GREEN BAY PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY
“I’d like to congratulate the Atlanta Falcons on a great season. They are a very well coached football team. We knew that we were going to have come in and play at a very high level. I am pleased with our team’s performance, especially early in the football game. We had to overcome a number of adverse situations that Atlanta presented for us and this is a big team win. We are looking forward to having a few days off and playing in the NFC Championship next week.”
On QB Aaron Rodgers’ performance:
“[QB] Aaron Rodgers was excellent today. His ability to play a run/pass mix, especially in the first three quarters, was impressive. In or outside the pocket, he was on fire. He likes to play in domes and you can see why. Controlling the line of scrimmage was very important to us. Both the offensive and defensive lines felt a need to respond to the loss we suffered here in November. It starts up front and because of that [QB] Aaron [Rodgers] was able to run the offense at a very high level.”
On tonight’s game plan:
“Every game takes on its own identity. Our plan was to challenge them by putting our defense on the field first. Then we wanted to just get a lead, so that we didn’t end up limited to seven possessions, which is what happened in November. Getting out in front meant was a huge factor in our win today.”
On CB Tramon Williams:
“It is clear that [CB] Tramon Williams has played at a Pro Bowl level. It is all about seeing your big time players, step up in the prime time games. We are very confident football, and we have obviously hit our groove. We are very proud of what we have accomplished today, and we are looking forward to next week. However, [CB] Tramon [Williams] has been playing at this level all year.”
On being a championship team:
“We are a championship caliber football team. Before the Philadelphia Eagles game, we talked about focusing on the 16 quarters in front of us, and at this point we have completed eight quarters with four more to play next week. We feel good about who we are, how we played, our brand of football and that is what we are sticking to.”
PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER JAMES JONES
On the play of Rodgers
“He was on the money today. If you watch him during the week the way he prepares you would expect that out of him. It may surprise you guys but it doesn’t surprise us.”
Are you surprised that you dominated them the way that you did?
“Our main thing is that we have been through adversity. Someone starts out on us and goes up on us and we just say on the sideline to keep fighting. It’s 60 minutes, it’s not a first quarter game. We kept fighting and overcame it.”
About his touchdown catch
“I told the guys before the game that we owed them one from that drop last week. It’s the least that I can do. I just went up and made a play.”
Is this the best that you have seen Rodgers play?
“I can’t say that since we expect it out of him. We expect to go out there and run routes and be open and make the play. Today the offense was on. “
PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER GREG JENNINGS
On beating Atlanta on their field
“We felt that we had a really good chance of winning this ballgame. Obviously we played them previously and lost. We hurt ourselves with turnovers in that game. We saw some things on defense that there shouldn’t be a reason that we shouldn’t put up some points. With our defense playing the way that they have been we knew that we had a good shot.”
How good was Rodgers in your opinion?
“He was OK. He could get better (laughter). Unfortunately he had some incompletions. Quite frankly I am disappointed because we can’t have that out of him. He has to play better if we are going to advance.”
87% is not going to get it done?
“Not going to get it done (laughter).”
In all seriousness is that the best that you have seen him play?
“He is a phenomenal quarterback. There were a handful of plays where his elusiveness and ability to extend the play got us out of third down situations and moved the chains for us. He played lights out today.”
PACKERS RUNNING BACK JOHN KUHN
On inserting BJ Raji as a blocker on his touchdown run
“BJ did a phenomenal job coming in here doing something that he normally doesn’t do. He got downhill on a linebacker and opened up a big hole and it was easy to follow him in there.”
Did you just put that in this week?
“That was the game plan for this week and BJ did a great job doing what he had to do. We had a pretty big package on that play and it was size on size to see who wins.”
PACKERS LINEBACKER A.J. HAWK
Did you ever envision a blowout in in this rematch?
“Well, we knew it was definitely possible. With the offense on fire, this sort of thing can happen without question.”
How does it feel to be one win away from the Super Bowl?
“Feels great, man. We’re one step away from getting to our goal. But hey, if we don’t go out and win next week it’s all for nothing.”
PACKERS LINEBACKER CLAY MATTHEWS
How big was the interception just before halftime?
“It gave us momentum that made it very hard for them to come back from. Our offense moved at will on them, and to have the defense play like we did, and then get the ball back to start the second half. It was too much for them to overcome.”
