2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Column: Falcons are content just winning, baby

By PAUL NEWBERRY - AP National Writer
    2012-12-06 17:00

ATLANTA (AP) - Al Davis would've loved these Atlanta Falcons.

All they do is win, baby.

Sure, it's rarely with a lot of flare.

Who cares?

There's no voters to impress or computers to win over in the NFL.

``Style points don't get you a ring,'' linebacker Mike Peterson was saying the other day, holding court beside his locker before practice. ``Our goal is way bigger than pleasing the media or winning with style points. We've got some hefty goals. Everyone knows about them.''

For this team, it's Super Bowl or bust.

With each grind-it-out win - seven of the triumphs on their 11-1 mark have been by seven points or less - the Falcons are looking more and more like a team that can finally bring the A-T-L its first Super Bowl championship. Don't listen to the skeptics, who seem to think the inability to blow out teams is a sign of vulnerability.

The Falcons are perfectly content to win by one or two or three points, as they should be, especially when they see what happened this past week. The 49ers losing at St. Louis. The Super Bowl champion Giants falling to Washington. The Bears getting tripped up at home by Seattle.

Just win, baby.

``There's no doormats in this league,'' offensive guard Justin Blalock points out. ``If you're not playing well, you can be made to look pretty stupid in any game. They're not all going to be pretty. But we do our best to make sure we come out on top. At the end of the day, hardly anyone is going remember any games in September or October.''

What they will remember is January.

The playoff-bound Falcons are carrying a troublesome monkey on their back; actually, more like a gorilla. Atlanta has made the postseason three of the last four years. All three times, they lasted about as long as Snooki at a Mensa meeting, including a blowout loss at home to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers as the NFC's top seed during the 2010 season.

In all likelihood, the Falcons (11-1) will be in that No. 1 spot again, even if hardly anyone seems to think they're the NFL's best team. They've already locked up their division and hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the next-best team in the conference with just four weeks to go.

So, why should people believe this team - with many of the same guys from the last three playoff flops - is suddenly going to shake its reputation as chokers?

For one, the Falcons have displayed impressive versatility. Some weeks, quarterback Matt Ryan has carried the Falcons on his sturdy right arm, taking advantage of perhaps the game's most impressive trio of receivers (Roddy White, Julio Jones and Hall of Famer-to-be Tony Gonzalez). Other times, it's the defense that provides the big plays, as was the case in Atlanta's most recent victory over New Orleans. With Ryan and the offense struggling, the defense picked off Drew Brees a career-high five times and ended his record touchdown pass streak at 54 consecutive games.

``You've got to find a way to get it done,'' Ryan says. ``That's one of the reasons we've had a lot of success this year. We've found a lot of ways to get it done. It hasn't always shaken out the same way. It's a different person, a different unit, stepping up week in and week out.''

Another thing to like about this team is the close-knit locker room. A lot of the credit for that must go to general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who factors character into the evaluation process, and coach Mike Smith, who leaves little doubt he's the boss but is willing to listen to his players, especially the veterans.

``I love the unity of this locker room,'' Gonzalez said. ``There's no jerks on this team. There's no cancers on this team. Guys love to come to work, love to compete, love to get better.''

Rest assured, getting on the Falcons bandwagon goes against everything I've learned over a lifetime.

Full disclosure: I grew up in Atlanta cheering for the Falcons. It was a largely an exercise in frustration, one losing season running into another, the slightest bit of hope always snuffed out quickly. They weren't lovable like the Chicago Cubs, either. No, they were just bad. Turnovers and missed tackles. Poor coaching and botched draft picks. Gallows humor was about the only thing that got you through. Hey, did you hear about the guy who left two season tickets on the windshield of his car, hoping someone would take them? When he got back, he had four.

The Falcons reached their only Super Bowl during the 1998 season with an entertaining group that called itself the ``Dirty Birds.'' Of course, they found a most unique way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The night before the big game in Miami, safety Eugene Robinson, probably their most respected player, was arrested for trying to buy sex from a woman who turned out to be an undercover cop.

Robinson played anyway. Not surprisingly, he got beat for a long touchdown pass on the game's most crucial play, the Denver Broncos romping to their second straight championship.

But, truth be told, things have changed over the last decade, ever since Arthur Blank bought the team.

Three of the five division titles in franchise's 46-year history have come during the Blank era. Most impressively, the team bounced right back after star quarterback Michael Vick went to prison for running a dogfighting ring. Dimitroff, Smith and Ryan arrived the following year; since then, the Falcons have strung together five straight winning seasons.

Not bad, considering they had gone through their entire history, which begins in 1966, without putting together two in a row.

Now, there's only one thing left.

Just win, baby, in the playoffs.

``We can't steal that from Oakland. That's their thing,'' Peterson says, when reminded of the late Davis' famous mantra as owner of the Raiders.

But he can't help himself.

``Just win, baby,'' Peterson repeats, mulling it over for just a second. ``That's nice. I like it.''

---

Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Brandon MarshallOct 19 09:08p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall called out QB Jay Cutler in a heated locker room discussion after the team's Week 7 loss against the Miami Dolphins, a source said [ More ]

Peyton ManningOct 19 09:02p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning has had two offensive drives in Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers so far, and both have resulted in touchdown passes. He ties [ More ]

Matthew StaffordOct 19 07:43p

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford completed 27 of 40 pass attempts for 299 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the Week 7 game against the New Orleans Saints. [ More ]

Cody LatimerOct 19 07:32p

The Denver Broncos have declared OG Ben Garland, WR Cody Latimer, OT Michael Schofield, DL Mitch Unrein, RB Montee Ball, LB Shaquil Barrett, CB Tony Carter inactive for Week 7.

