New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams - NFC Championship - January 20, 2019 - Head Coach Sean McVay
"I can't say enough about our team's effort today (We have) so much respect for Coach Payton and the Saints, they are a tough team. I have never coached in an atmosphere like that, ever. It was so loud, and we had some communications issue from the start. We dealt with big time adversity and it personifies what type of team this has been throughout the course of the year. We fell behind and just kept competing, kept swinging. It wasn't always perfect, but we made enough plays and then I think really the overtime period personifies what this team is all about. Defense gets a turnover Jared (Goff) makes an unbelievable play to (Tyler) Higbee to be able to even get us in under 60-yard field goal range and then Greg "the leg" (Zuerlein) delivers in a big way. I am just so happy for these players, for these coaches, but a lot of respect for the Saints. We are excited about getting a chance to move on and play in Atlanta. Wow."
On if there are words for the feeling and emotions he has right now:
"I don't think so. I think right afterwards its surreal, you're so happy for these players but I have a real big headache right now from yelling all day today. These guys just kept swinging. We're going to enjoy this for a day or so and then have a couple of weeks to prepare for either the Chiefs or the Patriots. It's an unbelievable opportunity, what a blessing it is to be able to do this and see the people succeed that you care so much about, guys like Andrew Whitworth and so many of our players. This was a special day, for sure."
On Jared Goff taking control of the huddle in this atmosphere:
"That is what you love about him. That's what we've said all along, and those kinds of things are things we are not really exposed to as coaches, but to his teammates those are the guys that really know. The communications that goes on in the huddle and having to deal with 'can you even hear what I'm saying?', but being able to command those, guys, have them believe in what we are getting ready to go do. I thought the drive at the end of the first half, Brandin Cooks makes a great catch, then Todd (Gurley) makes an unbelievable run to be able to punch it in. That got us a little bit of momentum. Obviously, the first drive we had coming out of the second half wasn't ideal but like we said, guys just kept fighting and Jared's (Goff) mental toughness was a big part of us being able to win that today. With these elements, that's a great defense, I thought Coach (Dennis) Allen and the Saints defense did an outstanding job of slowing us down today. We made enough plays to be able to win it as a team and that is what you love about this game."
On the drive to end regulation play:
"I'm really happy (with it). I thought Josh Reynolds, what an unbelievable catch over the middle that he made, gets a catch and run. Robert Woods makes a bigtime conversion where he ended up winning on an inside breaking route versus a man pressure. If he keeps his feet he is a guy that is going to end up scoring, but I thought our team's composure right there, you couldn't hear anything, for Greg (Zuerlein) to be able to deliver that kick to be able to send it into overtime was outstanding. I thought the two-minute management by the offense and by Jared's leadership as a whole and the end of the first half and then at the end of the game was instrumental in the outcome. That was big time by those guys."
On the calm confidence leading up to this week in preparation:
"I think you said it, it's the confidence. That confidence is earned throughout the course of the week by the way they prepare, the way they plan and the way they practice. We have a lot of respect for the Saints, but there was an expectation, there was a belief that we were coming in here not just to compete with them but to come win the football game. We knew it was going to be a great challenge but the guys stayed the course. It took more than 60 minutes of football like we thought but they got it done and I think that just personifies the mental toughness and also the belief and the expectation that we expect to go win football games because of the players that we have in that locker room."
On Todd Gurley getting off to a slow start and the decision to go with C.J. Anderson more:
"It was really just a flow for the game. I thought Todd's run from the five (yard line on the two-minute drive was outstanding. What personifies Todd is this is an MVP caliber player and he just kept fighting, kept supporting his teammates and he is going to have an instrumental role in our game against whoever we play, whether it be the Patriots or the Chiefs. Today, that was just the feel for the flow of the game that we had, not anything against Todd (Gurley). C.J. (Anderson) did a nice job, but I thought they did a good job as a whole slowing down our run game and we just had to grind some things out today but Todd is a special player and couldn't be more impressed with the way that he handled himself and then he ended up making a big time play that ended up in us winning that football game today."
