Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer 402d

Falcons' Ricardo Allen: 'Don't give a damn about ratings; just wins'

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen, one of the designated team leaders, doesn't care about outside perception as his team heads into the season's second half.

The Falcons are 4-4 and a couple of spots out of the playoff picture heading into Sunday's matchup with the 5-3 Dallas Cowboys, currently the sixth seed in the NFC. The Falcons, ranked 17th in the latest ESPN Power Rankings, sit eighth in the NFC. They entered the season as the NFC favorite following a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

"I don't give a damn about no stats, I don't care about no ratings, I don't care about none of that," Allen said. "I care about wins, and we're going to get back to that really soon.

"We're the same team that everybody loved last year. We're the same team that started off slow last year, and we finished good. And we're going to take this thing one game at a time."

The Philadelphia Eagles are the top team in the league with an 8-1 overall record. In the NFC South, the Falcons are third behind the 5-2 New Orleans Saints and 5-3 Carolina Panthers.

"Not comparing to another team, but to me, it's just sad how it's so easy for people to come and go," Allen said. "When things are going good, everybody loves you. But when things start to get a litle rough -- and things are going to get rough because this is the NFL for reason -- [they go.]

"There's only been a couple teams this whole year that have been considered dominant. This has been a really different season for a lot of teams, in general."

The Falcons were 4-3 at one point last season but finished with four consecutive wins en route to a 11-5 finish, division title and first-round playoff bye. In order to fullfill postseason aspirations this year, they'll have to find consistency on offense, improve their turnover ratio and play with more discpline in relation to penalties, among other factors.

The defense has shown improvement despite surrendering a season-high 201 rushing yards in a 20-17 loss to Cam Newton and the Panthers last week.

"My biggest thing that I always say is, 'We know what we've got to do,' because it's no secret," Allen said. "We've got to try and hold these teams to the least amount of points as possible. We have to hold them to one point less than the offense can put up. And if we're not doing that, that's not good enough. If they took half a point, I'd go half a point.

"But being doubted? I love it, because we're going to bounce back. That's just me. I've been doubted my whole life."

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