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Giants Conference Call Transcripts

Head Coach Tom Coughlin

I'll start by saying that I like the way our special teams played yesterday. I thought we had great enthusiasm and fire. Obviously, we were very much concerned about Banks, the return man. He is a real threat and he is relied on heavily to create field position or points for the Washington team. He was very much on our minds. We adjusted the type of the kicks that we made when we kicked off to him with the distance kicks and the mortar kicks. There was one missed kick in there that was also a part of the plan but wasn't called for at the time. I thought we, for the most part, did a good job with our kickoff coverage unit but not so well with our punt coverage unit. We were a little bit inconsistent with our punts and we had a couple of punts where we didn't have the hang time that you would like. He did have a 19-yard return and you can see why the concern is there when he went to the big field with the ball and it didn't appear we had a lot of people in position there, but Deon Grant was able to force him out of bounds. I thought that with our punt rush unit, we did a nice job with Devin Thomas getting the blocked punt late in the game in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, if Aaron Ross would have been able to handle that, I think we could've scored there. Nevertheless, we did get the ball in ideal field position and added a field goal as a result of that. Our first kickoff return was a good one with Dan Ware, and I thought that was outstanding field position. The fact we were able to take that down and capitalize with a long run and then a touchdown there really helped. It was, I thought, a good effort and there were some outstanding tackles. Brian Jackson had an outstanding tackle, Deon Grant had an outstanding tackle on kickoff coverage. Devin Thomas had a real nice tackle and also the blocked punt, which was outstanding. I was pleased with that.

I think that we rushed the ball for a lot of yards, obviously, and we had a more productive first half than we did a second half although the idea of the 21-0 and then 28-0 lead, we did have some very timely throws. I thought the pass in the second half Eli to Mario Manningham in what we call a deep-Q route was outstanding. That was done well. Although there was wind, both teams did have the ability to throw the ball when called upon.

Our defense did an outstanding job of turning the ball over, I thought that was the huge difference in the game from that standpoint. We had plus-five, which was really a breakout game for us in terms of that. We did have the one turnover on offense, but we did come up with several created fumbles and were able to recover the ball. We were able to make the one outstanding interception with Terrell Thomas making the play in the end zone after they had driven the ball down there, which stopped the drive. The one drive after we went up 28-0 in which they traveled the length of the field and scored in a very short amount of time was an area that did bother us, and the fact that they did have some yardage. There was a 20-yard run in that last drive, and they ended up rushing the ball on the day for 74 yards. They did have success with their passing game, and their one pass for the touchdown to Armstrong was something that we should've been able to defend but did not get ourselves in position with that. They blocked the tight end up and really threw a two receiver route, which ended up being a score there.

Overall, we were pleased, as I said yesterday, to get our second win in the division and our eighth win overall and to be able to keep the pace within our division.

Q: Do you need to remind your players about last year's Minnesota game? Have you?
A: They're very well aware of it. We mentioned it at the conclusion of our postgame comments with the team last night. They're very well aware of it. That will not prevent us from making sure that they do have a very good recollection of how we've gone in there the last couple of times we've played there.

Q: How difficult is it to prepare knowing how different the two quarterbacks (Favre vs. Jackson) are?
A: Well that'll cause some time to be spent in the preparation end and in practice time preparing for both quarterbacks. As the week unfolds, we'll have to do some things which will specialize or be more specific as far as which player we anticipate starting. We are just getting into the study of the Minnesota situation. We'll certainly take full awareness of what the similarities are and then what the differences are.

Q: Is Brandon suffering from any minor injury?
A: No.

Q: Why did he only have eight carries. Any particular reason other than physical?
A: No. There was no physical reason, either. It just worked out that way.

Q: Is the pressure to win and keep pace daunting or good for your team?
A: No, I just think it's reality and it is what it is. We're very aware of it, and in order to keep pace with the way in which it's going and unfolding, you have to keep winning. You have to put yourself in that position. There isn't any doubt in anybody's minds that when we come to work in the exciting time of the year that it is, and it's exciting because when you win, you give yourself another opportunity and that's what you're trying to do is trying to create an opportunity for your team to be in position.

