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Saints Postgame Quotes

Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Press Conference – January 14, 2011

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Opening Statement:

"First thing is we tip our hat to San Francisco. It was kind of an unbelievable game, the way it went back and forth. Obviously it's a disappointing game to lose and we recognize the finality of it. To go through the momentum swings that we had, and we had our opportunities and, again, we credit San Francisco for making one more play than us to win a tough game."

You guys hadn't turned the ball over that much all season…

"We were fortunate, honestly. At halftime, one of the things I mentioned to the team was that for as many turnovers as we had, to be down three, we felt pretty good that it wasn't more than that. That was one element that was disappointing. San Francisco made some big plays, but we were able to hang in there and overcome those in the second half. But certainly that's tough to overcome."

Can you discuss the defensive breakdown at the end of the game?

"The game went back and forth on offense, defense and the kicking game."

After you had the three-point lead, you had a lot of guys up front and not deep.

"We were in two or three different coverages — two deep, single safety. Typically, you're trying to not show one consistent look. There were two different drives, really. There was the first one and then the one at the end. The key was we're protecting a field goal, really, not a touchdown. They've got a really good kicker who's kicking from that 30, 35-yard line. So we tried to mix things up."

Seemed like Drew's protection was good in the game, but you weren't as good against San Francisco's secondary.

"I thought two or three things. It's a really good defense and they did a really good job trying to keep the ball in front of them. We had to be patient at times with the underneath throws. We had to hit some of those. At other times, they were able to get some pressure, but that's one of the better defenses we've played all year. I thought by and large there were a lot of good things and a lot of things we're going to watch on tape which you would have been able to do better."

Was there anything specific that stood out?

"Nothing specific right now."

What was the impact of losing [RB] Pierre Thomas early?

"With a guy like Pierre, obviously you want to stay as healthy as you can. He's going to be okay, that's most important. It happened early on and I thought [RB] Darren [Sproles] and [RB] Chris [Ivory] did a really good job of handling more snaps than usually."

Pierre is usually a big part of your screen game. How much was that a factor?

"Pierre does a lot of things well for us. Screens are a part of it. Darren is the same way. It just meant that those other guys were going to have to pick up the workload. You saw Darren's snaps go way up. You saw Chris get more snaps. Certainly there's a number of things that we think Pierre does well for us and you hate to lose a good player like that."

You came in knowing the 49ers have a good rushing defense. Was that what you expected it to be?

"We were able to create some decent runs. We felt like we were going to have to spread them out some defensively, and we were going to have to throw the ball underneath at times, and then mix in the run in the play action pass."

Was this the most physical defense you've faced all year?

"It's a really good front seven. They can apply pressure with the pass-rush. I think they do a very good job on the back end. It was a good hard fought game. It's disappointing to lose, but both teams played hard and it certainly wasn't a perfect game. It's hard when you get that close and all of the sudden it slips away. It's difficult."

How disappointing was it to not to create more turnovers?

"It's disappointing to lose. Are you with me? That's what's disappointing."

[TE] Vernon [Davis] is their big play guy. Could you have done anything different against him?

"He made some big plays at the end there just like [TE] Jimmy Graham did. It's easy in hindsight to go back and second guess, but it's the mark of a really good football player. I told our team that they ended up making one more play than we did tonight. I was proud of how we fought. I was proud of our guys despite some of the early adversary—the turnovers. Defensively we made a lot of key stops for a good portion of that game. Offensively we battled back. I thought there were some good things. It's difficult when you lose a divisional game like this and certainly a guy like Vernon Davis is a heck of a player."

QB Drew Brees

Press Conference – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

After your last touchdown drive, did you feel you left too much time on the clock?

"No, we were thinking go down and score as quickly as we could. And we benefited obviously from the big play and we were ready to sustain the drive when we got down there, but anytime you need a touchdown, I don't think you can score too quickly. And we got the two-point conversion to go up by three. I think with 1:41 left and one timeout, I know our defense felt very comfortable being able to go out there and stop them. But you have to credit their offense and the plays they ran down the stretch. "

Were you surprised by how well their secondary played?

