Via the always great Detroit Lions PR staff comes quotes from after Saturday's win over the San Diego Chargers. Jim Schwartz, Matthew Stafford and others discussed the victory, as well as the team's first playoff berth in 12 years. You can check out what they had to say below.
LIONS HEAD COACH JIM SCHWARTZ
Opening statement: "There's going to come a time when we don't celebrate going to the playoffs or getting into the playoffs, but that's not going to be tonight. It's been a long time coming and obviously it's something that we haven't done as an organization for a long time. Especially to do it at home in front of a great home crowd on Christmas Eve. My kids have that little application to find out where Santa is - he was at Ford Field tonight."
On the gesture of giving fans a high five after the game: "Unless something really strange happens, it's probably the last home game that we're going to play this year. So our crowd's made a big difference. We've said a lot about how they don't just go to the games, they participate in the games. I'd like a few less waves when our offense has the ball when we're holding the lead and we don't want to get any penalties, but our crowd's been great and they deserve to celebrate it and that's why we stayed out."
On what it means to have won decisively: "When you have a chance, like we did, to do it at home, to go win the game and obviously not have to worry about what happens score-wise or whatever. I mean, I haven't seen any scores from today. Our total focus was on us and what this game was all about. There was no better time to do it than right now at home."
On how significant the drafting of QB Matthew Stafford has been: "That's probably the key to the franchise is having a good quarterback. I think we'll hold on to him for a while."
LIONS QB MATTHEW STAFFORD
On the opening throw to Calvin Johnson: "Yeah that was our plan. You know, let's go out there, let's be aggressive on both sides of the ball-offense and defense-and Scott (Linehan) called a great game, guys executed.
"When we had to check it down, guys made plays with it after they caught it, so (it was) a total team effort. Man, it was awesome."
On his older teammates and going to the playoffs: "Yeah, I'm excited for them, I really am. More than myself or some of the other young guys that have come in here. We're excited that we made the playoffs, but just to bring a bright spot to some team goals, some team accomplishments for those guys, because they're all about the team anyways, and I'm just happy to be a part of it. For the city of Detroit, our fan base, it's an awesome thing. When we walked around the stadium and slapped everybody's hands, gave them high fives, you could just get a sense of how much it meant to them and it's fun to be able to bring some of that kind of joy."
On if doing a stadium lap was spontaneous: "Coach Schwartz told us late in the fourth when the game was in hand to go ahead and do that. I thought it was a great gesture and our fans responded great."
On how far the Lions have come since the last team lap in '09 after breaking the winless streak: "It's been a long road, that's for sure. For me personally, for our team, for everybody involved. (There's) a lot of mentally tough people in that locker room-a lot of people (that) have been through a lot of hard times to get to this point and you know, I'm just happy to be a part of it and glad I got to share it with the guys in the locker room there. They're a great bunch of guys and it's just fun to be a part of."
On how quickly the franchise has been turned around: "I knew we were going to put the work in. I knew we had the people with the right mindset (and) dedication to get it done. We weren't happy where we were a couple years ago and from the front office down-getting great players in here, guys buying into the system that the coaches have, and guys going out and executing and believing in each other, it takes everybody and we were able to do it. Hopefully I'll be standing in front of a podium for a couple more weeks coming now. So, I think we're excited about making the playoffs and I think, more so than that, just the opportunities that can come from that."
On throwing to TE Brandon Pettigrew when WR Calvin Johnson was getting doubled: "Yeah every time we got into the red zone they would double either Calvin/Nate, Calvin/Pettigrew, Calvin/Titus, and guys with the one on ones won the match-up.
"Pettigrew did a great job, really all game-had an awesome game-was getting open for me when they were trying to take away the outside really the whole game. (Pettigrew) ran a great route, threw a ball down there, made a tough catch, and that started us off. That was a third down, we get three there, you never know. We got seven and really got the crowd into the game, made it tough on them, and really jumped ahead early which is what we needed to do."
On scheming to have Pettigrew on a linebacker: "Yeah you know, they mix up their coverages a lot, but they played a lot of match coverage on the inside today and Pettigrew wore him out. He had a great game.
"Scheff, when he got in the middle, had a great game there (and) made some catches for us. You know, we really did a good job of mixing it up. Coach Linehan called a great game; we were running the ball, throwing the ball, throwing it deep, throwing it short, doing really everything you can do trying to keep them on their heels. And the biggest thing is executing. You know, our offensive line gave me time, gave holes in the running game enough to keep them honest, and that's what we needed to do. We went out there and did it."
LIONS WR CALVIN JOHNSON
On making it to the playoffs: "It's great! Thanks to the fans that came out; they showed up today. Teammates and everybody was doing their job. That's what we got; a nice little win."
