Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin
“I can just say that that was a tremendous football game for those that really enjoy football in its very basic element. It was a very physical game, we knew it was going to be. We had the rain. We had the wind. We had all of those ingredients thrown in. Both defenses played superbly. It was very, very difficult for either team to muster any kind of consistency offensively. The play [QB] Eli [Manning] made on third down that gave us the touchdown that gave us the lead was just an incredible football play. And then the play at the end of the game, there were two of them. The ball that hit the return man’s knee and then the ball was stripped by [LB]
Can you talk about the way [QB] Eli [Manning] hung in there tonight?
“They have a tremendous pass-rush. We didn’t have a lot of run, there wasn’t much variety in what we were doing, Our screens didn’t seem to work especially well either, but Eli just hung in there and hung in there and made plays when we needed for him to make them. He displayed the kind of leadership he’s shown all year long.”
What is it about this team that allows them to continue to fight?
“They have grit now. They’re battle-tested. We’ve had five straight single elimination games. Somehow, someway we’ve found a way to scratch our way to a win. We prepare well. The guys really do know what’s at stake. I think the veteran guys really help our younger guys in that regard and they’ll have to do a lot of teaching from this point on too with these youngsters. I’m sure they have no idea what they’re getting into now.”
Can you talk about facing the Patriots again?
“Someone asked me that just a minute ago in there and I said, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready to start talking about that yet.’ I’m sure it’ll be tremendous copy for the two of us matching up again, resuming the 2007-2008 battle. Congratulations to them. I did see the score. We’ll start getting ready for them in a couple of days.”
You have a game like this where you know you’re going to have trouble moving the ball. Were you reminding your guys to stay high and tight and the other guys to go for the ball?
“We reminded them pretty much the entire week. For those that I did speak to on the sideline, on certain occasions I would say that because like at the end of the game where we recovered the fumble there wasn’t any question what they would go for there, but I thought the response was very good. We talked about that all week long. They’re a great ball-stripping outfit. I think [S Donte] Whitner’s probably the best at it, but they all are taught that and do a good job of trying to get the ball out.”
Eli took a lot of big hits. How significant is it that he didn’t lose his focus?
“His focus on what’s necessary for us to win, the position that he plays, the fact that he has to make plays and cannot make a mistake in that regard and still to get back up the number of times that he was hit, it tells you the kind of courage, the kind of player, the kind of focus, the kind of leader that he is. His performance tonight certainly proves that.”
How important is it that the special teams gave you what you needed twice?
“We knew going in, and we had talked about this as well, I felt like someone that did not necessarily get the kudos and was not someone that everyone was familiar with as a guy who is a difference maker in the game, I felt someone that’s like that would step up and make the big play. It was needed. This was a game of field position, a game of turnovers. We needed for special teams to help us number one with the field position aspect of it, but secondly, in contributing in turnovers and certainly we got two big ones.”
Are you surprised at all that this team is going to the Super Bowl?
“I’m not surprised. I’m delighted. I’m excited. At times it’s very difficult to contain yourself. Even this past week when the excitement of this thing was building up, the days seemed to be flying by and I was nervous that we were doing all we could possibly do to put ourselves in a position to win, but these guys have gone out and done it against the best we’ve played. We’ve played an awful lot of superior football teams this year and down the stretch we’ve played a lot of them and that certainly has helped.”
Did you get to see the hold by [P Steve] Weatherford? It seemed like a low snap.
“It was a low snap. He got it to where he wanted it. He had come over, he looked like he was upset and I was trying to figure out what was wrong. He said, ‘I’m going to get this field goal kicked and get to the Super Bowl.’ And I said, ‘That sounds like a good idea to me.’ I think he handled that one well.”
What about the defense repeatedly stepping up?
“I have been talking about the defense. They played superbly and so did the 49ers defense. It was one of those games where it was kind of like, ‘How is this going to end up? Who’s going to make a play here?” Of course I didn’t want them to. ‘Who’s going to make a play to solidify a win?’ and that play ended up being a special teams play.”
How did you get this far this season?
“How? By just staying the course, never saying never, trying to encourage at every point throughout the season whether it was good or bad, not denying any of the facts, but nevertheless seeing that we had a talented team, believing in that team, thinking that if we could only get all of these pieces together, maybe we would have a chance to make ourselves recognized. Because we had jumped out early, and the race for the NFC East was so tight, that was a constant as well. I felt like we were always in contention to win the division, even when things weren’t going as well as we’d have liked them.”
