It may have been the shortest opening statement of Head Coach Mike Smith’s tenure:
“As I said yesterday, there are no moral victories in the NFL and we did not make enough plays yesterday to win the football game. And, with that, I’ll open it up to questions…”
What else to say?
The Falcons went toe-to-toe with the best team in the NFC Sunday and had fourth-quarter chances to win the game.http://video.atlantafalcons.com/video/212701/212701_2009-12-14-153958.flv
Atlanta played Sunday’s game without four starters — three on offense — but Smith made it clear his team won’t set themselves back with bumps and bruises.
“We’re not going to use injuries as an excuse,” he said. “We’ve had our share of injuries this season and we’ve had some guys that missed a game or two here. That’s part of the NFL season and we’re not going to use it as an excuse.”
Instead, he focused on improved play on offense, which included a 300-yard passing day from quarterback Chris Redman, starting his second-straight game for Matt Ryan (toe) and running backs Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling.
Redman said the team executed better on offense than in last week’s 34-7 dismantling at the hands of the Eagles. The only problem? Kicking field goals in the red zone instead of punching the ball into the end zone.
“They’re arguably one of the best teams in the league and we were right there with them,” Redman said. “I guess that’s a positive. We could have won that. It’s obviously disappointing.”
Added Smith: “We had eight different receivers catch balls so he was going through his progressins… The offensive line did a great job only giving up one sack. I thought it was a very good bounce back game against a very opportunistic Saints defense.”
Smith couldn’t escape the podium, however, without fielding questions and comments about the Falcons playoff chances. Simply put, the Birds have to win their last three games and hope for the Cowboys to go 0-3 down the stretch. Atlanta also needs the New York Giants to lose two of their last three contests.
“We have to take care of our business,” Smith said. “I don’t think there’s any scenario out there that would allow us to qualify if we don’t take care of business on our end.”
ADDITIONAL NOTES FROM MONDAY’S PRESSER…
… The Falcons have been mum on any appeal or seeking of additional knowledge on a debatable pass interference call that wiped away a Brent Grimes interception in Sunday’s game.
… Atlanta will place wide receiver Brian Finneran (knee) on injured reserve. Finneran’s injury won’t require surgery but, with time to heal, the veteran receiver should be ready for offseason conditioning. “Brian has been a staple around this team for a long time and he’s one of the guys I respect a lot in how he plays the game.”
… Smith has a history with New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan. In fact, Smith, Rex and his brother Rob all were defensive coordinators in the Ohio Valley Conference at the same time.
… Jonathan Babineaux started Sunday’s game at defensive tackle three days after an arrest in Gwinnett County. Smith said he and the organization remain disappointed when any player presents himself in “a negative light” but he offered no other comment as the situation has become a legal and league matter.
… There will be no word on player injuries, particularly to Michael Turner, Ryan, Harvey Dahl and Chris Houston until the injury report is released on Wednesday.