Will Falcons keep fighting over last quarter of season?

120620 ATLANTA: Atlanta Falcons Grady Jarrett (left) and Steven Means hit New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill forcing a fumble the Falcons recovered during the fourth quarter Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
120620 ATLANTA: Atlanta Falcons Grady Jarrett (left) and Steven Means hit New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill forcing a fumble the Falcons recovered during the fourth quarter Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Will Falcons keep fighting?

The Falcons have battled through some difficult times in the first three quarters of the 16-game season.

After head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired following an 0-5 start, the Falcons went 3-1 - and were a kneel-down away from going 4-0 - before getting to exhale over their bye week under interim head coach Raheem Morris.

Morris had their undivided attention after the bye with two games against the rival Saints looming. The Falcons lost both games, but pummeled the Raiders 43-6 in between.

With their playoff chances at less than two percent, the final quarter of the season could see some wild swings in the level of play.

The Falcons (4-8) are favored by 2 ½ points and are set to face the Chargers (3-9) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We are talking about building a winning culture,” Morris said Monday. “We want to develop even in losses, you want to develop in all times what you are trying to do.”

The Falcons had a chance to pull out a victory late against the Saints, but couldn’t score.

“We got down to the wire and still had a chance to win,” Morris said. “That’s the biggest learning lesson for the team and how you want to move forward. Every single week you go out there, you try to put that thing down and how you going to become a winning culture.

“You have to find a way to win those ugly games. You have to win those moments and take your team to the next level.”

The Falcons contend they will keep battling.

“At the end of the day this is what we love to do,” wide receiver Julio Jones said. “We sacrifice a lot for this game. We are built to fight. We want to fight and we will continue to fight.”

Last season, after a 1-7 start the Falcons continued to battle over the last half of the season as they went 6-2. They posted wins over the Saints and the San Francisco 49ers, who went on to win the NFC title.

“Whenever you get the opportunity to play this game you put your best foot forward,” defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. “Always have the mindset that the best is yet to come. I believe that. I think my best football is ahead of me and I think the best football is ahead of this team. I am looking forward to finishing strong.”

The Falcons have clearly made strides defensively, while the offense has sputtered about since the bye week. They scored only one touchdown in eight quarters against the Saints and quarterback Matt Ryan had just 185 yards passing the win over the Raiders.

“We are too good to only have one touchdown against them,” Jones said. “We just have to take advantage of more looks and things like that. As far as (the 21-16 loss), I will have to get in there and watch film and see what we could have done better in this game.”

Ryan also believes the offense can play better.

“I don’t think we played well enough, for sure,” Ryan said after the second loss to the Saints. “I don’t think we played up to the standard that we’re capable of and I think everybody needs to look in the mirror and find out what are the things individually we can all do better to make us better as a unit.”

The Falcons appear to have embraced Morris’ “go 1-0 this week” mentality.

But the uncertainty of the future for Morris and the players must creep into their psyche.

“I have seen a lot of good stuff out of us,” wide receiver Calvin Ridley said. “Coach Raheem has done a tremendous job with us.”

Ridley, who’s closing in on 1,000 yards receiving, doesn’t think the Falcons will stop fighting this season.

“With the last four games he will not let us think the season is over,” Ridley said. “He is going to have us thinking the season is still going and we still have a chance to do whatever we want to do. That is just how he coaches. We just got to play hard. I mean for our pride and for the city.”

The fact that the Falcons have dropped six of the last seven to the hated Saints might help motivate them down the stretch.

“I am on my sixth year here now and dropping games to them is tough,” Jarrett said. “Nobody is going to feel bad for us. We have got to go out there and execute and try our best to come out on top. I do not like that stat at all.”

Falcons’ final four games

Falcons at Chargers at 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13

Buccaneers at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20

Falcons at Chiefs at 1 p.m., Dec. 27

Falcons at Buccaneers at 1 p.m., Jan. 3

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