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Transcripts: Patriots vs. Falcons

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff  September 27, 2009 07:55 PM

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick

BB: Well, I’m really proud of our football team today. I thought they did a good job against a good Atlanta team. We’ve watched those Falcons all week and they’re tough; they do a lot of things well. I’m very proud of the way our guys played today. We stepped up and made some plays that we needed to make. Obviously, the running game was a plus for us and that helped the passing game, [we] took care of the ball, [we] played better defense, played better on third down. It was a hard-fought game and they’re a good football team. I have a lot of respect for them and what they’ve done. They’re a tough team to play, but I’m happy the way our guys stepped up. We had some critical plays. I thought we left some points out there in the red area. We’ve got to do a better job down there. We’ve got to coach it better. We’ve just got to do a better job, but it’s good to win. We’ve got a quick turnaround here. We have another tough one with the Ravens. It looks like they’re playing very well, as they usually are. [We will] just try to keep going, but enjoy this one for a little bit and then turn the page and get onto the Ravens.

Q: Can you talk about the thinking behind going for those short-yardage fourth-down tries?

BB:
Well, the short yardage in our own end … I felt like we could get a yard. There would have been plenty of criticism if we didn’t, but then we were able to get that and basically hold onto the ball. If I’m not mistaken, we were able to hang onto the ball for pretty much the rest of the third quarter. And the other fourth down, we were right on the edge of field goal range. It would’ve been a long field goal, so I felt like we had a pretty reasonable chance to pick that up.

Q: Can you talk about the job the defense did on Tony Gonzalez? He was a big topic of conversation this week.

BB:
Well, he’s good. We devoted a lot of coverage to him. We doubled him a lot and he’s a guy — game plan-wise — that you’ve got to account for. You’ve got to put some coverage on him; he’s really hard to handle. Again, I thought our guys stepped up and did a good job on him. We doubled him plenty of times and he still caught the ball. He’s tough, but then we held up in some other spots as well. Terrence [Wheatley], Shawn [Springs] and Leigh [Bodden] really did a good job out there. We didn’t give them very much help and they stepped up to the challenge on a good group of receivers and did a competitive job.

Q: Can you talk about Fred Taylor?

BB:
Fred’s run hard for us all year – in preseason, in all the camps, training camp, and all that. He runs hard and he runs smart. He knows where the holes are, he sets up blockers well and he can carry the load. He did a good job today and I thought our offensive line really did a much better job of coming off the ball than we have the last couple weeks, and gave the backs some room to run, and the backs ran hard. It was much better overall execution in the running game by the entire team, including the receivers doing some blocking than what we had. So that was good on everybody. Fred did a great job.

Q: Did you shift more weight on Fred Taylor when Laurence Maroney went down?

BB:
Well, I think those two were … They were prepared to do what they did and however it gets divided, it gets divided. But both of them were ready to play, both of them were ready to go. If something happens to one guy, then the other guy steps up.

Q: Can you talk about the job Brandon McGowan did today? It looked like he was part of your coverage on Tony Gonzalez.

BB:
Oh, he was. Brandon [McGowan], it seems like he does a good job for us every week in the kicking game and on defense. He’s involved in a lot of plays, makes tackles and is a good coverage player and he did. He had a lot of responsibility on Gonzalez today. But we put a lot of coverage on Tony, too, and I’m not taking anything away from the job Brandon did, but we gave him some help. I mean Gonzalez is almost impossible to matchup with.

Q: It looked like you got a little worked up on the challenge with the touchdown. What was your view of that?

BB:
I didn’t know what was going on. Nobody said anything to me, so I was just looking for an explanation. Usually, what they do on a challenge is they come over and tell you, ‘OK, well if the challenge is upheld, it’s going to be this. If the challenge isn’t upheld, it’s going to be that.’ And you’re not sure how much time is going to be on the clock — whatever the deal is — because then when the referee announces it, when [Alberto Riveron] announced it, the crowd screams or boos one way or the other, whatever the result is and you really can’t hear the whole thing. So I just wanted to make sure that I had the situation. That’s one of the things that they usually do, is come over and tell us and they didn’t on that play, so I was looking for an explanation.

Q: How’s Vince Wilfork and what do you think about the job the guys did in stepping up in his place?

