HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on the last play of the game)
We obviously had a little bit of time, two shots from the five, hoping to have three. You know, the first one took two or three seconds off the clock. On the first one, we called a slant that we didn't get. We called a similar play. It's hard to tell, obviously it was the last play, with it being the last play of the game. So, I think Jake (Locker) was covered.
I think Jake thought probably at that point he gets it by running or buy time or score on his own. But, obviously it didn't work out. You know, a hard way to lose a football game. Obviously, a stop by them, but we put ourselves in a great position there at the end. We looked so good at spots during that game in the fourth quarter to win the football game. We had two shots. I wish we had another shot at it, but the play took too long to develop. He tried to make a play.
(on if Jake Locker grew up due to today's experience)
Of course, I mean I am not going to second guess anything he did. We can all say from the sidelines I wish… I don't know what he saw until we watch the tape, actually what he saw. He may have saw an opening and to go make a play with his legs. You never want to take that away from a guy, but yet he has got to know the circumstance. He may have thought time was out anyway, so maybe try to buy time. You don't want to throw the ball away after…You kind of get caught in the gray area there.
He probably saw something, then it was taken away then all of sudden, the clock, the game, the clock…you just don't want to throw the ball away. So, I am sure that's what kind of happened. Then, so, they took away each thing he thought he had, I think. Would you like a chance to catch it, for sure? I mean you wish the ball was thrown somewhere and with the last play of the game as it ended up being.
(on why not challenging the fourth down spot)
Well, (I) was going to, that's one that is very hard to get overturned because on a quarterback sneak you can't see the ball where exactly it is. They are not going to overturn it from my experience on that play unless they have a real good view of it and we (could have) lost a timeout if I challenged it the chance of getting it overturned. Maybe we would have, the odds were, we wouldn't, then we lose a timeout over it and don't have a chance to do what we did at the end of the game. We can go back and look at a lot of things, maybe we have gotten it, maybe we wouldn't. But it gave us another timeout. I think the odds were we wouldn't get it. That's a play again they would come over and tell me that's a play that's inconclusive. You can't tell where the ball was. It's just like when the two guys caught the ball kind of thing, the ball goes to the offense, so that was the thinking there.
(on the Jake Locker injury)
He just got hit. The wind got knocked out of him. He definitely got hit in the ribs. When everyone is out in the pattern, he just didn't get the ball out quick enough. Luckily Matt (Hassleback) was able to go in for a play and complete the pass to C.J. (Johnson) and then obviously Jake was right back in.
(on thought process before the fourth down quarterback sneak)
Well, it was a decision there it's another thing. It's a short drop. That's where you want to get a first down no doubt to avoid the fourth down stress. We didn't. Yeah, he took a chance there, he thought he had something there and went for it and didn't get it. That put all the pressure on the fourth down play and so when you don't make something like that, it makes you dwell more on the third down play, just like should we have challenged the spot.
* (on being encouraged by Jake Locker's play today)*
There'll be a lot of good things that will come out of this but unfortunately, the main thing is that we lost. So again, this late in the season that hurts but he's like what we've been saying. We've been bragging on him because we drafted him for a reason and we feel that's what you're going to see. You're going to see an exciting player that can make plays, that's fearless, that makes plays with his legs, that buys time, and comes into a tough situation against a good defense and made some big time plays. I mean, he gave us a chance in that game to get back in it a couple times, you know, almost pulled the whole thing out again. That's the exciting part. That's the encouraging part and how the defense played at the end there getting the ball back. Really how the defense played earlier in that game, everything was just field goals. We talked about that and we've been strong at that all year. They moved the ball, very methodical. They were patient, taking the short throws. They were settling for the field goals which we gave them… they controlled the clock quite a bit throughout the game because of that. The scoreboard kept us close the whole game. That's what we have to do. As a team, we talked about, if we just keep ourselves close like we did even though we would have liked to, believe me, have scored points, more points early in the game we felt that we had this kind of opportunity in the fourth quarter. That's how you beat a good football team that can score a lot of points. We were hoping to score with no time on the clock the first time down there at the two minute and try to work that to where we got to get the ball back. It ended up that we did get the ball last and had a great shot. It came down to making a play somewhere and we didn't make that last one. We made a lot to get there but not the last one.
(on the numerous penalties in the second quarter)
I think it was on both sides. I don't know how many penalties it ended up being in the game but it seemed like that second quarter, they were just hammering both sides. I don't know why. There were a couple of motions. We usually don't have that. (Michael) Roos didn't think he was moving but they thought, for some reason, he was. He got called for two, which is very uncharacteristic of him. Some of the penalties, I don't know. It's hard to tell why. There again, they were doing both so it was consistent. They were hitting both of us. We'll look tomorrow and see about the others. The holding calls are hard to tell when they call those but the motions we shouldn't have. We're usually very good at that on offense this year. The good thing is that it didn't hurt a couple drives and you can't have those things and like I said they were calling a lot of them. It did seem like some of the penalties went away and we started playing football again.
