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Postgame Transcripts: Week 18 at New Orleans

Interim head coach STEVE WILKS

Opening comments: "Truly proud of the men in that locker room, and how we finished. We talk about it all of the time, being part of our DNA, the physicality and effort, being #1, playing smart. And, most importantly, the last one is finish. In all three phases, the guys showed up today. We've dealt with so much different (things this year). As I always talk about, "Don't allow 'it' to get in the way. (We had) so many different 'its' throughout the course of the year. For those guys to circle the wagon, and once again find a way to come out and win a football game is extremely impressive. We won our last game at home in front of our fans. And, we won our last game of the year on the road. (There is) a lot to build on moving forward. Again, couldn't be so proud of the men in that locker room."

(on what the game-winning field goal meant for Eddy Pineiro) "It meant a lot. Again, when you go back and look at the year, he got so scrutinized against Atlanta. We missed a field goal, and I told you guys that we were not bringing anyone else in, (and) we were not trying anyone else out. We believe in Eddy. Eddy stayed the course, and he helped us win a lot of football games. He won this one today for us."

(on if he was concerned, given the team missing several defensive players, that the game would get away from them following the Saints' first score) "It was not a concern. It was the mere fact I was just trying to regroup collectively as a staff, and, most importantly, as players. We had a lot of guys out. And, we also had a lot of guys that stepped up. (Amare) Barno being one. (He) played well on special teams, came up with a sack. I'm very proud of his performance today. Again, guys just have to step up and make plays. They did that today."

(on what it says about the team to win this game that had no playoff implications, after struggling on offense) "I think, as you look back on it, and I told those guys, there's times where we played three and a half quarters well, and we have to learn how to finish. To have the flip side to where we don't do a lot in the first three and a half quarters, but find a way to finish, I just think it was just profound, the character in that locker room, how those guys pulled and come together for one another. Unfortunately, for D'Onta (Foreman), the guy hit him first. We've got to make sure that we keep the team first. I love and respect him. He apologized to his teammates. Chuba (Hubbard) stepped up in a big way and did some outstanding things. That's just what this team is all about. When one guy goes down, the next guy is there to pick up the load."

(on Michael Jordan's play today and his touchdown) "(Austin) Corbett, he went down. Mike had to step in. I thought he did a great job of just being attentive and understanding, knowing where the ball was at that particular time, and diving on it. He was emotional, just like a lot of those guys. Once again, they just poured it out for one another. I'm very proud of the way he stepped up."

(on if he thinks should be the full time coach next season) "It's not about me. It's about those men in that locker room. It's about this organization, the coaching staff, support staff. Everybody pulled together this year to endure all of the things that we had to go through. It's just not just me. So, I just commend everybody in this organization the way we just rallied and pulled together."

(on if he's been told that he will interview for the job) "You know, to be quite honest, I am going to stay in the moment, and just reflect on where we are right now. I don't really want to discuss anything about job opportunities moving forward. Again, I'm going to be where my feet are right now."

(on what he told the team after the win) "Just how much I loved those guys, (and) how much they persevered through so much. It was glorifying to see the last element of our DNA today, which was finish, particularly which in a manner which we struggled most of the game and found a way to come together at the end. That was glorifying."

(on if he and the staff let the defense win the game, following Sam Darnold's early struggles) "No, I really felt like running the football, we got some yardage there. I wanted to try to establish that because we did not really do it in the first half. So, I saw it was making some yardage there, and doing some things to wear them (Saints) down a little bit. It did not really have anything to do with the mere fact of the interceptions. If you look at how, again, they're resilient. He (Darnold) bounced back. We talked all year about Sam, 'go win with your feet, with your legs.' And, he did that. Then, having to come up with a big throw at the end across the middle (was big). Terrace (Marshall), particularly being from this state. His family was here today. (It) was just an awesome job for him and great execution by Sam."

(on his message to the team) "Proud of them, the way they finished, the way they continued to fight throughout the year. Then again, just finishing on a great note and trying to propel this to the offseason."

(on the team's message to him) "It really wasn't about me. It was about us and how we persevered and won football games. I try to deflect because it's many parts, but all one body of work. We are all in this together."

(on how this Panthers team should be remembered) "Resilience. Perseverance. Tough, mentally (and) physically. There is a lot to say when you pull that dash out with this football team. Again, I'm very proud of them."


(on the way the team finished) "We finished. Just to be able to win that game, obviously it wasn't pretty. The first half we did not play our style of football, but we came out in the second half and ran the ball really well. We had a good first drive scoring some points and then our defense did what they do. Our special teams did well. We put punter Johnny Hekker probably in too many situations to punt, but Johnny is one of the best at what he does and he showed it by putting them deep in their own territory a couple of times and our defense got stops."

(on pass to wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. to setup game-winning field goal) "He [Marshall] ran a great route. We had max protection, we thought that they were bringing the house and it turned out I had one-on-one on my backside and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.

(on the emotion after the game) "It (was) just about what we have been through this year. Listen, this is the NFL. Every team goes through a lot. But for us, the way we battled through what has happened this year, I am just really proud of the guys. I thought Coach Wilks did a great job getting us ready for this game. Again, it wasn't pretty at times, but we got it done."

(on the message going into the final drive) "We practice situations like this all the time in practice. Knowing the situation and knowing we had timeouts, I thought we were able to move the ball well in that two-minute drive."


(on his feelings about the game-winning field goal) "It was more than just a kick. To be able to do it for my teammates, our coaches, the whole organization, that's the way you want to finish a season."

(on ending the season strong after missing a big field goal earlier in the season against the Falcons) "After missing a big kick early in the season against Atlanta, I promised myself that I never wanted to feel like that again. It happens. You're a hero one day and a villain the next. Today we came up on top and it was amazing."

View photos from the field and locker room after the Panthers beat the Saints at the buzzer in Week 18.

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