NEW ORLEANS SAINTS at DALLAS COWBOYSSUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2012 ● COWBOYS STADIUMSAINTS POSTGAME QUOTES
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/LINEBACKERS JOE VITT
It is a big win for our football team obviously. We were going against a really good football team that was fighting for a playoff position. We did some things today that allowed us to win last week. We protected the football. We did a really good job with the run battle. We did a really good job protecting our quarterback and we put Tony under some pressure. They have an explosive audience with really good wide receivers. Hats off to them, their comeback was unbelievable. I am proud of our football team, were proud of our football team and they should be proud of one another.
What was your message to the team when you went to overtime after they came back?
We just wanted to win a game, just work as hard as you can to win a game. It doesn't matter if it is overtime or regulation, it is to win a game. Everybody was on board. There was no panic. So really that's it. Everybody is fighting together.
I know Jimmy had just come out because I think he hurt his hand, but can you talk about the fight he had to get the fumble recovery?
Jimmy Graham really understands the difference in turnovers now. He lived two games were he turned the ball over and we weren't successful, but he was able to use his athleticism and muscle to get the ball, his huge.
Can you talk about the decision on fourth and two, when you were about to kick the field goal and took a time out to go for it?
Garrett looked like he had a hard time getting a spot. It was kind of windy and the ball was kind of moving around. He just came off a miss, so we took a timeout and put the ball back in the offense's hands. The guy comes back and wins the game for us. That's basically it.
Can you talk about the defense and the job they did today?
They were outstanding. We were all disappointed a little bit that they gave up some big plays at the end to put them back in it. The way you are going to lose a game is by letting the ball get over your head, but they have a good football team and they have skilled wide receivers. This will be a learning experience for us.
Can you talk about Drew Brees and his passing game lately?
You guys were the ones who jumped off the bandwagon. No, he is a great quarterback. I don't know how many more accolades I have to say about him. You want me to put him on my W2 form or what.
Your thoughts on their resolve to keep fighting this season?
Listen, I think this. I think that we have talked about this all year long, from a 0-4 start. The character, the resolve, the togetherness, and the accountability from one another in the locker room. It is fun to be around on a daily basis. Even our setbacks, you educate the new members of our football team and the young members of our football team what wins and what losses in the National Football League specifically what wins for us. There is a learning curve and as a coach you have to have patience and stay the course. We said this from day one it is the football team. It is the kind of people that we draft; it is the kind of people that we signed. This football team is rather tested and their tough, they hang together, it is fun to coach.
Were you convinced the call would stayed it would be a fumble recovery?
I couldn't tell. There was a little bit of discussion that we had the ball. Then there was a little bit of discussion about were it was going to be spotted, but we just waited for the call. You have to have a contingency plan so we were trying to talk with the press box about ok where is the ball spotted if we don't get it back, but we got the call and Garrett took the field goal.
Can you talk about the strip that Curtis Lofton had?
Curtis has had a great year. He has been a great acquisition for us. You talk about a huge play when our position is backed up and were able to give our offense possession at the three yard line, I think. That is huge.
Third downs on offense and defense.
We had to win the turnover battle that was the number one key. The number two key was the run game on third down. If we took care of those two things and protected the ball, we would have a real good chance to compete and win this football game and the guys did that, they responded.
QB DREW BREES
Overall impression of the game
This was huge. And it was a great team effort. We knew the type of game this was going to be; obviously the Cowboys are a hot team coming in 5-6 in playoff contention. We knew what this game meant to them. For us, after realigning our goals two weeks ago, we established how we wanted to finish this season and we knew what we needed to do to accomplish that. We knew it would be a challenge coming in here. As far as the flow of the game, I felt like we possessed the ball very well, I felt like we converted a lot of third downs. We also knew that no matter what the score, that the team on the other side of the ball was a great-finishing team. They did a great job coming back with those two late touchdowns and then all the sudden we're in OT. There was no panic, it's almost like we knew the game would come down to something like this. Offensively, we just wanted that opportunity and the defense gave it to us with a big stop. We made some big plays and had a crazy fumble recovery. Everybody contributed, everybody is a part of this and it was a tremendous game.
Team's determination at this point
We wanted to play our best football…that's what we want to be known for. Regardless of what our playoff options are, it's all about playing our best football in December going into what we always hope will be the playoffs. Regardless of how that shakes out, we understand that we built a foundation for our teams in the future. We've got the core group know that's going to be with us for a long time.