BB:
We’ll see how these guys are after the game. I’m sure everybody’s got some bumps and bruises after this one, it was a physical game. Atlanta’s got a real physical offensive and defensive line and [Michael] Turner runs hard. I’m sure everybody has got some bumps and bruises. I thought we hung in there and competed well with them. They had some good runs. We had some decent plays. It was kind of a slug fest in there with a team that can run the ball and we tried to stand in there and go toe to toe with them. It was a pretty good matchup.

Q: Tom Brady had three completions for 10 yards inside the red zone. It seemed like he had pretty good protection today, was there anything you saw that might have caused some of the breakdowns?

BB:
I think we’ve just got to do a better job all the way around. Like I said, we’ve got to coach it better in the red area. We’ve got to do a better job of executing the plays – throwing them, running the routes, designing them, everything. We just didn’t do a good enough job collectively, and we’ve got to do better, and I know we can do better, and I think we will do better. And give Atlanta credit, they’re a good red area defense, but we’ve got to do a better job than what we did today.

Q: Are you putting Vince Wilfork in a bumps and bruises category?

BB:
I haven’t seen him. I came right in here so I could talk with you guys. I haven’t really had a chance to see him.

Q: Was Jonathan Wilhite a healthy scratch?

BB:
He was inactive today. Did we announce that? Yeah, he had an injury this morning.

Q: Can you discuss Randy Moss’s role today?

BB:
He got a lot of single coverage and he did a good job. He ran a lot of different routes. We threw deep, we threw inside, we threw outside, we threw some quick passes to him. I think he did a good job attacking the coverage, the corners and even some of the split safety coverage, working on the safeties. We hit some, we didn’t hit some. He’s a tough guy to cover. We try to design and create situations where he has an opportunity and a little bit of space to work. He sure made a lot of plays today.

Q: Were there changes defensively in the second half?

BB:
No, not really. It was basically the same game plan we went into the game with. The calls matchup differently like they always do. Certainly, a big part of this game was to deal with Gonzalez, which I am not coming in here talking about him being seven [catches] for 110 [yards] with two touchdowns.

Q: Tom Brady looked frustrated. Do you think he is still working through some things, maybe rust?

BB:
No, I think collectively we all need to do a better job. I think it’s frustrating for any team to be down in the red area and come out without a touchdown, and come out kicking field goals. That’s frustrating for any good offensive football team and coaching staff. You want to go down there, and put the ball in the end zone, and we didn’t do it several times, and none of us are happy about that: the linemen, the receivers, the coaches. Nobody’s happy about that. We want to go down there and get seven points. We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve all got to do a better job.

Patriots QB Tom Brady



Q: You were heated today.

TB:
Yeah, all day.

Q: You were walking off the field heated – frustrated.

TB:
Well, I don’t know about that. I think I was just really into it and trying to keep everyone focused. It’s a great win for us and we’ll take it and still understand that there’re a lot of things we need to do better. Anytime you beat a good football team like that – and we made some real critical plays: a few fourth downs, some short yardage ones, fourth and one on our own 25 yard line – whatever that was – and made that. That was big for us.

Q: What do you feel like you personally need to execute better?

TB:
Some things were better today and some things we’ve still got work to do on. Football is a team game and it’s about everybody being on the same page. We’re working on it and some things were better, but it’s obvious we still have work to do.

Q: How big was Randy Moss for you today?

TB:
He played great. He played great. He made some big catches for us. He ran a lot of routes, so I’m sure he’s going to be tired tonight. He’s a great player and we’ve got to get him involved in the game, more so even than last week. I think we made a concerted effort to get him the ball and he always comes up big for us.

Q: When Bill Belichick tells you you’re going to go for it on fourth down on your side of the field, what are you thinking and what does that do for you as an offense?

TB:
Yeah, I think it was a big play for us in the game. We had a six-point lead and if we just stopped, they were already in scoring territory, so he always had a lot of confidence that we could get it. We were running the ball very well all day today, and we did get it. We had a few third and ones this season – fourth and one against Buffalo that we missed, a third and one against the Jets we missed, and he’s been really on us pretty good about getting those short yardage situations, which I’m happy we got.

Q: Your running game seemed to improve this week. Can you talk about Fred Taylor’s performance?

TB:
He ran great. He ran great. He’s really shifty, so even when there’s not a lot of room in there, he makes yards whenever we give him the ball. He’s a really good player for us and we’ve got to get him the ball. The run game was great; really set up the play action that we had. It was really good execution on the offensive line and the running backs’ parts.