Was it a de ja vu moment to win on the road on a kick in overtime to face the Patriots in the Super Bowl?
“I’m trying to fight it. The players, actually [DE] Osi [Umenyiora], Osi sat next to me and just looked at me with a smile on his face and said, ‘Have you thought about how this is coming down? Do you realize that this is scary because of the way it’s coming about?’ That’s a little deep for me, I guess.”
It’s only been four years since you were last in the Super Bowl. Does it feel longer than that?
“No, not really. I think when you’re not in the playoffs, it hurts a lot. Those are the times where you think, ‘My goodness. What are we missing here? How are we denying ourselves such an incredible, enjoyable experience? What can we do about that?’ I think it’s been a couple of years since we’ve been in the playoffs, a few years since the Super Bowl, and now that we have this experience again we’re humble about it knowing full well that a game of this nature could have gone either way. Thank God it went our way, but we’re excited. We’re excited about it.”
Why do you think [WR Victor] Cruz and Eli had such a better game the second time around against the 49ers?
“I think that it was necessary for us to be able to have some people step up in order to… We weren’t running the ball well. We needed to throw the ball well. We needed for people to make plays and if that’s the case, then so be it. It’s a tribute to Eli, to Cruz, to all the offense players to just hang in there and keep battling even when it wasn’t going especially our way.”
How does it feel?
“It feels great, it was tough game. We had to fight for every yard that we got. Defense is playing outstanding, special teams are getting us two turnovers. That was huge, leading to ten points. They are a good team. Their defense is stout. They play smart, we couldn’t afford to make any mistakes and turn the ball over. We did a good job doing that. A couple were close, but it was a hard fought game. I’m just excited about this win, just excited about having another chance to go to the Super Bowl and play New England.”
Eli, was it hard to stand in there up against the rush in the second half?
“They are a good front four and they brought a little pressure. I was trying to get the ball out quickly, but they have done that all season and that is why they were one of the top defenses in the NFL. They are tough against the run and then they get a lot of sacks, and those sacks can lead to turnovers. I just try to be smart and not turn the ball over and eventually we hit the big plays and we just tried to be patient. The thing I kept telling myself was, ‘Be patient. Don’t force anything. Don’t give them anything, their defense is playing well.’ We stuck with that, got some turnovers and you know we used that to hurt them.”
What is about the way this team plays?
“Guys never quit, never ever have any doubts. They keep believing and fighting until the very end no matter what the circumstances are. I think everybody knew we were going to get a break, we were going to get a chance to win this game, we were going to make a play or something was going to happen if we didn’t make a mistake ourselves and that was the mindset in all phases. When we play our best ball and we win games it’s because offense, defense, special teams are all playing smart football, playing together, supporting each other and finding ways to win.”
Can you talk about playing the Patriots again?
“Obviously they are a great team and they have been a great team for years. They have had an unbelievable season and they have terrific players all over. Obviously we played them once this year and had a one right down to the wire. They have been playing great football of late also. We’re just going to celebrate this game and have fun. We’ll start preparing and go to Indianapolis and get a game plan. Hopefully we can continue to play our best football.”
Talk about your defense.
“Our defense is playing outstanding, they really are. We didn’t do a whole lot. We knew we couldn’t give their offense a short field. We had to just keep punting, don’t give them turnovers, but they did a great job just hanging tough, getting pressure on the quarterback, and not giving up many points in overtime stops. They had some big stops for us today.”
Eli, this is your second Super Bowl. How does that make you feel? What does that mean to you?
“I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about this team and this opportunity and how proud I am of the guys and what we both have overcome this year and what we have been through. I just never had any doubts and just kept believing. I kept believing in our team that we could get hot, we could start playing our best football. We did that at the end of the season. Hopefully we can continue this momentum and keep getting better.”
What about playing the Super Bowl in Peyton’s hometown, in his stadium? What do you feel about that?
“I’m just excited to be playing in a Super Bowl. It doesn’t matter to me where you’re playing or that it’s in Indianapolis. I’m just excited about being in one and looking forward to it.”
You have gone through great pains to avoid comparisons to ‘07 and now that you have won an overtime road game for the right to play the Patriots again with a kick. Would you say there is a similar feel to what you are doing here?
“Yes, you can say they are similar, but that does not mean that the outcome is going to be same. We have to prepare, have a great two weeks to get ready for a good team and go out and play and continue to play smart, great football in all three phases. I’m sure there’re going to be comparisons and that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean that’s going to make anything guaranteed.”
