DETROIT LIONS VS. ATLANTA FALCONS 28:27
The following are postgame quotes from the Detroit Lions 27-26 win against the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field.
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ
On how he felt about today's game and the players performance: "Obviously (it was) exciting to win the game but there are a lot of things we need to clean up - way too many penalties. One of the things that really disappointed me were all the penalties before and after the whistle and the most easily avoided penalties are the ones before the snap and after the whistle; we have to clean those up because we put ourselves in some bad situations because of that. (We) had a lot of situations come up on the field today, two-minute, four-minute, and the onside kick; a lot of situations that we practiced and it was good to see the players execute those things. It's nice when you see Jason Hanson walk on the field at the end of the game; he's a kicker that's been there and done that and you know when you have it close, he was able to put us over on the scoreboard."
On the quarterbacks play today: "All of them did some really good things. They all got points on the board but then they also could have done some things better. I would have liked to have seen us come out of the first drive with a touchdown; we just have to find a way to keep our feet right there and make a play. It was a good chance - I was going to go for it on fourth down if we didn't lose yards but as soon as we lost yards then it was field goal and I didn't want to come away without points there.
"Obviously Matt made a bad decision. They blitzed him, a rookie quarterback is going to get blitzed, but then rather than burning the ball he tried to make a play that ended up costing him. The thing I liked about it is: he bounced back with an 80-yard touchdown drive and took a hit which you have to do in the NFL and made a perfect pass and Derrick (Williams) made a great catch. I liked that bounce back.
"Drew did a great job with his feet; a lot of people in Michigan have seen Drew play football and they know, like I mentioned in training camp, it's hard to get an evaluation of him because in training camp and practices you really don't scramble around and he's got a great asset with his legs. He used it today, he got us in field goal range and that was able to win the game."
On his impression of Stafford bouncing back from throwing that interception: "That's part of his personality; that's one of the reasons we drafted him. He's not scared, he's not afraid, he's not afraid to go back out and put himself out there. I wasn't in here when he was in here but I imagine he wasn't shy about coming in, that's all apart of the reason, not just what he did on the field. It didn't take Vince Lombardi to see that he can throw the football but all those other things led to this organization drafting him."
LIONS QB DAUNTE CULPEPPER
On his impression of how the team played: "We got some things accomplished - still got a long ways to go. I thought our tempo was good. We didn't have a lot of the mental mistakes and that just goes to show that the team was focused. The main thing was that we came out with a victory and we did what it took through four quarters to win."
On his mobility: "I feel stronger - my feet, my legs, I feel like I finally got them back to be the player that I want to be. I feel comfortable - I'm going to continue to work and still take it one day at a time and try to get better every day."
On watching the other two quarterbacks: "It's a situation where everybody wants to be in there playing. I was just trying to encourage and give any positive input or any type of thing that I see from the sideline to try to help. That's kind of my approach when I'm not in."
On his take on the competition for the starting quarterback job: "I always think of the three 'd's' There's a lot of debating going on. You guys see, I don't choose to be in the debate - the decision is for the coaching staff. I'm very determined, and those are the three d's that I always consider and how I look at it - those are the three 'd's."
On being a veteran and still competing for his job: "You always have to fell like you're going out there to show you're stuff. At the same time, when you're prepared, it makes the battle a little easier. I feel very prepared going out there and playing. I have that confidence knowing in certain situations what we're trying to do and that's just the preparation and hard work that I put through and we put through as a team."
LIONS QB MATTHEW STAFFORD
On how feels about his first preseason game: "It was fun, It was a blast, it was fun out there. I threw it around a little bit - I obviously don't want to throw anymore picks but we jumped back and had a touchdown there which helped us out."
On throwing an interception and bouncing right back afterwards: "Yeah, that's a ball I just should have thrown it away. We were hot; it didn't happen the way we wanted it to and I tried to make a play on third down. I should of just threw it away. I'm going to throw interceptions, it's going to happen; every quarterback does and I understand that. It never really got to me and I don't plan on it happening anytime soon. I knew there was going to be another drive and I had another chance to get out there and make something happen and best way to make up for that is to go out there and score a touchdown. It was big for us and Drew (Stanton) and Daunte (Culpepper) played really well. Drew there at the end really gave us a chance to win; that's a situation we have worked a hundred times in practice - working almost everyday - and he did a great job of getting us out there. And Hanson (Jason) is about as automatic as they get."
