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Sean Payton, Saints players talk about wild-card victory

They met with the media following 26-24 win in Philadelphia

Saints Coach Sean Payton's opening remarks:
"Obviously a big win for us. I thought our guys played hard tonight. Couple of those turnovers kind of kept them in the game. You look at some of these numbers; total yardage 256 to 430, rushing yards 80 to 180. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage and really controlled, for the most part, third downs, 6 of 12 versus 3 of 12. And that is a good football team. We thought going in we were going to have to play really well. I thought we eliminated on defense, for the most part, the big plays. They hit a few, they are very talented but I thought our guys responded really well. It went back and forth. At half time it was 7 to 6 and we just felt like we offensively really bit our own foot, short yardage situations ended up being significant. Obviously [K] Shayne [Graham] played well. Special teams, I thought, played very well in the end. We needed to cover a kick we did and we needed a return at the end. [PR] Darren [Sproles] brought us out to mid field with the penalty, which was significant. So it was a good win and we get ready now for next week, any questions."

On their experience as a team and how that factored into the game and the back and forth:
"I don't know. I would be willing to say we are probably a younger team based on the roster. I think we had some key guys step up in leadership positions but we had 6 undrafted free agents on this roster from this year's class so I think though there was a little bit of resolve. I think our players felt coming in here tonight that there was no way we were going to leave without winning this game. That's easy to say but I think the work week preparation, the way these guys handled traveling. It was kind of a short week because we played on a Saturday after a Sunday game so you are skipping a day. But to their credit they did a great job of fighting, like you said when all of a sudden the momentum kind of swung as it does often. So obviously we think a lot of the team we played. We studied a lot of film and they've had a fantastic season so we have a lot of respect for them and we just ended up being the better team tonight."

On how gratifying tonight's win is after not being allowed to coach last year:
"It was fine. Next question."

On the fact that this may be the most rushing yards the Saints have had in a playoff game and where did that come from tonight:
"Just paying attention to the line of scrimmage. I thought our guys up front got off the ball. I thought the backs did well. We had 32 rushes for 5.5 so obviously we blocked them and the backs ran with good pad level."

On how much was that game plan going in or did he see it was working well throughout the game:
"Well we wanted to have balance. I thought the weather ended up being pretty good, considering. There was really no wind at all hardly and so with no precipitation and no wind. I know some guys were taking some layers off pregame. I thought the footing was good, we wore the right shoes. Once we felt like we were pushing them we just wanted to be consistent with that. We set up some big plays and big play action to [WR] Robert [Meachem]. We had one to [WR] Ben [Watson], a number of big plays that were important."

On how satisfying it is to win especially after all the narrative this week about the weather and dome teams and prove it wrong:
"I said at the beginning of the week we made light of a few things, what really is going to matter is the result. And that is really the truth. As far as the history of the organization, like I told those players you carry your history. So I get it, we understand that and that's that stereotype, sometimes it comes with a team that plays inside and we can't change that. We kind of like the environment we play in and we traveled pretty well tonight."

On the performance of Shayne Graham:
"I thought it was obviously exceptional. It was fantastic in a big spot. Every kick he hit was clean and obviously in a playoff football game those things matter."

On whether or not he talked with Drew at halftime:
"I think our message defensively was keep it going you're doing a great job. Offensively it was that we just shot ourselves in the foot. And that isn't taking away anything from Philadelphia but we had the penalty short yardage situation, we had a couple turnovers. We felt really good about being at 7-6 considering the first half. Our guys I think felt a lot of resolve at halftime."

On what was his message to his team after the game:
"Well it was two or three messages, we kind of went through the offense, the defense, the special teams. We kind of read statistically the numbers, they get excited about that. We talked about the contribution of the kicking game late and how much that played a part of our win. We talked about really reflecting on this past week, and handing the noise, the distractions and being able to put that in perspective. I thought they did a good job of that. We obviously have a big challenge ahead of us this upcoming week. We talked about the schedule, talked about Mr. Benson, giving him a game ball and there is no better place to win a road game. This is one of the real good places to win a road game, this town."

