QB DREW BREES
(On if the game’s momentum changed after the Saints led 17-7…) I feel like we got off to a fast start in a big way. That’s what we preached, that’s what we talked about, especially coming into this environment where you have to try and find a way to take the crowd out of it. This is definitely one of the loudest places in the league. Not just at moments, but consistently, throughout the entire game. Great fans. Obviously that’s a big advantage. We score those 17 points, get a big turnover from our defense – unfortunately we gave one back to them at one point. To go in at haltime 24-20, we scored 20 points in the first half. As I look at the entire game and the complexion of it, obviously both offenses were rolling pretty good. Only four punts on each side. We made it inside their red zone seven times. Seven times. We came away with four touchdowns and three field goals. The unfortunate thing for us offensively is that all three times we got stopped were inside the five-yard line. Just imagine if we could have gotten one more touchdown, two more, out of those three stops. Maybe this is a different game, a different outcome. They made a lot of big plays; we just didn’t make enough plays when it came down to it.
(On if he can describe his level of disappointment…) It’s no fun to lose in the first round, obviously, because we had high aspirations and expectations for this team. As we looked at the playoff picture we just felt like, hey, we’re as good as anybody. We’ve got as good a shot as anybody. How many teams can say they’ve gone back and repeated Super Bowl championships? Everything that we’ve been through this year, especially early on when we started 4-3, I think a lot of people wanted to talk Super Bowl hangover, and yet we kept it in tight and stuck together and found a way to come up with some big victories, starting with that Sunday night Pittsburgh game and then rattling off six in a row, then a huge road Monday night victory at Atlanta – the one seed in this conference – in order to give ourselves a playoff berth. It’s hard. It’s hard to come off a championship season and put together the season we did. But I felt like down the stretch we were playing well, and I liked the experience level that we had, the fact that we had a lot of guys on our team who were part of the championship last year. We knew what it took to prepare for the playoffs. The level of play, how it just rises and we all rise to the occasion. We knew coming in here, a hostile environment, it doesn’t matter what happened during the regular season if you’re playing a team again. It’s just all those challenges. I felt like, as I speak for the offense, today we played well, just not well enough. We made some plays, but we just didn’t make enough of them.
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(On the impact and reaction to Marshawn Lynch’s TD run…) Here’s the thing: We scored, and if we get the onside kick then we’re sitting there with one time out, ball on our own 40 and a minute and a half, feeling like we’ve done this before many times. We can go down, score a touchdown and win this game. There was no doubt. You can’t have doubt. There’s no room for it, especially with the type of guys we have on that field. We’re mentally tough. Obviously that was unfortunate. That was a great effort by Marshawn Lynch on that run. For them to take an 11-point lead, we still felt like we had a shot.
(On if he can process his emotions so soon after the season ended…) That’s what’s so great about the playoffs. It’s single elimination. You move on or you go home. Unfortunately for us, this time we’re going home. If there’s anything we can take away from this it’s that it’s hard to win in this league. It’s hard to win on the road, especially in the playoffs. I feel like we’ve got a special group of guys, and we’ll see how this off-season plays out as we go into next season. But I feel like we have the opportunity, the type of men, to make a run at it here for years to come, hopefully.
(On constantly starting drives with poor field position…) Now that you mention it, with the exception of the first kickoff that was kicked out of bounds, I felt that our field position was deep in our own territory a lot. It’s loud at that end. We had a few three-and-outs there in the second quarter after the 17 points to start the game. But after that I felt like we had some good drives going. All we needed to do was just kind of get that first down to get in a rhythm and just start pushing the ball down the field.
(On the play of Matt Hasselbeck…) He played great. He played phenomenal. I said we were inside their red zone seven times. They were inside ours three. That means you’re coming up with a lot of big plays. Obviously he had two huge pass plays, and then Marshawn Lynch’s big run at the end, Matt came up with some big plays, especially early on after the tipped interception. I think he just showed what a veteran quarterback does, and that’s come back and throw four touchdowns. He played exceptionally well. I think that’s what you expect from a guy like him.
