FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons haven’t won a game since September.
The long wait for a win would be enough to generate unrest among players. Blowing leads in two straight losses adds to the pain, especially when the losses set up this week’s Super Bowl rematch with New England and the reminders of Atlanta’s huge collapse in that game.
It’s all combined to generate an attitude coach Dan Quinn on Thursday described as “a little bit on edge in a good way.”
Outside linebacker DeVondre Campbell described the mood as “having a fire lit under us right now.”
Since a narrow win at Detroit on Sept. 24, the Falcons (3-2) lost a halftime lead in a 23-17 home loss to Buffalo, had their bye week and then blew a 17-0 lead in last week’s 20-17 home loss to Miami .
“The last three weeks, you lose one, go into a bye, and lose again,” safety Ricardo Allen said. “That’s not a good feeling. … We know we’re not playing our best ball. And we know we have to keep driving.”
Quinn believes the edginess he sees in his players is healthy because he anticipates it being used as motivation for Sunday night’s game.
“What I have been pleased with is the way we’ve been going at it in practice,” he said. “I’d say when you have something to prove, when you have a chip on your shoulder to play better, that’s not the worst thing in the world for a coach.”
Allen insists players are not seeking atonement for blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl loss .
“This year is hard enough within itself,” Allen said. “Yes, they did beat us last year in the Super Bowl and everybody knows that. But if you focus on that, you just let this year get away from you. You’ve got to focus on the now.”
Atlanta’s defense struggled with missed tackles in the loss to the Dolphins, but much of the focus was on an offense that hasn’t played up to its 2016 standard. The Falcons’ average of 24.2 points per game is almost 10 points below last season’s league-leading average.
Matt Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP, has thrown only six touchdown passes with six interceptions .
Julio Jones, the two-time All-Pro, is still looking for his first touchdown catch of the season.
Jones shrugged when asked about having only one red-zone target this season.
“No, that’s not a problem for me,” Jones said. “If teams are going to continuously try to take me away (other receivers) are going to score touchdowns. That’s all that matters. Fans don’t see things like that. But at the end of the day we’re trying to win a ballgame. It’s not about stats. I’m not a stats guy.”
Quinn said Jones needs more touches — and more importantly, the offense needs to generate more plays.
“We’ve got to get more possessions, more time, more plays,” he said. “… It’s not he needs the ball more. We need more plays so he can get the ball more.”
NOTES: The Falcons signed veteran DT Ahtyba Rubin, a former starter with Cleveland and Seattle. Rubin, 31, was cut by Denver on Tuesday. He saw limited time in two games with the Broncos after signing Sept. 15. He was released by the Seahawks before the season. Quinn said Rubin (6-2, 321) adds needed size to the defensive front which lost Jack Crawford to the injured reserve with a biceps injury on Oct 3. The team waived DT Taniela Tupou, nine days after he was signed to the active roster.
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