TE JIMMY GRAHAM
Fumble recovery in overtime
I saw WR Marques Colston catch the ball and I was just flat-footed ready to celebrate with him. Then I saw the ball pop out and a guy was about five yards ahead of me and I figured that he'd jump on it and next thing I knew, I was outrunning him. That's just what this team does. We have a lot of resolve and we've been through so much and the type of play like that, to win here in Dallas, that's just how this team is. We all give all we have and that's what expected.
Competition in the pile for the ball
I jumped on it and it was underneath my leg, it was pretty basic. TE David Thomas was over me snatching people off and Drew jumps on me and he said a bunch of stuff. It was definitely a special moment for me, especially after the ups and downs in the game, to help this team win on the road in Dallas here in the stadium is definitely special.
LB CURTIS LOFTON
Solicited Saints to sign with the team
I don't second-guess my decision. Our record doesn't show it, but this is a really great team. We've got a lot of great players and a lot of character on this team. It didn't work out for us this year but looking to the future, the future is going to be bright for us.
Stop in OT
We went back out there and I told the guys, "We've got to get this. We've got to get a three-and-out or we've got to get a stop. No matter what" Everyone bought-in, everyone did their job and we came out on top.
Shut down Dallas running game
Once we got a sizeable lead they got away from the run. We stayed disciplined, we stayed in the gaps and we shut them down.
WR MARQUES COLSTON
That's definitely the way you want it end, but it was a great hustle play by Jimmy and he saved by butt… I felt like it was a fumble. I felt like I took a couple steps, just didn't secure it tight enough and he was able to hit the ball and get it out pretty easily. You never want to put the ball on the ground. Anytime it's in my hands I have the team's hopes and chances of winning in my hands and luckily Jimmy was hustling on the play and I was able to get that one back.
What did he tell Jimmy Graham
He saved my butt. Even with the win, personally, it's going to leave a sour taste in my mouth. I can't do that… It just doesn't sit well with me.
K GARRET HARTLEY
Coach always stresses it's not how we start, it's how we finish. Just a great all-around team effort as far as the defense staying strong in overtime and then us coming down and getting a drive that we need. I guess the field goal unit just doing their job. Go out there and execute. Protection was great all day. (Justin) Drescher with the snap and then Chase (Daniel) on the hold and I was just the final piece of the puzzle.
Did it feel special being a Southlake guy and getting to come home? Was the family here?
Yeah, they were. My mom and dad and a lot of friends and family. It felt great, especially with Drescher, Chase and myself all being from Southlake and then to come back here and, you know, Texas Stadium, and end up putting the final points on the board. It really meant a lot; not just for me but to everyone.
Did you grow up a Cowboys fan?
Absolutely. That's just what you did. You're from here and you're a Cowboys fan growing up.
What happened on the first one (missed field goal)? Was it the pressure of being here?
No. Obviously the hit on the ball wasn't what I wanted. It tailed off left.
I think it's funny. I was just joking around with Dresch. Telling him, "It's going to come down to us on this one."
Is it ever in your head, when you're going for the game winner, or can you block it out?
It wasn't like that. I was just, "Hey, this is what we need to do." It's kind of like a horse with blinders. You just focus and we went out there and executed.
The field goal was a little more than an extra point. Was there any problem at all with the angle? What goes through your mind as far as reminders prior to a kick like that?
You know, Chase asked me if we wanted to move the ball. I said no, let's just get it over with. Just the basics, you know. The fundamentals. Hey, strike through the ball and follow through and elevate it.
Do you remember the last time you won an overtime game with a field goal?
(Thinks) "Where was that? Maybe, uh….."
Reporter reminds him: "The NFC Championship."
Oh, yeah. That one. (laughs)
RB MARK INGRAM
You guys just keep showing the effort this season. You're not giving up at all.
That's not the character of any of the guys in this locker room. Every time we step foot on the field, we're trying to put our best performance on and trying to win games. That's what it's all about, here. The Saints have a tradition of winning since '09, since coach got here. We're a proud group and we just work hard; work our butt off and we know it's very important to finish out the season strong.
What would it mean to finish 8-8 after everything the team has been through?
