with a 14-2 in 1998 and will do so again this year. Pretty stupid, but if you want to use “previous history argument” then here’s mine.

TUG MAN

December 24th, 2012
11:50 am

i just like to wish my falcons fans a very merry xmas keep the faith.falcons for life!!!!!!!!! you know!!!!!!! yeah!!!!! peace&love to all falcons fans A T L baby!!!!

Pete

December 24th, 2012
11:51 am

“Atlanta earned a first-round bye, home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and will play the lowest-seeded wild card team to advance to the divisional round. ”

Huh? Both wild card teams could lose; they do not play each other like in baseball.

“During the bye week Smith and his staff will have to scout three of the four wild-card teams ”

Huh? There are only 2 wild card teams. Who wrote this article?

True Falcon Fan

December 24th, 2012
12:00 pm

Check the record, out of the last 16 SuperBowls – the records of the winning teams won their 16th and final games of the season vs losers – the record is 13 & 3 — the moral of the story/record is “The Falcons need to Win the sixteenth game” re: next Sunday the Tampa Bay Bucs —- Folks we need this next game!

Go Falcons — Bucs next

flatsdawg1

December 24th, 2012
12:00 pm

In the NFL, you have to be the best team in the playoffs, which is what we ran into the last couple of times, in fact the last three teams we faced went on to the Super Bowl and two of them won it. We are that team this year. We are ready.Yea Seattle looked like that team last night but we can beat them,and anybody else. Those that say Atlanta doesn’t scare anybody, maybe that’s a psychological advantage for us, if you’re not scared of a team that has won 13 or 14 games then that’s your problem! To ” Not convinced” like Tommy told Cole on the Martin Lawrence show, Cole, you stoopid! it’s like saying the president is not presidential material, whether you like his politics or not , he’s the president!

Answered All Questions

December 24th, 2012
12:02 pm

@ TUG MAN

Thank you… Happy holidays to you also…..No Place like Atlanta. That’s why the transplant keep coming….For those who say it’s because of a job transfer, I say we have a good economy. So keep enjoying the southern hospitality and have a happy holiday….Go FALCONS…..RISE UP….

FalconPride70

December 24th, 2012
12:03 pm

We need more Ahole attitudes on defense and Swagger to win it All… Rise up!

KC Falcon

December 24th, 2012
12:06 pm

DLed, Please convince me Not Convinced is not Choke. I thought we were gonna work on these Double URL handles. The lives of these people are really complete with they crap in the punchbowl.

C from Marietta

December 24th, 2012
12:08 pm

@ Pete

The first round of the playoffs are called the ‘Wild Card Round”

okeetee

December 24th, 2012
12:10 pm

“ATL Falcons defense is really weak.”

….I guess you haven’t seen our secondary all year long! As strong as it’s EVER been! Our defensive line could stand to put a tad bit more pressure on the quarterback, but other than that, are defense is tough! They’ve come through all year when our offense was having an off day……and now our offense is clicking like a well oiled machine!