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Falcons must address flaws for longer playoff run

By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons are tied for the best record in the NFL. They have a comfortable lead in their division. They've already clinched another winning season.

Nothing much to complain about, right?

Not exactly.

For a team that has built such a lofty mark, the NFC-leading Falcons (9-1) had plenty of high-profile issues to deal with Monday coming off an ugly win over Arizona. Like a feeble running game, a defense that keeps giving up big running plays, injuries to Asante Samuel and Julio Jones, plus a 4-game suspension for backup center Joe Hawley.

The NFL announced the penalty after Hawley tested positive for performance-enhancing substances, yet another distraction for a team that must address its trouble spots to avoid a repeat of the 1 & done playoff troubles of recent years.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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