Ryan: ‘It's our responsibility as players to be prepared’

Here's what Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had to say after the 26-18 loss to the Saints on Thursday:

On being sacked nine times: "It was a tough game, back and forth. I was proud of the way everybody battled. There was no give up in anyone through some tough circumstances, but that was the way the game went. We had to drop back and pass at the end of the game. When you do that, there's really no threat of run. It's tough. Tough sledding especially when we are going against a good defense and one of the better pass rushers in the league in Cam Jordan. It was difficult, but I'm proud of the way the guys fought."

On the sequence of the turnovers: "They were tough. Checking the football down on the first turnover, the defensive lineman came off the block as I was throwing it. That's a tough one. The second interception was two-man coverage. The DB on the right side who was covering Justin (Hardy) kind of peeled off his guy as I was throwing the seam bender on the backside. Again, that's kind of tough sledding. Those are the plays that determine the outcome of the game. The third one, I was running forward, got hit from behind. Have to do a better job of taking care of the football."

On how he stays even-keeled while facing pressure: "Well, you have to make a play to kind of redirect the momentum. That's what I found throughout my career, is that you just have to stay the course, do your best to try and redirect the momentum. I try and take it one play at a time, every week, every game, and focus on the play call that comes in and what my responsibility is, try to do the best I can in that situation."

On their intentions on the final drive: "We had all three timeouts, which was huge. (We were) just trying to create some opportunities to get the ball down the field a little bit to create some explosives to get us into scoring position. We just weren't able to do that, which is disappointing. Unbelievable play by our special teams to give us that opportunity."

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

On the number of seasons he's been with the Falcons: "This is 12."

On whether or not he's approaching the next month differently now that playoffs aren't an option: "You don't want to be in that position, for sure. Obviously, when you get to the last quarter of the season, you want to be in the mix, you want to be competing and having bigger stuff ahead of you in January. This is the position we're in. Do I approach it any differently? No. I think my preparation week in and week out is exactly the same. I think there's a level of professionalism that comes along with this. We get 16 opportunities that are laid out for us. It's our responsibility as players to be prepared as we can be every week to play our best. My mindset will not change."

On how he encourages the younger guys to stay engaged: "First of all, I think Dan (Quinn) does a great job of that. I think Dan does a great job of keeping everybody with the right mindset regardless of the circumstances. At the highest of highs, he's been the absolute best. At the lowest of lows, he's been great, too. He's very good at that. As leaders of our football team, you pass on your experience. You pass on what you've learned throughout your time, the lessons that have come out throughout your career, you let guys know what's expected of them. You just have to be very clear with that."

On whether or not he was encouraged by Russell Gage and Christian Blake: "I've been impressed with Russell (Gage) for the last few weeks. He's done a great job for us in terms of making plays. We're game-planning around him now, which is featuring his strengths. I think he's doing an excellent job with it. I think Christian Blake did a great job for us tonight stepping in. He's tough. There's no back down in him. He was absolutely in his element out there tonight. That was impressive to see. I was proud of the way he played and competed."

On how he can adjust when the offensive line is being pressured: "You want to stay balanced as much as you can. Running the football, being in a position to run the football, helps the most with that. That's probably the biggest thing that you can do in terms of slowing down pass rush. We try different things. We do a lot of different things schematically to try to get the ball out quick, chip, have help for different guys, scheme all of those different things. We just got to keep working on trying to do it better."