It's big for us. We had a rough year but everybody stayed working hard. Coming to work every day getting better and when we come out on Sunday we just try to put forth our best effort and that's what everybody's doing.
On the offensive effort.
I think we did a good job running the ball, passing the ball, keeping Drew clean. Not turning the ball over. We did a good job with that today. That helped us get this win today.
C BRIAN DE LA PUENTE
On the team's pride (being mathematically eliminated).
We know that we can take momentum into next year. You always want to put good stuff on the field. Essentially you're always getting reviewed and so everybody wants to put their next foot forward.
What was the locker room like after this?
We were pretty excited in here. It's a tough place to play. This venue is incredible. To come on the road and get a win against a good team is something to be proud of.
Especially after they came back. It would be easy to fold up.
Yeah. They've been doing that all year. We knew that they were a team that finished well. To kind of finish this one out, a close game, to finish it, it kind of put a stamp on things.
DE WILL SMITH
On giving up the touchdown to go into overtime
"We weren't able to make the right adjustments in time, and they kind of caught us in a bad defense, a bad matchup. And then they kind of picked on us. That kind of hurt us. And then we got to overtime. They tried to hurry up, but at the same time, it wasn't the same and we made the right adjustments and got off the field and got our offense the ball back."
On the team's resolve
"Like I said all week, this team has no quit in them. We are still getting paid. We still have to go out there and perform. We still have to get these W's. We know the Saints fans want it. We want to win. Just because we are out of the playoff hunt doesn't mean we can't go out there and play the same and play with the same intensity and the same level and try to fight to the end and get the victory."
On contemplating an 8-8 season
"It would mean we are .500. It would mean we finished the season the right way. We started slow, we struggled, ups and downs all season. And got in position where we were out. But we fought back to .500 and not have a losing season."
On lessons learned from the season
"It just shows our resolve. No matter what situation you kind of put us in, we are going to bounce back and we are going to keep fighting to the end."
On the Cowboys putting up big plays to get into overtime
"They are capable of that. At the start of the game they made a couple plays, big plays. And we know that big play offense. We didn't expect them to make those kinds of plays late in the game because we were playing so well. But it was kind of surprising and we knew we still had the opportunity to win the game going into overtime."
CB PATRICK ROBINSON
On the defensive performance
"There were a lot of plays we left on the field. And a lot of things we should have done better. But, you know. It didn't happen."
On the team's resolve
"We made plays when we needed them the most. But we also definitely gave up a lot. But for the most part, we did what we were supposed to do."
On his own performance
"I feel terrible, to be honest. I feel terrible. I think I left my teammates down. But that is part of the game. Just gotta try to forget about it. I guess we gotta look forward to next week."
On holding up at the end of the game to preserve the win
"I felt alright about it. But I think if I wouldn't have given up those huge plays in the beginning, we wouldn't be in that position."
On the big plays the Cowboys put up to get into overtime
"What was going through my mind? Not to give up the big plays. And we did that. But we also made some. I guess we made the ones that really, really counted. We got the win."
On his perspectives on the season
"What do I take away from this season? I think I missed a lot of opportunities as far as not catching the ball. Not having great technique. And I think that really hurt me, in my opinion. And I think it definitely showed this game. They definitely made a lot of plays off my mistakes. That is a hard thing to deal with. But it's done with now."
DE JUNIOR GALETTE
On the defensive performance
"We were shooting ourselves in the foot. If the game had gone the other way, they are a good team, but we were beating ourselves with penalties early on. Just self-imposed mistakes, we were basically costing ourselves the game. But we have so much talent, and we understand coming into the game that penalties are the only way we can lose this game as far as if you look at the film and what type of team we are -- I just feel like we are a better overall team. But we were able to overcome all those adverse situations and just finish upfront on defense and offense."
On his sack
"I just beat them with a speed rush. I was working them all game. It was difficult because they kept rotating with Free and Parnell, they kept rotating at the right tackle. So I had to get a bead on both those guys. What to do? Because once I was working this guy and setting up for this, the other dude came in. So I just decided to hit him with the speed rush and it worked out.
On the lessons learned from the season
"It's not over yet. There are a lot of lessons. We had our growing pains early on. I feel like the last few weeks as far as defensively, we've been coming along really well. The numbers might not show it, but as far as a unit understanding the concept as a defense as a whole, we are getting there. And we are looking forward to what we do in the offseason."