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Falcons React to Sunday's Loss at Tampa Bay

Coach Dan Quinn

Opening statement

"We lost today that's as tough as it gets for us. The finish was at hand today, and for us finishing is about doing right longer and we didn't get that done. So we will give Tampa credit. I thought we had some missed opportunities today. As it went through third down in terms of the drives that got extended, that was something that was hard on us. And down in the red zone and getting a couple of those runs converting into touchdowns certainly would have helped. But story of the game for me in terms of doing right longer in the finish, something we want to take great pride in, and for us not to have that happen today, that's as hard as it gets for us."

On the disheartening feeling when Tampa Bay converted on third-and-19

"Yeah, it was one for sure. And, you know, give the guy credit for making a play, but that was a real factor in the game. He was going down and that was another one that got extended and that's for us doing right longer. And that's one that we've got to get that play done."

On turning the ball over on the final drive

"Yeah, I thought we played a really clean game up until that point in terms of the running backs, the pass game, the throwing, the catching. So I'll have to go back and look and see on that particular play. You know, I thought we had a chance, for sure, going in. We had a timeout and some time to do it, and we didn't get it done."

On his thoughts of Winston's long scramble

"At the time I thought was he down. But he must have rolled over on top of the defender as it went to it. I was surprised that it got extended, but not surprised. I didn't get a chance to see the play, if he was down or not."

On having missed tackles throughout the game

"Yeah, it really hurts. I thought even early on, they had their running game going better than we would have liked. And as it came into the second quarter it seemed like we were tackling better, it was going. But the tackling, we want to be one of the better fundamental teams in how we are going about it, so to have a tackle like that escape us and not have the fundamentals exactly like we wanted that was hard. I talked about the story of missed ops, I would include that play in it for sure."

On the team's progression on the basic fundamentals

"The only thing I can say is that we're going to get right back. We're going to rely on our fundamentals as a program, the way we want to do it. It hasn't been the case of how we practiced. We put the time in and somehow we're not getting all the details we want into the game. We're going to go back and look at it again tomorrow to find that. It's a real picture of how I want to play. Just where we do right longer, and so for us not to have that and missed opportunities – I want that to be uncharacteristic."

On how much this loss hurt the chances of postseason play

"No doubt it does. And the truth is right now we're a .500 club and we're playing like it. So for us to say, 'How can we play our best football?', we're going to find that answer, and we're going to do that together. So that was the message I had for the club, and that's what we're going to go back right to tomorrow to find us to say the fourth quarter begins for us and we're going to be about finishing. We better recognize that right now. It's a hard one for us to even find a place to put to not extending where the playoffs are and not playing like we want. That's still a long way out."

On whether he still believes Atlanta can make it to postseason play

"Absolutely, absolutely."

On if there is an easy explanation for why the team is regressing

"No; I wish there was. If there was, certainly an easy explanation of things that we are not doing as well as we can, I can promise you I'd be there. But I thought we did a much better job on some of the things we wanted to improve on, with the exception of the last play going in. I thought from taking care of the ball, and attaching, and ball-hawking, I thought that part of our game improved. You know, we didn't get the second interception I believe on the tipped ball where they called a PI on Des [Trufant] so I'd like the way we were going after the ball. I can tell you I didn't like the way we tackled."

On his astonishment after the start of the season to now

"That's me finding the answers and the truth and helping the coaches and the players recognize that. You know, it is hard to put your finger on it and say 'OK, why is that not going like we want to?' But that's my job and that's what I'm going to find out to do, and say 'How can we do right longer?'"

On the offensive line having a hard time protecting the quarterback

"I'll go back and look at that before I make a comment on that I thought there were some times where we did move it and the run game did get going on some. We'll look at that tomorrow, I'll have a better appreciation for that tomorrow."

On if he is surprised about Jameis Winston's progression thus far

"I don't think I'm surprised, you know I think all of us who scouted him, looked at him, knew the talent and what he was going to be. He just keeps getting better just like you'd expect him to. So, no, I'm not surprised."

On one touchdown in the red zone

"The two stories as I'm looking at it right now – and I'm going to go back and look at it – [are] our ability to get those [field goals] into touchdowns and then, defensively, the third downs. Those I think are the real storylines for us."

QB Matt Ryan

On having chance to battle back and still come up short

"It's obviously a disappointing loss. We had opportunities, I thought, throughout the game to score more points, we had more opportunities in the red zone. We didn't come away with enough touchdowns and then at the end of the game, obviously you don't want to turn it over on the first play of the drive so that was disappointing as well."

On what he say on last play he threw for an interception

"Obviously I saw two-Tampa coverage, something that they play the entire game. I think Lavonte David got too much depth on that, I shouldn't have made that throw. At some point during that drive, we were going to have to make an aggressive throw against their soft coverage, but that wasn't the time to do it." 

On the turnaround from starting 5-0 to 6-6 now

"It's disappointing, that's for sure. We got off to a fast start this season and found ways to get it done late in games and we haven't done that enough in the last couple of weeks. So it's disappointing, there is no doubt about it. But we have four game left and we are still in the mix. We got to find a way to get it done and that starts this week. All we can worry about is in really trying to find a way to get a win this week and making sure that we do everything we can when we get back in the facility tomorrow to correct the things we didn't do well today."

On if it is fair to say they are struggling in the red zone

"I think so. I think when you have those red zone opportunities and you only come away with one touchdown – and I think we were down there maybe three times and still had two field goals in different situations. You have to score touchdowns when you get down there and we didn't do a good job of that today, obviously."

On if he saw any progress offensively today

"I thought we did some things well. I guess I sound like a broken record saying it, I think there's been a lot of things that we have done well during the stretch. We just didn't score today and that's what we have to do better. For me, there were some things we did well, certainly, but it comes down to scoring more points than they do on the offensive side of the ball and we haven't done that."

On still having chance but have to face Carolina twice

"It doesn't matter who we're going against. Obviously Carolina is a great football team and they have been playing awesome this year. You have to give them their respect, but you know in this league, anything can happen any week and we have to get ourselves as prepared as we possibly can. We can't worry about who it is that we are going against. We have to really take a look at ourselves and see what we can do better and see how we can be better next week."

On not controlling their playoff destiny anymore

"Obviously when you lose games it isn't good for you moving forward. From that standpoint it's disappointing but we are where we are. As I stand here right now we can't change anything that has happened up until this point. We have to really focus on what we can do to be better moving forward and that starts this week. We've got to find a way to get it done this week."

On frustration in the red zone

"It's very disappointing. Obviously we feel like we work on it every week. We feel like we have a great plan coming into it and for whatever reason we are just not able to get it in. When you put all that work into it and you don't see the results, it is very disappointing."

Kick Returner Devin Hester

On returning from injury

"If felt great to be out there part of the team, it's tough right now with the lost we had today. Other than that, it's just great to be out there."

On how he felt being on the field playing

"Its football, if anyone saying they are 100 percent right now, at this point of the season, they're lying. Yes I am a little bit sore right now but it's football, everyone is sore right now. We just have to push through and play. And hope for the best."

On the message delivered after the game

"Really, no excuses. They came out and played a better football game than we did. Opportunities that we had, we didn't execute and make the play. And they did when they got the opportunity." 

LB O'Brien Schofield

On the message to the team after today's lost

"Control what we can control. We have to put all of our focus on Carolina [Panthers,] make these corrections when we get in tomorrow. I think everybody played really hard today. Defense did a great job getting the ball back trying to put the offense in great situations. That third-and-19 [conversion], it really hurt us towards the end. Those are the situations, where as a team, we got to finish and get the win."

On the disconnect between the coaches' message and the players' execution

"I wouldn't say disconnect, we are playing against other athletes. Those guys get paid too, and certain situations, from us technique sound, we have to do better, we have to focus on those things in the game in those situations. Collectively as a group, we have to do a better job rallying to the ball."

On his message to the rest of the defense after the loss today

"Just keep your head high. You don't know what could happen, we still have four games left. It's very important that we focus on getting these corrections made and put all of our attention and focus on Carolina. It's another road game, and it's a championship opportunity. It's what you been hearing all year and we really have to do our best to max that out.

RB Devonta Freeman

On how it felt to be back on the field after missing last week's game

"It feels good just to go out there and be able to compete. I think I'm a great competitor. I love to compete, I love to fight for my brothers, my coaches, the whole organization. It felt good just to get back out here."

On the team's mentality moving forward

"Focus, fix the mistakes and see how [we can] win to turn things around. It's going to start tomorrow in practice but we've just got to figure out a way to win and finish the game. We've got to finish better." 

On if he felt good physically

"I felt like I could've done better on some things."

On what the team can do better to finish games

"Play four quarters. Control the game instead of letting rust control the game. And controlling the ball. In certain situations, converting on third downs, keeping the chains moving and stuff like that. We just got to play better as a whole unit. I feel like we'll all just figure out ways to get better at the end of the day."

On the Buccaneers slowing down the Falcons' run game

"That's a great defense. A lot of credit to them. They're so tough to run on them. They've always been like that, in my eyes, since last year. This year, I feel like they have a better defense than last year and they just ball hard. They run to the ball. Everybody understands the system, I feel like. They go out and they grind, they fight for each other, same thing we're doing. Against a defense like that, everybody's got to be on beat."

On if he is surprised with former college teammate Jameis Winston's rookie year

"Nah. He's a hard worker. He's been like that since when he was a freshman at FSU [Florida State University]. He's just a competitive athlete. Always been a grinder, a hard worker, he just wants to win. He wants to be great. It's not surprising. I bet he would tell you he isn't even playing his best ball. That's just how much of a competitor he is. He's a great athlete."

S William Moore

On what the Falcons must do for the remainder of the season

"Keep fighting. Keep fighting. We knew how important this game was coming into it, and we came up short as a team, and we've got to keep fighting. That's all it is."

On how the Falcons can improve on their tackling moving forward

"Fundamentals. We've got to go back to strong board during practice. It's hard to get those reps during practice – you know, we don't wear pads throughout the season – but that's not an excuse. We're all professionals and I think we focused a lot on getting the ball back, which takes away from our fundamentals of tackling. I think we just need to make sure the tackle is secured before we go after the ball."

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