What is nice getting the victory in San Francisco where you used to play?
“We just knew how hard they were going to play. Those defensive guys were just tremendous. It is nice to do it here, but we would have to do it anywhere because we wanted it bad. I just respect all the guys over there, I’m happy for the success that the 49ers have had this year.”
Did you guys talk about turnovers in your game preparation?
“Yes of course, absolutely, because last time turnovers were a big deal when we played here. We have seen that the 49ers thrive off turnovers. It was a big advantage for us to not turn the ball over. It ended up costing them.”
What does it feel like to beat your old team?
”Honestly, I wasn’t concerned about beating my old team or anything like that. I was concerned about getting to the Super Bowl, and winning this game with my team, the New York Giants, and that is what we did. It might not have been the prettiest thing, we knew it was going to be a struggle. We just kept fighting and we got it done.
What does it feel like to be going to the Super Bowl?
“It is amazing! I’m still kind of in shock. I don’t know what emotion to show. I am just trying to soak it in. It is amazing!”
What is the biggest improvement you saw in your former team as you have now played them this season twice?
“They are a tough group and we knew that. They just never quit. They have changed for sure. They are going to be a good team for a long time.”
[QB] Eli Manning took a lot of shots tonight. What does that say about his toughness?
“I think he has shown his toughness all year. He is a guy that is a true leader of our offense. We are going to rally around him. The season that he has had is unbelievable. He deserves to play the way that he has been. He works so hard, he dedicates himself and our offense only goes the way that he allows it. He has been playing his A-game and we have just done whatever we can to keep him upright, fighting, scratching, clawing and he has done an unbelievable job for us.”
How is he a different player now then he was in 2007?
“I think he has evolved into an unbelievable player. His knowledge, his grasp of our offense and the way that he handles things and not just from a football standpoint, let alone his leadership and ability to stand up. Everybody talks about Eli and early on, everybody was so frustrated and when things went well he stayed with that even keel demeanor and when things didn’t go well, he still had that even keel demeanor. Everybody watching from the outside and looking and said he is so calm under pressure. When something doesn’t go right people are like oh my god, how come he doesn’t show emotion and this and that. It has just been unbelievable to see the way he has improved and his grasp of the offense with the audibles, the checks and most importantly the leadership. He has stepped up tremendously for this football team. When the game is on the line he wants the ball in his hands, it has just been awesome.
What do you think about [QB Eli Manning] going to play the Super Bowl in his brother’s stadium?
“You are going to hear all of that stuff, but I block for [QB] Eli [Manning], I don’t block for Peyton. There is nobody else that I would want behind me.”
What do you think about playing the New England Patriots again?
“There are obviously going to be the comparisons to Super Bowl 42 and all of that stuff, but they are a very very very good football team. You have seen the strides that they have made towards the end of the season. We are going to prepare extremely hard and go there and have to play our best football.”
On their wide receiver play:
“I think it was just taking advantage of what they were giving us. We just took advantage of all those opportunities. We always know what were capable of doing. We have guys that can make plays all over. If they try to double team certain guys we have other guys that can step up. We have fierce players here in the offense.”
On how good the wide receivers are:
“I feel like we’re really good. It’s just a matter of us staying humble about it and keep coming to work every day and working hard and getting the job done.”
WR Devin Thomas
On making a huge impact in the game:
“My position as a fourth or fifth wide receiver and special teams player, I take pride in that and do anything to help this team win. Thank God today I was able to recover two fumbles and now were headed to the Super Bowl.”
On if he pictured a situation like this:
“I had vision in my mind that I was going to make some type of big play to help us win the game. I thought it was just going to be that first fumble but I got another opportunity to recover another one and I jumped on that. LT (
On seeing the fumble:
“It was like, ‘I can’t believe he just fumbled.’ Then I’m like, ‘Okau, I’m right here.’ So I just made sure I secured it and make sure no one would take it from me. We had a nice drive to send us to the Super Bowl.”
Going back to face the New England Patriots again, you were saying that you couldn’t believe how easy it was to get to [QB] Tom Brady early on, do you think it will be that easy this time?
“I think that I was a no-name at that time. They didn’t know anything about me; they didn’t take an account of who I was. It is going to be fun. We love playing the best and that team has been a model of consistency. It is going to be a hell of a game for us. I am just looking forward to being there.”
You weren’t looking when they were going for the game winning kick?
