Metairie, La. - The Saints had a strong showing on offense, defense, and special teams against the 49ers but came up short, mostly because of two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Drew Brees.
The following is a copy of his conversation with the media, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints.
Because of the two interceptions for scores, was this game harder to swallow than usual?
"Well, it was tough because I know we played well enough to win in so many ways and yet two plays like that can completely change the outcome of the game, which obviously those did. I was really encouraged walking away from that game in a lot of ways. Yeah, it's tough to swallow because I feel like we can beat that team, should have beat that team, but they're really, really good. They're going to be in the hunt just like we want to be in the hunt. We might see them later on. For us, it's a short week. We have to be able to turn it right around. The good thing is, when you come off a loss like that you just can't get back on the field fast enough. In this case, we get back on the field about as fast as you can."
What went into the motivation to wear the visors for the team photo? Why was it something you wanted to do?
"The idea was kind of thrown out there and everybody was game for it so it's what we did."
Do you think Sean Payton appreciates that?
Talk about facing the Falcons again. What do you remember about their defense that may have stood out?
"They've done a good job all season long of just making plays in critical situations. They've been able to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback which has allowed them the opportunity to get a lot of turnovers and provide some opportunities to their offense. You just look them throughout the season, they've won a lot of close games and, obviously, have played very consistent throughout."
Some say that this rivalry has become more heated the past few years, what is it like out there? Is this a different type of game for you guys?
"It's a divisional game. Obviously those are important. Atlanta has been a playoff team here for the last three years. The quality of the opponent. They've been a very good team that we know we need our best performance for in order to compete with and beat. I think the fans probably see it as more of a rivalry and all of that stuff than the players do. I think we know the importance of the game. It gets chippy at times, during the week and game day, with these guys at times. But, I don't know, it is what it is. We just see them as a very good divisional opponent that we want to make sure we can get the upper hand on because in the end it affects a lot of where you stand within the division."
How does the Georgia Dome rank in terms of fans and crowd noise in comparison to other indoor facilities you have played in?
"It's loud. It can get loud at times. I think that's the benefit of the indoor facility. The advantage is you get that echo, you get that reverberation, through the inside of the dome. The noise has nowhere to go except in your ears. Communication is a big factor in a game like this."
How encouraged were you that even though the 49ers are good at stopping the run you guys were able to run the ball against them before the offense was forced to become one dimensional?
"We really didn't abandon the game plan until about mid-fourth quarter and then it became 'hey we're down two possessions, we've got to score quickly.' Prior to that, I felt like we were extremely balanced, did a great job of mixing the run and the pass and really, I felt like, put together a lot of good drives. Unfortunately, like I said, a lot of the good things are overshadowed by a couple really catastrophic things that happened. Any time they're able to score a defensive touchdown, not just one but two, it significantly decreases your chances of winning."
Why do you have so much success in Atlanta?
"I don't know. It's always a big game. It's always a big game, there's always a lot on the line. There is always a lot at stake. There is a lot of pride involved. We want to play well, we want to beat those guys. They're a very good divisional opponent that I think there is a lot of familiarity with, personnel and such. You feel like we're two of the teams that are at the top of this division a lot so that's always going to bring out the best in each side."
Do you feel this is a must-win game for playoff chances?
"Every game is important. We're still in November. Listen, that doesn't lessen the sense of urgency. We understand how important this game is but we're not labeling it as anything other than the next game on a short week against arguably, according to records, the top team in the NFC and we have our work cut out for us."
Playing on a short week is challenging but does the familiarity with the opponent help?
"Yeah, and I assume that's why all of the Thursday night games are divisional games for the most part. That helps. Obviously, just physically getting your body ready and then putting together a game plan with very little practice time during the week, that's a challenge."
Did your heart skip a beat when both Lance Moore and Marques Colston left the game with injuries?
"Yeah, both of them. You never want to see that with anybody, especially guys that you're throwing to. I'm glad that they're alright but that's never something you want to see."
What do you attribute your lower fourth quarter completion percentage to? Is it defenses coming after you more?
