After the Texans played the Saints in New Orleans, players and coaches from both sides answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
QB Drew Brees
TE Jimmy Graham
CB Jabari Greer
RB Mark Ingram
WR Lance Moore
HOUSTON TEXANS COACH GARY KUBIAK
“We had a chance to score more. We had a lot of opportunities in the red zone. I look at the game, and I told the guys that if we would have played better in the red zone, we probably would get out of here with a win. If we would have played better defense late in the game, we get out of here (with a win). If we cover a little better, we get out of here (with a win). They (the Saints) are a great football team. It’s got to take a special effort. I thought our effort was tremendous. There were a lot of great things going on in the game, but when it mattered most in the end they made the plays and we didn’t. It’s very disappointing because they left it out on the field, but that’s part of this league.
(on if the team had trouble defending the Saints’ empty backfield) “It looked like to me that they just put the game in Drew’s hands. They spread the field and let him go to work. We got them in some tough third down situations, but they just seemed to convert them all. They were over 60 percent on third down. When that is happening, it’s going to be tough. They made some big plays. We had ourselves in good shape as a football team (to win).
(on the struggles converting in the red zone) “We design plays down there for certain coverages and certain things. We got the things we wanted. We didn’t execute like I think we need to, but at the same time, as a coach, I think you have to be hard on yourself …We were down there five more times (today). I think we’ve been down there more than anybody in football. We are struggling down there. It is a nice problem to have, but obviously we have to get better down there. It goes back to somehow running the ball a little bit better down there. I stayed aggressive today. I thought that our quarterback played very well. We wanted to stay aggressive in the game because you knew you had to score some points against this team.
(on if they planned to get the ball to James Casey that much today) “We came in here with two running backs and four receivers, and two of those guys were nicked up, so I had to have a plan that could get me a lot of variations of how we were going to go about moving the ball. I didn’t know how we were going to hold up or what we were going to do. James became a big part of that plan and he tends to respond all of the time. He is a fine player and is getting better every week.”
(on missed opportunities) “They (the Saints) moved the ball in the second half much better than they did in the first. The key was late when we had a chance to make a play or two to close the game out, and we just didn’t do it. You have to give them credit.”
FB JAMES CASEY
(on 4th quarter TD) “The coaches told me to be alert as we installed that play just this week. And when their linebacker blitzed I found myself open. I really didn’t look until the final moment but he (Matt Schaub) put the ball in a perfect spot for me to catch it. I have to give Matt a lot of credit on the throw.
“It’s tough. We feel like we had them on the ropes. But we just didn’t make the plays in crunch time. The game went back and forth, and in the final analysis we just didn’t respond to the last score they made."
WR ANDRE JOHNSON
“This is really tough. We did not want to come in and lose this game. We knew that they are a great team. But we came into the game wanting to know where we are as a football team. Everyone battled and left it all out there on the field. But we just didn’t score seven points when we needed to score seven points. We ended up kicking too many field goals. And playing against an offense like that, you have score seven instead of three, and that was the difference in the game.”
“The Saints changed things up when they covered me more with the safety instead of playing me man-to-man. But I still felt the difference in the game was us not scoring sevens instead of the threes we got.”
CB KAREEM JACKSON
“We had plenty of opportunities to make plays and for most of the game we did that. But hey, in the very end, if we had made the final play, then we would have walked out of here with a victory.”
“There’s nothing to be ashamed about with this lost. Hey, we didn’t get it done. But we can take a lot of positives out from this game and move on.”
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
“At the end of the day I’ve got to make the play, and on their last touchdown I just didn’t get it done. They made the play when they had to, to win the game, and I didn’t. There’s other way to look at it.”
QB MATT SCHAUB
“We had more than enough chances in the red zone today, and when you do that you’ve got to come away with sevens and not threes. And when you’re playing against a team like that, scoring down there even becomes more important. We just settled for too many field goals today and we’ve got to figure out a way to come away with touchdowns.
“We have a lot of confidence as a team across the board. We have a lot of pride as a team. Now looking at them, they are a great team. We have a lot of respect for them but we think we’re pretty good too. We had a good chance to be a great team today. We have to learn to continue climbing the ladder as a club.
“As far as the red zone was concerned, we made a lot of adjustments after the second and third time down there. But it’s all about execution. You can’t compare last year to this year. Losing is losing. And whenever it happens on Sunday it’s hard to take. But our guys battled until the very end. We played hard, but we just didn’t make the plays at the very end.”
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS COACH SEAN PAYTON
“You’re encouraged when you can win a game like that and feel like despite not playing your best football you came away with the things you needed to do in the end late n the fourth quarter to get the win. That’s encouraging and that’s a good thing. That’s a good team we played today, that’s a real good team we played today. We handled some of the setbacks, some of the turnovers, some of the injuries, some of the big plays, and just kept our composure. We fought in the second half and did the things we needed to. I thought in the first half we looked a little like the ’67 Saints. I was encouraged and proud of the way we fought back.”
“You find ways to win and certainly you can find ways to lose. It’s just not dumb luck. That’s happened to us early on in the process; we lost some tough games. We hung in and did enough good things. We’d be foolish to go in tomorrow and not look closely at some of the mistakes we made and some of the things, all of us, coaches included, myself included, could do differently to improve on and make those corrections. That’s encouraging. You’re going to have some hard-fought wins and we were able to get this one.”
(on Jimmy Graham rebounding after the mistake with the 2nd INT) “I’m hard on him because we, all of us, himself included, think he is a special player and he came back and he really rebounded and made a ton of big plays. It wasn’t just him early in the game I could go on and on here, myself included with just poor rhythm with play calling, we had some turnovers, we gave up some play defensively. I thought he kicking game early was solid and really for the most part we did a real good job (kicking). I thought we played better in the second half; that was obvious. We had to deal with a few guys going down, Olin Kreutz early on, then Zach Strief.”