Q: It seemed like you were overthrowing a few passes towards the lighthouse. Was it maybe that the wind was swirling down there?

TB:
No, it was a beautiful day out there. It was beautiful. (laughter) We just missed them. When you throw it 50 yards, you wish you could throw it perfectly every time, but you just try to give those guys a chance, and I missed a couple of them. Hopefully I hit them next week.

Q: On the Chris Baker touchdown, a guy had you in his grasp, but you were able to get away from the defense and deliver the ball well.

TB:
Yeah it was great protection. It wasn’t how we drew that play up. It was pretty much on the sideline, Coach Belichick said, ‘Well, what do you think about this?’ The guys that ran the play didn’t run it all week in practice and they made an adjustment. Chris [Baker] has been really dependable for us since the day he got here, and he made a great catch and run. He’s a threat out there for us, so getting him more involved like we did today and Fred [Taylor] and Sammy [Morris] – those were some nice positives for us.

Q: You were three of 10 for 10 yards in the red zone, which must have been frustrating. What was the problem?

TB:
It’s just execution. It’s everybody being on the same page and making the reads and throws and something we’ll evaluate and look at. We can’t keep kicking field goals, I know that. We’ve got to be better than that. Just figure out what the problems are and try to figure them out.

Q: Last week you said you weren’t hitting on all cylinders as an offense. Do you feel like this week was a step forward?

TB:
There were more positives than there were negatives than last week. Last week was tough for everybody. We played a good football team that has a real good pass rush, some good skill players, a very good offense, and we played much better. When you win the game, everyone feels a lot better, although nothing is perfect. We’re going to go out and see what we can do better and hopefully improve against an excellent team next week.

Q: You said Bill Belichick drew up the Chris Baker touchdown play on the sideline. Was he more involved in the offensive communication with you and the play calling this week?

TB:
He’s always involved. He’s involved in every play that’s called. That one, like I said, we just kind of drew it up there on the sidelines and made it work.

Q: What are your feelings on the games like this where you have longer, more sustained drives?

TB:
It was a more balanced day for us. We ran it great and we had some good play actions. It was wet out there. We didn’t have any turnovers, which was key. We haven’t been turning it over much, which was a positive for us, and we got one from them. It was a good day. It was a good day. There were a lot of positives to take from it and I think we’re learning a little bit each time we play and hopefully we keep it going.

Patriots RB Fred Taylor



Q: Coming into today, did you know that you were going to get as many touches as you did?

FT:
Didn’t have to. We did say we would like to try to establish the run. Coach challenged all of us, the offensive line, the backs, and we were fortunate enough to go out there and make it happen.

Q: Can you ever recall going for a fourth down that deep in your own territory?

FT:
I can’t recall, I can’t recall a moment like that. I do recall coach standing here saying, there will come a point in the season where we’re going to have to go for it and we’re going to have to get it and I’m glad we got it.

Q: Was that a little bit of a gut-check time because you guys have missed some short yardage situations early in the year?

FT:
Yeah we missed some, we missed a few. I think that the ones we missed, it’s just small things. We missed assignments, not only missed assignments, but for each particular play everyone executed their particular assignment and we were able to pick up the one yard. I think that if we continue to stay on the same page, each guy individually, we’ll be a lot better offensively.

Q: How much confidence does it give you as an offense when you go for it twice in the same drive like that?

FT:
Just trying to do whatever it takes to win the game and as an offensive guy you want to establish that momentum and look over across the ball and see the frustration in the defensive guys, in their face, their eyes. It just fires you up to keep going.

Q: After two weeks of pass-heavy, is it nice to be able to balance this week?

FT:
I think we always get asked that question. The main objective is to score points, whether it’s run or pass. You want to be balanced going into each game, but sometimes certain situations don’t allow for it. I think Tom [Brady] might feel a little better that we were able to run the ball a little bit but the bottom line is to put points on the board and try to win the game, whether it’s 1,000 passes or 1,000 rushes, we just want to win the game.

Q: You were on the field for almost forty minutes, you’re on the field and Matt Ryan isn’t.

FT:
Yeah, that’s true. You want to maintain, sustain a couple of drives and keep a high-powered offense like that [off the field]. They got a great running back, the quarterback is awesome, their receivers get the job done. Fortunately we were able to keep them off the field and minimize their opportunity. It worked in our favor, definitely.

