New Orleans Saints Safety Roman Harper
Friday, November 30, 2012
Talk about the performance of the defense the past few weeks and being in the game against Atlanta until the end?
"At the end of the day we know we just have to continue to battle. We knew that we were getting on and off the field pretty fast and you really don't even think about it, you're just watching the game and we're just playing the game as it unfolds. We got three-and-outs consecutively a few times. I think we only had two possessions in the third quarter so it flew by. Drew (Brees) and those guys stayed on the field (and) we just couldn't convert right there in the red zone. Mark (Ingram) slipped down one time, we had the penalty, Lance (Moore) had one (drop in the endzone), just different things like that. At the end of the day, as a team we're kicking, scratching, clawing trying to get wins. We have to be able to try to find a way to do that. Defensively, we have to be able to hold our team in the ballgames, be able to do that and keep us in a game when they need us to, whenever we're struggling offensively or doing some different things like that."
Do you feel that you have to win the remainder of the games to make the playoffs?
"There is no doubt about that. We definitely need every win and we also need some help too. We're taking all donations with other teams losing and we need to give us some wins too."
Being in this situation, does the mindset change at all especially after being so successful the past three seasons?
"No. The thing is, you like where our mindset is at as a team. Nobody is turning on anybody. Everybody is still confident. We believe in each other. Nobody is pointing fingers. You look at it, nobody wants to let the man down next to him. When Drew (Brees) has an off-game, because nobody is perfect and we all have bad games, it really bothers him more than anybody else and you can see it in his eyes when he talks to us after the game. That stuff counts. Everybody wants to win and help each other out and we get that. Defensively, we're going to try to get each other's back. Offensively, I know they're going to do the same."
As a defensive player and as a teammate, how shocked are you when Drew Brees has a game like that?
"I couldn't believe that, I've never seen anything like it. All I'm used to is the Drew we see on every Sunday not a Drew that has five turnovers or things like that. It was just off. The thing is, we still had a chance. We still had great control of the offense. We were still moving the ball up and down the field. He was still very confident in the pocket, stepping up and making throws right on target. Looked like normal but then it would just be one play or they make a play and that's how it goes sometimes. Football is a weird game and each Sunday takes on its own personality and this Thursday night just wasn't our night."
When you look at his NFL-record 54 game streak with at least one touchdown pass that ended last night, how do you look at that?
"I didn't even think about it. I think Scott Shanle said something to me with like two minutes left in the game and I was like 'I thought we scored a touchdown.' We're just so used to Drew. (If) a touchdown is on the board, it's usually Drew throwing it. It is not something to even think about, you're just used to Drew doing what does and usually those things just take care of itself. It's a tremendous honor to have seen this record and it's sad that it had to stop. It's ok, we're on to the next one. I know Drew is still confident, he'll be just fine and continue to throw the ball around like he normally does."
Is it weird to you that now that the defense has found itself, the offense is struggling?
"That's the way it's been all year. It seemed like everything has been just a little bit out of whack, if it's not one thing it's another. It's always something that can point a finger at and say 'well maybe this is why.' By the end of the year, that's not good enough. There is no more chances, there are no more opportunities. We get 16 games a year to go out there and prove you're a professional. That's to win as many games as you can and try to get in the playoffs and make a run at it. There is no more time, there is no more. We are a desperate team and we have to act like it, we have to play like it and we have to become that team."
Who is the better team, Atlanta or San Francisco?
"Me personally, if I had a choice to be on either one of those teams, which team would I like to play for? Probably San Francisco. I just like their mentality. I think they're a physical team, their schemes are pretty nice. I think Atlanta's schemes, on defense, look pretty fun too. They do a lot of different movements and things like that. If those teams matchup, we'll see who the better team is. I don't know though, it's kind of expensive in San Francisco though so I'd take that into account."
Even though you lost to Atlanta, are you the better team?
"At the end of the day, I think we have something with Atlanta. I don't know what it is. I know we definitely get geared up for that game and we've won the majority of these matchups in the seven years that I've been here. Last night, I really feel like we had a chance to win that game. We should have won the game and we just did not take advantage of the opportunities that we needed to whether it was right before the half (with) a couple of the turnovers or things like that. Defensively, we really played fast and we really tried to hit these guys. We did well on third down as a whole. Sometimes it just happens that way. Defensively, we look at it as we have to make an extra play to try to get our offense just a little bit more field position. Maybe we need to score on defense or something like that to try and help our team win. Special teams too, we have to get a big return. We have to do something to try to help us out. We just can't put it all on Drew (Brees) and be like 'if Drew has a bad game, we don't win the game.' Sometimes we have to bail him out because he has bailed us out plenty of times before."
Are the Falcons the best team in the NFC?
"Yeah, the record says it and you have to give it to them. I hate to go to college football but some people say Notre Dame is the number one team. They're undefeated, they deserve it. We're not going to talk about the second and third ranked teams, we're not going to worry about it. They're the best team because they have the best record. They've won their games. It's not their fault who's on their schedule or when they play. You just have to go out and win as many as you can. At the end of the day, I'll take their record. I don't care if we won every one by one point, I'll take it. It's not about that. Every win in this league is hard. It's hard-earned, it's hard-fought. You have to give them the credit, they won the game last night and they've won a lot of games just like that."
Do you think it is fair that some people might say that the team didn't make the playoffs because the bounty scandal was a tough thing to overcome?
"No, it's not about the bounty thing. It's about us starting off the season 0-4 and not getting off to the start that we needed to. We lost to Kansas City, I think they have one win. We lose to the Carolina Panthers, who is going to be coming back to us and we need to get that game too. It's going to be a huge game and we need to even up that series on the year. We lost to Green Bay, we didn't get enough pressure on the quarterback, we didn't do it in the red zone, and we missed a field goal. We don't even talk about that. Things like that. Little games that we just throw away when we have to take advantage of these things because at the end of the year, right now, we need those games. If we win those games early, we're not in such deep water that we're in right now."
Have you spoke to Jonathan Vilma or Will Smith about what has happened today in Washington D.C.? Will you?
"If I did, I wouldn't tell you."
Were you curious about what Gregg Williams said?
"Did he get on the stand today?"
Do you think there is a chance you can get in the playoffs?
"All we have to do is win."
Do you think winning out would do it?
"Winning out could do it. You just never know, this league is a crazy league. I told you, if we need some donations, we'll take them. All we can do is control the games that we play. As long as we go out there and win those games, we give ourselves a chance. I think the last two Super Bowl winners were 9-7 and limped into the playoffs, but they limped in winning some games. You have to get on a streak. It's usually the most desperate and the hottest team that wins. We were desperate last night but we didn't pull it out and we didn't do enough to do it. We still have a couple of opportunities to get out here and try to win some games and we have to finish strong these last four games."
How important is it for your team to maintain that mindset that you could make the playoffs?
"You have to have that. You have to have that dream, those aspirations, as a team. The character of these guys in our locker room that I play with and I bleed and sweat with every day, it's a great group of guys and we all care about each other. We know what's ahead of us. We've won a lot of games around here in the past and we just have to believe and not let any of the doubt drift in. If we do that and we stay hungry then (we) don't worry about (it). (You) just keep plugging, plugging, and plugging. You have to have a little self-pride too. At the end of the day, that's what this thing is about. If you don't have anything else to play for, play for yourself. Play for your family, play for your kids. Play for all of your friends and stuff back home that watch you every game and really live vicariously through you because at the end of the day, when you mess up it hurts them. That's what it's all about. You have to have a little self-pride and understand that when you line up against the man against you, he's got his hand in your back pocket. You don't want to let him take a little bit of change out of it."