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Saints Coach Sean Payton postgame quotes after week 13 win over Atlanta Falcons

HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON
Opening statement:
“Obviously a whirlwind of a game. I was proud of how we finished. We made it a little bit more difficult than it should have been, and yet our guys battled and hung in there. Defensively, I thought we played outstanding. We have to clean up that end-of-game situation that’s twice now been a pain. We’ve got to do a better job coaching it—and I’ll get that corrected—and then we’ve got to do a better job executing and recovering a simple onside kick.”

On the defensive line’s performance:
“We had a good rotation going. Look, that’s one of the reasons...we’ve been dressing eight and [defensive line coach] Ryan (Nielsen)’s done a great job of keeping fresh players in. Obviously, at some point, it became a one-dimensional game. It’s hard to muster up that energy without a defensive rotation.”

On whether defensive lineman Cameron Jordan is playing better now than he ever has:
“I’m not sure. He’s playing awfully well, but we’ll look at the tape. I mean, he’s been playing real well there for a while.”

On the significance of winning the NFC South:
“It doesn’t happen much before Thanksgiving. This is our sixth now and third in a row. It’s one of the goals. For it to happen on Thanksgiving this early, it’s the first step. It’s hard to win in this league. It’s hard to win on the road in this league. I’m proud of our guys. I’m proud of Mrs. B (Gayle Benson) and ownership. A lot of work goes into putting the right team together. It’s a challenging business. It’s all worth it when you win, you have a chance and you’re playing for something. It’s very difficult if you’re not winning. It’s good.”

On injuries in the second half:
“Yeah, we had a few nicks. We had a couple of guys with cramps, dehydrated. Marshon (Lattimore) missed the better part of a quarter almost. Chauncey (C.J. Gardner-Johnson) missed some time and Tre’Quan (Smith). We had a few guys. It’s not unusual. Keep playing, keep battling.”

On the offensive line:
“Well look, the thing I was proud of was a couple young guys starting on the left side. It was incumbent on us to make sure that we were giving them a chance and we weren’t going to just hang them out there on the road. We battled and I don’t think we gave up a sack. I thought we ran the ball better. Our third down numbers weren’t what they need to be. We’ve got to improve in that area and red zone as well. We made enough plays in the end to win the game. I thought Taysom (Hill) had a few big plays. They were big for us. Overall, it was a good win.”

On whether he had ever seen a player block a punt, catch a touchdown and run for a touchdown in the same game:
“Listen, he’s (Taysom Hill) just a football player. I say that, but he’s neat to coach, he can play a number of different positions. There aren’t many guys like him. The first one I’ve coached like him. So, while he’s developing as a quarterback, there’s a lot of places he’s playing and we probably need to get him the ball even more. I was proud of how he played. He’s a real good practice player, and I think that coupled with his athleticism and his love for the game...I don’t think there’s anyone that enjoys playing football more than him. That kind of rubs off and is contagious on his teammates. When a guy like him makes a play, you see guys get excited. That quality that a player has that endears himself to his teammates I think is very strong and important. He’s one of those players.”

On whether it was tough to play on Sunday and Thursday of this week:
“Yeah, it is. It’s tough from a time standpoint, but everyone does it and then you have this weekend (off). Football itself is challenging and tough. Your schedule changes and you’ve just got to be willing to understand that and then quickly set your sights on how you’re going to do it. No one’s going to listen to you if you’re complaining about doing it. Our guys handled the schedule well.”

On Shy Tuttle:
“He’s been a part of that rotation. He’s a good interior player. You get one that you can sign in free agency and is able to play and help you in his rookie year, that’s valuable because they’re hard to find. It was great to see him make the play (interception). I caught the tail end of it. I actually didn’t see...I saw him when he was running. Those guys up front have done a good job. We’ve got some really good competition and some depth there. Again, for a young rookie free agent to make a team and then play, I’m proud of him.”

On the resiliency of the team:
“Look, it’s challenging. It’s one of the challenges. You hope your injury numbers are down. You hope during the year that you can stay as healthy as you can. You have to develop the back end of your roster and you have to be ready to play guys that maybe at the start of the year might not have even been active or might not have been on the roster. It’s not unusual. You might be playing someone who just joined your club. We’ve got a couple of those guys now. That’s part of the deal. I’m pleased to see them come in and quickly get acclimated and have success. Our jobs as coaches is to give them the best chances to have success.”

On the play design of Taysom Hill’s touchdown run:
“Well, it’s a designed power (run). It’s kind of a weakside power kick. It’s hard to explain. When Alvin (Kamara) left the backfield, they’ve got to remove one player defensively. They (the Falcons) got a little confused. Two went and then one tried to come back. There was a gap scheme and it ended up cutting back. I can’t tell you that it was designed to go (that way), but it hit the gap it was designed to hit. Once it’s five or six yards downfield, that’s up to Taysom.”

On the hands team issues:
“It’s not good. It’s embarrassing. We’ve got to get it cleaned up. It’s not the first time that this has happened now. We went through this, where were we? (Chicago). Same thing. We’ve got to get that cleaned up. We’ve got to make sure we understand what we’re telling them. Clearly after one or two of them [onside kicks], you saw it wasn’t going very deep and we’re still lined up 10 yards behind the [line]...so we’ll get that cleaned up. That’s on us.”

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