The Atlanta Falcons are on their second business trip to the big apple as they face the New York Giants in the second week of the regular season. Check out these pictures of gameday.
This league is all about finishing, so today is a great example. Let's give New York a lot of credit, too – they took this as far as it can go and we had to battle with everything we could to come back. We kind of got set off there in the third quarter – had a pivotal sack, a forced fumble, and it ended up being like a twelve-play, 90-yard touchdown drive right after that to give us a chance to get right back into the game. I couldn't be more proud in terms of the effort and the finish. Every time you go through those, you get a little tougher, you get a little more confident, so it's great for our mindset knowing that's such an important part of our program and what we do and had that happen today. With that, I'll open it up to some questions regarding the game.
Can you talk about the significance of starting 2-0? It's a long season, but that start has got to be significant.
Yeah, each week we're just going to battle as hard as we can. We won't look too far ahead and not really to what happened in the past – we're just going to try and stay in the present moment as long as we can and continue to battle for it every week. Our whole goal is to see how good we can get every week. Keep improving, keep fighting for it, keep chasing, keep getting better. We got better than when we went to practice this week and we performed better in some areas this week and we'll go right back into it and do that again and keep fighting for it to see how much we can improve, even if it's by small increments each week.
Can you talk about [Matt] Ryan and [Julio] Jones, and how that dynamic works?
I don't know if we have enough time in the presser to talk about those two. Just the mindset, the battle, to keep going for it – right, when you're down there with them and you're right in the heat of it, they're just such great competitors, and when you are that way, these are the kind of moments you just love being a part of. I had no doubt we were going down, then took a big shot to Ju[lio] and they pressured, and no doubt sometimes right before the play goes "you got him," and sure enough he did.
Coach, how special is this win for you as a head coach back in your home state?
Well it's always great to be back with family and friends, but most importantly, it's about the team. For me to be a part of it with these guys and go through this journey with them, it's been a blast. Every time we get a chance to battle and go for it together, we're going to. So, more importantly, it's just being in that locker room with those guys and understanding how hard we want to fight for one another.
Did you have a lot of family and friends here today?
Yea, we did. There was a big group, which is always the case back here. I grew up here, so that's kind of where my first love of football began, so I have a lot of respect for the area, for the people around here, but like I said, as you're really a part of this team, that's where the connection starts.
How much did this area kind of cultivate you into the person you are right now?
I think there's a lot of people where I grew up in the town that look after you, and that's kind of where the love of ball began – youth coaches, high school coaches, and certainly watching ball in this area growing up, but like I said, it was awesome to be here with our team.
Is it different to win here because of the history you have with the state?
Not necessarily. It's just that honestly, when you're in it, you're just battling as hard as you can. They've got a terrific team and this organization – what it stands for through the years – we knew it was going to be hard as heck for us to come up here and get a win and fight for it, so I'm thrilled we were able to do that.
Coach, how much was this a game of 'one play can really spark you' with Kroy [Biermann]?
Well, we never know who is going to be the one to set it off. I think today it was Kroy [Biermann] with the one that just got it right back to go fight for us and give us a chance. Having the sack and the forced fumble, I think that was the one that ignited us. It was really a tough go defensively – they were moving the ball and had a couple big plays on us and they've got some terrific guys. We had our hands full, I think the whole time, and we had a big play for a touchdown to [Odell, Jr.]Beckham, and came back. It was going to be hard; we knew it the whole time. He's a terrific competitor, too.
Do you have any update on [Tevin] Coleman?
I do not. I'll give you that update tomorrow.
QB Matt Ryan
What was the key to the comeback after you guys were down by 10?
I think Kroy Biermann got it going for us with the sack-fumble in the red area… for us to be able to kind of get it going after that on offense. I thought one of the good plays was the throw down the sideline to Jacob Tamme where we changed field position really quick and were able to continue to convert and score a touchdown on that drive. Those two plays I thought were huge in the outcome of the game.
Julio's big grab there at the end – what was your viewpoint on that?
It looked pretty good from where I was at. Obviously Julio is an unbelievable player. He had another huge day today. In that situation we saw one-on-one coverage. We had a great play call from Kyle. I just tried to put it in a spot where he could make a play and he did it.
Matt, how has it been running play action frequently over the past few weeks?
Obviously things are different when you have a new coordinator come in. I think we've done a good job of adjusting to the new scheme. Certainly we are going to continue to get better. Play action, like you mentioned, is an important part of what we're going to do. So is running the football. I think we've done a decent job of both of those. We have to run a little bit better than we did today. I was fired up that we found a way to win.
Talk about the other targets you were able to hit today like Hankerson and Tamme and how you were able to utilize those guys?
I think we had 40-something pass attempts. Every time you're going to throw the ball 40-something times, you've got to distribute it. I thought those guys did a nice job of stepping up for us. Leonard Hankerson made a great catch in the back of the end zone on the touchdown. He had another one where we got it to the one-inch line, which was a huge third down conversion. I'm fired up about it. I'm happy for Hank. He's worked really hard coming in here and has done a great job. Jacob Tamme, he's a professional. He goes out there, he plays hard. He had one of the big plays for us to get the momentum changed. I'm fired up about that.
What changed for the offense when Tevin Coleman went out? How big of a loss will that be moving forward?
You never know coming out of these games what it's going to be with injuries. That's not for me to talk about. He's a good player. He's going to be a really good player for us for a long time. When he goes down, you lose one really good player. I was fired up about the way that Devonta (Freeman) stepped up. Devonta made some huge plays for us down the stretch that helped us win that game. I'm happy for Devonta.
With all the work that you've put in and the changes, to be 2-0, what's the feeling now?
