Originally written on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/29/11
Since taking over as head coach in January 2008, coach Mike Smith has taken the franchise to new heights in the regular season. The Falcons have posted winning seasons in each of his four seasons. They are set to make their third playoff appearance in the last four years. But they must rebound from a difficult-to-swallow 45-16 loss to archrival New Orleans with just one regular-season game to play. The 29-point margin of the defeat was the largest during Smith's tenure. The Falcons were drubbed by 27 points by the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs last season and by 27 points by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. "We obviously didn't play our best football," Smith said of the loss to the Saints. "We gave up way too many plays. Our third-down efficiency was not what it needs to be. We had some opportunities to score when we were down in the red zone and didn't get it done." Smith would not jump into the issue of whether the Saints ran up the score late while trying to get Drew Bre...
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