Falcons’ Jessie Bates III: ‘It was a very special moment for me’

In the Falcons' 24-15 win vs. the Saints, Bates had both a pick-six and a forced fumble to help lead the defense.

Here’s what the Falcons had to say after the 24-15 win over the Saints on Sunday:

ARNOLD EBIKETIE, outside linebacker

On Bates interception: “I was on the sideline. I was kind of following him. Tracking the ball. I saw Jessie just fly in and take it all of the way. I looked back and was like, he’s really about to take it for six. He did it.”

On the swing: “It was a big momentum swing. You have your leaders and you feel like that kind of pushes everybody to step their game up really understanding what type of game it was going to be.”

On his sack: “It felt good. Every time you go out there and get a sack, it feels good. Just being able to step up and being there for your teammates.”

On the defense, Bates forced fumble: It was huge. Every time that we are out there. Especially when our offense is doing well and put the ball in the end zone. The motto is always if they don’t score they don’t win. I think we try to lean on that and hold them from scoring. Overall, we did a pretty good job.”

A.J. TERRELL, cornerback

On getting turnovers on defense: “Jessie [Bates III], again, making that play. But that’s everyone in the defense winning their one-on-one, making big plays and coming up with the ball anytime the ball hits the ground. It’s not finished until we get the ball. That was a big play, a big momentum-swing for us, and we took advantage of it.”

On how much Wednesday’s practice set the tone for today’s game: “A lot. Coming off the bye week, we understood what was at task with the division game. We had a lot going into this game. We were on a losing streak. Just a lot at stake at the moment, but we just came out, understood where we were. We control our own future. The season wasn’t over. We have a lot of division games left, and as long as we get that down, we can the playoffs.”

On how much of a relief today’s game was: “It’s big. Just us being us. We don’t listen to outsiders or anything like that. Whatever we practice and go through in the team room, whatever Art [Arthur Smith] says and how we attack practice. All those things will carry into the week when we play teams. Like I said, just going 1-0 each week, and we can control everything.”

DAVID ONYEMATA, defensive tackle

On the win over the Saints: It definitely was a huge win, knowing the circumstances that we were in. The win is going to give us the lead in the division. I don’t think there’s anything better than that. But the main thing is thing is we have to keep going. We have to sustain that throughout the regular season, get into the playoffs and keep doing the same thing.”

On keeping the Saints out of the endzone: “That’s football. You keep them out of the end zone, they can’t beat you. We rather they take three points over seven. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Based on what we’ve done over the season, we’ve been stout in the red zone. Going out there and executing is kind of what we do.”

On the Bates fumble: “He’s a Baller. Old boy makes plays. You put him out there, he makes plays. He’s a big piece of our defense. He plays football at a great level. "

MATTHEW BERGERON, left guard

On the offensive line play: “I feel like this week we put an emphasis on doing more. I feel like, we like in the past few weeks, we fell short. This week we really put our head down and worked. I feel like we were communicating well. Everybody was being physical. It just felt like good to be out there with those four guys and go at all afternoon.”

On the key drive: “It feels good, knowing that you have trust of the team and coach on offense. So, it was just shows how much they have in us and how hard we worked to earn that trust. We are going to keep working. There’s obviously some stuff we’ve got to correct and we’ll get better for next week.”

JESSIE BATES III, safety

On his interception return: “Just trusting my instincts. Coming off that bye week…everybody had to come to life and reset with this bye week. I seen 22 (go in) motion. It was simply film study and all of the extra meetings that we do with all of our coaches with the cuts ups. I give all (proper respect) to them. Just me taking gangster and making a play. It’s a play that they’ve run, that they shown on film. I took advantage of it. I got my fourth one and a touchdown, too. It was a very special moment for me.”

BIJAN ROBINSON, running back

On the rushing attack: “It just made us all fresh. At the end of the game, we came out, our legs were good. If we are playing off of each other. It’s hard to stop us as an offense. So much so, if we want, we can just keep running the ball like that, keep playing off each other. It was a heck of a drive. I appreciate Tyler and CP. Those are my dogs. It’s fun to play off of each other like that and (get) a win like that.”

