Quinn on Falcons’ 7-9 season: ‘There were a lot of lessons learned’

Here's what coach Dan Quinn had to say after the Falcons' 28-22 win Sunday over the Buccaneers in the regular season finale:

(Opening statement)
"We knew coming in to this whole week that this was going to be a fight. [These are] two teams that played over the last two months at a 5-2 spot and played really well in some areas. I was proud of the fight all the way till the end. All three phases kept battled for it — that has kind of been our space — complementary football. To win the turnover margin three to one, that was going to be a big deal. That space to come all the way to the end and win it on a turnover, that's the kind of stuff that you look for. This is a pack of fighters and they have proved it over the last two months. I think all of us, all of us, need to channel our inner Yogi Berra — it ain't over till it's over."

» STEVE HUMMER: A Falcons final play to savor
(On LB Deion Jones' game-winning interception and the celebration that ensued)
"There have been some of the [most fun] moments — even though it's been a tough time — being in the locker room. I wish I could describe the energy and the feeling. A couple weeks ago out in the Bay Area and today here on the road — to have games come down to the end, to go battle for it and fight for it — that is exactly what you like to see as a coach. What I do know from this group of guys is they battle for one another and they fight together, so that's the thing you are always looking for. Deion [Jones] — we put him in many difficult matchups from a coverage standpoint as we could all year. Sometimes [they line up with] four wide receivers and we'll put Deion on the fourth [or they'll have a] tough running back and we'll put Deion on the back. That's why the team wanted to make sure he was going to be with us for a long time because he's got such a unique skill set. I think that proved itself today."

(On K Younghoe Koo)
"I thought it was really consistent by him today. He has had a few games like that. Obviously, you are always wanting to score when you get down into the red zone, but in those moments, to be aggressive and say, 'All right here is his chance and we have to build trust as we went with him and build as we're going.' To see him nail it at the end — that's a good pressure kick to come in, although it's not a game winner, he gave us a chance to have one. I was proud of him."

(On T Ty Sambrailo's receiving touchdown)
"We ran it twice and he caught it on both of them. That is kind of the competition they have at practice, you know, just talking a little smack to one another. I did ask where are we going to call that from? How long do we think he can rip it to go? I think it kind of showed his athleticism, but it looked a lot like that at practice to be honest. He will be on the scouting report from here on I'm sure, but for one day he ripped it big and I told Matt [Ryan], 'A lot of touchdown passes thrown, but that one is definitely going in somebody's trophy case, and that would be Ty Sambrailo's.' "

(On if he was more impressed by the catch or the run on the play)
"I would say the run after the catch because Ty [Sambrailo] has amazing hand-eye coordination. He is a very good athlete. There was no doubt about the catch  — I would have been more surprised if he hadn't caught it. But to seem him stride it out down the seam, I thought that was a big piece of it. We kind of had a big celebration when he caught it in practice. The offensive line said a big celebration was going to cost him in their room and it was going to be worth it."

(On summing up the season)
"There were a lot of lessons learned, and they have to be applied, because what it bared was how strong the group can be. Obviously, it is disappointing to have this be the last game and the last moments of this team. Usually, one doesn't carry into the next season, but in this case, I don't know how it couldn't because if you were a part of this team and went through the struggle we did in the first half and you've come out the other end – you are tougher, stronger and more resilient than you were at the start of the season. Every good team I have been a part of has those traits. A number of these men have developed those, and the lesson maybe by 20 players may carry through from them who maybe haven't been in this space before  — how hard it is to win in the Nation Football League. They have also had some things proven to themselves. If we do x, y, and z, we will be the team we would like to be. They are hard and they are difficult to go through, but they have to have meaning with it. It is not lost on Matt [Ryan], Julio [Jones], or Alex Mack who have had more experience. But for players going in [to seasons] one, two or three and still developing, if anybody can't grow stronger from that, I would be surprised."