On his thoughts on having good practice for next week:
"Absolutely. We are enjoying this one tonight now, the drive out will be nice." ![]( "new orleans saints")

On his thoughts on Khiry Robinson and his first playoff game:
"A lot of firsts for him. I was proud of how he finished. I thought the ball security was never in doubt, it was strong. He is powerful for a guy that was at a tryout camp basically and even after having him we almost didn't bring him back to training camp and obviously he has progressed and down a great job. It was a big night for him."

On how big were Robinson's and Ingram's performances especially coming down to the wire and controlling the clock:
"Timeouts were helpful. Ingram had 99 rushing yards. Robinson was 6 for 36, just a lot of great efforts individually and then obviously up front. We felt like we pushed them pretty good. We didn't get a lot of pressure. We got a lot of down safety looks defensively, but we didn't get a lot of blitz looks. They did a pretty good job in handling [TE] Jimmy Graham in the passing game. They obviously had a pretty good plan, probably earlier in the game we had a quite a big of three man rush. So they had a pretty good plan of taking away some of things we'd like to do. I thought our guys adapted pretty well."

On whether he had any temptation to put [RCB] Keenan [Lewis] back in, was it about protocol:
"No. And there is no such thing. It was just the doctors and that's the right thing."

On having some other games like this and was nice to flip the script:
"Well we finished and look we've had some tough losses, one of the things we talked about was our record during the season and strength of schedule, who we played during the year. With 11 wins and the division we played in and really the non-divisional games we played in. We played some good football teams in San Francisco and Carolina twice and Seattle, keep going. We thought that that was something that was significant and we've had some wins that maybe we could have easily lost, Tampa Bay on the road could have went the other way. Obviously New England was a tough game, that could have went either way and it didn't. But just bouncing back from those things real quick."

On if there is a special pride coming in here and rushing for almost 200 yards, it's not what people expect:
"I think it is some point when you get to win a game like that, it's kind of broken down to the essence of the line of scrimmage of football and your will to keep pushing and get the first down. Those guys fought hard and again we played a good team. That line of scrimmage was the difference I think."

On how sweet step number one is for his team right now, even though they do have a long way to go:
"Well it means you get to keep playing. You get to keep playing and put off all the things of what everyone else has to do. You get to keep playing. We will get another itinerary, we will print one up. The week will be a little different and kind of get on to the next one. But listen, there is nothing like it, there is nothing like winning."

On his thoughts of how his young team responded this season:
"I thought with each game you gain experience. With the injuries we've had, and we've had a number of them. With all the other stuff, including last year, we are sitting here with 12 wins and I am extremely proud of them."

Quarterback Drew Brees on whether it was the Kool-Aid or Gatorade; sweats or Popeye's:
"Or the beef and mac. I don't know. Choose any one of the four, but obviously something worked. Obviously, it was a great team win. We came in with a lot of confidence, feeling like we matched up well with these guys, feeling like if we just executed the plan that we would be successful. Defense played fantastic all game long. We had some injuries there towards the end of the game, but still held on strong. Offensively, we were able to run the ball very effectively. Once we got past those two turnovers in the first half, we started rolling and scored those two touchdowns to come out in the second half to really set the tone and obviously go down and get the game winner when we had to. Specials teams came up with some big plays, [RB Darren] Sproles with the big return at the end, four field goals by [K] Shayne Graham. It was just really a complete team effort."

On being the 6th team in NFL history to win a road playoff game with a -2 turnover differential, and if the message at halftime was that the team made all the mistakes that they were going to make:
"Yeah, a couple penalties that kind of got us out of rhythm or prevented us from converting and sustaining drives, and obviously with two interceptions. I think we realized at halftime that we were going to be able to run the football but the way they were playing us was they were trying to keep everything in front so take what they give us and just sustain drives and go down and put points on the board. We were able to do that with those first two drives and ended up getting some plays in the passing game eventually. I think it kind of opened up once we started really pounding the ball on the ground. It was a little bit of everything tonight, but obviously the second half was kind of a big push after seeing what they were doing and learning a lot in the first half."

On how nice it is to have someone like Shayne Graham, a 15-year veteran, who he can really trust:
"Obviously, he's played a lot of football; he's made a lot of big kicks. I love his preparation throughout the week, just his mindset. Obviously, he came up big today. Man, it doesn't get any bigger than that. Kicking the three field goals to put us in position and then at the end just knocking through the game winner like he's been there before. It was fantastic."

