QUARTERBACK TAYSOM HILL
On his first touchdown pass and his comfort level in the offense:
"I don't care as much as people might think about statistics and all the stuff. I care about winning football games. I know there have been a lot of conversations about getting your first touchdown completion, but as long as we're winning football games, I'm happy. So, I was certainly happy about it because I knew it was going to help us win. I was happy for Tre'Quan [Smith] he ran a great route and that was a late add in the week. It was one of those things that makes Coach [Sean] Payton, Coach Payton."
On the importance of converting third downs on Sunday:
"I don't know what the stat was, but I certainly was aware that they were big. I was really happy with our game plan coming into the game on third down. I think our coaches did a phenomenal job with putting us in situations to be successful on third down. I would say that there was some funky looks that I was not expecting on third down but we had practiced it and sure enough we got it. Some of those were big conversions."
On whether this week's game plan made him more confident in throwing the ball compared to last week's:
"I have a lot of respect for Matt Ryan and what he's done in Atlanta and how successful he's been. They have weapons and they're explosive, so as I approached this game, it was a much different mindset for me. I knew that I could, and we needed to, let loose and get some offensive productivity today. It was just a total different mindset for sure."
On whether he thought he was going to have to work a two-minute offense at the end of the game:
"We were. Our Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael and I sat down and we went through our two-minute stuff and talked about the stuff that we liked and we were getting prepped to do it if we had to."
On whether there is something he can target as a cause for turnovers as a runner:
"We're obviously trying to get a first down, run the clock out. I have to put two hands on the ball in that situation. Guy came over, made a good play and topped down, ball out. I'm disappointed about that and certainly something I need to fix. I think it really just boils down to two hands on the ball."
On what he saw on his 43-yard scramble:
"It was man-to-man. It's interesting, in the first half, we were getting a lot of two-man on third downs. So, as a quarterback and as a guy who can run, you're kind of licking your chops when you see that. I was aware of it, I don't recall if that was two-man but it was man-to-man, no one was there for me, so I was able to escape the pocket and make a good play."
On the importance of WR Michael Thomas playing with confidence:
"Michael Thomas is phenomenal. He's a big, strong, physical receiver. Such a security blanket for a quarterback early in their career. I know that dude has fight on every play, he's so big, strong and physical that if you make the right throw, he's open. I appreciate how hard he plays, how competitive he is and I love playing with him."
On how comfortable he has gotten and his development from his first start:
"As I mentioned earlier, at the end of the day, I'm happy that we've gotten three wins. That's the statistic that I care most about. As far as my overall development and the process, I feel like I'm becoming more and more comfortable in operating the offense and I feel like there are so many ways I can continue to get better, which is encouraging when we're moving the ball, we're playing football games. There are still places for us to get better at. Overall, I'm getting more and more comfortable."
On whether he felt he attempted a pass on the play that was ruled a sack-fumble:
"I'm obviously disappointed about that play as well, we had points. It was one of those things where I was trying to make a play and really, my thought process was to avoid something bad from happening by just throwing the ball away and in turn, something bad happened. I know that it was reviewed and they said it was a fumble, but my mindset was just try to throw the ball away and give us an opportunity on third down. In hindsight, I obviously wish I would have just taken the sack, kicked the field goal. It would have been big points for us."
Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons matchup in Week 13 of the 2020 NFL season.
LINEBACKER DEMARIO DAVIS
We've talked a lot about your red zone defense all year when it was something you had to improve. And then when it's been great, but like, how rewarding was it that when you guys absolutely had to have that red zone stop, where it made the difference in this game that you guys were able to deliver?
"Coach harps on it all the time that the good teams down the stretch are the ones that can be efficient in the red zone, whether it's on offense, or it's on defense. And so, we know it's important to get where we need to go. So it was important for us to get a stop in that situation, you never know when you're going to be in it. And when you're there, you just have to be able to make the plays and it was fortunate for us to make the play there."
Why do you think you guys have gotten so much better in that area? Is it as much a mindset as it is anything technical?
"There's a lot that goes into it. It's a very detailed game, you have to be able to execute at a high level. And sometimes it's on the offense. They just make great plays. Sometimes, defense just gets the best of them or there's nowhere to go with the ball when you get pressured. And it's a number of reasons that allow you to play effective down in there. Your eyes have to be right. You have to know what concepts are coming and it worked out well for us today."
When the defense is playing as well as it is over the last few weeks, how much fun is it? And how much more sort of loose can you play when it's going so well?