On what went into the decision on the fake punt in the game:
"Really it goes back to the confidence in the players and I know your next question is going to be then why didn't you go for it on the fourth down (in the fourth quarter). I think more than anything it was that we needed a little bit of momentum. We felt like if the look presented itself we were going to take it. Sam Shields did a good job running an excellent route. Johnny (Hekker) delivered a ball right on the money and even though that didn't end in a touchdown, we ended up getting some points. I thought that just gave us a little bit of life with the way that things were going. That was part of it, Bones (John Fassel) felt confident in it and I felt confident in our players ability to execute it in a big way. With the fourth down deal, we were moving the ball really well. I think our defense had played really good football up to that point. Ok, if we get it to a tie game, we feel good about the outcome being able to turn in our favor if we are able to get a couple of possessions. Ultimately, it ended up working out for us because of our players."
On Jared Goff not being able to do what he did today back in November when the run game did not work in that game also:
"I think his ability to stay the course. They did a great job, they have been one of the top rush defenses the entire year. They were committed, they did a couple different things with their front structures, they set hard edges. They are a great defense, there is a reason why they are in the NFC championship and were the number one seed this year. I thought Jared (Goff) made enough plays, took what the defense gave him. With the exception of the turnover we had early in the game I thought the guys played really well and Jared's leadership was a big part of that outcome. You can't say enough about his ability to never get phased my any circumstance that presents itself. I'm really so happy for him and he did a great job of leading us today."
On the non-call on the Saints' last drive in regulation:
"It was a bang-bang type play. The one thing I respect about the refs today is they let the guys compete and they let the guys play. I thought Nickell Robey made a nice play. They snapped it with a quick snap and had a little wheel route coming out of the backfield. I thought it was a competitive type play and I am certainly not going to complain about the way that was officiated. I thought it was a competitive play. I thought they let the guys compete within the framework of the rules and that is what NFL football is about."
QB Jared Goff
On his feelings postgame:
"We're still so fresh from it. I definitely went through a ton of emotions. When the field goal went in to excited to emotional and overwhelmingly happy. I am very excited, we get to play in the Super Bowl and we deserve it."
On playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:
"It was a chaotic game. Just the way the crowd gets into the game, they definitely make an impact and they did today, but ultimately, we were able to overcome them. They are loud."
On having to talk to each of his lineman each play:
"So, I guess I will tell you this, I would not if we had lost, but right before we went out there on the first drive my helmet went dead. The headset went dead, so I was wearing Sean Mannion's helmet for the first drive. Throughout the second drive, it was in and out, it was spotty. So, trying to hear Sean (McVay) was difficult, we did some different things to make it easier. Trying to hear was difficult and trying to communicate was difficult, but I think once we got into a rhythm outside of those first two or three drive I felt pretty good. I think once I was able to settle in and really understand what was coming in through the helmet and being able to anticipate some stuff and then be able to be very direct with where I need to say it to, once I was able to do that it was better."
On putting tape over the ear holes of his helmet:
"Yes, it helped tremendously. I wish I would have done it from the beginning."
On what he was feeling throughout the game
"The first two drives were tough. The first few three and outs when I didn't have my helmet and then the second drive, we went three-and-out again, I think whichever one I threw an interception, they were all tough and it was disorienting. We fought through it, but it wasn't loud enough I guess."
On his thoughts on the Saints today:
"We have to tip our caps to the Saints and everything they did and what a good team they are. How much respect I have personally, I know we have, for Drew (Brees), and for coach (Sean) Payton, and all those guys that have been there for so long and at such a high level. It was an honor to be out there and win that game and do that here it is unbelievable, but we deserved it."
DT Aaron Donald
On seeing the game-winning kick go through:
"It was surreal. This is what you work for, playing in big games like this and having an opportunity to be world champs. To do it with my teammates and my brothers, it is surreal."
