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Jim Caldwell, Lions players talk about Sunday's win over the Saints

Postgame quotes from Lions coach Jim Caldwell and several players on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2010


Opening Statement:"Games in this league are crazy. You don't know exactly how they are going to turn out. Things weren't going real well for us for a good chunk of the game. We didn't run the ball that well and they stymied us a bit. They did a nice job. You have to give credit to them, obviously it's one of the most well-coached teams in the League. Drew Brees is as good as they come in terms of the quarterback and they obviously do have a lot of talent. For our guys to be able to hang in there and play with them and when we needed plays at the end of the game we got them. I think the second half we kind of answered. They came right out and scored on us in the opening drive of the third quarter and our guys came right back and put points on the board, which was excellent. It was one of those games where we just tried to preach to hang in there and keep playing, don't give up, keep fighting, and see if we can make something happen at the end. We got a bevy of plays there, Golden (Tate) did a tremendous job, young Corey Fuller stepped up, Matthew (Stafford) obviously turned on extremely well, and Joique Bell ran the ball hard which we needed. You look at the statistics and you're not going to see anything pretty, but nevertheless I think it shows you a little bit about the character of this team."

On WR Golden Tate's touchdown and S Glover Quin's interception: "Those plays are huge. I mean, those two big plays made the difference in the game. It just got us in position where we could close the gap on them a little bit more and put some pressure on them. Both plays were ones that made a tremendous difference. Those are two guys that have been making plays for us all year. They're smart guys who play tough and certainly don't wilt under pressure."

On what was going through his mind down 13 points: "Really, it's a two-score game. We had time and I've been in crazy games like that before. There was one year we were behind by quite a bit against Tampa and ended up having one of the biggest turnarounds in the League in terms of time period at the end of the ball game. This one was no different except obviously the score wasn't as gaudy, but I think overall the guys did a nice job."

On if he finds out anything about his team after a win like this one: "I think you learn a little bit about your team as you go, I really do. This is the first one that we've had like this one, you know, to have to really come from behind and get it done with some big plays. You had a sense of it and you can see, when you're dealing with men that have character and have talent you'll get performances like that."

On having so many players willing to step up in big moments: "I'm not sure what happened before to be honest with you. I just know this particular group has a lot of veteran leadership in each and every room that we have and I think that's key. I think it keeps showing up every single week and it's huge. You should hear them on the sideline, they talk to one another, they encourage one another, it's a tight family of guys. They hold each other accountable and they're not going to give up. I think that's admirable."

On how important it is to clean up the precision of the passing game: "We're far from where we'd like to be in that area along with a number of areas. Although I do think Matthew (Stafford) was about 68-percent overall I think in completion percentage. I think he got on a roll there and lit things up there toward the end which is what you have to do. We'd like it a bit more but I'll take this one."

On playing RB Joique Bell more in the second half instead of RB Reggie Bush: "Reggie, I think you saw a few times he was still kind of nursing his injury just a little bit. It bothered him a couple times, but he gutted it out and kept working through it. In there toward the end it was the package more so than anything else. He (Bell) took the bulk of the work."

On if Bush was benched in the second half: "Oh no, absolutely not."

On how important Quin is to the defense: "He's one of those guys that every day in practice you hear him talk to the corners, talking to the linebackers, having discussions, 'Hey you're supposed to be here, this is supposed to happen, this is what it's going to look like, or I'm going to be in this position.' I mean, his communication skills are great just in terms of football. His football IQ is off the charts and between him and Dig (James Ihedigbo) both our two safeties are experienced guys and that experience is absolutely invaluable. He's one of those guys that just has a knack for coming up with a big play at the right time. He's not afraid to go after it and he's certainly appreciated."

On if he said anything to the team after Stafford's second interception: "That's my job. I better say something during that time because things start sinking if you don't. You've got to talk, you've got to tell them, 'Hey we got a lot of time left in this game.' That's my refrain most of the time, there's still a lot of football left to be played. They just can't count themselves out because of one play. It was certainly a devastating play but it wasn't one that just crippled us. We still had an opportunity, particularly when we held them to a field goal. Matthew's tackle, he tried to strip him, I thought he was going to get a strip there for a minute but that was big as well."

On CB Darius Slay's performance: "We'll have to look at the film but I bet he did more good than bad. I mean, you're operating against one of the better passers in the League, against receivers that are precise in what they do and are very good. We expect him to be as good as well but some of the things that he did we're going to have to clean it up I guess after we watch the film. I'll have to wait and see it, it could have been somebody else on the inside, not on the deep one obviously, but it could have been some other situations where there was some help for him and things of that nature. We got to look at that before we can make any assessment."

