Smith wants Falcons to clean up inconsistencies

By GEORGE HENRY - Associated Press
    2012-11-26 17:24

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Leading the NFC with a 10-1 record isn't nearly enough to satisfy Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith.

His team is playing too many close games and still making too many mistakes for Smith to say that Atlanta is one of the NFL's few elite teams.

He will only say that if the Falcons keep winning, they will put themselves in position to earn a top playoff seed.

Tight end Tony Gonzalez, the NFL's No. 2 career-leading receiver, agrees with his coach. Atlanta just escaped with a 24-23 victory at Tampa Bay, which had won four straight and five of six, but Gonzalez knows the Falcons still have plenty to prove.

``Everyone was saying they were the hottest team in the NFC South, and they probably were,'' Gonzalez said. ``To be honest, we could have played a little better, but when you win close games like that, it's only a positive.''

With just three days to prepare for Thursday night's home game against New Orleans, the Falcons want to clean up inconsistencies in the running game, red-zone offense and pass rush.

The Saints (5-6) are coming off a 10-point home loss to San Francisco, but Atlanta has lost 11 of its last 13 matchups against New Orleans and quarterback Drew Brees.

Not only did the Falcons suffer their first loss of the season three weeks ago at the Superdome; they did so by turning the ball over on downs late in the game from inside the 5-yard line. Atlanta also was forced to settle for two field goals in the red zone

Running back Michael Turner was held to 15 yards rushing on 13 carries while New Orleans' Chris Ivory gained 10 more yards on his 56-yard touchdown than the Falcons managed all day.

Since that loss, Atlanta has managed to squeak past Arizona despite five interceptions by quarterback Matt Ryan. With two more Ryan turnovers at Tampa Bay, the Falcons are now minus-7 in turnover margin the last two games.

But they have two wins to show for it.

Against the Buccaneers, Atlanta held powerful rookie running back Doug Martin to a season-low 2.4 yards per carry. Ryan and Julio Jones connected for an 80-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that wiped away Tampa Bay's second lead of the afternoon.

Michael Turner's 3-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter gave Atlanta the game's final lead, and Ryan's smart clock management consumed all but 8 seconds of the final 3:22 and all but secured the victory.

Though the last possession sputtered when Matt Bryant missed his second straight field-goal try - this one a 48-yarder - of the game, the Falcons still did enough right to sneak out of Tampa Bay with a big win.

A critical third-down pass from Ryan to Roddy White covered 8 yards and moved the chains to the Tampa Bay 37. One play later, the Bucs were forced to use their final timeout.

``We feel really good where we are at,'' White said. ``We've got a game coming up against the Saints on Thursday night and that's going to be a big one for us in the division. So we've got to move past this one and move on and get ready for the next game.''

Atlanta's declining turnover margin - the Falcons have created just two takeaways in their last five games - needs attention, too. Injuries to cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson are another concern.

But Gonzalez believes that the Falcons will follow Smith's lead and focus more on what they need to correct rather than what they've done well.

``It doesn't matter what your record is,'' Gonzalez said. ``You just want to be playing some good football come playoff time and right now we've got to hopefully put something together and try to get that home field advantage.''


Follow George Henry at www.twitter.com/georgehenryAP


Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Arian FosterOct 6 07:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited in practice Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Latavius MurrayOct 6 03:32p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray still has the confidence of head coach Jack Del Rio, despite a rough outing in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears. Murray accounted for [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 6 03:22p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) does not have a partial shoulder subluxation, as had been reported previously, according to a source. Head coach Chuck Pagano said he heard [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 6 02:13p

Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley said WR Sammy Watkins (calf) will play in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans 'fingers crossed.'

Dan HerronOct 6 02:13p

Free-agent RB Dan Herron (Colts) was signed by the Buffalo Bills Tuesday, Oct. 6. TE MarQueis Gray (forearm) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Daniel FellsOct 6 01:52p

New York Giants TE Daniel Fells (ankle) had surgery this week on his ankle and was diagnosed with MRSA, which is a very serious condition.

Roddy WhiteOct 6 01:42p

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White could be open to a trade due to a declining role with the Falcons.