It seems as if confidence is oozing from this team.
“We feel good about where we’re at. I know the defense is feeling it. We’ve got playmakers all over the board no matter who we play. No matter what they throw at us, we feel pretty good that we’ve got it together.”
PACKERS QB Aaron Rodgers
On today’s game overall:
“Mike [McCarthy] just got us in the rhythm. I felt good about the calls, and some guys made some big plays. I just got into a rhythm not only throwing the football but moving around in the pocket. It’s just a special night.”
On Atlanta’s defense against Green Bay’s offense:
“Like I said, it was a special day. We kind of did what we wanted to do. We wanted to attack the middle field early, and once they started taking that away we worked the stuff outside. Some guys made some big plays though. WR James Jones coming back after his drop. I know he was the sickest person in that locker room after the last game, but I had confidence in him and he had a great touchdown catch. WR Donald Driver had a big game tonight. I think that was a big key for us, getting Driver going. He had a number of great catches and runs for us.”
On if he [Rodgers] would call this his best performance:
“Yeah, this probably was my best performance. I think the stage that we were on. The importance of this game, so yeah it was a good night.”
On if he was surprised on how well they played against Atlanta tonight:
“Well, again I have said this before, the way that I prepare and the way our coaches prepare us we expect to play well. Maybe not this well, but it was one of those nights that when things weren’t working or weren’t open I was able to move in the pocket, and find some of those free guys to make some big plays. It was a special night.”
On why he likes playing in domes:
“I like playing in domes. The weather is in perfect condition. I also get to wear my favorite shoes so my feet don’t hurt.”
On the importance of scoring back-to-back during the game:
“That second drive was probably the most important drive, because we had fumbled after the third play of the game, and then they come down score. We had a long time consuming drive, and then scored. They [Falcons] run it back for a touchdown, and RB [James] Starks fumbles the ball out of bounds, and we had the ball on the eight-yard line, and then to go about 90 yards to score really wore their defense down. We were tired too, but they were on the field for a number of consecutive plays.”
On Coach Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay coaching staff:
“Mike does a great job with our schedule, and he takes care of our bodies. It was a great week of practice. He has assembled an incredible staff. I think you can’t give those guys on his staff enough credit. I try and single out my quarterbacks coach Tom Clements whenever I can, because he prepares myself, and obviously you saw the way QB Matt [Flynn] played against New England. He prepares the quarterbacks to be successful. Our offensive staff has us prepared every week. This type of performance we were kind of waiting for. We had a similar performance against the New York Giants, but this was defiantly the way we have been practicing all week.”
On some of Green Bay’s big plays during the game:
“I think the two minute drive was big. The play of the game in my opinion was CB Tramon Williams pick. It was a 10-point swing potentially, and we knew starting the second half, similar to the Vikings game when went and scored late I the half to make it 17 to 3, and scored a first position out of halftime to go up three scores. We knew if we were able to take that ball down and score it would definitely break their will a little bit. First play we got a sack, second play we get seven back, third play we leave a guy free off the edge, somehow the Lord was helping me with eyes in the back of my head today. I was able to spin out and make a great play. After that first down we got rolling. When we went up three scores it was just a matter of not turning the ball over.”
On Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan:
“I have a lot of respect for Matt Ryan. He has had a great season, and he has had a great first three years. He has had a great start to his career. We are friends off the field. It was a great performance by us tonight, and I am sure Matt is disappointed. He is going to be in these types of games for the length of his career.”
ATLANTA FALCONS HEAD COACH MIKE SMITH
“Obviously it’s extremely hard in this League to get the outcome you want when you play the type of football that we played today. Very uncharacteristic in terms of turnovers, protecting the football and winning third down on defense. It was a tough night for our football team. We had way too many mistakes. We ran into a hot quarterback playing at a high level and we obviously had a real tough time stopping them. Their offense did a very good job and then when you turn the ball over four times and have five sacks, it’s not going to be pretty. We thought that the first quarter of the game went fairly well, then when we got to the second quarter it kind of started to go away from us. We had an opportunity in the third quarter, on a third down and thirteen on the first drive of the third quarter with them backed up to get a stop. We didn’t get the stop and they went down and we could not stem the momentum. Again, they were the better team today. My hats off to them. They are moving on. We’ll be a better team and learn from this experience. Every day whether you win or lose, it’s a learning experience and it’s something that we will learn from.”
