Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera and several players addressed the media following their 24-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Here are some highlights from their press conferences.
On the biggest difference for the road win:
"I think one of the things that really stood out more so than anything else was protecting the football, and we took the football away. That gave us the opportunity more so than anything else. Some things that we still have to continue to work on and improve, some of the details. We weren't as good as we needed to be. We did our job, but we need to pay even more attention to details because we almost got ourselves in trouble."
On WR Jamison Crowder's return in the first half:
"It was huge. It gives you a little bit of a spark, and the spark can come from anywhere. This was a three-phase win: offense, defense [and] special teams. Did the things that were needed to do. Put ourselves in position to give us an opportunity."
On *the decision to sit CB Emmanuel Forbes Jr.: *
"I think in looking at it, it's probably an opportunity for him to get a little reset. I kind of want to see how things happen, see how things go. Hopefully, it's something that he'll learn from, he'll take as a positive and grow from it."
On how he feels the secondary performed:
"I thought there were some really good things. I thought the defense bowed up when they had to. Made a couple plays that were really good that really helped us. I just think that again, when you need to make plays, you have to step up when you get the opportunity, and a lot of guys did that today."
On making changes defensively depending on opponents:
"Well, I think some of it was a little bit of both. I think it was some things that we wanted to do, some things necessitated by the injuries that have happened, and I think some of it was necessitated by the opponent. They did some personnel things that we wanted to try and create some matchups that we thought would be beneficial for us. I thought Jack [Del Rio] and the staff had it well mapped out, well-prepared. And like I said, there's some things that we got to get fixed in all three phases, and that's our defense.
On the big punt return by WR Jamison Crowder to spark the team:
"I told him after the game that it was one of the big plays to help us win the ball game. I think our defense also did a good job of putting them in good situations to win. Obviously, that punt return gave us a short field [advantage] and we were able to put seven points on the board off of that. So yeah, that was huge. Whenever you can get sparks from defense or special teams, it definitely helps the offense, especially against a defense like Atlanta. They did a good job and did a lot of things really well and made things tough on the passing game. We were able to take advantage of some short fields, and I think the main thing is that we have a lot of things that we can clean and do better."
On the RB Brian Robinson touchdown on the screen pass:
"Honestly, that was a great play by him. We had three offensive linemen that were able to get out in front of him and block for him. The screen game is something that has helped us out a lot this year and that was a great time to call it. Good job by EB [Offensive Coordinator Eric Bienemy]. We were excited and B. Rob made them pay at the goal line."
On whether they made it an emphasis to get WR Terry McLaurin involved early:
"Yeah, we script the first 15 plays. We call it, "The first 15." We script plays, and Terry had a good opportunity to be the primary on a lot of those plays and get the ball. We knew we were going to see a lot of man coverage, and Terry is a guy that excels in beating man coverage. We were able to get Terry going. We want to get everyone going. Curtis [Samuel] and Johan [Dotson] weren't involved much in the passing game and that's something we have to continue to get better at moving forward."
On his understanding that he is going to have ups and downs as a quarterback in the NFL:
"Every single game is different, and you never know how each game is going to go. There're going to be some ups and downs throughout the season, and I think the main thing is that you have to find little things to really try and work on and focus on every week to make sure that you are continuing to grow. I feel like we've done a good job of that so far. Our coaches have done a really good job of pointing out what the focus is each week. I think everyone has something that they can do a better job of, and our coaches do a great job of putting that out there."
On OL Cornelius Lucas stepping in at left tackle today:
"He did a good job. We call him "Big Lu". He did a great job of stepping in today. Thoughts and prayers are with Leno and his family. It is super tough to hear that something like that happened to one of our teammates, one of our brothers. We're all behind him and supporting him and his family. He did a good job stepping in today and fulfilling Leno [Charles Leno Jr.]'s role. We definitely missed Leno out there and we hope to get him back out there soon, but we know at the end of the day, there's a lot of things that are bigger than the game of football. And God will be with his family and wrap his hands around them at this time."
On his touchdown in the first quarter:
"We worked on that all week; staying tight to the line of scrimmage, getting the momentum to run and making wide open passes. Easy touchdown."
On the performance of the offense and whether this is a game to build on:
"Just keep building. I feel like the second half was a little bit slow for us but we came out strong and that's something we've been focusing on for a while. I'm proud of us for doing that, we just need to continue to finish through all four quarters."
On all three phases coming together to win:
"It's a team effort. Offense, defense, special teams, and that's what we did today. I'm proud of the team. We fought today. We need to do good on offense in the second half, I feel like we were doing our best. [The] defense did a hell of a job and that's what you want."
On what the difference was for the team this week:
"Defense. I give my ode to the defense. They got three picks today, that's major. If we can do that, we can win every game. That's the difference. Shout out to the defense making big-time plays. We just need to hope that happens again."
On his 61-yard punt return that set up Washington's first touchdown:
"First off, I'm just trying to make sure I get the ball. Once I've got that, I just make sure my eyes get down quick and see what's in front of me, and what lanes I can hit. Once I caught it and looked, there was a runway to my right. I was able to hit that and get back to my left. After that I was just running. I definitely want to score, I thought about it the whole game. Next time I need to stay loose and stick to the sides."
On the punt return unit and how that helped the team:
"The guys did a really good job of blocking and creating lanes for me, and I was able to hit it. The offense opened good right there."
On what play shifted the momentum the most:
"Just to see Jamin [Davis] get that pick and end that drive. I was so happy just going through that, that two-minute drill, seeing Jamin catch that interception."
On the fourth down stop:
"I was just playing two-man. The ball got tipped, I turned around and the ball was like thrown right to me. I tried to get my other hand around, but he's kind of big so I just tried to bat it down and just get the stop and get us off the field."
On the overall performance from the secondary:
"I feel like we played well. We've got some things that we need to clean up, but turnovers help win games. You try and get more than the other team and the game goes to those in your favor. So, those turnovers for us were huge."
On his mindset going into Week 6:
"Just dominate. We had a rough stretch at the end, but we were able to make plays. The sack at the end was one of the biggest plays in the game because if they get it, it's a six-point game. So, I just had to give everything that I had. I don't really remember what happened too much. I just know that I came off the ball and I was able to make a play and thank God for my teammates who were there."
On whether he feels the defense did a good job of finishing plays this week:
"Yes, we did. Obviously, there's a couple of plays we wish we could have back. Nobody played perfect, but all in all, we did what we had to do to get there, and that's all that matters."
Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for their Week 6 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. (Photos by Emilee Fails, Kourtney Carroll and Joe Noyes/Washington Commanders)
On the message to the team during the final stretch of the game:
"Stay disciplined. That's all we can ask. There was nothing that changed from the previous week. We just can be more disciplined and more detailed in our coverage. How we fit the run, how we use the ball, how we help each other and support each other. We stayed disciplined from the first quarter all the way to the fourth and we always say, if we are the most disciplined team, we'll win this game."
On holding back after securing the interception:
"Well, usually it's like an unwritten rule that if you're that deep in the end zone, you want to take a knee. You can run it out but if you get tackled at like the five or 10-yard line—Kam [Kamren Curl] was looking back at me. He was like, "go down, go down." If he's looking back at me, that means he's not blocking. So, it was a smart decision to just go down, just in case someone comes from behind and punches the ball out or whatever. I just had my pick, and I went down. Gave the ball back to the offense, I did my job."
On the what the big difference was for the defense this week:
"Practice. Practice on all fronts. It doesn't start on Sunday. It starts throughout the whole week. We work so hard, running into the ball, being motivated, disciplined, keeping each other accountable. When we mess up a play, 'hey, it's not my best and it won't happen again'. Making sure we don't make the same mistake twice and staying disciplined from the first quarter to the fourth and it we had our moments. I gave up a touchdown in the first quarter. I could have been down on myself, but I kept my chin up, chest out and when my opportunity came, I made my play. That's how it works. It's not a game of being perfect, it's a game of who can stay as disciplined for as long as possible and when the play comes to you, make it."