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Quotable: Falcons vs. Buccaneers


TAMPA, Fla. --Quotes from Falcons players and coaches after the Week 17 game against the Buccaneers.

Head Coach Mike Smith

Opening statement:
A: "I really thought that today was a great effort by every man in our locker room. We talked all week about the outcome of this game being a byproduct of our preparation and I thought that our preparation was very good and the guys went and executed everything extremely well. I'm very proud of the way our defense played. This is the third week in a row where they've gone out and I thought they had a very dominating performance especially against the run. This is a team that can run the football and they had 38 yards rushing."

Q: On ending the streak with two back to back winning seasons.A: "Well, I think for our football team it's something that we were aware of, we knew about it and we didn't really talk about it. But I'm very, very happy for the city of Atlanta and Mr. Blank and for all the players that have played for us in previous seasons. For us to go out and get back to back winning seasons is something that we as a football team want to have happen. We want to be a relevant football team year in and year out. That's what we talked about. When you're relevant you got to have a winning record and you'll have an opportunity to be in the discussions for the playoffs. We weren't in the playoffs but we had a season that gives us nine wins and that's something that we are very proud of."

Q: On running the ball.
A: "No, it was a little bit of both. We wanted to keep pounding the ball and running in there. In the second half, we made a little bit of adjustment in terms of formations that we wanted to run out of, but I thought that our guys especially when we came off the one yard line. Even though it didn't result in points, it was about a 60 yard drive and I think a majority of those yards were through the run."

Q: On tight end Tony Gonzalez.
A: "Tony has been a great addition to our team and unfortunately he did not get his fourth catch to reach that milestone. Tony had a very, very good year for us and he has been a big addition."

Q: On young cornerbacks.A: "Brent [Grimes] has now gone three games in a row with an interception playing at right corner. It was nice to see Christopher Owens have his second consecutive game with an interception and that interception really matched an interception that the Buccaneers got. I think it really got the momentum back on our side."

Q: On what he told his team towards the end of the game.
A: "Well, we wanted to run the football there in the second half. It was something we felt like we could do and we felt like we could wear them down. At the core of what we've done from the very beginning here is be a team that can run the football and stop the run and I felt like we did both of those things very well today."

Defensive End John Abraham

Q: On what the win today and back to back winning seasons means to the players and the franchise.A: "I know personally it feels good, but I'm actually upset the season is over. I thought we finally got in a groove and were playing well, and it really doesn't feel like our season should be over. I feel like we should be playing four or more games. Just personally that's how I feel. It was a good feeling, but it was also an upsetting feeling because I felt like we still should have been playing."

Q: On defensive effort after early deficit.A: "That's exactly what I mean. I think we finally got everything clicking and we're playing well on defense, we're doing a great job on the line. We were applying pressure and the DBs were doing a good job of picking the ball off, so it seemed like we were finally getting on a roll and then it's just over with."

Safety Erik Coleman

Q: On today's game.A: "It was a very big game for our organization and for the players. We wanted to end the seasons on a high note. First team in Falcons history to go back to back winning seasons. It's just a great feeling. End the season with a three game winning streak. End on a high note in the offseason."

Q: On finishing the season strong.
A: "We ended the season with three wins, that's momentum going into the offseason. Guys are going to have a positive attitude around the facility, continue to get better and know we have to get better for next year in order to get into the tournament."

Q: On stopping the run.A: "Oh yeah, coming into the game that was our main goal was to stop the run. Cadillac and his teammates have been running the ball well. He kind of got on a roll at the end of the season and our goal was to get him stopped and make them beat us in the air. We did a great job today."

Linebacker Curtis Lofton

Q: On back to back winning seasons.A: "We broke the curse and it's awesome to be the first to do that."

Q: On injury and possibly not playing in the game.
A: "Oh no, you can't keep me out of this party. I was just doing whatever I could to get healthy, come back, and I got to where I felt like I could play and strapped it on and was ready to go."

Q: On future for the Falcons.A: "Let's go. We just got to keep winning, win some games and get to the playoffs."

Q: On the injuries this year.
A: "A lot of injuries held us out, but that's just part of the game and you just have to get ready for next year."

Quarterback Matt Ryan

Q: On earning back-to-back winning seasons.
A: "It was a huge win for us today. To finish the season off with three wins in a row says a lot about the guys in our locker room. To have two consecutive back-to-back winning seasons is huge for the organization. I am happy for Mr. (Arthur) Blank and his family, for everything they've done for us the past couple years. Also, for all the former players, all the guys we get to meet at practice, during the offseason and training camp, you get to know and see they have gone through in their time here. To have this not be a question from this point on is something I'm very proud of."

Q: On the hard fought game.
A: "It was just a gutsy effort by everybody today. I think everybody contributed and it is exactly what you expect from an NFC South matchup with Tampa. You know it is going to be tough and physical and they're going to make some plays. Ultimately, we were able to do enough on both sides of the ball. Chris Owens' interception was huge and Jason Snelling ran the ball unbelievably well today. His (Snelling) contribution was huge. We were able to capitalize, Roddy (White) made a great play on the touchdown and we were able to get three points at the end."

Q: On accomplishing the back-to-back winning seasons.A: "You are certainly happy for the organization and everybody that has contributed to it for the past 44 years. A lot of us haven't been here that long and we are a young football team, but it is a great thing to be a part of. One thing Coach (Mike) Smith talks about is if we want to be the kind of team we want to be long term, we need to be there every year. We need to be relevant and have to be able to sustain long term. And this is something that we hope is not just a back-to-back thing, we hope it is something we can do 10, 12, 15 years."

Q: On Tony Gonzalez.
A: "We came up a little short. We had a penalty on the first play of the game where Tony (Gonzalez) had a catch too. You would have loved to see him get it today, but I'm hoping he gets it the first game of next year and we put that to rest. He (Gonzalez) deserves it, he is a great player and has been a huge part of our team this year. I can't tell you how many games he contributed to the win. Making plays in the fourth quarter, two-minute drives all year long. First and second down, being tough and physical. Huge in the red zone. Just a huge addition to our organization. I've really enjoyed playing with Tony this year and I hope he has got five or six more years in him."

Running Back Jason Snelling

Q: On the game.
A: "You know, it was a big win. We got that game and put the history on the table (consecutive winning seasons) you know, it was a big game. The offensive line, the fullback, just did a heck of a job today blocking downfield, opening up holes for me, and I was able to get my first 100 yard game. But I've got to give credit to those guys up front. They were down in the trenches and did a great job of helping me out and I had to do the rest."

Q: On what back-to-back winning seasons means to this team.
A: "It means a lot. It feels good to get that win and get that history, to be part of that team. There was a lot of momentum winning three games in a row at the end of the season. I'm looking forward to the future. We are just going to try to build off it in the offseason and make sure to set our goals high and get back to the playoffs."

Q: On the satisfaction of being able to run out the clock even though the Bucs knew what the offense was going to do.
A: "You know, that's the type of football the Falcons like to play. It's very gratifying to be able to do that, to be a part of that. But like I said, the offensive line, it's all credit to them. They were blocking to the whistle, a little bit after the whistle, but that's those guys. A running back loves running behind them and even our fullback Ovie Mughelli. I've been loving running behind him all year, just finishing to the whistle. He (Mughelli) made that possible today."

Wide Receiver Roddy White

Q: On touchdown reception.
A: "Matt (Ryan) gave me a good ball out there. The cornerback took a chance and then he tried to undercut it. Matt put it right in the right spot, and I just tried to stay in bounds. Once he missed it I was like put on the breaks, put on the breaks and try to stay in bounds. "

Q: On mood on the sidelines after interception and the Bucs tying the game.
A: "We were still positive. Matt was just trying to get the ball to him. Just trying to get the 1,000th catch, Matt was trying to get the ball. You know it happens sometimes. He got pressured at times; they definitely did a good job of getting after him. He had a little errant pass and they picked it off, but our defense went right back out there and got a turnover and that's how you do it."


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