Q: What was your reaction on the London Fletcher kicked ball when Washington was thinking about challenging?
A: My reaction was, like everyone else's, that's a penalty. I haven't had a chance to discuss it with anyone else, but the ball was put in play. This is something I need to clarify for my own standpoint is that the ball is put into play, and then there is a penalty and it's a penalty of delay of game on defense in which the ball is kicked then followed up by a challenge. Once the ball's in play, you're supposed to allow that the offensive team can put the ball in play which we were prepared to do and then the ball was kicked. I need, as well as everybody else, to have some kind of verification on that as to our interpretation that until the ball is snapped, the team does have the right to challenge. This is a little bit unusual in that all is cleared to play and we're prepared to go, what's the exception of a delay of game defensive penalty by the ball being kicked? So, my thoughts were that we were not allowed to snap the ball when the ball was cleared to play.

Q: How do you feel about the schedule this year and playing so many divisional opponents at the end of the season?
A: Well, however I feel about it, I know exactly what the intent was and you do as well and the commissioner certainly has accomplished that – playing within the division and I don't care what division you're in, it seems to be that striking distance is there for teams in divisions all throughout the league, so there isn't any question that what has been accomplished was a direct objective of the commissioner and he has done that. He has accomplished that.

Q: Does it help your team to know that every week is a must win?
A: You know that anyway. It's December. You've got to be in a position where your team understands completely that you have to win. You've got to continue to win. You've got to be in that spot if you're going to have a chance?

Q: Status of Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith?
A: I don't know that Hakeem has been looked at since he was looked at on Wednesday and things were going very well for him and I know that he is going to start to run – I don't know if that means he's going to be able to practice. That hasn't been stated, but Steve will continue to practice and hopefully we'll be able to move him along.

Q: Did the stitches come out of Hakeem's leg yet?
A: To my knowledge, no, not yet, but the doctor wasn't concerned about that. The kind of stitching that was done, he can go ahead and run with them, with the stitches in.

Q: Diehl or O'Hara back this week?
A: I think that we're going to have Dave Diehl practice, just like we did last week, and advance him along and we'll have to see how that goes. Shaun, I'm not sure about.

Q: Shawn Andrews?
A: There has been improvement, but, again, I'm not sure what the status will be Wednesday. He's got two full days of treatment and then we'll see, but there is some improvement.

Q: Any injuries on Sunday?
A: We've got some soreness and the normal things that you get, but I don't think that at this time I would mention it – any of them – and we'll just see what Wednesday brings.

Q: Were you cheering for the Cowboys last night?
A: I didn't see much of that game at all – just the very end of it – so I didn't get a chance to root for anybody.

Q: Talk about the versatility Terrell Thomas showed yesterday – he seemed to float around a lot.
A: He wasn't doing a lot of floating around. There were times when he was matched up or whatever based on the coverage, but he is a versatile player and he can play inside and he can play outside and he put himself in position, played a very good game once again and I'm hoping that this continues to build.

Q: Was that a blown coverage on the Redskins touchdown?
A: There were some communication issues. We should have had some people back there. It didn't happen and I'm not exactly sure just now what the follow-up was, but we should have been in position to play it.

Q: Did you ever think of moving Bear to fullback full time at training camp?
A: Well, no. Just like that's not really the case right now – it's a tribute to his versatility that he's been able to play at first just to fill in at that spot and now literally to be able to play the second tight end spot or the fullback spot depending on what the play or the personnel combination calls for, so he has proven versatility and I will say this again, that is because his attitude is tremendous, his work ethic is outstanding and he will do whatever you ask him to do and he does do it with all of his effort and energy and he does it to the best of his ability, so he is a guy that just goes out and doesn't get a lot of attention, just does his job, but in the long run does it very well.

Q: A lot of backups are coming up and contributing this season. Why?
A: Well, first of all they have the ability or capacity, they have the desire, they've come upon opportunity and they've made the best of it. They've done this to the best of their ability and the timing has been good as well.

