Transcripts: Smith, Ryan Press Conferences

Head coach Mike SmithOpening Statement:

"I'm very pleased the way that we came off of a short week. We wanted to be as fresh as we could possibly be, and I thought the guys responded extremely well in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. We played smart, solid football for the most part. Some penalties that we'd like to have back that negated some explosive plays for us. I'd like to offer my congratulations to Devin Hester, breaking the NFL record with 20 return touchdowns. He had a great night, and he's been a great addition to our football team. We still have a long way to go in our opinion. I thought the staff did an outstanding job this week, not only the players, but the coaching staff on a three day week. There were a lot of short nights. We had to sleep fast, and they did an outstanding job. We'll take a couple of days off, in terms of the players and we'll get back to work on Monday with our team getting prepared for a very difficult road game in Minnesota. We need to make the corrections and get focused on the Minnesota Vikings." 

On the opening drive:

"I thought it was great execution, great plan in terms of what we were facing and what we'd thought we would face. There was lots of discussion when you put your opening drive together. I thought we set the tempo well, and it was very efficient taking the ball down the field. I think we were really efficient in most drives in the first half. There was probably one that was not the type of drive that we'd like to have where we had some penalties, and we ended up kicking the ball from inside our 20-yard line."

On the defense getting turnovers and sacks:

"I thought the defense did a very good job. Coach Mike Nolan and his staff I thought did an excellent job in preparing, looking at the matchups, moving some people around, and doing some different things. I thought that the rotation, which we've been trying to get a feel for, in terms of rushing the passer, was much better. Some young guys got some significant playing time. When you win the turnover battle it helps. You're going to win 85% of the time when you win the turnover battle. I thought the defensive players played with a lot of energy in that ball game tonight."

On Devin Hester's overall play:

"I told him when he came over on the sideline, the biggest play on that drive was the strip that you made. It wasn't anything that you did on offense, it was basically a defensive move. He did a great job of punching the ball out. We got to have better ball security. It was a completion of basically an explosive play and we didn't have good ball security. He had the ball out and they punched it out, and he punched back out and allowed us to continue to move the ball. I thought we wore those guys down a little bit. We were in very good condition throughout the ball game.

On whether he was surprised they punted the ball to Devin Hester:

"I can't talk about that. Michael Koenen is a guy that can directional punt. We had him here. Everybody in the league knows what Devin Hester is capable of doing when he gets the ball in his hands."

On Matt Ryan setting the single game completion percentage:

"We had no doubt as a coaching staff, I don't think anyone should ever doubt that Matt Ryan was going to come back and have a good game after the game last week. He was on top of his reads, where to go with the football. There was some precise route running for the most part. He spun it about as well he has spun since we've been here and congratulations to Matt, over 85% completion. When you're making first downs on first down, and when you're making first downs on second down it makes it a whole lot easier. We were 8-11 on thirds downs, but we were making first downs on first down and first downs on second downs. That's the way you want to make them. You don't want to get to third down on offense."

On when he knew he was going to take Matt Ryan out:

"I've never been in a game quite like this in the NFL. We had discussions, not at halftime. It was 0-0 at halftime when you come out after the break, but we did once there was a couple of scores. Then we made the determination that we were going to take Matt out and a number of players. I'm sure you guys will get the player participation and see what guys came out when Matt came out."

On rebounding after last week and the tough schedule:

"The schedule makers didn't do us any favors. However they put them out there you got to go play them. I think that our guys handled it extremely well. There was a plan in place in terms of how we were going to work these guys. Not only on the football, but in the classroom and in the weight room. I think that it paid dividends for us tonight. We also realize that this is going to have no barring on the next time we go out there. You got to go out and prepare, and we will find, believe me, enough things that we need to get corrected prior to playing against Minnesota."

On being banged up at receiver:

"Devin was cramping in the first half. We took him early at halftime. He was cramping. I don't know the extent of Harry's (Douglass) injury at this point in time. We felt very close with 84 for the game tonight. We felt it was in the best interest of him not to play this evening, but he made great strides and if this ball game would've been a seven day window it would've been a different decision in terms of who was going to be active and who wasn't."

On winning home games and division games:

"That's one of the keys to success in the National Football League, you have to win at home and you can't have back-to-back losses, so you have to bounce back. I thought that our guys handled it well. It's very important for us as we move forward to play much better on the road. We have to take this dome energy that we have and put it on the plane with us, and make sure wherever we go we have it."

On having a 56-0 lead:

"Like I said, I've never experienced that type of lead in the National Football League. We did some really good things. Again, I want to say it, it's going to have barring on what happens when we get on that plane and go play in Minnesota. We'll take it."

Quarterback Matt RyanOn tonight's game:

"A fun night, it was. We talked about all week that we wanted to start fast and rebound from last week. I thought we did a great job of that collectively, all three phases. With that being said, even as good as tonight was, I think there are areas where we can improve and get better. All in all, there was really good effort. I loved the energy from all three phases. We got the job done. It was a good night."

On WR Julio Jones' route design:

"It was just a heck of a catch. He's a special talent. We talk about it all the time. When we get him in that situation we feel like we can just put the ball up and he's going to come down with it. He kind of inside released on the corner on his route. Then we talk about trying to stack and get back outside and he did a great job of that. The ball slightly went over his head and his ability to track that is as good as anybody's. It was a great catch and a huge explosive play for us."

On scoring 56 points:

"Our objective as an offense is to try and score every time we touch the ball. Tonight, we did a pretty good job of putting up some points. Special teams added to it and the defense added to it. Defense had a turnover, interception for a touchdown but also a fumble recovery that puts us on the one yard line.  Field position like that is pretty good. All three phases contributed to the scoring and great effort across the board."

On whether the short turn around helped with re-focusing for this game: "Absolutely, I think in this League there are going to be weeks where it's tough, especially on the road. Sometimes you don't play as well as you like. Good teams respond and good teams come back and play better the following week."

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