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Falcons players react to their Week 17 victory over the Saints.

Falcons coaches and players discuss the win and their playoff push.

Check out the Saints battle the Falcons in their final game of the 2016 season.


Opening Statement:
"First things first, I wanted to recognize the fans and the city. Man, did we feel their presence today and the energy that they brought. They were there early and loud. All of us on the team, we sure appreciate that. It's fun to have that connection back with the city and the fans so that was great. I thought this week the game was won during the week. It's that preparation that goes into each week. We have a term 'trust your training, trust your teammate, and trust yourself'. That's how we put it all into the week and then at the end of the week we try to empty that bucket out and go for it in every single fashion. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and it was. We expected nothing different just right in the division and quarterback that's hard to battle on both sides as you could possibly imagine and both of them were. I was particularly pleased at the beginning. We use the term 'set it off' so to have a good three and out to start the game and then follow that up with four plays and a touchdown. That got the crowd even more into it. From there it was a great game. Lots of competition and lots of battling back and forth. Guys got banged up, came back, played hurt, and showed that kind of resiliency and toughness that we stand for."

On the offense:
"I told the team it was in typical Falcon offensive fashion to be going to four different receivers for the touchdown passes so it just felt like they were in a groove. I thought Matt played particularly well today. He created some, moved in the pocket, and just threw some balls that were right on point. Like I said, this was won during the week. There was a lot of preparation that went in and there was a lot of work that these guys put in against one another to get ready and I thought that really showed."

On any thoughts on wrapping up the second seed for the playoffs:
"Not yet. We'll put a good plan together but this week the focus was exclusively on New Orleans and we know the benefit of having the bye and we'll discuss that with the team this week and our best way to get ready. Generally speaking, during that time, the focus comes right back to us. You don't know who your opponent is so you can look ahead some but you turn the focus right back to ourselves. We'll get big into our own self-scout and areas that we want to improve and the players specifically some things for them to improve. That'll be the general outline or the week."

On not having a third down until the second quarter:
"It was one of those times where the time of possession was swayed the other way but it went okay. Generally, that doesn't happen. Usually, you're getting grinded. I thought the execution by the guys was on point today. But like I said, you could see the intent in the week from Wednesday, Thursday, and into it. That iron sharpening iron, it came through this week, really loudly and really clearly to our team. That's what I told the team inside. I recognize that's when this game was won."

On Jalen Collins interception and Keanu Neal's hit:
"We knew the ball was going to be a factor in this game. For us to finish plus one, that was a factor. We thought we'd have a chance at maybe one or two others that we didn't get but it was well played by Jalen [Collins]. He's somebody that's confidence continues to grow. The more he's playing, he's been somebody that's totally come through for us. The guy's loaded with grit. He had a very difficult offseason, he missed some time, in the beginning, played a little bit on special teams, and his team totally needed him to come through when injuries took place and he has. We weren't surprised that he played well. He continues to challenge and battle. The hit with Keanu [Neal], he understands his strike zone and how to bring it. He hits right through the surface, not to a guy and he has a real clear understanding of how to do that. It was a really hard hitting game today. We'll need this time to heal up during this week so that's definitely an advantage for us."

On Vic Beasley leaving the game and coming back in and getting a sack:
"Well, I knew when he went inside and then when he came back out and I saw him and said, 'Hey man, we appreciate your toughness and you being ready to go battle again.' I asked him if he needed me to hit his shoulder and said no, no, no. We just joked about it but honestly, that shows how hard he wants to play for his guys. That's one of the coolest parts about our team. This brotherhood that they have is real and that connection that they have amongst one another where they're playing something bigger for themselves. They recognize that."

On how much better Matt Ryan has gotten:
"The thing I'd like to share with you is the work that he put in this offseason. He made that decision from last January where we got together and had many conversations but when we apply the term 'can you get one percent better?' to already a really good player, sometimes the ceilings to go through to get to the next level can be really challenging. He totally did that. He's the one that put the work in, spent the extra time, and set our offseason in motion. I think that speaks for itself in terms of how hard he's gone for it. He has not backed off since. He's been able to stay on that pace and stay on that routine of constantly striving to get better so I feel his intent and I feel in the way he prepares and the way he's going at it that he's in a very good groove right now."


