The Falcons remain in first place in the NFC South. But the win over the Arizona Cardinals, the most complete win over the season – at least since the win over Tampa Bay early in the season – gives Atlanta hope they can finish the season strong.
It also is frustrating, knowing they lost two great chances for wins in London against the Lions and then a week ago when Cleveland won in the Georgia Dome. Those two losses, by a total of three points, could be the difference if the Falcons fail to win the weak NFC South.
“I think we definitely should have won both of those games,” said defensive lineman Corey Peters. “That could have made the season a little bit different. But right now, we’re in first place. We have the opportunity to make the playoffs, which was the goal to start the season. We’re looking forward.”
The Falcons could be 7-5 instead of 5-7 and have a two-game lead on the Saints, who they have a tie-breaker advantage on since Atlanta won over New Orleans in week one. But it’s difficult for the players to dwell too much on what might have been.
“We’ve moved on from that,” admitted cornerback Desmond Trufant. “At the moment, it was hard to swallow. We could definitely be in a better position. But we are where we are. We’re still in the hunt. We just have to continue to get better and continue to improve as a team. We’re doing that.”
The solid win over the Cardinals last week made it even more frustrating. Arizona, even without starting quarterback Carson Palmer and star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, is a good team. The victory showed the Falcons players what they are capable of doing on any given Sunday.
“It says we can play with some of the top teams in the National Football League,” said running back Steven Jackson. “We have to believe we are a good football team. That’s all it is – is confidence. We have all the pieces we need to make a run. We feel very confident we’re able to do so. It’s about playing together and believing.”
Said defensive lineman Jonathan Babineaux, “We’ve faced a lot of adversity this year. It shows a lot about the character of the men in this locker room. We’re just sticking together and playing together as one. The last five games we’ve been putting a lot of good plays out there, and unfortunately two out of the three we came up short by a field goal.”
There was a feeling of renewal in the locker room after the win over Arizona. Instead of the disappointment that filled the area after the loss to Cleveland the week before, the players were more optimistic that they have finally gotten on track.
But next week’s opponent might kill the buzz a bit, as the Falcons travel north to play the Packers in Green Bay on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at email@example.com.
Falcons remain confident after win
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