Q: What about your team makes you feel good about this stretch coming up?
A: I think we're playing – what we've learned about our team is that we have a number of guys who have got outstanding hearts, outstanding attitudes and they give outstanding effort and whatever we've asked them to do, they've done it and they've tried to do it to the best of their ability. It's not perfect, but we're getting some things accomplished and we're growing in that we've won a couple of games, we are in December  - it is a critical time of the year – and more people are responding  and when they are called upon, they have performed. We also have the timing of keeping a couple of guys for example, the left side offensive linemen right now, Kevin Boothe, Will Beatty, were serious injuries that were kept on the active roster and no matter whether that was questioned or not, the timing of those things has worked out well as we've run into difficulty with other people at other positions, these two guys have gotten healthier and whether they were fully prepared to go do it or not, they've done it because they had to and I think that speaks well for them. We've been able to bring a couple of guys in here – Derek Hagan, for example, who was not with any team, but had been here and had known the system and he came back and he showed right away how anxious he was and how deserving and desiring he was of coming back and being a part of it again and how fast he was able to get in the mix. Michael Clayton came and was literally signed on a Tuesday or a Monday and was right back in the mix. He went right away and was called upon with responsibilities that week and was able to go ahead and contribute. Devin Thomas did the same thing this past weekend in a big way – was called upon to contribute and did, so some of these guys have had opportunities and of course they have made the best of those opportunities.

OL Chris Snee

Q: Do you feel like you're more amped up and physical in a division game?
A: Yeah. No question. Our coach always says that these are the games that we're most judged on - the division games – and more importantly, we were 1-2 coming into that game, so we knew that - we had to win out down the stretch anyway, but we definitely had to beat our divisional opponents and the Redskins were first on the list, so we did what we had to do.

Q: Are you happy with the NFL schedule this year with the divisional games at the end of the season?
A: Yeah. These will all be cold weather games, which we enjoy – big linemen, so that and you have in two weeks – not that we're looking past Minnesota, but you asked about division opponents and Philadelphia is a very big matchup with a lot on the line, so I definitely think they made the right decision in moving most of the divisional games towards the end of the season.

Q: Are you surprised at how well you've been able to play with so many pieces missing?
A: To be honest with you, no. We have a lot of depth on this team and on the offensive line that you're talking about. We obviously have two very important pieces missing in Shaun and Dave and certainly, like I said, we hope that we get them back, but good teams have depth and we're fortunate enough to have guys like Kevin and William and Shawn Andrews when he was in there and Adam Koets at the beginning of the year and then we had other guys step up – the wide receivers – Derek Hagan had a great game for us yesterday and that's just the expectation that we have around here now. My first year, even my second year, guys got hurt and we didn't have guys that could step in and play at the level that the starters did, so we're very fortunate and that's a credit to the front office for bringing those guys in.

Q: What are the veteran guys doing to make sure the backups are ready?
A: I think that we're constantly making ourselves available to them. A guy like Kevin Boothe knows the offense, where a guy like William is still trying to feel his way in there and still has a lot to learn – those are the guys that you pull them aside and you make sure that if they have any questions, you get that ironed out before the game on Sunday because if you're trying to make an adjustment on Sunday, it's too late. He's been watching film with us. We've been having some good film sessions together as a unit. Just little things like that to make sure that we're all on the same page.

Q: Do you feel like you must win every week?
A: No question. No question. We're just trying to keep up with everyone else. You look at the score and you think New Orleans is going to lose and fall one back, but they come back and win and Green Bay had a huge second half and they win, Chicago wins, so just trying to keep up and not to mention most importantly, Philadelphia won, so the goal is always to make the playoffs, but we want to win the division, too, so the only way to do that is to win out.

Q: Is it draining to know that you have no margin for error?
A: No. It's exciting actually. You get down to the games that are crucial, you're challenged to play your best and that's where the true competitors step forward and I feel that we're loaded with those on this team, so I am really looking forward to what we can do down the stretch.

Q: Brandon says he's having the most fun this year. How do you feel and do you see that in him?
A: Brandon has always had fun. He's got a tremendous passion for this game and we've been documented saying how much we appreciate that and he shows that in the way he plays. As far as me personally, yeah, I have enjoyed this team. I thought that we had a very special team going into camp and we had some bumps, we had a couple rough patches, but who doesn't? Yeah, I do like this team, I enjoy going to work and I'm excited, I'm excited for December and hopefully a January run.

