Check out team quotes from the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons following their Week 1 matchup to kick off the 2022 NFL season. After struggling for the first three quarters of their season-opener, the Saints offense came to life and rallied to beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-26 on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS HEAD COACH DENNIS ALLEN
"Look, I said this a couple weeks ago, you guys asked me about the team. Our team is tough and gritty and that's what I love about them and that's exactly the way they played in this game tonight. It wasn't perfect, there's a ton of things we've got to get cleaned up. I told them all in there 'look enjoy the win but have tough skin tomorrow,' because we're not going to win a lot of games playing the way that we did today. We're going to have to play a lot better if we expect to be the type of team we think we can be. But I'm proud of the way that they fought they competed all the way to the end. We got a little something going when we got into a two-minute type of mode with the offense and got a little rhythm going. I'm happy that we won the game, a lot of things we have to get cleaned up and get back to work tomorrow and see if we can get them cleaned up."
On the advantage the Saints were able to gain:
"Look I don't know, I think we just kind of got into a little bit of a rhythm and got them in a little bit of a cover two initially on the first two-minute drive, we hit a couple of balls downfield, and then they began to try to pressure us a little bit more as we kept staying with it thought we got into a rhythm and Jameis looked good, couple throws down there in the red area to Mike T [ Michael Thomas ] were big plays. It's good to see him back out there."
On what he was feeling when Wil was lining up for the field goal:
"I felt like he was going to know it through."
On what he was feeling when Younghoe Koo was lining up for the final field goal:
"I felt like he was going to miss it. Listen, I think we've had a great push all preseason long on our field goal blocking and I told them eventually we were going to get one. When you get one of those longer field goals you tend to come out a bit more worried. We got to blocking and it was a big play."
On whether he saw what happened on the final play:
"Look I didn't see exactly what happened, who got it inside? I just saw that the ball went up in the air and then it went the other way, then we won the game."
On what he saw during training camp:
"I just watched them work. They come to work every day. Training camp was tough, it was hard, but they fought through it and battled through it and came to work every day and that's what I respect about all those guys in that locker room."
On Taysom Hill early on:
"Taysom was the offense early on. It was good to see him get back out there. We've had some success with him running the football against this team and obviously, the explosive run down there was huge, and then the finishing off with the sweep around the edge. I thought we blocked it pretty well on both those runs so it was good to see him."
On what a win like this means:
"I think knowing that we were going to be in a lot of these type of situations, I don't think our guys flinched when we found ourselves in those situations. I don't think we executed as well as we needed to in all the different situations. We did enough to win the game and it's always easier to make the corrections off a win than it is off a loss. We're going to enjoy it but yet we know there's a lot we have to improve on."
On the lack of a pass rush:
"They do a lot of different stuff in terms of how they attack you on third down. A lot more quarterback movement-type plays and things of that nature. I don't think I was in the best rhythm that I could be in, don't think I gave our guys as good a chance as I would like to. I have to get better in that regard, but our guys bailed us out. A couple of key takeaways I think, especially the one that Marcus punched out down there in the red area was huge for our team."
On how easy it is to trust WR Michael Thomas in big moments:
"Well look Sean [Payton] used to say 'confidence is born out of demonstrated building,' so I've seen him do that a million times and so I'm very confident that if we need a play like that that he can come up and make the play and he did."
On how it's great to see WR Michael Thomas back:
"It's great to see him back. He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's totally bought into this team and I'm excited about seeing him out there and making plays and that's why he's here and that's what he did."
On intentional grounding call:
"Jarvis went out and caught the ball. I thought he was inbounds, and you can't intentionally ground the ball, you can't clock it when the clock stops. I put that back on me. There were several things late in the game that felt like I have to do a better job. It will be stuff that we look at, it will be stuff that we learn from and hopefully we'll be better in that situation again."
On CB Marshon Lattimore's penalty:
"No. I saw it, so I wasn't really asking for an explanation. I felt the game was over."
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUARTERBACK Jameis Winston
On whether his heart rate has come down yet:
"My heart rate was smooth the whole way. DA [Dennis Allen] told us to be patient, but we don't have to be that patient."
On what it was like in the fourth quarter when the offense gained momentum:
"I mean it was exciting and we just have to find a way to get there quicker and that's what we're going to be dissecting this next week, how can we get there quicker, how can we be better, how can we start faster as a team."
