This Sunday's game with the Bengals is a bounce-back game for the Falcons. After a 31-17 defeat at the hands of the Eagles, the Birds need to regroup and bounce back in a positive way before getting some well-deserved rest with the bye week.
Head coach Mike Smith's teams have been resolute in righting the ship after tough losses during his tenure. The Falcons never lost back-to-back games in his first season. In 2008 after a loss, his club always responded big time the next week. For example, when the Birds suffered a 24-9 loss in Week 5 at Carolina, the Falcons turned around and defeated Green Bay, 27-24. A 27-14 loss at Philadelphia that season resulted in a 24-0 blanking at Oakland the following game.
Similar examples also were evident last year. After one particularly tough 26-10 defeat at New England, the Falcons countered with a 45-10 showing at San Francisco. Bottom line is that Mike Smith-coached teams know what it takes to respond to losses and how you need to put the last game in the rearview mirror and move ahead.
Smith's message to his players is basic and fundamental. It's the same message actually whether the Falcons win or lose. He wants his team to take a business-like approach to each and every contest. He doesn't want his team to ride an emotional rollercoaster from week to week and be up too much when they win, and down in the dumps for days after a loss.
Smitty has a 24-hour rule where, regardless of the outcome that Sunday, the team must let it go and move on to the next game. You can only celebrate or brood for so long in his world and then it's time to concentrate on the next task that's right in front of you. The most important game is the next game, and the Falcons do not look down the road weeks in advance or look back, either.
This mindset has allowed the Birds to avoid long losing streaks under Smith's sturdy tutelage as his teams play with an emotional balance.
Smith's charges take on another big test this Sunday when Cincinnati comes calling. Bouncing the Bengals is all that has their attention.
After playing four of their first six games on the road, the Falcons also feel good about being back in the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome where they are 15-3 since 2008. QB Matt Ryan is 15-1 at the Dome in his career and has won 12 straight games at home.