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What the Falcons had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

Here’s what the Falcons were talking about after the 48-33 win over the Panthers:

JAKE MATTHEWS, left tackle

Are the Falcons the team to beat in the NFC South:

“On yeah, no doubt. We knew we were the team to beat in the division going into the year. That’s the confidence that we have. WE just have to take it one game at a time and keep doing what we are doing.

DWIGHT FREENEY, defensive end

(On having Carolina’s number for three quarters)

We had a good game plan going in. The offense was rolling, the defense was rolling. That’s the type of effort (we need), at least for those three quarters. The offense never stopped but the other two phases we were rolling for three quarters straight. And that’s the type of effort that we want, that’s the type of effort we look for. That doesn’t happen every week. I don’t think that happens every week for any team. But we definitely sent a message out there today.

(On defense clicking)

That’s what you want. You want everything functioning the same. It’s like a well-functioning machine when you get the D-line going, the backers and the coverage. We all work together. We gave up some points late we didn’t want to give up but the only statistic that matters is the end.

(On what message they are sending)

We are turning things around here. That’s the message. This is not the 2015 Falcons, 2014, all those years. This is a new team, new players, new faces. We are going out there and trying to play and win every game.

(On if they affected Cam on the pass rush)

I think we did. We did a pretty good job. We did a great job on coverage. We stopped the run great today. Especially when you are playing a team like this where that’s what they want is to dominate you on the run game. If you can stop that and get them one-dimensional then you can have this kind of outcome.

(On double spin move)

I’ve got to keep pulling them out. The older you get, the more tools you better have. You can’t just be athletic and beat everybody. I’ve got a bunch of them. If I’ve got to do a cartwheel, I’m going to do a cartwheel. Whatever it takes to get there.

AUSTIN HOOPER, tight end

(On Julio celebrating with him and others on jumbotron)

That’s the thing about Julio. It’s never about him. He’s a great player. He doesn’t have to prove (anything). Everyone knows it. He just makes it about the team. That’s what makes it special. It’s the man inside the helmet

KEANU NEAL, safety

(Olsen strategy)

We wanted to play more man to man against him. I was covering him pretty much all day. He’s an amazing player, great tight end. So going against him was a challenge but I love challenges. He got me a few times but that’s part of the game.

(Overall performance vs. Olsen)

I feel like it was pretty good. Obviously it can be a lot better. This week and going into the next game I’m obviously going to work on that and focus on bettering my man-to-man. But I think I stuck with him pretty well.

(On what he’s learning with experience)

Being able to decipher what they are trying to do to me. Understanding that he is a Pro Bowl tight end. He knows how to maneuver and make you think certain things. So understanding that and getting used to right ends who do that, I think that will help me in the long run.


(On the win)

Good win, man. The offense, I ain’t never seen nothing like that. I don’t know how many records they set. For three and a half quarters we showed what we can do but we didn’t really finish on defense like we want. But we got the win so we’ve just got to get pushing.

(On success vs. Cam Newton)

We just stayed disciplined. We didn’t give up no explosives (big plays) and kept everything in front. I think he had one or two runs but, other than that, I thought we were solid on him.

(On if he’s glad he doesn’t have to cover Julio Jones)

Every day, we go at it all camp. That’s iron sharpening iron. He’s a hell of a player, man. That’s history right there. He’s one of the best ever. I’m glad he’s on my team.

(On if he watched offense)

It was a great sight to see. I think that last touchdown Julio had, that was just crazy. They are clicking, man. But like I said as a defense we’ve just got to pick it up. How they are playing like that, we’ve got to elevate out game and then we are going to be a scary team.

We did a lot of good things. We made a lot of plays. But overall we know we can still be a lot better on defense.

ALEX MACK, center

On the highly effective aerial attack:

“I anticipated that a lot of the receiving yards would come from them having respect for the run game.”

On pass blocking:

“When you get yards, you cannot complain. The receiving corps and our quarterback all came together today, and they did a great job.”

On the win today:

“It feels good. You just have to take it one play at a time. Every drive is different and every play is different. You have to say here is the next one, let’s go, and let’s keep it up.”

On the defense:

“We did a good job. The defense did a really good job holding them out. We had a defensive touchdown. You cannot complain about that. It was a whole team effort. We did a really good job.”

ROBERT ALFORD, cornerback

On how the defense played against the Panthers:

“I feel like we went out there, and we did what we were coached. Towards the end, we just have to learn how to finish it. We let them get a little too close towards the end. It is just something that we have to work on and study film.”

On supporting the high-powered offense:

“It is a brotherhood back there. We want to get the ball back and cause turnovers as much as we can to get Julio [Jones] and Matt [Ryan] the ball, not off a touchdown and have the ball kicked back to them. It is just our mindset back there that we want to just get as many as turnovers as we can to give those guys the ball back on the offense.”

On his interception for a touchdown:

“It is just a great play call by the coaches. The defensive line got pressure, everyone else was back there in coverage on their man, the ball just happened to come my way, I made a play on it, got a block by Brian Poole, and just ran it in for a touchdown.”

On getting pressure on the quarterback:

“It helped us out a lot. It starts off with those guys up on the front line getting as much pressure as they can get on the quarterback and seeing how many hits they can get on him. Interrupting the quarterback will help us out tremendously in the back. Everyone saw today how much that those guys have been working this offseason and this whole week.”

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