NEW ORLEANS SAINTS COACH DENNIS ALLEN
"Look, it was a good win, division opponent. To get an opportunity to win a game like that, it was good to see. There's obviously a lot of things that need to be cleaned up, but it's much better to do that after a win. I do want to say one thing. One of the things we were thinking about throughout the game was really Dean Pees. I'm sure you guys all heard about it. I think he made it back to the stadium here. Just wanted to make sure the Falcons and he and his family knew we were thinking about him."
On being able to convert on third-and-one and imposing will on an opponent:
"Well, yeah. I think putting a team away when you have an opportunity to put them away, you have to be able to take advantage of that. It is frustrating because you do a lot of good things, and then you have an opportunity to put them away and you're not able to do it. Look, we didn't finish that last drive of the game like we wanted to, but yet, we took it down to 0:09 to go and no timeouts. It wasn't exactly what we were looking for, but it was fairly close. I felt like that third down play, I was hoping we would get a measurement on that."
On if he consulted the booth before throwing the challenge flag:
"I wanted to make sure our guys upstairs felt like it was a touchdown. They felt confident that it was. We put the challenge flag there, and it was a good win, a good challenge. Our guys upstairs did a good job there."
On creating turnovers:
"How about a huge one in a critical moment today? Look, I think it was (Justin Evans) who came over the top with a top-down punchout. We talk about that all the time in our building. That's how the ball comes out in our league. I thought he did a great job of punching the ball out. I believe it was (Bradley Roby) who was there to recover it. It was a huge play in the game."
On putting together a plan to stop the Falcons' run game:
"Listen, we need to win. You know what I mean? It's one thing, we all talk about run the ball, run the ball. Look, I don't think we tackled as well as we needed to today. What did they have? 80 yards passing? It's not about do you stop the run, do you stop the pass, do you do this, do you do that. It's do you win. That's what we did today. Their plan was to come in and run it, run it, run it, not try to put the young quarterback (Desmond Ridder) in difficult situations. Look, the runner (Tyler) Allgeier, I was impressed with him today. He's a tough, physical runner, but we did what we needed to do, defensively, to win the game."
On Juwan Johnson's improvement this year:
"Yeah, look (Juwan's) improved a lot. He works tirelessly to improve himself and to improve his game. It's good to see when guys work the way that he works and give the type of efforts that he gives. It's good to see him being able to kind of reap the fruits of that labor. That's part of what you enjoy about coaching."
On the Saints' fumble up 11 points:
"That's part of what we just talked about when you have a chance to put a team away. I think it was 14-3 at that time. We had a chance to potentially go up 21-3 at that point in the game. We have to protect the ball better in those situations, certainly."
On the Taysom Hill touchdown pass to Rashid Shaheed:
"There are some things that you do. What you don't know when Taysom (Hill) lines up at the quarterback position, you don't know exactly what you're going to see every time. We got the look we were looking for. I think (Rashid) Shaheed ran a great route. His speed is impressive. Taysom did a good job of putting the ball in a great spot, just over the top of the safety. We got the look we were looking for, and our guys executed. That's really what good football is really all about. It's a good play call. Right? But the execution is what they work (on all week). That was good to see."
On if he was surprised Alontae Taylor's interception was overturned:
"No, I wasn't, after I saw it on the big screen. I wasn't sure if he caught it in real life, and then I saw it on the big screen. I didn't know if there was going to be enough to overturn it, but it's tough on that kid. (Taylor) keeps making these plays. He's not getting credit for making these plays, but he's playing outstandingly."
On the mood in the locker room:
"It's good. It's hard to win in this League. Any time you get one, it's a good feeling. We're going to enjoy this. We have about 24 hours to kind of soak it in, and then we have a short week to get ready to go up to Cleveland. It was a good win. Our guys deserve a lot of credit for battling the way they have battled all year long. They came out ready to play today, and we made enough plays to win."
On Alontae Taylor's performance:
"(Alontae) shows up every day with his hard hat on, ready to go to work. He listens to his coaches, and he tries to do it exactly the way he is being coached to do it. He works extremely hard on studying the opponent and knowing what type of things to anticipate. That's what we're looking for. We're looking for guys who want to be coached. They want to do it the right way. They want to play hard. They want to work hard, and he does that. It's not a surprise that he's able to go out and execute on Sundays because he puts in the preparation."
