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Falcons Team Report


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Inside Slant

Falcons coach Mike Smith has guided the Falcons to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

They won the NFC South and secured the home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

"We are very relevant," Smith said. "We've worked very hard to attain this position. Not only the players, but the coaching staff, the support staff and the whole entire organization."

The Falcons started scouting potential divisional round opponents last week.

"We've got a pretty good idea about how things will go and how things may go," Smith said. "You've got to have contingency plans. We have been working on that all through this week and will continue to work on all through next week. As soon as we know who our next opponent is, we'll start to install our game plan."

They could very well see the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round if the Saints can handle the NFC West champ and Philadelphia can take care of the No. 6 seeded Green Bay Packers.

"Familiarity is always good," Smith said. "But they are going to know about us as well. But there is a good chance, a really good chance, that we're going to play somebody that we've already played once before. That will be a fun next month. That's how we are looking at it as a coaching staff and as an organization."

The Falcons were able to clear the bench against Carolina on Sunday and play their reserves for much of the second half.

"It was very helpful for us because there is still a lot of football to be played in this season," Smith said. "To get those guys some game time snaps was very important. I thought that they handled it very well."

The Falcons don't have any major injuries but welcome the bye week to help them rest their bumps and bruises.

"I can assure you it's going to help us as a football team," Smith said. "The other great thing about when you have a bye week is that you know where you'll be playing and it will be right here in the Georgia Dome. We are very excited about that.

Notes, Quotes

By The Numbers:

115—Number of catches WR Roddy White has this season, breaking Terance Mathis' team record of 111 set in 1994. White set his second franchise record of the afternoon with a 14-yard catch in the fourth quarter as he eclipsed his own club record for most receiving yards in a single season. White posted 1,389 yards in 2010, surpassing his previous record of 1,382 yard which he set in 2008. He had 10 touchdown catches.

Trending

Defensive tackles Corey Peters, Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jeria all had sacks against the Panthers. They showed the ability to collapse to pocket and get to the quarterback when the edge rushers flushed Jimmy Clausen into their domains. The Falcons have recorded 12 sacks over the last five games and will need to generate sacks in the playoffs, especially if they see the Saints and Drew Brees again in the divisional round.

Strategy & Personnel

Player Notes

*QB Matt Ryan tied Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino for the most wins by a quarterback in his first three seasons since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger with 33, after posting a 33-13 record from 2008-10. With a screen pass to WR Roddy White on the game's opening drive, Ryan set a new team record for most completions in a season with 337. The previous mark was held by Jeff George with 336 in 1995.

*TE Tony Gonzalez six-yard TD on the opening drive of the game was his 88th career touchdown reception, tying him with Pro Football Hall of Fame WR Don Maynard for 10th in NFL history. Gonzalez finished the game with six catches for 53 yards and one touchdown.

*PR/KR Eric Weems, who was selected for the Pro Bowl, returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown, marking his first career punt return touchdown and his second return touchdown of the season. Weems set a franchise-record with a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Tampa Bay in Week 13. Weems is the first player in franchise history to return both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown in the same season.

*RB Michael Turner ran for 67 yards on 17 carries. For the second consecutive game, he had a fumble inside the red zone.

*WR Michael Jenkins caught five passes for 52 yards against Carolina.

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