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Falcons' Smith: 'Our spirit is not broken' despite costly loss to Bucs

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith still likes his team's chances in the final stretch of the season despite Sunday's 29-25 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers costing Atlanta first place in the NFC South.

"We didn't get it done today, but our spirit is not broken," Smith said postgame, according to team writer Scott Bair. "We're still in it. It'll be a wild adventure through the end of this season. Things change so much from week to week."

Atlanta had a late fourth-quarter lead over Tampa Bay but wasn't able to hold on, allowing a go-ahead touchdown with 31 seconds left in the contest. As a result, the 6-7 Bucs leapfrogged the 6-7 Falcons in the division, as coach Todd Bowles' outfit has the edge over Smith and Co. with a better win percentage in common games. The two rivals split their 2023 season series.

"This was a division game at home, and we expect to win these ones," defensive lineman Calais Campbell said on Sunday. "When you don't, they burn. But it is what is. We've got to fight with everything we've got. There's still football left, and we have more opportunities in front of us, but this one stings a little bit."

The Saints are also 6-7, but Tampa Bay currently owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over New Orleans. The Buccaneers will host the Saints in Week 17. Atlanta plays New Orleans in Week 18 after beating its division rivals in their first meeting this campaign.

"There are going to be lots of ups, lots of downs," Falcons safety and team captain Jessie Bates said. "The team that can weather them the best will come out of this on top. That's why you have to stay grounded, whether it's going good or it's going bad. ... Every game from here on out is going to be a playoff type of game."

The Falcons visit the 1-12 Carolina Panthers in Week 15.

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