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Confidence kickstarts 3-3 Falcons

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith feels good about the health of his team, including the secondary he disagreed was “banged up pretty good.”

There is no debating his level of confidence in kicker Younghoe Koo, who is standing out during a season in which kicking struggles appear to be contagious.

“You build confidence — we’ve got a lot of confidence in Younghoe,” Smith said. “That’s not an easy position to break into this league. Most of the times those guys get cut. … It’s tough. You’ve got to be tough-minded. It’s a specialty job. You see a career path, a lot of these guys, they bounce around. Fortunately, Younghoe is here. He’s a guy that’s improved. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him. Of course, you look up there, I had all the confidence in the world, just like I did in New York, he’s going to smoke that thing in there. He did.”

Koo made a 36-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired Sunday, leading the Falcons to a 30-28 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Smith said he had a laugh about Koo’s celebration, but his success feeds his thinking when it comes to strategy.

“You get paid to make decisions,” Smith said. “That’s what you signed up for.”

Atlanta is 3-3 with wins over the Dolphins (1-6), New York Jets (1-5) and New York Giants (2-5).

The 3-4 Carolina Panthers are due up this weekend for Halloween festivities in Atlanta. Game 5 of the World Series is scheduled for Sunday between the Braves and Astros.

Smith said he grew up following the Braves in Tennessee with no MLB team to pull for, and appreciates “how electric the atmosphere was” during the NLCS games in Atlanta.

The Panthers opened the season 3-0 but have lost four straight. Starting quarterback Sam Darnold finished Sunday’s game on the bench but is set to return this week, according to Carolina coach Matt Rhule.

NFL Network also reported cornerback Stephon Gilmore, acquired from the New England Patriots, would suit up for the Panthers in Week 8. It’s possible Gilmore will align across from rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, who racked up 163 yards at Miami.

Smith confirmed right tackle Kaleb McGary, who didn’t play against the Dolphins, was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

“That’s why you have a team. That’s life in the NFL,” Smith said.

–Field Level Media

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