The Atlanta Falcons dominated the first half of the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, only to be burned by Colin Kaepernick's arm and Frank Gore's legs in the second half. Their late fourth-quarter comeback stalled 10 yards shy of the end zone on a pair of incomplete passes to Roddy White.
Head coach Mike Smith won't allow his team or his fans to look back and wonder what could have been.
"After I came out of a week and a half of not sleeping and not watching the Super Bowl, I heard a lot of people talking about, 'We were 10 yards away,'" Smith told fans at the Falcons' annual State of the Franchise event. "Listen folks, that was 2012. Our only focus right now is on 2013. We're not 10 yards from the Super Bowl.
"We're like every other team in this league fighting to get to the same place. We're 261 days from going to New York and getting a chance to go play in that. So we're done talking about that 10 yards. We're moving on and looking forward, folks."
Smith has been one of the NFL's most underrated leaders and tone-setters over the past half-decade. His 56-24 record is second only to George Seifert's 62-18 among all NFL coaches in their first five seasons.
With the upgrade from Michael Turner to Steven Jackson on offense and an infusion of young legs on defense, Smith's team will be the prohibitive favorite to take the NFC South crown. If things fall into place in the playoffs, he'll have his chance to avenge his loss against the 49ers on the way to that February trip to New York.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.