Interim head coach Steve Wilks
RE: Opening Statement
Extremely proud of the men in that locker room and how we bounced back this week. We talked all week in order to win this game we were going to have to control the line of scrimmage and offensively I thought we did a tremendous job. We rushed for 232. [D'Onta] Foreman had 130 yards rushing off of 31 carries. I think that is very impressive. Defensively, I thought we did a great job in the first half, stopping the run. Things got a little away from us at times. We have to tackle better but I love the way we finish from the standpoint on defense. We had five sacks. That's an outstanding job. Then when we talk about field position, it was tremendous just in the mere fact of flipping the field, pinning those guys back. I can't say enough about Eddy [Pineiro]. Just a tremendous job on how he rebounded and bounced back. I'm so excited about him and just how his teammates rebounded behind him. With that, I'll take your questions.
RE: How would you describe the emotional swing of the last three games?
I would probably just describe it as the National Football League. It's just how it is week to week. You have your ups and your downs and however it is, whether win or lose, you have to hit the reset button and get ready for the next one.
RE: Was tonight about pride on the defensive side?
I don't really consider it to be about pride because we play for pride every time we go out. It's that respect of representing not only the Carolina Panthers but the name on the back of your jersey. I think it was a mere fact of guys just coming together understanding that we didn't put a great performance together last week. The way we practiced, even though it was a walk-through, the intensity was there, the concentration and everything and we wanted to come out today, as you saw, and put together a good performance.
RE: What did you see from Marquis Haynes on the two plays?
I saw a guy that was relentless at trying to get to the quarterback. We talk about it all the time. When a game is on the line, we need to try to finish it upfront. You saw that with those guys, just putting pressure on the quarterback and Marquis, as you said, came up with a huge sack.
RE: Your team looked tough tonight. That has to make you proud.
You know, everything that we talk about from a standpoint of our DNA starts with the physicality and effort. Again, not living in the past, we didn't do that last week for whatever reason. I wish I could tell you why because we had a great week of practice but it happens sometimes. The way that they responded just shows you how resilient this team is. Then also, just a group effort in all three phases.
RE: Run game
I said it when things happen, you guys talk about who is going to take over. I said we were going to do it by committee. D'Onta Foreman is a guy, as I told you guys before, that can carry the workload. You have to give him those opportunities to get him going. You saw tonight what he can do.
RE: To do what D'Onta Foreman did tonight in the elements, how impressive was that?
It was very impressive because, number one, ball security is so important. All the running backs I thought did a great job in protecting the football and holding it tight. Five points of pressure as we talk about. Again, just kudos to those guys in that room.
RE: Were you on the headset with Ben [McAdoo] just saying, keep feeding this guy?
We have constant communication, [which is] exactly what I want. It was a mere fact of, let's just keep running it. I felt at times we had to go and try to win the game for us putting the ball in the air. We kept it on the ground. We kept grinding it and trying to just really wear them down in the fourth quarter.
RE: Cam Erving played 8-10 snaps as an extra blocker in this game. Why was that so important to have this game?
Well, it is part of what we do offensively. You see it every week. We go heavy. He comes in. But, it is just an opportunity to get another big body in there and just try to create some momentum and get on the edge.
RE: What do you know about Donte [Jackson's] injury?
I don't know anything right now. It's going to take some time. Probably have to go and get an MRI so we see exactly what is going to take place.
RE: Laviska Shenault's big touchdown, how much of a difference does he make when healthy?
Big difference. I think you can go back to the Saints game. It was pretty much identical to what he did tonight. Almost in the same location as well. One thing that we don't talk about is really the great perimeter blocking on the outside. You know, the receivers did a great job in really blocking and giving the an avenue to be able to get to the end zone.
RE: Seven games left and you are back in the playoff hunt again
One at a time. It's a win today. We are going to come in here tomorrow. We are going to watch the tape. We are going to try to continue to improve on the things that we do well, correct the things we need to correct, enjoy this little semi-bye, try to get healthy a little bit but again its just 1-0. Next week.
RE: Eleven days ago, Eddy [Pineiro] missed a kick. How nervous were you putting him back out there and what does it say for him to come back there and make four of them on a wet field?
