QUARTERBACK DREW BREES
On if this was his final game:
"Well, I'll answer this question one time, and that is that I'm going to give myself an opportunity to think about the season, think about a lot of things, just like I did last year, and make a decision."
On if coming back for another season was worth it and would he have any regrets:
"I would never regret it. Never. No complaints, no regrets. Man, I've always tried to play this game with a great respect, and a great reverence for it. I appreciate all that this game has given to me. There are obviously so many incredible memories, so many incredible relationships that have come as a result of playing this game. Man, you find out so much about yourself and you have to fight through so much when you play this game, and I'd say this season, probably had to fight through more than I've ever had to in any other season in my career. From injury to all the COVID stuff to just crazy circumstances, man, it was worth every moment. Absolutely."
On if he was soaking in the moment as he ran off the field:
"Listen, I always soak in the moment. And I'm looking up at my family and blowing kisses to my wife and daughter and fist bumping my boys. Yeah, I mean, they've become so much a part of this as my kids have gotten older, and they're so invested in this as well. And so it makes the moment special to be able to share it all together."
On what happened on the turnovers:
"Well, a couple of them, I probably shouldn't have thrown or maybe forced them in there. I think we were probably a little off on just the kind of overall execution. But, I mean, yeah, at the end of the day, that's what this game came down to was those turnovers, because all of those gave them the ball deep in our territory. And you can't do that with that offense, they're too good. And they're going to capitalize on that which they did. So, that was obviously the determining factor in this game."
On the possibility of the result of this game and season impact his decision to play again:
"No, this won't have anything to do with it."
On the touchdown pass from Jameis Winston to Tre'Quan Smith:
"Yeah, great play, great execution. Alvin (Kamara) seemed to draw a lot of attention. And that allowed Tre'Quan to get through the middle of defense wide open. Jameis made a great throw. It was a big-time play."
On how uncharacteristic the turnovers were:
"I'd say it's pretty uncharacteristic because we preach playing winning football and you turn the ball over four times. So you're minus four total in the turnover ratio. And that's not winning football, especially in the playoffs, especially against a team like that." On what will go into his decision making on whether or not he comes back: "I'll keep that to myself right now."
RUNNING BACK ALVIN KAMARA
On how uncharacteristic the team played:
"Take all of the emotion out of it. If you turn the ball over four times and the other team turns the ball over zero times, it's not a winning formula. You can't turn the ball over and expect to win, especially not in the playoffs, and, especially not against a good team. (It) was uncharacteristic and it cost us."
On how much Drew Brees means to him:
"He hasn't announced anything yet, so I'm not going to say that (about a possible retirement). Drew is Drew; he is still my teammate."
On what Tampa did to slow down the Saints:
"We turned the ball over four times. That is not a winning formula for any game, I don't care who you play. It's just going to make it tough. (We) turned it over once, (and) we were still in it. We turned it over twice, we were still in it. Once you get to three and four turnovers, it's hard to combat that. I don't care who you are. We've done a good job of being pretty protective of the ball. It was terrible timing to have those four (turnovers). Like I said, it sucks, but it is what it is."
On how difficult it is to know that he won't play with certain teammates again:
"It's the nature of this league, from the coaches, to equipment staff, to training staff. It changes every year. The door is always revolving, people coming in and people going out. It's one of them things."
DEFENSIVE END CAMERON JORDAN
How would you describe just the process of this season, just with all the kind of craziness that every NFL player, people who you have been around a program and whatever they had to deal with just to get to this point?
"I mean, first and foremost, God has blessed me truly to not only seen health this season, but health throughout all my last ten seasons, being with the Saints, what every football player had to face this year, was seemingly, nobody saw to come in and everybody thought, COVID-19 would be over by time season started. You think about what we, we faced it as an NFL as a team, I think we did well, in terms of following protocol that has nothing to do with how I feel right now. But that's that."
Obviously, you guys had a lot more success getting to Tom Brady, in the first two meetings, what do you think kept you at bay this time?
"Awful. Without looking at the film, I'd say, you looked up and they were in a running at four yards a clip, that's something that they hadn't been able to do the two previous games. Without making them single, singularly focused on trying to air it out, he was able to get all of his passes out. He's one of the fastest releases in the game. We knew that going in. If you take away the run. You got to get the ball maybe, set a little deeper and at the end of the day, we got to him early, we got in his face a couple of times, but that's not enough. Just going look back and just hate to watch this film and hate to go into the offseason, the way we did. The team we put together this year, the 16 games we put together to get a ticket to the playoffs, everything doesn't matter until you get to the playoffs beat Tampa Bay twice, it doesn't matter if it's not the third time. This sucks. I mean, for the guys in our locker room and for our team. This is something that I think we had a special locker room, but at the end of the day we didn't get our win. We didn't do enough on the field. We didn't do enough on the field. I put on the D-line for not stopping the run. I put it on us as a defense for not getting the ball back when we had a couple opportunities through some major opportunities we had to play with it to slip through our grasp."
Is there something in particular that they were doing on third down that was not allowing you to get off the field like you normally do?
"It's nothing that they did. It's what we did, or didn't do. We didn't get to the ball fast enough. Kudos to them again, they've got a potent offense, we knew that coming in. We didn't have the third and longs that we had early on in the game, and we were off to straight series in a row. This is something that you have to stop the run to try and get yourself a better chance to get off a third down. It's something we knew going in and that's not happened today."
These sort of losses don't get any easier to deal with in the moment. Are you just like aware of just how hard it is to get to this point? And how do you kind of look at it in a big picture sense. Once this is all kind of settled?