On the interception before halftime:
“That was a tough play. We were right at the edge of a long field goal attempt with the eight seconds. We wanted to try to get five more yards to get it into the range that we had set for our field goal kicker. It was a throw that the guy jumped the route. It ended up really turning the tide right before the half. As I already mentioned, third down and 13 with the missed sack opportunity, the conversion right there on the first drive of the second half, it really started to snowball from that point.”
On the defense:
“There were numerous opportunities to get the guy on the ground. That’s a very good quarterback, a very good offense. We had opportunities to get them on the ground, we had some free runners, we didn’t convert. I would never have imagined that happening. Again, it was not very characteristic of the way that we want to play football or the way that we’ve played football all season long.”
On the secondary:
“We gave up way too many yards obviously. Touchdown passes, we had some penalties that hurt us. Again, until I watch the tape it’s going to be really difficult but obviously when you give up the number of points that we gave up today, and the passing yardage that we gave up today, we didn’t play our best game. I think that’s very obvious. I don’t know that we tackled as cleanly as we needed to. It was a very discouraging evening for our football team and our organization, but we will come back from it I can assure you that.”
On whether not having CB Brian Williams had an impact:
“Brian is our starting nickel and when a guy is hurt the next guy has to come in, step up, and make plays. You want to have all your players out there if it’s possible, he wasn’t there and I thought that CB Christopher Owens did some nice things when he was out there in the game tonight. Until I watch the tape, I’m not going to make any judgments of how individuals played. “
On whether the Packers did anything unusual:
“No, not at all. I think that we did a pretty good job stopping the run. We had to spend some time this week preparing for the run. The same gameplan they had the last time we played them. They made the plays when they had to make them, we didn’t. That’s the difference in the ballgame. They were the better team tonight.”
On whether QB Aaron Rodgers was better:
“Yes he was. Aaron Rodgers was better tonight than he was the last time we played them and we weren’t as good.”
On WR Eric Weems’ 102-yard kickoff return:
“It was a big play by WR Eric Weems and our special teams. Then we got put back out there on the field defensively and we didn’t get a stop. I think it was one of their 80-yard drives. We didn’t get it stopped. You can’t go out there and play that many snaps in the first half of the football game and think that you’re going to be strong there in the fourth quarter and think that you’re going to win the fourth quarter.”
FALCONS QUARTERBACK MATT RYAN
“I think everyone was disappointed with the outcome tonight and disappointed with the way we played. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Green Bay. They came out and made a ton of really great plays and took advantage of some opportunites that we gave them. I’m disappointed with the loss and with that I’ll open it up to questions.”
On the rhythm of the game?
“I thought we came out and started pretty fast. We moved the ball pretty effectively on the first drive. The defense created a turnover on Green Bay’s first drive. We got the ball back on a short field and go back and score. After we converted on a fourth and one, there I felt like we were in a pretty good rhythm. The second drive offensively we went down the field, made a mistake, and had a turnover in the red zone. It felt like we were in a rhythm early moving the ball pretty effectively, but then we lost it later in the game.”
On the interception before the half?
“Tramon Williams had a great play. It was just not a very good decision on my part. In that situation, knowing we are in field goal range, I needed to throw the ball away.”
On this game being humbling?
“I think one of the things we did a great job of all year is understanding how difficult it is to get into this position and to not take it lightly. Anytime you’re in the playoffs and you have an opportunity to go win it all, and that doesn’t happen, that is pretty frustrating. “
On the franchise’s future?
“I think we did a lot of things well this year and we’ve got a chance to build on some of the things we did this year. We’ve got a lot of people coming back and a lot of young talent. We certainly expect to be right back in this position next year and to get a different outcome.”
On Tony Gonzalez returning next year?
“That is something I haven’t thought about up until this point, but I would certainly love to have him back.”
On the end zone interception?
“I felt like the throw was in good position. In that situation, third and long, I put it up and I’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys. I feel like Mike Jenkins or Roddy White or whoever it is could go up and make a play. It’s just one of those things where it didn’t go our way on that particular play and a number of other plays today. Green Bay took advantage of those opportunities. They still had to make the plays and they did that.”
