QUARTERBACK DREW BREES
You look at what Deonte (Harris) did today and obviously like he was a big part of what you were doing, moving the ball downfield. But especially on third down, he had like four third down conversions today. How big was he there for you guys specifically?
"Yeah, listen, he's a great weapon. He can do a lot of things. He's got a really great feel for the game and a lot of our route concepts. And so, we're trying to put him in positions where (there are) good matchups in space, get the ball in his hands and let him do what he does best. He did a great job."
First of all, what read was Latavius Murray on that touchdown?
"He is not. He is not in the progression. There's five other guys or four other guys. And he is actually blocking. And then he was there to cut Khalil Mack. So, he was on the ground. And then he popped up. And I just kind of dished it over (Khalil) Mack's head to Latavius (Murray). So, they played a totally different coverage than what the play was designed for. So, there's nobody open, so I go to scramble, he pops up off the ground. And just had to get the ball to him."
Secondly, I mean, I guess you've spent most of your career figuring you would never meet Tom Brady in a playoff game, unless it was the Super Bowl. Is it pretty remarkable to get that third matchup in this new rivalry already next week?
"Yeah, (I) don't take it for granted. I'm very appreciative of the opportunity. And listen, the minute that he signed with the Bucs and came in the division, you felt like that was going to be a team to contend with, that was going to be a team that had playoff aspirations and beyond, just like us. So, I guess it was inevitable."
After you broke your ribs, did you think the Brees leap basically was off the table forever?
"Yeah, that's a good question. I guess that I hadn't really thought about that one. But, we got to fourth and one there. And I told Sean (Payton), he's looking at the call sheet, trying to figure out what he's going to call and I said, listen, just let me jump over the top. So, that's what we did."
I've also got to ask this, I know you were really fired up and talking into the camera after that, do you like, because they overturned the touchdown, were you like, man, I kind of wish I would have waited on that one?
"No, I thought I was in. I guess I just pulled the ball back a little too soon. But regardless, I guess I'm just going to have to do a few more box jumps tomorrow, when I work out, make sure I can get that extra distance. It was a little further out than normal, but still felt like I got in."
No, I meant specifically when you went up to the camera?
"Well, I didn't go up to the camera, the camera was in my face as I was walking off. I just said, hey, we're going to get in, we were going to get in."
You and Mike Thomas have only played I think 10 quarters of football all year. So, what was it like to finally have him and AK (Alvin Kamara) back on the field with you?
"It was great. It was great to get him in the end zone too. Hopefully we broke the seal and there is a lot more where that came from. But listen, we got some work to do. I think still, just kind of, first time, really, that we're getting everybody together again. Hopefully we get Tre'Quan Smith back this week as well. And there's just so much timing and rhythm that goes into the passing game. And so, many little nuances and things that, when you're playing a lot, it becomes automatic. And that is when, you're really playing at the level that, man, we've been at in many cases around here. But listen, this is playoff football, you know, each game becomes obviously more meaningful. And you've got to continue to fine tune and find ways to play your absolute best football. And listen, we need to improve, we still need to improve. There's still room for that. And so, that's what this week's going to be focused on, is continuing to find those extra little percentage points."
That first long drive in the third quarter, you got a lot of clean pockets on that drive. And that wasn't really the case in the first half. Did you guys change things up at halftime? Did you flip protections around?
"We always do. We always change up protections just, in launch points. Just so defenses cannot get a beat on you. Focused on trying to get the ball out and finding completions, creating matchups and such. I thought we were good on third down today I felt like we were able to do that, well. Even some third and long situations where we just found outlets and guys were able to get first downs. But the guys up front, I felt like did a great job against a really good pass rush front. By sustaining those drives, you end up getting those 12 play, 15 play (drives), we had a few of those drives in the second half, which chewed up a bunch of clock, kept our defense off the field, and fresh. And we were able to get points. And at the end of the day, you know, despite the first half, where we felt like, we weren't really able to capitalize on some of the drives and really get significant points. (The) Defense played lights out. Special teams played really well, played the field position game at times. It was just great complementary football all the way around. And sometimes you've got to do that to win. That's what the great teams do."
