- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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Based on the mood inside the locker room Wednesday, the Atlanta Falcons seemed rather relaxed for a 1-2 team. But they obviously have a sense of urgency going into Sunday night’s matchup with the 3-0 New England Patriots.
If they don’t, here is a number they should be aware of: Since 1990, only 9 percent of teams -- 22 of 258 -- have started the season 1-3 and advanced to the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The last team to accomplish the feat was the 2011 Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow.
"It strikes some awareness to you,’’ safety William Moore said of the numbers. "It strikes some awareness in that it’s time to buckle down. No more last-minute comebacks and all that. We’ve got to play four quarters from the jump.
"But you can’t focus on those (numbers). If you think like that, you’ll end up 1-15. It would take some momentum away from you down the stretch of the season, and you’ve got to finish the season regardless.’’
Quarterback Matt Ryan carried the same attitude in terms of the numbers working against the Falcons. He was asked about falling too far behind the NFC South rival Saints, who are off to a 3-0 start.
"I think first and foremost, we just need to worry about us,’’ Ryan said. "We can’t worry about what everybody else is doing at this time of the year.
"As far as bouncing back, I think that’s something that we’ve taken pride in around here for a long time. You’ve got to stop that streak at win one, you lose one. You can’t put back-to-back losses together. … We’ve done a pretty good job at that the last five years. But it’s an important football game for us because it’s the next one.’’
Under coach Mike Smith, the Falcons are 22-3 coming off losses. As for Ryan, the last time he was below .500 during the regular season was after Week 5 of the 2011 season. The Falcons were 2-3 at that time but went on to win three in a row en route to a 10-6 record and first-round playoff loss to the Giants.
In order to beat the Patriots, the Falcons have to be more efficient on offense and more effective on defense. Ryan expressed tremendous respect for what New England does defensively.
"They play a lot of man-to-man coverage,'' Ryan said. "They're very sound at what they do. They're in their right spots. They play their scheme really well. And they do a great job with their front seven of creating pressure both in the run game and in the pass game.
"I think first and foremost, we've got to worry about oursevles and concentrate on blocking well, running the right routes, being on time as a quarterback, putting the ball in the right spot. And if we do that, I think we'll execute well against the Patriots defense this week.''
And maybe improve to 2-2.