Q: Despite the Buccaneers record you can't really overlook them can you?
A: "No not in this league. Teams win week to week. It comes down to plays where they're having a 1-9 start or a 9-1 start. We're not overlooking them. We know they've got a good team. We just have to prepare to come out and get a victory."
Q: With Michael out you've been carrying the load, how's that going for you?
A: "It's been going good. I've had an opportunity to play more with our injuries. I've had a lot of support from my teammates and confidence in my coaches that I can get the job done. It's been working out for me."
Q: What did you have to do differently? Do you have to spend more time in the whirlpool after carrying a full load?
A: "Of course you've got to take care of your body and prepare to take on a load like that. I prepare like that every week not knowing if a guy's going to go down or what my role's going to be."
Q: How do you guys keep the offense going this week?
A: "Just try to do the same things and try to mimic the things that we did well last game and try to improve on the little details that we missed. We're really just going to try to keep moving forward."
Q: Is it a must win situation now?
A: "Every game's a must win situation."
Q: Does it feel good to know that you all are still in the Wild Card race?
A: "It's a bunch of 6-4 or 5-5 teams. It's these last six games that are going to make the stretch. There are going to be some teams that rise to the occasion and there are going to be some teams that fade away. I'm just hoping that we're one of those teams that rise to the occasion. We've got a good stretch right here with three back-to-back home games and you can't argue with that coming down the stretch. Then we've got two road games and then we come back home again. We've got a pretty good picture of what we need to and what we've got to do. We've just need to go out there and win."
Q: Is the confidence level of the team a little low after losing those two back-to-back road games?
A: "No, I don't see it from the players. We're going out there and everybody's excited. Coach Smith's excited. He wants us to get out on the practice field. We're going to get out there and run around today and do some good things out there. We're going to practice hard, like we've been practicing. We're going to continue to pay attention to small details. That was the biggest thing that we were messing up little things, like stopping drives. We've got to work on things like that."
Q: How is everyone feeling about Jason Elam? Are guys worried about him when he's going out there to make kicks?
A: "Not really. That guy has a 90 percent record of making kicks. So he makes a lot of them. He's going to do his thing. People don't realize that field goal operation is from snapper to holder to kicker. We just all have to get on the same page. It's just like on offense: from O-line to the quarterback to the route running. Everything is off of execution. So you have to go through everything and see what's wrong with the field goals and take it from there. I think that he's doing a good job and he's going to make kicks when we need them."
Q: So no confidence lost in Elam?
A: "No, not one bit."
Q: How are you looking at the matchup with Tampa Bay?
A: "I'm not looking at it as going up against a young team. I'm just looking at it as going up against another NFL team. When you buy into how young a guy is he comes out and has a good game on you. So, I'm not buying into how young the guy is or how young the offense is."
Q: Overall how did you think the defense performed in New York?
A: "We didn't win the game so it wasn't enough. That's the ultimate goal to get the win. Whenever you don't get the win you have to look at it personally as a unit that you didn't do enough."
Q: How do you feel the front seven is for helping out the secondary?
A: "Like our coaches have been saying all week and year, they go hand in hand. The secondary work with the linebackers and the linebackers work with the D-line. When we win we all get credit for it and when we lose we get criticized for it."
Q: What are you thankful for during the holidays?
A: "I'm just blessed to be alive and breathing. I'm also thankful for the position that I'm in now and being in this position I try to help out those that are less fortunate during this time of year."
Q: Do you feel like everything is all on your shoulders?
A: "Well I think that the best thing that I can do is just look at it and see how I can handle my end of it. I have gone back and looked at the film and there's some technique issues that I need to fix on my behalf. I have gone back and looked at film from earlier in my career. I've looked at all kinds of stuff to try and figure this out, but we're going to keep on swinging. I'm doing everything I can to make it right, but I need to step up and be accountable for it."
Q: You haven't really ever had a slump have you?
A: "Oh yeah I've had slumps before. I've played 17 years and there have been hiccups at various times, but I've always been able to kick myself out of them. Hopefully that's going to be the case in this case, but it's frustrating. I will be the first to admit that; I'm very frustrated. But, I'm trying to correct it."
Q: Is there anything you're doing different in your routine?
A: "Yeah I've got a little list of techniques that I try when I'm practicing. I don't want to get to the point where I'm overanalyzing this thing. I just have to go out there and kick the ball, but at the same time I need to try to address every possible scenario there is to fix it. There is a problem right now and I realize that and I'm trying to get that corrected."
Q: How difficult is it changing long snappers in the middle of the season?
A: "(Mike) Schneck is a tremendous snapper and so is (Bryan PIttman). Both have been in the league a long, long time and have been very successful at what they do. Again I just need to look at myself and see how I can be better."
Q: How does it feel knowing that they brought in other kickers to audition for what is your spot?
A: "To be honest with you I thought they were going to do that a couple of weeks ago. I really don't know what to say, I'm kind of at a loss for words too. There's nothing I can say. This is a results based business and I haven't been getting my part done. Your job is always on the line no matter who you are and what you're doing. I understand that completely. I'm going to keep swinging and try to get myself out of this."
Q: With Tampa Bay coming in what are some things you all have to do to be successful this week?
A: "The same thing as every week. We've got to stop the run and make them a one-dimensional team. We've got to get off the field on third down and affect the quarterback. If you do a great job of that you've got a good shot at winning the game."
Q: How does the running back tandem for the Bucs look?
