Falcons coach Mike Smith was clearly proud of his team after their 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. He pronounced that they were “back on track” after the NFC South victory.
Here’s what he had to say after the game:
OPENING STATEMENT: I felt we got back on track today in terms of our preparation this week. It was a very solid week of preparation. Especially in the second half of the ball game, we did what we feel like is our DNA that we want to do and that is to control both sides of the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively. We had some trouble in the first half, getting off on third down. In the second half, the final four drives of the ballgame ended in three-and-outs or interceptions and that’s the way you want to end a game. I felt like we were fairly solid across the board in terms of offense, defense and special teams. I really liked the way that we got our run game going. We did a nice job blocking up to the second level. When you get your offensive line up to the second level and have the wide receivers blocking down the field, then you have an opportunity to have explosive plays.
ON THE RUSHING ATTACK: We wanted to run the football and control the line of scrimmage, and that was what we wanted to do in the ballgame. It was our game plan, and that allowed us to control the clock.
ON SECOND HALF ADJUSTMENTS: I thought the coaching staff did a nice job at halftime. I also thought that the guys played better. We got more pressure on the quarterback, and that’s very important to get pressure on the quarterback. He had way too much time there in the first half and he was able to make some plays. I thought we collapsed the pocket in the second half and got him on the ground.
ON THE THREE INTERCEPTIONS: Any time you get a turnover, turnovers are a big part of the game. When we win the turnover battle and we win the turnover ratio, we win the majority of our games. That is something that we stress all the time; ball security and taking care of the ball.
ON CLOSING OUT THE WIN: That’s the way you would like every game to finish. In terms of envisioning it, that’s the way that you would want to finish games. For the entirety of the game, we were able to come back and make plays that we needed to make.
ON THE LATE THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: We went to Tony (Gonzalez) on an option route and then Harry (Douglas) got behind the defender man coverage. It was an outstanding throw that Matt (Ryan) was able to put right on target that kept the drives going.
ON RAY EDWARDS GETTING A SACK FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE GAME: Third down sacks are huge. It gets us off the field. We were struggling to get off the field in the first half and I felt like Ray really turned it up the second half of the ballgame.
ON CAM NEWTON: You learn something every day when you go out and play a game or go to practice. We obviously saw a very talented player. He is a very good player and he is hard to get on the ground. We’ll have to devise some things the next time we play them because it’s a divisional game. We’ll have to prepare for him again, so hopefully we’ll learn how to play him a little bit better.
ON COREY PETERS’ ONE-HANDED INTERCEPTION: My view of that probably wasn’t as good as your view, but I think it was a one-handed catch that he was able to take out of the air. The one thing I was very pleased with was asthe play continued, he finished with the position that you want a defensive linemen to have on the football, and that’s both hands on the ball. He did a great job. That was a great individual effort in reading the screen.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog