SP: That's a tough, tough loss. I would first say, and I told our players, I thought in the second half we fought back to get kind of in that thing. It wasn't always perfect. Typically when it's not always perfect your opponent is doing something well. New England did a very good job kind of containing us offensively. We had too many three-and-outs early on. I can be better and need to be, and our staff the same way. I told the players, ‘Look we did some good things in the second half,' and I was proud of the way we fought back in it. Obviously, it's disappointing no to get the win but you have to credit your opponent. In this case, the offense, Tom [Brady] and those guys made a play late in the game, and those are tough. That's this league. It stings, it will sting for a while, but we've got a bye coming up here and we just have to make sure it doesn't carry over to the next game. I thought we came back and did some things we needed to do in the second half. But we played a good team that played very well tonight, and it was a hard fought game. Any questions?
Q: What did they do with [tight end Jimmy Graham]?
SP: Well one thing they do a good job with, is they disrupt you at the line of scrimmage better than anyone. They do a really good job of getting hands on receivers and tight ends. They are very well coached. They are disciplined, and they did a good job of that.
Q: With [cornerback
SP: He was on [Graham] in their nickel packages, and then he had an injury, but it's the disruption at the line of scrimmage.
Q: There was a sequence where you had a couple of drives and if you got a first down you could have run the ball out. Can you go through those last two sequences?
SP: Look, they were two four-minute drives. They were what they were. We were kind of paying attention to the clock and we were trying to get some yardage and possibly get a first down. We were getting a heavy front with the risk of throwing it and the clock stopping. So, we can wrestle with that for a while, but they made the stops when they needed to, got the ball back and made plays. Next question.
Q: Do you have any idea what is wrong with Jimmy Graham yet, injury wise?
Q: You gave up two field goals in the second half and then they had the touchdown drive. It's almost like...
SP: Listen, I said this to our guys at halftime. There were a handful of things that we felt like... you know man, we're playing a good team, but there are some things we have to be better at if we're going to get into this thing in the second half. We did some of those things, and made some plays defensively. Offensively, we found a little bit of a running game. I thought that helped us a little bit. Look, it didn't finish the way we would have liked. It's a tough finish, but again like I said those guys made the plays. Credit New England and their staff and their team. They did a good job.
Q: How encouraging is it when [wide receiver Marques Colston] only has one catch, [tight end Jimmy Graham] doesn't have a catch, that the young guys like [running back Khiry Robinson], [running back Travaris Cadet] and [wide receiver Kenny Stills] step up?
SP: That's the one thing typically in the history of what we've done offensively, [the ball] at times gets spread around. Tonight it was a little different. We didn't have as many snaps, so you know that's a result of some of those third downs. We had four penalties in the first half, and there were a handful of those things.
Q: Running the football, you guys did a better job maybe then any other game. Was there anything that you saw going in that you thought could work against this defense?
SP: We just wanted to have some balance. The thing we wanted to see was what they were going to play to our base [offense] sets and our nickel sets, and try to get a read on what their defense was going to be.
Q: What did you see on the Patriots last drive?
SP: It was just kind of an ebb and flow. They made some plays inside and obviously the clock kept going, but they were able to get up and you know they got some chunks. It was at that point in the game where it was going to have to be some bigger plays. He [
Q: The throw on third down right before your last field goal. Are you trying to win the game right there, because it gave them an extra time out?
SP: Yeah, just looking at being aggressive and taking a shot. So that was just a decision that I made, and you kind of go back and forth with that. Trying to win it, and then your also paying attention to how your defense is playing. So, yeah.
Q: Why wasn't [quarterback Drew Brees] successful today?
SP: Listen, I just got finished saying if you're playing somebody, it's easy to say, ‘Well he didn't play as well.' I credit New England. They did a real good job with those guys at the line of scrimmage and got just enough pressure. One of the things we said early in the week was, with the amount of man coverage you get, often times you need to hold the ball. I think that they do a very good job of contesting throws at the line of scrimmage.
Q: You talked about the decision to run or throw on the last drive. Was the thought there...
SP: We kind of thought of a few things, toyed with a few things, but the clock and with the way we had gotten off the field defensively, it made sense to us.
DREW BREES, QUARTERBACK
Q: Is any loss as difficult as this one?
DB: This one is difficult because you certainly felt like you had a chance. Coming in at halftime 17-7 we weren't discouraged at all, although we knew we hadn't played our best football in the first half. We felt like if we kept hammering away that we could find a way to win. Lord knows we had our chances at the end there. I know that you can't give Tom Brady and that offense three chances at a two-minute drill. So, for us offensively, you sit there and rack your brain about, 'Man, we need to get one first down,' so that we could have put ourselves in position to run out the clock or at least get the clock down so far so that it would have been nearly impossible to come back.
Q: How did the third-and-20 play open up for you with Kenny Stills?
DB: [I] loved the play call. I just tried to use my eyes to manipulate the safety a little bit to get as close to a one-on-one matchup out there as possible. I knew he would be getting over there late, but Kenny did a great job of getting by his guy and going up and making a play in the end zone. Obviously, that's a huge play in the game – third-and-20 – the score is 23-17, that gives us the lead and a lot of momentum.
Q: Normally when a team takes away Jimmy Graham you beat them with other options. What did they do to take away other options?
