Key to Sunday’s Win Began Monday

Key to Sunday’s Win Began Monday

Jay Adams

Published December 16, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Mondays at the office this year have been generally pleasant.

Not last Monday. Last Monday was the pits. It was less than 24 hours after a 30-20 loss that provided a wakeup call that Falcons didn’t want to admit they needed, but that Monday was the awakening.

Fast forward to Sunday and the Falcons sat in the locker room after beating the defending Super Bowl champions 34-0 in the Georgia Dome thinking about how one word made a difference: focus.

“Last week, we got embarrassed, humbled — whatever word you want to use,” defensive tackle Corey Peters said. “We really came to work Wednesday focused on what we needed to do and I think it showed today. … This week in particular, we had a really focused Wednesday, a great Thursday, Friday. I think this was our best overall performance of the year.”

It was exactly what the Falcons needed in order to drive the terrible taste of the Carolina loss from their mouths. If you were to draw the exact opposite of that performance, you probably would have pictured what the Falcons accomplished during three-and-a-half hours Sunday against the Giants.

Matt Ryan was crisp. The offensive line was protecting. The defense made crucial stop after crucial stop. They secondary forced turnovers. Everything about what the Falcons did Sunday against the Giants was just so right.

The key to that performance was coming in that Monday and remembering that Sunday success starts days before.

“You really have to have crisp practices at this time in the season because there’s no more bad teams. Everybody’s either playing their best football or they’re packing up to go home,” safety Chris Hope said. “When you happen to run across a team that’s playing their best ball and trying to get in the playoffs, you have to be on your p’s and q’s. You have no chance to have a bad practice, and all our coaches did a great job on making sure we played well this week.”

It was Monday when the preparations began for the world champs. The Falcons, after a win, have Mondays off. After a loss, they go right back to work, watching film and taking mental reps.

Wednesday was the first practice of the week and they could feel it then. They were focused and had one of their best practices of the year. They took that into Thursday, and then Friday, as Peters explained.

The Falcons let it build throughout the week and it came to a head on the field of the Georgia Dome on Sunday.

“It was just our approach to the game and our passion and how we wanted to play with energy. We had that today,” safety Thomas DeCoud said. “It started throughout the week and going through warmups on Sunday afternoon and getting ready for the game, we had that vibe that was with us and we were able to play well.”

The Falcons’ biggest goal in the last four games of the season is to gain momentum heading into the postseason. The division title is locked up and they’re in the drivers’ seat for a first-round bye, homefield advantage and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

All that stuff is great, but the Falcons knew it wouldn’t help at all if they sleep-walked into the postseason. Sunday’s game went a long way toward proving to the Falcons what type of team they can be if they prepare like they did all week.

“We just want to take this momentum we got and just ride it into the playoffs,” Asante Samuel said. “That’s how you win: You take your momentum and keep going.”

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