Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

December 27, 2018 at 1:43 am.

Quinn likes Falcons fighting spirit

Winning this week’s season finale against Tampa Bay won’t get the Atlanta Falcons into the playoffs, but there remains plenty of motivation for the club to finish on a strong note.

If the Falcons can knock off the Buccaneers for the second time this season, they’ll finish with a 7-9 record. A win, which would hurt the team’s draft standing, would leave Atlanta in sole possession of second place in the NFC South.

Head coach Dan Quinn sees the importance in finishing 7-9 rather than 6-10.

“The two numbers don’t correlate to me more than just getting a win,” Quinn said. “Seeing the guys in the locker room, their energy for one another, that’s what kind of lit me up to know that we have a lot of fighters and guys that it’s really important to.”

Quinn will finish with the worst record of his four-year tenure. After going 8-8 in 2015, the club was 11-5 and went to the Super Bowl in 2016, and 10-6 last year and lost to the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs.

This year’s Atlanta team has been ravaged by injuries since the beginning of the season. The defense lost safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen and linebacker Deion Jones (who has since returned) on defense and tailback Devonta Freeman and offensive linemen Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco on offense.

The team endured a 1-4 start, but restoked its playoff hopes by winning three straight, only to see those dreams dashed by a five-game losing streak. Atlanta has won its last two games, which Quinn sees as a positive sign moving forward.

“To see that kind of connection and toughness from this group, I’m proud of that,” Quinn said. “It’s been a difficult time, man, no question about it, in terms of not taking our opportunities when they were there.

“But to see the fight and resolve, that means a lot, and I know we’ll fight our tails off again this week.”

Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is one of those guys who is looking for a season-ending win.

“Definitely want to finish strong and control what we can control,” Jarrett said. “It was good to get two wins against Carolina for the year. We want to continue and finish strong against Tampa.”

SERIES HISTORY: 51st regular-season meeting. Falcons lead series, 26-24. Falcons have won the last four meetings. Atlanta won the first meeting this season 34-29 in Atlanta.