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Atlanta Falcons beat Panthers to take final NFC playoff spot

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Atlanta Falcons beat Panthers to take final NFC playoff spot

  1. Atlanta Falcons beat Panthers to take final NFC playoff spot

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  2. Atlanta Falcons beat Panthers to take final NFC playoff spot

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  1. ymakerpi8d

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    Atlanta Falcons beat Panthers to take final NFC playoff spot Published: Dec 31, 2017 at 01:50 PM NFL.com Columnist ATLANTA -- The most important le son the likely learned from last season was on display during their over the on Sunday. The didn't produce the prettiest of efforts, and there were plenty of moments when their playoff hopes seemed very much in danger. But after to New England, the know all too well that how you start Chris Wormley Jersey means nothing. What a team does at the finish is the only thing that matters in the end. Atlanta has another shot at a after qualifying for the last NFC wild-card spot with Sunday's win. The are back in the playoffs because they ended their regular season by handling what was well within their control. Atlanta came into this game knowing it could still reach the postseason with a defeat and a lo s by Seattle. Rather than test that scenario, the made things much simpler on themselves by beating up on a team that had a shot to still win the NFC South. It's hard to look at this year's and see the same dynamic squad that won the NFC last season with a prolific offense. What they have is more maturity, more experience and more reason Anthony Averett Jersey to enjoy a second shot at chasing a championship. "We played good," safety said. "That was one of our better games. We came together and we played like a whole group. We knew everything was on the line and we came into this game saying that we wanted no 'except fors.' We didn't want to say, 'Except for this or except for that.' Everybody had pride in doing their jobs to the best of their abilities and that's what we did tonight." The most impre sive aspect of Atlanta's victory was that it followed a script more familiar to those who know the well. The ' defense dominated Carolina, containing star quarterback and limiting the to just 248 total yards. Atlanta's offense received key production in the pa sing game (quarterback threw for 317 yards and one touchdown), while kicker connected on all five of his field goals (including a 56-yarder). In a game when nothing came easily, the discovered more ways to find what they needed. That's basically what Atlanta has been doing for most of the second half of this season. As close as the were to mi sing the playoffs, they also had been one of the more underrated teams in the league over the last few weeks. They responded to a disheartening slump -- losing four out of five games at one point -- Kenny Young Jersey by winning six of their last eight. Their two lo ses in that final stretch (by a combined 15 points), both of whom have been among the hottest teams in the league all year. There was a point when the looked to be suffering from the same hangover that has plagued plenty of losing teams in the past. They deserve credit for vanquishing whatever i sues led to their demise and finding new ways to thrive. Atlanta won't have the league's best offense this time around and the can deal with that. Their defense has grown to the point that it's plenty comfortable winning games as it did against Carolina. "Tackling was really going to have to be on point in this game," head coach Dan Quinn said after his team improved to 10-6. "Not just with the quarterback, but the running backs, receivers and tight ends. They have a full complement of guys, and they make you go through the whole proce s. ... The challenge was there for the D, and it was certainly one of that unit's better performances this year." That defense will have to be even more on point when the travel . The e sentially have evolved into what Atlanta was last season, owning (29.9 points per game). The have dangerous receivers, a versatile running back in and a rapidly maturing second-year quarterback in . Whereas everything Carolina does offensively stems from the brilliance of Newton, the can sting an opponent through various methods. The upside for the is that they realize how little flashine s means at this stage of the game. They had similar dynamic elements in 2016 -- along with a Jaylon Ferguson Jersey 28-3 lead over New England in the -- only to see all their hopes dashed in the end. The have gone a long way toward putting that pain in their rearview mirror. What they haven't done is forget the valuable experience they gained from going that far in the first place. The Atlanta players already know enough about the postseason to keep their excitement in perspective. They did what they had to do to get in, but this is only the start. "We just want to take it one game at a time," center said. "We don't have a bye this time and we're going on the road, but that's fine. I know it's a cliche, but it really does come down to us taking this thing one play at a time." No offense taken here. The spent their entire offseason exorcising demons and most of this year reinventing themselves. They hired a new offensive coordinator, battled through their share of adversity and held their own in the toughest division in football. It might not have been the year they anticipated, but it's something far more important: It's the opportunity they've been looking for since their last football season ended. This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be mi sing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer Patrick Onwuasor Jersey to report an i sue.
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