Matt Ryan’s orders on last drive: ‘Get in the end zone’

Here's what the Falcons had to say after the 29-22 upset victory over the 49ers Sunday:


How would you describe that last touchdown at the end of the game?
"It was just 11 guys doing the right thing and being resilient. [Atlanta Falcons TE Austin] Hooper did a great job by running his route and taking his guy out of the picture. I came in underneath Hoop. Before the play, [Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan] told everyone, 'Hey, get in the end zone.' Then it was pretty much the last play, so we needed to get in the end zone and score. He delivered a strike to me, and it was a touchdown."

Did you kind of feel where you were on that last play? "Yeah. Like I said, before the play happened, Matt was in the huddle. It was one of those things where either it was going to be two plays, or we were going to score right there and everyone was going to get in the end zone. When I was going, I know I was running down the goal line when he stopped me because he was trying to protect me in that situation to getting in the end zone."

When you guys took the field with 1:42 left in the game, what did you guys say as an offense as you took the field? "Just 'One play at a time.' You know when your number is called, you make plays. We didn't really have to say too much. We got a lot of guys leading everybody. The guys that are coming up, like in the second year, they did a hell of a job today, playing their roles and doing what they had to do."

How were your emotions in those last couple of seconds? You had a touchdown, then it was overturned, you didn't score, and then you get the winning touchdown? "I don't play the game on emotions. For me, I just go out there and just play one play at a time."


What was your reaction to that last play and Julio Jones' touchdown catch?
"That's what you do. You give it to your best player. When the game is on the line you have to give it to your best player. That's what he does. He came through. We fought right on through the last two seconds and we went ahead for the first time in the game. The fight was well worth it."

Did you think Austin Hooper's catch was a touchdown? "Yes, I thought it was a touchdown. He had it gripped with those big old paws of his. It popped up again but I think he had it. That was a touchdown but they were not going to give it to us. They made us fight right up until the end and we got in there again."

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Talk about someone like San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle today. It seems like he is a handful? "He's the kind of player that you have to keep your eyes on all the time. He's really good at running after the catch. He puts in a lot of effort blocking and he brings his A game every time he steps on the field but they had number 85 and we had number 11."

Can you take us through the play in the end zone where you had that block against Kittle? "He caught me one time trying to fight against him and slammed the mess out of me. I kept fighting, but he's pretty strong. He's a great competitor. He's the kind of player you want to go against again and again."


On those last two plays of the game, what is kind of going through your mind? Obviously there was a lot going on. Can you walk us through that?
"It's just a lot of emotion and you have to do your best to control those emotions. However they come, you just have to accept it."

What was said between you all after Austin Hooper's touchdown was overruled?
"We just move on to the next play. I didn't see it because I had a route. I looked at it on the replay, it looked like he had caught it"

What does it say about this team that you guys have played so much better this half of the season and were able to come in here today and get a win against an 11-2 team? "We just keep fighting. We just keep playing and sometimes it just turns out like that. We can't do anything about the first half of the season now. We just have to finish these last two games strong, enjoy this victory and get ready for next year."

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How does this win feel for you and the team? "Oh, it feels great. I had all my family and friends in the stands. It's something, you always dream of. I was confident even when the game was not going the way we wanted it to but, in the end, we got the win and that's really all that matters."

Have you had a chance to see the replay of the ball that you caught in the end zone that was ruled incomplete? "Yeah, I saw it. I mean, you know, obviously, I'm biased. I want to score the game-winner at home but in the end [Atlanta Falcons WR] Julio Jones scored it for us. He's a tremendous leader. He's a tremendous brother in the locker room and we won. It really would have haunted me if we didn't. The fact that we won makes all well that ends well."

What should we take from how you played, not just today, but the second half of this season? "Records aren't indicative of what a team is made of. We've got a lot of fight. We've got a lot of grit and we've got a lot of talent on this team. Just because we messed it up early on it doesn't mean that we have to mess it up all the way. I think you guys are starting to see what we can do because the San Francisco 49ers are the number one team in the NFC. They are phenomenal at every position. It seems like they have Pro Bowlers at almost every position on both sides of the ball. Today, our fans were able to see what we can do against one of the best teams in the NFC."

What kind of vantage point did you have on Julio Jones' touchdown? "We were running a man-to-man crossing route so I basically saw the guys who were manned on Julio. I got in the way of two people then Julio ran free, caught it and went and did Julio Jones things."


What did you think about the last drive that the offense put together to win the game?
"It was amazing. I think everyone on the sideline had confidence that it wasn't close to being finished, even on that close call with [Atlanta Falcons TE Austin] Hooper. We thought he had it. We still had time left, and we still had an opportunity to win the game."

Did you have a feeling, based on the way that Julio Jones was playing, that he was going to be the one to win it for you guys? "Absolutely. He always says to us every time he may have a mishap or a drop on a ball, he'll say 'I know a big play on the way.' That's 100 percent. You can go back on the film and watch that. He holds himself to a high standard. He doesn't need anyone telling him nothing. He knows that he's going to get it back for us. It wasn't a surprise to me, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody."

You were able to hold one of the league's top offenses to one of their lowest outputs of the year. What was your mindset going into this game against these guys? "We wanted to come out and put our best foot forward. I think we did that. Everyone put on a good performance today. It felt good, and we want to continue to build off it until the end of the season as best we can."

Defensively, what were some of keys? You all were able to get some hits and some pressure on the quarterback in the pass rush. "It was important for us to come out and get to the quarterback. Even when we didn't get the sack, we still got a lot of hits and got him off his spot and made him uncomfortable. When we got sacks, it felt good to get to him."

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