Head Coach Raheem Morris
(Opening statement) Obviously a disappointment. Got to sum it up like this, you had two close games with Carolina, you had two close games with Atlanta and you have a split with New Orleans and you have to find out how to win those football games to be competitive in this league. They won the battle up front today and they won the battle on both sides of the football. We werent able to run the football and we werent able to stop it. We have to tackle better.
(On his evaluation of the team) We had two wins in a row, so you dont evaluate each game individually. You have to evaluate at the end of the season and what they were able to do at the end of the season was pretty good. They came out and they were able to win two games in a row and they came here and lost a tough one against Atlanta today. We were not able to get our run game going today, so you cant say thats what we werent or what we were able to do. Cadillac [Williams] toted the load by himself today. We tried to run it but just werent able to. They played hard on that side of the football. We have to get back, get into the offseason, get into the lab, get healthy, get everybody back and get ready to start this offseason so we can get ready to prepare for next year.
(On upgrading the defense) You have to upgrade everybody. You cant do it based on one game. Last time we were able to come and we were able to stop the run against Atlanta. We were able to stop them from running the football. Today they came out, they had a nice plan. They were able to run the football and that lengthened their drives and their stats show it, so they won the battle upfront today. Youre looking to upgrade everybody. Its no different in this season than any other season. You got to go into it, you have to prepare to get what you can get. Get the best players to come in here and help you win and thats what well do.
(On if he saw fight in his team today) Oh, yeah. Anytime you see a 10-10 score the whole game thats a fight all the way. This game was never out of control. They fought all the way down. That last drive they were able to run the football, throw some tackles and our defense was able to stop them, keep them out of the end zone there. Teams that give up show signs of just giving up touchdowns back to back.
(On how he is a better coach now then at the beginning of the season) Just experience. You have to learn from experience every day. Everything you put yourself into, the learning curve, how you want to be. Were a team that has to go out and run the football to have success. Today we were not able to do it and that happens sometimes. So we have to go out and find ways to run it. We have to come back and get better at running the football. Both times we played Atlanta this year, they were able to stop our running game. Last time we were in the game because of our passing game. This game we tried to win it with our passing game but we just fell short at the end. But we have to find a way to get the run going against Atlanta. Thats the bottom line. But were a running football team that has to rely on the pass to go down the field and play ball. We have to play sound defense and keep them out of the end zone. We gave up three more points than our season average this year. The 17 that weve been holding teams to for the last couple of weeks, but we have to get better there. We have to find ways to get turnovers. We just go out there and play football. Thats not our job to figure out all of that stuff. Our job is to get better and better every time we go out there and I felt like we have. I felt like weve been competitive down the stretch.
CB Ronde Barber
(On Atlanta having a few turnovers) Their turnovers were factored in more than our turnovers. We certainly had opportunities throughout the entire game. We played great on defense. The first five or six series were three and outs. We werent able to move, you have to give them credit. They played a physical game, a little bit more physical than we did. They won upfront on offense and defense. That showed at the end of the game so you tip your hat to them.
(On the Buccaneers defense forcing turnovers) We pretty much knew what they were going to do. This is a team that we play twice every year. We are fairly familiar with who they are. There isnt much that we do, there isnt much that they do that we dont or they dont know about. Like I said, it comes down to who is going to be the more physical team and at the end of the day you have to give it to them.
(On the team not giving up at the end of the season) It has been that way the whole year. Even early in the season when things were looking very desperate, this team has always had that toughness about them no matter what. No matter what adversity we faced. We just keep grinding and finding ways to come to work and try to get better. I think thats a testament to the character of this team, the coaches obviously. That will pay dividends for us next year.
C Jeff Faine
(On the struggles with a young quarterback) I cant put it all on the kid. The whole first half the offense was nonexistent. We werent able to get it going and it just didnt come out right. Some of the things we put together these last couple of weeks, we just didnt do those things and thats the perfect equation for us to be successful. We just didnt do that today.
(On what can be taken away from the season) It was a lot of growing pains and a lot of frustrations but we have to able to reflect on it and learn from our mistakes. A lot of guys need to grow up, and this whole team needs to grow up and learn from these experiences.
QB Josh Freeman
(On the loss) I have to put that on myself as the quarterback and the leader of the offense. We have to score more points in the first half the way our defense is playing, holding them to 10 points in the first half. It should have been a different football game but we werent able to get anything going. We werent able to complete those third downs in the first half when we needed to. It was just overall a poor effort.