Q: Can you take us through those four plays, starting at the 41-yard line? You ran four straight and got into the end zone.

FT:
I wish I had offensive linemen in here. They did most of the work. They did most of that, I mean the majority of that. They handled the down linemen. The linebackers, they didn’t maintain their discipline in their gap assignment. My job was just to run straight. I didn’t do much, I didn’t do much. On the touchdown run, you see, I walked into the end zone so the offensive line – they blocked it up like it was supposed to be.

Q: You broke a couple of tackles there. It looked like an old Fred Taylor highlight video.

FT:
It felt good, it always feels good when you can run a few guys over and create some momentum for the offense. I’d be lying if I said it different. I just want to do my job, whatever I can to help our team, that’s what I’m here for.

Q: After all those years in Jacksonville, how quickly did it take you to adjust to the way they do things here?

FT:
I’ve never been one of those guys who was hard to coach. I just try and listen, ask a lot of questions and just fall in line. From that standpoint, it wasn’t a whole lot difficult. [It was] just a matter of getting comfortable in the terminology and the way the quarterback makes the call and how detailed they want each and every play to be, and then once you hit that mark, you play a little faster and I think I’m finally getting comfortable in my role.

Q: With four running backs what is your role?

FT:
Just whatever they ask me to do, nothing specific I should say. Just be ready to play, be ready to go at game time.

Q: How does it differ from Jacksonville where you were the main guy?

FT:
Well, if you compare it to the past couple years, I was more so, I was the starter, but I was the compliment to Maurice [Jones-Drew]. It’s the same thing here. Just be ready to play. In this day and age everybody wants a two-headed monster, two running backs that have change of pace capabilities. But each guy has to be ready. If you’re not out there getting in the groove touching the ball you can turn into a block of ice on the sidelines and then you’re not ready when it’s your turn. You’ve got to stay in the game, you’ve got to ask questions as this guy runs off the field – hey what’d you see, what’d you think – this is what I saw from the sideline. You have to always work together. I think in the long-run, I think it will all help us out.

Q: How do you feel right now? Are you sore?

FT:
I’m waiting for the Aleve and the Tylenol to wear off, and then maybe tomorrow you can ask that question.

Q: You were able to cash in that touchdown early on, but you guys are still struggling a little bit in the red zone through the first three games. Is there one thing that’s doing that or is that a combination of things or is it something you guys aren’t doing?

FT:
Just got to keep working, you definitely got to give a defensive team, our opponents, credit. They’re playing well down there and I think we have to do a little bit more to execute our offense. It’s coming. We’re going to keep pounding away at it. I don’t want to sit here and B.S. you and search for an answer, but I really do believe it’s coming.

Q: Fred, you could tell Tom Brady was frustrated, how demanding is he in that huddle, especially at halftime in that locker-room?

FT:
That’s why he’s great. If he was the type of guy that didn’t demand that type of perfection, we’d just get another guy. But he’s Tom Brady and he hasn’t won all those championships for nothing. As a player, you get in line, you listen, I’m an older guy but I pay attention. He’s the leader, he calls the shots, you got to do what he says. That makes the offense go.

Q: Did he speak to the team at halftime?

FT:
Of course, he’s always speaking to us. He motivates us, he’s a competitor, and he makes sure that we’re not going to fall into complacency. He’s a great person, great player, thank God I’m on his team.

Q: Fred, a couple of the offensive linemen said when you go for two extra yards and not just go down, that inspires them to block for you even harder. What’s your response to that?

FT:
Just doing my job. Just run as hard as I possibly can. Try not to make the wrong cut and give them all the credit in the world so they can keep on being inspired and [so that] they want to do more. That’s about it.

Q: After a tough loss last week, how nice is it to rebound here at home and get back on the winning track?

FT:
Last week was last week. It’s always good to get a win at any moment. The Falcons was the opponent today, we went out there and did our job, what we had to do, got the W and now it’s on to the Ravens, so this is over.

Q: Could you get used to this, getting 19-20 carries a game – 100 yards?

FT:
Of course, why not? We’ll see. Whatever it takes to win the game; that’s all that matters.

Patriots' locker room



Brandon McGowan, Safety
(On his forced fumble)
“I wouldn’t have done it without my teammates. They held those guys up at the line and gave me a free shot to hit the running back and that’s what I did.”

