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Transcript: Mike Smith Monday News Conference


**Opening Statement:

**"I really felt like we did some very good things in the game yesterday, especially in the first half. We challenged our guys all week long to start fast and it started with the opening kickoff. We were able to kick the ball into the endzone and start the ball on the 20 yard line. We had a three and out with the defense and then turned around and had a 12 play, 72 yard scoring drive. We accomplished that and then we felt like we played a solid game through the first half. In the second half, we didn't play as well as we needed to play and we've got a lot of things to fix. But the one thing that I will say about our team is this a team that responded to the challenge, it held up there in the fourth quarter when we had to. We had some opportunities to make some plays and we were able to come away with the victory."

**On the difference between the first half and the second half:

**"We were not very consistent and we didn't do some things technically the way wanted to, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We had some mental breakdowns. We gave up some chunk plays. We had two chunk plays in the second half that we were not real pleased with. We didn't tackle crisply. We had some opportunities where we could get off the field. We didn't play well in the redzone. We had a third-and-8 and a third-and-6 in the redzone and they scored on both of those plays. You would hope that you'd be able to win that down and at least force a field goal and that's eight points difference there on the defensive side of the ball."

**On his biggest concern entering the Green Bay Packers game:

**"They are the defending Super Bowl champions so they've got a great pedigree. They've got an outstanding quarterback that has lots of weapons and that's going to be the biggest concern for us, to be able to slow these guys down. They're playing outstanding football. All four games, they've moved the ball and put lots of points up on the scoreboard. On the other side of the ball (defensive coordinator) Dom Capers' defense, it's going to be an exotic look that we're going to have to be able to prepare ourselves for because it's not going to be the same look. He bases it out of a three-man front but he'll give you four man looks and that's going to be important for us, to be able to identify how they're trying to attack us offensively."

**On whether the Seahawks comeback was due to a sense of complacency with a large lead:

**"You can't have those. When you've got the lead like we had, you've got to keep playing. What happened yesterday was we gave up some plays and then the momentum changed. Believe it or not, we talk about four or five plays in every ball game, whether it's a close game or a blowout and there were four or five plays that occurred in that ball game that changed the momentum. We did some things on special teams that were uncharacteristic. Punting it out of the endzone, they ran it back to the 11-yard line. We kicked the ball out of bounds so it gives them a drive start on the 40-yard line. Prior to that, I thought that we had a really solid special teams' effort. It's something that we've got to talk to our guys about and we have to work as a coaching staff and we have to work together to fix that because it was very evident yesterday. Anybody that was watching the one o'clock games, I believe there were two situations where teams were at home and were down by 20 or more and the visiting team came back and won. It's amazing what happens on Sunday afternoon, Monday nights and Sunday nights in the National Football League. Nothing would surprise me each and every week."

**On whether Seattle did anything different to slow the run game:

**"They crowded the line of scrimmage. We were going to make sure we challenged our guys to control the line of scrimmage and when you control the line of scrimmage, you control the clock. We controlled the ball for over 40 minutes yesterday and when you do that, it helps not only the offense but it helps the defense and it helps the special teams. It was tough sledding. They had some nine-man looks, some unblocked players but I thought that we stayed with it. We challenged our offensive line to control the line of scrimmage and that's what we did in my mind yesterday that was different from the other games."

**On the Falcons' secondary against Packers QB Aaron Rodgers:

**"We gave up a lot of passing yards yesterday. Each and every day, as a coaching staff or as a football team, you have concerns. This one is obvious. We've got to make sure that we have a plan. You're not going to stop these guys, you've got to try to slow them down. They're playing outstanding football on the offensive side of the football, especially in their passing game. Aaron Rodgers is operating about as effectively as you can. I believe he has got over a 120 quarterback rating for the season. It's going to be a challenge. We've got to make sure that we can put some pressure on him. That's going to be important. We can't turn this thing into a skelly. We've got to make sure that we win our one-on-one matchups in the pass rush when we get them and we've got to make sure we win our one-on-one matchups out in the secondary and the linebackers."

**On how encouraging it was to see Matt Ryan protected:

**"Very encouraging that we kept him clean. That was one of the important issues that we had to deal with the week before. I thought we handled it well. I thought we did some things schematically that we kept the pocket clean for the most part. Giving up no sacks is the way we're used to doing things around here and there wasn't a big push up the middle, which, in turn, allowed Matt, when he had to, to make some plays with his feet because the pocket was not crushed in front of him. He was able to make some plays with his feet. Quarterbacks in this league, when they have a lane, they're going to be able to do that."

**On lighting a fire under the offensive line:

**"We had gone into the game, going into it and seeing how it was going to go the first drive or two and if it wasn't, we were prepared to make changes. We told the guys all week that we were going to have that open competition. We were very effective with the 12-play drive to start the ball game and we made a determination at that point in time that we were just going to stick with that group. They responded well to the challenges that we set for them this week."

**On any injury updates from the game:

**"Jason Snelling, of course, missed the ball game and he'll go through his final step in terms of being cleared for practice. The rest of the guys that we got banged up, it's a pretty long list. I don't think there's going to be any major issues in terms of having guys ready for this weekend. We are going to have some guys that will probably miss some practice time. As you get to this point in the season, that's usually normal operating procedure. We'll hold some guys out on Wednesday to get them back for the weekend."

**On how much of protecting Ryan was the schematic changes made during the week:

**"I think it was a little of both, in terms of what we wanted to do and how we went into this ball game. It was a little bit of both. I think that we performed better up on the offensive line, up front, and with our tight ends and our running backs. I think our receivers did a good job with breaking some routes off when the blitz was presented but I also think we did some things as a coaching staff to help our guys, schematically, how we were going to block and what protections we were using."

**On Matt Bosher's kickoff out of bounds:

**"Up to that point, Matt had a very good day kicking the football. He had two touchbacks. We had two kicks that were directionally kicked on kickoffs where we had drive starts inside the 20-yard line. We had a kick down the middle with not a very big hang time where it was returned back to the 11 after we had the turnover and the interception. And then you can't kick the ball out of bounds. You just can't do that. You can't give them a drive start of 40 yards, and basically they did nothing. I still believe that Matt did some very good things. Believe it or not, up to that point, it was probably his best game of punting and kicking the ball in the first four games and we still think that the arrow is going up with him."

**On whether he was surprised the Seahawks attempted the 61-yard field goal at the end of the game:

**"Nothing surprised me, in terms of what happens on Sunday. Steven (Hauschka) was with us last year. We know he has a strong leg. They felt like it was to their advantage to attempt it and, again, like I said yesterday, nothing surprises me in terms of outcomes of games, what happens in a game and that's what makes this game so exciting and that's why I've got all of this gray hair."

**On whether last year's playoff loss to Green Bay is a motivating factor entering this game:

**"Will it be a motivating factor? It's something that I believe we all have on our minds simply because it was the last game of the season last year. I think, in terms of us in our preparation, it will have a lot of bearing on it because they were very successful in what they did. I think we have to prepare ourselves for that. In terms of a revenge game and all that, you've got to go out each and every week and play and this is the most important game for us because it's the next one. It's not because of what happened last year. They're a different football team, we're a different football team and we're looking forward to getting into our preparation and playing them on Sunday night in the Dome."

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