Falcons determined to have a playoff breakthrough

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo said he didn’t have a preference.

To him, it didn’t matter if the Falcons faced Seattle, Minnesota or Washington in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

But given their recent playoff history, Clabo and his teammates will stare across the line at the hottest team in the league … again.

The Seahawks, winners of six straight, advanced to face the Falcons, who are hoping to end a four-game playoff losing streak that dates back to the Jim Mora era.

Last season, the Falcons played the streaking New York Giants. After the 2010 season, they played the transformed Green Bay Packers. Back in 2008, it was the Arizona Cardinals, who rallied late in the season on their way to the Super Bowl.

So when the divisional playoff opponents were clarified Sunday night, Clabo figured that the Falcons would get the toughest possible draw: the Seahawks.

“It just kind of works out that way,” Clabo said. “But winning streaks don’t have anything to do with what is going to happen out there on Sunday. It’s all about how we perform on that day, how they perform on that day. The past isn’t anything to concern yourself with.”

The Falcons may catch a break. Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons suffered a knee injury against Washington on Sunday and may not play. Clemons, a former Georgia standout from Griffin, has 33.5 sacks since 2010, which is tied for sixth best in the league.

He is a first alternate for the Pro Bowl after amassing a career-high 11.5 sacks this season.

“He’s obviously a very disruptive player,” Clabo said. “But they have guys on their team that can rush the passer other than him. He’s obviously very talented.”

Atlanta’s defense enjoyed some success against elite quarterbacks this season. That was critical, because the Falcons have previously been knocked out of the playoffs by Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning.

In victories this season over Denver, New Orleans and the New York Giants during the regular season, the defense intercepted 10 passes off Peyton Manning (three), Drew Brees (five) and Eli Manning (two).

In their only matchup against one of the league’s splendid rookie quarterbacks, the Falcons defeated Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins 24-17 on Oct. 7.

The Falcons will face another outstanding rookie QB in Seattle’s Russell Wilson, a third-round pick who started his college career at N.C. State before finishing up at Wisconsin.

“When you watch him scramble around there, he looks like Fran Tarkenton,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He can extend some plays. He’s got a very strong arm. He can throw the ball 55, 60 yards down the field. That’s the thing that impresses me.”

In addition to the three playoffs defeats under Smith, the Falcons lost the NFC championship game to Philadelphia 27-10 on Jan. 23, 2005, under Mora. The franchise’s last postseason victory was a 47-17 rout of the St. Louis Rams at the Georgia Dome on Jan. 15, 2005.

That playoff history has become a standard criticism of the franchise, which is seeking a breakthrough for the Smith-Thomas Dimitroff era.

“Our mindset is that we want to win,” Clabo said. “We need to remain focused. We need to convert on third downs and we need to protect the football. Offensively, I think that if we do those things, we’ll like the outcome.”

Clabo said there was no griping among the team during last week’s four practices.

In 2010, Smith felt the team needed rest and didn’t practice as much. Upon the Falcons’ return, an ice storm threw off the practice regimen and the team went scrambling into their showdown with Rodgers and the Packers, where they were routed 48-21

Last week’s extra work was welcomed.

“We needed to work on some things,” Clabo said. “We’re not perfect. As a player and as a team, you are always striving to find things that you can improve on. We did a little self-scout. We even took some unusual looks from each potential opponent and went over those and watched some film. It was good. It was quick.”

The players came in for a meeting on Monday to discuss Seattle for the first time as a team. They didn’t practice, but will start their preparation on Wednesday.

“I think everybody is on board with doing whatever it takes to win this football game,” Clabo said.


Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith

John Abraham set to return to practice on Wednesday

Playoff buzz: Falcons are 2 1/2 point favorites

Playoff matchup: Falcons’ special teams vs. Seahawks’ special teams


Dirk Koetter to stay with the Falcons

Smith to ramp up bye-week practices

Smith expects Abraham, Robinson to be ready for playoff game

Falcons’ run defense to be tested in divisional playoff game

Falcons to open playoffs at 1 p.m., Sunday Jan. 13th

34 comments Add your comment

[...] D. Orlando Ledbetter Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants [...]


January 7th, 2013
10:52 pm

First time first, Can u smellllllllaaalell what the falcons is cooking. It smells like lombardi soup. Rise up falcs


January 7th, 2013
10:59 pm

Falcons will win this game. It will not be easy, bug they will do it. The seachickens weren’t impressive against Washington and won because of a hobbled rg3. Wilson. And co only scored 17 under their own steam, 7 points being on a turnover.


January 7th, 2013
11:20 pm

This one’s for Tony G. No player deserves a ring more than him. I would love a Falcons-Ravens Superbowl. Both ‘08 QBs, talent everywhere on the field, Tony vs Ray Lewis. Two of the greatest players in history going head-to-head. Well, one game at a time.


