Playing quality situational football is key.
So is the confidence that you’ll do well down the stretch.
Linebacker Brandon Copeland eloquently described the core principle of playing well in those moments, and it starts before execution has a chance to play a role.
“It’s about belief and conditioning,” Copeland said. “I’m an honest person and can admit it hasn’t always been beautiful out there. It hasn’t always been textbook. But this game isn’t played out on a chalkboard. This game is ugly. Sometimes it takes doing it ugly and staying persistent to get the win.
“One of the most beautiful things about this team is that, no matter what people think outside the building, ultimately, when you’re in those one-score games, do you believe in the person standing next to you? Do you believe that person is going to show up? Clearly we do.”
Copeland followed that statement by discussing the next step, by not letting games get so close at the end. It’s often the Falcons fault that things get tight down the stretch. They’ve had to hold on for dear life in five of those seven wins and pull out a dramatic comeback in the other two.
Performing well in those moments can be a core belief of Smith’s Falcons. Even the best teams struggle in moments and stretches. The better squads still find a way to stack Ws.
This franchise has a lot of work ahead to enter the league’s upper tier. They have struggled mightily, regularly suffering lopsided losses against playoff contenders. They have consistently beat teams below them, a sign that they aren’t starting from the bottom. Building up into upper tiers will be key and, no matter how they’re doing, performance under pressure is vital. This season would feel a whole lot different if the Falcons struggled in big moments.
They have been successful in those times, and that can bond a unit together. That includes this one, which has been through some serious ups and downs in 2021.
“It’s not always perfect but I think there’s a confidence in each other and a belief in this team that when we go out there we can win and the expectation is that we’re going to win,” right guard Chris Lindstrom said. “Nothing else is good enough. Within that mindset, there is great chemistry in our team as well. There are guys pushing for each other.”