A: "Graham's the fullback now so he's more of a blocker and they like to get him out in routes. Cadillac, he's Cadillac. He's a tough runner, a slasher and cut-back runner and he's pretty talented."
Q: Is there a difference between playing a veteran quarterback and a rookie?
A: "There's definitely a difference. Give him all kinds of different looks. Disguise all your looks and hopefully he will give the ball away."
Q: What do you think needs to go your way this Sunday?
A: "The D-line has to get pressure on the quarterback and the secondary has to cover the guys. It's just all of us working together to get off the field on third down."
Q: The defense seemed to put a stop to the Giant run game. Was there anything you did different?
A: "We didn't switch up our game plan any against the Giants. We just played our defense and shut down their run game. We're going to play our defense against the Bucs and shut down their run game."
Q: Can there be some carry over from the defensive stands you guys made late in the game against the Giants?
A: "Yeah, there were some plays that we're trying to build off of and try to use as momentum to carry us into this week."
Q: How do you approach this Tampa offense?A: "We don't want a team to come in and surprise us. It's the NFL, we have to prepare every time every week. We can't have a team surprise us."
Q: Does it have any added pressure being a division game?
A: "Yeah division games are always huge in the NFL. It has a lot to do with your playoff picture. We have to definitely win this game and play well again against the Saints to improve our playoff picture."
Q: Do you have to do anything differently facing the Bucs rookie quarterback?
A: "It's just more the scheme. They're not going to throw him in there and ask him to do anything extra than what they've tried to do all year. We just have to try and look at what there offense is doing as a whole and make our game plan off of that."
Q: How did it feel to get the offense rolling again last week?
A: "We made some plays in the fourth quarter to give ourselves a chance but with that said just fell short. We had some opportunities and didn't take advantage out of them. I think everybody is frustrated when you lose, but not discouraged. We have to continue to do what we've been doing and keep working hard. We've got six games in front of use and everything that we set out at the beginning of the year to achieve is still there. I don't think that the approach changes. You take it one game at a time and you prepare as hard as you can during the week to get better results."
Q: How do you transfer that to the next game?
A: "You just have to try and keep the rhythm. I feel like we got into a pretty good rhythm. You've got to take that onto the practice field and keep it going throughout the week. Hopefully we will get off to a fast start this weekend."
Q: Talk about Justin Peelle's play and how he has become that second tight end.
A: "Justin Peelle did a great job for us. Coming out of the backfield from a number of different spots, that's the kind of versatility he brings to our offense. He does a great job in the run game and this past weekend had a bunch of catches for some significant yardage. It changed field position which was huge for us."
Q: The rollout passes, will they open as the season goes on?
A: "It's week to week. We do a good job of getting outside of the pocket and throwing on the run. We've got receivers and tight ends that get into those voids. It's just week to week. Some weeks it's going to be there and some weeks it's not. You've got to do some different things on offense to keep moving the ball and I think we've done a good job of that."
Q: How important is this home stretch?
A: "It's important. Obviously late November and December is the part of the year that everybody remembers. We've got an important stretch coming up and we're glad to be home, no question about it. I feel like we play well at the Dome and we've got great support from our fans who make a difference in the games. We're just excited to be home."
Q: Do you guys think that offensive momentum you had in the second half of the Giants game will carry over?
A: "Well I think that we've always been pretty confident and we feel like we can move the ball and score at any point. We just started to get into a little bit of a rhythm in the second half and the biggest thing is we need to keep that in practice this week and work hard in practice. We will take that momentum and apply it to these next six games."
Q: You guys are 1-0 in the new throwback jerseys. Are you superstitious at all?A: "I am. I'll take them. If we keep winning, I'll take them."
Q: What about the Tampa defense?
A: "There's a lot that goes into it. When we watch tape we see that they've got some talented players, especially in the secondary. Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber are guys that can make plays at anytime. So we know that we're going against a tough defense. And, anytime you play a division opponent, regardless of what point of the year, where teams are at and what's going on, you know it's going to be a tough, physical game. That's our mindset and we're preparing for a sixty minute game this weekend."
Q: How's it going to be getting back to the Georgia Dome?A: "It's going to be great. We haven't lost at home all year. It's important that we go out there and keep that trend going. We've got a tough game. I don't care what the record says. They're a tough team and it's going to be tough, but we've got to get back on track definitely."
Q: How do you keep the young guys motivated and positive?
A: "You've got to go to work. When you come out here we love what we do for a living, it's an opportunity. We're still in it. We're not out of it by any means. We still control our on destiny. We just have to go out there and win some games, that's all there is to it."
Q: Can that second half success carry over from the Giants game?
A: "Yeah you can carry it over. I'm not big on moral victories or anything like that, we lost the game and you've got to give them credit for that. But, at the same time we were moving in the right direction in the second half, especially as an offense. I think if we keep that up we will be in a position to be successful."
MORE FALCONS-BUCCANEERS COVERAGE:
FALCONCAST:J. Mike and Matt preview Sunday's matchup at the Georgia Dome * MULTIMEDIA:Interviews and more video from AtlantaFalcons.com * EXPERT'S TAKE:Thoughts from Judy Battista of *The New York Times *on Falcons, NFL * PREVIEW PACK:More on this weekend's game from the Football Communications staff (PDF) * GAME INFO:Game entertainment and more to get you ready for Falcons-Bucs * WHAT TO WATCH:Some key things to keep in mind as the Falcons take on the Buccaneers * NUMBERS AND NOTES:Notes and stats to get you ready for Sunday * QUOTABLE:Transcript of the Falcons Wednesday open locker room period