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December 5, 2012

NFL: Falcons not too impressed with NFC South title

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons aren't too impressed with winning their second NFC South title in three years.

In fact, the latest division championship hardly stirred excitement when coach Mike Smith congratulated the players on Tuesday.

"We've won the division before, so it's not that big of a deal, you know what I mean?" receiver Roddy White said. "When coach said, 'Congratulations,' nobody was woo-wooing or nothing like that, which is good.

"We've got our eye on the big prize."

First among those goals is to earn the top playoff seed and secure home-field advantage through the conference title game.

The Falcons are mindful, however, that their 2.5-game conference lead is no guarantee, particularly after earning the No. 1 seed two years ago and collapsing in a second-round blowout loss to Green Bay at the Georgia Dome.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon believes the entire team knows that there's too much at stake to feel complacent.

"You have to be happy with where you're at right now, but ultimately it's all about finishing it," Weatherspoon said. "We set our goals high. That's just part of the step, so now it's on to the next part."

Smith did his part to keep players energized by giving the team four days off following last Thursday's home win over New Orleans. The mini-bye week, as Weatherspoon calls it, marked the second time this season that Smith rewarded his team for winning.

After an Oct. 14 home victory over Oakland that improved the Falcons to 6-0, Smith gave the players an entire week off. Center Todd McClure, now in his 14th season, credits the fifth-year coach with having a good feel for knowing when to motivate his players and when to back off.

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