Opening Statement:
"I'll make this really brief. I'll be happy to answer any of your questions. I just want to extend my congratulations to all of our fans, to Atlanta, and to all of the players in this locker room. I just want to take a moment and thank all of the players and coaches that were here today. Our tradition is based on a lot of history and they are a part of that history. We appreciate deeply everything that they have committed to us over the history of our franchise. It's an exciting day for Atlanta. We will be back here in a couple of weeks and we will see who will play. I'll be happy to take any questions."

On the success of this season in the Georgia Dome and going into Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
"It's been a great season. We're thrilled with that and we're thrilled with being here in the Georgia Dome. We're looking forward to being in our new stadium. I also should say that we've had a great relationship with the [Georgia World] Congress Center over the past fifteen years that I've owned the team and represented the fans in ownership. It's been an exciting fifteen years and the Congress Center has been a great partner. The Georgia Dome has been a great place to play ball and we've got more games coming up this season."

On the decision to invite Michael Vick back, and discussion of his potential retirement as a Falcon:
"Well, Mike obviously has a great history with us, a great history with this franchise and he's an important player in our history. We wanted him to attend today and we're glad that he did attend. We had close to thirty players and coaches here today. Michael played an important part in my ownership period and an important part of the history of our franchise. He was thrilled to be here today and I think our fans, based on what I saw and felt, were excited to see him as well."

On the job Dan Quinn has done as head coach this season:
"Well, to be in the position we're in not only winning the division but having the number two seed and to have the opportunity for a first-round bye, it's very, very exciting. Dan has been everything that I had hoped for and everything that our city and our players had hoped for so we're thrilled about the job that Dan, Thomas [Dimitroff] and the entire organization has done. Dan talks about a brotherhood and it really is a brotherhood, a brotherhood for everybody in the building."

On whether he really believed this was a playoff team at the beginning of the season:
"I really did. I felt that the team last year progressed a lot over the year before and I felt the momentum with the coaching staff and a lot of the players. I saw the work that Matt [Ryan] was putting in as Dan was eluding to, and that Kyle Shanahan was putting in working with Matt. I saw the effort on the defensive side of the ball. I saw free agency and the draft picks that we had. I saw them grow year over year. I saw the quality of the draft picks that we had and have seen them play and mature over the year. So I felt very good about the team, but this is a tough league. You're playing against a lot of great players and a lot of great teams. My youngest son is here and he was nervous [during the game] and kept asking why the first team was still in there. I said 'because the game ain't over until the game is over, particularly when you're playing against the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees.' We're excited to be where we are and look forward to the next couple of weeks."

On who he thinks is the MVP today:
"Well, I think It's a team game. I'd say Matt [Ryan] in my opinion because I'm biased. I look at the MVP selection process over the league and I think that Matt is the MVP of the National Football League. However, having said that, Dan and all of the coaches preach that this is a team game. So I would collectively give them all a team ball if you will."

On the progress with Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
"It's in a really good place. The Legend players had a chance to visit this morning and they were in awe and amazed, and we are as well. I think Atlanta is and will be [amazed]. It will be open this summer and we are as excited as we can be. We've invited opposing team's ownership and management to go through the stadium and they've been very positive about what they've seen, so we are in a good place and look forward to opening up this summer."


On getting off to such a good start offensively:
"For us, I thought offensively we did about as good as we can do in the first half in terms of the result. There were even things that we could clean up in terms of penalties, etc. where we can get a little bit better and some things that we can control. I thought the effort, the intent, the mindset was exactly what you want from your team and was proud of the way our guys started the game. I think we could have been a little bit better in the second half. Offensively, we had some opportunities to keep going and maybe score some more points to put the game away a little bit earlier. That will be something that we can clean up."

On whether he is having as much fun this season as he's ever had:
"Well when you win games, it's funny how that correlates to having fun. For sure, though, it's been a fun year. We've done some good things on the offensive side of the ball, but the most important thing is all of the things we've done have given us the opportunity that we have now. At the end of the day, that is what you work hard for during the off-season. You train all those days to give yourselves opportunities this time of the year. I'm proud of the way our guys responded and handled that all year."

On being considered one of the best offenses in NFL history:
"Again, we did what we needed to do. To me, that's what you want to do as an offense. That's what you want to do as a quarterback. When games shake out a certain way, you have to figure out what you have to do to win games. I'm proud of the way we handled that. At the end of the day, I think the most important thing is we have given ourselves a chance. We have an opportunity in front of us now. It'll be fun."