(on the third down successes of the Saints)
I think I said before that they are very methodical about what they do. They weren't looking for the home run all the time. They took their shots at times but they were able to move the chains. They were able to stay on the field from the first drive all the way through. The good thing was, like I said, if they were able to finish drives that game could have been over a lot sooner than it was. Even when they got ahead by more than the one touchdown, that's when we came to life on offense finally and made some big plays. That's a good team. We knew that. We knew that they had weapons. You're not necessarily going to stop that team but you can contain them. I think that's what we were going to try to do. We weren't trying to be close. We wanted to win the football game but we knew that they were going to get some yards and they were going to do some things. They've got a good quarterback. They've got some good weapons. Like I said, to be 6-3 at the half or whatever we were doing, I don't know if anyone else had done that with them. Again, the defense did a lot of good things. We had some balls that we could have caught. We could have got an interception; we couldn't get the turnovers which was tough. I thought somewhere we'd get a break like that. I thought we got ahead 10-9 and you're hoping there for the turnover, something to happen. They did a good job, scoring and making plays. When the defense had to get the ball back at the end, the last couple times we did exactly what we needed to do. To me, that's what it all comes down to. You have a team that when you get down to the end, you got there for whatever reason and we'll all look at all the other things but we gave ourselves two or three chances to get back in the game and to give us a couple chances to win the game and we didn't. I'd much rather have the opportunity. I know it feels horrible, but to know that we have a team that can play against anyone in this league and have the chance to win at the end of the game.
QB JAKE LOCKER
(on the final play of the game)
From where I was at, I didn't see anybody that I had a good chance of getting it to and I thought I could make that guy miss. I just need to throw it away or give somebody a chance.
(on the injury suffered in the fourth quarter)
I am OK. I feel pretty good. It just kind of knocked the wind out of me. I just had to catch my breath.
(on the routes the receivers ran on the final play of the game)
We had two-man routes on both sides. We expected a little something different from them. They kind of got away from what they played the snap before. We just weren't able to get our initial reads and that's when I got outside the pocket and I either need to get rid of it or give somebody a chance to make a play in a game like that.
(on if he felt he could run it in on the final play)
I thought about it, but once I got outside the pocket there were a lot of guys there. It ended up that I didn't throw it anyway, but like I said, I should have.
(on the decision to throw a deep pass to Damian Williams on third-and-one in the fourth quarter)
We had a route combination called and they came up and pressed him. He converted to a fade and we thought we had a chance to make a play. That was a bad throw. A little better throw and we score a touchdown and it might be a little different discussion right now.
(on if he felt he had the first down on the quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter)
It's hard to tell. You're focused on so many different things. At that point you're just trying to get as far as you can in the pile and you're looking at the sticks when they blow it dead. The hard part about that is that it is hard to challenge a spot on a play like that because there are guys on top of you. You can never tell where the ball really is. I felt we got a pretty good push and had a good opportunity to get the first down.
(on if he felt he received a bad spot on the quarterback sneak)
I'm not saying we got a bad spot. I'm just saying that when I looked over I thought that I had it. But, you are always going to believe that in my opinion.
(on being able to overcome injuries and adversity throughout the game)
The team competed today. I think that as hard as it is to take this loss, I think that it's something that we as a football team can be proud of. We never gave up. We had a chance at the end of the game to win that football game against one of the best teams in the league. You can't ask for anything more. I think I can speak for myself that I am proud of how everybody stepped up and played and competed until the end.
(on if things will change for him during the week if quarterback Matt Hasselbeck can't play next week)
I think that is something that in the next couple of days we will have a better idea of how all that will work itself out. We'll deal with it then.
(on the opportunity to get meaningful playing time in a big game)
It is fun. I think anytime you get the opportunity to go out and play – it's why you're here. To be able to go out and compete with the guys was fun.
(on if he said anything to the offensive line before the final drive)
There wasn't a whole lot of discussion. That is a veteran group of offensive lineman. They understand. They have been in these situations many times. They understand what needs to be done to put us in the position that we were in at the end of the game. They did a great job all game and especially that drive allowing us time in the pocket to get the ball out and let guys make plays.
(on his rushing touchdown in the third quarter)
It was a run-pass option. They covered the routes pretty well and I thought we had an opportunity to get in the end zone. Jake Scott did a good job getting up and getting a block for me and it was just kind of playing football after that.
(on Nate Washington's performance despite his injury)
It's just another guy that came out and really competed. He showed a lot of grit and a lot of toughness. As a teammate you respect that when a guy comes out and works through that. He was able to produce today, so that was great.