On the satisfying win after fighting back and showing resolve against the backdrop of conversation before the game (the cold weather, being a dome team, etc.):
"Well, as much as we hate hearing that talk, we kind of brought it upon ourselves. We lost the last three games on the road, really hadn't played all that well. So to put together a team victory like this on the road in a hostile environment, weather conditions, whatever. Listen, it's the playoffs. We came in with confidence. Like I said, we had a great week of preparation. We knew what we had to do to come in and get a victory. It was not free of errors or mistakes. We made our fair share of them, but at the end of the day, we just want to put ourselves in a position to win, which we did and we did that."

On what this win means for Sean Payton given what happened last year:
"It's a new team, it's a new year. It really doesn't matter what happened last year or any years previous to that. We do have some guys that have been a part of this program for a long time. We also have a lot of young guys that have no idea what happened here in the past. So we're not living off the glory or the mistakes or what have you of the past. We're all about the here and now and being in this moment and we've got a great team. I hope that we are peaking at the right time. We still can play better. We still can clean up a few things that happened out there today, the turnovers, the penalties and such. At the end of the day, when you have a chance to win, you have to step up and make plays, and that happened today. It's happened all season. Hopefully we can continue that."

On the memory of the vibe postgame in Seattle this season when they took their humbling loss and said they wanted to be back there:
"Obviously, we did not play our best football that night. We got beat pretty soundly by those guys. There's a reason they're the one seed. There's a reason that the road to the championship goes through Seattle because they're a heck of a football team. They know how to win, they know how to win at home. So we know the challenge that presents us to travel to Seattle and go there and play. I think just stepping into that environment on Monday Night Football and we know what to expect. We were there in the playoffs in 2010, so we've played there in some big atmospheres. We were there Sunday Night Football in 2007, so it seems like every time we're there it's a primetime game. Having another crack at them, obviously I look forward to this week of preparation. I look forward to the plan that we're going to put together. They're a great football team. We're going to need our best effort to beat these guys, but if there's a team that can do it I believe that's us."

On if he spoke to Nick Foles after the game:
"I did a little bit. I just let him know what a great season he had. What he accomplished this year as a first-year starter is nothing short of phenomenal. I guess I except nothing less from an Austin, TX, West Lake guy. Here I am sitting back, I was 10 years previous to him at West Lake. To watch the road that he's traveled going to Michigan State, transferring to Arizona, having a great career there, and getting drafted here last year, playing a little last year, playing very well, and obviously this year doing what he did. It's really phenomenal. He's got a bright future ahead of him. I'm a big fan of his. I love the way he plays. That offense is great for him. We're going to be seeing a lot more of him."

On whether the Austin, TX, connection with Nick Foles factored into the game:
"No. Of course you can ask questions and I'm happy to answer them. I think he's a tremendous young man. I think he deserves all the credit that has been thrown his way this year and will continue to be thrown this off-season. He seems like a very humble, respectful guy that is not going to let that influence him at all as far as his work ethic and his desire to get better and be one of the best. Obviously, after this first year you can say that he has a very bright future."

On whether he is surprised that they are using RB Khiry Robinson and RB Mark Ingram this late in the season as the next man up:
"Yeah. We thought Pierre was going to be OK and obviously he wasn't able to play, so Mark and Khiry (Robinson) did a phenomenal job tonight. Sproles did a great job when he was called upon. Obviously that kick return at the end of the game was huge and we could draw a penalty off of that. In many ways, it is that next man up penalty, especially for the running back position because we rotate those guys in so much. They all know that they have a very specific role. They're all very dynamic, they can all do a lot of things, but I think they all know their number is going to be called and they have to be ready. They certainly all contributed tonight."

On whether he is going to have to go to the running backs meetings soon with this offense:
"I don't constitute 1-yard quarterback sneaks as a heavy rushing attack by the quarterback. Whatever it takes to get first downs. Keep your eyes alive."