On who got the game ball: "Typically we don't give out game balls until after we look at the film, then we look at it, and we give them out on Fridays. We have so many guys in there that did a tremendous job for us, there will be a few that we'll have to spread around in London."


On the offense's struggles up until the final two drives:"Obviously, we didn't play our best football, especially in the first half. I had the one turnover and then in the second half we were moving the ball pretty well a couple of times and weren't able to convert. We had another turnover there, that was unfortunate, but our defense did a great job of getting us the ball back. We fight, we never gave up, obviously had to have some things go our way, made some plays and won the game."

On WR Golden Tate's production with WR Calvin Johnson out the last two weeks:"He's been great, he's obviously stepped up. That play he made on that long touchdown is as good of a play as I've seen in a long time. The catch in to the stand still, I basically threw him a ball up. He was hot and calling for it, wanted it and gave him a chance on a ball. He came back and caught it, he did the rest. It was pretty impressive and then our defense stepped up, made a play for us and got us the ball. Just a total team effort when you look at it top to bottom. Special teams was on point, defense made some big plays when we really needed it and offense the same way."

On if the offense was trying to eat time off the clock while also trying to score on the last drive:"Absolutely, the No. 9 on that team is a pretty darn good player. They've got a bunch of years in that offense. You've seen them do it a million times, go right down the field. So, we were trying to limit their time as much as we could, but we couldn't not score ourselves. It's a tough situation to be in in football. Obviously, made some plays, had the one fourth-down penalty. That helped us out and we were able to punch it in. Our defense came out and did a great job stepping up and stopping them again."

On what he saw on the touchdown pass to WR Corey Fuller:"He's '1A.' Golden (Tate) is in there too but they doubled Golden. He had done such a great job all game, they were putting a little double team on him down there, a little bracket. Corey had to go outside and beat a corner. He was just kind of trailing on the baseline, saw the double team on Golden and put a ball where I thought Corey could go up and get it and get both feet down. It was a great catch. What a first touchdown catch if you're him. It's pretty awesome, I was really happy for him."

On what he said to Fuller after the play:"I just told him I was proud of him. I told him I was happy for him. It's a big situation, he played great all day. He had some great catches, had some tough ones where he got hit. That third-and-extra-long, fourth-and-extra-long, whatever it was, he backed up, he caught that dig coming across the middle. He had a guy draped all over him. A low ball, went down and got it, so I was really proud of him."


On his game-winning touchdown catch:"I know I don't get called much, I'm just here to help any way I can. Matt (Stafford) threw a great ball, the line blocked perfectly and all I had to was come down with it. I had to do the easy job."

On the team's 'Next Man Up' mantra:"Definitely, even last week, every time I came off the field even Calvin (Johnson) was coming to me or I was going to him just asking him little things like, or he'll ask me little things like what did I see. It just helped me slow the game down a little bit, so it's helping a lot."

On what turned the offense around after early struggles:"Finish, we just had to finish. The game isn't over until the clock hits zeros and I think the whole team believes in that. That's what we did."

On what has helped him develop:"Confidence and the same thing since camp. My confidence has been pretty high in the season and I'm just trying to help out any way that I can, help other guys get open and things like that. It definitely boosts my confidence and makes me feel a little bit calmer when I'm out there on the field."


On his performance today:"We had a great game plan and Coach Lombardi did a great job of finding ways to get me open and it came down to just nine (Matthew Stafford) trusting in me. Some of those balls he kind of just threw up because he knew where I'd be. We just made plays, collectively. It wasn't just me. (Corey) Fuller came up big and so did some other guys."

On what sparked the offense in the second half:"We just started to be ourselves a few times and if we stay on schedule, I think we're always going to be good enough. We have some playmakers on this team and we're still getting some guys back from injuries, but if we just stay on schedule and do our job individually at the same time, the sky is the limit for this team. We have an endless amount of talent."

On S Glover Quin's late interception:"To the whole defense, those guys put some heat on one of the best quarterbacks in the League, one of the best offensive teams in the league and those guys fought to the very end, literally. We just came up big with a little bit of divine intervention, and the next thing we knew we're 5-2."

On if the team feels it needs to step up with the absence of WR Calvin Johnson:"We just had such a great camp and our coaches did a great job of us all getting reps. We strongly believe in next man up, so guys just have to step up. Everyone made this team for a reason, so when our number is called, we have to show up and make plays that we're supposed to make. We don't have to do anything spectacular like Calvin. We just have to play fundamentally-sound ball and I think we were prepared. We were just prepared and it just showed that the game wasn't over and you can't win the game in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, but you can win it in the fourth quarter. This is a great example of that."

