Transcript: Mike Smith postgame news conference


Falcons head coach Mike Smith was impressed with Kroy Biermann's 41-yard interception return for a touchdown that handed Atlanta its fourth straight win

Opening Statement

"Good afternoon. We spent a long part of this week talking about ball security, possessing the football and creating turnovers. We also talked about how important it was for us to stop Cleveland's running game that had produced back-to-back impressive games in terms of running the ball. We didn't play our best game by far. There are a lot of things we can correct and get corrected, but we won the turnover battle, we protected the football and we stopped the run. I believe we had a 165-48 yard rushing advantage, and something our guys were tuned into this week was being able to stop the run. I thought they would come out and try to run the football on us, and I'm really proud of the way the guys did it. I thought that [DE] Kroy Biermann had an unbelievable individual effort on his tipped ball interception and return for a touchdown. I really like the way our guys are playing. They always give you a full day's work."


On his team's ability to close out games**

"It's something that we talk about. You have to play every play and usually it's going to be five or six plays in the National Football League that will make the difference. I think we're maturing even though we're a young team. We've got a lot of guys who are chronologically young, but have a lot of experience. I'm talking about guys like [QB] Matt Ryan, [WR] Harry Douglas, [S] Thomas DeCoud, [LB] Curtis Lofton and [DE] Kroy Biermann. They've played a lot of football games and have a lot of good mentors in our older players like [TE] Tony Gonzalez, [LB] John Abraham, [C] Todd McClure and [WR] Brian Finneran. I think it's a very good mix and those mentors are doing a great job in our locker room with the young players."

On DE Kroy Biermann's return for a TD

"I know that Kroy is from Montana and has probably rode a few wild broncos and bulls, and been thrown off and landed on his feet. I'm sure that had something to do with it. But it was just a super athletic play to roll in there and score the touchdown. That's big. The only bad thing about that is that on defense, you have to go right back out there after the extra point."

On the increased pressure on the Browns' QBs

"I think we felt we could try to put pressure on the quarterback with our down four. That's first and foremost what you want to do. I thought as the game wore on we were able to do that. I thought John Abraham had a great job rushing the passer. It's not always about sacks, even though we had three sacks in this ballgame. We want the quarterback to know that we're around. I think they did a good job. We can be better at it. We are a group of guys who understand the rush game now, and we just have to continue to finish it."


On the key to stopping the running game**

"We had a good gameplan in terms of how we were going to fit the run and gap it out, but a lot of it is just making sure we never got in one-on-one tackling situations. We talked about having a "party at the ball"—getting to the football—and we wanted to make sure we could get as many hats on the ball-carrier, regardless of who the ball-carrier was. I thought the gameplan was executed extremely well, especially against the run."

On LB Sean Weatherspoon's status

"I know that he left and the information that I have is a knee. I do not know anything more than that. But I do know that he left the game there in the third quarter."

On the offense's play

"[RB] Michael Turner had a big game for us. Again, whether it's Michael or [WR] Roddy [White], it's not just one guy; it takes all 11 out there. I thought that the offensive line just kept doing what we said we needed to do, which was put a hole in the 3-4 defense that I think is a very good defense. I thought that we kept committed to that, and we had conviction that we were going to run the football. That's very important. The long touchdown pass; I don't know if you can have a better pass and route combination between [QB] Matt [Ryan] and Roddy on that long play. [Matt] laid it out there and Roddy was able to go get it. That was a big play for us; we needed to get the ball in the endzone."

On Browns CB Sheldon Brown's injury the play before the TD

"We saw the guy leave the field, there's no doubt about that, on the Tony Gonzalez completion. He was not able to leave the field, and had to leave the field under assistance from the trainers. You're always doing your due diligence in knowing who is in the game and who is not in the game."

On defending Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme

"I think it's very similar in terms of coverage. In terms of pass rush lanes and how you're going to attack in your pass rush is different. In terms of coverage, your routes are the same. You have the same route progressions; they don't really change their passing game in regards to which quarterback is in there. As a defense, you have to make sure you're doing things a little bit different with the guy who can get out of the pocket, and that was the thing we changed up was how we were going to rush the passer based on who was in there."

On the blocked FG attempt

"It was not very good technique. When you win there are still lots of things you have to address. That's something I can assure you as a coaching staff that we will address. You can't have those situations. When there are opportunities to put points on the board, you have to put points on the board."

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