By Michael Cunningham
FLOWERY BRANCH–Phase one of coach Mike Smith’s plan to keep the Falcons rolling into the playoffs backfired badly.
The Falcons still can get the next part right.
The idea was that the Falcons would go all out to win against the Buccaneers on Sunday even though they already had the NFC’s No. 1 seed wrapped up. So the Falcons played their starters from start to finish and still suffered a 22-17 loss to NFC also-ran Tampa Bay in the Georgia Dome.
Instead of being buoyed by victory, the Falcons were cut down by a bad loss. Rather than maintain momentum, the Falcons saw it halted—and they couldn’t shrug it off to sending out their backups.
The Falcons won’t be able to do anything about it until opening the playoffs on Sunday, Jan. 13 against either Minnesota, Seattle or Washington at 1 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. But Smith has a plan to keep his players and coaches sharp until then.
The Falcons had a bye week in the 2010 playoffs before the Packers pounded