"I can't even focus on big picture after we lost this game. I mean, I think about we had a couple of short three or four short fields, if we turn anyone of those opportunities into just field goals instead of actual touchdowns, then our offense having another chance. Today, we just fell short of our normal defensive expectations, our expectations as a team and to fall short when everything matters, this game hurts. Big picture, I'll let you guys worry about that. I let the organization worry about that. I can only control what's in front of me."
What has Drew Brees meant to you as a teammate of the last ten seasons?
"For the last 10 years that I've been here and for 15 or 16 years that he's been a part of the Saints, he's been everything you could imagine a leader could be. Been everything you imagine, a quarterback who details his game plan who is the first one in and first one out. Every stereotypical leadership core value you think of Drew has. Drew exemplifies. Everything that he does in terms of wanting to be a better teammate. he strives for that every day. You think about what he's been part of the league 20 years now? He's got one Super Bowl. I mean, that's phenomenal to say he's won one, but there's been a couple of times where it's been within our grasp and as a team has failed. Us as a team just didn't reach the heights that we wanted to and it's really going to go down, especially this year, is going to go down as one of my more fond teammates my most fond times of being a Saint. This locker room is special. The way we grew together as a defense the way our offense corralled this year. First, us to fall short all of it sucks and hurts and you think about again, Drew, what he went through this last season and what he went through this season (with injuries). I want more for myself and want more for us as a team and more for him."
WIDE RECEIVER TRE'QUAN SMITH
*How big were the turnovers? *"They were very big. I think that every turnover that we had they ended up getting points. We didn't create any turnovers for them. They basically fed off our turnovers. We can make mistakes like that especially in a game like this. Good teams like them will go down and make points out of them."
How disappointing is this loss?
"I don't have the words. It feels like it hurts more and more. We are right there and in control of everything. We just don't pull through because something happens and we end up being on the bad side of it. It definitely hurts a lot."
What does Drew Brees mean as a teammate?
"Drew has meant everything to me. I feel like I'm growing up like one of his own. He is just a great guy. Besides football, you can talk about him as a person. I believe he is a great guy. He is somebody you can talk to and help you understand. I try to learn as much from him as I can. It is just wonderful having him around and being around him in general. I do hope that he comes back. He's a great guy, a great competitor, great teammate and great leader."
Was the touchdown reception from Jameis Winston in the playbook or a direct borrowing from Chicago?
"It was in the playbook last week, but it was a direct borrow. Honestly, I wasn't supposed to be on that play, but things happen. Deonte (Harris) ended up getting hurt. I'm lucky I paid attention in practice and watched everything. I ended up being the one to make the play."
Did they anticipate the tight man coverage today?
"We expected them to play more zone, but they played a lot more man. At the end of the day when they did go to zone, we knew what their g to zone play was. They did a great job of mixing things up and disguising coverage."
How did it feel to go out there and play and have a big game?
"I was itching to be back with the team. Even though my performance was good, I don't see that. I'd rather take the win with zero catches and zero targets and day of the week. It was great being out there and having fun with the guys."
LINEBACKER DEMARIO DAVIS
How do you feel after the loss?
"Losing never gets easier. We just talked about it in the locker room. The reason everybody makes it this far as that they don't accept losing. It's going to sting. It's going to hurt. It's tough. You always have to put things in perspective. At the end of the day, we are still getting a chance to play a game. We are going to spend the rest of the night worrying about how we lost the game and what we could have done different. There are people that are dealing with a lot more tonight. You have people out there wondering what they are going to eat tonight. When you put things in perspective, then we have nothing to do but keep our heads high. You have to give credit to Tampa Bay. They played a phenomenal game. They earned the victory. It is going to hurt. You just have to find a way to shake it off and rise through the ashes. I live life by 10 percent is what happens to you and 90 percent is how you respond to it. When you get knocked down, the only way that you are going to find success is to get back up."
Was Tampa Bay doing anything different tonight?
"They came at us with a balanced attack. They were able to run the ball effectively on us. They were able to hit us with a couple of play actions. They did a good job of executing when they got good field position. You just have to give them credit. They played the best overall football game."
Was it tough to play this season?
"I wouldn't say that it was tough. It was just different. It was a unique season. I told the guys in the locker room that this season was one for the ages. None of us will ever forget this season. No matter if we would have won it all or came up short like we did. This one was one for the ages with a lot of memories just because of the uniqueness of this season. I think we are all blessed to have made it through this season healthy. I think our hearts have to be with people who have lost people, their family members and those who were close to them during this world pandemic. Our hearts need to be with those on the frontlines. We are grateful for them. I feel like we have to keep it all in perspective."
What did Kwon Alexander bring to the linebacking corps and was he missed in the playoffs?
"Kwon is a phenomenal player and one of my favorite teammates ever. He plays with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. I think both of us are Southern boys. We think a lot alike and it was fun having the opportunity to play with him. It was definitely a blow when we lost him. It's a next man up league. We have been fortunate to have great players in that linebacker room. It's next man up. Alex (Anzalone) came in and played phenomenal. It's just the way that it goes. When your time comes, you have to be ready." What has Drew Brees meant to him as a teammate? "Everything. He is more than what's advertised. Drew is the reason why I came here. When I came to New Orleans, I wanted to help Drew Brees win another Super Bowl because I feel like he deserves it. With the accomplishments that he's had in this game, I want him to have more championship trophies on the mantle. That was one of the major driving points for me coming here. It's been one of the reasons why I've shown up every single day. He is a great teammate, a great leader and a great man in the community. He's a great husband and a great father. He's an example for all of us to look to and try to emulate."