QB MATT HASSELBECK**
(on how his calf is feeling)
I'm not in pain. It doesn't hurt that much.
(on if he thinks his injury is a pulled muscle)
Probably just a strain. Hopefully it's not that bad, we're going to get an MRI on it in the morning and just see how bad it is.
(on how tough it is to lose a game like today's and how can the team keep it from lingering)
I think we do a pretty good job of feeling bad about it for about 24 hours. We watch the film, we get graded, we get critiqued. You feel sick to your stomach when you watch the film and see what could have been and then you move on to the next opponent. For me personally, it was really disappointing and frustrating because I worked so hard to prepare for this game. I really felt good about our game plan and felt good about how to attack them. To be standing there on the sidelines for the whole second half was tough. On the good side, our defense played great and Jake (Locker) came in and did a nice job; he gave us a chance. It just would have been awesome to find a way to get a win there. **
(on if he had a misstep when he hurt his calf)
It was a tipped ball and the ball went straight up. Those have been intercepted a couple of times this year, so I just tried to react real quick trying to get to it. I stepped back and I don't know if it was just soft or what, I just felt something kind of pop. I thought it was my Achilles', I was actually a little concerned. I'm happy that it's nothing that serious.
(on if coming back into today's game leads him to believe he may be able to play next week)
Well, I talked to the doctors and they gave me a couple of different opinions; one doctor, many opinions. He was just laying out all of the different scenarios and we don't really know anything until tomorrow after we get the results of the scan. But, because of the situation, we only had two quarterbacks dressed; I wasn't able to ice it. The trainers did a bunch of things and did some more at halftime; taped it up, threw some Flexall, just whatever, and just said 'hey just try to stay loose.' It was either me or Daniel Graham going in, so based on the situation, I thought I could help the team more.
(on how much Jake Locker stepped up today)
I thought he did a great job, but nothing that he did really surprised me. He's been doing that kind of stuff. He's a good player, he has a bright future. I think the thing he did the best was just some protection things. One protection call in particular at the line of scrimmage was really nice and allowed us to have a big play. I was really happy for him for taking advantage of the chances he got. It just would have been awesome if we were able to finish it. Like I said, he's doing a great job in improving and obviously he can run the ball too, which is nice.
(on how able he would have been to protect himself if Jake Locker had been seriously injured)
None, nothing. Actually, he did me a favor there by calling a blitz. They called an all-out blitz and I threw it hot, which they kind of did me a favor by doing that.
(on if there was anything Jake Locker could have done differently on the final play)
I don't know. There's like four plays in my mind that I'm going through, that if we did it differently we would have given ourselves a chance to win. There was a third-and-one, a fourth-and-one; there were two third downs and two fourth downs that really I think that's what we'll feel bad about tomorrow when we watch the film.**
(on if it was hard to get going when the Saints were controlling the clock)
It was weird that way because part of what we were all talking about was winning time of possession, slowing the game down, and keeping their offense on the bench and that's what they did to us. It was 3-0 at the end of the first quarter and we had like four plays or five plays. It was just kind of bizarre and we were still in it, it was 6-3. It was almost like they were doing what we wanted to do. They weren't like the high power, explosive, score touchdown after touchdown deal like we thought. They are very good in all phases of the game. It would have been nice to come away with touchdowns, and like you said, we didn't have that many opportunities and we didn't do much with them. We went two-minute at the end, I think that was or first touchdown. We had two-minute and then Jake (Locker) ran the ball on the next play. We talked all week about how they like to come cover zero and we had a three-step drop on them. Jake hit Damien (Williams) and Damien made a nice run. There were opportunities, and again, when we watch the film we'll see more opportunities like that where I wish we would have taken advantage of them**
(on if he had any question about whether he would finish the game when he reentered for Jake Locker)
I think as a player you can't worry about the other guy. I've been in situations where someone gets hurt and you're kind of wondering about him and you're not as focused on your job. Much like when Jake (Locker) went in, he couldn't focus on me, he had to focus on what he was doing. He was with the doctors, so I was prepared to finish the game if necessary. He came back on, which was a good thing because he could do a lot more than I could have.
(on how disappointing it was not to be on the field for the final play)
Well just the whole second half, just sitting there on the sidelines. Again, I worked really hard this week trying to get ready for these guys. Gregg Williams is a good defensive coordinator and he's tough to prepare for, but I did the work and was ready for it. It's just really frustrating in a big game for our team, you almost feel like you let everybody down by not being able to be out there.
(on if he thinks the outcome would have been different if he was out there for the final play)
No, that would be a silly thing for me to say. But, the game would have been much, much different. There are things I could have done, but there are things that there are just no way I could have done. The way Jake (Locker) was running the ball, that was just not something I could do. It's probably not something I could do healthy. I thought he did a great job and I thought the whole team battled hard. Even on the last stop that our defense had, Jurrell Casey almost came down with an interception on a running back in coverage. We had chances, we just didn't make plays when we needed to.