I wasn't nervous at all. I thought Eddy did a great job, again, just in practice, bouncing back. As you guys asked me earlier in the week, I told you we created different scenarios for him in those situations. It just says a lot about him as a person. You got to hit the reset button. All the guys do and just understand that it happens sometimes but the way he came back tonight, I'm just so proud of him.
RE: You made it very clear that PJ [Walker] was starting after benching him a few days ago, was your decision. What did you see from him in this game, bouncing back?
Again, managing the offense. Really trying to put us in the best position he can with his checks and seeing the different things for his rotation. Getting us in the right call whether the safety is coming down. ID'ing the mike. Just all the little things that people probably don't see. I'm just, you know, excited about the offense and how they operated tonight. He did a great job managing the game.
RE: Two hundred yards on the ground. Is this the standard going forward?
I've said it from day one that we want to try to control the line of scrimmage. To me, I know the league is somewhat changed a little bit that everybody thinks it is about passing. But as a defensive guy, I understand there is nothing more demoralizing than having 200 and some yards randomly, like, last week. So, I know what happens in regards to that. It just kills your moral. Our mindset is controlling the line of scrimmage and trying to establish the running game to try and create shots over the top.
RE: That's twice now against the Falcons that your front five have done really well.
I don't think that it's so much Atlanta. It just happened with these two games but, you know, we try to do the same thing. You go back to when we first took over. You look at the first half of the Rams game and how we ran the ball. It's just a mindset that we are trying to create.
QB PJ Walker
RE: The plan tonight
We stuck with what we were going to do throughout the week. We had a good amount of pass plays in there as well but you know I thought the o-line did a great job up front. D'Onta (Foreman) was just running behind them, even Chuba (Hubbard) came in there and made some plays. And also Raheem (Blackshear). Those guys all got the opportunity to get the ball and the o-line did a great job tonight.
RE: What went through your mind with you saw D'Onta Foreman go into the crowd?
I didn't know what happened. So I looked up and was like, "what, what's going on." I was just waiting for him to get back down so I could show him some love.
RE: Describe the touchdown play to Laviska Shenault Jr.
They brought a nickel pressure and for me it was just get the ball out my hands, try to beat the blitz. Laviska did the rest. I think DJ (Moore), Moo, Terrace Marshall did a great job on the edge, blocking. You know they did a great job and Laviska just took it down the sideline. It reminded me of New Orleans, to be honest, the same style run.
RE: You had a nasty spin move, was that a designed run for you?
No it wasn't a design, it was a read play. And my read, he ended up sitting a little bit and I was just trying to find a way to make him miss and just get vertical.
RE: Was there a heightened sense of urgency coming into this game, all things considered?
Yeah, we knew it was going to be a dog fight out here. You know, I think this team has a lot of resiliency in them. We just were looking forward to the battle. Primetime game, they played their ass off. I think overall as a team we went out there and played all three phases, offense, defense and special teams. I think we came out, battled for each other and played for each other tonight.
RE: If you had lost this game, your playoff hopes are likely diminished. What does this say about ya'll that you are able to get it done?
We have a lot of guys with a lot of fight in that locker room. It is tough to look at the record and just say, this team is out of it. When we go out there on Sundays, we play for each other. That's all that matters. The outcome is, we wait on the outcome if we go out there and play the way we played tonight, we have an opportunity to win games. If I go out there and protect the football, give us an opportunity, go out there and make plays and put the ball in our receivers' hands and let them guys do what they do, I think we have a great chance.
RE: How would you describe the locker room?
It's full of joy right now. We have a lot of guys that are excited. Looking forward to just resting up this weekend and getting a lot of guys back from injuries and things like that. For us it's just to go out there and continue to get better one day at a time. We'll see where we go from there.
RE: How would you describe the swing of emotions from Atlanta, to last week, to now?
It's crazy because you know we took the loss we had last week, if we dwell on last week we don't go out here and play the way we played today as a team. Last week was last week, and we ain't about to let last week carry into this week. And I think it was good for us to have a short week this week. I think that short week helped us get over last week and the opportunity, it presented itself and we took advantage of it.
RE: Can you talk about where your confidence level is and what this game does for your confidence after last week?
