HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
"Obviously very proud of our team today. It was a hard-fought, tough victory. I thought all three phases did their part. So really pleased, really proud. Really excited for those guys. A lot of credit to Atlanta. We knew they had their full complement on defense and they were going to give us challenges. We knew on offense that they had weapons, Ridley, Matt Ryan. They were going to challenge us, and they did. It was a great back-and-forth game. And I thought we did a great job in the fourth quarter, really the second half, holding them to field goals on defense and running the ball on offense and making some explosive plays. Really proud of our guys, the amount of guys that stepped up in this game. [Brian] Burns goes down, I thought he was playing really well. Yetur [Gross-Matos] goes down. D. Jack [Donte Jackson] goes down, and everyone steps up. Juston Burris really proud, excited for him that he made that pick. I thought it was a total team win. That's what we're looking for: A team, a team, a team."
On the team playing hard and physical on both offense and defense and whether Curtis Samuel's fourth-quarter run exemplified that:
"It uplifts the team, uplifts the sidelines. Curtis [Samuel] is playing -- I thought that was -- first of all, that was a great check by Teddy [Bridgewater]. That's not a called play. Teddy checks to that, checks to that run. And it looked like there was a problem on the exchange. You guys probably saw it cleaner than I did. And Curtis found a way. I thought Curtis was really one of the stories today. Made a bunch of great plays. But I think the physicality in the run game, physicality by the O Line, that's what we're looking for. I didn't see the stats. I don't know how many yards we had. Didn't bother to look at it."
On the injuries suffered in the game:
"I have no update on those guys. They pulled them. They said they were down. I'll let the doctors do their thing and wait till tomorrow. I'll give you guys an updated thing when I know it. Half of the time I don't really know what the true injury is until they get back tomorrow."
On Carolina's two-minute drive at the end of the first half and their clock-killing drive at the end of the game:
"I want to score. First and foremost, I definitely want to score, but when you can't score, you want to hold the ball as long as possible to give your defense a rest and win the physical battle and keep the ball away from the opposing team. I thought the last drive, I think we started with like five or six minutes. Ran it all the way down to a minute ten. Really could've been aggressive and tried to score a touchdown, but the safe bet, the better bet it seemed like to take it down and kick the field goal. And there was a lot of great runs, a lot of great plays, and a lot of guys made tremendous efforts."
On not allowing a sack for the second straight week and how much credit Teddy Bridgewater and the offensive line should get:
"I think it's always all of them. It's the guys getting open. When the guys get open quickly, you have a chance to get the ball out of your hand. I thought Mike Davis and those guys picked up blitzes when they came. I think our offensive line, looked like they played well from the field. They brought a lot of exotic blitzes. Teddy got hit sometimes, and he was able to get the ball out of his hands. I think that's one of the things that he's doing a great job of. Most importantly to me is we protected the football. I don't think we had a turnover today. We didn't give the ball away, and anytime you win the turnover battle, you have a chance to win.
On the importance of momentum-shifting plays and how important their end zone interception was:
"I think it was huge. They had turned the tide of the game in terms of, you know, we were wearing down, they were moving the ball. I thought they had a great game plan the second half. They didn't panic. They were down two scores. They came out and ran the ball. Offensively, we went three and out twice, and that was a huge, huge, huge play for us. And so, again, JB, what a tremendous play. And also the plays that led up to it. I think we stopped them twice down there in the goal line area. I think that was third down. Sorry, the game escapes me afterward. But that's what you need, we needed our players to make plays and they did that."
On Teddy Bridgewater's performance in the second quarter:
"I thought we were just aggressive and explosive. We had some down-the-field plays. We got into the two-minute, went down, and scored right before the half, which obviously was vital. Again, some of our issues from the past couple of weeks, like third-down percentage in the red zone, hurt us on the first two drives, but then we were able to convert the next two. So I thought it was well done by him and by his teammates."
On the Panthers pass defense:
"We're just trying to play total team defense. I don't think of it like compartmentalized, like, hey -- it's a give and take. If you put a bunch of guys in the box you open yourself up to the pass. To me, it's just guys just reacting and reading their keys. I think the biggest thing is we didn't give up a bunch of explosives. I think we gave up two, one along the sideline that I was just about to challenge and wasn't sure if his foot was in or not. But they did a nice job, [Matt Ryan] scrambling around, making some plays down the field. We're just getting better. I think when you lose that many guys, your backups step up. To me, it's a testament to the way we practice, and I say we -- not me, the way the players practice that the twos get a lot of reps and they take it seriously. You're out there at the end of the game and those guys are playing and playing well. Troy Pride went out there and played the whole game. Rasul [Douglas] played the whole game. Corn Elder makes yet another couple stops. So we're a fourth-down play away from ending it without giving up that last field goal. It's just practice. It's just the guys getting better. My hope is that we can take a couple of days, catch our breath, and hit this game this week with same level of preparation we've had these past weeks.
