Falcons coach Mike Smith was elated with the 35-31 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome.
In an NFL rarity, he admitted that the coaching staff mis-calculated the final two minutes and went into the victory formation too early.
OPENING STATEMENT: I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way our guys played tonight. There was a lot of tough sledding in the football game. We obviously didn’t play our best game, but we played enough to get it done. On offense, we picked up the defense when we had to, and on defense we picked up the offense when we had to. I thought it was a very solid special teams effort as well. We’re going to move on as quickly as possible because winning in this League is not easy. It’s something that you have to go out each and every week and prepare. I thought I guys prepared this week and were in focus.
ON THE MINDSET OF THE TEAM ENTERING THE FOURTH QUARTER DOWN 10: We got into our no-huddle offense. . . We wanted to do it earlier in the football game; we just couldn’t because of field position. Behind in the field position battle going into the third quarter was something we talked about doing at halftime and making that adjustment. We didn’t really get a chance to get into it until the fourth quarter.
ON MICHAEL TURNER’S 61 YARD RUN: We hit a trap. Michael Turner’s trap was a big play in the fourth quarter of the ball game. We knew that it was going to be tough because they are a very good football team. I can’t tell you how important it is to get those explosive plays and change the field position. That was one of the bigger plays.
ON THE PLAY OF TONY GONZALEZ: That’s why he’s been to all of those Pro Bowls and he’s obviously going to be a Hall-of-Famer. I can’t say anything but ‘wow’ about those catches. That will be one that you’ll be seeing for a long time; the one-handed catch down in the end zone towards our tunnel. And then he had the other catch down in the redzone as well. Tony was on fire. He and Matt (Ryan) were in sync. When you have that type of sync and synergy, you’re going to make some plays.
ON THE LAST DRIVE: It was very tough sledding all day. That is one of the top defensive lines in the League and they do a great job of rotating. We knew it was going to be tough sledding. We hit them early with some things on the first drive. We didn’t give it up. We wanted to make sure we had a pretty good balance in terms of pass-to-run and run-to-pass.
ON THE CHANGES ON DEFENSE: We as a coaching staff are always going to evaluate. It’s our job to always put the best guys that we feel give us the best opportunity to win a football game. It was our decision after the competition this week that we were going to start (James) Sanders at the safety position. And Kelvin Hayden at the nickel position. These are guys that we added in late, right before the season started. They have been on a crash course and I believe our coaching staff has done a great job of getting these guys prepared. They are great professionals that have won a lot of football games and are a good addition to our football team.
ON CONTAINING MICHAEL VICK: It’s hard to contain a quarterback like Mike (Vick). He did a good job. We wanted to get pressure on him. We wanted to hit him. We wanted to sack him. I thought that we executed the game plan. We mixed it up in terms of what we were trying to get accomplished.
ON THE VICTORY FORMATION: That was probably a coaching error. We need to run the ball. Not probably, it was a coaching error. In terms of the mindset that was not the proper way to do it, but we were able to get through it. We don’t play perfect games, we don’t coach perfect games.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog