Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan discusses returning from an ankle injury to return Atlanta to the win column with a 26-9 victory over the Saints. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Matt Ryan: ‘We need to keep the consistency’ going 

On sustaining long drives:  “It was huge for us to stay on the field and come away with points on those long drives and keep their offense off the field. That was a big part of the outcome today. I also thought our defense played extremely well. For them to hold a really good New Orleans offense to just three field goals is impressive. It was a good team effort across the board, and certainly one we needed.”

» MARK BRADLEY: Falcons finally give fans a Sunday to savor

On running the ball:  “It was a huge part of the game plan. Coming into it, we wanted to be able to establish the run and get that going. I thought our offensive line played extremely well. You never want to see somebody go down, and (Devonta Freeman) was out for the second half. But Brian Hill stepped up and ran the football effectively for us. He would turn some of those-two-or-three yard runs into five- or six-yard runs with just his physical nature. That was huge for him. I thought Kenjon (Barner) did a good job coming in as well. From when we drafted him, he’s worked extremely hard to become a complete player, and I think that he’s moving in that direction. It was a really good catch for him on the touchdown. It was a good finish for him to come down with the touchdown in that situation.”

On whether winning is a good tonic for the team to get things turned around:
“Winning is always a good tonic. Regardless of how the season is going, when you win games, that’s what we’re setting out to do. Obviously, our backs are against the wall with where we’re at in this point in the season. I’m proud of the way we’ve taken that first step, and that’s what you’ve got to do. We’ve got to get back to work and try to find another division win this week.

On the performance of the defense: “I thought our defense did a great job of rushing the passer. I’m not sure how many sacks we had today but they got after it pretty good. For them to get after Drew (Brees) in the pass game and to play good secondary defense is critical for us. That is going to be huge for us moving forward.”

» MORE: Dan Quinn credits players for defensive performance

On how the team approaches the second half of the season after starting 1-7: “When you’re 1-7 at the halfway point, you think a lot of times, ‘where has the consistent play been for us?’ When you’re out there playing today it’s about being locked in and doing your job and handling the task at hand. It was there today. We need to keep it there as we move forward. We need to keep the consistency there for the rest of the season and try and play the way we’re capable of playing week-in-and-week-out.”

On keeping the Saints’ offense off of the field: “I don’t think we were going out of our way to try and stall or keep them off the field. Running the football was a big point of emphasis for us. You never know how a game is going to shake out. New Orleans defense has been really good about giving up some yards at different points but not letting you into the end zone. We knew we were going to have to finish some long 10-12-plus play drives. For us to come away with a few touchdowns on those types of drives is big.”

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