The mood in the Atlanta locker room was far from jubilant after Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Neither was it defeated.
"For sure it's uphill," Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn said. "We know that. When you go into a locker room, it's emotional and guys are upset. ... Honestly, all our focus, all our energy and intent are right into this week's preparation. That's the best thing we can do now."
Atlanta (4-6) lost to the Cowboys on a field goal as time expired. It's the fourth time this season the Falcons have lost when an opponent scored on its final possession.
The Falcons must now win the remainder of their games to have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. The push begins on Thursday night at New Orleans. The team then finishes against Baltimore, Green Bay, Arizona, Carolina and Tampa Bay. Only the Baltimore and Arizona games are at home.
"We have been in position, but we have not been able to finish," said defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. "Ain't no way around it. It is what it is. You've got to go back to work or you're going to sulk. I ain't sulking."
Quinn said he had no problem with the team's effort on Sunday, but said there needs to be a better ability to close out games.
"I told the team in the locker room that preparation was right; the mindset was right and that's tough when it goes the other way," Quinn said. "We found ourselves in lots of close games. This year we played as it comes down to the end and we must close in those situations. So, knowing that's an area for us that not only have we targeted, but we've got to get the job done."
The team is expected to get a lift, both emotionally and physically, by the return of middle linebacker Deion Jones. The team's leading tackler hurt his foot in the season opener against Philadelphia and has missed the last nine games. Jones was activated from the IR last week and worked out with the team. He was on the inactive list on Sunday.
LB Deion Jones was activated last week and participated in practice, but did not play. Jones is expected to play on Thursday against the Saints.
CB Desmond Trufant left the Dallas game in the third quarter with a thigh injury, but was able to return. He is probable for the Saints game.
S Damontae Kazee hurt his shoulder against the Cowboys and was taken to the locker room for examination. He returned and finished the game. He is probable for the Saints game.
PK Matt Bryant came back from missing three weeks with a strained hamstring and booted four field goals. The team kept backup Giorgio Tavecchio on the roster in case Bryant was unable to go.
LB Foye Oluokun had a career-best 10 tackles (six of them solo). The rookie from Yale led the team in tackles against Dallas.