DB: I think anytime you play a Bill Belichick defense and a team that's playing a lot of man and just those things, you understand that there are times when there's just not a lot of separation and even though you might not have as efficient a day the opportunity for big plays are always there – anytime you have one-on-one matchups. We know every week there's going to be a plan for Jimmy Graham, a plan for [Darren] Sproles, and a plan for [Marques] Colston. That's just opportunities for guys like Ben Watson to have big days and these young receivers to continue to develop, and when we get Lance Moore back, so we've got plenty of weapons and there will be plenty of opportunities for everybody, but I think that today there were far too many three-and-outs. There was a lot in the first half especially, so when you can't even get that first, first-down, it's hard to get things going. I find that when we do, in a lot of cases, we drive the field and go down to get points, so we have to continue to find ways just to execute a little bit better and get drives going so that we can have opportunities for everybody.
Q: What was the plan for Jimmy Graham as you saw it as the game unfolded?
DB: It seemed like they were matching [Aqib] Talib on him early and then that seemed to be pretty consistent and obviously at times depending on the situation and personnel group they did some things to Jimmy or some of the other guys. Listen, that's football. They're going to have a plan for you in every situation – red zone – you've got to find ways to combat it.
Q: They didn't blitz much – didn't give much pressure in the middle – they gave a lot of time to throw today, so what did they do to kind of disrupt the passing game a little bit?
DB: Really I think we just weren't as efficient as we should have been. I feel like we did have opportunities and unfortunately we did not take advantage of them until late. We started putting together some nice drives late in the game and were able to overcome a 10-point deficit to take the lead and unfortunately we couldn't hang onto it.
Q: Sometimes we forget how young Jimmy Graham is in the league. Ben Watson said earlier, 'There are going to be lessons learned hard by him.' This is kind of a lesson to him tonight, isn't it? How teams can play him and sometimes he's not going to have that catch.
DB: Yeah, yeah. Here's the thing, it's easy to get frustrated and I think you just have to keep battling and understand that you're going to have nights where it's not coming to you and it's just not happening for whatever reason, and you've just got to keep plugging away and know that the opportunities will come. Opportunities will come and if they're spending that much time wondering about you then other guys can make them pay as well and that's football – that's the chess match that we play each Sunday.
Q: You got a good running game going with Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas.
DB: Yeah, we really ramped that up in the second half. We felt like that was big for us. We were able to put together some nice drives. All those backs and those guys up front did a great job.
Q: A couple of your teammates scored for the first time today. Does that bode well for the future?
DB: Yeah it does. [Travaris] Cadet is a talented player that we can continue to use more often. We know the talent these young receivers have with [Nick] Toon and Kenny [Stills] and this offense really with what we are able to do from a personnel standpoint with multiple personnel groups, formations and the tempo with which we play, you feel like there is going to be opportunities for these guys moving forward.
Q: You threw to Jimmy Graham a lot tonight when he was covered. Is that the trust in him, or trying to keep them honest?
DB: There were situations where you are trying to get him the ball. Obviously you are being smart about it. It's one-on-one and we feel like our guys, no matter who is covering them, can win in one-on-one [coverage]. Listen, they've got good players too, and sometimes they are going to get you. You've just got to bide time and wait for that opportunity.
Q: Did the interception just get away, or did you put that in a spot where you thought he would come down with it or nobody would?
DB: Obviously in hindsight I wish I hadn't thrown it. There was no need for it. It was third-and-long, just throw it away. But he was standing there and I threw one up. It was just a bad decision on my part.
Q: Drew, you go into the bye 5-1, it's a good spot to be in, isn't it?
DB: Well, 5-1 is a good spot to be in. Coming off a loss, that's not the taste you want left in your mouth. You always want to get back to work as quickly as possible after that so that you can right the wrong, kind of wipe away the sins of the game that you lost. But, it is what it is. We're coming into the bye week, and it is going to be a great opportunity to get a lot of guys healthy, which will be great. You know, get us to full strength when we come back and prepare for Buffalo.
Marques Colston, Wide Receiver
(On what the Patriots did to take him and Jimmy Graham out of the game)
"They had a pretty good game plan for us. We were able to find more rhythm in the second half and get back into the game. Anytime you are playing a team this good on the road you have to make plays for 60 minutes and we didn’t do that today."
(On the loss)
"That’s the ebb and flow of this game. We just didn’t make enough plays."
Jahri Evans, Guard
(On Zach Strief)
"He did pretty good; he did good last week when he stepped in to play."
(On the loss)
"We’ll be better because of it; we’ll digest it just like we would a win. We’ll get healthier over this next week and come back and get a win."
Jabari Greer, Cornerback
(On the loss/play)
"We fought everything to be in a position to win, and to have one play change everything, that’s tough, especially being the person. It was very humbling. You never want to hurt your team, but also I know that I made that play a lot of times in my career. It lets a lot out of you knowing that we played a very prepared and resilient team. Congratulations to them, we got a lot of work to do. I just have to be accountable to make that play and not let them score."
(On adjusting in the second half)
"The coaching staff did a good job of adjusting. We just made sure we kept things inside and putting some pressure on."
Cameron Jordan, Defensive End
(On his injury)
"I’m all right; I got about a week to heal up so I should be fine."
(On the loss)
"We just want to get to see the films, break it down and get better. We did some positive things."
(On the second half)
"They gave us their best punch in the first half. We came around and got a little more pressure on them in the second half, and was able to fine tune the game to our liking. It ended up getting away from us in the end. "
Kenny Vaccaro, Safety
(On the game-winning touchdown)
"We stopped them a couple of times, we just have to finish. That was a tough play, Jabari [Greer] makes that play all the time. We’ll rally back."
(On what they did in the second half to get an edge on the Patriots)
"We just stuck to our plan. Going into the game, the plan was to get pressure and sometimes you have to back away from it in certain situations. We saw that it was working so we just kept going with it."
(On the loss)
"That undefeated monkey is off our back so we can just go out and play ball."