Head coach Mike SmithOpening statement:
I can't tell you how proud I am of guys in that locker room, players and coaches. It wasn't pretty at times, but we got some plays made in critical times and as you guys know winning in the NFL is not easy. We've got a lot of corrections that we've got to make. We made a lot of mistakes in the ballgame, but we're going to go home and do that tomorrow. The goal was very simple this week and that was to leave Carolina 1-0 and we got that accomplished. We'll start the process tomorrow for the exact same goal and that's to be 1-0 at the end of next week and with that I'll open it up to questions.
On the team's play making ability on the drive that set up winning play:
I thought it was guys making plays under pressure. I thought Matt (Ryan) did a very good job running our no-huddle offense throughout the ballgame. We were a little bit more in an up tempo situation on that sequence, but it was great to see Matt and Harry (Douglas) connect. We've missed some games with Harry throughout the season and it was good to have him back out there.
On thoughts on being tied for first place in the NFC South:
No thoughts at all. Our focus is going to be very narrow minded. We're going to be looking through a microscope not a telescope and our focus is going to be on getting prepared for the Cleveland Browns and being 1-0 next week.
On Matt Bryant being overlooked:
Absolutely. Matt Bryant, since he's been an Atlanta Falcon I can't tell you how many game winning field goals he's kicked for us, but he's been a big part of our success. We get the ball to a certain point on the field depending on the weather or how he kicked in warm-ups and he's going to put it between the pipes.
On Carolina's final play:
That it was a long field goal attempt and hoping that he would try to drive it and that we would get an opportunity to knock the ball down at the line of scrimmage. That's a big long kick outside.
On what was different during their scoring plays:
We gave up the big explosive play on our sideline. We just got beaten in a single coverage over there and we didn't execute like we needed to. We've got to get more pressure on the quarterback. We can't let him stand and not get touched or feel the pressure when the ball's going down the field 45 yards.
On special teams play:
I thought that we did a good job on special teams. We gave up the one kick-off return that they busted out to the 45 yard line or thereabouts. We had the holding penalty and I think we missed two kicks. When I say missed – kickoffs. They ended up being knuckleballs and they aren't the type of kicks we usually get, but I thought that the coverage units did a very good job. When we punted the ball we did a very good job of covering.
On giving up good field position to Carolina on kickoff:
The thought process was to kick the ball like we always do, out of the end zone if we can. I think we just missed it. There were two kicks that were not typical of what our kicker normally does. There was nothing in terms of trying not to kick it to them. We were kicking the ball like we normally do.
On the fighting that cost you penalties:
It was very costly and again, I don't know how through all of that that transpired – there was a lot from where I was standing, going on. I don't know how it's a one-sided flag. I don't know. I've never seen that. I'm sure that when it all gets said and done that the league office will take a look at it and if there were other guys involved in it even though it's wasn't a 15 yard penalty. That's what the league does. But I thought it was very unusual to have all that take place and only one player is penalized.
On overcoming the penalty:
We were fixin' to overcome it and then we fumbled the ball as well. We did a nice job of getting us back into a chip shot field goal opportunity, but we didn't keep possession of the football. The guys showed resilience. I can't tell you how proud I am of all the players, all the coaches and their preparation and the way they performed today on the field.
On Carolina's defense:
When you look at Carolina on tape, they've got some damn good football players. Those two linebackers are as good as any in the league. Sometimes you look at them and you know it's not what the statistics say. We knew they could put pressure on the quarterback. They've been a little bit like us. Their Achilles heel has been giving up big plays and they did a good job. They played a lot of deep coverage zones and forced us to take some shots underneath and get rid of the ball on some of the check downs. They did a good job. I thought Ron (Rivera) and his staff put together a game plan that was going to force us to go down the field methodically and we got down in the red zone and weren't able to convert.
On not getting a lot of shots at end zone:
That was the thing. When you watch how they were trying to defend us, that's how they were defending us.