On his touchdown throw: "I knew it was coming. I felt it, I looked to my left, actually had nine-route, a go route to my left and the corner had great postion on him so I went back right, saw Derrick (Williams), had him deep pretty good and just kind of cut it loose to a spot where I thought he was going to be and I don't really know what it looked like but we scored - I heard the cheer."
On whether he was nervous on the sideline before he got into the game: "I wasn't very nervous, more anxious. I was like, ' I want to get out here and play.' It was tough sitting around for the first quarter and a half and I loved watching Daunte, he is a great player, but at the same time, I want to be in there too. Once I got out there, I felt at home. We had a first good couple plays; we stalled out for a little bit but I felt like we did pretty good."
LIONS RB AARON BROWN
On scoring his first touchdowns in an NFL game: "I felt good; felt refreshed. We'd been fighting the whole game and that showed the character and tenacity that this football team has. Coach Schwartz, he just instills it in us to have that drive and have that fight throughout the whole game, not just every other series. Keeping that in mind and knowing that the team is rooting for everybody, that's what kind of got us the (win) tonight."
On the transition from college football to the NFL: "Coach Schwartz, he's doing a heck of a job preparing us mentally for the job. Physically we're all capable of doing this game. It's just the mental part - that's the biggest key these last two weeks, just being there on the mental aspect. I think most of it is mental. The physical part I've been doing all my life, it's just how to separate myself from every other player."
On QB Matthew Stafford coming back strong after throwing an interception: "He showed what kind of winner he is. He just let it go - just like when I had a good play today. You have to let it go, you can't just let it keep you underneath, you have to climb above things. I'm talking about the mental part - you have to be stronger than what obstacles are thrown at you."
On whether he thinks he deserves the game ball: "No, not me. Daunte [Culpepper], Drew [Stanton] or [Matthew] Stafford - they're the ones who really bring us in as a family. They have a huge workload even though they're the quarterbacks - they don't get touched, they really don't run around a lot - they have to have a huge mental capacity to handle everything Coach throws at them."
LIONS LB JULIAN PETERSON
On his impression of the first preseason game: "Our coaches did a good job of getting us prepared in that type of situation of no timeouts, 1:40 (left in the game); we've been practicing, repping that situation. Our offense had no problem moving the ball and they knew exactly what to do in that situation. That let's you know how much this coaching staff knows and we're still learning and trying to get better and better - it's a good win to have."
On what he saw from the defense: "The biggest thing we need to do is make sure we tackle well. We did a poor job of tackling and that's why they scored that first touchdown. After that we settled down and we made some plays but obviously, we need to tighten up a bit but I am pleased by what we did."
On whether the team was excited to play in its first competitive game: "Oh definitely. You get tired of hitting each other and I know the rest of the guys feel the same way and they did a good job of bouncing back from an adverse situation. We were down a little bit with that pick from Matt, he threw an interception for a touchdown and came right back and moved the ball down the field. To move onto the next play like that, that's a good job."
LIONS K JASON HANSON
On the game-winning kick: "Yeah, it feels good to put the finishing touches on a good last drive by the offense and Drew [Stanton], and the defense holding them. It was a good way to win; but the scary thing about my job is the difference between the locker room right now as opposed to if it doesn't go in…Don [Muhlbach], Nick [Harris], and I, we did it - our part of it, so that feels good."
On the new faces in the locker room: "Well, it's like this every year this time of year. You enjoy being with the guys you're with; everyone's in it together. You have a lot of new faces, a lot of big boys are in here. I've been saying this tongue-in-cheek, that I'm starting to feel small again and I mean it. There's some big guys and physically we look pretty good. We'll see. Everyone's been predicting what will happen but right now it feels good to be working together with the guys."
On QB Daunte Culpepper and QB Matthew Stafford: "They're both really good. We'll see - it's early and there are a lot of games to be played. I think you have a little bit of success, you see some of the things you do in practice translate to the game and guys get excited and hopefully it starts to gain some momentum."
FALCONS HEAD COACH MIKE SMITH
On the team's defense: "Defensively, I thought we had a good stop down there in the red zone which was critical, and I was really pleased to see the turnover that we returned for a touchdown there in the second half (but then) we came right back out and we ended up giving up a touchdown right after that. We wanted to play a bunch of guys; get a good look at them, and I'm certainly glad it's a four-game preseason that we evaluate these players and see how they respond from Week 1 to Week 2."
