Skip to main content

Saints News | New Orleans Saints |

Mike Smith, Falcons players talk about win over Saints

Quotes from Falcons head coach Mike Smith and several players after Sunday's win


Opening Statement:
"I think that this game today lived up to the rivalry. This is what this rivalry is all about. I thought that it was a very hard fought game, had to go beyond 60 minutes. I like the way that our defense showed up with the interception in the end zone, and the strip there in overtime. Those were very critical plays. We talk about it all the time, it's the ultimate team sport, football is, and I think it showed up that the Atlanta Falcons are very good football team. That was good team that we faced, in the New Orleans Saints. Remember this, I think we stuck together and relied on each other. There were a number of things that were very well played, and there were some things that we got to get fixed – offense, defense, special teams and coaching. Starting with me, so we'll get those things fixed, and we'll move on to the Cincinnati Bengals."

On Matt Ryan:
"I thought Matt may have played his best game as an Atlanta Falcon. He's played a lot of games for us, and made a lot of plays, but I was really impressed with his ability to extend some plays today, moving in the pocket and actually getting out and running the football. He was able to extend some plays. I thought he was very, very accurate. When you have almost 570 yards of total offense and 448 yards through the air, your quarterback's playing well."

On Jake Matthews' ankle:
"No. I don't have any word. He wasn't able to return the game. That'll be something that over the next couple of days we will be able to update you guys on, probably Wednesday."

On William Moore's statement about making big plays and causing turnovers:
"It was a great strip there. William is such a strong, safety. He attacks the ball well and it was the difference in the game. I can't say enough about our kicker.

On Matt Bryant:
"We talk about Matt (Ryan) and all of the offensive plays that we made, but if that guy doesn't do that there at the end of regulation, and there in the overtime kick the ball from 50+ yards it's going to be a different outcome. It was a great handle by the holder, and a great snap by the snapper. Our guy put it through the pipes and that was difference in the game."

On his decision to kick the ball after the turnover in overtime:
"Our thought was we have a line of demarcation that says we are very confident that if it's a clean snap and a clean hold that we can kick it from a certain yard line, and we were well within that range. We felt like we had the opportunity to try and get some yards, but we were not going to put ourselves in an opportunity where we could've had negative plays."

On using all four running backs:
"I thought it was done very well, in terms of our rotation with our running backs. I think that we've been talking about it all offseason, so I don't think that it should've been a surprise. I'm sure it wasn't a surprise to the New Orleans Saints, but we've got guys that deserve touches that play the running back position. There were some big plays. The Antone Smith play was huge. Devonta (Freeman) had a big first down for us, and again I'm sure there are some plays that don't stand out right now, but we're going to keep rotating our players. That's why I said we don't have 11 starters. We've got 14 or 15 on both sides of the football."

On Jacquizz Rodgers' touchdown:
"What an unbelievable run. Jacquizz bounced off three or four tackles. I think the way that we attacked offensively with the tempo of the game; we wanted to control the tempo. I think it paid dividends for us on the offensive side of the football. It was an unbelievable run; he probably made five people miss on that play."

On his general thoughts on the offensive line:
"We had to switch some guys, and you don't blink. The next guy goes in and he plays. We concerned ourselves with adding depth in both of our lines, and when someone goes down the next one has to step up. We only gave up one sack, if my memory is correct. I didn't think that Matt got too much pressure, and I thought that they did a nice job."

On losing close games last year, and how it feels to win a close season opener:
"Well, it feels great. Let's first make that clear, it feels great. It'll feel great for a few minutes, and then you're going to start running through in your mind, 'ok could've done this, and could've done that.' In this League it's about winning close games. Twenty to twenty-five percent are three points are less, 55-60% depending on what year, are one score or less. We're going to have lots of opportunities to have those types of games. That's what the NFL is all about."

On the five or six plays that won the game:
"We had some big explosive plays. We had some big plays on defense. The Robert McClain interception was huge. It was a game of five or six plays that determined the outcome."

On the comeback win:
"Those are things that you don't really focus on, but for us to go down the field right before halftime and get the field goal was great operation by our offense. They did an outstanding job. For the next three days, unfortunately, you guys are going to analyze all of it. Have at it. We're on to the Cincinnati Bengals in about an hour and forty-five minutes.