On beating Drew Brees at home today:
"Great team football. From offense to defense to special teams, we stuck together. We had ups and we had downs, we talked about that this week, we knew it would happen. At the end we stuck together, played together, and we finished as a team."
On keeping faith after getting down early in the game:
"We are playing a good team. They are going to have their good plays, we are going to have our good plays. They are going to have their bad plays, and we had ours. They started out a little faster than us, but we stayed together, we stayed calm and focused and we came back and won by three."
On playing in the Super Bowl:
"It is a dream. This is what you work for. This is what you are trying to do, this is what all those long hours are for, to get an opportunity to play in a game like the Super Bowl. We did it, we have a lot more work to do, but we are happy. We are going to celebrate a little bit tonight, and then right back to work."
LT Andrew Whitworth
On Jared Goff's performance:
"The way he (Jared Goff) played today, I mean honestly the whole game. I cannot say enough about him. His performance was amazing and to beat Drew Brees in this arena, this is one special place to play. These guys are really good here and are really hard to beat. You just cannot say enough about Jared's job today."
On the team's confidence coming into today's game:
"I think we believed in ourselves. We believe how good we are and you know what, we are going to convince people one way or another. If we have to go try and win a Super Bowl and no one ever gets convinced, who cares. We think we are really good and think we have the opportunity to win and play at our best."
On playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:
"It was absolutely crazy. I have never played in anything louder than that ever, not even close.
On facing adversity:
"I think it shows you with all of the people out there that really jump on and off your bandwagon all year. If you look at the season as a whole, the personal adversity, the team adversity we faced throughout the season. To be 13-3 and sitting where were are with a bye, I think people slept on us and now they kind of get it. I have to give a shout out to my guy Ryan Clark, he has been on the Rams bandwagon all year, and you know what, what up RC."
K Greg Zuerlein
On the team facing adversity this season:
"I think it just shows us as an organization that we never give up, we are a close-knit group. Whether we go through some adversity or we experience some success, we do not let that change us or affect us. We just keep on keeping on."
On making the game-winning kick:
"In your head, it is like going back to when you are a little kid playing on the basketball court with three seconds left and he shoots and then you miss it you call timeout. You play all those situations in your head and hopefully they come to fruition and you are successful in them."
On being relaxed before the late field goal in regulation:
"I did not think about that, I was just focusing on making the kick. I did see Johnny (Hekker) run off. I do not know what he was thinking, if we were going to fake it or not, but I appreciate his running."
SS John Johnson III
On when they thought they had a chance to win:
"We always believe. Last time we were here we went down by 21 points, then we came back and tied it up 35-35. We never gave up confidence at all, we were in it the whole game. We just had to fight through it and fight until the end."
On his late game interception in overtime:
"I had to have it, I did not want it, I had to have it. We won the game and that is a blessing. The ball was just hanging up there forever, it felt like I was fielding a punt. I had to back pedal for it. I saw Michael Thomas right at me, I thought he was going to knock it out of my hands, but I got it in my hands and knew I had to secure it. I did not see it get tipped, but I figured it was tipped since it was a wobbly ball, so I just had to secure it and get it."
On staying in the game while playing from behind:
"That is playoff football. That is on the road football. The crowd is going to be in it and you are going to go down, they are going to make plays, but you just have to fight until the end."
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman
On the controversial play at the end of regulation:
"In my mind, yes, I thought I was going to get flagged in that split second, but then I got up and they said it was incomplete. I was about to go crazy and was saying that is good. I thought that would have been a flag and they would have scored on the next play.
On his thoughts on the game after the controversial play:
"It is what it is, but you have to take advantage. You play in this league you have to take advantage. You get a break like that, you have to take advantage of that. In this league, the door opens and the door closes that quick, so if someone is giving you a break you have to take advantage of it. Good calls or bad calls, whatever it is