(On if the defense’s plan was to be physical with Tony Gonzalez in the red zone)
“The plan was for him to not have any catches and he had one, so obviously the plan failed (laughter).”

Chris Baker, Tight End
(On how important it is for the offense to be balanced in every phase of the game)
“We’re still developing as a team. There are a lot of new faces in the locker room and things like that. So we’re still developing and we still have a pretty explosive offense, but we’re still missing a few things that we shouldn’t be. We just have to piece them together and start putting more points on the board.”

(On his touchdown catch)
“I just kind of improvised on the route. I went out to the flat and saw Tom [Brady] still had the ball, so I just turned it up and he found me down the sideline and I made the play.”

(On how exhilarating it was to get a touchdown)
“It was great, it was great. We wanted to really push the game out of reach. That’s what we’re trying to do on those last two drives. To get the touchdown and put it out of reach, that was big for us.”

(On if he knew that his touchdown was Tom Brady’s 200th career touchdown pass)
“No. I didn’t know that. I keep all my touchdown balls, so we’ll have to talk about that one (laughs). But that’s good to know, I didn’t know that.”

(On Randy Moss’ performance)
“He made some amazing catches out there and he does it all the time. That’s why he is who he is, a Hall of Fame receiver. He made some big plays for us out there, and he’s a big reason why we won today.”

(On how important it was for Randy Moss to play today)
“It was huge just from a confidence standpoint, for us to have one of our big guns out there. Obviously he’s a great player and he came out and sucked it up. He had a lot of catches for us, including that fourth down catch on the sideline. He picked up a lot of first downs for us and was a big reason why we moved the ball.”

Terrence Wheatley, Cornerback
(On being successful on defense today)
“Total team effort, we just have to go out there on defense and execute and we did that. We didn’t blow any coverages, we played physical, we played hard and just did our assignments and that’s what you get when you play smart football.”

(On shutting down Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez)
“Again just following the game plan. We had a game plan, we didn’t want to come in on Monday and talk about Tony the whole time, so we were just going to force other people to beat us and again we just executed on defense and it ended with a victory.”

(On the defense stepping up after Vince Wilfork went down with an injury)
“Yeah, definitely, when you have one of your leaders go down, no matter who they are: offense, defense, special teams, whatever you have to step up your individual play and carry the load so we did that on defense.”

Stephen Neal, Offensive Line
(On if the team established a rhythm today that they did not have last week)
“I don’t know what you want to call it, but they called the plays and we just went out there and executed it. Maybe the 11 guys were more on the same page this week then they were last week but we will just have to look at the film. We can always improve. ”

(On if he noticed Tom Brady being more emotional then he has in the past games)
“There is a lot of emotions out there and the bottom line is that we are trying to win the game and set up the defense. The special teams tries to set us up so everybody is playing together. When you can’t do as well as you would like then people will get frustrated.”

(On the offense going for it on 4th down two times in the game)
“That’s the head coach’s call and if you let him down then it probably isn’t going to happen anymore. We are real thankful that he gave us the opportunity and we are even more thankful that we were able to execute.”

Dan Koppen, Offensive Line
(On today’s game)
“It was going good today. We had a good mix. When we came in early this week and looked at the game plan a lot of players got really excited. We were able to run the ball and that helps to set up the rest of the offense. It was a good day.”

(On how Tom Brady did not get hit a lot this game)
“It is a different style of defense compared to the Jets and it is what it is. You still have to go out there and block for him and the guys really took that to heart today and tried to do the right thing and be on the same page.”

(On if the communication was a lot better this week than last week)
“Yeah it was. It’s a lot different playing on the road. When we play at home everyone is here and on the same page.”

Leigh Bodden, Cornerback
(On if the secondary is building chemistry)
“We are; definitely. Since week one we have put it together. Everyone was skeptical about the defensive backfield but I think we have been doing a great job and consistently been playing well. We just need to keep moving forward and watch the film and get better from it.”

(On if today’s win over a high-powered offense was a confidence booster for the defense)
“It definitely boosts our confidence. We have confidence in the defense anyways but to hold an offense like this to 10 points is definitely a confidence booster. We have to put it past us and look on to next week.”

(On if the defense had to rally together when Vince Wilfork got hurt)
“I think we have a great defense as a whole. The backups are pretty much starters and in any situation there is someone who can step in and fill the void. That’s a good job that Bill does to get players who can fill those roles.”