On what he spoke to Saints owner Tom Benson about after the game tonight:
"Yeah, I'm really happy for Mr. B. Obviously, being the first road playoff win in Saints history. It's nice when you can continue to accomplish first or do those types of things that makes it even more satisfying, gratifying, especially for an owner like Mr. Benson who has owned the team for 25-plus years, been through a lot. There's no better owner as far as just putting us in every position possible to succeed. We know how much he cares about the team. He cares about our players and our coaches and it's great to get this one for him."

RB Mark Ingram
On whether he knew he would be key to running the ball:
"We knew offensively after the Eagles scored, that it was the offense that had to answer back and win the game. All the credit goes to the offensive line in this win in that they opened up great holes, for us to run on the final drive. They just did such a great job."

On whether their game plan was to run the ball more:
"I love the fact that the coaches had the faith in me and the other backs, to run the ball a lot in the game.  I really work my tail off for games like this where I can get the ball more and show my ability. In the final moments, I love that the coaches have so much faith in me.  I never get down if I do not run the ball that much.  I just work so hard day in and day out so that when they call my number, I will help us win games."

On whether he really grew this season:
"I was injured early in the season and I just continued to work really hard to get myself back in playing shape. My teammates are really great and they supported me so much and that really helps.  Injuries do happen but you have to bounce back because injures are a part of football and I just feel really good now."

On whether his first playoff experience feels great:
"It really does feel great because we have been able to do it with my teammates.  To come on the road in Philadelphia, I really think that the offensive and the defensive and all the coaching staff stepped up.  For my first experience, I have no complaints."

On whether he feels the strong running game won the game:
"We knew that coming in we needed to run the ball really well.  I was not sure how much we would really run the ball. Coach Payton dialed up a lot of runs and I think that was critical in helping us win the game. We had some early success running the ball early and we ran hard and I guess the coaches wanted to run the ball even more."

WR Marques Colston
On the Eagles' defensive game plan:
"With them being an unfamiliar opponent, we had an idea of what we saw on film but it's always different until you get on the field and in the flow of the game."

On doubts about the Saints:
"It's up to you guys. We were able to put up a win against a quality opponent tonight and we'll take that for what it is, digest it and move on to next week's big game."

On this game being a confidence booster:
"We knew we were capable of winning a game like this. It was just a matter of getting on the field and executing the game plan."

On the rematch with the Seahawks:
"We got our wish. We have to watch the film and get prepared and have a great week. That first night against them was not us. We feel like we are a better team and we have to prove that."

WR Lance Moore
On the offensive performance:
"In the first half, we moved the ball a little bit but those two turnovers killed us and put our defense in tough situations. But to come in at halftime only to be down one point was huge. We knew the game was right there for us to take it. We came out in the third quarter, executed well and Philly bounced back well like a playoff team should do, but we pulled it out in the end."

On what a win like this does for the team's confidence as well as team history:
"Well, the media is who brings up that we struggle on the road. We don't sit in our meetings every day and talk about what we need to do on the road. We worry about our opponent and what we need to do to beat them and this was a great day for us."

On playing Seattle already this season and whether tonight's victory helps with team confidence:
"Yes, I think so. We got our butts kicked. It was a wake-up call for us. It showed us what we needed to do and what level that we needed to play on to be successful. They will be ready for us, they will be rested up and ready to play. We have our work cut out for us and we'll be ready to play."  

On his touchdown:
"Well, it was a play action play. Couple of crossing guys and the defenders chose [WR Marques] Colston going across before me. I just choked it down a little bit in the hole and [QB] Drew [Brees] did a great job of finding me and throwing it back against the grain, which you're not really supposed to do, and it was then up to me to find the end zone."

TE Jimmy Graham
"It was good to get a win in the cold and also on the road. A Lot of people have doubted us and have been talking about our road woes and cold issues but tonight was a good team win. Feels good to run the ball successfully on the road. Our backs, tight ends, fullback, it was just a great effort on all aspects of it."

On using critics as a confidence booster:
"We like that challenge. This is a team where we feel like we've been looked over and we love that. We always want to be the underdog and we felt like it a great booster to prove them wrong. We will enjoy this game but we have to move on to the next one."

