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American Football Atlanta Falcons fire head coach Mike Smith

The Atlanta Falcons have fired head coach Mike Smith after seven years in charge of the franchise.

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The 55-year-old took the job in 2008, and guided the team to the end-of-season play-offs in four of his first five seasons in charge.

His record in the play-offs was poor, however, with just one victory and four defeats.

The Falcons enjoyed a strong 2012, where they finished the regular season with a 13-3 record, but they were defeated by San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game, which proved to be Smith's last play-off encounter with the Falcons.

A 4-12 record in 2013 was a huge blip which they struggled to recover from but, despite going into the last game of the 2014 regular season against the Carolina Panthers on 6-9, victory would have seen them qualify for the play-offs.

But Smith watched on as his side were routed 34-3, and on Monday the news of his departure was confirmed by the franchise.

"Smitty's contributions to our club, team and city over the last seven years are numerous," team owner Arthur Blank said.

"His accomplishments on the field made him the most successful coach in the 49-year history of the Falcons, and we are grateful for the foundation he has laid for us for the future."

Smith is the third head coach to lose his job following the culmination of the regular season, following New York Jets parting company with Rex Ryan and Jim Harbaugh's departure from the 49ers.

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