(On if he feels shock his season is over…) Yeah, but you know what I’ve learned from being in this league? There’s times when you lose 13-10 coach is yelling at the defense. Then you lose 41-36 and the coach is yelling at the offense. Each game is so different. You just have to feel the ebb and flow of the game. You just understand for us offensively, yeah, they scored 41 but we had opportunities to score 50. So as I look at us and our production, we could have done better. We could have made some more plays that would have allowed us to get a win. It’s not what was happening on the other side of the ball. We had chances to make those plays and we didn’t.
(On if it’s possible Seattle used its 7-9 record and underdog status as motivation…) Oh, absolutely. They didn’t play like a 7-9 team today, or a team that had lost, what, seven of their last 10? I don’t even know the stats; I just kind of hear it. They played great. They made a ton of plays. This is a team that plays well at home. They always have, especially in the playoffs. I believe their record is 5-1 in the playoffs. I mean, that’s pretty stout. That lets you know how hard it is to come here and get a victory. I think the crowd does a great job. It makes it a very tough home-field advantage for an opposing team.
RB REGGIE BUSH
(On leaving the game in the second half) “I just got hit on my leg and it was kind of near where I fractured it, but it’s fine. X-rays came back negative. Same area where I fractured it at the beginning of the season, but it’s fine. It just flared up on me a little bit and I couldn’t run full speed – I could run, but I couldn’t go full speed. So obviously if somebody else can go full speed it’s probably better for the job than me going in there at half speed.”
(On not being able to get the running game going) “It was tough. I felt like in the first half we had some pretty good runs and we were physical and got some key first downs with the run game and kind of kept the drive going alive. The second half we didn’t play so well. We had some mistakes that we made in third-down situations that kind of hurt us that were key I think in the momentum of the game, gave them a lot of momentum. They were able to get some balls over our head on the defensive side of the ball, some big plays for them, and that gave them a lot of momentum, kind of slowed us down a little bit. We fought until the end, which is something I’m proud of, but we dug ourselves too deep of a hole to get back out.”
(On ending the season) “It was very disappointing because we felt like we had as good a chance as anybody to go out there and defend our title. We were banged up in some areas throughout the season, but we felt like we overcame a lot of that. Down toward the end, toward the stretch, we just didn’t finish strong, and that’s one of the things that we kind of pride ourselves in doing. We got to pride ourselves as an organization, as a team, as being able to finish strong, and these last two weeks it wasn’t the case.”
WR MARQUES COLSTON
(On the Saints offense) “We probably put the ball in the air a little bit more than we would have liked to, but we were able to get back in the game and that’s all you can ask for at this point in the season.”
(On if there was any sort of over-confidence in facing a 7-9 team) “No, I mean we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Just watching on film, they’re a totally different team playing here, and it just got the best of us today.”
(On giving up the big plays and trying to come back) “There were a lot of instances where we were three-and-out and we had the defenses on the field a little too fast, but it’s a tough one to swallow.”
FS DARREN SHARPER
(On the loss…) Whenever you play a team in a playoff game anything can happen. They played better than we did. They made more plays than we did today. I think we might have taken it for granted the amount of success they had throwing the ball against us the last time we played them. They came out and I know they were confident they could do that and they did that today.
(On how Seattle scored touchdowns…) The stuff they scored on was stuff we had prepared for. We just messed up some coverages and our eyes were very bad in coverage.
(On how Seattle’s receivers got open…) You can put it as blown coverages or you can put it as just not looking at the right things.
(On Seattle’s offense…) It’s playoffs. Rankings are thrown out of the window. We don’t worry too much about where you’re ranked, what’s the records. Whoever is in the tournament has a chance to win. And you saw that today was a prime example. Everybody is talking about the biggest underdogs and all that. That stuff doesn’t win or lose a game. The team that comes out and plays and makes the most plays and doesn’t hurt themselves is the team that wins. And that is what Seattle did.
