Head Coach Mike Smith
Alright, guys, obviously, we didn’t get the kind of performance that we needed to have in all three phases of the game. We did not execute up to our standards and especially on third down on both sides of the ball. I think that was a big difference in the ballgame early. We couldn’t get off the field on third down offensively. Then, a couple of opportunities that we had in the first couple of series, we could not convert. We did not play anywhere near to our potential, to our standards. We’ll learn from it and move on, and we’ve got to put this one behind us as quick as possible. Now, I’ll open it up for questions.
On first half
Like I said, they won the football game today – they were much better than us today. They beat us in all three phases. We couldn’t sustain drives on third down, offensively, and we couldn’t even come close to getting them off the field on third down. At one point early in the game, 27 offensive snaps to five or six is not going to get it.
Run defense in first half:
We misfit some runs, we lost some leverage, we missed tackles. And when you do that, you’re going to give up the number of yards and points that we gave up in the ballgame. Again, it was not up to our standards whatsoever. They were definitely the better team today. My hat’s off to them. We’ve got to move on as quickly as possible.
If he sensed throughout the week that the team would come out flat in today’s game
Not at all. I thought we had a very good week of practice. On Tuesday, we came back on Falcons-on-Falcons day and then started our game playing on Wednesday. We had very good practices. They played well. We didn’t play up to our standards. Again, my hat’s off to them. It’s a good football team. We had a good battle over there in Atlanta. They were definitely better today.
If today’s game concerned him or if it is a good teaching point
Oh, it’s a great teaching point in terms of – well, we’ve got to be playing our best football. We want to play our best football here in the fourth quarter. We didn’t do it today. We’ve got three more opportunities to get playing at the level that we would like to be playing at.
If he felt momentum slowed after 2-point play didn’t go the Falcons’ way:
Well, again, it didn’t go our way. We’ve still got to go out and play; we’ve got to still go out and make plays. We didn’t make plays. We had the opportunities to do it and we didn’t get it done.
What happened on Cam Newton’s 72-yard touchdown run
Again, I’m not going to point out, specifically, the responsibilities. Obviously, we lost leverage. The ball got outside of the defense. You want to make sure that it stays inside of you. It got outside. And once it got outside, we were all chasing. We didn’t get an opportunity to get him on the ground. It was not played the way you’d want to play it.
Specific areas that particularly upset him about this game
Well, our third-down efficiency on both sides of the ball. I think the three field goals that they kicked were the only times that they were stopped on third down there in the red zone. We got some red zone stops, didn’t force a punt in the first half, and the time of possession was so skewed that you really didn’t get an opportunity to get going. Those were the things that are most disappointing now.
On the Falcons overall performance:
“First half we certainly didn’t play the way we wanted to. We talked about coming out and trying to start fast and we didn’t do that. We left our defense on the field too long. We had some opportunities to convert on some third downs early in the game and we didn’t do a good job of that and therefore their offense did a great job of staying on the field and having a couple of long drives to start.”
On how the defense played:
“I thought the defense as a whole played well. They have some guys banged up in the back end, but I thought their front four played well. We knew that coming into it, playing against these guys twice a year, you know they can rush the passer and that’s your first order of business. I thought we did a decent job in the second half, protected well. We didn’t start the way we wanted to and I thought they played well.”
On how the failed two point conversion affected them:
“I don’t think it did. Either way we were either going to get one score or two scores. When you get to eight or 10, you’re right back in it. I think everybody had that mindset. We’ve been in situations before where we’ve tried to come back and we’ve had some success and we’ve lost some. Today we just didn’t make enough plays and I thought everybody’s focus was really good.”
On not starting fast:
“I think every week we talk about wanting to start fast and we didn’t do a good job with that today. I give Carolina credit. They came out and they played really well and regardless of who you’re playing, in this league if you let somebody jump out to an early lead it’s tough to overcome that.”
On the lack of third down conversions:
“You need to keep playing in those situations. We understand that. There’s going to be times when you don’t play your best and you need to keep powering through that. I think the explanation is we didn’t convert on third downs. I think that’s the biggest thing. We did a poor job in third down conversions today. If you want those guys to keep going, if you want to get into a rhythm, you have to stay on the field and we didn’t do a good enough job with that.”On Greg Hardy’s comments earlier in the week:
“I don’t pay too much attention to it. They were better than us today that’s for sure. They came out and they played better than us. We’re in a position in our season where we’ve got everything right in front of us and we need to get back to work and worry about that.”
On if this loss is a bump in the road:
“Absolutely. I think we’ve got a veteran locker room and guys that have been around. We’ve lost games before and I think one of the things you learn as you have experience in this league is that if you play poorly one week, you can’t let that turn into two weeks. We’ve done a good job rebounding in the past and that’s what we need to do this week.”