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Key additions Samuel, Koetter contribute to Atlanta success

The SportsXchange

In a way, Asante Samuel doesn't know what all of the fuss is about.

He came out of Central Florida and enjoyed immediate success in the playoffs. By the team he left New England, he owned two Super Bowl rings.

Now, a Falcon, Samuel plans to help his new team achieve a playoff breakthrough. The Falcons have dropped four straight playoff games dating back to the 2004 season. They have dropped three straight under head coach Mike Smith.

Samuel returned from a personal absence after the death of his mother Christine, which has infused some additional enthusiasm. (He wasn't ready to discuss her passing.)

"You have to put aside your selfishness and individual goals because you want to win," Samuel said. "You do whatever it takes to win."

Overall, the Falcons are 6-11 all-time in the playoffs and have never won a Super Bowl.

"That's the difference between teams that win and win the big games," Samuel said. "Everybody has to have one common goal."

Another key addition, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has had some playoff success.

In his first playoff game in the NFL, Koetter helped Jacksonville post a monumental victory.

On the way to the AFC title game, Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith helped the Jaguars post a 31-29 victory over Pittsburgh on Jan. 5, 2008.

Koetter was quick to note that with the victory the Jaguars became the first team to beat the Steelers at home twice in the same season.

Things went downhill for Jacksonville after that big win. They lost to Tom Brady and New England, 31-20 on Jan. 12, 2008 and never made it back to the playoffs. Smith would move on to become the Falcons' head coach.

Koetter would follow, joining the staff this past offseason. He's now preparing for his third playoff game and hasn't been a part of the Falcons' recent playoff failures.

"This is what you play for," Koetter said. "This is why you're doing it, to still be playing this time of year. There are eight really good teams left in this tournament and we're happy to be one and get our shot at it."

Center Todd McClure is the only holdover from the last time the Falcons won a playoff game. As the No. 2 seed, they pummeled St. Louis 47-17 in the divisional round after the 2004 season. They would go on to lose to Philadelphia in the NFC title game.

"We want to get over that hump," McClure said. "We have guys that are hungry that want to feel that success and I believe they are ready for it."
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