(On the Saints’ season ending in first round…) We are not happy about that. […] It’s a tough environment to play in and they played better than we did. But I don’t want to take anything away from this season. We accomplished a lot but we didn’t accomplish our main goal and that was getting back to the Superbowl and have a chance to defend our crown.
(On Matt Hasselbeck…) I mean, Hasselbeck is Hasselbeck. He’s a veteran quarterback. You know he is going to come in and he has seen a lot of coverages before. He’s going to study what you do on defense. I think overall he just basically threw the ball accurately to when guys were wide open. He played well but on the touchdowns he had guys wide open and just did what most quarterbacks should have the ability to do.
(On Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run…) I don’t think that’s what we have been in the past. We have shown the ability to tackle better than that, especially in a situation where we are trying to get our offense the football back. That was a beastly run by him. He had a lot more hunger than we did trying to bring him down.
SS ROMAN HARPER
(On Seattle’s big plays on offense…) I think two of them were just bad eyes on the read. It just was what it was. […] I’m going to make aggressive mistakes. That’s just who I am. I’m not going to apologize for that. It was a great call by them and they made the play.
(On if Seattle caught Harper trying to blitz…) No, I don’t think I was trying to blitz. It was just a fake here or blocks out, just a little ghost thing. They got it from probably Baltimore that they got us with earlier in the season. It’s a copy-cat league and it worked on us twice.
(On losing in first round of playoffs…) Our main goal was to come back and win another Superbowl. We didn’t accomplish that. At the end of the day, that’s just disappointing within itself that you set goals up and you prepare and you work hard all offseason and you don’t accomplish the goals that you set for yourself.
(On if the big plays were shocking…) Yes, very shocking, especially when you play the way we did, everything we put into it, the things we talked about all week. They didn’t do a lot of different things than we were prepared for. At the end of the day, we have got to be able to communicate better, we have got to be able to cover our guys a little bit better and we have got to have better eyes.
(On Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run…) I don’t know. I’m just trying to chase the guy and see him break one, two, three, four. It’s just a lot of bouncing off. We just didn’t get him down. Right there we have got o give ourselves a chance to get our offence back the ball and if we do that we still got a chance in this thing with number nine [Drew Brees]. We just didn’t do that. We didn’t do the things to win the ballgame today.
CB TRACY PORTER
(On playing without Malcolm Jenkins…) It affected us but still, when you don’t have guys executing you’re going to lose the game. Malcolm is a huge part of our defense just like the other 10 guys on the field with his playmaking ability. […] We have guys who were expected to step up and we just didn’t execute.
(On Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run…) Missed tackles. It’s just as simple as that. We had the guy wrapped up. He kept his legs moving, broke tackles and 67 yards later he was in the end zone.
(On how the momentum shifted…) Those guys kept fighting and they were able to capitalize on the things that we did wrong and they had the crowd behind them. It gave them that added advantage and they just did what they had to do to come out with the victory.
CB JABARI GREER
(On Seattle’s offense…) They did a good job of executing. They did a good job of making plays. Unfortunately, we were not able to capitalize on some opportunities we had. But they just came out and made plays that they needed to make to win the game.
(On Matt Hasselbeck’s play…) He was successful. I think it’s a little too early to start gaging the season completely. This stings a lot so we are just going to sit on this for a minute.
(On reaction to loss…) You never want to lose. You never want to lose this early. You never want to lose anytime you are playing ball. We felt like we had the opportunity to go out there and win this game. They came out ready.
(On the touchdown passes…) They made plays. They were able to get open and able to make plays.
(On the Saints’ season ending in first round…) It’s not fun. It’s not fun.
WR LANCE MOORE
(On Saints’ approach to the game…) I’m not going to say we came in here overconfident. We knew we had to come in and play a great game against a good team. We played here before and it’s a very, very tough place to play. They definitely took advantage of that today.
(On the game being one of biggest upsets in NFL playoff history…) You throw the records out of the window. You can’t really dwell on what happened earlier in the season when we played them. They were ready to go today and they definitely out-executed us.