Falcons head coach Mike Smith was exasperated after Thursday night's game, and not because the game didn't wrap up until around midnight. The 26-21 Atlanta win was the most intense game Smith has ever been involved in
"If you like football and you like an intense football game, that was one of them. That might have been the most intense game that I have ever been involved with at any level of football. With 65 seconds left to go in the ballgame no one on our sideline blinked. Like we've done all year we had a level of resolve that just amazes me each and every time. We simply went out there and went to work and made the plays that we needed to make there at the end of the ballgame. We got the outcome that we wanted. I am proud of every man in that locker room because of what they did tonight. They came and played a very good Baltimore Raven football team and stayed there until the very end."
On what the mindset was with a minute and five seconds left in the game:
"The mindset was that hey we've got lots of time, we also had a timeout so it gives us an opportunity to work the entire field. We actually didn't have to use it, we actually used it setting up the two-point conversion attempt. We knew that it was going to go down to the wire and our guys made their plays. I thought in the first half we came out and dominated the time of possession which was something that we wanted to do. We ran our no-huddle offense almost flawlessly. We had over twenty minutes of possession in the first half. Then, the second half they came back and made plays like we knew they were going to make. That's a darn good football team. Head coach John Harbaugh and his staff and the people that they have on that team are darn good players."
On the presence of mind that QB Matt Ryan had to find WR Roddy White on the touchdown:**
"I think it just says volumes about the maturation process of our quarterback. He called the plays there all through the first half in our no-huddle and he had the where-with-all when the primary receiver was taken away he went to his secondary guy. He and Roddy were definitely on the same page on that play, it was a big time play."
On the relationship between Matt Ryan and Roddy White:
"I think that they've got a very good working relationship. They spent some time in the offseason working on their timing. I tell you it wasn't just Roddy and Matt. WR Michael Jenkins made a heck of a play. I can go on and on with guys that made plays there in the last 65-seconds of the ballgame. WR Eric Weems on the kickoff, that was a big time play to tackle the guys back in there. Matt is going to go through the progressions and depending on the coverage they are going to dictate where the ball is going to be going to. I really say this all the time, the ball is going to go where the defense tells it to go. That's the way that the system is designed. We've got a very good coaching staff that does a great job of getting our guys ready to go and have them set up to make the plays when they are presented to them."
On Matt Ryan scrambling:
"Matt is faster than you think. He's deceivingly fast. He scrambled a couple times based on their good coverage. Throughout the game he made some big plays for us. He had a scramble there in the first half for a crucial first down. If all guys are covered and the outlets is not there then he's got to run it. I thought the big play, the touchdown to RB Jason Snelling was a very, very good play. Matt started to scramble and then saw late in the down that Jason was open and was able to check the ball down and Jason make a big run. There is a bunch of people in that room that played good football that contributed to that win tonight."
On whether they considered going for a touchdown on the last series rather than setting up field position for a field goal:
"We went into that drive knowing how many yards (we needed), we've got a landmark with our kicker with where we wanted to get to and that was really the emphasis on that drive. Fortunately, Matt and Roddy hooked up and we didn't have to attempt the field goal. We had the opportunity to score the touchdown."
On the short preparation and whether it affected the gameplan:
"That was something that was talked about way back in the summer about how we were going to gameplan for this football game. Once we saw that the schedule came out and we were playing Thursday night it was something that we started to discuss way back then in terms of how we were going to gameplan for this ballgame."
On the close games:
"That's what this league is all about. About 60 percent of the games are going to be eight points or less and about 30 percent are going to be three points or less. That's just the way it is and there are going to be ebbs and flows in the ballgame. Sometimes we start fast and jump out to a lead and there's other times where we haven't started fast and had to come back. I know one thing about this group of guys, they do not give up, they are resilient."
On whether Roddy continues to amaze him:**
"Yeah. Roddy's playing as good as any receiver in the NFL right now. He's worked his tail off all through the offseason with our Athletic Performance department and the hard work is definitely paying off and you can see that in his play on the field."