x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 September 2017

Decision will not stick with Smith forever

Mike Smith and the Atlanta Falcons insist that the hurt from losing in overtime to the New Orleans Saints will not linger. He won't let it, not with a game now on deck against the Tennessee Titans.

New Orleans stuffed Atlanta's Michael Turner on fourth down in overtime, making many question Mike Smith, the Falcons' coach, on his decision to go for it.
New Orleans stuffed Atlanta's Michael Turner on fourth down in overtime, making many question Mike Smith, the Falcons' coach, on his decision to go for it.

Mike Smith has done many things right since he took over as coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Three straight winning seasons. Two trips to the play-offs. A division championship.

Smith insists that nothing has changed, even after a debated decision that went horribly wrong in an overtime defeat last weekend.

"Every day is a learning experience," Smith said. "My confidence is never going to waver. The one thing I want to be is consistent every day that I wake up. That's important not only as a coach, but as a person. I want to be a consistent person."

The Falcons and Tennessee Titans each carry a 5-4 record into Sunday's game, and Smith said the Falcons have moved on from last week's jarring loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Atlanta overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime, then Smith made perhaps the biggest gamble of his career when the Falcons faced fourth down and about a foot to go, just short of their own 30-yard line. Instead of punting the ball, Smith sent his offense back on the field to go for the first down. Michael Turner was swarmed by Saints defenders as soon as he got the ball, actually losing a couple of feet.

New Orleans took over, already in field-goal range, and knocked through the winning kick four plays later for a 26-23 victory.

Smith took full responsibility for the call; he is ready to move ahead, even if not all fans are.

"This is no different than any other week, I can assure you of that," Smith said. "You put that one behind you, you learn from it and you go on to the next one. That's what we've done since we've gotten here. I don't think it will change. That's the way our guys know we operate. They've done an outstanding job up to this point. I don't anticipate it being any different this week."

Certainly, the Falcons cannot afford to fret about a decision - and a game - they cannot get back.

The Titans, with a rookie coach and not many big names, are poised to make a run at the play-offs in the suddenly depleted AFC South.

Indianapolis has fallen apart without Peyton Manning, and the Houston Texans could be without their quarterback, Matt Schaub, for the rest of the season because of a foot injury.

Suddenly, the Titans look as though they might be the team to beat.

"Well, I don't know," the first-year coach Mike Munchak said.

"That's not something that helps us beat Atlanta this weekend and it won't help us beat Tampa next weekend and on and on and on. It doesn't really affect us at all unless [the Texans] lose two or three games over the next three or four weeks, then maybe all of a sudden it means something."