TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Falcons carry burden of postseason failure into opener

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 7:02 p.m.
 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Perhaps no team faced a greater burden going into this postseason than the Falcons (13-3), the NFC's top-seeded squad for the second time in three years. They've yet to win a playoff game under the current trio of quarterback Matt Ryan, coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff — one-and-done in all three appearances going back to the 2008 season.

Not surprisingly, the players keep insisting the previous years don't matter; they're only looking forward to Sunday's divisional game with the streaking Seattle Seahawks (12-5).

But the senior member of the team, center Todd McClure, concedes there will probably be some additional pressure.

“We've been disappointed a few times,” said McClure, who's been with the Falcons for 13 years. “I think we've got guys in this locker room who are hungry and ready to get over that hump.”

The Falcons have gone 56-24 in the regular season since Dimitroff and Smith took over in 2008 and drafted Ryan with the No. 3 overall pick — more wins than any team during that span except New England (60-20). But the significance of five straight winning seasons, two division titles and, now, a fourth trip to the playoffs has been undermined by the lack of success in January.

Carrying around all that baggage, the Falcons can't help but be a little skittish about facing a team that might be hotter than anyone in the league. The Seahawks have won six straight games.

“We can't get too tight,” McClure said. “There's going to be some added pressure, I'm sure. But if we come out, start fast on both sides of ball, some of that will die down. Then we can just go out and play football.”

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read NFL

  1. Steelers’ Bell unsure why NFL reduced his suspension
  2. NFL notebook: Redskins re-sign star linebacker Kerrigan
  3. Patriots QB Brady files lawsuit against NFL to halt suspension
  4. Chiefs star Berry beats cancer, returns to field
  5. NFL notebook: Chiefs SS Berry cleared after cancer treatment
  6. NFL notebook: League doles out 3 multiple-game suspensions