(On the long completion to WR Maurice Stovall setting up a touchdown) It was cover-two. I saw on film that the corner was kind of dropping off, not really respecting it when its a receiver out there. When they are playing quarter halves he is not really respecting the hole check and no one has really hit them on one this whole year. I decided to try to keep the safety inside and give it a shot. I was grateful that Maurice was able to get off of him so cleanly and get in that hole. Then the play to AB, it was a great ball by Antonio Bryant. It could have been placed a little further behind him for a better back shoulder throw. AB worked with what he had and made a great touchdown.
(On his interception late in the game) It was a hard-sell play action and really, they brought a blitz. Usually you like to sell it, sit back there for a little bit and get a good read on it. They were able to generate some pressure and I had to get it out a little sooner than I would like. If I would have been able to see it a little better I could have probably put it a little more outside. It would have been a little bit easier of a play for AB to make. It happened; I was trying to get it out to avoid the sack in the red zone. It is what it is. It was a tough one today.
(On his performance in his rookie year) It wasnt great. I felt like I got better as a player but I still didnt play as well as this team needed me to play to win games. I am grateful that I am going to have this offseason to get better as a quarterback and get better as a player. 3-13 is unacceptable. It is an unacceptable season. I know all the guys feel that way and we are going to come in, grind this offseason and make sure that never happens again.
(On what he can work on with his fundamentals) We are going to cover everything, every aspect of my game. We are going to watch every game, every preseason game. We are going to figure out what I did well and what I didnt do well. From there, we are going to work on it. Even now, we are working on keeping two hands on the ball in the pocket, really just improving the fundamentals. I think that could add a few percentages to my completion percentage, just more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. It is just working on developing as a quarterback overall this offseason. I am going to do the best that I can.
On what he learned his rookie season) I definitely learned a lot this season. Coming in as a rookie in the NFL, youre not sure what to expect. Coach Morris and the staff decided to sit me for the first half of the season and I am somewhat grateful for that. Sitting was a good idea because I still had a lot of things to learn. When they threw me in I had a good, solid grasp of the offense. Then it was just about adjusting to the game speed of the NFL and being able to read defenses, make protection calls and handle all of the other complexities of the quarterback position. I feel like Ive grown a lot this year. I didnt play as well as Id like to or as well as the team needed me to or deserved me to. I cant wait to get into the offseason and get to work. Its frustrating to end on a loss, but it will definitely give me motivation heading into the offseason.
(On his motivation heading into the offseason) I hate losing and a lot of the guys on the team just cant stand it. Today was frustrating because in the first half we really couldnt get anything going, whether it was passing or running. In the second half we came out and I turned the ball over and you can never win when you turn the ball over in critical situations. We feel like we were in a lot of games and we grew older as a team and as individuals. We are going to find a way to win those close games. We are going to go back this offseason and figure out everything. Figure out why things didnt work, why they did work and try to formulate a plan to come back and get a lot more wins and get to the playoffs.
LB Geno Hayes
(On if the team could improve through adding personnel) Of course, its the NFL. Every year you have to have something new to finish what youre trying to build. I think that there will be some guys coming in, obviously through the draft but I dont want to say what we need. Since its the NFL, you never know what you really need.
(On the defenses second half performance) I think we missed tackles. They called some great plays, and although we were in the right position we just missed tackles. Theres no excuse for that.
(On the disappointment of losing at home after the win in New Orleans) Its very frustrating, not to discredit Atlanta but to win against the Saints and then play like this is tough.
S Tanard Jackson
(On his interception) It was a huge play in the game to try and get some momentum swung in our direction to open up the second half. I was just trying to make a play and help this team get its fourth victory and end the season strong. Obviously it didnt happen. I think our guys played hard. Its tough to go down this way but we cant carry this into the offseason. We have a lot to look forward to. Hopefully we use this season as motivation to come back strong.
(On new defensive scheme) A lot of people in this defense were comfortable in Raheems system and his play calling. You can see a difference since a lot of guys were able to play much faster.
S Corey Lynch
(On the blocked kick) I was blessed to be able to block it, very fortunate, but unfortunately it didnt result in a win. Its always a good momentum change when youre able to do that.
(On how he blocked the kick) The wing just hit a little wider than usual and I found the crease. I was hoping to do a reenactment but I got tripped up a little bit and wasnt able to complete the run to the end zone.
LB Barrett Ruud
(On the touchdown at the end of the first half) We were in a goal line defense and they were in a goal line offense. They called a bootleg and we were in man to man coverage. It was a good play. It was a tough play to stop especially with no huddle like that. They did a better job of executing on the fly than we did. It was one of those plays. Credit them for calling those plays like that.
(On if the defense could have called a timeout) No just because they were in as equally as tough of a bind. It would be one thing if they werent set up for it. They just outdid us on the move. We were both on the move. We were both ready and set. They just made the play and we didnt.
