Head Coach Ron Rivera
Initial evaluations to today's win:"My gut feeling is we missed some opportunities on all sides of the ball. I thought we did some really good things. I thought we showed what we could potentially become. I thought some guys gave some great individual efforts and there were some team efforts too. But, as we look at it and go back and look at it, we will most certainly evaluate what we do as coaches first and foremost to make sure we are giving these guys the opportunity to win."
Importance of winning two game stretch in the division:"I think it helps us in terms of positioning. Again, we have to take it one game at a time and we have Miami coming up on Monday night. But as far as the division is concerned, it is good. My understanding is New Orleans won today so right now we are just trying to keep pace. I think most importantly though, as I said, we just have to get ready to start focusing on Miami after tomorrow."
[Inaudible]:"Yes, I did. But unfortunately at the end when we had to, we were sitting there looking at second and short, second and two and we take a five-yard loss. That's disappointing right there. Again, I thought we had an opportunity to get a first down and we blew it. Again, we have to go back and look at it and make sure we are giving ourselves the right chance."
Cam Newtown leading rusher four games in a row:"I think the biggest thing more so than anything is he does his job. He sees opportunities and he takes them. One of the nakeds was really what he read. It wasn't called. It was his decision and he made one hell of a decision on it."
What worked better for Christian McCaffrey today in the running game?"A lot of it had to do with the blocking up front. I thought the offensive line was doing a really good job. They are coming up against a very fast, quick defense. Again, I thought we got our hands on them and we were able to push and Christian was able to make some cuts."
Jonathan Stewart's two fumbles:"The hard part is you know that Jonathan is a physical rusher and when he gets churning those legs and those arms are swinging. Unfortunately, both times they were able to get their hands on the ball. It's tough because you know he was running hard, downhill is what we want with Jonathan. Unfortunately, that's part of it. We will go right back and hand it to Jonathan. He is a big physical guy and he does a great job for us. He helped set the tempo for us as a football team. We want Jonathan right."
Assessment of wide receivers today:"I think the guys played their roles. We asked guys to go in and certain groups to do certain things. I thought some of the speed things we tried to do were pretty good. We threw a couple shots down field and we had some opportunities as far as stretching the field. I think we need to continue to do that. I think it will help us even more going forward."
Assessment of defense, particularly to win the game:"The defense did a good job. Mike Adams sparked everybody with the big interception and return which helped set up a touchdown for us. Again, that is one of the things we look for to get those opportunities from our defense. Those guys give us a chance. They set a good tempo for us. I think again, as we look at it there were some opportunities that we blew, some things that we missed and as coaches we got a little greedy at the end. I know Coach Steve Wilks was being very aggressive in trying to slow it down. But I will say this, he is going to stick to his guns and I'm proud of the job they did. They really helped set the tempo for us today."
At the end of the first half, was it a called classic old option pitch play?"Without a doubt. That's exactly it. There are so many things that we can do and there are so many things that can come into play if we are effective running it. Again, the key is upfront. I thought our front did a nice job for us."
Julio Jones dropped ball:"Everybody gets a break once in a while, don't we? As I said, we are going to go back and look at it. We were fortunate. We made some mistakes. One of the things I know Coach Wilks will talk about is the dirty eyes, guys looking where they shouldn't be. We as coaches have to make sure we are giving them every opportunity."
Coverage on the Julio Jones dropped ball:"It was a double move and when he made the first move, we broke and we shouldn't have. We should have just continued to climb and get our depth."
What play stands out to you that showed the speed on the field today?"When we ran the ball on a couple of reverses, that was most certainly one. We ran a nice little clear out, we went three verts and we dragged Devin Funchess underneath. The safeties had to climb and the coverage had to get deep and it opened it up for Devin. He took it over to the sideline and lowered his shoulder, picked up the first down. You can see that. Again, that's one of the things that we need to have is we need to have that speed on field going vertical."
What does dirty eyes mean?"Looking where he shouldn't. That's the biggest thing about it. He has a responsibility and that's I'm supposed to peddle, get my depth, climb for depth and just because that guy is running an out, that's not my play. I'm the deep middle post."* *
Turning point of the game the first 4th down stop or the Mike Adams interception?"There is a couple of big things. I think the 4th down stop was huge most certainly because the offense went down and scored. Mike Adams intercepting the ball helped set it up very nicely for us. A lot of good things did happen. I told the guys this is a team victory against a good football team."
Concern on Mike Adam's injury:"No. As of right now, no. I'm about to head in here and check it out and see how things are."
Seeing offense overcome first half turnover adversity:"Yes, it was. It really was. The one thing that is interesting is Cam was just egging everyone on, just saying 'hey guys, we are going to get the ball back, we are going to get a chance and we are going to go down and score.' When it happened, it was just electrifying for those guys. Followed up by the big interception."
Michael Palardy's punts today:"Our special teams were outstanding today. I really thought our punter was terrific as was the coverage. I thought our kicker did a great job in hitting the field goals that he did and in kicking off. It was a team victory when you play that well."
Conversation with Cam Newton when offense came off:"It was interesting that I was trying to see where it was and my first inclination was to go ahead and kick it. But then as I looked at it down the line and then to see the enthusiasm in which Cam believed he could get it, I trusted him. I really did. So I threw the challenge flag partly because they are screaming in my ear that he had gotten the first down. So when I threw the flag I figured we were going to get the first down. Then they said, 'Coach, I'm not sure he is going to give it to him because he rolled backward,' then I thought ok, lets go for it. We were in a good spot and Cam was so emphatic that he just knew he was going to get it."
What did Cam Newton say to express he knew he was going to get the first down?"He said, 'Coach, I've got it.' That's exactly what he said. So I said, 'Ok, let's go get it then.'"
Quarterback Cam Newton
Overall feeling about division win at home:"It was extremely great for us. We knew what we were going to get from our defense, our defense has been so consistent and locked in all year. We knew if we gave those guys some type of pulse or some type of juice to get them going, they were just going to pin their ears back and go. Offensively, we just had some turnovers early on and that's unlike [Jonathan Stewart], we know that, but it just got us out of a rhythm. We just had to find ways to be more complete in a drive. We had some big plays that were taken away or negated but all in all we did what we had to do to find a way to get a great team win today that we needed."
Pumping up the crowd at the end of the first half:"The past couple of games, I've been doing a lot of self-scouting outside of football. This is when the gurus speak, when you go home and everyone's talking about football and you don't think nobody really knows or they're questioning everything that doesn't go right and never giving credit on what's going right. But one thing that stuck with me is when the Panthers are emotionless, that's when good things don't happen. So whether you've got to fake it, whether you've got to do whatever you've got to do, if we can get Bank of America stadium with a pulse, that's when we're at our best. That's all I was trying to do, just get everybody involved knowing that you're being optimistic about this whole thing, knowing that we're going to drive, we're going to claw, we're going to keep pounding throughout this whole game until we get the much needed win."
The importance of the fourth down stop and interception after scoring:"Extremely big. Those are champion-type characteristics because we try to get a little ten-point swing right there, that's in essence what it was, before their offense can get anything going. We score right before the half, we get 14 without their offense putting up any strategic plays, outside of a kneel, and then you come back right before the first drive of the game and you get three points. That's a ten-point turnaround. Those are the little philosophical things of the game that people really don't pay attention to and Coach always talks about that, those are winning tactics that we're going to need moving forward. And when our defense is playing lights out like that, we've got to reward them, as well as everybody else, with points."
His touchdown run:"It was just that type of game. I really didn't want to leave anything out there to chance. They were doing a great job with getting soft and I just wanted to take what the defense gave me. I saw the opening and took full advantage of it, I've just got to protect the ball throughout the fall. But this was one of those games that I wasn't caring about body ligaments or whatever. I'm just trying to win a football game."
Being the lead rusher four games in a row:"I'm just trying to win football games at a fast and rapid pace."
Devin Funchess' performance:"The funny thing about it is, he had some quiet yards. That's what he can do, he can give you those yards after catch. He's very savvy and he's just grown into that role and that's what you love to see. I feel as if there are some things that he can learn from, things that I can learn from being that he's at a more poignant position and we're only going to get better. He's taken that leadership role, grabbed it by the horns and told everybody in that position room, "Listen, this is what we've got to do. These are our expectations. Nobody has even given us an opportunity." Yeah, we just lost a great player but nevertheless, the Titanic still has to go."
Christian McCaffrey getting more comfortable every week:"Well [McCaffrey] is a dynamic player and you can kind of feel the vibe around him that he feels as if he's not doing enough. Going back to those gurus in my household saying "You're putting too much on [McCaffrey], he's just a rookie." But when the guy's touched and he's blessed, you've just got to give him the ball and step back and just be in awe. Whether it's in the run game, the pass game, I'm a proponent of seeing how much he can digest before we ease off of him because when the ball's in his hands, that's a good thing for us as an offense."
Using an option pitch:"It just throws so much at a defense. You get guys playing fast offensively and making the defense hesitate, especially with just two yards to get, that's all you pretty much need. It's just basic football. Old option football. It's been played back, back, back since I wasn't even thought of and we just have to be able to make those types of plays and push the ball into the endzone in that little of a redzone."
His feelings running after the injuries around the league:"I've been playing like this for a long time. I trust in my preparation, I trust in my body, I trust in the things I put in my body that I'm going to be 100% come game time. I pretty much have an unbelievable supporting cast with trainers and coaches that get my body in tiptop shape when it needs to be."
The Falcons' defensive speed:"They have unbelievable speed. That was a great team we played today, we know that, they know that. Being that it was a divisional opponent gives it even more of a cherry on top. But for us, we know we're going to see those guys again. They play solid, sound football and we get after that. You try to make them guess or be hesitant just for a second and hopefully we have that edge or advantage and we did today."
Wanting to go for it on fourth down:"Absolutely, that's a chip, that's an attitude. That's an attitude that I play with, that's a chip that I play with on my shoulder, that if I can't, as a player, get an inch, it's mano-a-mano, it's 11 on 11, this is what the game of football is all about. Eleven guys coming together to go for a common goal and I'm just glad Coach gave me an opportunity to go for it. We just had to do what we had to do."
Speed on the field without Kelvin Benjamin:"I wouldn't say it was more speed on the field because the guys that were making plays have already been here so that's kind of contradictory. But nevertheless, we just wanted to come out and execute the game plan. Knowing that we had a great team win, celebrate, we've got an extra day with this Monday night game coming up and we've just got to be honed in and dialed in. We need all hands on deck, especially from our supporting cast with the Bank of America fans, the Carolina Panthers fans – North Carolina, South Carolina, everybody – so that we can head to the bye [week] on a good note."**
Safety Mike Adams
The momentum swing after his interception:"Absolutely. It was huge to have that before the half and to score before the half. It was a momentum swing because they were driving. I think they had a big play before that with Julio [Jones]."
On the interception:"Well they ran that play earlier and [Julio] was open. I knew he was open and I knew they were going to come back to it. I told my coach that they would come back to that play. It was perfect timing I knew with two minutes they would come back to that play because he was open. I just jumped it."**
Defensive End Mario Addison
Pressuring Matt Ryan:"We knew that we had to put pressure on him because if he stands back there, even if you give him a little time, he'll make it happen. We can't let them get a first down because if they get one first down then they can drive down and they can kick a field goal, so we had to keep our feet on them."
Sacks:"It's never about who gets the most sacks. We'd all like to get one each game, even two a game. We all want to get sacks, but we can't get it by ourselves. We've got to feed off each other, so that's one thing we do: we play together. So whoever gets the sack we're just as happy."
Wide Receiver Devin Funchess
How this win feels:"It's been good. It's been a while since we beat them so it's good that we got the 'W' out there today."
Preparation for the game:"We just grinded the whole week. We paid attention to detail. It all started with Wednesday's practice and we went out there and performed today."
Blocking:"I made sure I stayed in great position, but I give hats off to all the wideouts that were out there – [Kaelin] Clay, Curtis [Samuel] and [Russell Shepard] – Curtis and Shepard sealed one on the end in the fourth quarter for Christian [McCaffrey] to go up field so as a wide receiver corps, we blocked our tails off today."
Spreading the ball around:"Just like I say in all the press conferences, we just go out there and try to make plays and get the 'W' on Sunday. It doesn't matter who has the ball."**
Linebacker Luke Kuechly
Winning today's game versus a division opponent:"We lost one game early in the division. The division games kind of count as two. It was good for us to get a win at home. The last few games., we weren't able to get wins at home. You've got to win at home. We were able to do that. We did a good job on defense. They had a couple of big plays. Mike's turnover was a big boost for us and Thomas Davis' fourth down stop – I think that was him – he made a big play on that. Anytime you can get the ball back to the offense quickly, it helps us out."
The game turning in Carolina's favor:"Yeah, Mike's play was huge. The offense goes down, scores a touchdown and then went down, scored another touchdown and then you get the ball in the second half. It's a big deal. It's 14 points really quick and then right after the half, we went down and kicked a field goal. That's big time for us. The offense did a great job of getting the ball and scoring touchdowns."
Atlanta's final offensive drive of the game:"Kurt made a big play on that first down. That was a great tone-setter for us. What really kicked off that drive for us; Palardy hit a great punt. Those guys covered their butts off. I think Jared Norris was down there and I think Ben Jacobs made a tackle. I'm sure there were more guys down there but that play right there, before we even got on the field, was huge. Punt, pin them deep and it makes our job a lot easier."
Defensive Tackle Kyle Love **
Stopping Falcons running back Devonta Freeman:"That's a plus for us. He's going to get yards. It's kind of like Marshawn Lynch, you know he is going to get yards. You just have to be around and rally up. That's what we did to him. That's what we did tonight and we have to continue to play like that."