"You have to look at it like this, sacks are never good. If I can avoid a sack by throwing the ball away, I'm going to do it. I find that when you're in situations where you're pushing the ball down the field, you got to hold it, they're pinning their ears back and rushing you, a lot of times you're going to have pressure. There is probably a lot more throw-aways in the fourth quarter. There are probably a lot more circumstances surrounding that as opposed to the defensive scheme and the coverage or inaccuracy or whatever it is. You're obviously taking more chances than you otherwise would. There are a lot of factors that go into that."
Did you realize going in to that game that if you won you'd currently be the last wild card team?
"Yeah. I know there is about six or seven teams sitting there fighting for a spot or two. It seems like all of those teams play each other, for the most part, whether they're within the division or outside the division. If we take care of our business, we're in. That's the way we all feel. (We) can't win five games in one week though so we know if we take care of business this week then we'll worry about the next one."
Has this group surprised you all in getting into this position so quickly? You are in the middle of a wild card race after starting 0-4.
"I know most people outside the building probably thought that it was not going to happen. Certainly we have enough resolve and resiliency to believe that we could do it and it could be accomplished and it can still be accomplished. There is always going to be ups and downs. The margin for error is very slight right now. We've kind of used up our nine lives so we've got to really bear down here and just understand what's at stake every time we step on the field."
I heard that Joe Vitt said over the summer that you guys would have all of the excuses in the world but to never to use any excuse, never to say it is over. Do you remember Joe saying that?
"Yeah, absolutely. He said the excuses are built in. Basically, it was a challenge to all of us that if you're here, if you're part of this team, if you're in this locker room, then we don't make excuses. Regardless of how this season started that seems like so long ago. We've come so far since then. We really have everything lying right in front of us despite everything. We've got it all right there in front of us. We really control our own destiny."
Do you think we might see the showdown between Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham like last time again in this game?
"There is a chance you'll see a lot of showdowns. Those two are two of the best in the game. Obviously Tony Gonzalez has been doing it maybe since Jimmy was born. It's fun to watch those two go to work because they're two of the best at what they do."
You mentioned being excited to have the challenge of facing the Atlanta Falcons. Do you think that attitude and confidence is common among all of the other NFL teams that you want to bounce back and play you're biggest game right now? Does that just stand out with this group?
"I would say so, yes. We've been through a lot as a team in the past and obviously this year, this team. I feel like confidence has been bred through overcoming a lot of those challenges along the way and this is just yet another challenge that we know we can overcome."
Do you feel like you need to get Pierre Thomas more involved?
"So the minute that (Darren) Sproles comes back Pierre Thomas is not getting enough. Listen, we have a lot of guys that from one week to the next some guys are going to get more touches than others and I think that's just the nature of the beast. It just depends on the gameplan, it depends on who's got the hot hand maybe, but we always go in to every game with kind of equal opportunities for everybody and then you just kind of see how the game shakes out. In a lot of cases, you never know who's day it's going to be. It's usually a combination of a few guys but it always seems to equal out in the end."
Do you see any similarities between the Falcons and 49ers defenses? Do you think Atlanta will take a page out of San Francisco's book with the pressure they used to get you off-balance?
"Scheme-wise, there might be a few similarities but the 49ers are a 3-4 based defense and these guys are a 4-3 based defense so there is a big difference right there. As far as the nickel packages, I'd say the Falcons are already much more multiple in regards to their pressures and that kind of thing. I'd say in a lot of cases these guys are different in a lot of ways. Listen, it's a copy-cat league. Everybody steals everything from everybody whether you're on defense or offense. You always have to be ready for anything. Expect the unexpected."
From your eyes, can you talk about what Will Robinson did yesterday?
"It was impressive against one of the best pass rush teams in football. It was a huge challenge. To come in after being here for three or four days and do the job that he did, I thought it was very impressive. I think it speaks volumes about that group, the offensive line as a group. It's not five individuals, it is a unit. So much of what they do is communication, it's togetherness, they're working together at all times. A lot of times people just assume that it's five one-on-one matchups. Once you figure out who you're blocking in a lot of cases it is but there is so much going on up front that it's five guys having to work together at all times. I think it just speaks volumes about those guys, the main-stays, the consistent level that they've all played to for so long and then you plug Will Robinson in due to an injury. He does a phenomenal job but also just as a unit they all stuck together there."
Was there something about the 49ers defense that prevented you from going to the screen passes that you guys are so good at?