On whether WR Michael Thomas was able to catch difficult throws against the Falcons:
"Absolutely and I told y'all too I was like 'man this is going to be our first time together'. We've got to get things going and then as the game started going away, we started to get on the same page and it's the communication. It's the communication on the sidelines, it's the communication throughout the week and I'm just so happy that as an offense, we all started to click at the right time."
On what about the two-minute drill helped him settle in:
"We knew we were passing the ball right so just the approach like 'hey here we go boom, boom, boom here we go, boom, boom, boom here we go'. You get into that rhythm of knowing like hey these are where my completions are at, these are where my matchups are at and you just go. There is no game plan involved its 'hey this is the defense that were going to get lets go in and play'."
On what about the first three quarters made things difficult:
"Just trying to get a feel, when you play against a division opponent obviously, they did a great job self-scouting themselves out. We had some things that we thought were going to come and they did the opposite, so we just have to continue to prepare, continue to get better and I'm just happy with the resilience that our team possessed and the continuous fight. We never gave up and we kept battling."
On what went through his mind as K Wil Lutz lined up for the game-winner:
"Oh, I knew Little Willie was going to hit it. You know the preparation he had and he had some adversity last year overcoming some injuries and bouncing back in, so I knew he was hungry for another opportunity and he executed."
On what a win versus a division opponent in the season opener does for the team moving forward:
"Man, every win matters. It's tough to win in this football league and every win matters so I'm happy we were able to overcome and squeeze out one here."
On WR Chris Olave's performance:
"I just think he's a phenomenal receiver. He acts tough, he compliments Mike so well. He got our first big third down conversion and coming out of halftime, we got him the ball and he executed and did a lot of things. He's a dog and he's always ready for his opportunity and I'm blessed to have him as a teammate."
On the overall confidence of the team with this being the first game:
"I think just that whole feel as an offense, it's good to see what were capable of and learn from a win. We have so much that we can learn from, especially at the beginning of the game but those guys they know how talented they are. Our coaches do a great job of putting us in great situations, we just have to execute better at the beginning."
On what he learned about his teammates:
"Were resilient and I knew that about us but we were able to show it we acted upon it. We're a resilient team, we fight our butts off and that shows. Our head coach instills that in us, that's the way we practice, that's the way we approach each day. Personally, I was happy that our team got a chance to see what we really had inside of us, we never gave up and won when we needed too."
On what this game meant to him:
"It means a lot. This is home to me. Atlanta, I'm an hour and 30 minutes away from this place. Coming here, I know I've got a lot of Winston's out there in the stands. Man bouncing back and me and Taysom both at the beginning of the game was like 'hey man I remember last time we were here'. Me and him was in the locker room watching our team win and then, San Francisco ended up beating LA and then kicked us out of the playoffs. So, we was like man we've been waiting for this opportunity to be right here in this position and he [Taysom Hill] had a heck of a day and we were able to squeeze out a good win."
On the throw to WR Jarvis Landry on the final drive:
"Big time players make big time plays in big time situations. Just a great mindset. They played a two-man under coverage and Jarvis got on top of the defender and went up there and made a heck of a catch."
On whether he'll keep the long hair:
"Man, I am not worried about this hair. I promise you, I'm focused on next week and getting better, how can we improve, how can we find the things, how can we eliminate the negatives and build on the positives."
On whether he was frustrated trying to get RB Alvin Kamara involved:
"No, Alvin is selfless. We're not worried about whose getting fed, we worry about winning and obviously we want it to start faster. I know that's going to be a big topic of discussion when we leave tomorrow so were going to have to bite our tongues and just go in it and learn, listen and open up to everything the coaches have to present to us and get better."
On whether the defense having the ability to get a turnover is a confidence booster:
"Excellent, it makes me not try to push the ball early in the game. Knowing that when we need to push the ball down the field, we can depend on our defense to get us a stop so we can get the ball back in our hands."
On he expected from the Falcons defense that they didn't show:
"Well, we had a good beat that one of the backers was going to be the most primary pressure element and he just didn't pressure a lot and that was the only thing."
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WIDE RECEIVER CHRIS OLAVE
On whether the hurry-up offense opened things up offensively:
"It just gave us a lot of space. It made the defense hurry up. Just having a hurry-up offense, a two-minute offense, we got to go score, down like 16, we got to go score twice and make it a game."
On whether he felt a momentum shift:
"Oh yeah, for sure. We all believe, at the end of the day, we all believe in each other. We knew if we got a chance, if we got the ball, you know the defense did a great job getting us the ball back and we went and made it happen."