Devin HesterOct 6 01:32p

Atlanta Falcons WR Devin Hester (toe) was placed on the short-term Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Fred JacksonOct 6 01:22p

Seattle Seahawks RB Fred Jackson (ankle) is dealing with a high ankle sprain, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Eric EbronOct 6 12:32p

Updating an earlier report, Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron (knee) had an MRI reveal no structural damage in his left knee. His status is to be determined for Week 5.

Markus WheatonOct 6 12:22p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Markus Wheaton (ankle) looks dramatically improved from his ankle injury and has a good chance to play in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers.

Eric EbronOct 6 11:52a

Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron (knee) had X-rays on his left knee, which were negative. He'll have an MRI as well.

Connor BarthOct 6 10:43a

Free-agent PK Connor Barth (Buccaneers) has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, Oct. 6, as he beat out other kickers to replace PK Kyle Brindza. Brindza was released.

Caleb SturgisOct 6 10:22a

Philadelphia Eagles PK Caleb Sturgis won't be replaced after missing a field goal and an extra point in Week 4, according to head coach Chip Kelly. 'We're going to [ More ]

Steve SmithOct 6 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens WR Steve Smith (back) is day to day and hasn't been ruled out for Week 5, according to WR Kamar Aiken.

Karlos WilliamsOct 6 09:02a

Buffalo Bills RB Karlos Williams (concussion) sustained a concussion in Week 4, and his status is uncertain against the Tennessee Titans in Week 5.

Zach HockerOct 6 08:33a

New Orleans Saints PK Zach Hocker could be in danger of losing his job as the Saints are trying out kickers Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Russell WilsonOct 6 01:22a

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson completed 20 of his 26 pass attempts for 287 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in the Week 4 game against the Detroit Lions [ More ]

Thomas RawlsOct 6 01:22a

Seattle Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls saw a lion's share of the carries against the Detroit Lions in Week 4 Monday, Oct. 5, running for 48 yards on 17 carries [ More ]

Matthew StaffordOct 6 12:42a

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford completed 24 of his 35 pass attempts for 203 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in the Week 4 game Monday, Oct. 5, against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ameer AbdullahOct 6 12:42a

Detroit Lions RB Ameer Abdullah carried 13 times for just 33 yards in the Week 4 game against the Seattle Seahawks Monday, Oct. 5, and he added two receptions [ More ]

Calvin JohnsonOct 6 12:42a

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson had seven receptions for 56 yards in the Week 4 game against the Seattle Seahawks, but he was also credited with a lost fumble [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 5 09:22p

Updating a previous report, Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) could be on target to play in the Week 5 game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Oct. 8, as [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 5 07:52p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) is 'trending in the right direction' to return against the Houston Texans in Week 5 Thursday, Oct. 8, after taking part in the [ More ]

Marshawn LynchOct 5 07:32p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) was able to run during pregame warmups Monday, Oct. 5, and appears to have a good chance to play in the Week 5 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Alec OgletreeOct 5 07:02p

Updating a previous report, St. Louis Rams LB Alec Ogletree (ankle) suffered a fracture ankle during the team's Week 4 game. He is scheduled to undergo surgery and may [ More ]

Sean LeeOct 5 06:42p

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee (concussion) is feeling better but will have to pass all of his concussion tests before he is cleared to play again, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

Lance DunbarOct 5 06:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar (knee) will miss the rest of the 2015 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in Week 4. He scheduled [ More ]

Ronnie BrownOct 5 05:32p

Free-agent RB Ronnie Brown (Chargers) re-signed with the San Diego Chargers Monday, Oct. 5, according to a source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Andrew LuckOct 5 05:12p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) is expected to play in the Week 5 game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Oct. 8. Luck has a slightly separated throwing shoulder [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 5 04:42p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins' (calf) status for the Week 5 game against the Tennessee Titans is uncertain at this point, according to head coach Rex Ryan. 'He looked [ More ]

Jordan ReedOct 5 04:42p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed's (concussion, knee, ankle) head injury is a real concern, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Reed has a long history of head injuries dating [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
Player Notes:
Forum Posts:

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group