Falcons coach Mike Smith didn’t want to dwell on the team’s lack of killer instinct after the 24-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Here’s what Smith had to say after the win:
OPENING STATEMENT: Did we make it exciting enough for you? As we know, playing in the NFL is always going to be a three-hour battle. Your opponent’s record when you’re playing has no bearing on the outcome of the game, from the beginning to the end. That was a hard-fought football game, and I thought we played through the ebbs and flows, especially in the second half of the game. We did a good job of keeping our composure as a football team and I think we showed our resiliency. We obviously made some mistakes that we have to address. We did improve in some areas that we had some shortcomings in last week’s game. As a coach and as a football team, you’re always having to deal with new issues and we have another set of issues that we have to deal with this week as we prepare for the Houston Texans.
ON CHRISTOPHER OWENS’ TACKLE: That was the most pivotal play in the ballgame in my opinion. For him and the effort that he put forth to run Percy Harvin down, and get him down on the three-yard line, it allowed us to put our defense out there and have an opportunity to live to play another play. We were able to have a goal line stand. There were a number of guys that made some significant plays in that goal line stand, but I believe it was Sean Weatherspoon from my vantage point that knifed in on the fourth down and was the first one to make the hit. You can’t say enough about our guy’s effort. If you have that type of effort, you are going to greatly enhance your chances of winning. You can overcome some of your shortcomings and some of the mistakes you make by hustling. That was a great play by Chris Owens.
ON MATT RYAN’S PROGRESSION OVER THIS SEASON: I think that Matt is getting much better as the season is going on. I think he has a much better understanding of what we’re asking him to do as the season has gone on. Again, we were able to do some different things in terms of our strategies and how we wanted to attack their offense, and I think he did a nice job. I think with the maturation process, the arrow is definitely continuing to go up. The thing about quarterback play is that at the end of the day, we have one more point than the other team. That’s the most important statistic.
ON THE KEYS TO THE GAME: That was a hard-fought game. Leslie Frazier and his coaching staff, I thought, did a very good job. We obviously have some things that we have to address that took place in the second half of that football game. Some of the positives, which I would like to talk about, was that we were three-for-three in the red zone. Red zone efficiency in the last two ballgames, we were two-for-nine. It was something that we took a good, hard look at in the early part of the week. I thought our improvement was evident there, but there are some other issues to deal with. That is coaching and playing the ebbs and flows of a football game, and the ebbs and flows of a football season.
ON THE VIKINGS GOING FOR IT WHEN THEY NEEDED TWO SCORES: The strategy is that you need to have two scores. I’m sure that they wanted to try to get the one there. It didn’t surprise me. There are different ways that you can approach that. The fourth-and-13, that was a big play. They ended up making a big play. Percy Harvin is quite an athlete and he made some plays in the ballgame. We were not able to eliminate his big plays.
ON WILL SVITEK STARTING OVER SAM BAKER: In terms of putting together our 46-man roster each and every week, we’re going to put our positions as open competition each and every week. Will (Svitek) has been in there and has played well. In our mind, he gave us the best opportunity to win this week. Next week, it could be something that’s completely different. That’s the way that we approach it. We said it from the very beginning. We’re going to play the players that we think are playing the best, and we’re going to play the players that give us the best opportunity to win.
ON RED-ZONE EFFICIENCY: We didn’t stub our toe like we did the last couple of weeks. We’ve had some untimely penalties the last two weeks that we weren’t able to overcome. We did do some things schematically a little bit differently, and we had some favorable down and distances and certain plays that are going to be run based on the yard line that you’re on. That red zone is always a difficult thing in terms of game planning because it does shrink the field for the defense.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog