But the Minnesota loss didn’t fall into play. The Vikings improved to 10-5.
The best the Falcons could do is finish 9-7 in their first season under Quinn. The Falcons want to look at some younger players, but will play the Saints in the regular-season finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Georgia Dome to get the winning record.
“It’s also a division game,” said Quinn, who noted there’s a big difference in finishing 8-8 or 9-7. “Knowing the attitude and style that we want to play with… for sure it is, everything counts. It’s a really important one for us.”
The Falcons last made the playoffs in 2012 and reached the NFC championship game. The were 4-12 in 2013 and 6-10 in 2014, which led to the dismissal of Mike Smith, the franchise’s winningest coach.
The Falcons opened the season 5-0 and went to 6-1, before losing six straight games. The Falcons bounced back to beat Jacksonville and Carolina to stop their slide.
During the Falcons’ 5-0 start, the offense averaged 32.4 points in the new offensive scheme installed by coordinator Kyle Shanahan. But as teams got film on the attack, they figured out how to slow down the Falcons. The offensive braintrust appeared slow to adjust.
The Falcons lost to the Saints 31-12 and then beat the Titans, 10-7 before the six-game losing streak.
The Falcons averaged 14.3 points a game during the losing streak, which included a 38-0 beatdown by Carolina. The franchise’s first shutout in over 11 seasons.
Determined to balance out the offense, the Falcons rebounded with victories over Jacksonville and the thrilling upset of the Panthers.
There were costly plays along the way.
The Falcons are probably going to regret not going for the win against San Francisco, a game they were heavily favored to win. Down 17-13 with 2:56 to play, Quinn elected to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Quinn thought the defense could get the ball back. They couldn’t and Gabbert ran out the clock as the 49ers won 17-16. The 49ers have gone 1-5 since they stole that victory from the Falcons.
Also, the Falcons lost to the Tampa Bay, who were playing with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, twice this season.
The Bucs defeated the Falcons 23-20 in overtime on Nov. 1 at the Georgia Dome. The Bucs also prevailed over the Falcons 23-19 on Dec. 6 in Tampa.
Winston converted a third-and-19 and the Falcons’ effort to tackle was questioned on the play. Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said several Falcons were loafing on the play as Winston broke tackles and picked up 20 yards.
Quinn wasn’t ready to reflect the few plays that could have gone in the Falcons’ favor and kept them in the playoff race.
“I’m not going to replay the ones now,” Quinn said. “I’m going to have all off season to think about those. The main thing for me right now is to have all of our focus and attention on New Orleans right now.”
Before winning the past two games, the Falcons were in danger of becoming the first team since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to start the season 5-0 and finished with a losing record.