On Monday meeting with the media, head coach Mike Smith shared his pride. Despite falling down 14-0 to the Bills, the Falcons fought back and turned it into a game, a game they would eventually win in overtime.
“This group of guys went out and showed what they’re made of yesterday,” Smith said. “When we had to make plays, we made them.”
Smith said under his watch, he’s always told his players they will win together and lose together and while they’ve lost together a lot this season, on Sunday, they put together a team win that featured tenacity and determination. Smith praised his team’s resiliency in getting their third win, a win that stopped a losing streak at five games.
With four games remaining this year, Smith said the Falcons will continue to try to play like they did in Sunday’s winning effort. The head coach shared a message that he gave to the team during meetings over the weekend as they prepared to face the Bills. He reminded all of them that how you finish is really what matters at this point in the season.
“We are all judged by what we do at the end of the season,” Smith said Monday. “Whether you’re 9-2 or 2-9, the way you finish the season is really how you’re judged and remembered. That’s why it is so important for us to finish strong. We need to finish strong, just like every season. It hasn’t changed because of the situation that we’re in. I think the guys know that we want to get out there and start a streak and that’s what we did.”
The one other time in Smith’s career in Atlanta when the Falcons failed to make the playoffs was in 2009. Like this season, injuries hurt the Falcons over the course of the year and they entered the final three games of the season with a 6-7 record. Three straight wins allowed the Falcons to finish 9-7, break a franchise streak of no back-to-back winning seasons and end the season on a high note.
That experience, he believes, will influence how the team finishes out the string this season.
“It’s a good thing that our guys that have been around will understand the importance of finishing strong,” Smith said. “It does lead into the next season and I think our guys understand that.”