Chris CulliverOct 19 07:32p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared CB Chris Culliver, DL Cornellius Carradine, SS Jimmie Ward, C Marcus Martin, OG Mike Iupati, LB Patrick Willis, WR Quinton Patton inactive for Week 7.

Calvin JohnsonOct 19 07:22p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) would not give any indication whether he would play in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons. After the Week 7 game Sunday, Oct. [ More ]

Reggie BushOct 19 07:22p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) was not benched in the Week 7 game against the New Orleans Saints. Bush only played a handful of snaps in the second [ More ]

Fred JacksonOct 19 07:02p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin) will need further tests to determine the severity of the groin injury he suffered in Week 7 against the [ More ]

C.J. SpillerOct 19 07:02p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (collarbone) will have surgery Monday, Oct. 20, to repair the broken collarbone he suffered in Week 7 against the Minnesota [ More ]

Bryce BrownOct 19 06:52p

Buffalo Bills RB Bryce Brown was inactive for the seventh time this season in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings. However, with injuries to RBs Fred Jackson (groin) and [ More ]

Anthony DixonOct 19 06:02p

Buffalo Bills RB Anthony Dixon was pressed into duty in Week 7 against the Minnesota Vikings due to injuries to RBs Fred Jackson (groin) and C.J. Spiller (collarbone). Dixon [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 19 06:02p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins hauled in nine receptions for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Week 7 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Jerick McKinnonOct 19 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon carried 19 times for 103 yards in the Week 7 game against the Buffalo Bills, and he had two receptions which resulted in minus-2 yards.

John SullivanOct 19 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings OG Vladimir Ducasse (knee) left the Week 7 game against the Buffalo Bills due to a knee injury, and C John Sullivan (concussion) exited due to a [ More ]

Matt AsiataOct 19 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Matt Asiata carried just six times for 24 yards in Week 7 against the Buffalo Bills, while posting one reception for 13 yards.

Brian OrakpoOct 19 05:13p

Washington Redskins LB Brian Orakpo (pectoral) suffered a right pectoral injury in the Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans. He will have an MRI Monday, Oct. 20.

Brodrick BunkleyOct 19 05:12p

New Orleans Saints NT Brodrick Bunkley (concussion) and DE Glenn Foster (knee) left the Week 7 game due to injury and were unable to return.

Keenan LewisOct 19 05:12p

New Orleans Saints CB Keenan Lewis (hamstring) suffered two cramps and a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter of the Week 7 game against the Detroit Lions, head coach [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 19 05:12p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) left the Week 7 game against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a hamstring injury.

Zac StacyOct 19 05:03p

St. Louis Rams RB Zac Stacy did not have any touches in the Week 7 game against the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams used a combination of RBs Tre Mason, [ More ]

Brandon FlowersOct 19 05:03p

San Diego Chargers CB Brandon Flowers (head) left the Week 7 game against the Kansas City Chiefs due to a head injury, but passed concussion tests and checked back in during the second quarter.

Paul PoslusznyOct 19 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars DT Alan Branch (groin) and LB Paul Posluszny (pectoral) suffered injuries in the team's Week 7 game and will not return.

Philly BrownOct 19 03:52p

Carolina Panthers WR Philly Brown (concussion) suffered a concussion in Week 7 and will not return to the game.

Brian OrakpoOct 19 03:42p

Washington Redskins LB Brian Orakpo (shoulder) left the game early in Week 7 because of a shoulder injury and is considered questionable to return.

Colt McCoyOct 19 03:32p

Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy entered the team's Week 7 game after QB Kirk Cousins was benched.

C.J. SpillerOct 19 03:02p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (collarbone) has been initially diagnosed with a broken collarbone.

Tony BergstromOct 19 03:02p

The Oakland Raiders have declared QB Matt McGloin, WR Vincent Brown, OL Khalif Barnes, OG Tony Bergstrom, FB Marcel Reece, CB Keith McGill, DE Justin Tuck inactive for Week 7.

Adam SnyderOct 19 03:02p

The New York Giants have declared WR Corey Washington, OG Adam Snyder, DT Kerry Wynn, OT James Brewer, OT Brandon Mosley, DL Jay Bromley, RB Rashad Jennings inactive for Week 7.

Donnie AveryOct 19 02:52p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared WR Donnie Avery, SS Eric Berry, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, C Eric Kush, QB Aaron Murray, CB Christopher Owens, DE Damion Square inactive for Week 7.

Manti Te'oOct 19 02:52p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Jeremiah Attaochu, RB Donald Brown, WR Dontrelle Inman, DT Ricardo Mathews, RB Ryan Mathews, LB Manti Te'o, CB Jason Verrett inactive for Week 7.

C.J. SpillerOct 19 02:42p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) is undergoing an X-ray to hopefully rule out a possible broken clavicle.

C.J. SpillerOct 19 02:32p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) was carted off the field after suffering an apparent shoulder injury in the team's Week 7 game.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group