Head coach Mike SmithOpening statement: "This obviously was a game we had a chance to win, but we made far too many mistakes throughout the game. Even there in the end we had a great chance but we just didn‟t get the outcome we wanted. With that being said, we know it's just the first game of a new year. It‟s a long journey and we‟re anxious to get back to Flowery Branch to get the mistakes corrected and move onto the next ballgame. You‟ve got to do that, so as a team you've got to put this one behind you. Our motto around here has always been "stop the streak at one‟ and that will be our mantra all week long."
On their last offensive drive of the game: "I thought it was a well executed two-minute drive until we got inside the 10-yard line and we had some opportunities to make the plays and we did not get them done. And again when we play the Saints it‟s usually a hard fought game and it turned that way again today. My hats off to Sean (Payton) and his staff; they did a great job and they got the outcome they wanted."
On improvements that they can make: "Well we have to protect the quarterback a lot better than we did today, but there‟s a lot of things we have to do better. He (Matt Ryan) was hit entirely too many times today and that‟s one of the things we have to correct. From the very beginning for any position group they are a unit and not one specific person. It‟s a unit and they have to grow together as a unit to protect the quarterback better than they did today."
On the final play on offense: "Well I‟m not going to talk too much about it. We felt we had a good play called. There were a lot of options called and we had to move down into the second option and until I really see it on the film I really can‟t comment on it at all."
On the Saints defense: "That was not their 2012 defense. You know every year it‟s a different team. Rob Ryan is their new defensive coordinator and he came in and they made some plays and they were able to put some pressure on our quarterback. I don‟t think you can compare what their defense was last year to this year. It‟s a new season and it‟s a new unit for them."
On Steven Jackson: "I thought we were able to run the ball effectively at times and there were times when we could‟ve done it better. I think he‟s a great addition to our offense and I think he shows what he's capable of doing in the scheme that we are running."
On the Saints offense: "They are going to move the ball and they are very good and very efficient moving the football. The last two years he (Drew Brees) has thrown the ball for 5,000 yards so he‟s a very good quarterback. I thought – but I don‟t know until I watch the tape – that they made some very good plays out there. That‟s a very good offense and they create some matchup issues for anybody."
On options on the last play: "I‟m not going to talk about what the first option was. Again, it‟s about strategy and it (the final play) is going to be analyzed 5,000 times in the next three days."
Quarterback Matt Ryan
"We came down here and I think we handled the environment really well. But we just didn‟t play overall as well as we‟d like to. I think for the most part the differences were real small. They made the plays and we didn‟t today. We‟ve got to learn from this and improve."
"We had a lot of opportunities today. We moved the ball down the field and gave ourselves a chance to win that football game at the very end and we just didn‟t make the play."
"The third down play was just one of those things. Steven (Jackson) ran a great route, I let it go and kind of got bumped around. Even though it was the right call we just didn‟t make the play and then certainly we didn‟t make the play on the fourth down."
"Any time you lose it stinks and certainly today it stinks that we didn‟t get the outcome we wanted. We gave ourselves a chance and we just fell short. The thing is part of being a professional and part of handling as a veteran is being able to move on and realize you‟ve got to put it behind you. We‟ve got a whole season in front of us and there‟s a lot of football to go. We did some things well and we‟ve got to clean up the things we didn‟t do well and try and do better next week."
Running back Steven Jackson
"Coming out here we knew and expected it was going to be a tough hard game and the environment down here in New Orleans was going to be loud, and the rivalry was just as competitive as I‟ve been hearing about. But we went out there and made some plays but we also left some plays out there."
On the Saints' defense: "They did a good job of mixing personnel up. When opportunities came up they made the plays to keep us off the field and in the end of the day that was the difference."
On the third-down play on last drive: "When my number is called I expect to make plays. Difficult, easy, whatever; that‟s the expectation I have for myself. I don‟t live in a "what if‟ world, I expect to make the play. I expect to make the play. I dropped the ball, I dropped the ball. Yeah it wasn‟t the easiest catch, but I‟m not a person who makes excuses. But as we grow together, and as the guys see me play over the next couple of weeks, I will make the tough plays. Football is a game of inches and that‟s the expectation I have of myself."
Tight end Tony Gonzalez
"You knew that coming in that it was going to be a dogfight – it always is. And when you look at the history they always come out on top, and then we come out on top when we have them at home. Give them credit, but at the same time we just have to play a lot better. Our defense came out and played real strong for us. Obviously Drew Brees is one of the best players to ever play the game and to hold him like that I thought they did an outstanding job.
"Offensively we've got to protect a lot better. We know we have the horses to do it. I think we will take a lot of positives away from this game moving forward."
"It was like they were covering me all day, like brackets – a double team. We tried to throw it over the top; somewhere along the backside with Julio (Jones) back there, but give them credit – they made the play. The ball was up in the air and I liked my chances, but we were just a fingertip away. So for that give them credit."
Wide receiver Julio Jones
On the final offensive play for the Falcons on the day: "They doubled me after showing us a lot of different looks before the play. All I know is that I was doubled. It was a crazy last play and one we just didn‟t make."
Center Peter Konz
"I thought the communication on the field was good today and I thought everybody fought hard and we never gave up. But at the end of the day it comes down to making one play, so we are going to make our corrections."
Defensive tackle Corey Peters
"We did some good plays out there today and some bad. Being a perfectionist you always want to do better. We‟ve got to cut out the explosive plays they got on us but what we have to do now is get back and look at the tape and definitely fix what we didn‟t do right out there today."
On Drew Brees' performance: "Hey, he's a great player and we respect him a lot. We knew coming in what he's capable of and we respect him a whole lot. But, you know, we'll get another opportunity to see and compete against him down the road."
Cornerback Robert Alford
"This place (Mercedes-Benz Superdome) is real loud and it was very different from college but it was good to see a lot of family and friends out there cheering me on. Even though it was my first game I felt comfortable out there and I am glad I have a game under my belt."