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Time Machine: Falcons Confident As Always


The last time the Falcons and Packers met in the playoffs, Atlanta pulled off a huge win in historic fashion becoming the first team to ever defeat Green Bay at Lambeau Field (27-7 in 2002 postseason).

But it's the manner in which they won that day that is relevant and could be a key point of comparison this time around.

On a cold, snowy night in blustery Wisconsin, the Birds started out fast, were opportunistic and were confident in their plan.

The Falcons took the opening kickoff and drove 76-yards in 10 plays, culminating in a 10-yard touchdown catch by WR Shawn Jefferson. The drive took 5:43 and Packers fans weren't even done cleaning the snow off their seats before they stared in disbelief at the scoreboard.

Four plays later, Falcons S Keion Carpenter intercepted a Brett Favre pass at the 40-yard line. Although their ensuing drive stalled, Birds P Chris Mohr pinned Green Bay down to their own 5-yard line. The Falcons defense forced a three-and-out and Packers P Josh Bidwell lined up for his first punt. LB Mark Simoneau shot up the middle to block Bidwell's punt and fellow LB Artie Ulmer fell on it for a Falcons touchdown and 14-0 lead.

A short touchdown run by RB T.J. Duckett after a Packers muffed punt early in the second quarter gave the Falcons an insurmountable 21-0 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half. Before the night was over, the Falcons had totaled a postseason team record of five turnovers and amassed 309 net yards in bad conditions.

These 2010 Falcons have consistently displayed similar traits from what worked for their counterparts from that 2002 playoff team.

Starting out fast has been a staple for Mike Smith-coached teams since he arrived in 2008. The Falcons are 25-6 in games when they score first during the past three seasons and ranked third overall in the NFL for points scored on their first possession. Atlanta is also seventh in the NFC in closing out the first half of games strongly with 54 points on 51 possessions in the final two minutes of the either half.

Opportunistic has been a word for Smith's club this season with 22 interceptions (4th most in NFL), nine fumble recoveries and a turnover margin of plus-14. The Birds have turned those opportunities directly into points, scoring 108 points on those 31 takeaways.

The Falcons have had a good week of preparation and are confident in their plan for Saturday night's game. Now, it's time to see how it all comes together.

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