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Quinn downplays personal stake in Falcons-Seahawks playoff game

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Head coach Pete Carroll (R) of the Seattle Seahawks is congratulated by head coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons after the Seahawks beat the Falcons 26-24 at CenturyLink Field on October 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Falcons coach Dan Quinn is determined to make sure he’s not the story in Saturday’s NFC divisional-round playoff game against Seattle, his former team.

Quinn spoke briefly on Monday about his personal connection to Seattle and then offered a polite request.

“Hopefully for everyone listening that will be the last question we hear about it this week,” Quinn said.

 Quinn, the Seahawks’ former defensive coordinator, took Atlanta to the NFC South title and a wild-card round bye in his second season as coach.

He made his first return to Seattle on Oct. 16, when the Seahawks rallied for a 26-24 win. A trip to the NFC championship game will be on the line Saturday, and Quinn said that overshadows any personal motivations in the game against Seattle and his former boss, Pete Carroll.

“I so never wanted the spotlight to be about me,” Quinn said. “I want it to be about our team and the way they compete and the toughness they have.”

He acknowledged that he’s glad he already has his first game against his former team out of the way.

“Anytime you go through something for the first time, I am glad that game got out of the way,” Quinn said. “… Let’s hope through the years we battle a bunch of times against them. I sense that will be the case.”

Seattle beat Detroit 26-6 in the wild-card round on Saturday night.

The Seahawks allowed the fewest points in the league and won the Super Bowl in 2013, Quinn’s first season as defensive coordinator. That success helped make him an attractive candidate when the Falcons were looking for a coach after the 2014 season.

The Falcons missed the playoffs at 8-8 in Quinn’s first season before earning the NFC’s No. 2 seed at 11-5 this season.

Quinn said his familiarity with the Seahawks is a only a minor part of the behind-the-scenes strategy and gamesmanship.

“I know that you know that I know — there’s definitely some of that,” he said. “… The fun part about it is come kickoff time the guys between the white lines are the ones playing it.”

Veteran offensive guard Chris Chester said Quinn “doesn’t get too caught up” in personal incentives.

“Maybe there’s something there, but I know that what we’re going for is more important than any extra emotional motivation,” Chester said. “What we’re trying to accomplish is bigger than going against an old team.”

Quinn’s postseason success is important for an Atlanta team that hasn’t had a playoff win since beating the Seahawks in the divisional round in 2012. The Falcons are 1-4 in the playoffs with Matt Ryan at quarterback , including a loss to the 49ers in the 2012 NFC championship game.

Quinn said the remake of the team’s culture is complete.

“Having a team identity, having a real clear vision of how you want to play, you’d like for that to happen overnight,” he said. “But it takes time to build that. Our team is very tight, very connected. … We have a real good understanding of who we are and how we want to play.”