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Consecutive wins curse finally ends
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Forsyth County News
There now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

The Falcons’ 20-10 win over the Bucs Sunday won’t ever appear in the list of Super Bowl results, but it’s hard to imagine the Falcons ever winning a bigger game.

Even if a Super Bowl win pops into their future, don’t ever forget that it all began with Sunday’s win in Tampa Bay.

January 4, 2010: the day the curse died. The day the Falcons finally tossed aside 44 years of sporadic winning and achieved their most elusive goal: back-to-back winning seasons.

No, the Falcons didn’t reach the playoffs. But what they did was even more important. They established that a winning season isn’t an aberration.

“For us to go out and get back to back winning seasons is something that we as a football team want to have happen,” said head coach Mike Smith at his postgame press conference, as transcribed at “We want to be a relevant football team year in and year out.

“When you’re relevant, you got to have a winning record and you’ll have an opportunity to be in the discussions for the playoffs. We weren’t in the playoffs, but we had a season that gives us nine wins, and that’s something that we are very proud of.”

No, the Falcons aren’t going to the playoffs. But they treated these last three games like a playoff run. Long term, this will be an enormous boon the franchise.

Recall that the night before this trio of games began, the Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs. As far as championships go, that rendered the Jets game meaningless.

Nonetheless, quarterback Matt Ryan returned to action, despite that aggravating turf toe malady. He wasn’t effective, given his rustiness and the frigid, windy conditions at the Meadowlands — until the final drive of the game. The defense played like a unit possessed. Lo and behold, the
Falcons beat a playoff team, 10-7.

Last week was easier. The Bills, clearly thrilled to be indoors, all comfy and cozy and a thousand miles from their arctic home, ran into a buzz saw. Falcons again, 31-3.

Then came Sunday’s effort against lowly Tampa Bay. The Bucs finished with only three wins, but were coming off an overtime win over the Saints. Over the past month, they had allowed only 16 points per game.

And, they got a huge break right off the bat, when Eric Weems fumbled the opening kickoff. But the Falcon defense threw the Bucs back two yards, and held them to a field goal.

That was only the beginning of another outstanding effort by the Falcon defenders. They held the Bucs without a first down for ages. They held them to 38 yards rushing, shades of the old Steel Curtain. In fact, they allowed the Bucs but a single drive, one that tied the game at ten early in the fourth quarter.

From there, the Falcon offense took over, placing the game in the capable hands of Jason Snelling, of all people. Big, stiff, Jason Snelling, the Falcons third choice at running back. All he did was grind out the winning drives, finishing with 147 improbable yards on 25 carries.

“You know, it was a big win,” Snelling observed after the game, quoted at “The offensive line, the fullback, just did a heck of a job today blocking downfield, opening up holes for me, and I was able to get my first 100-yard game.

“It feels so good to get that win and get that history, to be part of that team. There was a lot of momentum winning three games in a row at the end of the season. I’m looking forward to the future. We are just going to try to build off it in the offseason and make sure to set our goals high and get back to the playoffs.”

That seemed to be the common sentiment reported on “I know, personally, it feels good, but I’m actually upset the season is over,” said John Abraham. “I thought we finally got in a groove and were playing well, and it really doesn’t feel like our season should be over. I feel like we should be playing four more games.”

Added safety Erik Coleman, “We ended the season with three wins; that’s momentum going into the offseason. Guys are going to have a positive attitude around the facility, continue to get better, and know we have to get better next year in order to get into the tournament.”

“We broke the curse, and it’s awesome to be the first to do that!” exclaimed Curtis Lofton. “Let’s go! We just got to keep winning, win some games and get to the playoffs!”

Is this the same team that, just four years ago, coming off another 11-5 season, dropped its final three games to finish 8-8? The team that lost its finale at home to Carolina, 44-11? A contest in which the notorious M. Vick admittedly gave less than his best effort?

Compare and contrast with what the Falcons current quarterback said on Sunday: “We are certainly happy for the organization and everybody that has contributed to it for the past 44 years, “Matt Ryan told “One thing coach Smith talks about is if we want to be the kind of team we want to be long term, we need to be there every year. We need to be relevant and have to be able to sustain long term. And this is something that we hope is not just a back to back thing. We hope it is something we can do 10, 12, 15 years.”

They’re on the right track.