FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons are an imperfect 4-0.
That was the message from coach Mike Smith on Monday, one day after Atlanta's 30-28 win over Carolina.
Matt Ryan, whose health is crucial to the Falcons' continued success, was sacked a career-high seven times. Smith says pass protection must improve but the line doesn't deserve all the blame.
Smith says the defense gave up too many explosive plays to Cam Newton and the Panthers.
Smith also critiqued himself. He says he was too emotional when he grabbed assistant coach Ray Hamilton as the Falcons had only 10 defensive players on the field in the closing seconds.
Despite the imperfections, Atlanta leads second-place Carolina and Tampa Bay by three games in the NFC South.
The Falcons play Sunday at Washington.
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