On the running game in the second half and specifically the performance of RB Khiry Robinson:
"I'm proud of Khiry. I've been pulling for him since the beginning of camp. I always just said he needs just an opportunity. He works hard, day in and day out. Mark as well. You know it was just a great team win."

On the rematch with the Seahawks:
"It's going to be a challenge. They have a great offense and a great defense. They obviously gave it to us on the national stage about a month and a half ago, so it's going to be another one where they will be highly favorited and it going to take every guy on this team giving a great effort for us to pull it off."

On QB Drew Brees performance:
"He's a special guy. There's nothing that can really stop him. He's a leader. He's just a special quarterback. He always rallying us together and he's a player that leads by example. He doesn't do the lip-service. He's a Hall-of-Fame quarterback and he does a great job and hopefully he leads us to a few more victories this season."

T Terron Armstead
On what the offense had to do on the last drive:
"We knew that we would need to run the ball well to move the ball.  We also knew that we could run some play action passes to get some guys open.  It worked for us to get down and kick the game winning field goal."

On whether the offensive line got nervous after the two QB Drew Brees interceptions:
"No, we did not let it bother us.  We just knew that we were shooting ourselves in the foot but that if we played Saints football offensively, we would come back.  We did that in the second half and were able to come out with a victory."

On whether they changed anything at halftime with the slow start:
"No we really did not change anything up from our game plan.  We just knew that we needed to play a more consistent game. We knew that we needed to protect the ball and stop turning it over."

On what Coach Payton said to them after the game:
"He told us that we played well and he was really proud of each one of us.  He also said that right now though their focus had to be on Seattle right away and work hard to prepare for them. It is a great opportunity to play Seattle again and we will do well."

On whether the cold weather was a factor in the game:
"No, it really did not affect us that much.  I think for me, myself, it did not bother me because I am from up North and it really did not play a factor."

 T Zack Strief
On whether they believed this week they would run the ball as much:
"I do not think that we ever come into a game thinking that we are going to run the ball a lot, with who we have at quarterback. With our passing game, we know who we are but I give a lot of credit to [Head Coach]Sean Payton for sticking to the running attack. Fortunately, we were efficient when we ran the ball and were able to win the game."

On whether they thought this week about the losses on the road:
"I am sure this week people will still talk about us not winning on the road out of the dome. We did, though, change up the Gatorade and changed up what we wore at practice, hoping to take the curse away. We changed some things and got this win on the road that we needed to get and let's just say the Gatorade taste better tonight."

On what the offensive line talked about for their game plan:
"We did talk a lot and we talked about how we were giving up some size on the line, versus the Eagles pass rushers.  We were able to be efficient on the run, though, and held the pass rushers off enough where we made the plays we needed to make."

K Shayne Graham
On the final seconds:
"This was probably one of the most comfortable feelings I've ever had, probably in my whole career. For some reason, I didn't feel one ounce of hesitation, fear or anxiety. We had been getting a lot of reps on field goals the whole night and I hit the ball well in pre-game and during the half. Our offense did a great job out there and put us in great position. It was great to be out there and sealing the victory."

On joining the team late in the season:
"If I been here 14 years or one day, I still have to do the same job. I've been here about three weeks and I just feel like I've been adopted into a great family here. I feel very comfortable and enjoy it here."

On QB Drew Brees centering the ball before field goal try:
"It didn't really matter to me. Coach (Payton) asked me my preference but I feel at that yardage, it really didn't matter to me."

On his previous experiences in Philadelphia:
"I really haven't played a ton of games here but I don't think that I've done poorly here."

On envisioning himself in this situation four weeks ago:
"Four weeks ago, sitting on my couch, training on my own, yes I did envision myself doing this but I just didn't know what colors I would be wearing. It one thing to know when I'm home working out on my own, I knew I had the talent, drive and ability. It was just a matter of knowing where it was going to be and I didn't give up hope and I knew it would be somewhere. Even though it happened late, it happened here and I can't thank them enough for the opportunity."

On last year's performance with the Houston Texans:
"None of my past kicks really matter. There's probably a lot of people in one former city where I used to play for and they probably don't like my record in the playoffs with them. But I had a great year with Houston and also a great year with New England in the playoffs but now it's all about this year and the playoffs are just getting started and tonight felt pretty good."

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