(on Nate Washington's maturity as a leader)
I think he's been a real good, solid player and we always knew that. I think the leadership part is something that he's really grabbed onto and taken a lot of pride in and there is no question that he's the leader of that group. Even when Kenny (Britt) was here, he was the veteran guy in the group and kind of the leader that way. He's having a great year, he's having a great year; particularly on third-down, his stats are great on third-down. To come in and play the way he did without any practice, it was a big day for him.
RB CHRIS JOHNSON
(on whether today was frustrating)
I couldn't really say it was really frustrating. I feel that's how the game played out. We had to throw the ball more than we had to run it. It was frustrating that we took the loss or whatever, it was so close. We had numerous opportunities to get in the end zone and go up on the lead, but it just didn't happen that way.
(on QB Jake Locker's play off the bench)
Yeah, of course. I got my first glance of how Jake wants to run. He came in and did a good job when he was able to come in today and do a good job and make some plays with his arm and also with his feet.
(on QB Matt Hasselbeck re-entering the game after Locker got hit)
It was real big because we didn't have a third quarterback, so if he wouldn't have been able to come in, I don't know really what we were going to be able to do. So it was good that he was able to come in and remain in the position.
(on whether he could have made the first down when Hasselbeck re-entered game)
Yeah, I was just trying to make a move, make a big play, really. I wasn't paying too much attention to the (inaudible). I was just trying to make a play and get in the end zone.
(on the tough loss)
It was real tough. A lot of people counted us out and didn't think we'd be able to play this game like this, but we all knew in the locker room that we could beat this team, that we could play with those teams like that, like the (New Orleans) Saints and things like that. So having the opportunity to beat them and stuff like that and not able to capitalize, that's the most frustrating.
(on whether the team had two calls after second-and-one carry)
No, we just had one call. It was a drop play or whatever. I'm not sure; that's just what they called.
DE DAVE BALL
(on the Titans' loss)
We should have won it, but shoulda, coulda, woulda, you know. We've got three (games) in a row. Three conference games in a row and I 'm looking forward to them, because I think our team showed a lot of heart today. A lot of heart. I don't think at the beginning of the year we could have come back like we did. But it showed a lot of toughness. Jake (Locker) and Nate Washington, everybody. A lot of players stepped up today through injuries and whatever. This was like a heartbreaker, but only if you let it. We've got three (games) left. We had five seconds left on the five-yard line, and whatever. It's gone. We've got three people (teams) we know, and we have to crank up the dial.
(what the Titans defense showed today)
We can go toe-to-toe with anybody. For the most part, we held our own versus them. I think we out-played them in my opinion, except for those two (touchdown) plays. Those two kind of big play touchdown passes. We were holding them to field goals. I think we did a really good job today. It's just something to build on.
S MICHAEL GRIFFIN
(on the Titans effort today)
We knew they were going to get yards. Drew (Brees) knows how to dissect a defense. He was finding open guys and getting the ball to whoever, but we were keeping him out of the end zone. That first quarter, it seemed like we were out there forever, the majority of the first quarter. We hung in there and still had a chance right here at the end. Five seconds left and one play. I believe that it's 50-50 if we run that over again we'll score that touchdown we needed. Unfortunately, we ran out of time.
We were very confident. We knew we weren't going to be able to keep them off of the scoreboard. The main purpose was to go out there and keep them from scoring a lot of points. Hold them to field goals, which we did. That second half, they managed to get two touchdowns and kind of put us in a bad situation. If we could just erase one of those touchdowns, right now we'd be standing here with smiles on our faces and be cheering on. We knew it wasn't going to be an easy push-over game. But like (Coach) Munch said, these are games that when you go to the playoffs, these are the type of games you are going to play. It's not an easy walk in the park. To make it to the playoffs, you have to win games like these throughout the regular season.
(on where Titans go from here)
We had some positive things out there. Something we can build on. It's a game we have to put behind us. We have three divisional games coming up that are must wins, regardless of what the situation is. We have to go out there and put this game behind us. Start tomorrow and watch film, correct our mistakes and get ready for next week when we go to Indianapolis.
DE JASON JONES
(on the game ending)
It came down to the last five seconds, and I was on the sideline. I knew we were going to win. I knew it. But that's how things happen. We probably would have shocked the world with that. That's what happens like that sometimes. Twice in a row at the end our defense made big plays. It comes down to the last, on who makes more plays, and their defense made the last play.