Kevin Faulk, Running Back
(On the team’s performance in the red zone)
“You always want to score seven points when you get in the red zone, but we scored three [several times]. I think it’s always good to go over your mistakes with a ‘W’ instead of a loss.”

(On Fred Taylor’s performance and running after contact)
“As a running back, as a running back coach or just as a coach in general, you always talk to your running backs about yards after contact. And today, Fred Taylor showed how important it is to get yards after contact…and why he’s Fred Taylor.”

Mike Wright, Defensive Lineman
(On the injuries the defensive line has incurred)
“There’s a lot of depth on the defensive line, especially with Myron [Pryor] stepping in and Ron [Brace] stepping in. but hopefully, we’ll have Vince [Wilfork] back as soon as possible.”

Pierre Woods, Linebacker
(On the defense’s performance after losing Vince Wilfork)
“Everybody has something to do, and a role on this team. Whatever you’re asked to do, you have to do it to the best of your abilities. Things happen, and you don’t ever want anybody to go down, but you have to go out there and try to play hard for each other. Once one of your brothers goes down, you have to play even harder.”

Shawn Springs, Cornerback
(On improving week-to-week)
“One week you might be playing special teams, one week it might be offense. We’ve all got to just put it all together. Everyone’s got to pick it up.”

(On the defense’s play in spite of injuries)
“I think they played extremely well, those guys that came in replacing those other guys … That’s what our team is all about. We have depth at a lot of positions, so that if one guy goes down, then another guy can pick it up.”

Sammy Morris, Running Back
(On the fourth down conversion in the third quarter)
“It’s something we have to do. We’ve lacked consistency, especially in short yardage concerns. We know what kind of group we have, we just weren’t executing like we were capable of doing.”

(On the play of the offense)
“We were able to play from ahead and manage our offense a little better and come at it a couple of different ways. It was a great job by our offense to keep playing consistently.”

(On Tom Brady’s emotions during the game)
“Tom’s always like that. He’s a high-energy player and you expect no less of him. We all were frustrated, we left a lot of yards out there and a lot of points out there. We still need to get there in the red zone. Even though we won, that’s what we’re focused on. We got the victory and we’ll go from here.”

Logan Mankins, Guard
(On the offense’s time of possession)
“It feels good. I’m not sure what the ratio was, but we had the ball more than they did and it worked out. We chewed up the clock, moved the ball up and down the field and scored points.”

(On the team’s offensive rhythm)
“It’s never easy. I’m pretty tired right now. I think the guys played good together, the running backs ran hard, Tommy [Brady] was throwing and made good throws. The whole offense together played a good game and you can’t say enough about the defense, only giving up 10 points.”

Myron Pryor, Defensive Lineman
(On his play today)
“I think I did alright, coming back from missing a lot of days. All I can do is keep working, working out and working hard and I think I’ll be OK.”

(On Vince Wilfork’s injury)
“It’s reality, but I was ready to step in and he congratulated me after the game and told me ‘good job.’ I felt like I did well out there. It took a couple plays to get back in the mix. I really had to step back, as far as tempo. At first, I was kind of nervous, but after awhile, I just settled in and mentally, everything went smoothly."

Falcons coach Mike Smith

MS: Guys, I didn’t feel like we played our best game today. It was a hard fought game and I think we played well in spurts, but we weren’t able to get the job done. Coach Belichick and his staff, did, I think a very, very good job in having his team ready to play and we’ve got a lot of things, starting with me all the way down, that we got to look at and get better at. In all three phases, -- offense, defense and special teams -- so we’re going into our bye week and we’ll get back together tomorrow as a team. Watch the tape, make the corrections and move forward. This is a long journey, this is a 16-week season, and this is our third game of this season. And with that, I will open it up for questions.

Q: Mike, were you disappointed in how much and how often they were able to run it?

MS:
Well, coming into this game they had run the ball 43 times and thrown it 100. Their game plan, obviously today, was to come in and run it a little bit more. And we did not fit the run as well as we’d like to. But it doesn’t surprise me that Coach Belichick, he’ll show one thing one week and then next week do something different. We didn’t play the run the way we needed to play it and that we will definitely have to improve on.

Q: Did the loss of your first round pick affect that today?

MS:
I don’t want to make excuses; I don’t want to make excuses for anyone. Losing Jerry [Peria] is a big loss. He was our starting defensive tackle, but we have others players on our football team that have to step up and make plays, and today, my hat is off to them. They were the better team.

