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January 7, 2013

Falcons have history on their side against Seattle

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Atlanta Falcons have more than home-field advantage to help their chances against Seattle in the playoffs.

The Falcons also have history on their side.

The Seahawks won their wild-card game at Washington and will have to make another cross-country trip for Sunday's game at Atlanta.

According to STATS LLC, the 1989 Los Angeles Rams are the only West Coast team to win back-to-back postseason games on the East Coast — at Philadelphia and the New York Giants. STATS' research included teams from Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Arizona.

Seattle is trying to become the second team to pull off the feat.

Falcons offensive tackle Tyson Clabo downplayed the Seahawks' repeat trip across the nation.

"It's not like they're going to be going to the moon or anything," Clabo said Monday. "They have a schedule they follow when they travel and I'm sure they're going to keep it the same."

The Falcons claimed the top seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record. They also held the top seed two years ago before losing at home to eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay. They lost last year's playoff opener at the Giants to fall to 0-3 in the postseason under coach Mike Smith.

Smith said he adjusted last week's practice schedule based upon lessons learned in the bye week two years ago. Players had more time off before the loss to the Packers.

"We did it a little bit different this time," Smith said. "We worked a little bit longer. I think one of the things we had to do was to get some work done between playing games. We needed to work on some things fundamentally that we didn't do well at the end of the season."

Fundamentals were emphasized in four practices Wednesday through Saturday. The team was off Sunday and met Monday morning for their first briefing on the Seahawks.

"I think if you do it the same and you didn't get the results you want, that's probably not the right way to approach it," Smith said. "We approached it differently this time."

Smith said the three postseason losses in his first four seasons left this Falcons team better prepared for success.

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