FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Ready for some trivia? OK. Here you go: How long has it been since the Falcons won a game outside the walls of Mercedes-Benz Stadium?
Please do not shout out your answers. (Cue the Jeopardy thinking music).
If you wrote down 390 days, you'd be correct. We will also accept the exact date of the Falcons' last road win, Sept. 25, 2022. Since football does not play year-round, it's technically not fair to say the Falcons have gone a year and 25 days without a win on the road. They do not play for six months out of the year after all.
However, the notion and the facts remain: The last time the Falcons won a game on the road was when the team faced the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 3 of the 2022 season. They have lost every single road game since, including defeats to Detroit and Jacksonville (in London) this year. Since 2021, the Falcons are 6-13 on the road, with five of those six wins coming in 2021. They've lost eight straight road games since that Seattle day in Sept. 2022.
It goes without saying, but we'll say it anyways: The Falcons have to be better on the road. They have to start winning games beyond the comfort of their own home.
Easier said than done, though.
Right? It's not like there's one specific reason the Falcons are losing road games. Every game is its own entity. It's not like you can say the Falcons are losing games on the road because they wake up on the wrong side of their hotel beds.
There's no straight-forward answer to the question of: Why are the Falcons losing so many road games?
But there should be a response, and it needs to come in the form of road wins. That response needs to begin in Tampa Bay.
The more time that passes the more this first matchup between the Buccaneers and Falcons feels like a must-win for Atlanta. They're sitting at 3-3 on the year. The Bucs, who had their bye week already, are 3-2. Tampa leads the division. But as we all know, leading this specific division at this point in the season means nothing. It means nothing because -- as we've seen -- one win here or one loss there can be the difference between a first-place standing and scraping the bottom of the NFC South barrel.
As we've established, it has been a long time since the Falcons won a road game. It has been even longer since the Falcons won a division game on the road. They beat Carolina in Charlotte on Dec. 12, 2021, though they've only played three NFC South road games since.
It would mean a lot for the Falcons to get back above .500 with a key win against a divisional opponent. There's a thought, though that it would also mean a lot from a mental standpoint, too. Winning a key matchup on the road could go a long way when talking about a psychological hurdle of losing games when playing away from home.
"It's obviously more comfortable starting at home with your routines and this and that, but the reality is you have to win on the road in this league," head coach Arthur Smith said in the week following the Falcons' loss to the Jaguars in London. "You need to do both if you want to be a really great team. There are things you look at. ... When you can get something going early, especially on the road, then you need to steal the initiative."
Even then, Smith said the Falcons know they "need to take the next step" in their overall production and performance. They're coming off a disappointing and frustrating loss to the Commanders at home, a place where they've won a good amount of games the last two seasons. The loss was most frustrating for players and coaches because the Falcons led the Commanders in almost every single statistical category, and yet, they still lost.
"It came down to the turnovers, and if you want to count the punt return as a turnover, that's tough," Smith said Wednesday. "You've got to give them credit because the few opportunities they got they turned them into touchdowns and that was the difference in the game. Yeah, certainly, that's where (you're) frustrated.
"You've got to look at yourself and say, 'Alright, what can we do better? How do we take that next step?' I always think this, you can make a lot of excuses, but your record is what it is, and we deserve to be 3-3. Do we think we've had some chances to be better? Absolutely. But that's not where we're at. The good news is we got a huge game Sunday down in Tampa, a chance to get another divisional win that could feel like two. We'll be ready to go."
Smith is right: The Falcons need this one, for more reasons than one.
Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.