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What They Said: Falcons At Bucs


  • The Falcons entered Sunday's game as one of the worst run defenses in the league. Against one of the better backs lately in Doug Martin, Atlanta held the Bucs to 50 rushing yards. Head coach Mike Smith was pleased with his defense's performance against the run: "I thought that our run defense played very well. (Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin) is an outstanding running back that had over 1,000 yards coming into this game. We knew it was going to be one of our 'musts' and I thought we did a nice job with our run defense. I thought we played the run extremely well, controlled the line of scrimmage. That is an outstanding running back."
  • The Falcons took the lead in the third quarter with a long pass to Julio Jones. On the first play of their first possession of the second half, Ryan hit Jones in stride for an 80-yard touchdown reception. Falcons QB Matt Ryan said Jones did all the hard work on the reception and touchdown: "Julio made a great play. We had one-on-one coverage. He inside released him (Tampa Bay CB Leonard Johnson) and just tried to get back to the outside. I tried to throw it down there high and outside so he could make a play on it. He did, he made a great adjustment. That was a really big play for us this game."
  • Atlanta didn't play their best game in the winning effort, overcoming a number of issues, most notably in the kicking game. Tony Gonzalez thinks now is the time to start coming together and playing their best football, but he's proud of his team's effort in picking up the slack when another aspect of the team's game is having a bad day: "It's good, because we're going against a good team. They won four in a row, they were hot. Everyone was saying they were the hottest team in the NFC South and they probably were. Just to be able to come in here, in this type of environment and stop their momentum… to be honest, we could have played a little better, but when you win close games like that, it's only a positive. Knowing that you can come up with plays when you have to, and the defense stepped up when they had to, offense stepped up when they had to. Our special teams wasn't working like we wanted to as far as the kicking game goes, (but) we just kind of have each others' backs and that's all it does, it keeps your confidence going forward."
  • Sean Weatherspoon was missed on defense over the last three weeks. He returned to action on Sunday and was emotional being back on the field: "It felt great, man. Before the game I was emotional.  Coming off of Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be thankful for, and I was just thankful to be back out there with my guys.  I was kind of emotional at the beginning of the game, but once I got back out there with my guys it just felt like being out there at the beginning of the season."
  • The Falcons didn't break the 100-yard barrier on the ground but their running game was effective, taking the Bucs and their No. 1-ranked run defense by surprise early in the game, Michael Turner said: "We wanted to come out and try to get something going on the ground.  We didn't want to be one-dimensional today, and I think we caught them off-guard a little bit coming in with so many run plays."
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