DT KARL KLUG
(on his two sacks today)
It's a good feeling to help out the team to get in that situation (a sack), but without the win, it really doesn't mean anything. On the first one, definitely, I'd say our secondary had everything to do with that one. He (Saints QB Drew Brees) had the ball for like 10 seconds or whatever it was. So you have to give all the credit to the secondary on both of the sacks I got, since he had nowhere to throw. But going into it, if we had told ourselves that we were going to hold them to 22 points, we would have been pretty happy with that, considering their offense. But we came up short despite our defensive efforts.
CB CORTLAND FINNEGAN
(on Titans defensive effort)
It was a good thing. We just wanted their offense to have to earn some stuff. And you know they got a big play late, because we botched the coverage there. It's always tough when you look back on film against a really good offense. You wish you could have made some plays. But we didn't. Credit them for being the New Orleans Saints.
(on being proud of the way Titans fought back)
I don't know if proud is the word on how we came back. The fact is we go out there and try to win every Sunday. The fans can be proud of us for making a comeback, but we expect to win around here and if we don't, it's hard on us. We want to know why we didn't win. So proud is not the word we are looking for. We want to win football games. We have three games left and we'll take them one at a time. You win and take care of business. You know 10-6 looks good, but you have to get them one at a time. You know we go to Indy next week, and have three division games, so you know, we'll look forward to that.
SAINTS HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON
(opening statement )
Obviously, that was a big win for us. Credit Tennessee, it was a hard fought game. I thought both teams played hard, fought through some adversity and it was a gut check win for us. A lot of things early on didn't go our way. We had some calls maybe that could have went either way. We just kept fighting and won a good game on the road against a good team so I credit them, Mike (Munchak) and staff. We knew going into this game they were going to be a tough team to play especially here and that makes the win even that much more important.
(on grading the offense today )
We felt like we played a really good defensive team. I thought our third down numbers, just looking at them, were good 11 of 18. We had to at times be patient. I thought the penalties in the first half hurt us. They make it tough on your drives to stay on the field. I thought we eliminated some of that in the second half but overall it was enough to get the win today and fortunately that is most important so a little bit different game. I thought we ran the ball fairly well especially later in the game but all-in-all one thing we have to do better job with is we had 11 penalties for 95 yards. We have got to be better there.
(on Jimmy Graham's performance)
There were kind of crazy sequences of events. We had an additional game-day spot with Sedrick Ellis. We thought Sedrick was going to play today but in pregame his hamstring felt tighter than normal and so we had a decision between a couple of players and we brought up (Michael) Higgins our third tightend in event we needed depth at that position. In about ten minutes after we did that, we turned in the inactives, Jimmy (Graham) had his back get tight in pregame warmups. In fact he came into the locker room and we thought at that point it was a good chance he was not going to play. So at that point it was a matter of just calming down his stiffness. It was one of those where he was having trouble really moving. Fortunately, the doctors did a good job and he was able to handle that and I thought early in the game that he still saw effects from the stiffness in his back and I thought probably after the first quarter he felt a lot better. We were fortunate that he was able to get back in the game and make some plays but that happened during pregame warmups. Again, not having Sedrick in the game all of a sudden was a little bit of a shift we really didn't expect.
(on Tennessee Titans' big plays late in the game)
We can't point to one defense, there are a couple of different defenses called and they made a couple of big throws and catches especially in the middle of the field. There were a couple of them that were real good plays by them and credit them. It wasn't just one defense, it was a couple of different looks. It went back and forth obviously. Late in the game they became one dimensional to get back into the game so you are going to see more passing attempts than rushing attempts. The stops on fourth downs, especially the last fourth down was big.
* (on taking over the play calling late in the game )*
We kind of went back and forth. Pete (Carmichael) has done a great job with it so I continue to lean on him and we'll do that. I think collectively as a group we all have a pretty good handle on it. Pete has done a great job so he continues to work with it and periodically I will interject and continue to try to have the input, but we kind of work on it together so there wasn't any big change or anything like that.
(on replay turnovers )
You guys probably had more angles on Jimmy Graham's touchdown and I get the question so I don't know. That's really hard on the field and honestly it really doesn't matter because it's called and then you have to get on to the next play and we talk to our players all the time about that. What you find is if you belabor it then you are just wasting energy and I think that the players need to see our reactions that way. I thought that Graham's touchdown was going to be overturned based on what we saw however it wasn't and we ended up taking a field goal.
(on an explanation by referee Mike Carey)
He just felt like he couldn't tell if that last foot, heel or if heel toe was in the green or if heel toe in the white and I get it. That was the initial call on the field.
(on being surprised that Mike Munchak didn't challenge the spot following the Jake Locker sneak)
I probably wasn't, I don't know if the spot was a bad one actually. I thought from our vantage point that they were going to get the first down. I thought it was spotted correctly. I was surprised that it didn't earn the first down because on our sideline the marker looked like it had made it but when the chains came out. I think he has done a great job and they had a good plan coming in. I made a decision late on third down to throw the football which stopped the clock with an incomplete pass. It was kind of an attempt on our part to win the game but obviously left more time on the clock. You play in those situations to be aggressive and to try to win games and you hope your players follow through. I thought our guys did a good job despite set backs and adversities we had.