Alvin (Kamara) said earlier that you two communicated a lot during the week, you and him? What was that process like for you all?
"Yeah, just texting, as things came up, just texting him kind of my thoughts. And hey, this is a little nuances, this is a little different and be ready for this. So that, you know, when he showed up for game day, it wasn't, like a totally foreign gameplan. And (I) felt like he handled it really well despite the circumstances."
Okay, one other thing real quick. TV cameras caught one of your sons, we couldn't tell who it was, doing the griddy after one of the touchdowns? Did you teach them that dance?
"Which one is that?"
The griddy dance, I think, it looked like that is what he was doing. Which is what Sean (Payton) did.
"It's probably my oldest son, Baylen. He's the one with the rhythm, of all the kids. So he'll start dancing and celebrating. He's kind of the swag king in the family. So yeah, it was probably him."
RUNNING BACK ALVIN KAMARA
How was it going through practice virtually and in zoom. It seems like you didn't miss a beat.
"You have to adapt. Obviously I couldn't be here this week for practice. They had the practice livestreaming. Coach (Joel) Thomas was miked up. He threw the run looks, pass looks, everything. I was talking back and forth with Drew (Brees) all week. It didn't really affect me too much. I try to stay attuned with what's going on week in and week out, so I can kind of pick up things on the fly."
Can you speak to how you felt physically while you were out?
"It didn't really affect me too much, just taste and smell thrown off a little bit. Otherwise I was fine. No real side effects or symptoms. I felt fine out there today, being out for that extended period of time. My wind wasn't really affected. Thank God for the health. Something I had to deal with."
Were you sweating out the Saturday/Sunday playoff slot potentially last weekend?
"Yes, I was watching (and anxious). But I got a little source that calmed my nerves and told me it was going to be a Sunday game, so it calmed my nerves, definitely relieved. I wanted to be out here and help the team."
Did it take a little while to get going with the run game in the first half leading into the second half?
"I was just out there in the moment. I feel like sometimes we start a little slower than we like to, but like Sean said we settled in and came out and did some things we talked about all week. We put ourselves in better position to execute and kind of get our tempo going. I have to watch it (film), like Sean says, but these guys like me, Mike, Deonte, we've been playing, but guys have missed time for certain things and nothing changes when you get back, plug and play."
WIDE RECEIVER/RETURN SPECIALIST DEONTE HARRIS
Welcome back, what was it like to return after having missed so much time and made an impact?
"Like my first time in recess, when I was in elementary school. I'm just glad to be back. This is a game I loved to play since I was a kid, so I'm glad to be back."
This is two straight years you have turned out big games in the playoffs. What is it about this stage that seems to bring out the best?
"If you have a big game, you have a big performance, that's been my motto since I was young. They say big time players make big time plays and I'm just trying to make plays for the team."
It wasn't just you returning today but it was Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara too. How big was that, not just you, but getting almost everyone back on offense?
"It was like getting the band back together. We had the issues the last couple of weeks with COVID and injuries and having most of the guys back from injuries. Now we just want to get 100 percent healthy and make this Super Bowl run."
Talk about what made your connections with Drew Brees so good on third down and did the time off help you at all going into this fresh?
"We practiced it a lot, just like Drew told you earlier, a lot of practice goes in, a lot of timing. All week we've been practicing." "Definitely, fresh legs, fresh feet. It stunk that I had to miss some games. I felt like those guys needed a little break. They're been going hard all season. I just wanted to come back and make plays."
DEFENSIVE END CAMERON JORDAN
On why he didn't offer to get slimed on Nickelodeon:
"When you talk about me versus Sean (Payton) getting slimed, I thought that that was a no-brainer. I'm going to serve him up every time. I'm glad that it was him (who got slimed). I am more mad that I couldn't set him up for me to dump the bucket on him. If somebody had to get slimed, I am glad that it was him."
On what they can take away from the defensive performance:
"We bring all of the juice and intensity we need. That first half, our interior line play was crazy. We harped on it all week. We said that if the interior line plays well, we're going to benefit as a defense. You saw it time and time again. Guys like Shy Tuttle, Malcom Brown, Sheldon Rankins, and David Onyemata came in there and did more than just well, they balled-out. It was able to set the edge up for us. We fed off of our interior guys' game. You talk about how our secondary took to the field today, I loved it. P.J. (Williams) created that fumble. Malcolm Jenkins scored the touchdown. We should've been up. With that defensive turnover, it would've been huge. At the same time, we pretty much came out in the second half and pretty much played lights out football, minus the amazing Jimmy Graham one-handed grab that we know he is capable of doing. That is why he is Jimmy Graham. He probably leads the tight end world in red zone touchdowns because he is 6'8 and can jump."
TIGHT END JARED COOK
You guys got Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas back, but Deonte Harris played a huge role for you guys today. How big was Deonte today? It seemed like he made a lot of catches on third downs and made guys miss, that sort of thing.
"He was huge in both phases of the game. He was huge for us. I think he was seven-for-seven. He just came out involved in places where we needed him and Drew (Brees) was able to find him early and just kept hitting him throughout the game and that's huge for us."
Slow start. Any thoughts on why maybe it took you guys a little while to get going. Were you concerned at any point?
"That's just how the game goes when you're in it. Of course, it is not how you want to start. Of course, it is not how you want to be in a game operating. That is not so much the concern. It is not something that we really worry about when we're out there playing. It's just about making the next play on to the next play and continue to push forward."
Was there anything you guys did with your protections or anything that got Drew a little bit more time? I felt like there was a lot of pressure in the first half and then the second half there's a little bit more time for the offense to operate.
"We were worried about Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn the whole game. We knew that going into the game on what type of pass rushers they had and we knew that Drew was going to need some extra time and extra help, so we kind of figured that going into the game and not really much changes during the game. It's just, you knew that going into the week. That's how our game plan went."
LINEBACKER DEMARIO DAVIS
It seemed like it took the offense just a little bit of time to find its rhythm. How much pride do you guys take in keeping that game where it was until they kind of found it and put the game away late?
"We're a team that's built on playing complementary football. And so, we have the ebbs and flows of the game. And our job is to go out there and get stops. And that's all that we're focused on."
You got Marcus (Williams) back today, you got CJ (Gardner-Johnson) back today, P Rob (Patrick Robinson) back today. How big was that just getting those guys back after missing them for various amounts of time?
"This time of year, the more healthy you are, the more guys you got, the better off you're going to be. And it definitely was helpful to have our guys today."
Can you just talk about the effort on third down today, I think the only ended up with one the whole game? Just the effort on third down?
"To be successful in this game, you have to be good at third down. You just got to be able to play good situational football. We thought we had a good read on what they were going to try to do. We feel like we had a good handle on our game plan and what we were trying to do. And it just goes to the execution of the guys. So, it was good enough to get a win today. And that's what we were looking for."
How much of a difference is it for you playing with Alex (Anzalone), as opposed to Kwon (Alexander) and just how was it having Alex (Anzalone) back in there next to you?
"We have a good linebacker room. So, we feel like anybody that's on the field is going to be able to contribute and bring a lot of energy, a lot of effort and play at an efficient level. And that is what is most important. And that helps when we have a veteran room. We got young backers who can pick up what we try to do. Because you never know, it's always next-man up. And everybody in that room has to be ready. And I think we have a good room and are able to adapt to that."
You talked this week about appreciating being in the playoffs because those opportunities do not come very often sometimes. How much do you appreciate, playoff wins are even more rare. How much would you say you appreciate this right now? And how good does it feel right now?
"You're grateful, for sure. It's important. But, you know, it's nothing to, it's kind of tricky, because you have to appreciate it. But, it is nothing really to relish in and celebrate because you got to complete the mission. You've got to stay locked in until we complete the mission and the mission is not done. So, it was good for us to get a win today. But, we got to be ready to do the same thing next week."
New Orleans Saints fans cheer on the team from inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round of the 2020 NFL playoffs.