Q: What was your vantage point on the [Michael] Jenkins touchdown that was ruled pass interference?

MS:
I was on the far side of the field and the call was on their sideline and again it was offensive pass interference because that’s what the official called.

Q: Mike, what did the Patriots do defensively that kind of limited Tony Gonzalez and how restricting was that for your offense and what you wanted to do?

MS:
Again, my hat’s off to Coach Belichick and his staff. I think Tony had one catch, and the way they were trying to defend us, the ball, the reads took it in a different direction. So again, they did a very good job. I don’t feel like that we have to concern ourselves, because we have enough weapons on the offense that if they are trying to defend us one way, we should move the ball and do it in different ways.

Q: Do you think the defensive game plan might have been too vanilla? It seemed like you guys were rushing four players and keeping seven back, giving Tom Brady too much time.

MS:
Well, we did not put pressure on the quarterback; we did not get a sack. We did pressure Tom early in the game. We pressured him there before halftime with some five and six-man pressures. And they did a nice job in their protection. They were the better team today. It’s real simple. If you want to search for answers, they were the better team and we will try to go and make corrections because I know we are a good football team as well.

Q: Talk about how Matt Ryan played today.

MS:
Matt threw for almost 200 yards; I thought he was very accurate. I know there was a stretch there in the third quarter where they converted on two fourth downs and a drive and we couldn’t get our offense back out on the football field. And even on third down we weren’t able to get on fourth down. But I thought Matt came up and distributed the ball very well.

Q: Pro or con, what did you learn about your team?

MS:
Well, I learned that our guys played hard. We did not quit. Those guys were battling, battling through adversity, battling through a lot of things and again that’s a good football team in a hostile environment. It’s the first time we’ve played outside, it’s our first road game of the season. We’ll learn a lot from this. I think we will make sure that we get everything pointed out what we got to do, like I said, starting with me, all the way down. When we win as a team, we lose as a team.

Q: Regarding Matt’s [Ryan] return to the area where he played collegiately…

MS:
Matt, since we started back in the draft process, you can see that Matt is a focused football player. Matt is focused on one thing and that’s what happens between those two sidelines. I don’t think it affected Matt one bit.

Q: Do you think he sat there, when Patriots were on offense, it looked like Matt was studying Brady? Would it surprise you to learn that?

MS:
Well, we were making corrections on the sideline with Coach Musgrave and we have a sequence of things that we go through in between series.

Q: Does Turner have a fumbling problem?

MS:
No, I don’t. It’s a misfortunate situation that we put the ball on the ground twice, but I wouldn’t even comment on that in terms of being a problem. You know, they were attacking the ball and they did a nice job.

Q: They only activated three corners, and played mainly Bodden and Springs, two older guys. How would you assess how they played? Seems like they might have went with those corners because they have a more physical style. How do you think your receivers did?

MS:
Again, I really can’t make a comment on that until I watch the tape. I know we threw the ball for about 200 yards. Michael Jenkins, I believe, our wide receiver, was the leading receiver.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan

(On the game)
“It was a bit of a frustrating loss for us today. I thought we came out and did a pretty good job on offense and moving the ball today. We just couldn’t get the ball in the end zone. When you play a good football team like New England in their stadium, you are going to have to do that. So hats off to them. They played better than us today. It is about us going into the bye week, getting some rest and getting better.”

(On the New England run defense)
“They did a good job. To a certain degree, we expected that from them, after the couple of weeks that [Michael] Turner has had early in the season. They had a good game today. They executed it well, but with that said, I still think we moved the ball pretty well. We just couldn’t get the ball in the end zone. Certainly, that is something we are going to need to work on during the bye week.”

(On Jenkins’ touchdown callback)
“I didn’t really see the replay. I thought Mike [Jenkins] did a great job — when there was man-to-man coverage — of going down the field and coming down with the ball. That’s the way it’s going to go sometimes. We need to do a better job of responding to that. We came out and didn’t do much offensively after that. Sometimes things aren’t going to go your way during the game and it’s what you do in those situations, that really says what kind of football team you are. That is certainly something that we can improve on.”

(On playing a Gillette Stadium after his career at Boston College)
“I had never been down here. First and foremost, it was cool to see it. I have watched from a distance during my time at B.C. I have played enough games in the league; when you go somewhere, you have to produce, and you have to lineup against whomever you are playing against. So it doesn’t make a difference. You have to go out and execute.”

