Here’s what Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after the dramatic 34-32 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday:
Opening statement: “Today was a clear example of the fight of the team. Being down 17-0, that part – at the end of the regular season, on the road, down 17-0 – that’s not a spot that you want to be in. I think, at the same time, that says a lot about the men inside the locker room. Scoring at the half I thought was a really critical piece to try to get back in, and then we knew we had the possession to come back out for the second half. Then, it gets to 17-14 and you’re ready to get rolling again. At the end of the day, I just thought the last drive showed so much grit and toughness at the end. Three warrior football players: No. 2 (quarterback Matt Ryan) to No. 11 (wide receiver Julio Jones) on a third down, and then Matt Bryant at the end to nail a game-winner with that kind of toughness that he has shown many times throughout his career. Three really tough and aggressive football players. It’s always tough against a division team. I’m proud of the team today in the locker room over the last three weeks to fight and basically respond like they have. Glad to open it up to you guys for questions.”
On his message to the team after the game: “Mainly, today was about today and we kept that focus right on. At the half, we came in and we knew we hadn’t played well in the first half, so we wanted to come back right in that same spot and say, ‘Let’s go pick a fight of our battles, of our matchups, of things we need to do to play well.’ That’s why I’m so happy to see the response that we got from them. We knew it was going to come down to it and it certainly did.”
On the play of the revamped offensive line: “Offensively, it was a slow start for us. I think there was less than 30 yards rushing at the half. So, to have some runs at the end of the game when they know you’re going to run it, those are some of the most difficult times, whether it’s a four-minute (drill) or extending a drive. The third-down conversions were big. I think in the first half maybe we were 0-for-5, something in that space, some of them very long, third-and-19s and third-and-20s are not ones you want to overcome. But, in the second half it had to be somewhere in the six out of seven conversions. We had a couple good plays by Mo’ (wide receiver Mohamed Sanu), none bigger than the one to Matt (Ryan) on his first touchdown catch. We’ve been practicing that one and we wanted to make sure that one was one that there was a lot of pressure on Matt to catch that one. It was a good throw by Mo.”
On if the trick play gave the team momentum: “It definitely did. As it got down to that, we called it twice in practice during the week and both times it looked good. So, when the moment came, sometimes you have to wait for a spot on the field. When it was called, sometimes as a coach you get excited to see if one’s going to work out and that one did for sure.”
On if there is a name for the trick play: “Pirate. I made it up.”
On if the team will use the win as a morale booster going into the offseason: “No, not in that way, but there’s a lesson you can learn about fight and resilience and sticking together and knowing that they have a connected group, when you know you’re never out of a fight. Those are the things from a lesson (we’ll take). It’s hard to carry over morale over that stretch, certainly when you’ve had a disappointing season. But, there are lessons that you can carry over and that’s what I hope to do.”
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