(On the season) I think everybody got a little humility. Ive never been 3-13 before. It makes you never take a win for granted. Wins are tough to get in the NFL. Last year we were 9-3, thinking about what teams we were going to play in the playoffs and then we lost four straight. Since then, its been tough. Wins arent easy to come by even when you are playing well and winning a lot of games. You cant take it for granted.
WR Maurice Stovall
(On the evaluation of the season) Every season in my NFL career, Ive wanted to win a Super Bowl. Unfortunately, that didnt happen this year. Eventually I just try to put my best out there in the game every week and not have any loafs and give it my all. I think that Ive done that this year as far as playing hard. Its unfortunate that we didnt have the season that we wanted to. All you can do in that situation is play your hardest and take advantage of the opportunities given to you. Just control what you can control.
(On the offense) I think that Coach Olson and Josh Freeman have done fairly well under the circumstances. Josh came in late in the season and really didnt get as much time in the offseason as needed. At the same time, I think he stepped up to the plate a lot. Coach Olson worked with him individually after hours and extra time on the practice field. I think that he has progressed a lot since Joshs first start.
RB Cadillac Williams
(On making it through a complete season) I have a bitter taste in my mouth. Definitely bitter about the game, but at the same time it is a blessing to have played in all 16 games for the first time in my career. I think that this is the start to something great.
(On how he feels about the future) Im going to take some time off, sit back, and enjoy what Ive accomplished this season. Not to sound selfish but, its big to me to play in all 16 games. Whatever happens with the situation happens. Its not a long lasting league and I wish everybody the best.
*(On if the offense started to click towards the end of the season) * No doubt, I feel like things were definitely clicking. We were running the ball better. (Josh) Freeman was getting better. The receivers and tight ends were getting better. We were coming together as a unit.
Head Coach Mike Smith
(Opening statement) I really thought that today was a great effort by every man in our locker room. We talked all week about the outcome of this game being a byproduct of our preparation and I thought that our preparation was very good and the guys went and executed everything extremely well. Im very proud of the way our defense played. This is the third week in a row where theyve gone out and I thought they had a very dominating performance especially against the run. This is a team that can run the football and they had 38 yards rushing.
(On ending the streak with two back to back winning seasons) Well, I think for our football team its something that we were aware of, we knew about it and we didnt really talk about it. But Im very, very happy for the city of Atlanta and Mr. Blank and for all the players that have played for us in previous seasons. For us to go out and get back to back winning seasons is something that we as a football team want to have happen. We want to be a relevant football team year in and year out. Thats what we talked about. When youre relevant you got to have a winning record and youll have an opportunity to be in the discussions for the playoffs. We werent in the playoffs but we had a season that gives us nine wins and thats something that we are very proud of.
(On running the ball) No, it was a little bit of both. We wanted to keep pounding the ball and running in there. In the second half, we made a little bit of adjustment in terms of formations that we wanted to run out of, but I thought that our guys especially when we came off the one yard line. Even though it didnt result in points, it was about a 60 yard drive and I think a majority of those yards were through the run.
(On TE Tony Gonzalez) Tony has been a great addition to our team and unfortunately he did not get his fourth catch to reach that milestone. Tony had a very, very good year for us and he has been a big addition.
(On young cornerbacks) Brent [Grimes] has now gone three games in a row with an interception playing at right corner. It was nice to see Christopher Owens have his second consecutive game with an interception and that interception really matched an interception that the Buccaneers got. I think it really got the momentum back on our side.
(On what he told his team towards the end of the game) Well, we wanted to run the football there in the second half. It was something we felt like we could do and we felt like we could wear them down. At the core of what weve done from the very beginning here is be a team that can run the football and stop the run and I felt like we did both of those things very well today.
DE John Abraham
(On what the win today and back to back winning seasons means to the players and the franchise) I know personally it feels good, but Im actually upset the season is over. I thought we finally got in a groove and were playing well, and it really doesnt feel like our season should be over. I feel like we should be playing four or more games. Just personally thats how I feel. It was a good feeling, but it was also an upsetting feeling because I felt like we still should have been playing.
(On defensive effort after early deficit) Thats exactly what I mean. I think we finally got everything clicking and were playing well on defense, were doing a great job on the line. We were applying pressure and the DBs were doing a good job of picking the ball off, so it seemed like we were finally getting on a roll and then its just over with.
S Erik Coleman
(On todays game) It was a very big game for our organization and for the players. We wanted to end the seasons on a high note. First team in Falcons history to go back to back winning seasons. Its just a great feeling. End the season with a three game winning streak. End on a high note in the offseason.