"I had figured coming into this game they would feel like, let's keep everything in front of us, let's not give up big plays and obviously do a good job against the rush and try to put them in third and long situations. They did, yet again, a great job stopping the run in a lot of cases which we felt like in order to really get chunks, we would have to throw it. But we did have some big plays in the passing game, but three turnovers, obviously way too many turnovers. Obviously that's a great defense. It's one of the best defenses in the league."

Is it hard to deal with the finality of playing in a playoff game?

"You understand that when you get into the playoffs, each week you have to win to move on or go home. Unfortunately we are the ones going home this time. We knew the challenge of coming in to play the 49ers. They had a great season. They earned that No. 2 seed. It's a hostile environment. It creates problems. Obviously you are going against one of the best defenses in football and I think we traded punches all day long. We mounted a great comeback in the end, but unfortunately it wasn't enough. You have to hand it to their team and the way they battled as well. Really it's just two great teams that are used to winning and know how to win and know how to finish, just going at it. Unfortunately there can only be one winner."

Did losing RB Pierre Thomas change your game plan at all?

"Really that just put more responsibility on [RB] Darren Sproles. Obviously it's tough to lose Pierre especially in the first series for the rest of the game because he is such a big part of what we do and we were able to mix and match with Sproles. Sproles did a lot. I think Darren did an unbelievable job handling the run and protection. Obviously he caught a lot of passes today as well."

Did you feel like your last two touchdown passes were championship plays?

"Well you're putting the ball into your playmaker's hands and they've done that all season. Sproles has done that all season. Jimmy Graham has done it all season. They mixed up the coverage on us quite a bit today. They gave us a lot of pressure looks as well, so we caught them in those two instances in man coverage. That's risk-reward there. Obviously if you miss a tackle and you put one of those guys in space and allow them to make a play and Sproles obviously took advantage of that and so did Jimmy."

Did you feel like this team was ready to make a Super Bowl run?

"I felt like we had all the pieces in place. I felt like we were playing very well. When you look at this game, all you want is a chance to win at the end and we had that. In fact every - I'd say that every game this year that we've lost, we've had a chance to win. We won a lot of them. Unfortunately we lost a few and unfortunately we lost today. I would say this is a special group of men and it stings right now because of the expectation level that we had coming into this tournament and understanding that if we win here we are into the NFC Championship game and anything can happen."

What made this team so special?

"You saw all of the pieces come together and we felt like we were playing some of our best football as the year went on. Especially in the months of November and December which is when we want to be playing our best. Once you get into the playoffs, you feel like anything can happen. I felt like the way that we were playing, continuing to get bet better each week, getting healthy, that this was our opportunity to make a run. And we know what that feeling is like. We did it just two short years ago. And we have a lot of the same faces on this team that we had then and we had some great additions, so we all bought in. We were all in, everybody, together feeling like this was our opportunity. This was our year."

Do you still feel this team is special?

"It absolutely does. Like I said before, there is such a finality in the playoffs and you go from thinking about the NFC Championship and all of a sudden you're going home and there's no more football until next year. I think the sad part of it is when we have our exit meeting and you look around the room, you hope that everybody will be back but you know that there's some people that won't be. You start to process all that when you build your team and creating your identity, but I do feel that we have something special with our team, with our coaching staff, with everyone in our locker room. That's something that everyone wants to be a part of and continue to build upon."

Can you talk about the turnovers you had today?

"The last time we came here to play the 49ers on Monday night, they were the ones with five turnovers and we won that game. You reverse the roles and we have five turnovers and they win the game. It's funny how things work out. It's polar opposite of what we talked about coming into this game. Just understand that this [49ers] defense has been so good at taking the ball away. They've got some of the best special teams groups in the league and obviously they were able to take the ball away twice from us on special teams. So you combine those two on special teams and the three they got from us offensively, that'll get you beat just about every time. The fact that we even had a chance to win this game was pretty remarkable after five turnovers."

Did the 49ers' physicality surprise you?

"I wouldn't say it surprised us. We knew that coming in. You could turn on the film and see that immediately. But yeah, there were a big, tough, physical team coming to get you. They thrive on that and that's what has been such a huge part of their success is their ability to stop the run and rush the passer. And obviously all those are because of their physicality up front. And when you catch the ball, they are going to light you up and try to get the ball out, which they were able to do a few times as well. So it's not that it surprised us. We knew that's the way they play, but certainly when you get in the moment and play on the road with the crowd noise in a hostile environment and they are revved up and ready to go, you just know it's going to be an all-day sucker."

LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar

Post-Game Quotes – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

In the press box we felt the emotional swings how was it on the field?

"It was the same. It was definitely an emotional swing, you can kind of feel the momentum going back and forth in the game."

You guys were up with 40 seconds left and the long play that went to [TE] Vernon Davis you all were in a blitz is that the way that you all do it?

"Yes, [Defensive Coordinator] Gregg [Williams] is going to stay aggressive regardless, we as a defense have no problem with that. As players we have no problem with that. We understand his philosophy, so you expect Gregg to make that call and you expect our players to make a play. I tip my hat to [QB] Alex Smith and [TE] Vernon Davis they made plays and they put their team in position to win the game."

Is it still to early for it to set in that the season is over?

"It seems unreal, but that is the reality of the situation. The next time I see these guys will be at the exit meeting and that is not cool."

How do you feel about this team that you are playing with?

"I love this team. I love every individual on this team, we all care about each other, we all care about football, we all care about winning. I absolutely love this team, I love the linebacking corps and the defense as a whole. We have a lot of good players and a lot of better people."

TE Jimmy Graham

Post-Game Quotes – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

The game was a dog fight the whole second half, talk about that touchdown catch

"You know we have done it time and time again in close games. With just a little bit of time on the clock. You give Drew the ball late in the game like that he is going to drive down the field. He is a good player. Unfortunately it didn't get us a win.

With the way this game ended are you still shaken up still?

"Shaken up? I mean I have to go home. It sucks obviously. I wasn't expecting to go home this early. It hurts when you played so well for so long and we couldn't get it done.

Were the turnovers in the first half the key to the 49ers victory?

"Obviously they have a great defense. The No. 1 defense in the league. We knew that coming in. We knew if push came to shove if Drew had the ball in his hands at the end we would score and we did. But unfortunately we couldn't stop them."

When Vernon Davis scored his first touchdown and dunked the ball over the goal post like you do. Did you see that? Did you have a reaction?

"No I didn't even notice it. That's cool."

What are your thoughts on Drew throwing 900 yards over these past two weeks? How amazing is that?

"You know Drew is obviously the man. He has made me into a great player and it is an honor to play alongside him. His leadership and what he does, but it is bittersweet. The yards don't matter, touchdowns don't matter, and none of that matters if you don't come away with the win."

What were the feelings at halftime? With four turnovers and only being down three points?

"We knew that we were still in the game. Obviously being down three with four turnovers is a testament to our defense in the first half and they did very well. But in the end we just didn't get it done."

LB Jabari Greer

Post-Game Quotes – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Can you put this game into perspective, or is it too soon?

"No man, there is no way to put that into perspective. They made the plays they needed to make to win and unfortunately we weren't able to do what it takes to get the win. There is no perspective. We have come so far. We worked so hard. For it to end like this. There is no way to sum it up in words. The way that our guys feel. The way that our fans feel. There is no way to give it justice.

Their ability to come up with the big plays and you guys not being able to hold onto a few fourth quarter leads. Did you think you had this one?

"We did. That big play by our offense toward the end. The two big plays, with Darren and Jimmy. Not being able to hold them afterwards when they were making some big plays. It really put us at a disadvantage. There are so many things that happened in the game. There is no way to justify it, it just happened. They made the plays and we didn't. We are going home after such a special season. So much hard work. So much effort and heart that our guys put into this."

FS Malcolm Jenkins

Post-Game Quotes – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Malcolm can you walk us through those last plays in the fourth quarter on those two drives?

"[TE] Vernon Davis made some good catches. He had one on the sidelines on the previous drive to get a big chunk. He also got one across the middle where he was able to run away from us. He did a good job of boxing [S] Roman [Harper] out on the touchdown, just catching it, catching the pass and taking a big hit. They made more plays then we did at the end of the game."

Did you and [S] Roman [Harper] switch up the coverage on [TE] Vernon Davis with him more in the first half and you in the second half?

"Yes I covered him for most of the game, pretty much from the second quarter on through the rest of the game. He made plays early in the game and late too, that put his team in position to win a game."