On the route he ran on the two-point conversion:
"It was like a comeback route. I ran it in college. I ran it in college one time. They brought it over and put it in for Week 1 and it came in clutch and we converted."
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WIDE RECEIVER MICHAEL THOMAS
On Will Lutz's game-winning kick:
"I told him I needed him. I told him I needed him. We knew it was going to come down to a close game, I told him the whole day. I told him that I needed him, and he responded well and that's the good thing when you're surrounded by good teammates and players. If everyone does our job and contributes the sky is the limit."
On whether he felt a momentum shift:
"Yeah, for sure. When we came out of halftime we knew we were getting the ball back and being completely honest with ourselves, we knew we were leaving our defense out there on the field too long, too many three and outs, and we took accountability and everyone we looked each other in the eyes we knew what time it was. We knew our team needed us and we needed to respond and we needed to find a way to win this game and that's what we did and that's where the effort came from."
On how it felt to get in the end zone after having a difficult year:
"Lost for words honestly. Just to be able to get in the end zone, add points for my team, get a victory here Week 1 right off. Coach always preaches getting off to a fast start you know as an offense we didn't get completely off to a fast start but it's not always how you start it's how you finish. I took pride in that and my team needed me and when the ball came my way I wanted to take full advantage."
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS CENTER Erik McCoy
On the issues with pass protection:
"You know, I don't have a really good answer for it right now. I'll watch the film. We'll correct it. I know there was one that I identified wrong, the rest of them, like I said I'll have to watch film before I can really see what really happened."
On the no-huddle offense and Jameis Winston getting comfortable:
"We have the rhythm, him [Winston] and the receivers got in a rhythm. We got in a rhythm upfront, it was good to see. I feel like that's something we can do consistently; we just need to start faster."
On the half-time adjustments the team made:
"Throw our hands. You know the time we did get beat individually, it's because we didn't throw our hands, that was the main thing."
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS DEFENSIVE END Cameron Jordan
On whether he had fun:
"Was that fun? I learned something today, intentional grounding if your receiver is out of bounds even though it didn't look like he was out of bounds but could have been out of bounds. I had to get clarification myself, I kept asking cause I was 'what the hell is that'. I also don't know what happened the last, what should have been the last play of the again. You know what? We got a dub. So that's what we can put our hats on right now, can't wait to get to the film, break it down because I do think that we played some sloppy ball. We have to clean that up, ASAP. I would love to say that we love coming out with a win, I do love it, but to be down against this team. This is somebody that we do know, maybe it is someone that we didn't know because we had Marcus Mariota running the hell out of that ball. It is something he have to tighten up on."
On whether he was frustrated with the lack of pass rush:
"We knew coming in we were playing running back with an arm. That's exactly what we saw. I mean he stayed at four, five-yard drop depth, took off whenever he felt anything close to pressure. It's the name of the game, we had to be patience with ours."
On QB Jameis Winston's performance:
"When the offense woke up, they went colossal. So, you gotta love it. If we start that off by snap one through the end of the thing, I don't think it's close. At the end of the day, I think that we had plenty of opportunities to take off and we didn't do that. We didn't capitalize in a couple turnovers, but again once we got going, gears started flowing. It was a good time to watch."
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS DEFENSIVE END Payton Turner
On how his length helped him block the field goal at the end of the game to seal the win:
"Like Cam, we've got big, big defensive ends. That's the type we've got going. Just got off the ball and made a play. That's what I did."
On whether they practice field goal block:
"Yeah, we work that technique. We work field goal block technique every week obviously. To be able to be in that position, making plays, that's what it's about."
On the defense's resiliency:
"We hurt ourselves. We weren't quite who we are. In some situation, bad discipline by me – jump offsides early in the game – but we grinded, played hard in a tough environment and came out with the dub."
New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 1 game against the Atlanta Falcons.
ATLANTA FALCONS HEAD COACH ARTHUR SMITH
On what he said to the team:
"I said hold your heads up high. Same peripheral opponents that thought we wouldn't get a yard, get a point. Same ones will be writing old narratives. That's not us. Didn't go the way we wanted, and blame me, and we'll get better from this. We'll learn from this mistake. A lot of ways to look at it, easy narratives. It is what it is. We lost the game. Didn't make enough plays. We had a chance to put them away; we turned the ball over in the red zone. We had the penalties, probably a four-point swing. Really could have put them away and you've got to give the Saints credit. They made one more play than we did. And even when a game -- whatever, there's time, if they're breathing, this team is going to fight till the end, which we did. We had a chance. Tried to kick a 63-yarder, and they blocked it. That was the message. Again, it's about us. We got 16 games, and if we have the right mindset, we'll improve from this and become a better team."
