Transcripts: Smith, Ryan Press Conferences

Head coach Mike SmithOpening Statement:

"I was really proud of the way our football team came out and performed today. They did an outstanding job. Preparation was very good throughout the week. I thought that the coaching staff, offensive, defensive, and special teams, did a very good job preparing these guys. We went out and we executed. We did a very good job of putting pressure on the quarterback, probably the best that we have done all season. We had five sacks, two recovered fumbles, and the two picks (interceptions)."

On Jimmy Graham's fumble at the goal line:

"It was a critical play in the ballgame. We talked about attacking the ball and winning the turnover battle. That was a big-time play. He (Kemal Ishmael) went in, raked the ball out, and created a turnover. We talked about winning the turnover battle. We were able to get that done today."

On the replay review of Graham's catch:

"From my view, it might be a little biased, but I didn't think that the ball crossed the plane. I didn't think that there was enough evidence to overturn it. I think that they got it right. You can't concern yourself with that. You've got to be thinking ahead. Most of my thoughts were thinking ahead about what was going to happen on either outcome, ruled in our favor or ruled the other way."

On the pass rush today:

"I thought that we good job of mixing our pressure and our four-man rushes when we had the four-man rushes, we were getting some 1-on-1's. We talked about it. You've got five or six guys into protection. Some guys are going to get doubled, and when you get the 1-on-1 (matchups), you've got to win. We got some wins today on some 1-on-1's. We did a very good job on our pass rush plan and how we were going to try to move the quarterback off the spot. It worked today down here in New Orleans."

On his thoughts on the 99-yard opening kickoff return by the Saints' Jalen Saunders:

"Oh my goodness. That is exactly what was going through my mind. I think that we were a little over-aggressive with a couple of players that got out of their lanes … We were able to overcome it. We did not become overwhelmed by it. In our mind, it was just a quick drive. We knew that we were going to get back out there and get an opportunity to get our offense on the field."

On Robert McClain's interception late in the game:

"It was a big-time play. He got a great jump on the ball. Robert's continued to improve all season long. I know that some people had talked about him not making plays. He made the play when we needed the play made."

On the play of the defense:

"We think that we are playing with a lot more consistency. We are playing with a lot of confidence. I believe that we are attacking the line of scrimmage much better over the last two weeks in terms of defending the run. That, in turn, allows us to transfer into our pass rush. I think that we have done a very good job. The coaching staff put together a very good plan. Mike (Nolan) and his staff did a great job."

Quarterback Matt RyanOpening Statement:

"The biggest thing for us today was converting on third down. That was huge to keep drives moving. I think the most important one was the throw to Julio (Jones) before the end of the first half that got us down to the (three-yard line). But we made a lot of big plays that resulted in touchdowns at the end of the game and that was the difference."

On Julio Jones:

"You can't say enough about what Julio (Jones) did today. Obviously he's been hurting the last couple of weeks and for him to gut it out and play the way he did today, I think that speaks volumes about his great toughness but also showcases what a stud he is. When he's out there he's making plays that a lot of other people aren't capable of making. So, obviously when he's on the field, that's a big deal for us."

On chances of making playoffs:

"It doesn't matter how you get there - you just have to get in. And we've done it all kinds of different ways before but it's no less sweet when you get it done. And that's why you work so hard in the offseason and that's why you put the time into training camp is to try and have opportunities late in the season just like this. I mean, we have a game at home and for us, if you win, you're in. Obviously this year has shaken out a lot different than any other year I've been a part of in our division. But even saying that – it doesn't matter. We are where we are, and we're excited about our chances."

On the defensive performance:

"That was huge. Our defense played an unbelievable game, going against Drew Brees who's a great quarterback and capable of making plays at any time. But I'm so proud of the effort they gave and the way they executed out there. They were the reason we got it done today."

On the Jimmy Graham fumble:

"It was a huge play, a timely play. And it's heads up too, to get the ball out in that situation. We've got guys on this entire team that don't flinch; regardless of what's being said of all the noise you might hear, we've got guys that don't worry about that. They go out there and they go out there and play hard."

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