What the Falcons had to say after beating the Panthers 

9:18 p.m Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 Atlanta Falcons

Here’s what the Falcons had to say after they beat the Panthers Sunday and advanced to the playoffs: 

RICARDO ALLEN, free safety

On reaching the playoffs: “It doesn’t even matter how the season went last year. It’s just this year. You are grinding. You do all of this work. You play all these weeks. You are trying to get to the big show. You want to give yourselves a chance. I’m not saying that it’s automatic that we make it to the big show. But we gave ourselves a chance to keep going.” 

On the defense’s play against Carolina: “We always say on the defensive side, we don’t take nothing around from our offense. We are not battling with them, but we want people to know this is a defensive team too. This is a three-headed monster. You have to fight our offense, defense and special teams. You not only have to play against Julio (Jones) and Matt (Ryan). You have to worry about us also.” 

On stopping Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey: “We keep it on our linebackers all night. They asked for a challenge to get them man-to-man and our linebackers did it. They made the plays and we shut them down. Every time they got the ball to (McCaffrey), they were right there for him.” 

On the only NFC team to return to the playoffs: “We are not worried about anybody else. We are worried about ourselves.” 

On the Rams: “I’m going to enjoy this first before I start worrying about them. I know they’ve got a lot of good players.” 

On making it back to the playoffs: “It’s really special. It’s not easy to make it back to the playoffs. We had to grind it out throughout the whole season to get a chance to be on the big stage once again in the postseason is great for the program.”

On playing on his calf injury: “I was really happy to be out there playing with my teammates. I’m glad that we were able to put together a good team win and that we’ll be playing again.”

On the play of the offense: “We’d love to score touchdowns instead of field goals, but it was a team win. The defense did a great job of stopping them. Getting turnovers and actually getting points, that’s big.”

On the Rams: “They are really talented. It’s going to be a really tough game. They have a great offense and they are really talented on defense. Aaron Donald is a really good (defensive) tackle. He’s just one part of a really talented front. We are going to have a lot of work ahead of us.”

KEANU NEAL, safety 

On how he felt the defense performed: “We played really well. That starts at practice as well as taking advantage of each day. Once you get to the game, it gets easy. Continuing to work in practice was huge for us.”

On whether he could sense things were right: “Yeah, I felt that. But the biggest thing for us is we didn’t fall into complacency. We didn’t just get comfortable. We kept fighting and kept playing. That was huge for us.”

On his first career interception: “It was cool. Debo [Deion Jones] did a great job of staying under on the hook getting the ball tipped up, and I was able to make the play. It was cool to get the first one out of the way.”

On how it felt to win going into the playoffs: “It felt good. We’re in control of our own destiny. We’re placing it in our hands. That was a big thing for us, so I’m glad we got the W.”

JULIO JONES, wide receiver 

On the win: “We did what we had to do to get the win today.” 

On the Mike Adams hit:  “I’m good, though Nothing is broke. Nothing is pulled. I’m ready to go.”

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