On the offense's superb efficiency in the first half:
"I thought we did a great job coming out and getting the ball in the end zone during the first half. I thought that was really good because we overcame some things, especially some penalties we had in the red zone. That was really important for us. We made plays for sure when we needed to in the first half. We could have played a little bit better in the second half. It was really important to get off to a fast start especially against the team we were going against with Drew [Brees] and what he's capable of doing. I thought that was important for us."

On the importance of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman:
"It's huge as far as the combination of those two guys and their ability to make big plays for us. I think [Devonta Freeman] has two really good plays for us on the first drive and then Tevin [Coleman] comes in and catches a touchdown. The start of the second drive Freeman went I forget how far it was, but it was pretty far. They have explosiveness, unselfishness, and a mindset to do whatever it takes to win. Guys appreciate and feel that in the locker room. They put the team first and have set a great example for the rest of us."

On his appreciation for the postseason and not putting too much pressure on himself or the team:
"Well, I think the thing I've learned is that you have to continue to do the things that you've done all year. In my previous experiences, I think that's the thing I've learned. Don't make it any more than it is or any less and continue what we've done all year. Dan [Quinn] approaches every week and talks about having a championship mindset and championship level preparation every week of the season. I think we should feel very comfortable as we move forward. We've been doing the right things and preparing the right way all year. We need to continue to do what we've been doing."

On the importance of earning a bye and getting a week of rest:
"Essentially, it's like a playoff win today getting us to the second round. I'm proud of our guys and the way that they competed. As far as time off, we will see what Dan [Quinn] has scheduled for us. It will be a good chance for us and the guys who need rest to get healthy. That will give us the opportunity to do that this week."

On what it was like to hear the home crowd chant "MVP":
"It feels pretty good. That was nice of our fans to do that and pretty cool moment out there today. It felt really good."

On how it feels to have Mike Vick's praise and the ovation he received:
"I've known Mike for a while and I've always had a really good relationship with him. I actually saw him as I was coming out of the locker room heading onto the field. They had a bunch of the former guys out there and I got to see Mike [Vick] for a second. We've always had a great relationship and he's been really supportive of me here. That's meant a lot to me throughout my career having been such an icon for this city and such a great player. His support has meant a lot to me throughout my career and he's very nice to say the things that he's said."

On the role Kyle Shanahan has played in the offense's success:
"I think Kyle [Shanahan] has been outstanding the entire year. He has a really good feel for the guys that we have in our locker room and what they are capable of doing. He's done a great job of putting everybody in positions to succeed. He's handled that as well as anybody. I think he's done a great job this year."

On the offense's production falling off in the second half and overcoming that moving forward:
"You play well. That's got to be the mindset for four quarters regardless of how the first half or three quarters shakes out. You have to have that mindset to keep the foot on the pedal and keep going. I thought we could've done that a little better on the offensive side today, but at the end of the day, it's about getting wins. Whatever you have to do to get it done is what you have to do."


On the importance of securing a bye:
"It is important because we have a few banged up guys on the team and that week off will kind of help us bounce back."

On needing a bye week:
"Everybody could use the week. I mean it is a long season, but it will be beneficial for me, especially with the toe injury that I had. That week will be great for me."

On the offense in the first half:
"It was good, it was good. We were out moving the ball around, the running game was going, the wide outs, Matt [Ryan], etc. The offensive line did a great job for us today. You can look at Free [Devonta Freeman] doing this, the receivers doing that, and the running backs, but the offensive line, they did amazing today."


On the long touchdown run:
"The defensive back was on the outside, he was outside of the tackles, so I could not hit it outside. Our offensive linemen created a hole, gave me extra time, created an opportunity for me, and I just took it."

On the bye getting the team fresh:
"That bye is going to be big, especially going to the playoffs. We are not going to look past any games. The playoffs are a lot more wear and tear, but the bye will help limit some of the wear and tear on us. We are going to have to focus on the next game. We are definitely going to have to get some work in the upcoming week, prepare well, and go for there."

On relying on veterans for the playoffs:
"Our veterans are our captains and chiefs. They always lead us in the right direction. This is a playoff-bound team. I think our coaches do a hell of a job letting our players work. Everybody is accountable. We depend on everybody from the oldest guy to the youngest guy."


