Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Orleans Saints' Mindset Brings Them Into Playoffs

“Honestly we expect and plan on playing in the postseason. That expectation is something to where it would have been disappointing had we not had this opportunity. I would say that once you’ve had a chance to win a championship, your thirst for more of that type of success only grows stronger. You never take for granted these seasons or these years because this group isn’t something that’s a permanent thing.
“I don’t view (the playoff berth) as a checkmark in what we’ve wanted to accomplish. We want to accomplish bigger things than just getting into the postseason.”
--Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints' head coach, after New Orleans clinched consecutive playoff berths for the first time since making three straight appearances from 1990-92. 

After winning the Super Bowl last season, Saint regular season wins like the one over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome this weekend are not a big deal in New Orleans.
A big part of this mindset and high expectations for the New Orleans Saints comes from quarterback Drew Brees.   
"He can put a mistake past him, and the players all feel that with him under center, we are in any game we play," Payton said of Brees, who completed seven consecutive passes on the go-ahead touchdown drive, including a 6-yard touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham on third-and-3.
"I was just telling myself, give ourselves a chance," Brees said. "The defense did a great job of stopping them ... and I've seen this team come back and win in a lot of different ways. So despite everything that had happened previous to that last drive, we could go 90 yards just one play at a time, convert some first downs and find a way to take the lead back."
The Saints fought their way back in Monday night's game, marching 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 3:24 remaining.  
"It's very rewarding, because you're going to have things happen like that. It's not always going to be rosy. There's going to be some mistakes made and potentially mistakes made by you," Brees said of the clinching drive. "So you just have to find a way to respond. At the quarterback position everyone is looking to you for confidence. They want poise, composure. If you get rattled, they get rattled. If you stay poised, they stay poised. And you just try to show that for them."
Brees completed 35 of 49 passes for 302 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in another winning effort.
Excerpts from (December 28, 2010) and (December 29, 2010). 
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Monday, December 06, 2010

Atlanta Falcons' Mindset Puts Them In the NFC South Driver's Seat

The Atlanta Falcons have won another tough NFL game with playoff implications.  They maintained the lead in the NFC South and continue to have the best record in the NFC.  They are also tied for the best record in the NFL.  In another late comeback win, The Atlanta Falcons were able to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-24 on Sunday for their sixth straight win. 

Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons' third-year quarterback was interviewed after the game.  He said, 

“We felt like we were moving the ball all day. We didn’t feel like we were moving it as well as we’d like. We were in some tough spots and we had to overcome. We had some penalties that kind of got us off schedule. We felt like if we cleaned some things up, we could move the football. Again, we had some penalties, but we overcame them on the last drive. The mindset was the same. We felt we could go down the field and score. We’ve been in those situations a number of times this year. We made the plays when we needed to.”

ON NOT PANICKING: “I think it says a lot about our resolve. We’ve been in these situations a number of times this year and we’ve been successful in a lot of those situations because we understand that we can make plays when we need to. We did that today.”
ON EARLIER COMEBACKS: “Absolutely, every time that you’re in different situation. And you have that experience to draw from; it helps to boost your confidence. We were a very confident team at the start of the year, but having played through a lot of different situations, I think our confidence has grown.”
Ryan, threw a 9-yard touchdown to receiver Michael Jenkins with a little over four and a half minutes remaining in the game.  
This was Ryan’s sixth fourth quarter, game winning effort of year.  He kept a 10-play, 67-yard drive alive with a 25-yarder to receiver Roddy White on a third-and-20.
Ryan finished the day 18-for-36, 205 yards and two touchdowns.

“We didn’t play our best game. It wasn’t one of our better games, but we are a very resilient group. Guys can put bad plays behind them and we have to do that in this league. There are going to be plays that don’t go your way. Our guys did a good job of staying composed. They never blinked. That’s what this team is all about. They are not going to blink whenever things go the other team’s way.”
ON RUNNING OUT OF MIRACLE FINISHES: “I know this, most of the games in this league come down to a touchdown or less. Between 25 and 30 percent of them are decided by a field goal. We’ve just been in a situation where we’ve played in a lot of those. We know that this team is a talented team and that they have a lot of resolve. No matter what the situation is, they are going to play to the end. When you do that, you have the opportunity to win games. That’s what we’ve been able to do. We’ve been very fortunate.”
--Mike Smith, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Excerpts taken from (December 6, 2010) and (December 6, 2010).
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