(on the tackle before the fourth down play )
It was a significant tackle because I think if you freeze that play a second before he makes the play it looks like, just based on the space that he is going to get the first down. It was a huge play. Then they went with the quarterback sneak. We thought we may get a bootleg there or some play action. I thought Jake Locker did real good job coming in with the injury to Matt (Hasselbeck) and give him credit, the team rallied around him and he did some real good things.
(on your emotions during the final play )
Probably just as wound up and I don't know if you ever get use to it. You get excited about it and it comes down to it was a play. Win or lose, there it was. Fortunately, We won and coming here against a good team that's playing well. I thought we handled the running game well and that was significant. The way that Chris (Johnson) has played as of late was a concern of ours and I thought we for the most part did a pretty good job of handling him and again, that was going to be a key element to this game. We ended up with 111 rushing yards. We thought that battle was going to be important and I thought we did a good job the noise and everything else that goes with winning on the road.
(on how Jake Locker complicated things )
It changes a little bit in regards to, one of the things you have to emphasis is we feel like he is a player that does a real good job on the edge and creates plays so you just have to make sure you are working on your contain and not getting behind the quarterback in your pass rush. He's a different player than Matt (Hasselbeck). Sometimes your guys ask that question when the second guy comes in. Sometimes there are some similarities but certainly he is different.
(on the final two plays)
It came down to the little slant that they threw and Tracy (Porter) did a good job anticipating that and then we blitzed on that down and then we played coverage on the last play. He got flushed to the right, that concerns you a little bit, because he is someone that can create in space and we came up with the play when we needed it.
(on the Titans' defense forcing short pass plays )
Well they are number one in the league in pass defense in regards to giving up big plays and they do that better than anyone. Going in we felt like we were going to have to have longer drives and we were going to have to be selective in regards to our big shots. Drew (Brees) made a great throw to Marques (Colston) on, I think, a first down play that lead to a touchdown. I think you saw that on film that they are very patient defensively and they are very sound and do a good job of forcing you to be patient offensively. I thought we began to do a little bit better on that. I think the key was the penalties. When we finally cleaned that up we started moving the ball.
SAINTS QB DREW BREES
(on how offensive penalties hurt the Saints in the first half and how they were able to rebound in the second half)
Yeah, we came in at halftime and I believe we had eight penalties at halftime, and it just felt like on a few of those drives we got ourselves into first-and-20 or second-and-15—just long-yardage situations that are tough to convert, especially on the road against this defense. So we came in here at halftime and we felt like we had the ability to run the ball and throw the ball effectively, be balanced and put together drives, but we needed to prevent the penalties from thwarting those and stopping us. We executed very well coming out after halftime. We went all the way down the field on the first drive and got a field goal and then to come back with two consecutive touchdowns after that, so we put together some solid drives in the second half.
(on how tough it was to watch that last Titans drive at the end of the game)
Well you're sitting there kicking yourself saying, 'man it shouldn't come down to this.' As an offense, we had an opportunity to seal the deal; get a first down and win the game—not even let our defense have to go out there again. I've got a lot of respect for that team and their coach. They did stop us, Jake Locker came back in with a gutty performance led them down and our defense came up with two big plays on the goal line to get us the victory.
(on his two touchdown passes to Marques Colston)
Yeah the first one was third-and-10 or third-and-long and they were in a prevent-type coverage, and it was one of those things where I was trying to use my eyes a little bit and was trying, obviously, to push the ball down the field and get the first down. I think the protection was great, they had a three-man rush, and Marques just kind of popped through the defense, kind of out of no where—I think maybe defensively they thought it was time to throw the check down and so everyone kind of stops their feet and Marques just continued through their defense. It was a great job by him recognizing that and seeing it. It was a big third-down conversion that results in a touchdown and helps us to regain the lead because I believe we were down 10-9 at the time. The second one was a great job by him in man coverage, kind of working on his route, it was a down-field route, but with the bump coverage it took a little time to develop. Great protection and he did a nice job of putting himself in position away from the safety, away from the defender on the inside and also beating his own defender to a place where I could throw the ball. It was another big play, as you look at coming out in the second half after a sluggish first half and all the penalties, and just not our type of performance and we come out with three really nice drives. It seemed like time was just clicking off the clock. It didn't seem like we had a whole lot of opportunities. I know we converted a lot of third downs today, it seemed like we were in a lot of third-down situations. We converted a lot of the third-and-short ones and put ourselves in too many third-and-longs, but did a better job in the second half.