Efficiency of the offense:
"The first drive wasn't the way we wanted to start. We had an opportunity on the third down; I just missed a throw to Devin on the shallow cross. We had a chance to convert that third down. After we did that, we got into that second drive. We overcame some penalties, some mistakes that we made, and we were able to make some plays to score points. I thought that was huge. I think the drive before half to get three points, to be able to move the ball down…a great play by Roddy, to catch that pass in one-on-one coverage. Then to be able to back that up coming out of halftime, going down and putting seven points on the board. There was a momentum shift at that point. Certainly, that is what we needed to win this game."

On his stat record tonight:
"It's a great honor. No one has more respect for Steve Bartkowski than I do and what he did for this organization. He's become a great friend since I've been here in Atlanta and a great mentor. I'm very proud to be in good company. It's a really great honor.

On if he is conscious of how many yards he is throwing in a game:
"No, not really. When you are out there playing, you kind of see the situation of the game and you just try to go out there and make the plays you need to make in order to win. Today, I thought, passing-wise we did a great job. Obviously, we got some weapons on the outside and that creates some good matchups for us. One of the biggest things for us that was a positive today, one of the reasons we won the game, our efficiency running the football. We were in 11 personnel and 10 personnel a lot of the game and we were able to spread them out and get good looks for our backs and we stuck to it. Credit to Dirk (Koetter) and Mike Tice and our offensive line. Our offensive line did a really good job."

On leading that rushing attack:
"I added to it, I didn't lead it. I added to it today and was able to make a few plays. Sometimes you have to do that as a quarterback, try to extend plays and make some things happen with your legs. I was able to do that."

How did you feel out there today:
"I felt good out there today. I thought we had a really good plan coming into the game. Dirk and our offensive coaches did a good job of putting together a game plan that put stress on their defense. We have some talented guys on the outside, we took advantage of it. I felt good out there today and I think one of the reasons we are able to put up the kind of numbers we are was because of the play of our offensive line. I thought they did a fantastic job in the pass protection and in the run game all day."

On the division rival:
"It's a good start. We've got a long way to go. That's one thing that I have learned in six years previous to this, is it's a long season. You can't get too high and too low after week one. It's certainly a good start for us in the division. It's what we wanted to do. We'll enjoy it tonight but we've got to get back to work. We're going against a very good defense against Cincinnati next week. We'll enjoy it tonight."


Thoughts on long range field goals:
"I try my best. When you think about it, the 40 yarder at the end of the half, those other kicks don't happen unless that one goes in. Whenever I go to kick an extra point, I'm kicking the extra point thinking that I have to kick a 51 or 52 yarder to win the game. So that way, when it gets to that time to kick a 52 yarder, I've already kicked it, so to speak, in my head. So that is my approach."


On Matt Ryan today:
"Matt was calm, cool, and collected.  He never flinched.  Every time they would score, he would just go back out there and look it at as another opportunity to score."

On Matt Ryan's work ethic:
"He has always been focused.  I think he has taken the next step as a player and a leader because he is the hardest working man I have ever been around.  He is making sure other people around are working just as hard and keeping people accountable.  We can see that, and his attitude is contagious.

On holding back the Saints' defensive line:
"No, we just kept trucking.  That is the way we do it.  We are a good offense and when we have Matt in there, we are hard to stop."


Thoughts on today's game:
"When you start off with a win, it builds momentum. We came out today knowing that it was going to be a tough fight; knowing points were going to be thrown on the board left and right. And with Drew Brees, knowing the type of offense that he runs, we were going to have to put up a lot of points; and as a receiver, we knew that it was going to come down to us."


Tell us about the ebb and flow of the game:
"I feel like we were hot and cold on offense throughout the game. However, I think we made enough big plays to help the team get this win."

Tell me about your rushing touchdown:
"l had an inside release on the linebacker on a passing route. Matt Ryan then got the ball to me in a nice position to make a play on the defender. I remember WR Roddy White making a big block downfield to give me an opening for the end zone. I am glad that I got in the end zone and help the team make a big play."


On playing the New Orleans Saints in the season opener:
"We always look forward to playing this team. It was a hard fought game and I am so glad we pulled out the win to start the 2014 season. It was the first home game and all the coaches talk about dominating at home. I felt like last year when we went down there and lost, it took the wind out of our sails. But fortunately we took care of business and found a way to win at the end."

On the offensive production:
"I knew all along we could be successful on offense. I know we could throw the ball around and put all each of us in position to make plays as pass catchers. Today was a good day with everybody making contributions and it's something we need all season long."