(On finishing the season strong) We ended the season with three wins, thats momentum going into the offseason. Guys are going to have a positive attitude around the facility, continue to get better and know we have to get better for next year in order to get into the tournament.
(On stopping the run) Oh yeah, coming into the game that was our main goal was to stop the run. Cadillac and his teammates have been running the ball well. He kind of got on a roll at the end of the season and our goal was to get him stopped and make them beat us in the air. We did a great job today.
LB Curtis Lofton
(On back to back winning seasons) We broke the curse and its awesome to be the first to do that.
(On injury and possibly not playing in the game) Oh no, you cant keep me out of this party. I was just doing whatever I could to get healthy, come back, and I got to where I felt like I could play and strapped it on and was ready to go.
(On future for the Falcons) Lets go. We just got to keep winning, win some games and get to the playoffs.
(On the injuries this year) A lot of injuries held us out, but thats just part of the game and you just have to get ready for next year.
QB Matt Ryan
(On earning back-to-back winning seasons) It was a huge win for us today. To finish the season off with three wins in a row says a lot about the guys in our locker room. To have two consecutive back-to-back winning seasons is huge for the organization. I am happy for Mr. (Arthur) Blank and his family, for everything theyve done for us the past couple years. Also, for all the former players, all the guys we get to meet at practice, during the offseason and training camp, you get to know and see they have gone through in their time here. To have this not be a question from this point on is something Im very proud of.
(On the hard fought game) It was just a gutsy effort by everybody today. I think everybody contributed and it is exactly what you expect from an NFC South matchup with Tampa. You know it is going to be tough and physical and theyre going to make some plays. Ultimately, we were able to do enough on both sides of the ball. Chris Owens interception was huge and Jason Snelling ran the ball unbelievably well today. His (Snelling) contribution was huge. We were able to capitalize, Roddy (White) made a great play on the touchdown and we were able to get three points at the end.
(On accomplishing the back-to-back winning seasons) You are certainly happy for the organization and everybody that has contributed to it for the past 44 years. A lot of us havent been here that long and we are a young football team, but it is a great thing to be a part of. One thing Coach (Mike) Smith talks about is if we want to be the kind of team we want to be long term, we need to be there every year. We need to be relevant and have to be able to sustain long term. And this is something that we hope is not just a back-to-back thing, we hope it is something we can do 10, 12, 15 years.
(On Tony Gonzalez) We came up a little short. We had a penalty on the first play of the game where Tony (Gonzalez) had a catch too. You would have loved to see him get it today, but Im hoping he gets it the first game of next year and we put that to rest. He (Gonzalez) deserves it, he is a great player and has been a huge part of our team this year. I cant tell you how many games he contributed to the win. Making plays in the fourth quarter, two-minute drives all year long. First and second down, being tough and physical. Huge in the red zone. Just a huge addition to our organization. Ive really enjoyed playing with Tony this year and I hope he has got five or six more years in him.
RB Jason Snelling
(On the game) You know, it was a big win. We got that game and put the history on the table (consecutive winning seasons) you know, it was a big game. The offensive line, the fullback, just did a heck of a job today blocking downfield, opening up holes for me, and I was able to get my first 100 yard game. But Ive got to give credit to those guys up front. They were down in the trenches and did a great job of helping me out and I had to do the rest.
(On what back-to-back winning seasons means to this team) It means a lot. It feels good to get that win and get that history, to be part of that team. There was a lot of momentum winning three games in a row at the end of the season. Im looking forward to the future. We are just going to try to build off it in the offseason and make sure to set our goals high and get back to the playoffs.
(On the satisfaction of being able to run out the clock even though the Bucs knew what the offense was going to do) You know, thats the type of football the Falcons like to play. Its very gratifying to be able to do that, to be a part of that. But like I said, the offensive line, its all credit to them. They were blocking to the whistle, a little bit after the whistle, but thats those guys. A running back loves running behind them and even our fullback Ovie Mughelli. Ive been loving running behind him all year, just finishing to the whistle. He (Mughelli) made that possible today.
WR Roddy White
(On touchdown reception) Matt (Ryan) gave me a good ball out there. The cornerback took a chance and then he tried to undercut it. Matt put it right in the right spot, and I just tried to stay in bounds. Once he missed it I was like put on the breaks, put on the breaks and try to stay in bounds.
(On mood on the sidelines after interception and the Bucs tying the game) We were still positive. Matt was just trying to get the ball to him. Just trying to get the 1,000th catch, Matt was trying to get the ball. You know it happens sometimes. He got pressured at times; they definitely did a good job of getting after him. He had a little errant pass and they picked it off, but our defense went right back out there and got a turnover and thats how you do it.