You guys were still blitzing in the fourth quarter even when you had the lead with only one guy deep, why not go into the prevent?

"That is not our style of defense. We don't play prevent, we have never played it, and nothing is new. Nothing has changed so we live by the blitz, we die by the blitz."

Were you surprised at all by [QB] Alex Smith's accuracy passing, normally he doesn't have numbers like that?

"He did a great job of making passes when he needed too. Especially late in the game, a couple of throws were right on where it was tight coverage and he was able to fit it in there. He did what he had to do to win the game."

Can you talk about the emotional see-saw that you went through?

"I think everybody always believes that we have a chance no matter what it looks like. I don't think anybody really lost faith until that final play when they had :09 seconds left on the clock. Until then everybody fought and we knew with [QB] Drew [Brees] and the guys that we have on this team, we always have a chance of winning. We fought and put ourselves in the position to win it, we just didn't come up with it."

G Carl Nicks

Post-Game Quotes – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Have you ever been a part of a game with so many swings and emotion?

"No. I have not been a part of a game like today. They got momentum, then we got momentum, then they got it, then we got it, then they finally get it. It was an emotional roller coaster to say the least."

Where were you when [TE] Vernon Davis caught the game-winning touchdown?

"I was standing on the sideline. Then I saw the pass, then I heard the yells and I just put my head down, and I just could not believe what just happened."

Can you talk about how special your team is?

"Anytime you give up five turnovers, and you lose the game at the last second, you have a special team. We never stopped fighting, and we never quit. We had this game won, for 40 seconds. If we would have held them, we would have been in the NFC championship. I am proud to be a part of this team."

Is this one of your toughest losses?

"I would say so. It was in reach. I was thinking that we had to prepare for the winner of tomorrow's game. It didn't work out like that."

LB Scott Shanle

Post-Game Quotes – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

What is your impression of the 49ers?

"Everybody looks at the preseason game, but with the lockout they were only together a week and a half. I think they have very good personnel, I think they know who they are as a team and what their strengths and weaknesses are. They just did a great job today. Everything that they have prided themselves on that won them their 13 games, showed up today. "

What are the things that worked for the 49ers?

"Ball control, making big plays when they had to offensively. More so than that, it was their special teams changing field position. Their defense did a nice job creating takeaways, and that has been their formula all year."

What did you think you had to do defensively against their offense?

"We felt like we had to play well against the running game that was first and foremost. Secondly, it was don't give up anything cheap, because they are a conservative offense. They play off of their special teams and defense. We just felt like if we didn't give them anything cheap, and made them work on offense, that we were good enough offensively."

RB Darren Sproles

Post-Game Quotes – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Talk about the performance at the end of the game.

"We had a good surge at the end but the thing that killed us was the turnovers. That is what got us deep in the hole like that. We just can't have that."

You guys knew that the 49ers defense thrives off of the turnovers. Does that make this more disappointing that you had so many of them?

"Yes. When that happens though we need our defense to step up and they stepped up and the 49ers only got three points out of it, so that was big."

Did you think that third-to-last touchdown was the break-through play for you guys?

"Yes, but they did a great job over there."

Take us through those last few minutes of the game.

"I think we got too excited. We didn't think that they could score like that, but they did. They proved all of us wrong."

Did you feel good at half time knowing that you had given up the turnovers but the game was so close? It was the kind of game that was built for you and this offense.

"Yes. When we went in at half time, we knew the game was still close, that is why we really didn't panic."

Is San Francisco's defense as good as any that you have faced in years?

"Oh yes definitely. They have a great bunch over there."

LB Jonathan Vilma

Post-Game Quotes – January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Take us through the end of the game, I know your emotions this is very tough…

"Yes, well this was a very tough loss, especially the way we lost, we will find a way to regroup and get ready for next year."

Defensively, you guys made some good plays despite being put in some bad positions and you still put yourself in a position to win?

"Yes, unfortunately we did not win it though."

Can you talk about that last play that touchdown to [TE] Vernon Davis?

"He scored. It was a great throw and a great catch."

Coach [Sean Payton] talked about understanding the finality of this one and how much it hurts but how proud he was of you guys in just a dog fight of a playoff football game.

"Well there are no moral victories in the NFL, so we are going home and they are not. Hats off to San Fran."

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