“I turned around. We had two timeouts, one penalty and then a timeout, so I couldn’t take it. I turned around and I was glad to see what I saw.”
Talk about this team, especially the defensive line the obviously down the stretch they turned it up, what happened late in the season, did you guy’s just gel?
“It was a lot of things. A lot of it was us looking at ourselves in the mirror and knew that we had the talent to play with anybody and realizing that we got a little healthy. [RE] Osi [Umenyiora] got back, I got a little healthier. JPP [RE
Talk about [Head Coach] Tom Coughlin, he was on the hot seat about a month ago, now he is going back to his second Super Bowl in just a few years.
“You can’t count that guy out. Resiliently comes to mind when you talk about [Head Coach] Tom [Coughlin]. It doesn’t matter what people say about him on the outside, this team rallies behind him. We understand that he is a great coach and a great football mind. He is always going to put teams in the right position to win games. That is all that you can ask from him. I know he gets a lot of slack from outside that some of his ways aren’t of other coaches. The thing about it is that he is going to his second Super Bowl in four years and I am happy to be a part of a football team coached by him.”
Kicker Lawrence Tynes
What was it like playing in this weather?
“The weather was terrible. The balls were wet. The balls were full of grass. The extra points were no gimme tonight. It was tough sledding out there.”
Did you see that the snap was low?
“It was a little bit. [P] Steve [Weatherford] is a great holder, he got it down and we made the kick.”
Did you change your timing at all?
“Maybe a little bit. I probably waited a little bit. I don’t remember much.”
Have you kicked in tougher conditions than this?
“They were as tough tonight as they were in ’08, just different circumstances. There was moisture, the footing was tough, the balls were really slick. I am going to a dome for a Super Bowl, so I am going to be happy.”
How do you keep your cool before the kick with all of the delays?
“I just have a routine. Three steps back, two steps over, and I just keep my head down. It is the same thing every time, whether I am delayed or if a time out is called.”
In your wildest dreams, did you ever think you would be playing in two Super Bowls?
“No. I was just a guy trying to make it. I am playing for my job every week and that is how I approach it. I still will two weeks from now. You are only as good as your last kick, and fortunately I made my last one.”
What goes through your mind when you are waiting on the sidelines, just waiting?
“I just stay calm and remain focused. It was a full team effort out there tonight for us. San Francisco played their butts off. They are a great football team and we are lucky to come out here with a win.”
Talk about the special moment after the game. It looked like a family atmosphere. What was the message from [Head Coach] Tom Coughlin?
“Actually, he didn’t really say much. It was just that we have one more to go. That was pretty much it.”
What was the key to stopping the San Francisco 49ers on third down?
“I think that they were really concerned about protection. I think they were doing some things that maybe they were not used to doing. They were trying to protect their quarterback and that messed things up for them.”
You said you had a dream last night that [PK] Lawrence Tynes would make that kick. What was your confidence in him when he lined up?
“I had all the confidence in the world in him. I have seen this before. Four years ago, I’d seen this exact same thing before. I knew that he was going to make it.”
What do you think about playing the New England Patriots again?
“It is awesome and we look forward to the challenge. They are a great football team. They have always been a great football team. We are looking forward to it and it is going to be a great game.”
Does it feel like a carbon copy of the 2007 season?
“It does and hopefully we will have the same result. We still have one more game to go but this is truly unbelievable.”
LB Jacquian Williams
When you forced the fumble in overtime, did it seem like a long time from when you hit it from when it was recovered, did it happen slow?
“For me it happened slow, because I was on the ground and I didn’t get a chance to see it.”
Can you believe this team is going to the Super Bowl, from where you guys were at 7-6?
“I always believed. We had some injuries. Some key guys were injured. I knew once everyone got healthy, there would be a difference.”
Was it a situation that you were looking for a strip?
“My first feeling was to go down there and make the tackle. He made a move, I stuck my hand out and I saw the ball.”
Did you realize once the turnover happened how good of field position you had?
“I definitely did. It was unbelievable, I was happy.”
What about this season for you to make it special for you, with getting a chance playing linebacker and coming up with the big special teams plays of the year?
“I talked to different guys, and they tell me that rookies usually don’t get to play. Just for me to have the opportunity to be out there is amazing.”
Did you ever imagine you would ever make this play [forced fumble]?
“No. I didn’t think so but I always dream of making a big play. Tonight I had my opportunity.”
What was going through your head when you made the play?
“Super Bowl. It was good field position, so the first thing I thought was Super Bowl.”
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