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Tabeek: Beating the Bucs means everything is still on the table for the Falcons


ATLANTA – A win doesn't heal all wounds but, man, it sure feels good for the Falcons.

Especially when it's been 28 days since the last time the Falcons last tasted one. Yeah, it's been that long since Atlanta added one to the win column.

The Falcons really needed this win, in a bad way. The injuries, the close losses, the missed opportunities – all of it has tested the mettle of this team and firmly put their backs up against the proverbial wall.


"We talk about the moments that test us and the moments that elevate us," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after the game. "And that's what today was all about."

The Falcons' 34-29 win over the Buccaneers not only snaps a three-game skid and improves their division record to 2-1, it should also hush the naysayers and gloom-and-doom prophets.

The bleeding stops for a week, and that's big for a team that entered 2018 with great expectations, including predictions of Super Bowl titles, division championships and No. 2 seeds in the NFC by national writers.

And, as anomalous as it sounds, 2-4 looks so much better than 1-5 right now. Yes, the guys in the Red and Black stumbled out of the gates – and suffered some serious injuries since that Week 1 opener in Philly – but they are alive and kicking, folks.

Everything – a division title, a return to the postseason for a third straight season – is still on the table for this team and, quite frankly, that's all that matters.

Could they win their next 10 games and finish 12-4? Uh, sure. Anything is possible, but let's keep it real, as the kids like to say. It's one game at a time. And if we're being straight up here, that's not how the coaches and players look at things inside the walls at Flowery Branch.

They know you can't you win 'em all at once.

And they'll enjoy this win over the division rival Bucs, but not for long. The harsh reality is that another must-win game – this time against the visiting New York Giants on "Monday Night Football" – is on the docket.

Yeah, there's still a ton of work to be done for these Dirty Birds.

And looking down the road – something the Falcons can't afford to do, but we certainly can – the next four games are against the Giants (1-5), Redskins (3-2), Browns (2-3-1) and Cowboys (3-3). No one is saying those games will be easy, but they certainly look winnable.

Keep in mind, too, that the Falcons are expecting to get Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones back in time for that Nov. 18 home game against Dallas, barring any sort of setback (knock on wood).

Talk about a much-needed shot in the arm.

If the Falcons can win those four, they'll be 6-4 overall, 5-2 vs. the NFC and 2-1 in the NFC South. Not a bad way to enter that Thanksgiving Day showdown against the Saints if you ask me.

For now, this team is drinking in the victory over the Bucs, which like so many of the Falcons' games this season, came right down to the wire.

It doesn't matter, though: A win is a win. And it feels good – for the players, coaches and fans.

While Sunday's five-point win over the Bucs here at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was critical for the 2-4 Falcons, beating the Giants becomes even more important now.

Speaking of New York, the late, great Babe Ruth once said, "Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games."

All that matters now is the next one.

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