I take this one week at a time, for me. I know what happened last week was last week. I got taken out after the first half, deservingly so. Not protecting the football, we can't have that as an offense. So for me, it's just go out there, when I get the opportunity to make plays, go. You also have to be smart with the football. Keep the ball out of harms way. Unfortunately, it was in harms way a couple of times today. They fortunately dropped it. For us it just to continue to go out there and play. Last week was last week, it's going to a new week every week.
RE: I know you take it week to week, but when you look at your last two and a half years of your career, from the XFL to quarterbacking a win in primetime, do you ever think about it that way?
Nah, I just take it one day at a time man. You know it's all, God got his ways and I just continue to keep my faith in God. You know he put me in the right position to just go out there and succeed. For me you know, just keep my faith strong and just continue to do what I go to do.
RE: Do you feel like this is your team now?
As a guy that gets supported by a lot of guys in that locker room, I appreciate that group. So for me, it's just to continue to go out there and do what we have to do as a team. I don't really get into my team or anybody else's team. For me, I know the guys in that locker room believe in me and that's all that matters. It ain't about whose team it is, as a whole, it's one team. It ain't about me, it ain't about no other individual on that team. So for all of us, we're all supporting each other. And for me to have their back, they have my back out there. So for me, it's just good to see.
DE Brian Burns
RE: On how much tonight was about pride and proving the defense was better than the 79 points allowed the last two weeks
It had to do with a lot of pride honestly. Coming back from last week, how embarrassing that was, we really had to bounce back and show them that we're a good defense.
RE: On what makes him the proudest about the defense's performance
The guys held on to the rope. They didn't let go. Even though we had some busted coverages, some undisciplined lanes as far as rushing (Marcus) Mariota, we still found a way to get it done. In that last drive, Quis (Marquis Haynes Sr.) came up big with those two sacks. I'm proud of him, I'm happy for him. He finally got on the board (first two sacks of the season), so I'm happy for him.
RE: On the Panthers offense staying on the field and keeping the defense off the field
It's a little bittersweet. At one point, they had the ball for a long time. We were sitting on the bench for a long time. I know we used to talk about how often we were on the field, we were just over there getting cold. But I'm happy for (D'Onta) Foreman. He's playing out of this world right now, so I'm happy for him.
RE: On what it means to the defense for other players like Marquis Haynes to get sacks
It shows that all of the attention can't be on me now. There are guys that can rush, and they proved that tonight. A lot of the attention was focused on me coming into this or whatever the case may be. But after this game they are going to have to look at Quis now, too. We've got guys that can rush.
RE: On what it would be like as a defender to have to try to stop a running back like D'Onta Foreman, who had 31 carries
That's a big load. That's tough, a guy running that hard.
RE: On if he is concerned about the injury to cornerback Donte Jackson
Yeah, I am actually. I hope it's nothing too serious. I hate being on the field without him.
RE: On the breakdown against the run in the second half
They tried to attack a little differently with tempo. They got back to that split belly QB load, all that type of stuff, a lot of moving pieces. They got back to that. Then that tempo kind of caught us off guard. But they got most of their yards in that drive. Other than that, I think we did pretty well.
RE: On what happened on the play when he sacked Marcus Mariota in the fourth quarter for an 8-yard loss
It was actually kind of funny. I was upset about that call, and it turned out to be my favorite. I just got off the ball as fast as I could. They slid the protection, the back tried to back me up, and, yeah, sack.
RE: On why he was upset about the call
Just because I wanted to be on the edge and speed rush. But the bull rush worked out for me, so it was cool.
On being able to win and get sacks without using his speed
I do like to switch it up because it pretty much opens my speed up, so they have to play me honest.
RE: On the celebration after the sack
Did you ever see Spider Man 3 when he put the black tux on? Exactly.
RE: On if he allows himself to think about being in the NFC South division race
Definitely. But we don't want to get too focused on that. We've got to focus on these games one at a time. We don't want to get too focused on the whole bigger picture and not see what's right in front of you.
RE: On when he realized head coach Steve Wilks would have high standards
The day he came in and he met with us. He's been preaching that since he's been in that position. That's just part of his DNA, and he's making it part of ours.
