Quinn, Falcons able to relax after snapping 6-game skid
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) First-year head coach Dan Quinn said he has learned a lot about himself and the team during the Atlanta Falcons' six-game losing streak.
Now that his focus has turned to Carolina - the NFL's only unbeaten team - Quinn hopes the Falcons have a second straight good week of preparation.
At 7-7, Atlanta is still a longshot to make the playoffs for the first time in three years.
''As far as I know, if you're got a shot, you've got a shot,'' Quinn said Monday. ''We've got an awesome challenge ahead this week and it's one we're absolutely jacked for.''
Sunday's 23-17 win at Jacksonville could've been a lot easier if not for several missed opportunities.
Defensively, Desmond Trufant and Grady Jarrett whiffed on easy chances to recover a fumble. Kemal Ishmael's 84-yard interception return was stopped short of a touchdown when Justin Durant failed to block quarterback Blake Bortles.
The offense held the ball for about 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, but had to settle for two field goals by Shayne Graham.
The Falcons must convert their chances against the Panthers (14-0). Carolina beat them 38-0 two weeks ago in Charlotte, marking the first time that everything fell apart with Quinn in charge of a game.
''Very disappointed in that outcome,'' Quinn said. ''Very.''
Leading into the last Carolina game, Quinn thought practice and preparation met the standards he sets each week, but that was hardly the case with Atlanta trailing by three touchdowns at the end of the first quarter.
It will be important for the Falcons to keep their cool, too, considering that Ishmael, linebacker O'Brien Schofield and receiver Roddy White were each whistled for unnecessary roughness. White and star wideout Julio Jones have both expressed frustration with cornerback Josh Norman's talking throughout the game.
''For sure we're going back to that,'' Quinn said. ''It happened on our watch that we didn't play well. We want to establish our toughness between the whistles, but having poise is not having anything happen after the whistle.''
Last week was the season's low point, but the six-game losing streak also gave Quinn a chance to reflect on how is team had started the season 5-0 before losing seven of eight.
''You have to go through some struggles some times,'' Quinn said. ''We all recognize that. They're painful as hell at times, but that is where some of that grit is developed. It's painful but valuable.''
Notes: DE Vic Beasley, the NFL's No. 8 overall draft pick, has been playing with a torn shoulder labrum all season, which might explain why he has just three sacks. Beasley was originally injured during offseason training activities ''He's not missed any time during training camp (or) during the season. He missed a practice earlier this season because of a foot injury, but he's been not limited in any way with the shoulder.'' ... Quinn hopes that LB Paul Worrilow (knee) and DT Grady Jarrett (shoulder) can participate when the team returns to practice Wednesday. Against Jacksonville, Worrilow didn't play and Jarrett was injured early in the fourth quarter. ... The team has reached an injury settlement with guard Jon Asamoah, ending his two-year stay with the team. Asamoah did not play this season because of a hip injury.
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