It feels good. Obviously two games into it we're right where we need to be. There's been a lot of changes. The thing I'm excited about is that we're finding ways to get it done. That's what good teams do. You've got to find a way to continue to get better and keep moving forward.
Julio comes off such a big year, yet he's still talking about getting better. What does that say about him?
You couldn't ask for a better teammate, a better person in the locker room. He's constantly trying to be a better teammate, be a better player. Sometimes you're like, hey man, you're doing a great job as it is. That's what makes him the special player that he is. He always feels like he can improve. I hope he does. If he gets better than he already is, that's going to be good for us.
Given that you've thrown just about every pass that he's caught as an NFL player, you're probably not surprised by much. Does anything ever make you say 'wow' when it comes to him?
I've been fortunate. I've played with a lot of great players, specifically catching the ball. Roddy (White) has been that way his entire career and I'm always amazed at what he's capable of doing. Tony Gonzalez is another guy that would make plays and you'd be like, 'Man, I can't believe he made that catch.' There's things he does where you are like, 'I can't believe he just did that.' Those are the types of guys that, even when they're not open, you just have to feed them because then they make plays. I'm lucky that he's on our team.
On the first touchdown pass it looked like Hankerson was well-covered. What made you make that decision?
That was a play that we worked on a lot. It's one of those things we talked about all the time, putting that ball on the top shelf in the back of the endzone. We feel like that's a safe place for us to throw it. We trust our guys to make plays and I trusted Hank in that situation. He made a great play.
I don't know if you focus on streaks, but you were 0-3 against the Giants at Metlife. Is that in the back of your mind?
Yeah, you know, each team is different. Each year is different. This has always been a tough place for us to come play because, one, they've got a great quarterback, and, two, they've had a head coach that has their team coached out and plays hard every week. That makes for a tough combination when we come on the road up here.
Can you remember one game where you had to score a touchdown twice, twice, in a game?
I don't know. It happens. With replay, you're never really sure. You're always prepared. As soon as it goes into replay, I talk with Kyle about what they're going to call. I don't know if it's happened before. I'm sure it's happened.
WR Julio Jones
How does it feel to be 2-0?
It feels great. A new year, a new start. We can control that. Everybody was asking how different it is with Dan Quinn this year. We couldn't do anything about last year. This is a whole new year, but it feels great to be 2-0 right now.
Can you take us through that amazing catch in the second half?
Which one? Seriously. I feel like all of them are amazing when I catch the ball.
The acrobatic catch that went for a 10-yard gain?
Just effort. Matt (Ryan) put the ball up there and I made a play. It was a little outside. The DB was still sitting outside of me and I had to go over the top and make a play.
How big is it to win two-straight close games? It's great for the organization, for the team. It shows a lot about our defense. When we need to go out there and make stops, they make stops; as well as the offense. We put drives together when we need to.
To do it in the fourth quarter the way you did speaks a lot about Matt Ryan and the whole offense.
Most definitely. We work on that everyday. It wasn't anything new to us. No one got tight at any time in the game when we were down. We just went out there and made plays like we usually do.
Fight and effort are things that have been preached since Dan Quinn has come in. How much of it is a credit to what you guys are doing on the field?
We're 2-0. We're going to outhit people. Like Quinn said postgame, you can't win the game in the first, second or third quarter. You win the game in the fourth quarter. It's all about how you finish. Every now and then you're going to get off to a slow start. Some games you're going to get out to a fast start, but it doesn't matter. It's all about the finish.
Your 13 catches today tied Tony Gonzalez's team record. Were you just trying to be there when Matt Ryan needed you in those situations?
Every opportunity that I get when a ball is thrown at me, I feel like it's my job to catch it. I had 15 targets today and I caught 13. I think I did okay today. I wish I could have caught all 15, but it happens.
How did you all stay focused when you got down by 10 and had to put it back together?
We work on it everyday at practice. It's nothing out of the ordinary for us. Dan Quinn puts us in situations everyday like that. We're down and we need a field goal, we need a touchdown. Everyday there's a different scenario and today came into play for us and we went out there and executed.
Does it mean anything to you to tie Tony Gonzalez's team record for catches?
It feels great because my teammates needed me today for those 13 catches, to pull out this win. I was here with Tony. He was a phenomenal player, incredible person. He's just unbelievable all the way around.
DE Kroy Biermann
Momentum seemed to be with the Giants and they were on the way to the win. Can you talk about the turning point in the game today?
It's a good thing for this team. It helped us win. I'm just excited that we got the win today.
Talk about the defense, especially in the fourth quarter.
We're a unit that's going to fight. I think we're still building that. We're still building the camaraderie with the guys in learning each other as players and getting a groove, but one thing is that we're going to fight no matter what until that last tick on the clock. It's good for us.
What's the feeling like to be 2-0?
We've got to keep the mind right and continue to work. You've got to go back to the drawing board. There were mistakes in there. I made mistakes. I know other people made mistakes. We've got to get those things corrected and fixed and get better and get back after it again.
How much is this game just one of those examples of how one play can spark you and make the difference?
I don't know if it was one play. We're a team. We're a unit. We're cohesive. We all feed off of each other and everybody played their hearts out today and it paid off for us. I'm just excited everybody put in a great effort to get this win.
Were you thinking turnover in that situation?
Yes and no. We're a ball attacking team, so we're going after the ball every play.
What's different about this team from last year to this year?
We're building it. We've got to get used to each other. We've got to learn how each guy plays. We're getting a feel for each other. It's a work in progress. The guys did great. We're doing great, but obviously there's improvements that can be made and we're going to work to get those made and get even better. We're excited for the win today.