On the fight in the team and finding a way to win:
"I'll tell you this, I'd say that playing hard doesn't guarantee you're going to win, but not playing hard guarantees you won't win. That's what this game's about. This game's about freaking effort, passion, energy, going out and giving everything you've got. I've never questioned whether our guys were going to do that or not. They've done that all year long. I think we did it at the end of the day."
On the strategy with Alvin Kamara:
"Yeah, and touches in a few different ways. I think we've got to continue to try to figure out creative ways to give (Kamara) the ball and do some things with him and let him affect the game."
SAINTS QUARTERBACK ANDY DALTON
On Juwan Johnson's performance this season:
"There is definitely a comfort level there. Juwan has done a lot of really good things. Both touchdowns today were really good run after catch plays by him. So, I feel like he's been playing with a ton of confidence and that's been showing up on Sundays."
On the team's effort and energy today:
"I think there's something to be said about finishing the season strong regardless of making the playoffs or not. So, we had four left (starting with) today. We got one win today and have three more to go. Our mindset and our goal is to finish this season the right way and win the next three."
On Dennis Allen's message to the team about their effort:
"Yeah, for sure, I think that's one thing from the top about finishing the year strong. That has been his message to us. Again, the goal before today was to go 4-0 (to finish the year). We got one today and three (opportunities for wins) left."
On the emergence of the young weapons on offense:
"Yeah, like I was saying about Juwan, he's playing with a ton of confidence, but I think we have a lot of guys playing with a ton of confidence. It is a young group out there and it's exciting each week to go out there and see them do new things. We've had some explosive plays. I talked about Juwan, but Rashid (Shaheed) has really showed up too, especially today with his long touchdown from Taysom (Hill). We've got some great weapons."
On Rashid Shaheed's growth this year as a route runner:
"I think he's gotten comfortable with what we've asked him to do each week. He's been playing a lot more than he was early on. When he's gotten his opportunities, he's certainly made the most of them."
On his comfortability switching out mid-drive with Taysom Hill:
"Yeah, we definitely practice it. Taysom is a big weapon for us. The defense always has to know where he is lining up. So I think we are comfortable with how we have handled that this year."
On what makes Rashid Shaheed so effective:
"He runs really fast. I think that's one thing we knew from the beginning when he first got here. Watching him run around in practice, you could see his speed was special. We've had opportunities to take some deep shots with him and he's come down with a lot of them."
On the impact Erik McCoy had today in his return from injury:
"Just having the entire (OL) unit out there. There's a comfort level with the full group out there from the standpoint of communication and guys being on the same page. Erik is obviously a great player. The quarterback and center communication is big, so I am glad to have Erik back."
On what impressed him about the team's response today:
"I thought we responded well today. It's not always pretty, it's not always easy. I think we got out to the early lead and left a lot of points out there. We had some opportunities to make the game look a little different and not let it go down to the very end. But, the good thing is that we had the opportunity to win. Today, we took care of business and got it done."
WIDE RECEIVER RASHID SHAHEED
n what happened before the game with Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees:
"I was backing up to catch a punt and kind of bumped into him (Dean Pees). I turned around and saw him stretched out so immediately I was concerned, but I got word that he's back, he's healthy and doing OK so I am thankful for that. If he sees this, I am sorry - my apologies."
On what his 40 time would be if he ran one today:
"I don't know. Hopefully anything 4.3 or below. I feel like that's pretty fast. Hopefully something around there."
On closing out the season and playing with passion after a tough loss against the Buccaneers:
"This was exactly how we needed to come out and play. Coach (Dennis Allen) preached it all week: coming out with energy and making them match our energy. We came out and got ahead early and carried that throughout the game. It was definitely a good way to start (closing out the season strong)."
On the long touchdown reception and if he knew the ball was coming his way:
"Yeah. At line of scrimmage it was a "kill kill" situation depending on how their safeties were going to play it, but when we lined up and saw single high safety I knew the ball was coming to my side. I just tried to win my route and Taysom (Hill) threw a great ball and I was able to make a play on it"
On areas of growth throughout season:
"I feel like I made a tremendous jump. At first it was tough coming in learning a very complex playbook. But I trust the guys around me. They all help me and our coaches help me develop. Early on it was tough, but I've gotten more comfortable."
