Falcons coach Mike Smith was gracious in his post-game media session.
He gave the Saints credit for shutting down the offense and explained his fourth quarter decision to give the ball back to the Saints so they could basically run the clock out.
Here’s what he had to say:
OPENING STATEMENT: “I thought it was a very hard fought ballgame tonight. It was two pretty good football teams playing against each other. I liked the preparation throughout the week; we just didn’t get the outcome that we wanted. Defensively, I thought we had a good plan and executed it; we just didn’t make some plays. We left some plays out there. We did some things very uncharacteristic in terms of turnovers in the ballgame. We’ll regroup, we’ll get back together, and we’ll put this one behind us. Again, we still like where we’re at, I can assure you of that. We’ve got to get this one behind us as quick as possible and move on to the Carolina Panthers.”
ON THE OFFENSE’S JAGGED PERFORMANCE: “I’ll credit New Orleans, they did some good things today. We were not very efficient on third down which is something we have been very good at all season. We have not been turning the football over and we had two uncharacteristic turnovers that I think were critical in the game. They did a nice job in defending us. It wasn’t our best effort and a lot of it has to do with the way that we played. “
ON THE DECISION TO PUNT: “Definitely thought it was the right thing to do. It was fourth down and six with the ball out their 38, 39-yard line maybe even a little bit further out. But on fourth and six we felt like the way that we’d been playing defensively and we had two timeouts and we hopefully could wrap one around the two-minute warning. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done there at the end.”
ON WHETHER THE DEFENSE GOT TIRED: “I don’t believe so. We didn’t execute very well on that one drive. The other score was a short field after a turnover and I thought we kept our rotation like we wanted to. They made the plays. It’s the typical game when these two teams meet, since I’ve been here, there’s only been one game that hasn’t been at eight points or less. Most of them are at two or three or four point games.”
ON THE NO-HUDDLE: “We moved the ball down in the no-huddle. Again, we felt like it was in our best interest to get back in and huddle. What they were doing in the no-huddle was the same thing they were doing defending us when we were huddling. We felt that it was the right thing to do at that point in time at the game.”
ON THE PRESSURE ON BREES: “I think we had a very good plan in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback. I think we left a number of plays out there in terms of getting QB Drew (Brees) on the ground. He did a good job extending plays. It was a well-designed game plan and I thought the guys went out and executed it. We just did not always finish the plays. You can see why Drew Brees is a Pro Bowl player in terms of being able to extend plays. He was able to do that tonight.”
ON REGROUPING: “We’ll put this one behind us as quick as possible. The outcome we didn’t get tonight, but we still like where we’re at I can assure you that. I think there’s probably 15 teams that would want to trade with us so I like where we’re at. We didn’t get the outcome. I’m disappointed but not discouraged because there was some really good football played out there tonight by both football teams.”
ON RYAN’S PLAY: “Until I watch the tape I’m not going to make an evaluation. I know we weren’t as efficient on third down like we have been. We’ve been a very good third down football team. We didn’t run the ball statistically. Again, until I watch the tape I’m not going to make any statements about how our guys played. I know they played hard tonight and it was a hard fought football game. That’s two good football teams going at it, slugging it out and they were the better team tonight. My hat’s off to Head Coach Sean (Payton) and his staff.”
ON WHETHER HE’S CONCERNED ABOUT THE RUN GAME: “No, not at all. We didn’t get the yards that we would have liked to tonight. It wasn’t as efficient, but this is a football team that at the core of what we do is running the football. We will always be a team that’s going to run it. We just didn’t do it very well tonight. Again, you have to talk about the whole body of work. We’re talking about one night, but this is a good football team. There’s a bunch of guys in there that are disappointed but not discouraged. We’ll put this behind us and move on.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter