Metairie, La. - The Saints conquered their road demons with a wild card round win at Philadelphia but now it's on to Seattle where the Seahawks were victorious just a month ago, 34-7.
The following are coach Sean Payton's comments to the media Tuesday, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Did you guys make any transactions?
"We signed Jordan Pugh number 37. We waived Isa-Abdul Quddus. We placed Parys Haralson on Injured Reserve. We brought up Rufus Johnson from the practice squad. Vic So'oto was signed on to the practice squad to take Rufus' spot. He will be number 56."
Can you tell us about Parys Haralson's injury?
"He has a torn pectoral. In fact, I think the surgery was done today."
Making the safety switch, was there something you liked about (Jordan) Pugh?
"Yeah we will have a chance. I don't know where he will be as far as how much we can bring him up to speed. It might be more of a special teams role."
The final four teams in the NFC all have top five defenses. How impressed are you with what Rob Ryan has done with this defense?
"It has been significant for us as a team. Starting back in the spring and trying to create an atmosphere and rebound to some degree (from) last season. We've had some new faces come in. We've had some injuries. We've dealt with that. I think more than anything, his passion for teaching and the rest of the staff on defense it has been a big part of why we are here right now."
Was last week Mark Ingram's best game?
"He's been running real well. I liked his ball security the other night. Those aren't always easy yards. I am pleased with how he is playing and I think he's had a handful of games now toward the latter part of the season where he's been exceptional."
What is the message behind putting the Seahawks logo on the practice field?
"We are just trying to create the exact environment, the crowd noise, the field, everything, as best as we can."
Can you talk about the crowd noise there and how does it affect the communication?
"It is deafening. They do a great job. Their fans are educated. They understand when to be real loud and when to quiet down. The way the stadium is structured the noise stays in. We've experienced it a handful of times now and you just try to simulate it as best as you can and turn these speakers up real loud and go about trying to communicate and making sure you are still getting off on the ball and all of those things."
Did the earpieces in Seattle work well last time? Are you going to use them again?
"We will see. We felt like, look, I don't know how much worked well the last time so I think that it helps with regards to the constant noise, but we will kind of see how we will approach this one."
Does it help having played Seattle there just over a month ago?
"I've said this before, this is a fairly young team. I think the atmosphere, but more than any of that it's we are playing a real good football team. We are playing a team that has won a bunch of games, a very balanced team on offense and the number one defense in the NFL. You pick the category and takeaways are number one. Pass defense is number one. Scoring, it just goes down the line. That's the biggest challenge."
Do they play defense at a much higher speed than a lot of teams in the NFL?
"They have outstanding personnel and are also well-coached with a very good scheme. They know exactly where to be. They run very well. They are physical up front. They've got a bunch of Pro Bowl players back there and it all fits together. They've got great talent, great scheme and communicate very well and are very intelligent."
They held you under 200 yards offense last game. How do you counteract that to get the offence going?
"I think there are a number of things we've got to do better, just handling the early portion of the game. There are certain things in playoff football or for that matter just playing on the road that you have to give yourselves an opportunity. I think that we are working hard to do that."
How much did you put into the decision to sign Shayne Graham going into the postseason?
"I think to be fair to that question, I think it was more when we had our workout a couple of months ago. It was more about how the kickers looked in that work out. Certainly, experience is helpful, but it was really how we viewed those players at that time kicking the football."
Is there one key in mind to winning on the road?
"I think it has always been a game of momentum swings and I think mentally handling those momentum swings on the road become sometimes more challenging than at home. I think the turnovers play a big part, but it is easier to say we can't turn the ball over. We have to look at what causes those things and that is pressure, ball security with receivers, running backs, whoever is handling the football. I think that combination of the momentum and handling that. It happened last week, there was a part of that game where late in the fourth Philadelphia came back and answered and it was important that we were able to do the same thing. If you took any road win this year, you go to Chicago and there was a momentum swing. Certainly in Atlanta, we had it early. The first series we were out, they scored a touchdown and we had to overcome that. The same thing would be the case with any of those tough games where you are playing. You hit it back and forth if you will and you need to be able to respond."
Do you have anything cooked up for this week like the Gatorade and sweatsuits last week?
"I think we are at a point in the season where this is obviously an important game. We will see as the week goes on. I think mostly (it is) just the focus on getting ready to play a real good football team."
This is obviously a unique coaching challenge, not many times that you have had to face a team that beat you that way. Do you debate on whether to embrace it or ignore it?
"It is what it is. I think that you look closely at the film. You look closely at the, you have enough time where you are looking at all the games. You have a ton of film to watch and you are looking to correct the errors and get ready to play a team that is going to be rested and a team that had an outstanding season, an amazing season."
Does this team have a chip on its shoulder?
"I don't know if it is a chip on its shoulder. I think it's you are wanting to go out and play your best football. There is a lot at stake. I think that's what is important."
It is obviously a gamble changing your kicker so late in the season. Can you talk about what he has brought since he's been here?
"There's always those decisions or risks you take when you make changes that same way at left tackle (with Terron Armstead). I think that he has come in and obviously kicked very well the other night. It was significant. He got one of the special teams game balls. Not only did he kick well, each hit was solid. It was pure. It was great to see in a critical situation. Even the one at the end, you still have to hit it. That was real encouraging and certainly something for him that was significant."
The Seahawks seemed to turn around and stay turned around since Pete Carroll's arrival almost in a way that happened here when you arrived. How important are coaches patricianly in the playoffs?
"I think it is a great team sport. It's personnel. It's players. It's acquiring good players and then it is putting in a scheme that fits what they do, being flexible. I think obviously it is significant but the good teams have that combination of all the things you mentioned."
The fact that you guys relied on the run so much last week, is that a result of the opponent or is that something you feel more comfortable with moving forward?
"A lot of it is depending on the game situation."
How much has (Terron) Armstead improved and progressed?
"He has done well. He's someone that is very athletic. He's confident and each week he is going to draw a tough matchup and that is one of the things about that position. I think certainly there is a learning curve, but I've been really pleased with how competitive he is and how he's graded out."
Is there more pressure when you are the number one seed?
"I don't know that we felt more or less. I think once you are in the postseason you lean on your locker room (and) veteran players. You find out about the younger players. Certainly it appears that, I don't want to say the speed of the game intensifies, but each play, each penalty, each call, potential turnover, they all become very important."
How much has this team grown up?
"I think each week throughout the course of the season we get to see a lot of young players in roles because of injuries sometimes. Sometimes they have been in roles from the start of the season. It is a process and they've handled that transition pretty well."
Do you consider them young at this point?
"I will probably always consider them young for another two or three years."
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