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Falcons coach Mike Smith on the win over the Saints

Quotes from Falcons coach Mike Smith's postgame press conference on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

"I was really proud of the way that our football team came out and performed today. They did an outstanding job. Preparation was very good throughout the week. I thought that the coaching staff, offensive, defensive, and special teams, did a very good job preparing these guys. We went out and we executed. We did a very good job of putting pressure on the quarterback, probably the best that we have done all season. We had five sacks, two recovered fumbles, and the two picks (interceptions)."

(on Jimmy Graham's fumble at the goal line) "It was a critical play in the ballgame. We talked about attacking the ball and winning the turnover battle. That was a big-time play. He (Kemal Ishmael) went in, raked the ball out, and created a turnover. We talked about winning the turnover battle. We were able to get that done today."

(on the replay review of Graham's catch) "From my view, it might be a little biased, but I didn't think that the ball crossed the plane. I didn't think that there was enough evidence to overturn it. I think that they got it right. You can't concern yourself with that. You've got to be thinking ahead. Most of my thoughts were thinking ahead about what was going to happen on either outcome, ruled in our favor or ruled the other way."

(on the pass rush today) "I thought that we good job of mixing our pressure and our four-man rushes when we had the four-man rushes, we were getting some 1-on-1's. We talked about it. You've got five or six guys into protection. Some guys are going to get doubled, and when you get the 1-on-1 (matchups), you've got to win. We got some wins today on some 1-on-1's. We did a very good job on our pass rush plan and how we were going to try to move the quarterback off the spot. It worked today down here in New Orleans."

(on his thoughts on the 99-yard opening kickoff return by the Saints' Jalen Saunders) "Oh my goodness. That is exactly what was going through my mind. I think that we were a little over-aggressive with a couple of players that got out of their lanes … We were able to overcome it. We did not become overwhelmed by it. In our mind, it was just a quick drive. We knew that we were going to get back out there and get an opportunity to get our offense on the field."

(on Robert McClain's interception late in the game) "It was a big-time play. He got a great jump on the ball. Robert has continued to improve all season long. I know that some people had talked about him not making plays. He made the play when we needed the play made."

(on the play of the defense) "We think that we are playing with a lot more consistency. We are playing with a lot of confidence. I believe that we are attacking the line of scrimmage much better over the last two weeks in terms of defending the run. That, in turn, allows us to transfer into our pass rush. I think that we have done a very good job. The coaching staff put together a very good plan. Mike (Nolan) and his staff did a great job."

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