On the decisions behind the play-call sequence at the end of the game:
"The play never developed. Quarterback-center exchange, under center. It happened. Obviously, we'd love to have that back, but it is what it is."
On the decision to punt on fourth down:
"Obviously, hindsight is 20/20. But when you're in that situation, I had faith. If you don't get it right there, they're even closer. That's what you have, and we tried to bleed every second. Sure, there's a part of me that wanted to go for it. Again, hindsight is 20/20. But at the time my thought was, at the time, let the clock play down; let's pin them back. They had no timeouts. We made them use all their timeouts. And, again, if you had to do it over again, obviously knowing the end result, sure, make the other call."
On what changed defensively over the last three drives:
"We mixed up the calls. They made the plays, and we didn't get to the quarterback. And that's essentially what it was. When there was pressure, four-man rush, different coverages. And you got to give them credit. They kept him clean at the end. We were collapsing the pocket most of the game. When it mattered, we didn't get there. And same thing, I thought three-and-a-half quarters, we dominated the line of scrimmage. But they were able to make the plays at the end there."
On his message to the team that this is not the same old Falcons:
"Look, guys, it's a different team every year. Last year, right? Again, the game that happened, the collapse. What happened? They went back down and scored and won it. They had the opportunity again today. We didn't sit there and say, woe is me. We practiced those situations. Try to get what we thought was the coverage -- thought maybe -- actually, I'm not going to say anything about that. But kept swinging, get the ball to C.P., get it down, work our mechanics, there's no panic on our sideline. They happened to get a personal foul. And we had a shot to go bang the timeout with two seconds. I thought we had a chance at least. They gave us an opportunity, and they made another play; we didn't. They blocked it."
On whether he felt the team was receptive to that message after the game:
"Yes. Guys, this is the same team, you guys wrote our obituary back in May, and you'll continue to write our obituary. Who cares? Because we got 16 games, and if we don't learn from this and get better. And we've got to go play LA. They've got a three-day jump on us. We'll watch tape; we'll look for corrections, and then we got to get going on the Rams."
On whether he saw any fatigue today on the defense:
"No. To your point, Jeff. I didn't see fatigue. I mean I thought, again, I thought we handled the lines of scrimmage well. And, obviously, they made plays at the end, and we didn't."
On Cordarrelle Patterson's usage:
"A lot of them are looks that they gave us. There was a lot of runs that Marcus [Mariota] had too. Pretty effective. Again, some of these guys aren't superhuman. I couldn't give them 50 carries. There's a lot of things that go when you run a run. How many rushing yards did we have? 201? I'll take that. And obviously you wish we had one more. Maybe in hindsight, you wish you could have gotten a look at the spot on Marcus and they put the ball out. They didn't. We bobbled the snap, and that gave them the opportunity for them to go down there and kick the field goal."
On Marcus Mariota's ability to run the ball:
"Absolutely. We're trying to use every asset and weapon we've got. I've been telling them all year we're not going to play the same way we played last year. We're going to play to the strengths of our team. We got an edge we want to play with up front, and I thought, for the most part, we played with that edge up front."
On whether this is what he wants the team to look like offensively:
"For the most part, other than the turnover in the red zone. We had two fumbles, I believe, O.Z. [Olamide Zaccheaus], the one on the explosive. And then obviously Marcus got the first down and trying to give himself up and the guy did a good job, knocked the ball out. And the penalty down on the low one, that one bothers me."
On whether he liked the diversification of the offense:
On whether the offense looked the way he wanted it to today:
On whether Taysom Hill's long run early in the game was a misalignment:
"It was. It was."
On what the one question he wanted to be answered going into this game:
"Well, I mean, really, can we protect? Can we run the football on the defense that, they're supposed to be the Steel Curtain and the '85 Bears' front. That's what I wanted to see. The challenge was, can we come up and manhandle that front, which is one of the better fronts in football. We'll get another shot at them down in New Orleans, and we can't wait. Write whatever you all want. You guys ranked us 45th. You buried us in May. Bury us again. We don't care. We'll get back to work."