Q: Is it a big difference that three of your last four games are away?
A: It depends if you're afraid of playing on the road, which we're not. I would love to play three out of four at home, no question, but it's the hand that we were given and we're certainly not afraid to go out on the road and try to quiet someone else's crowd and they're going to be tough places to play. We know that. But we are certainly not afraid of that challenge by any means.

Q: What went on on the field yesterday when London Fletcher kicked the ball?
A: Yeah, we were at the line of scrimmage. I saw him come in, I saw his foot hit the ball – whether it was an intentional move or not, I don't know. It's just a strange coincidence maybe that they were trying to throw a challenge flag on that same play – I'm not going to get caught up in that, but I saw him kick the ball and the umpire was right there, he saw it too, but most of us were around the ball and we were trying to get a snap off.

Q: Will going to Minnesota this weekend bring back bad memories?
A: Let's just say we haven't forgotten what happened there. I'll just leave it at that. We know what the final score was and we know what happened in there. It's already been talked about. Let's leave it at that.

Q: What do you mean it has already been talked about?
A: I'll leave it at that. We've already said what happened last year. That's all I can say about that.

Q: How cognizant are you of not having allowed a sack in five games and the streak that you have going?
A: I certainly wish you guys would stop talking about that. It's a lot of things. It's, like I said, guys stepping up and filling big shoes, it's a lot of help from tight ends and running backs, it's the quarterback  getting rid of the ball, the receivers getting open, so that's a full team effort, but certainly we are proud of that. We don't want Eli taking any hits. That's always a goal of ours going into the games, to minimize those. Certainly the last thing we want is for anything to happen to him, so we're just trying to do our job.

Q: Anything the Vikings did last year that you want to take revenge on?
A: It's all about us. All we're concerned about is the way that we played and what we showed on that field is not indicative of the team that we are and the reputation that we have had over the years as a team that is going to play you for four quarters – we didn't do that and most guys were embarrassed by that performance, me included, and I never want to have that feeling again.

DT Barry Cofield

Q: Are you guys ready to make a run during the last quarter of the season here?
A: I like to think we started a run. Coach Coughlin had us looking at it where at a point, we were kind of down at the Philly game and he said we're going to look at it as a six-game season. So far in our six-game season, we're 2-0. Defensively, we didn't play our best football against Jacksonville in the first half but the last six quarters were pretty good and pretty representative of Giants football and the way we want to play. Offensively, we've fought through some injuries and we have some guys coming back here as December plays its way out, so I'm very excited about our prospects.

Q: Did you think that the team could stay afloat with all the injuries you guys have and that you'd be in this position?
A: Yeah, definitely. Defensively, we saw all the injuries that we had on the offensive side of the football, we knew that we had to take some responsibility. We definitely didn't do that in the first half of the Jacksonville game. The offense did a great job with fighting in that game and we were able to have a big second half. They carried us through that game and we were able to close it out. Last week, we knew we had to play some good defense, and we did that for the most part. We created a lot of turnovers, and the offense capitalized. The way they're playing now without some of the key pieces, I'm excited how well they're going to play when everyone's back.

Q: Surprised by the way they've played without their key players?
A: Pleasantly surprised, yes. You expect there to be a significant drop-off when you lose the quality of guys that we lost, but it's a testament to the coaching we have and a testament of the guys that we put in there. Some guys who hadn't played football in months stepped right in and did an admirable job. The best that we have in there, the mainstays like Kareem McKenzie, Chris Snee, Eli Manning, and all those guys stepped up their game and we were able to hold it together.

Q: How difficult is it to prepare against the Vikings when you don't know if Favre is going to be their starter?
A: It's going to be tougher for our coaches. It's going to be a little bit more difficult to think about for those guys and Coach Fewell, but they've done a great job all year. I'm sure they'll be prepared, and they'll have to spend a little bit more extra time studying as will we. We have actually played against Tavaris Jackson in the past, most of us. He's a different animal with his athleticism and his ability to create plays with his feet and prolong plays with his feet. They definitely do pose two different types of offense that you'd want to prepare for. They still have Adrian Peterson back there and they still have a great o-line. We're going to prepare for that, and in the passing game, in some ways we're going to have to let our ability and talent take over.

