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Quotes from Saints players following the week 14 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Orleans Saints players recap their week 14 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Dec. 9


(On what he saw on the punt block)

"When you get to rush next to Alex Okafor, it makes your job really easy. There were a few looks we looked at and saw during the week and we were able to run a little game. Coach Westhoff gives us the freedom to do emergency calls like that. AO (Alex Okafor) and I saw it, so we went for it. He draws so much attention that he took both the wing and the tackle and I got up there early."

(On if he thought the punt block could be the spark the team needed)

"Absolutely. I remember sitting on the bench next to Coach Westhoff and he said something to me like, 'Man, I've been a part of football for a long time and this is the type of game where we as a special teams unit need to make a big play to change momentum here.' That was our mindset as a special teams unit and that's what we were hoping for."

(On if the punt block is high on his list of best plays of the season)

"Absolutely. We've had a few pressure opportunities where we've tried to get me loose and free to block one. It's been a long time coming for sure. It felt good to get back there and get one."

(On if he's ever blocked a punt)

"I have not. No. Again, I felt like we were due. I felt like Coach Westhoff kind of challenged both Alex Okafor and I this week since we got close last week against Dallas and didn't come away with anything. He kind of challenged us this week. Alex and I had a few conversations about it and said, 'Okay, challenge accepted. It's on.' "

(On if he knew he could block it when he broke through the line)

"Yeah, absolutely. I came free, both the tackle and the wing set on Alex [Okafor] and my whole thing was just don't miss the ball because I got there really early. It's a ton of fun rushing next to Okafor because he draws so much attention."

(On how amazing it is that one play can spark so much momentum)

"We've all been a part of football for a really long time and you can point back to various games where there's that one moment, there's that one play, where the momentum shifted and the other team was never able to get it back. I'm not surprised that that play triggered momentum the way that it did. It's just trying to capitalize and make those plays when you get the opportunity."


(On how it feels to win the NFC South division)

"Exciting, man. That's our first goal every year is to be division champs. For us to be able to come out and be gritty and resilient in this game and be able to close out our division back to back."

(On if it felt like a different game after the blocked punt)

"It's that momentum. Any time you get a blocked punt, or a big punt return or turnover, that gives a team a lot of momentum. We were able to get that blocked punt, get a short field and convert for a touchdown and it took off from there, so special teams were huge for us today."

(On how it feels to pass Deuce McAllister for second all-time in touchdowns scored in Saints franchise history)

"It's amazing, it's a blessing. Obviously, Deuce [McAllister] is the epitome of great [running] backs that have come through New Orleans and I'll just keep working my butt off. Like I always said, I want to be the best. That's what I work for, that's what I strive for. A lot of people helped me along the way, my teammates, my coaches, my family supporting me. I want to break it. Let's talk after I break it."

(On this being the first game of the season where Drew Brees had two turnovers)

"Drew [Brees] is the G.O.A.T. regardless of what happens. The one turnover was kind of a messed up play, but we know that he bounces back. We know that he's never going to be in a funk. Guys fumble, other people turn the ball over too, so that's just a part of football. If it wasn't important, it wouldn't be a stat and we got his back. The whole team has each other's backs, we believe in each other. When one of our guys has a mishap, we have a whole entire organization picking him up. Drew is the G.O.A.T. He's the best player I've ever played with and he's the man."


(On going into this game knowing the importance of a possible victory for the Buccaneers)

"This is like Tampa Bay's Super Bowl. That's how they came in and they tried to match that intensity in that first half. For us, we were coming in to win, so we had to take their best shot and give them a better shot."

(On coming back in the second half after six quarters of being down)

"We're fighting all battles here. We're going through it. Offensive linemen are doing what offensive linemen do. The chippy holding stuff from Tampa, the chippy holding stuff from whatever team we face, we're all just going to have to overcome that. It's up to us to keep a level head. It's up to us to give us our best shot to try and win and create turnovers."

(On facing the Panthers in two out of their next three games)

"We've got three games left. We've got to play [Panthers quarterback] Cam Newton twice. That's a hell of an offense. You've got to play, I don't know how you initialize the kid – [Panthers running back Christian] McCaffrey. I don't, there's acronyms in situations for that kid, but McCaffrey, he's an electric player. [Panthers wide receiver Devin] Funchess is a strong receiver. That's their offense – ok, next. We'll worry about them 24 hours from now."


(On how they were able to get the run game going in the second half)

"We emphasized it. The [offensive line] was hungry for it, they wanted to get the ball going. Me and [running back] Mark [Ingram II] talked about it. We wanted to get running at them. We feel like when we're running the ball well, our offense is hard to stop. We got it going and good things happened."

(On the offense taking two and a half quarters to get going)

"A lot of the times we forget that this game is not perfect. A lot of people expect us to come out and be perfect but that's just not reality. People make mistakes. We may start slow sometimes, but it's not when adversity hits, it's how you respond to it and adversity is going to hit. I think this team responds well to adversity."


(On if team made any halftime adjustments)

"Just kind of getting focused. We really didn't change too much. We added to our run game and executed what we've been doing all season. That's really the only change."

(On any reason run game was better in second half)

"I really can't (find a reason). Not without watching the film."

(On this season's postgame celebration compared to last season)

"So much better. Obviously, if you get a win, you can celebrate. Last year was tough with a loss. We still got a championship, which was huge. It feels a lot better this year."

(On Drew Brees' ability on quarterback sneaks)

"He's been doing this a long time, so he knows the mechanics. He knows how to get it done."

(On offensive line's role on a QB sneak)

"It's really just like wedge blocking. You try to get low and try to get movement, but it's just like a wedge block. We're just lunging for it, trying to get an extra inch."

(On Brees' technique on quarterback sneaks)

"I don't know. It looks like he just grabs the ball, jumps over and reaches the ball over."

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