Getting short yardage stops as a defense:"I mean it's good. We want to get the ball back to our offense as much as we can. Those third and one stops and fourth and one stops are big for us. The more we put the ball in our offense's hands and put them in scoring positions is big for us. That's just our plan every week."
The takeaways starting to come for the defense:"I think the turnovers and sacks, this goes for both, you see a guy get an interception or get a sack and it makes you want to get a sack or an interception. It's going to come in bunches and when it does, we have to be ready. We had guys make plays."
Running Back Christian McCaffrey
On Cam Newton's running opening up things for McCaffrey:"Definitely, yeah. He's such a good quarterback. He can pass, he can pretty much do it all. It opens everything up for everybody."
On the magnitude of win:"It's huge. It was a divisional opponent at our place. Lot of meaning to that game for sure."
On coming back down from 10-0:"We worked in different situations all week in practice. You have to have poise for whatever kind of adversity comes. You just have to have the next play mentality."
On Cam picking up the fourth-down:"It was huge. Anytime you can have a quarterback make that call it's pretty big."
On what he saw against Atlanta:"The offensive line did an unbelievable job for us, first and foremost. It always starts with them. In the run game, they were opening up a lot of holes and doing a great job in protection. We go as they go."
On team's confidence in him in the red zone:"I like to be someone where they can call my number. But at the same time, when you have guys like Devin Funchess and Curtis Samuel and a back like Jonathan Stewart who can make plays at any time of the game, everybody's going to play well."
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn
The defensive effort overall:"I think we played okay. We gave up some plays but at the same time we did okay. We've got to fix some of these things and move on."
How big of a win was this:"It was big. It was a divisional game of course. We're kind of trying to keep up with New Orleans. They're playing great right now. This was for sure a big win for us. We will watch the tape and hopefully get better."
Getting a second win in a row:"It was big. You never want to fall 0-2 in the division. We started last year like that and that is always on our mind. Can't fall to 0-2. To get that win last week was big and this win is even bigger. We've got New Orleans later in the season. They are playing some great football right now and we've got to keep winning."
Defensive End Julius Peppers
The game plan entering the game:"First and foremost, we want to stop the run. Secondly, we want to get pressure on the quarterback and affect him. Third, win the game."
The third and fourth down stops in the second half:"It was nice. Anytime a team tries to go for it in a short-yardage situation – especially on fourth down – and they don't get it, it's a little bit of a confidence-boost for us and a little deflation for them."
The team's current position moving forward:"I think it's okay. We still have a lot of work to do. We feel good about where we're at right now but we understand we have to keep working."**
Defensive Tackle Kawann Short **
Getting a second win in a row:"Just getting a win period is big for us. We're just trying to take care of home around here. Those guys are in our division. We had to do everything we needed to do to get that win. Especially in the division."
The fourth down stop:"It's just a sense of pride around here man. Those guys challenged us and you're got to step up as a defense. That's what we do around here. We strive to be the best in those kind of situations. We've got to take control and win. We want to be that dominant defense on fourth and one. We've got to do whatever to get the offense back the ball."
Defense getting takeaways:"Y'all were rushing us to get these turnovers. Again, they come in pairs and everyone is getting comfortable. We're doing our job. Communicating well and you are seeing the front seven connect with the back. Again, we are just playing Panther defense."
Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn
Cam Newton's running plays: "We've prepared against this offense and this style for some time. Being in the division you're accustomed to that. When you play a quarterback that has designed quarterback runs that's definitely an added layer to preparation. The preparation for the guys was good. There were some times when we didn't execute exactly how we needed to and those were the times where you get caught. It was a different form of preparation for him than anybody else we play that runs the ball."
Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan **
Is there something that Carolina's defense did today and what can you say about this division?"I think that they are a tough team and always has been. Games against them, you know are going to come down to the end of the game. That's just the way it goes. They are well coached, they play hard, they are physical. I thought they did a nice job. From a defensive standpoint, their scheme is their scheme. They've played it well with the players that they have had for a long time. I felt like we did some good things, but we missed opportunities. When you are playing against a good football team like that and you miss opportunities, it's tough to walk away with a win."
Atlanta Falcons Wide Receiver Julio Jones
On the touchdown drop:"I didn't take advantage of the opportunity. I just missed it. No excuses or anything like that. I just missed it."**
On what Kurt Coleman said to him after the play:"He's a very spiritual guy. He said some spiritual things to me. That was it."
View the top photos from Panthers vs. Falcons by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez and second shooters Andrew Dye and Jamey Price.