On young guys finishing strong and planting seeds for the future:
"Finishing strong is what we have to do. Finish out these last four games. Continuing to come out like we did today: with energy and passion. Practicing hard- it all starts with practice. We have to come in and fix some stuff. Today wasn't perfect, but we will go back and chalk it up and see what we can do better."
On the defenses creeping up to the line of scrimmage with Taysom Hill at QB:
"When Taysom (Hill) is in the backfield all eyes are on Taysom being the player he is. He does a great job realizing that (defenses crowding the line of scrimmage) and when the play was called it worked out great."
TIGHT END JUWAN JOHNSON
On his chemistry with Andy Dalton and mindset in the red zone:
"It has been good. Getting into the red zone knowing that it has to be attack mode. We have been pretty good for the past couple years in the red zone. When we get down there, we know it means points. Coach (Pete Carmichael) has been really good dialing up plays in the red zone. We have a lot of guys who can put the ball in the end zone."
On his success in the red zone and his first touchdown of the game;
"It really is just hard work, watching film and going over the plays. I just try to see what coverages the defense is running. It's not so much the physical aspect. It's knowing what the defense is trying to do against us and being two steps ahead. The physical aspect is secondary. Before the play I pointed at him because I knew he was going to lead me inside."
On first TD:
"It was just a simple shallow cross. I was bumping. They were playing in. I'm sure it was a busted coverage but nobody covered me and as they say "I just try to get freaky". There aren't too many times I get to run in the open field so I just tried to get in the end zone."
On the biggest key to success at tight end position:
"You have got to have attitude. To play this position; you cannot be soft at all. You are going up some big guys up front (on the defensive line) and then in the secondary you're playing against elite athletic guys. You have got to have the attitude that you can't be stopped. That is the mind-set I try to have. Ultimately, have attitude, be willing to learn, and be coachable. It's a tough position (tight end) and you've got to be very smart to play it."
On whether undrafted guys like he and Shaheed play with a chip on their shoulder:
"Absolutely. Just knowing that you've been overlooked throughout the whole draft gives you an extra boost. Knowing teams passed up on you and being a UDFA (undrafted free agent). Playing with that mind-set and knowing that you've got to "get it out the mud" and grind for it."
CORNERBACK BRADLEY ROBY
On recovering the fumble late in the fourth quarter:
"It felt good. Towards the end the game I kept telling myself, you are going to make a play. I did not really make the play. Justin (Evans) made a great play. He made a big hit and the ball just came right to me."
On limiting Atlanta's pass offense and facing a new rookie quarterback (Desmond Ridder):
"We felt they weren't going to change up too much offensively this late in the season. We focused on the plays they have been running up to this point. We challenged ourselves to play our best and it feels good to hold someone under 100 yards passing. That's the standard we should have around here and we have to keep stacking games together.
On lack of turnovers forced this season on defense;
"We talk about that a lot. Playing against a rookie quarterback (Desmond Ridder), that was a focus today. We wanted to (force the Falcons to) turn the ball over. He gave us some opportunities. We dropped a lot of them, but we made the ones that counted and that's what it's all about."
On continuing to fight with their playoff chances limited:
"It's the spirit. It's the spirit of the team and the spirit of this city. The city is always going to fight. We are a tough city. And this team has heart. We don't have the best record this year, but we have fought in every game until the end. That is what it is all about. Football is a war game and it is about fighting until the end. We're going to continue to do that."
On hard-fought games week in week out:
"It amazes me, but that's why I love football. I've played a long time and that's why I continue to play. The game is so fun and you never know what is going to happen. Right when you think the game is over, people make crazy plays. Look at yesterday with Indianapolis vs Minnesota. You never know when it's over- you always have to fight until the end and that's what I love about the game."
On sweeping the Falcons season series:
"It feels good, it is a (division) rival. I am from Atlanta, but they were never my favorite team. Last year we lost to them (at home), so this year it was good to sweep our rival. Hopefully we can do it every year."