On the touchdown pass: “Right when I came across the line. I saw the linebacker. I saw he was a little hesitant. As soon as I came across the line that was Desmond’s key to throw it up.”

On run up the tunnel: “I really don’t know what I was doing. I was just trying not to slip at the end of the day. I was trying to come back without falling.”

On getting back in the win column: “It feels good to take a win like this. Teams are coming for us. We have to understand that every game that we play, these last six games need to be our best games, our best football. I think that it’s good that we came off the bye as healthy as we can so that we can get ready for next weekend and play our best.”

JAKE MATTHEWS, left tackle

On the Saints: “You can really take control of the game if you play like that…..they have some really good players. It’s been a challenge playing against them every time that we play them. We were doing a good job of executing…it was really refreshing the way that things have been going the last couple of weeks, to finish a game like that.”

On how physical the Wednesday practice was: “What I took from it, just as an (offensive) lineman, that we took a lot of responsibility on ourselves to go out and win. I think we are really talented and we have good players. Speaking for this front five, we want to be the reason we were are able to dominate games. Go out and be able to mix it up.

CALAIS CAMPBELL, defensive end

On the plays made on defense: “That pick-six was huge. It helps with that belief. You’ve got to get energy on the drives, make a play. And the forced fumble while they were moving the ball, running the ball pretty well right there. Those were big-time plays. I told the guys before the game, ‘Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.’ It’s an old saying. Been around for a long time. I’ve been hearing that since I was six. At the same time, this was the biggest game we’re going to have up to this point in the season. Obviously, we’re going to have more instances like this with other teams going forward. But up to this point, this was the biggest game of the season. He showed why they brought him here and why he’s the guy.”

On his injury in the game: “Yeah, it did not feel good. I had to go down for a second, but I was able to go back in and keep playing, so I’ll be fine.”

On needing a win against the Saints: “I think this game is always going to be a big game just because of the rivalry. I think with where we’re at in our season, the way things have gone, this was an important game, and we knew the potential that it had for us. I think that this team is a team that has underachieved for a while. We could’ve been playing so much better than we’ve been playing. But all of that does not matter anymore. We’ll go into our bye, make our corrections and get more wins against a divisional opponent at home. And that put us in first place. First play today doesn’t matter. We need to keep going forward, keep building on it and stack wins. But the energy of this team, the focus of this team, the way we’re going through things at practice - it was a great week at practice. After the game, I told a bunch of the guys, ‘You felt the difference at practice. Let’s do that again this week. Let’s prepare the same way so we can come out and hopefully get another win next week against another hungry opponent.’”

KADEN ELLISS, linebacker

On what he learned about his teammates coming off the bye: “After the loss to Arizona, I knew a lot just off the demeanor coming in Monday and Tuesday after. I knew that we were going to be better. I actually realized at that point that I was with the right team and picked the right spot this offseason because of how people bounced back. It’s easy when there’s prosperity, but it’s not as easy when things aren’t going your way. Seeing how we bounced back and how that continued coming off the bye week in this week of work that we put in, that’s how we got here. Being with this group is awesome with the resiliency and fight that we have.”

On the defense’s effectiveness in the red zone: “[Jessie Bates III] is special. Let’s start off there. He’s outstanding, making big plays. They hit us with a couple of explosive plays, penalties – certain things that got them on the plus side of the field – but we made the stops we needed. It comes down to execution. That’s all it is. You just have to do your job. It’s not exciting, besides Jessie’s explosive play. The rest of it is doing your job. You have to do things consistently and go the long and hard way on that stuff.”

On establishing the team’s identity: “Shoutout to the O-line. They were challenged this week, and they brought it. They brought some special juice today. Watching them pass block, run block and do what they did today was amazing. Obviously, our skill positions – our running backs and quarterback – all took advantage of that space that they gave them, so that was awesome. We knew we’d find out coming off those three losses what we were going to be. We were excited for this game. You could not practice all week and still be excited for this game because that’s the kind of game it was. To show up Wednesday with that taste in your mouth all bye week and put in the work that we did, it speaks volumes of this team and its maturity.”

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