(on Marques Coltson catching all the balls that were targeted to him today)
That's good (laughs). Yeah (we're really getting into a zone), I don't know how much I buy into the whole, 'you're completing 80 percent of the balls you throw to this guy as far as targets versus the ones he catches' because we're going to call plays for everybody. We call plays that might go to one of four guys, it's just a matter of what the look is and who has the match up. I can tell you this; I have a ton of trust and confidence in Marques—as I do really, with any one of our guys. You talk about a big-time performer, I mean fourth quarter, we need some big plays and we got two of them from Marques.
* (on if it helped when Jimmy Graham was able to get his back loose and get comfortable on the field)*
It was good, it was good. I know he wasn't 100 percent, but he was battling and really did a great job. It didn't affect the game plan really, we still executed everything we had intended. I felt like we rushed the ball very well today. Just providing balance in everything we're doing. I know we had a lot of pass attempts, but it really felt like we had a great mix going—a great flow, great tempo and rhythm. I think for us, we would just like to have those trips down in the red zone result in touchdowns and not field goals. We had the two big plays from outside the red zone, but the one at the end of the half would have been nice. That was a ball location on my part; I think if I give Lance (Moore) a little better throw I think we have a touchdown. Then a great catch by Jimmy Graham coming out in the third quarter, but you don't always get those.
(on if he feels like he got away with a mistake when Titans DT Jurrell Casey batted down a pass late in the fourth quarter)
No, it wasn't a linebacker it was a defensive tackle that dropped out. I knew it was a D-tackle and those guys don't typically have good hands, but I just kind of threw it out to (Chris) Ivory and he just kind of stuck his hand out and knocked it down. In hindsight, I wish I would have just tucked it and tried to run it and get it—otherwise you just keep the clock going and we'll punt it.
SAINTS WR MARQUES COLSTON
(on the Saints not scoring a touchdown until the fourth quarter)
It was just one of those games that went back and forth for a while feeling each other out, and we were just able to make enough plays down the stretch to get out with a win.
(on his two fourth quarter touchdown receptions)
The first one was just a great play call against that defense, and Drew (Brees) was able to find me down the middle. The second one was another great play call and he just put it up there and let me go get it.
(on his second touchdown reception being a perfectly placed ball by Drew Brees)
Yeah, definitely (was a perfectly thrown ball). Meach (Saints WR Robert Meachem) did a great job getting that safety out of there and Drew just threw a great ball.
(on how nervous he was during the Titans' last drive)
We've got all the confidence in the world in our defense, and they showed through today. They made all the plays that were needed to get out of here with a win.
(on if his first touchdown reception was the highest he had to go up to get a ball in a while)
Yeah, definitely in a while, but it's good to know I've still got it.
(on if he thought it was a defensive breakdown on his second touchdown when he had a linebacker covering him)
No, I just really had to stay disciplined with the route—when things are that open you have a tendency to panic sometimes, but with a guy like Drew you just have to be in the right place.
* (on how disruptive it was in the first half with all the penalties that were called on the Saints offense)*
It definitely slowed some drives. First-and-15 and second-and-long are hard to come back from—we definitely shot ourselves in the foot early, but we were able to recover from it.
SAINTS TE JIMMY GRAHAM
(on if he knows how he injured his back during pre-game warm-ups)
Literally I was in pre-game running routes and just caught an awkward ball and everything kind of shifted. I'm going to figure it out and I'm going to see what's going on—it doesn't matter the pain, doesn't matter what I'm going through, I'm still going to play.
(on if his back injury was something he dealt with this week during practice)
No, it literally came from no where—and I hope it goes away just as fast. It's probably going to be a rough night for me, but I'll be ready to go come Sunday.
(on the television broadcast mentioning that he was wearing large cleats today and that it may have impacted his potential touchdown reception that he was ruled out of bounds)
Yeah, I think that's just that I have big feet and I was (wearing some longer cleats for the surface), but (Saints Head Coach) Sean (Payton) is real particular about what he wants us to wear and I'm not going to get yelled at on the sideline for not wearing the right cleats.
(on if he agrees with Sean Payton saying today was a guy-check win)
We knew what kind of game it was going to be coming up here, and obviously they have a great team. It was a test to prove that we can win on the road in close games and to prove that because that's all everyone has been talking about lately—definitely a gut-check win for us.
(on how much the Saints defense stepped up today)
Oh definitely. You've got a fourth-and-one right there where they just hit them in the mouth and stopped them. Then you had seven seconds on the clock and the ball is on the five-yard line at the very end of the game. The hat is off to the defense today. Jonathan Vilma did a great job leading his crew, and definitely a great team win today.
(on the Saints staying within their offense despite not scoring a touchdown in the first three quarters)
Well I think I was in there in the third quarter (laughs), but I'm not sure. I don't know what kept out, I guess, but the thing about it is that Drew is such a good leader that his confidence and the way he leads us out there is just next one, next—he doesn't pay attention to what's happened or what hasn't happened. He's always talking about what's next.