On what the team said to each other to make sure it wasn't out of it:"You know what? The funny thing is, and you can ask Joe Lombardi's son, he sat by me and this kid is maybe 10 years old, and he said, 'This is what's going to happen, we're about to get a stop, score quick, our defense will get a stop, and we're going to win by one." And that's what happened. We just had it within us and at the end of the day, we just kept fighting. We have faith in the guys in this locker room and we just found a way."

On how much momentum his touchdown grab gave the team:"You saw it, a lot. It wasn't just me, we played collectively and it was a great, collective effort. Nine (Stafford) trusted the line and trusted me to make a play and I just found a way. I just dug deep and the next thing I knew, it was ballgame. We had a chance and what else could you ask for? That's what this league is all about. That's why it's the most popular sports group in the world."


On the Lions' final offensive drive: "I think the whole game we just tried to stay positive and just keep playing, and we did that. Golden (Tate) made a great play and Corey (Fuller) just had one at the end there. So, it was good. Everybody stayed in the game and we got it done."

On if there was a point in the game where he felt it was over: "It was getting there, but like I said, we just hung in there. We just kept playing no matter what. I think that's going to be the story. At the beginning of the year, we just hung in there though all the bad stuff that happened and we overcame some stuff. Come next week and the games to come, I think we'll be playing some of our best football."

On how much the win means to the team: "It was huge. We have a lot of play makers and you look around the offensive huddle and you know we have guys that are capable of doing it. We knew we had a challenge and we just kept playing."


On if there was any change to the game plan in the fourth quarter that resulted in more pressure on the quarterback:"No, it was basically the same thing we've been doing all year. We knew we were eventually going to get there. We just had to keep doing what we do. We had to keep following our techniques, keep fighting and be relentless to get there. But eventually, we were going to break through."

On if the crowd was a factor at the end of the game:"Yeah, the crowd is always a major factor into how we play because when the crowd gets into it, it gets us going and it gets us moving. They actually disrupt the offense and the crowd was a big part of it."

On the team's ability to not look ahead to London:"Our main thing was to get this one because a lot of teams would've been thinking about London because it's next week. We never focused on that. We focused on this game and winning this game so we could still be ahead in our division."


On what a win like this does for the team: "It was a great challenge that we had. We stepped up to the challenge and at the end of the day, we had to get the win and we got it."

On what was said when the team was down late in the fourth quarter:"We understood that we put ourselves in a tough situation. Us as defensive guys had to make plays, get off the field, get the ball back to our offense. I never had a doubt that we were going to have the opportunity to make plays, get the ball back to our offense and they were going to know what to do."

On the defense's ability to collapse from the outside and create pressure on the quarterback late:"That's our bread and butter. If we're not going to get in there and create havoc, especially in a tough situation like that, then there's no point in us being out on the football field. Us as a defensive line, we take that in our hands, put it on our shoulders and understand that we make sure we're going back and making plays, putting them under pressure and giving them tough decisions. Don't give them time and go from there."


On what he saw on his late interception:"It started with a great play call. Coach (Teryl Austin) made a perfect call, the D-line got good pressure and on the backend, me and Digs (James Ihedigbo) switched up something that we had been doing all game and gave a different look. We knew on third downs that Drew (Brees) likes to go to the sticks and he likes to throw it to the middle of the field with somebody that's right in front of him, somebody that's in his vision. So, everything worked out perfectly. We had a great rush from our D-line, Drew was under duress and he stepped up and the D-Line was closing in. He kind of tried to look me off a little bit, but he was trying to hit the tight end or someone coming right across the field. So, all of the film study, all of the preparation added up and we were able to make a big play."

On how much of a factor the new defensive scheme has been in his production this year:"It's been a huge factor. The coaches have great confidence in us and the secondary has a great dialogue throughout the week talking about looks and things that we want to do. We have great dialogue during the game and make adjustments and just try to put guys in positions to make plays. The coaches give us freedom to make certain calls on the field and to do certain things. As long as we're communicating and everyone is on the same page, they do a great job of letting the players play."

On if the scheme allows him to focus more on making plays on the ball and going after interceptions:"I get those opportunities a little bit, being able to be the free guy in certain coverages, but everything is trust related. We have great trust on the backend and guys depend on guys to be where they're supposed to be. All we do is, we see something, we get a feel for the game, we make a call, everybody executes the call, and when your number is called to make a play, we have to make it. Today, we made a great adjustment, my number was called and the stars aligned, and I made it."

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