RE: On what "that" is
Physicality, effort, attention to detail, finish. Everything that he preaches to us, it has to do with our defense, and we're really buying into that.
RE: On the difference between tonight and the last two weeks on defense
Understanding how they are attacking us. That allows us to play faster because we know what's coming, so I think that probably contributed to those TFLs (tackles for loss).
RE: On if the fourth quarter of the first game against Atlanta was in the back of his mind when the Falcons got the ball with a chance to tie the game at the end of the fourth quarter
No, not really. We were just pretty much focused on holding the rope, holding our end of the bargain, and really executing. Everybody was locked into their assignment. Quis did his at a high level and got those sacks.
LB Shaq Thompson
RE: On repetition of playing
No, we got to get back to ourself. The week before wasn't us, all week we said we got to get back to ourselves.
RE: On chemistry between him, Frankie Luvu and Corey Littleton
Them my brother's man. We all hold each other accountable in that room. We all try to make plays. We all have fun. When one of us don't make it, another one makes the play. Those are my brothers, I've been knowing Corey since college, when we came into college together, so that's my brother. And Uce (Luvu) is my brother when I met Uce a couple of years ago. We just had that connection so were brothers in that room.
RE: On having Al Holcomb on the sideline
Its great, I mean I love Al, me and Al have history since 2015. He's a great DC (Defensive Coordinator), he's a great play caller. He holds everybody accountable and that starts with me. With me being the mike of the defense, leader of the defense, he has tremendous trust in me to get everything right and we made sure before the game that all the corrections were right.
RE: On Marquis Haynes game ending drive
I'm happy for Quis (Haynes) man! He ended that game for us. He had two big sacks and we needed that. And he's a guy that's been stepping up for us lately. When everybody keys on Burns, somebody else has to step up and Marquis did a great job today, our whole D-line did but I'm happy for Marquis.
RE: Does it give you comfort knowing the standard won't drop on defense with Al and Steve?
Its just brining back what used to be here. This defense used to lead this organization. Rhule was about that too, not going to take nothing away from Rhule. But Wilks and Al, they know a lot of history, they've been here through those times, the good times, the bad times, the playoff times. Been here when we came back 8-8 and went to the wild card. Been through a lot of stuff here, and the city knows that, organization knows that and the players know that. It is starting to instill that into us.
RE: On playing with pride
Just getting back to ourselves. End of the day its all about pride, especially on national TV. Definitely got to play with some pride.
RB D'Onta Foreman
RE: Another great game for you. Is this something about the looks that the defense is giving you?
It's the offensive line. I have to give credit to those guys. The way they are out there creating holes and moving. I just benefit from the hard work they put in. Whenever they do what they are supposed to do, I try to be at the right place at the right time to make it happen.
RE: First Panthers Running Back to get two 100 yard games against the same opponent in the same year since Jonathan Stewart in 2009. What is your reaction?
It's a blessing from God. Very thankful for this opportunity. Need to stay focused and go one day at a time, one game at a time, doing what I can do to help this team.
RE: Do you have a name for your celebration when you jumped in the crowd?
Not really, I just had it planned out already. I was like, if I pop this, I'm going to the stands. I made it happen.
RE: What's it like for the whole unit when you are popping runs left and right?
We talk about it in the huddle. Just keep going. One play at a time. I let those guys know that I believe in them. I know they are going to give me a hole, just have to be in the right place at the right time.
RE: How important was it to come away with a victory tonight?
It was big. We played Atlanta the first time and things didn't go the way we wanted to. Then we came out the next week and it definitely wasn't us. We didn't play our best game. We knew tonight was the night to come out here and put it all together. We showed people that we are a good football team and that we can get right back in the chase to win the division.
RE: Can you explain why the running game has gotten better since McCaffrey left?
I don't know. Just doing what we can do to help the team win.
RE: What does it mean to beat these guys after the tough loss two weeks ago?
It means a lot. This is my second time playing them in a Carolina uniform. I know how much these guys want to win this game. I know how much it means to the organization and to the guys in this locker room. It was big, especially on primetime TV. We played a collective game. offense, defense, special teams, we just put it together. We were able to get the win.
View the best in-game photos from Carolina's Week 10 game against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football.