Q: What about this team makes you think this isn't a trap game?
A: I don't see a defeated team, though. I see a team that's won their last two games, and we have already seen how different a team can look after a new coach comes in and re-energizes their team. I hope we learn from that example. This Minnesota team, even though they're not in our division, we've seen them year in and year out since I've been here and they've beat us a couple times. I hope that last year's loss in Minnesota left a bad taste in a lot of guys mouths and the new guys I'm sure will get wind of the battles we've had with this Minnesota team. I would hope that everyone has all the motivation that they need, and if nothing else, you have to keep peace in this NFC. This NFC took a lot of criticism saying that the conference was mediocre, but it seems like a lot of teams are playing well. We have some good records, and you're going to have to finish with a strong record to be in the playoff hunt.

Q: How much pressure is the week-to-week grind knowing that now you can finish fairly strong but might not get you into the playoffs ?
A: I think that's what you live for and that's what you play for. That's exciting. You get to the end of a long, hard season and you're beat up and it's physically taxing, you want to have pressure and you want to have something to play for. You want to have excitement and things on the line at the end of the season and that's what you play for. I'd definitely rather be in this scenario than 2-10 and just packing up your stuff for the offseason.

Q: How much attention do you pay to the standings, playoff picture, and different scenarios?
A: I personally do pay a lot of attention to it. I'm aware of the good records that are out there. I'm aware that we need to pretty much treat every game like a must-win. It's kind of cliché but if you take that attitude and approach and go out there and win every game, that's really the only way to ensure that you're going to the playoffs and that's our goal. If nothing else, we know we have to keep pace with Philly and we know that we expect them to play at a high level, and our number one goal coming into the season is to win the NFC East. As long as they're playing good football, we have to play good football and obviously that's going to be a big game.

Q: You going to cheer for the Cowboys Sunday night?
A: Man, it's hard to say. I'm not going to lie, I was actually cheering for the Cowboys this week just so that they could stay as a cohesive unit and keep playing good football because I know they have Philly twice on their schedule. I'm definitely excited about the way they're playing and we're going to need their help and that's just the way it is. It's hard. I'm not going to say I was rooting for the Cowboys, I'm going to say I wasn't rooting against the Colts. I'll just say that.

Q: Do you like what the NFL has done with the schedule with these division games late in the season?
A: I think it definitely keeps it interesting, just not even with us but watching other games and seeing Baltimore and Pittsburgh playing and the Jets and the Patriots. That's what fans love, and that's what me being a big football fan myself, I love to watch these games at the end of the year. It seems like it did work out well, and there is definitely some competitive football being played down the stretch. I think it's what any fan would want to see and I think it's great for the game.

Q: What happened on the field goal attempt when you ran on the field late with that ski cap on?
A: I've been on the field goal team for a few weeks now so I'll take all the blame. When I first got on the team, I had someone grabbing me and say 'Hey, make sure you're ready for field goal' because I wasn't accustomed to it but I was over there talking defense with a couple of my fellow d-lineman. Once you hear someone screaming your name and you look around and realize you did something wrong, you just try to get on the field as fast as possible. I didn't realize I had my ski hat on until it was too late, and I'm just glad I made that mistake in a game that we were in control of and not a game where that could've really cost us. Obviously that's something that I'm not going to let happen again.

Q: You going to have to pay for that in one way or another?
A: Yeah. I'm already taking verbal jabs from a bunch of guys and we'll see what Coach Coughlin has to say about it. We got the win and I'll take the win and the verbal abuse. It's all lighthearted, and I'm excited about getting ready for Minnesota and I'll definitely be out there on time for field goal.

Q: Does Coach Coughlin seem any different later in the season?
A: I don't know who he's comparing it to, with him joining the team late. Coughlin is himself and he's harped on a bunch of things and I think there is an improvement in those areas so it doesn't seem that he has to be as heavily difficult. He harped on forcing turnovers and then taking care of the ball and we've done a better job of that of late. We don't have to hear about that. I think guys have just been playing and practicing at a high level. When you're winning, everything runs a little more smooth. It's a matter of circumstance and he's going to be who he is. He preaches what he always preaches, and he's a highly energetic and passionate coach. Things are going well for us and I think his behavior reflects that.

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