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Transcript: Mike Smith postgame news conference


Falcons head coach Mike Smith liked how his team fought against a division opponent Sunday, but says Atlanta has yet to put together a full 60-minute game this season

Opening Statement:

"Winning in this league, specifically in the NFC South is never an easy proposition. Each and every game that I've been involved with comes down to four or five plays. I like way our team prepared this week. We went about our business. I love the effort, we've got a lot of things that we've got to get fixed specifically on special teams. Obviously, that's an area that is a big concern. We've got to break our 24-hour rule this week and basically in about two hours we're going to be onto the Baltimore Ravens because we've got a short week playing on Thursday night."

On the fourth-and-goal stop:

"We won the line of scrimmage. Going into this game through seven games, we've had one snap of goal line defense so that was the second snap that we have played in a football game. Of course, in our practice plans and practice preparation we work goal line every week on Thursday and Friday. But that was only the second snap that we've had. We had great penetration up front. S Thomas DeCoud came off the edge, it was a play that had been scouted, something that we had worked on and he made a very good play."

On whether there were five defensive linemen in on that stop:

"It was a five man line, yes. It's not a six-two, really it becomes a five man front where we've got the nose covered."

On CB Brent Grimes' interception after giving up a long pass for first down:

"We had them third down and 13 backed up inside their 1-yard line after the delay of game and we gave up a play. Brent made a wonderful play on the football, redeemed himself. He's such a competitive guy. He redeemed himself and was able to pull through and got the interception. It was not the third down performance that we wanted to have as a team. It's something that we will have to continue to work with."

On whether they were expecting a quarterback sneak on the goal line play:

"They had their big guys in. They had their offensive linemen in. We felt that with that look they were probably not going to throw the ball. There may have been a possibility, we had our defensive ends prepared for the naked fake and the run up the middle and coming off the edge."

On putting S Thomas DeCoud at the position on the goal line stop:

"When we get into that front, it depends sometimes we might not have a defensive back in their based on what personnel they have out there. Thomas was the guy that we felt like because of his length if they were going to pass in our goal line defense that because of his length he would be the best guy suited for that. He's been doing it for us for the past two years."

On whether there was an added importance to win today because of the short week:

"This group of guys they are very business-like. They come to work every day and I don't think that we really even looked past this game. As a coaching staff we have to because it's a short week in our preparation. But we have not talked to our players at all about the next game. We knew that this was a division game, we wanted to get this game to get to 2-0 in our division. You've got to control your division to be a team that's going to relevant or a team that's going to be talked about at the end of the season. That's been our focus. I know it's cliché but its one game at a time. I think our guys really understand that. This was a darn good Tampa football team that we played today."

On whether they needed to rely more on TE Tony Gonzalez when WR Roddy White left the game with an injury:

"Roddy was able to come back. We got a tape job at halftime that he felt comfortable with and was able to come back and compete in the second half of the game. Of course Tony, we love his matchups each and every week. I don't think there's a match up that you don't like when you have Tony Gonzalez there. I think that the ball was distributed a little but more in that direction when Roddy was not in the ballgame. I don't have his final stats in front of me. It is obvious that Tony was the guy that we liked the match ups with."

On the opening drive:

"We wanted to be very aggressive in what we did. We went right through our script. It was about as clean of a first drive that I've ever been involved with. The script that we run through on our first 15, it was basically right down the script and that doesn't always happen. That was a good sign and you could see the production that we had on that opening drive."

On the 99-yard drive:

"We came back and ran some of the similar plays. That is impressive. I'll say that that team over there to give up a 99-yard drive it didn't affect them one bit. They continued to fight hard. They made some plays in special teams. They had the long kickoff return I think it was returned to the 31 yard line the defense was put on a short field. They extended a play with the wheel route and were able to score the touchdown and then of course they ran the other touchdown back on a mis-kick. The timing of the play got disrupted, from my vantage it looked like we had a couple of missed tackles, so it's something that we're going to have to address. Then we had the long explosive play. They are a team that's been creating explosive plays with QB Josh Freeman and those receivers for the other touchdown."

On winning close games:

"In this league, where games come down to about four or five plays, it is a sense of relief. There will be frustration when I watch the tape tonight, when I see the plays that we didn't make. They are so hard-fought in the NFL week in and week out, that's what it's all about. They are going to be eight points of less the majority of the time, about 40 percent of the time. You've got to go out there and play. Those plays that you don't make you're going to agonize over tonight and tomorrow before you start your preparation. The good thing is I don't have to agonize too long because in about two hours it's going to be Wednesday not Monday in our time clock it's Wednesday getting prepared for our next football game."

On whether they were caught off-guard with the onside kick:

"Not a very good operation in terms of the onside kick. We were very fortunate that there was an illegal touching. Luckily, there is replay and you can challenge those things. But it was a strategic move on their part that was very good. We did not execute our kickoff return in that situation."

On whether he was tempted to review the kickoff return for a touchdown:

"No, I wasn't. I know that he went down the sideline and I asked if he touched the sideline. From upstairs, they said he was in. On that far sideline it's very difficult standing on our sideline to see that. Usually you have to rely on what's happening upstairs. The onside kick was a little bit easier because it was right there in the middle of the field and I did see that happen."

On whether he is prepared to say the Falcons are the best team in the NFC:

"No, I am not prepared to say that at all. We are the best team of the two teams that played today for today. We'll get an opportunity to play them again down the road. You get what you earn in this league, and we earned a win today. I am proud of where our guys are but I tell you we're 6-2 and there's some guys in that room that are upset about it. They know that we haven't put together the type of football game for 60 minutes on all three phases that we can play."

On beating both the Saints and now the Buccaneers:

"Division games carry a whole lot of weight. You've got to control your division and we're very fortunate to get those two wins. Again, you earn what you get and that's what we've done. We've earned those two victories."

On the play of OT Sam Baker:

"I thought that he protected extremely well. We had some free runners on some of the looks. There was some miscommunication but I thought that it held up fairly well. Again, Sam is a guy that is a very athletic tackle and when he's healthy he can play as well as anybody in the league."

On whether the onside kick challenge was his call:

"I saw it. I watched the ball dribble and it looked like it touched his knee before it had gone 10 yards and that is an illegal touching penalty and that is challengeable."

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