On his impressions of Matt Ryan this season:
"He is an awesome guy, really down to Earth, and he has done a great job taking care of his business. He is super professional, holds people accountable, and he just comes in every day ready to work with a good attitude."

On the offense in the first half:
"We did really well in the first half. You would like to see that continue through the whole game, but our defense stepped up and did a great job."

On securing a first-round bye:
"It is great. We have a chance now to heal up, just start feeling really good, and get ready for a long run in the playoffs."


On the importance of the final regular season game:
"It was very important. I would not want to sit out because I love playing the game too much to want to sit out. We came out and did what we were supposed to do."

On the offense scoring a touchdown on their first five possessions:
"It is amazing. I really do not know how to describe it. It is just fun to be a part of just to see how we execute."

On the team's playoff chances:
"I think we have a chance. I think we have to go out there, execute, and prepare for each week like we did this week."


On whether he thought this would be an easy win:
"Oh no, not at all. Like I said, Drew Brees is a great quarterback and those guys play hard week in and week out. We knew those guys were going to come fighting; it was not going to be easy. We just had to finish. We played hard today."

On whether the veterans told him to seize the moment in the playoffs:
"I am glad I helped get those guys into the extra part of the season, the playoffs. Our coach, Coach Rick [Richard Smith], says that there are guys who have played for ten, twelve years and never got a chance to do this, so we are going to get back to work and make the most of this."

On if he can use the bye to recover:
"Yeah, big time. You can always use the extra time."


On the upcoming bye:
"It is definitely awesome, but we are going to take that time to get fresh. At the same time, we know it is going to take a lot of work when it is time for us to play again, so we are not taking it for granted. It is a good thing for us, and we look forward to it.

On what he likes about this defense:
"We are a group of guys that play hard for each other. We are young in some spots, we have veterans in some spots, and we feed off each other. It is definitely a special group to be a part of because we got better as the season went on and are encourage for where we are at right now. This is a top two offensive in the league we played, so we had a good showing. We did not finish as well as we wanted to, but we are definitely hitting our stride for the right point in the season."

On how it feels to be back in the playoffs:
"Absolutely, it is good being back in the playoffs. Being an Atlanta kid myself, just making it to the playoffs is great, but we want to have success. Just making it is not our goal and it is not the other guys on the team's goal, so we are hungry for more and are definitely in a good position."


On the injury he suffered in the game:
"I got a little banged up. I think it's my labrum. We'll figure that out later on. I knew it was a labrum injury because I injured my right shoulder and I know the feeling of that. I was still able to function. I went to the locker room, did an x-ray, and a couple of exercises to keep the movement and mobility."

On getting a bye week:
"It's very important. A sixteen game season is a long season. We have been playing hard each and every week. We are definitely due for a bye."

On being the number two seed in the playoffs:
"We have to finish. We have a chance to go out there and play for the Super Bowl. That's our goal and we just hope to get there."

On improving the defense:
"We were just trying to improve after the Arizona week, allowing teams to score on us on the first possession and we were able to critique that. We feed off the offense and the offense feeds off the defense."


On mindset going into the game:
"We just knew that we had to come out here and play our style and standard. Even though we were already in the playoffs, we still wanted to come out and play this game as a divisional game. Coach Quinn said it best this offseason that we want to be champions of this division and own this division and that's what we did."

On finishing the game:
"It was a good finish for us even though we allowed a few points towards the end of the game. We still came out victorious. It's good to have a bye week now, rest a little bit, and get ready for whoever we are going to play in two weeks."

On mentoring the younger players:
"I just tell them the season is just beginning. This is what we play for. We have sixteen games in order to get this opportunity. We have it now and just have to take advantage of it. We have a game in two weeks so we will do some film study and get ready for the game in two weeks."


On the development of the secondary:
"I am very proud of us back there. We are coming together as a group. We have trust in one another and everyone is seeing it. The extra work that we have been putting in is paying off on Sundays."

On making the playoffs for the first time in his career:
"It's a blessing. Last year we started off hot and didn't finish. Coming into the season, we wanted to own the division. Now we have done it and it's on to the playoffs."

On Matt Ryan as an MVP candidate:
"The MVP chants are well deserved. You see the extra work that he is putting in each and every day on the football field. For him to be mentioned amongst the guys up there for the MVP is amazing. He's definitely my MVP. He deserves it, put up the numbers, and has led this team the whole stretch."

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