Quinn reflects in aftermath of first win

Dan Quinn was caught off guard Monday night when his new team awarded him a game ball after the 26-24 victory over Philadelphia.

The Falcons’ first-year coach already has a spot picked out to display the ball at his house.

“It was totally unexpected,” Quinn said on Tuesday. “There’s a lot of gratitude to be here, be a part of this group. … This one is extra special for me.”

The Falcons and Quinn must quickly put that victory behind them, given the short week they have to prepare for the New York Giants, who dropped a season-opening shocker in the final seconds to Dallas. The game is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“(We have) just such great respect for their team and their style of how they play,” Quinn said. “We’ll have our hands full. Tough outfit. They always play tough under coach (Tom) Coughlin. It’s a matchup that we are really looking forward to.”

Quinn also has a high opinion on Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner.

“Eli, although he’s not a runner, he knows how to escape pressure great and he knows where to go with the ball,” Quinn said. “He makes terrific decisions with it. It comes out quickly.”

While Quinn was elated with the victory over the Eagles, he found more to be proud of after studying the game on film. He was particularly pleased with the play of the still-under-construction offensive line, which paved the way for the rushing attack. The Falcons rushed for 105 yards on 35 carries.

The line, with the recent addition Andy Levitre starting at left guard, allowed just one sack and three quarterback hits. That, however, didn’t stop the Falcons from signing veteran tackle Jake Long to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

Long will be brought along slowly and groomed to play left and right tackle.

“We definitely like his versatility,” Quinn said. “He’s played left for a long time, but he’s a good football player. Most guys who can swing and play both (sides) have that kind of mindset. We’ll (play) him at both.”

Long is coming off two ACL surgeries and has finished the past four seasons on injured reserved.

“That was part of the process for him, to have as much time as needed to get healthy and get ready,” Quinn said. “Honestly, we are just looking forward to him being a part of the group.

“We love his toughness and the attitude that goes along with that position. He certainly has it.”

Quinn felt that left tackle Jake Matthews and right tackle Ryan Schraeder had strong games Monday night. Matthews was limited in practice due to a sore back but was probable for the game.

“It was great to see him come off the ball,” Quinn said. “I thought he really used his feet in the run game. He was a real factor. For the limited reps, I thought he had a terrific start.”

Schraeder battled against a stout Philadelphia defensive front.

“I love the competitiveness,” Quinn said. “I felt that coming out of him. I felt that group in general, as whole, really played together. The communication was there and on point.”

Wide receiver Roddy White had three plays of 20-plus yards and finished with four catches for 84 yards receiving. Slowed slowed by nagging injuries (high ankle sprain, knee and hamstrings) over the past two seasons, White appeared healthy again even though he was coming off an elbow surgery two weeks ago.

“I really felt great when he came into training camp,” Quinn said. “You could tell that he really put the work in. He’s always had the warrior’s mindset of just attacking.”

Defensively, rookie Vic Beasley had a tough first assignment in Eagles left tackle Jason Peters, a seven-time Pro Bowler.

“That was definitely a welcome-to-the-NFL matchup,” Quinn said. “We have such great respect for Peters and the way that he plays. There was some real signs from the get-offs, that we had (Peters) going back. … I though he had a good first start.”

Quinn also noted that tight end Levine Toilolo, who caught a pass and had a big special teams tackle, and linebacker Paul Worrilow had strong games. Worrilow led the defense with 13 tackles.