A: Well, we just have to play great football and, offensively, I thought we did some good things last week. We’ve got to build on that and make plays, score in the red zone and stay away from the turnovers and penalties and just play smart football.
Q: Last year, one of the themes was finishing games and the season. How do you get back to doing that?
A: It’s just about executing well in the fourth quarter. Put ourselves in circumstances to win games, which we’ve done this week. When you have opportunities to win it in the end and you get chances, you’ve got to execute. It’s something that we’re very close and we make some good plays, almost getting first downs and almost having great opportunities is not quite playing perfect football.
Q: The penalties, is that easy to correct in practice? Is it about mental discipline?
A: Some of them are mental; some of them are just when you’re in a bad situation. Obviously, the intentional grounding is something where you’re getting pressured and you have to throw the ball away and trying to avoid a sack. So, the outcome is a sack. So, it’s not a tough situation. Some of the holding calls, obviously, it’s easy because the guy has beaten you and you’re just trying, and you give up a sack or try to get a hold. It’s one of those deals, most of them are physical mistakes, rather than mental. We’ve been pretty good at that all year about not being penalized. We have to try and get back to that.
Q: You guys haven’t had a lot of success in your last two visits to play them in New Orleans. Are you looking forward to getting them up here?
A: Yeah. It should be a great game. They’re good offensively, they score a lot of points, and their defense creates some turnovers. So, we have to make sure that we’re doing our job as an offense. Getting first downs, or controlling the clock, and making sure that we’re scoring points by getting touchdowns and not settling for field goals.
Q: Do you look at the standings? Do you look at where Dallas and Washington are?
A: Yeah, I know exactly where they are. Each week will present possibly new standings, a new set of circumstances. As of right now, we know we need to start winning some football games. It starts this week and it’s a big game for us.
Q: How do they impress you defensively?
A: They do a good job of showing a number of different looks. They try to show some different blitz looks, they try to get hits on the quarterback. It’s an aggressive style of football, and we have to make sure that we play smart and everybody knows their assignments, know who is blocking who and hopefully have opportunities to get the ball down the field.
Q: When you look at the other team in town, how tough would it be to be playing for your job on a weekly basis? When was the last time you had to face a situation like that? Can you even remember?
A: Every week, you’re competing. I don’t know if it ever changes, no matter what the circumstances. You’re trying to win and compete to the best of your ability.
Q: You talked about playing smart and you talked about the penalties. Do you look at last week as just one game where those things happened?
A: Sometimes, it’s just bad circumstances. Holding calls, you usually have them because someone is getting beat and you try to hold to avoid a sack, or something of the sort. It’s just a matter of not being put in bad situations. We were able to overcome some of them and some of them we were not able to overcome. We’ve been pretty good at it all year, in terms of not hurting ourselves, not making mistakes. We have to make sure that we continue to do that.
Q: The Saints score points. They do it against everybody. They may have been held to under 20 (points) maybe twice all year. Knowing that, is there pressure on you and the offense? Knowing that you came off of a sloppy game?
A: I didn’t think we had a sloppy game, first off. I think we just have to make sure that we have to try and score touchdowns. You want to control the clock, you want to convert on third downs, all of those things are very, very important. Try to stay on the football field and you have to score touchdowns. We love that Tynes can kick field goals, but if we’re kicking four field goals, it’s probably not going to be a good day for us.
Q: Do you feel like you’re in a good place as an offense over the last couple of weeks?
A: Yeah. I mean, I thought the last two weeks, we moved the ball very, very well. Last week, I thought it was a little bit the case of a few penalties and a little bit of just having bad field position. The first half, we had a 12-play drive, an 11-play drive, a 17-play drive and you score right before half-time on a two-minute deal. To get a field goal, that was just a time deal. Every one of them was a scoring drive, or getting into scoring position. Again, a lot of eight-for-10 on third downs, it was a very dominant game. Second half, we still had some long drives and didn’t have much to show for it, because we were backed up. Usually, you have a seven-play drive and you’re getting 40-yard gains and stuff. Those are leaving the points, but if you’re starting at your own nine-yard line, sometimes it’s just tough. Obviously, the penalties hurt us. We just have to try and get better field position and take advantage of our opportunities.
Q: You guys took a lot of deep shots early in the game, some connected and some didn’t. Do you feel like you can win a shootout with anybody in this league?
A: I feel confident about our offense that we can go and score. That we have the playmakers to move the ball, whether we’re running it or throwing it, we can be a high-powered offense. We feel that we can score a lot of points, if that’s what the game calls for.
Q: Would it ever be appropriate when you don’t want to settle for field goals to push the envelope and go for it?
A: It always depends on the down and distance and what the circumstances are. That’s for Tom, and we go for it a decent amount when you have some 4th and 1s, 4th and 2s, if it’s the circumstance that it would be a long field goal. I think we’re pretty aggressive and can build momentum from moving the ball well. I think it all depends on the circumstances.
Q: Is it a luxury when you lose Sean Lockleard and have a guy like
A: Yeah. Obviously, to have a guy who has been a starting player for us for nine years, he’s been banged-up a little bit this year, but he’s back, he’s healthy. We feel that our offensive line and our offense shouldn’t miss a beat with him there.
Q: With the four-game season right now, is it strange to say that they’re all must-wins from here on out? Is it a comfort zone for you guys?
A: I think a lot of teams are in a very similar situation as us. It is what it is. I think in these situations, this is fun. This is exciting and that’s how you have to look at it. It’s not a situation where you say, ‘Oh, we have to win’ and you get nervous, you get tired, you get worried. Hey, right now, we’re playing to try and make the playoffs and extend our season. These are all big games, they’re all important and we have to enjoy this opportunity to go out there and take advantage of it and play the style of football that we know we can.
Q: Is the deep ball back?
A: Yeah. We’re close. I just missed Hakeem on one. I just missed Victor on one. We hit a couple down the field to Vic and Martellus and hit Vic on another one. We were able to get the ball down the field a little bit more, which was nice. We hit some big plays and hopefully, we can continue to do that and hit a few more.
Q: You’ve been down this road before with so many close races, every year. Are you frustrated that you can’t make that separation You see some teams like the New England Patriots coasting in every year. You guys are two-time Super Bowl champions, but in the regular season, you scramble.
A: That’s just the way it is. Obviously, everybody would like to breeze through and win your division in Week 13 and that’s not the norm. There are some teams that do that and most teams are in situations where they have to win games at the end. You have to play in big games, and that’s our circumstance. So, we have to make sure we play our best football at the end of the season.