On how the team is working together: "I think that for us and for us as a team and as a coaching staff, it's a new season it's the 2009 Atlanta Falcons and there's going to be some growing pains. Not only do we have a lot of new pieces on the defensive side of the ball - and I thought that for the most part for their first exposure together that they did some good things - but we have a long long way to go. There are a number of things that I was very encouraged (with), like the play on the punt return. That was one of the biggest things that we wanted to come out of these first couple preseason games: that we had someone that can return punts. Derek Williams had an outstanding return, got the ball on the plus side of the 50, and when you have that, you have to make plays."
On how the rookies played tonight: "(Peria Jerry) started; he had a big play early in the red zone on the penetration play. You really don't know that you can get a true fair evaluation from the first preseason game. I noticed there were guys that were a little bit nervous as the day went on; (it was) their first opportunity to go out there and play. I'm going to really have to watch the tape to see how those guys really preformed."
On the areas needing improvement: "There were way too many penalties on either side of the ball; you can't miss an extra point, usually when you miss an extra point it's going to come back and haunt you and it most certainly it did tonight."
On QB Matt Ryan: "I though Matt moved the offense efficiently there in the first quarter and we just wanted to get him out there and get him a quarter and get him out of there and that's what we were able to do, and we came out with our starting offensive line. So once we got through that first quarter we basically wanted to evaluate the other guys and see a little competing for a roster spots."
FALCONS QB MATT RYAN
On how he felt about the game as a whole: "You know, I felt like we came out and I wanted to execute as well as we could. Obviously we were a little bit rusty in the first series but overall I thought we got the job down. We came out and scored some points; moved the sticks, ultimately we fell short, you want to win every game that you are playing, but I felt like it was a good start."
On how he feels after the game: "I feel good; knock off some of the cobwebs from last year. I didn't get hit too bad which is a good thing, but I got bumped around a little bit which I think is going to help come the first game of the season."
On the difference in his preparation form last year to this year: "Yeah, it's a bit difference form last year to this year. I think last year you just kind of absorb everything that you can and absorb the offense, and just get out there and call the play correctly and try to run it as best as you can. This year I think I've done a better job working on the little things and trying to get better at the little things. I feel like if I can do that, we will be better off."
On if the Lions did anything unexpected: "Well, you know the first preseason game it was fairly vanilla but it came with a little bit of cover zero early on which is fun to see because you know you are going to see that throughout the year, but nothing crazy."
FALCONS RB MICHAEL TURNER
On getting back into a competitive atmosphere: "It always feels good to get back into the group thing - hit somebody else, for a change. Just to start the '09 season. We have a lot of improvements to make but it feels good just to get back out there and get the game tempo."
On whether he would have liked to play longer into the game: "No, we play 16 games in the regular season; we just want to get out there, get into game shape a little bit and get ready for the regular season."
On whether the offense was comfortable playing together for the first time in a game: "Oh yeah, we were pretty comfortable. We had to make some adjustments after the first drive - they have a new coach over there and everything and we wanted to see what kind of schemes he'd come up with but we have great coaching staff over here and they made some great adjustments and some big plays came of it."
FALCONS DT PERIA JERRY
On his impression of the game: "It felt really good. It was fast at first, but once I got a couple snaps in, it really slowed down for me"
On looking forward to the next game: "Oh yes sir; I think I'll be a lot better and I got a feel now for what it's like and I think guys build off that."
On how the team played overall: "Overall, I think we did well. Everybody was hustling for the ball. We hit a few bumps but we made up for it with effort. (We've) just got to go watch the film and see what it was."
FALCONS S ERIK COLEMAN
On his impression of the game: "I think that the operation went well. We obviously have a lot of things to improve on. It's training camp and we're trying to get better and (it gives us) a benchmark to work harder and to continue to work at something."
On the excitement of the game: "Oh yeah, that was a great game. The guys played their butts off and it was great to see a close game situation to get guys experience in tight games. It's unfortunate that we lost but we got that experience."
On the biggest thing he worked on: "Probably working on getting my pads a little bit lower, working on tackling - things you don't really simulate too much in practice because you're not tackling each other. Probably that, pad leverage."
Photo: Michigan Moves/flickr