One of the dominant characteristics of the Falcons this season has been their ability to remain grounded as the season has progressed. It's been especially impressive as they took an undefeated season into Week 10 before losing their first game of the season last week at the hands of the Saints.
If there's a team that no one associated with the Falcons wants to lose to it's the Saints, especially when an undefeated season is on the line. Losers of 11 of the last 13 to the Saints, the Falcons didn't want it to end in New Orleans, not that they ever wanted to lose a game.
But the season's first loss did come in New Orleans and now it's time to move on. One of the things helping the Falcons locker room deal with the loss as they prepare to play another game (one against a particularly tough defense) is the attitude they've maintained throughout all the winning.
Atlanta has defined the "one week at a time" cliche this season and there was never a sense that the success was getting to their head. On Wednesday many of the players had to answer not just for the loss but also on how they put it behind them.
"It's different, but we've got to move on," Dunta Robinson said. "We can't dwell too much. Of course we want to win every single game we play so to lose always puts a bitter taste in your mouth. We'll bounce back. We're a resilient football team. We've been through a lot over the years. We'll bounce back and get things back on track."
Safety Thomas DeCoud said the same attitude that kept them grounded during their eight-game winning streak is what will help them move on from their first loss off the season. The Falcons locker room was pretty quick to enjoy a win and move on to their next opponent. A phrase often heard this year as opponents with varied storylines prepared to face the Falcons was "the most important game is the next one."
The Falcons appeared to have mastered this approach and it will be tested as they prepare to defend head coach Mike Smith's 15-3 record with the Falcons after a loss. At least right now they appear to be saying all the right things.
"You don't want to stay too high for too long, you don't want to stay down for too long and harp on the things you didn't do well," DeCoud said.
Frustrated by a loss is one thing, but letting it create fires around your organization is another. There are no fires inside Atlanta's locker room and there shouldn't be. While no game is played to lose, it's one loss and just as eight wins didn't define the Falcons' season through last week, one loss does not either.
"It's just what it is," said Matt Ryan. "It's not good, it's not bad, it's where we're at. Nine games into it we're still in a really good position. We had a tough one last week and we'll try to rebound from that."