On being 3-0 without Christian McCaffrey and who deserves the most credit for that:
"Well, I think you said the word, it's team. And as such, really no one deserves it. You know, they all deserve it. It's the guys that are playing a jammer on the punt team, running down making a huge tackle to pin them. It's the punter nailing a long punt. It's the field goal, protection team. It's perceived as a game of superstars, but it's not. It's all these guys doing their job and working really hard. It's also the coaching staff. It's also the support staff. It's also the people who set the video up. It's everybody just doing their job and trying to do it better today than yesterday. And that's a corny answer, but it's true. We're 3 and 0 or whatever, 3 and 2, 1 and 0 this week or whatever because we're improving. We have to start over again next week and try and be a better team next Sunday than we were this Sunday. And I give that credit to the players. They've bought into the practice. They've bought into the work ethic, the preparation, and I think it's showing up on game day."
On Mike Davis and the way that he's running the ball:
"I think he's running it with tremendous physicality. He's not getting tackled by the first tackler. I think we've found some runs that he feels really comfortable with. And it's great second effort, great yards after contact. And that's the mark of a good back. He's also doing a good job catching the football. Great situation awareness, getting down, not going out of bounds at the end of the game. Mike's a pro and he's playing like it."
QB TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
"That was a great team win today. We knew it was going to by a physical game, a battle. Coach [Matt Rhule] mentioned that Dan Quinn said something to him in pre-game saying 'let's battle.' Coach came in and told us and we knew what kind of game it was going to be. We knew their mindset that they were coming out to battle and we knew it was going to be a battle. KK [Keith Kirkwood] talked to the guys before we went out and said 'man, don't even look at the scoreboard. Just play each play one play at a time and when the clock says zero at the end, hopefully, we put ourselves in a position to win.' So, it was a great team effort. The offensive line did a great job of sustaining drives, especially at the end of the game like that, allowing us to drive down the field, kick a field goal. Juston [Burris] had the play of the game, intercepting that pass in the red zone. So I'm just proud of these guys and we just have to keep finding a way to keep winning."
On getting their first win in Atlanta since 2014:
"For us, we just look at it like who's the next opponent. We try not to look too far back because this is a new team. So, all we can control is how hard we work each day. We focus on that. Try to be a better player each day, a better man each day. For us to come away with a win today, it's huge for the guys on this team who, like you said, have been on the team that haven't won since 2014. All of that is really irrelevant because it's the 2020 Panthers team. Can't look too far back."
On getting into a good groove in the first half:
"We just came in with the mindset that we wanted to be aggressive. That's our mindset each week. Now mind you we play teams that play us differently and we come up with different ways to beat them but we came into this game saying that we wanted to be aggressive. I think that within my career, I've had some success here. We've just had good game plans. It's always the guys around me that make my job much easier. We have Mike Davis coming out of the backfield catching nine passes, rushing the ball for over 80 yards. Curtis Samuel coming in and giving us a changeup. Catching the ball out of the backfield, catching the ball at wide receiver, running the ball out of the backfield. For me, it's just like man all I have to do is get the ball to those guys. I credit all the success I've had against Atlanta, especially today, to those guys."
On his third-down check down to Curtis Samuel:
"On that play, I just felt like man, honestly just get the ball to Curtis. Let's line up in this package and if I get up to the ball, I can get us into the right play. I just noticed that they were in dime personnel and I was just like, 'Hey man, we're going to make this defensive back who just came into the game make a tackle,' so we ran the ball right at him. We checked to inside zone, ran right to the defensive back and Curtis did the rest. The offensive line also gave him an extra push. That's the exciting part about this team. All these guys are fired up with us making plays, the offensive line running down the field, picking up guys off the field. Curtis is celebrating when he gets the first down. It's pretty impressive."
On holding possession of the ball to run out the clock:
"It's pretty good. It's a good look for us. I actually told Coach on the sideline, Coach [Jake] Peetz, and told him I was pissed about the drive we went three and out. I missed Ian [Thomas] on the in-cut, just give him a ball he can catch and we might put another drive together. For us to do what we did at the end of the game, that just goes back to our physicality, our toughness, mentally and physically. Throughout the week, we practice a certain way and it prepares us for situations and moments like that for us down the stretch."
On putting together three wins since going 0-2:
"It just shows that the noise on the outside doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what we discuss in our locker room and our facility. We can't buy into what's being said on the outside. As long as we come to work each day and play for one another, everything else will fall into place. I think it's huge and it says a lot about this team when you look out and see guys having fun. They're communicating, high-fiving, picking guys up off the field. That's a testament to our locker room."
On his trust with Robby Anderson:
"You just have to try and find ways to get your guys the ball. Robby is one of the playmakers that's been making plays for us and even DJ [Moore], you talk about him catching a ball and running for a touchdown. That was huge. So, the more we can find different ways to get those guys going because those guys bring a real spark to this offense and those are the guys that really make big plays in this offense. Robby stuck with them and he ended up finding a way to…I think early on we missed a couple of calls because on a third down it felt like there was a holding call but another third down I thought there was pass interference. We just have to keep playing. Robby wasn't having success so DJ started making plays. When DJ wasn't getting the ball, you say Curtis [Samuel] making plays. Each guy, they pick each other up and elevate their game."
View the best photos from behind the scenes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Carolina's 23-16 win over Atlanta.