January 8th, 2013
6:47 am


Jock Sniffer

January 8th, 2013
7:33 am

While America goes down the toilet … let’s focus on sports!

Fair catch Franks

January 8th, 2013
8:15 am

Jock stuffer I mean sniffer. You just don get it sport’s transcends some social problems and allows people a break from the often ugly world we live in.

Fair catch Franks

January 8th, 2013
8:21 am

UGA redneck I never thought I would say this but Falcon who are attending the game get RED NECK loud. Represent for us who can’t be there. Rise Up its our time.

Whadda Ya Know?

January 8th, 2013
8:24 am

Roddy and Julio needs to be just as physical with their corners. Do NOT allow these guys to hold you off the line, knock their hands off with a tomahawk chop. The running and screen game should setup Tony, Roddy, Julio and Harry. I am excited to see how the defense defends Russell Wilson, Marshawn, and Zack Miller (Willie Mo and Spoon should light these three up). Our DBs need to bring the wood to Tate and Baldwin to make em think twice about catching anything. I want to see a total domination so we can shut these ignorant, biased talking heads up.


January 8th, 2013
8:24 am

Breakthrough ???- Yeah , by going 0-4 under Matty Melt and Smitty “the peroxide bandit ” in the post season

Fair catch Franks

January 8th, 2013
8:29 am

Pricless get the f##%% off our sight.

I usually just read but...

January 8th, 2013
8:52 am

@Priceless. maybe you can “friend” Jock Sniffer. He sounds like just your kind of man.

KC Falcon

January 8th, 2013
10:34 am

Choke is 0-for his entire life.

David Morgan

January 8th, 2013
10:47 am

The FALCONS will RISE UP THIS season….so make some noise for the Falcons cuze this year they going to the SUPER BOWL and WIN!!!!!

David Morgan

January 8th, 2013
10:47 am


David Morgan

January 8th, 2013
10:50 am


The Real Falcon

January 8th, 2013
11:22 am

Get there early and be loud!


January 8th, 2013
11:24 am

Every better show up early and be LOUD!!! Not just on 3rd downs. Im talking about the entire game. They think Seattle has better and louder fans. Time to show them how we do it.

Go Falcons

Hankie Aron

January 8th, 2013
12:50 pm

Priceless- I think Anderson Cooper wants your number. He says you sound interesting and elusive unlike Kathy Griffin


January 8th, 2013
12:51 pm

I wish I would see some positive articles from the AJC sports scabs. Not ONE single article since the end of the season with ANY statement about how good this team is and whomever coming in here is going to have their hands full, etc… Not one proclamation from any sportsdick defending the Falcons honor in the media war of words. Dissappointing to say the least. They just want to be right; never mind supporting the team.


January 8th, 2013
1:56 pm

RG1, RG2, RGWho???

Matt Ryan – Who???

Wilson will have 2 playoffs wins come Sunday and MR will still be looking for his 1st!!! Bummer for falcon fans!!!

Dwayne C

January 8th, 2013
3:30 pm

This Sunday:

Seattle Seahawks 24 – Atlanta Falcons 17 …count on it!


January 8th, 2013
4:25 pm

I will be at the dome teaching those redneck Atlanta fans som real cheering….Southamerican type.The dome needs to rock and roll


January 8th, 2013
4:30 pm

dwayne…Atlanta goes all the way….count on it. I spoke to a Shaman. The only problem is their fans need to have a fight song, a cheer with real words …sort of like the stupid chop and indian chant the Braves had….something that catches on fast like fireeeeeeeeeeee. I will teach it to them on Sunday.

[...] Falcons determined to have playoff breakthrough [...]

[...] Falcons determined to have playoff breakthrough [...]


January 9th, 2013
2:37 pm

The Falcons enjoyed the easiest schedule in NFL, the Seahawks played the toughest. You have to understand that the Seahawks are for real and are peaking while the Falcons stumbled their way into the playoffs. falcons are well rested and are in for a shock when they get pounded by both the Seahawks offense and defensive units

Mike From Jersey

January 9th, 2013
2:51 pm

The Falcons never win when it counts, very much like any other pro team in Atlanta. The beating this Sunday will be of epic proportions. The birds have been choking in the playoffs since 1978. Why break tradition?

[...] Falcons determined to have playoff breakthrough [...]

[...] Falcons determined to have playoff breakthrough [...]

[...] Falcons determined to have playoff breakthrough [...]

Still Gritz Blitz'n

January 10th, 2013
12:55 pm

Nah Dwayne C; we aint count’n on it, The Atl ready to bring a real smackdown!! Falcons 28 – seabiscuits 21; Yeah Baby.

[...] Falcons determined to have playoff breakthrough [...]

[...] Falcons determined to have playoff breakthrough [...]