Falcons, risking injuries, play to win vs. Bucs

Published: December 30th, 2012
By Bucs Beat Feed

ATLANTA -- It’s a question that can be endlessly debated, but the Falcons made an emphatic decision when it came to playing their regular players in a game that was mostly meaningless.

With the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs already sewn up, the Falcons still played QB Matt Ryan and all their starters against Tampa Bay, exposing them to injuries that could impact their availability for the playoffs.

CB Dunta Robinson suffered a possible concussion in a collision with Bucs RB Doug Martin and star DE John Abraham sustained an ankle injury that coach Mike Smith believed to be minor.

Did he even consider sitting his starters?

“Absolutely not,” Smith said. “We’ve said from the very beginning that we’re going to play this game to win. I think we did that. We just didn’t get it done today.”

It could be argued the Falcons played without a great deal of energy given the fact nothing was at stake, but Smith rejected that thinking.

“You get 16 opportunities,” he said. “You want to go out and play your best. To go out there and not play your best and try to win is counterintuitive to guys in that locker room and it’s counterintuitive to us as football coaches. I know there are different philosophies with that and it flips back and forth, but we’re paid to go out and try and win football games.”