ATLANTA FALCONS QUARTERBACK MARCUS MARIOTA
On the difference between the first three quarters and the fourth quarter:
"I would say the biggest difference was just finishing in the red zone. We had opportunities -- multiple opportunities to go in there and score touchdowns and kind of put the game away. We allowed them, as an offense, to stick around and that's something we have to get back and look at and correct."
On his fumble in the red zone:
"Yeah, honestly I just lost track of where I was. I thought I needed a few more for first down. So, I put my head down. I realized I already had it. Looking back in that situation I wish I would have just gone down and protected the ball and we would have had another chance to score points."
On whether he would believe it if he was told the team would rush for more than 200 yards and lose:
"No. I don't -- yeah, that's tough. Right? I think if you ever run the football as well as we did, make plays in the passing game, obviously we just have to find ways to score more points. I think we did a great job of moving the ball. Guys up front did an unbelievable job all game of controlling the line of scrimmage and when it comes down to it in this league if you're not scoring points in the red zone you leave the door open and you have to give credit to the Saints. They found a way at the end to win the game."
On the fumbled exchange late in the game:
"Yeah, that was 100 percent on me. Unfortunately, I was trying to we had a great look for the play that we called. And I tried to cheat it and get back a little quicker so I would have an opportunity to read it a little bit better. And it's something that you take for granted. Unfortunately, it kind of got away from us, and that's completely on me."
On his impression of WR Drake London's first game:
"I thought he had a great day. For us it's no surprise. We've seen that throughout camp. We've seen that in OTAs. So, I think it's a great stepping stone, but that's the expectation. That's the standard that we're going to hold him to. But I love playing with these guys. They continue to find ways to get open and you just have to find ways to get it to them."
On how he evaluates games when he goes through them and whether he evaluates it as a whole:
"I take it as a whole because I do think there was missed opportunities throughout the entire course of the game. And it's part of week one, right? You kind of iron some things out. This is the full first game that we got to play together. With that being said, I'm not going to look at it specifically, you know, one quarter or another. I really believe if you look at it as a whole, there's ways that we can improve and find ways to score more points and hopefully win the game."
On whether he wants to use his legs more in the offensive attack:
"Well, yeah. I think it just kind of depends on what they're doing defensively. The Saints basically were allowing me to pull some of those end zone reads, giving me opportunities to get north and south. But we'll have to see week to week. And that's what's fun about this offense, we can do a lot of different things. And we're not one-dimensional. We can kind of do a lot of things, and we've got a bunch of guys that are very versatile. So if it calls for it, yes. If not, you know, I'll do whatever I can to help this team out."
On the challenge of letting a loss like this go:
"Yeah. It is tough. But I think as an older player and I think we've got some older vets in this locker room, they understand the nature of the beast. It's one of 17. There's 16 more of these. There's a lot of good on the tape. There's a lot of things we can get better at. But I don't think you have to hang your head at all. It's early in the season. We'll find ways to improve. This team will continue to come together, and I love playing with these guys. I think we have a chance to be good."
On whether the offense today was what he envisioned it to look like:
"It's kind of hard to say, because I do think we're so versatile in a lot of things that we do that it just kind of depends week to week. But I guess today was one of those days where up front we were doing a great job and we were able to run the football. So, yes, I think we are on the right track, but we just have to be better in red zone and some of these third down situations."
On the fumble in the red zone:
"Yeah. I just lost track of where I was. I thought I needed a few more yards. I put my head down to get what I thought was a first down. Just unfortunately one of those things. Looking back on it, if I can understand where I'm at, I would love to get down, give us another chance to get some points."
On moving past this loss:
"Yeah. What's really cool about this team and what's really cool about the culture that they're building here is it's just one day at a time. We're doing our best to stay present, finding ways to improve on what is going on in that moment. I think if you look too far ahead or if you're looking too far back, you get yourself in trouble. So as a team, we're going to find ways to get better from this and we're just going to take it one day at a time. And when things are rolling and we pick our heads up in December, I think we'll like where we're at."
On whether playing a 17-game schedule gives him that ability to take it one day at a time:
"Absolutely. There's more opportunities, right? With 17 games there's more chances to win games and find yourself in a playoff run."
ATLANTA FALCONS DEFENSIVE LINEMAN GRADY JARRETT
On helping the team move on from this loss as a leader in the locker room:
"You know what, I think the message is simple. We just have go back to work and chalk this one up. We'll get to see these guys later in the year. Definitely unfortunate how the game ended today, but we still got a lot of work ahead of us."