On Trufant's interception:
Yeah, it was great. Tru had the interception that was returned into the red zone, unfortunately we weren't able to convert that into a touchdown. Our red zone efficiency wasn't where it needed to be today. I thought we had Tru doing some different things – lining up on both the right and left side.
On the blocked field goal attempt:
He made a play. Ra'Shede (Hageman) has done that in college. He's a guy that can push the line of scrimmage back. He's long armed. It was a big play for us.
On the team's enthusiasm growing:
I think we came off this bye week and we committed to one another to do what we had to do to get where we wanted to be and I'll keep that between us in the locker room, but we know what we have to do and that's what we try to get done. We've been able to get it done the last two weeks.
Quarterback Matt RyanOpening Remarks:
Before we get started, I just want to say how proud I am of Roddy (White) for passing the milestone that he has. Certainly he's shown great longevity throughout his career and has made a huge impact on my own career, so couldn't be happier for him. Now he's got to go get to 11,000.
On being in the huddle when you're down 17-16:
I mean, we knew it coming into it. It's a good defense. I said it to you guys all week that the statistics are what they are, but when you watch the film they're a tough physical defense, so knew we had to find a way to put some points up. We executed really well. You certainly would love to take a little more time off the clock before that field goal. We could've maybe converted one more third down, but all in all, we made enough plays today at the end of the day to get the job done, and I think everybody feels good about that.
On what was working between him and Harry Douglas that allowed him to get open on that drive:
I think when you've got four wide receivers out on the field, and with the talented guys that we have, I feel like somebody's going to be the right matchup. And on that drive, Harry seemed to be the right matchup. He did a great job of being patient and running his routes. We needed those plays at that time and Harry stepped up and executed really well for us.
On how it feels to be tied for first place in the division:
I think it's good. (Laughing). It's been a different year, for sure, but you play to be relevant in November and December, and as quirky as this year has been, we're relevant. And we've got to keep going. I think we're starting to play better as a football team, even in Detroit over in London, the last three weeks that we've gone out there we've played pretty effective football, and we need to do that. We need to continue to find ways to win, and I think the young team that we have, hopefully it's starting to come together.
On the skirmish in the third quarter:
You know it was going to be like that in-division. We play these guys twice a year. They know us, we know them. Sometimes, when you're in a tight football game like that, tempers flare. Moving forward, when we have opportunities in the red zone, we have to take advantage of those. But one of the things I do like is in a locker room, you've got to have each other's back. And I thought our guys did.
On what was going on differently offensively when they were getting stops:
We kind of knew coming into this game that it was going to be kind of up and down. Regardless of what the statistics say, it's a good defense. I thought the third quarter, we played pretty effectively. And then we kind of hit a little bit of a lull. But ultimately, we pieced together a drive in the fourth quarter where we had to throw the football a little bit, and run the football. We had a couple of nice runs in there as well. We found a way to get it done. And at the end of the day, that's what you have to do to win football games.
On how it feels to have Douglas back:
It's huge. Having Harry back is huge for us. When we can put the four wide receivers out on the field, that makes it difficult for the defense to defend, and having him back is a huge part of why we've been successful.
On the running backs' play recently:
I think across the board our running backs have done a great job. Steven (Jackson) obviously has kind of carried the load the last two weeks, but Jacquizz (Rodgers) coming in, and Antone (Smith) and Devonta (Freeman), those guys have come in at different times and played really well for us. They've kind of taken a little bit of the load off Steven, which helps. I can't say enough about what our running backs have done all year.
On their defense reading the bubble screens well:
They did a good job. Obviously that's a play that we've had success with. They did a good job defending it today.
On the chemistry with the wide receivers:
They're tight-knit. Our guys are tight-knit at that position. They spend a lot of time together, and they're really good friends. But professionally, they're great teammates. They really are. They're great teammates. They care about winning, they're unselfish, and they're all in it together. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by guys like that.