(On third-down efficiency)
“They did a good job of making plays on third down and that is something we have done a pretty good job of early in the season. That’s kind of the NFL game, that’s the money down. Offensively, you need to stay on the field. We just didn’t do enough on third down today. When you don’t do that, it takes away your chances of winning the game.”

(On limiting the running game)
“They had a number of guys down in the box. That is something we see week in and week out, when you have a back like Mike Turner with our offensive line. They had good personnel and good players to execute. They did a great job against the run today.

Falcons' locker room

Tony Gonzalez, Tight End
(On the double coverage)
“They did the same thing they always do to me, ‘bracket coverage.’ Every time I play against him (Coach Belichick), it seems like I am going to get bracketed. It was expected and obviously it is not a good thing for me, although it gets everyone else open. We were able to make plays down the field and guys were getting open. I have been around a long time and for me it is somewhat a sign of respect. I feel that if I get single coverage I am going to make them pay for it eventually. It is the same thing they have always done the last couple of times I have played against them. You have to give them credit for it.”

(On Matt Ryan’s success)
“I think it is his poise and his work ethic that are probably the biggest reasons. I keep saying it all along that he has got the great arm and is the prototype (Quarterback) -- 6-foot-5; but I think the real thing that is going to separate him in the long run is his wanting to go out there and be the best. On a scale of one to 10, I would say he is a ten as far as his work ethic is concerned. He is a special player and is on his way”

John Abraham, Defensive End
(What did the Patriots do that made it hard to get to Brady? )
“They played well, they ran the ball a little more than we expected, they have three good backs, so they ran more play action at us, which made it hard and took us off our blocks. I’ve got to stay up on my blocks and put more pressure on them.”

Erik Coleman, Safety
(How do you try to figure out what a QB like Brady is going to do)
“Brady is one of the smartest QBs out there and when they get a lead and can run the ball a bit it makes it hard. I think they basically out-executed us today and we’re going to have to look at the film and get better.”

Mike Peterson, Linebacker
(On Fred Taylor)
“I knew coming into the game he still had it. The same thing I’ve been telling him, I still have it. I knew it was going to be a battle. I think he got the best of it today.”

(On the Chris Baker touchdown)
“The back went to the flat, it is my responsibility to take him all the way. It was a great play by them.”

(On Tom Brady)
“You have to win. So you have to tip your hat at him and say it was the old Tom Brady. They were the best team today and hopefully we get a crack at them in the playoffs.”

Brian Williams, Defensive Back
(On the game)
“It was a little frustrating. They did a good job, they were the better team today and got the win.”

(On Randy Moss)
“I think he got a little more involved then normally. We didn’t really give them anything over the top too deep. They won the game, we just have to go back and get to work.”

(On the game)
“I’m sure we did some good things out there. We have to go back, watch the films tomorrow and make all the corrections that we need to. We will have to look forward to a better season, there is still a long way to go.”

Brian Finneran, Wide Receiver
(On team performance in 2nd half)
“We made some mistakes. The fumble and penalties cost us. After the penalty on Jenkins, the momentum shifted. We had an offside after that and before you knew it we were punting the ball. They’re a great team and I wish we played a little better.”

(On the Patriots defense)
“Everybody in this league can play, it’s just a matter of how hard you want to play. They played hard today and were able to shut some of our stuff down. They’re missing some of their veteran players, but they still have a lot of good football players on that team.”

Michael Jenkins, Wide Receiver
(On his interference penalty)
“It was a tough call. It was just two guys fighting for the ball and the ref felt I pushed off. It’s one of those plays and you have to live with the call.”

(On overall play of offense)
“We hurt ourselves a little bit. A couple of penalties and a turnover here and there, but it just comes down to executing in the red zone and putting up seven instead of three.”

(On Patriots defense)
“They wanted to bracket Tony [Gonzales] a little bit and obviously stop Michael [Turner] and the run game. But we were still able to move the ball. They didn’t want us to have the ball on offense. We worked hard, but it wasn’t enough today.”

Thomas Johnson, Defensive Tackle
(On the game)
“I expected it because we have a good pass rush, and I expected that they would keep more guys in [to block] and they did. We just didn’t get it done today. We just have to get better and work hard to get better.”

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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