On Green Bay’s defense?
“I don’t think there was anything abnormal from what we had seen from them. I think they just executed better than we did. We had some opportunities and moved the ball pretty effectively. Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize when we needed to get points. It’s disappointing.”
Falcons DB Dunta Robinson
On the Falcons’ play tonight:
“I don’t know who that team was. We haven’t shown that all season. To put that out there when it counts the most, that’s not how you want things to end. That’s not the outcome we envisioned for this year.”
On a feeling of disconnect on defense during the game:
“We had a lot of guys saying, ‘That was my fault on that play. I apologize for that.’ We just haven’t had that the entire season. With that being said, you feel like you can overcome anything. For whatever reason, we weren’t able to overcome this. We picked the wrong time to play our worst game of the year and that’s what we did today. We played our worst game of the season.”
Falcons RB Michael Turner
On a specific point where Green Bay took over the game:
“It’s kind of hard to say when. Green Bay jumped on us so fast and got out to a big lead. We had two turnovers before the half. We were moving the ball but we made critical mistakes and that’s what counts.”
On this outcome after a 13-win season:
“After 13 wins, I’m not thinking about those at all. You get those wins to get into this position. To not be able to take advantage of having home field is shocking right now.”
On what the team can take from this game:
“The main thing is that nothing is guaranteed. Just because you have home field doesn’t mean you can just walk through the playoffs. It’s a totally different season once the playoffs start, so hopefully we can learn from that.”
Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez
Thoughts on the loss:
“It’s tough, real tough. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. They were a better team today, no doubt about that. I don’t think there is any dispute. It’s one of those things, that’s what happens.”
On the season:
“You had a great, great season, unbelievable. It was a lot of fun, a lot of success for this team and the city. Everybody shared in it. It was fun, it was a fun ride. It just ended abruptly. We didn’t expect to end this way. Definitely not in the style how it ended. You just look for some kind of acceptance, I guess. You try and relish in the positive. It was a great run. There’s no doubt about that. A lot of people in Atlanta had a good time this year. This team had a great time, it’s just how it goes.”
On what Green Bay did to take him out of the game:
“We couldn’t get in any rhythm, especially in the first half. We had the kick return, and the first drive. We really couldn’t get any rhythm. I give them credit. It really wasn’t that special that they were doing; we just really couldn’t find the rhythm today.”
Falcons WR Brian Finneran
On practice during the week:
“We didn’t do anything different. We did our normal stuff. We just didn’t play well tonight.”
On losing two of the last three games at home:
“We played two tough teams, two playoff teams. Green Bay tonight, and New Orleans. I don’t know, it’s just not how we wanted to finish it up.”
On Matt Ryan’s interception for a touchdown:
“You come into halftime, you talk about that you’re still in the game. We were still upbeat, even though it was a pretty devastating play. We knew we were still in the game. We have a good offense and we can go down and score points. Then again, we just couldn’t seem to get it going tonight.”
FALCONS RB JASON SNELLING
“They were just a better team tonight. We have to give them a ton of credit for the way they played. Going into the game we knew they would be tough opponent, and they displayed it tonight. But we will keep our heads up after a good season and will look to rebound for next season. We are excited about the days ahead of us despite the loss.”
Did the team have a sense of a comeback particularly in the second half?
“Yes, we felt like we did have a chance even though we were down. Given our numerous comebacks in the regular season, we still had a belief to keep fighting despite the odds. Tonight was no different. At the end the better team won.”
FALCONS WR RODDY WHITE
“For starters, I think we didn’t do a good job of executing tonight like we did in the regular season. To that end, we dug ourselves a hole against a gritty team like the Green Bay Packers. We also didn’t score enough points offensively. We did a good job of scoring first, but after that, we couldn’t muster up enough scoring to keep it close.”
On QB Matt Ryan’s interception before halftime?
“I don’t think that hurt us that bad because we could have recovered from being down 14 points. Again, you just have to give Green Bay credit because they never took the gas off the pedal. They also came up with turnovers when they desperately needed them. They capitalized from our mistakes and took advantage of each opportunity.”
Courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons
Posted in Packers.com Blog