S MALCOLM JENKINS
(on stopping Chris Johnson just short of the first down marker in the open field in the fourth quarter)
We were just running to the ball. We always teach population to the ball. Once we see the ball declared, everybody goes and I was able to make a good tackle, which stopped him short of the first down. We were able to get a stop on fourth-and-one. It was a good play for us.
(on stopping the Titans on the last play)
We were going to show him another blitz and make him think we were coming and then drop back out. The guys did a good job covering early and take away some of his reads. Once he got out of the pocket everybody did a good job running to the ball and Jo-Lonn (Dunbar) made a good open field tackle and game over.
(on responding after Nate Washington's big catch in the fourth quarter)
We had like 15 seconds to go. You can't dwell on that play. We had to get back and get to the line. I think guys did a good job responding to the situation. We gave up really two big plays at the end of the game to let them back in that, we really shouldn't have. We did a good job of playing a team game. Our offense put up points and we got some stops when we needed to. We battled.
(on how they kept their heads in the game at the end)
We are used to it. It wasn't much there. We were locked in. We were just moving on to the next play. The game is on the line at that point. We can't waste time in and out of the tank or try to motive guys. I think everybody is on the same page. We kept our head down and kept going and made some good plays at the end.
(on winning this big game on the road)
It is huge. This year, we haven't played that well on the road, but I think we are a pretty good road team. To win the game against a good opponent in their house this late in the season is big for us. To keep the momentum that we have going and to get that under our belt is huge for us.
DL WILL SMITH
(on stopping Chris Johnson)
We wanted to stop the run early and force them to be one dimensional. We did a good job with that. We expected good quarterback play. (Matt) Hasselbeck had to step out of the game and (Jake) Locker came in and we had to adjust our game plan.
(on stopping the QB sneak on fourth-and-one)
It was a gut check. It wasn't looking in our favor at that particular time. We had to do something that turned the flow of the game. It was a huge fourth –and-one stop. All the guys got great penetration. The quarterback tried to sneak it and that didn't work. We knew it was an important play of the game and we got one later on with Jo-Lonn's sack.
LB JO LON DUNBAR
(on the last play of the game)
On the last play of the game we were in coverage. I just see (Jake) Locker trying to make a play. I figured he was going to run the ball. There was tight coverage on the back end so when he took off as if he was running I just took off with him. I was supposed to be in coverage, but hey, I made a play.
(on who deserves credit for the fourth-and-one stop)
It was the whole defensive line. Those guys reestablished the line of scrimmage. Another thing that Gregg (Williams) talks about, reestablishing the line of scrimmage and those guys did that and we just ball hawked. That is just a credit to the defensive line right there.
(on the big plays)
We are trying to mix up our coverages sometimes and mix up our packages and sometimes they are going to get skill guys in better positions and that just happens. We can't let the ball get over our heads. There are no excuses for that. We have to shore up that aspect of the game, but it is just a great win.
(on his thought after he made the final tackle)
I was just hoping they didn't throw a flag. I kind of grabbed him by the helmet. That was my first thing. I was looking up to see if they threw a flag or not. It was definitely a lot of relief to see those guys jumping and with that excitement you can't put a price tag on that. You can't really explain that. When a team comes together and they become a tribe it is hard to explain that enthusiasm.
DB ROMAN HARPER
(on the defense giving up some big plays)
Never panic, I get a little frustrated, a little angry, but never a sense of panic. Always understand that as long as they don't cross our goal line we have a chance, we did a good job of that. Even early trying to hustle and play hard. They made a couple of plays on us at the end. (Jake) Locker made a couple of clutch throws, but at the end of the day we were able to hold them off and get the win. Big games like this will always be able to help you and make you stronger and a better team at the end of the year. We need to go thrugh something like this.
DB JABARI GREER
(on the stress of the situation)
I think that is why people like professional athletes. When everything is just tight and crunched and all the pressure is on we are able to elevate ourselves to a place that few people get to experience. I think people see that and acknowledge that and want a piece of that.
(on the final play)
It was incredible, the thing about professional football is that the only thing that you really remember is before and after the play. When the ball snaps everything goes silent. I like to relate it to that scene in Gladiator when they are about to go into the Roman Coliseum. They are right behind the doors and they hear the banging outside, but they hear the calm inside. They are just about to go to battle. It is a feeling that few people get to feel. I wish everybody could get to experience it, but it is special. It is definitely special.
LB JONATHAN VILMA
(on the defense making a play when they need to)
I think that is us being resilient. It is about our mental toughness more so than our physical toughness. We just have good character, strong character, strong willed guys. You can't just find that, you can't coach that. Fortunately we have a lot of guys like that. We never stop believing. We will get it done.