Falcons won't wave white flag

Smith refusing to let team concede

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Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is tackled by Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett on Sunday. Ryan and the banged-up Falcons offense struggled for the third game in a row.  DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is tackled by Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett on Sunday. Ryan and the banged-up Falcons offense struggled for the third game in a row.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Mike Smith is not giving up on the Falcons’ season, just as he wouldn’t give up in the closing minutes of a lopsided loss to Seattle.

Smith was criticized for exposing quarterback Matt Ryan and others to injuries by leaving them on the field late in Sunday’s 33-10 loss to the Seahawks. The coach said he wouldn’t abandon the idea of trying to win.

Similarly, Smith said Monday he hasn’t given up on the season even when three consecutive ugly losses have left the Falcons 2-7.

They already have matched the high mark for losses in Smith’s first five seasons – a 9-7 finish in 2009. Atlanta trails first-place New Orleans by five games in the NFC South.

Smith said he’s heard plenty of negative talk about the outlook for the remainder of the season, including this week’s game at Tampa Bay.

“This season is not over,” Smith said. “I know people want to say doom and gloom. That’s not the case. We’ve not played the type of football that we’d like to play in the first nine games. It is well below our expectations and we’re going to continue to work and get ready to play the Buccaneers.”

Smith said there must be improvement on both lines and in the running game.

In his third game since returning from a hamstring injury, Steven Jackson was held to 11 rushing yards on nine carries. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch ran for 145 yards and a touchdown.

“I think we did not win the physical battle ... they won that handily,” Smith said. “I felt like they won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. That’s where games are won and lost.”

As a result, Jackson often had no chance.

“Of course I’m frustrated,” Jackson said.

“The thing about it is you have to keep chipping away. No one is going to come in the locker room and save us. We have to save ourselves. ... We can’t dwell on it. One thing about being a professional, you have to acknowledge the things you made a mistake on and move on to the next one.”

Left tackle Sam Baker was held out with a knee injury. He has missed five games this season. He played on Nov. 3 against Carolina but couldn’t stay off the inactive list two straight weeks.

“Yes, it is a concern when you’re not able to play consecutive games,” Smith said.

Smith said linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will be activated off the injured reserve list by Wednesday. Weatherspoon, one of the defense’s leaders, has been out since hurting his foot the second week of the season.

Smith said he had no update on tight end Tony Gonzalez, who briefly left Sunday’s game with a toe injury.


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