‘We cannot hang our heads down for too long’

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal discusses the play of the defense and the touchdown pass as time expired.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Here’s what the Falcon had to say after the 23-22 loss Sunday to the Lions:

KEANU NEAL, STRONG SAFETY

On the emotion after the loss: “It sucks. Obviously, you want to win. We had opportunities to win. It was winning time and we did not do that. Games when you feel like you have it in the bag and you do not come out victorious, it obviously hurts.”

On whether previous close losses on the back of players' minds during the game: “No, I do not think so. I think it is just us being cognizant of winning time and situational ball. That is really what it boils down to. It is not anything else.”

On the overall defensive effort: “Overall I feel like we played well. I think we did a good job with the run game and the pass game. I think we did well.”

On the mindset before the final play of the game: “Stand up, that is really what we were thinking. It is time to win this game. No matter what they are going to do, it is about us executing and getting the job done.”

On his individual performance: “I guess. I was just out there playing honestly. I do not focus too much on stats and all that stuff. It is just doing what I can for the team.”

On how the team will bounce back during the short week: “Get back to work. Honestly, there is not much else to it. We cannot hang our heads down for too long. Obviously, now it sucks. You got to feel the emotion, but tomorrow whether we watch the film or not, we get it out of our system and move on to whoever is next.”

ExploreWhat Raheem Morris said after loss to Lions

TODD GURLEY, RUNNING BACK

On what went through his mind when he scored on the Falcons' final drive: “I was mad as hell. I was trying not to. My momentum took me in. It’s kind of crazy. The last time I played Detroit, I went down. This time, I end up scoring. It’s like what goes around comes around. It’s just one of those unfortunate situations. I’ve been in plenty of those situations since my rookie year – about six or seven. I’ve always gotten down. It’s an unfortunate one right there.”

On whether he was concerned giving the ball back to Detroit with one minute remaining: “I mean, that’s the point of going down. Just not putting the ball in the hands of – especially someone like Matthew Stafford. He’s known for comebacks. Once again, he showed why he’s an elite quarterback in this league. It didn’t matter. For me it’s like, yeah, the defense has to stop them but it’s my job of just going down. Not putting the matter in anyone else’s hands. It’s just taking responsibility. So, you take that and take it on the chin, keep my head high and just come back, Carolina game being ready on Thursday and just try to get a win.”

On whether the offense talked about not scoring too quickly on the drive or whether he instinctively knew he should go down: “Yeah, we talked about it in the huddle probably a couple of plays prior to that. I know that. Like I’ve said, I’ve been in multiple situations over my years in the league. Just one of those unfortunate moments.”

On whether the team discussed taking a knee rather than running the ball: “No, there wasn’t. It’s like you can put the blame on that, put the blame on this. I’m not that type of person. I’ll man up and take the responsibility. I tried to go down but I didn’t. Trying is not good enough. Just have to do better on my behalf.”

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a first-down reception against the Detroit Lions during the first half Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a first-down reception against the Detroit Lions during the first half Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

JULIO JONES, WIDE RECEIVER

On the overall feeling of the team after the loss: “Just situation ball. We have to do a better job at situational ball.”

On his thought process when RB Todd Gurley got into the end zone on the final offensive drive: “We got to play the next play. Obviously, we didn’t want him to get into the end zone. He knew that. He broke the tackle and his momentum pushed him and propelled him into the end zone. I mean, there’s nothing you can do about that, right? You want him to get those little yards, get what he can get, and get down before the goal line. But it is what it is and it happened. Then we got to have the defense step up and get us a stop. Which they played well, you know. I don’t know, I don’t play defense. Possibly some miscues here and there, whatever it was. But I don’t know on their end.”

On whether the late game miscues from the team are more mental as of late: “No. Well for me, I can’t speak for other people and things like that. I don’t get that vibe from our guys here, but for me, we just play the next play. You know, we got ups and downs in the games and you just have to deal with them. You’ve got to go with them. We can complain about it but it is what it is. They call what they call and do what they do. We just have to go out there and execute as players.”

On whether he was pushing Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris to go for it on 4th-and-5 late in the game: “I don’t know. I mean, I’m a player. I’m just trying to go out there and score points at the end of the day. We tried to get them in man-to-man, get our running back on the linebacker coming out of the backfield.”

HAYDEN HURST, TIGHT END

On the emotions after the loss: “I do not know. I do not have a lot of words to describe what is going on. We have to play better at the end of halves. I think right before halftime we made mistakes and obviously right there at the end of the game. We just have to be able to finish.”

On his individual performance: “There was stuff in the game plan that I thought would carry over to Sunday. Like I told guys earlier in the week, the relationship between me and Matt is ongoing. I think every single week me and him are creating a chemistry. He trusts me to make plays. I went out there and made catches for him. I just got to continue to do my job. Execute at a high level and hopefully just bring everyone along with me.”

On the team’s reaction with upcoming short week: “I think the guys will be motivated. It is a good group of guys. We just have to get back and refocused.”

On interim head coach Raheem Morris’ message after the game: “We got to forget about it. We have a short week. We got to get back in there tomorrow watch tape, game plan, and get ready for Carolina.”

On whether the players like the decision to go for it on fourth-down-and-five: “I think so. I think it shows confidence that they think we can pick it up. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20. You kick the field goal there and get the points. We are going to be aggressive. Raheem [Morris] has told us that. He has full confidence that we can execute. We did it last week. We just got to continue to do it.”

Falcons' next four games

Lions at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25

Falcons at Panthers at 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29

Broncos at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

Falcons at Saints at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22

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