(on Brian de la Puente) “He gets some (reps) with the scout team. He’s that backup guard/center. He’s a smart player; he’s versatile. That backup interior lineman has to be able to play both positions. He did a good job.”
(on depth tested at OL/LB) “It was close to getting hectic. It didn’t. That’s the challenge with 46 (active players) on game day. At that point, at linebacker and offensive line, we were in a position potentially to be scrambling a little bit.”
(on the emotions of Steve Gleason being here) “I’ll keep that brief because I think it goes without saying. It was great to see him and his family. He’s an inspiration to all of us, that whole locker room. A lot of these players hadn’t known him that weren’t here, and then a handful of us coaches and players were here. It was great to see him around and see him involved. He spoke to our team last night and did an outstanding job. We gave him a game ball today afterwards. It’s tough.”
(on the sequence starting the 2nd half turning the game around) “It certainly was important. I thought the turnovers early hurt and the turnovers that we got later on obviously helped us. You saw the momentum shift. That was important.”
(on the 2-point conversions) “We always wait till the middle of the fourth quarter; we never go for two or look at that chart in the third quarter, regardless of the score. We start paying attention to it in the fourth and if it’s a game that’s fairly high scoring. I know we were well past the halfway point in the fourth. We converted on both and ironically they were both similar plays, and Lance (Moore) did a great job of getting open and Drew (Brees) made two good throws. That was good to see.”
QB DREW BREES
(on Steve Gleason) “We’ve had a lot of emotions in the last 24 hours, going back to last night. A lot of this, with us wearing throwbacks, the fifth-year anniversary (of the re-opening of the Superdome), Steve Gleason’s blocked punt – which might be the most significant play in the history of this organization. All those who have had a chance to be around him and know him, he makes you a better person. This was special, but none moreso than for Steve Gleason.
“If you do things the right way, good things are going to happen. We’ll get an opportunity. We found that string of opportunities there in the second half and cashed in.
(on Texans) “We’re very familiar with them, and them with us. We spent a lot of time playing against them, practicing against them. We were just competing. Both sides wanted to win that game very badly.
(on Lance Moore) “I trust Lance a lot. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. In every play design, there’s a primary receiver. There happened to be a lot of those going to Lance at the end of the game.
(on going no-huddle in 4th quarter) “We wanted to establish the run, establish a physical mindset. We went up and down the field and really cashed in on some plays in (the no-huddle).
(on Jimmy Graham) “Jimmy is a young player who’s continuing to grow. The sky’s the limit for him. I love the fact we can have something happen on the field that’s negative, and instead of him getting down, he comes back and makes a couple of huge catches. That tells me a lot about Jimmy Graham the person. He wants me to be able to trust him and have the utmost confidence in him, which I do.
“There’s a lot of times and a lot of details that go into the passing game. As long as my guy does what he’s supposed to, the ball’s going to be there. I’m going to turn that ball loose 100 out of 100 times to Jimmy Graham. The time we spend together, that’s what you call chemistry. We’re building that chemistry.
WR LANCE MOORE
(on his touchdown catch) “Drew (Brees) and I were just on the same page. It’s something that we work on a lot in practice. He made that back shoulder throw. The defender was having pretty good coverage. The defender didn’t see the ball and I did.”
(on him getting a lot of receptions at the end of the game) “Sometimes the game kind of works like that. I don’t know how many catches I had in the first half, but it wasn’t a lot. Sometimes you need someone to give your team a spark and I’m a fiery guy. I have a sense of urgency about me and I want to make plays. I bring enthusiasm out there and it was an awesome game to be a part of.”
RB MARK INGRAM
(on his first NFL touchdown) “The line did a great job of blocking. I just made a good read, cut back and tried to get in. It was a big touchdown. I think the team did a lot of great things today. We still have a lot of things that we need to improve on. The team fought hard and never quit. It says a lot about the character of this team.”
(on being patient) “I just do whatever it takes to help the team win. That’s really what it is all about. As long as the team is winning, then I am fine. If I get the ball four times or 24 times, then it’s all about the team winning. Everybody has a role on this team. I just want to go out there, make plays and help the team win.”
TE JIMMY GRAHAM
(on his touchdown pass after interception) “It was my mistake. After the play Drew (Brees) came to the sideline and told me that he was going to keep coming to me because he trusted me. He told me he had faith in me. That meant a lot to me especially being a young player.”
(on his mistake on the interception) “It should have been a big gain. I just had a quick memory lapse of my assignment. I just have to be ready all of the time. It was definitely my fault.”
CB JABARI GREER
“I think the first three quarters, they had some key third-down completions. We were resilient in the red zone and we were able to get off (the field) on third down in the second half.
(on INT) “We were in a defense that allowed us to do some adjustments. They ran a certain route that when they run that route, we’re able to undercut it and make some plays. We got some pressure up front.
“It just happened. Fortunately, I was able to capitalize for my teammates and put us in a position to score. I just happened to be there.
“They scored 33 points, so our offense did a great job of capitalizing. When it was our turn, we had the resolve to stand up and make plays. In the end, we said enough was enough. They (Texans) did a good job. We weren’t able to stop them completely, but we were able to make the plays when we needed to.
“You never have a perfect game, you never have a perfect quarter, you never have a perfect series. You have to be able to watch film and be critical of yourself. This game shows you so much and it gives you so much. When the chips are stacked against you, be resilient.”