On knowing the team was capable of pulling out today's win: "That first drive set the tone and we kept rolling from there."
On his feeling on making the post season after tough seasons: "Big ups to Coach Schwartz on putting a good team together, Martin Mayhew, those guys. They got us together. We got a great team here. Matt is taking over right now, no telling (what can happen)."
On Lions QB Matt Stafford's play: "All I can say: that boy ‘ballin.'"
On his receiving touchdown record: "I didn't know I did that till somebody told me. That's a great honor to have. To be able to do that, hopefully we can get some more."
LIONS C DOMINIC RAIOLA
On how he feels: "I mean, to do it like that, you know, it's awesome. No. 9 came out to play today. He's been playing well and this-we're going to the post-season. I mean, 11 years - it hasn't really soaked in yet. I don't know how to feel. I've never been here before. It's a long time coming."
On hearing the crowd chanting "playoffs": "Yeah it was electric, you know, from play one. It made it real. We are a prideful city and state and they love the Lions, and I knew that when I got drafted here and we laid a lot of eggs. But this makes it all worth it. I've been to the bottom, and not necessarily back on the top, but we're playing in January and that's new ground for us and you know, it goes deep. Who knows what could happen..."
On preparing for Green Bay and a playoff run: "Well I'm just going to enjoy this one tonight-let it soak in. This is awesome."
On players coming over at the end to congratulate him and Jeff Backus: "Yeah, you know, everybody's telling me congratulations, I'm telling them, thank you. The culmination of talent just came to a head and we're a talented team now. And we're in.
"You know, I thank those guys, because without them we wouldn't still be playing in January. So yeah, congratulations to all the guys that's been through it. I mean, Calvin went 0-16, so let's not forget where he's been. One of the best in the game, you know, was at the bottom. So, I thank those guys. The coaching staff, the whole staff that Jim (Schwartz) brought in, you know, changed this whole mentality of this organization, and-awesome."
On if he spoke with T Jeff Backus: "No, just same old, ‘Congratulations, Dom.' I got a hug out of him."
On Stafford being the reason this is happening: "He was our first No. 1 draft pick when Jim (Schwartz) came in and you need a great quarterback to win in this League and we got a great one. His numbers were outrageous today. I saw his numbers at half-time and was like, wow, let's keep it going. He finished that thing off right-he's the real deal. I always said that, and we saw it today."
On how it felt to lay it out on San Diego: "Well, (I) was kind of nervous when they got the onside kick, but we knew what we had to do on offense. We got the ball and went right down the field and scored and they didn't stop-well, they stopped us one time.
"We were rolling today. It just snowballed today. It was a good feeling out there."
On speaking with Mr. Ford after the game: "Yeah, we gave him the game ball. He got a game ball, yeah. He didn't really talk. We broke it down (with) ‘Ford tough.'"
LIONS TE BRANDON PETTIGREW
On what making the playoffs mean to him: "This is my third year in the league. It has been a process each year. We made the playoffs. For the most part, I wanted to do it for the guys that have been around here and have struggled and tried to make the playoffs. For my teammates, it's big. Definitely want to go in the playoffs and make a statement"
On if he saw a mismatch with the Chargers linebackers: "Yeah, definitely. Every week, my coach is going to give me a chance to make plays. Whether it is work on a route, whether it is a route that is not even the route called. He is going to tell me I need to work the guy. Those guys are good too, but it is a man-on-man competition and Matt tries to get me the ball."
On being the safety blanket for the offense: "We just tried to take advantage of the way the linebackers play up so tight."
On setting the Lions tight end reception record: "That is huge. I am not a person that is big on stats and I always say that but it is great I think I had 70 or 71 last year, broke the record this year and that is huge. Try to move forward from here."
On a complete offensive performance: "It felt great. The matchups were there. They tried to cheat up a lot and for the most part, Matt just eyed me. He saw that they were cheating and he was coming to me. We weren't doing anything complex."
LIONS DT NDAMUKONG SUH
On making the playoffs: "It has been a great ride. I mean it was a year ago where everybody said that 2-3 years out of the way for the playoffs and I disagreed with it. I felt that we had more in this team; it was just a matter of putting it together and we have done that."
On what he saw in the preseason to think this team was capable of making the playoffs: "Really just the camaraderie and just the heart this team continues to show. We have had some tough times, we had some good times. We have stayed consistent and the biggest thing is we have gotten through those tough times and not gotten too happy about the good times. We have remained consistent and making the right plays at the right time."
On QB Matthew Stafford's performance: "He did an awesome job. Can't ask for much more from a quarterback and he has continued to grow. The thing that I like about him is he is a young guy that is still hungry, happy with his performance. I know he wishes he can have a couple plays back to make some more plays."