"Anybody that's watched us play knows, like, we're a very energetic group. We like to play with tons and tons of swag. And the only way that you can show that swag and play with that energy is when you're making plays. I think it's a credit to a lot of the guys individually each week that guys are out there trying to make plays. And so, when the ball comes their way, they just try to make it. And it's just great when guys are making plays. And we have a group of guys that get excited for the other guys that are making plays. And so, it's just a great brotherhood to be a part of and we're flowing right now. We've just got to keep it going."
Atlanta had that kind of goal line situation down there? I think they were at your 13 (yardline) with two minutes left, you made both the tackles on Todd Gurley, can you just walk me through what you saw in those two plays? The second down and the third down?
"Yeah, first of all, (Todd) Gurley has been a phenomenal back in this league for a long time. Atlanta, we knew, Atlanta was using him a lot in the red zone, he comes alive in the red zone. They had had some success on that drive and running the ball. They were running the crunch concept that we call a cross concept with the tight end comes across, and kind of exchange the gaps. So they had had some success in that, while we were expecting pass, they had did that. So, just coming down, you know, stretch. It's kind of trying to think what the offensive coordinator will call. He's going to run the plays that he's had success on. He hasn't had a lot of success today and those were the ones. And so, that second down, third down, the first one, I think he didn't actually do the crunch play, just ran like a regular run play. And then he tried to come back to it. And I think it was Chauncey (Gardner-Johnson) that came back there first, and then knocked it back and then I was just able to come across the top and make the tackle."
New Orleans Saints fans cheer on the team from a safe distance as the Saints take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13 of the 2020 NFL season.
WIDE RECEIVER MICHAEL THOMAS
Was Taysom Hill quicker on the trigger this week? Did you see him getting rid of it faster, being more decisive? Talk a little bit about what you've seen in his development in three weeks?
"I've just seen a guy come in and handle the situation very well. He's improved week in and week out. He's getting more comfortable, obviously, you can see that. And you can tell a guy that loves football and just wants to win. So, whenever you have a guy like on your team, we just want to help him and make him right and complement him and make his job that much easier when he throws you the ball."
What's the chemistry sort of been like with you and Taysom (Hill)? Are you starting to develop that chemistry?
"Yeah, whatever he asks for me to do, however he wants me to run it and wherever he needs to be, when my number's called I'm trying to be there and be exactly where he needs me to be. So, we've just been working on that in practice. Like I said, he's improved week in and week out. Sky's the limit for him, because he's the guy that wants to learn and (is) willing to get better. And I love that about him."
Can you describe what you saw on that, I think it was a 3rd and 17, you ran it right to the sticks and Taysom (Hill) kind of stuck it on you? Can you describe what you saw in that play?
"We knew the situation. During the week we practiced third down and Coach (Payton) right when we come to the huddle, he always tells us, know the down and distance, know what we got to get on the field. So, when your number is called, and the play presented itself we're still trying to get some more plays and we're still trying to get first downs to move the chains. So whatever it takes, you've always got to get your depth and make sure you get it. You can't just cut off the route short or not be where the quarterback needs you when it's time to make a play. So, I just ran a play that came in when they called and execute it to a high level. And me and Taysom (Hill) were on the same page. And I knew what it was, it was have to have it third down (to convert)."
Can you just talk in general about how good it feels to win nine straight games despite the fact you guys have had some significant injuries, some games that have been tight that force different kinds of wins, just feeling good about winning nine straight and actually clinching the playoffs today?
"Yeah, it's definitely a blessing to be in this situation. I feel like it's the culture that we've built since I've gotten here. We've slowly built it. And we demand it, we demand it now. We demand success, we demand excellence, we come into it, home or away, we're coming to win games, we're not just coming here to play the team we're going against. As long as we keep that mindset, with the coaches that we have, and the skillset we have on both offense, defense and special teams, we're a very dominant team and everyone knows that."
Did you guys see anything different in the coverage this week compared to the first time you played them? It seemed like maybe third down, they defended a little bit differently, but did they throw a lot of different stuff at you guys from the first game to this game?
"On third down they played two man. The first week they play a lot of man, more so than two man. You know, those guys played right and left, but you notice 24, he traveled this whole game. You know, played two man, I want to say every down on third down, at least when I was in. So we have plays to beat two man and we have a great offensive coordinator that knows how to dial it up. So, we don't really panic in those types of situations. We just go out there and execute the play that's called and try to make the best out of it and move the chains."