What do you think changed the momentum ultimately in the game:
"I think we made the necessary adjustments at halftime. And Coach Smith always talks about coming out of the half at a faster pace. I think we did both of those things today. We scored a touchdown on the first possession in the second half and that got our momentum going. The defense also made a big play after that with CB Robert McClain's interception."


On any lingering hamstring issues:
"I felt really good out there.  The hamstring was not a concern.  The training staff and coaching staff did a really good job of protecting me making sure I could recover 100% for this game.  It felt good being out there with my teammates."

On the mindset of the offense:
"The mindset was always to put up points when he had possession because we knew that Drew Brees and the Saints offense are phenomenal as well.  We wanted to make sure that at the end of the day that we outscored their offense."

On Matt Ryan's great day:
"He was just unreal.  He was doing a really good job of staying in place.  On a couple third downs, he actually used his legs and picked up some first downs for us.  Our passing game looked phenomenal and our running game looked phenomenal, but we could get better."

On today's win:
"It was a big win.  We knew coming into this game that it was probably going to come down to the last possession.  Both offenses are pretty deadly.  At the end of the day, we just wanted to make sure that we executed more times than they did."

On the effectiveness of the four running backs:
"We all have a special talent.  Everyone is a little different, but at the same time, everyone is making plays out there when we get our opportunities.  The best thing we can do is to support one another because we all can make plays."


On getting the ball in everyone's hands:
"Certain plays are for certain players, but Dirk (Koetter) does a great job of getting playmakers the ball.  As you can see today, everybody was catching and running and had a chance to show their skills."

On the importance of the game:
"This was a division game against our rivals.  It was important for us to come out and start fast and get that first victory."

On Matt Ryan's great day:
"If you have been around, you already this was going to be a slugfest.  We got the last blow and knocked them out with a victory."

On the touchdown run:
"Most of it is instinct.  The offensive line did a great job of getting me through the first line of defense.  After that, I just had the safety one-on-one, and it was my job to make him miss.  I did a spin move, and it got me open.  Julio did a great job of blocking on the perimeter.  I had a walk-in touchdown."


On practicing stripping the ball from behind:
"I try and capitalize any chance I get because its football and anything can happen. I'll continue to work on that and hopefully get some more during the season."

On the fumble in overtime:
"Best thing ever, especially because its overtime. We got the ball back and finished the thing."

On slowing down TE Jimmy Graham:
"Coach Nolan put an excellent game plan in. A lot of double coverage because he's an explosive tight end who can make plays. You're not going to stop Jimmy, you can just limit him to minimal catches and Dwight Lowery did an awesome job on him. He manned up."

On what this win can do for the season:
"It can set the tone. Like I said earlier, it's not only because it's the Saints, but it's the first game, so it can set the tone for the rest of the season."


On this game in retrospect of the season:
"It's always a battle against the Saints. We're still coming together as a team and we're going to keep coming together and working together. We'll keep working at practice, working hard and do what we need to do to stay on track and go out there and win games. "

On the interception in the endzone:
"He tried to go vertical on me. I decided to undercut him. The ball comes out quickly in the redzone, it comes out lower and (Drew) Brees put it low enough where I could get under the receiver and catch the ball. Thankfully, I caught the ball."


On getting the win:
"It was a total team win. The offense held it down when we didn't and we got the ball in overtime on the great play and that's what it's about. It's going to take every individual in this locker room to get a win like that."

On being able to control the line of scrimmage:
"That was the intent. I think we could've done better today, but you know, it's much easier to improve on things when you win. So that's what we'll do."


On the fumble in overtime:
"William (Moore) came in for the tackle and the ball came loose. As I was coming over there to clean up, I saw the ball on the ground and jumped on the ball as fast as I could. I didn't want to pick it up; I just wanted to get the offense the ball back."

On the mindset at the end of the game:
"We're always thinking turnovers. We want to take advantage of any mistake our opponents make. We wanted to win, we got the ball back and it created great momentum for us."


What did you learn about your defense today:
"I think all the guys on the team have bought in and want to win. This is a group that never gives up and will continue to keep swinging. I think we did a good job of sticking to the defensive game plan in all four quarters."

Talk about the big plays on the defense:
"Yes, I think we made big plays on defense. We made plays that changed the momentum of the game. For example, the end zone interception by Robert McClain put us in position to win the game."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content