Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and some of his offensive linemen responded to Justin Tuck's claim that they have a reputation of being "dirtbags" Wednesday and defended their style of play.
"We thrive on doing things right," Mularkey said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We thrive on playing physical. We've been doing that for four years. Nothing is ever preached beyond the whistle. Ever."
Falcons left tackle Will Svitek said the Falcons' line prides itself on its physical style of play.
"If (Tuck) views us as cheap, then so be it. We're going to do what we do. We take pride in being physical. You don't want to be viewed as soft. We're always going to be there, and we want them to know we're there."
Tuck clarified his comments on ESPN's "NFL 32" on Tuesday.
"I said that they have the reputation," Tuck said when asked about his comments. "Never did Justin Tuck say that the Atlanta Falcons' O-line is 'dirtbags.' I said most people would say that. But with that being said, it is football. Those guys play to the end of the whistle. I know my comments will be taken out of context. Honestly, it doesn't really matter. We still got to go out and do our jobs."
Atlanta's offensive line came under fire twice in a span of three weeks early this season against a pair of NFC North opponents.
Following Atlanta's 25-14 home loss to the Packers on Oct. 9, several Packers players were not happy with Atlanta's play.
"Great teams don't indulge in the kind of cheap stuff the Falcons do," Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We're the (defending Super Bowl) champions and we play that way. We walk away from the stuff they pull. These guys are coached to play after the whistle.
"I don't know what the deal is. I think it's a lack of talent on their part. We didn't worry about any of that. We came out and played our game."
Just two weeks later, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said that it was karma that Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was injured in the Falcons' 23-16 win over Detroit. Suh was referencing what he saw as questionable play by the Falcons' offensive line in the past.
"There are many, many plays that I could go back to that I watch on film all week that their offensive line has done," Suh said, "and that they've been coached to do, as far as I know. It's not anything that's been said, it's not anything that's new."
Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo, who was a member of the Giants' practice squad in 2004, said Wednesday that the Falcons' offensive line plays "to the whistle and we're going to continue doing that," according to the Star-Ledger.
"That's just kind of the way we play, that's why we've had the success we've had here, and we're not going to stop.
"We're not going to hit anybody late or do anything like that, we're going to play to the whistle, you know, and if you want to call it dirty call it dirty."
Svitek joked Wednesday that he might get T-shirts made for the Falcons' offensive line to show off their new "nickname."
"I have to find out the Wikipedia definition of dirtbag, I don't know there. I was joking maybe we should make T-shirts and start branding this, you know?" he told reporters. "We could make a profit in the New York market, it's an opportunity."
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk and Matt Ehalt was used in this report.