Head Coach Pat Shurmur
“I guess injuries. Mario Edwards (Jr.) has a calf and then Rhett Ellison left with a concussion so those are the two that I know of. But it was a hard-fought game. Certainly we got out to a good lead, they fought their way back and we found a way to score some points in the second half to get it to 27 and then I think they did a good job on the last drive there of needing a touchdown and going down and getting one against us. I think they had to go 56 or 57 yards for a touchdown. The series previous to that we were working our way out of there. We were backed up and at one point I thought of maybe taking a safety there, but after we punted the ball – we had been punting the ball well so they still had to go the better part of the field to score a touchdown. I just let the punt team handle it and they did a good job with it. So credit them, they made the plays at the end to get the ball in the end zone. We had one timeout left and I think 55 seconds to get it down and we weren’t able to get that done. So they made enough plays to win and we didn’t at the end, hard-fought game and we came out on the losing end.”
The middle of the field on defense, it seemed like they were able to pinpoint that area repeatedly. What was the issue there?
“We have to look at it. At times, we were playing man and somebody running with them. There were some times they were hitting us in zones so it’s just underneath coverage awareness and making sure they were in the throwing lanes. I will have to look at what you are referring to. I thought they were pretty efficient at times throwing the ball. There are reasons for that. Certainly we’ve got to make sure we are getting pressure and then when we are in zone, we’ve got to be aware of the route combinations and make sure we get underneath them.”
What did they do so successfully to sort of keep Saquon Barkley under wraps?
“Well you saw we had success throwing the ball, right? But we still made an effort to run the ball. I think they move around a lot, but I think we probably would have liked getting more yards running the ball but I feel like with the nakeds and the play-actions we were able to take advantage of the fact they were trying to stop him.”
There have been a couple games this year where the defense has played mostly well for three or three and half quarters but have been on the field to give up a go-ahead drive like that. What is the repeat concern there?
“We’ve got to get them stopped. There have been games where we have stopped them too so I don’t believe that narrative fully, but there have been games where we didn’t stop them so we just got to do a better job.”
Evan Engram had a solid game when he came in and made some big plays.
“Yeah, he was very productive for us. He has really come on here in the latter part of the season. Very explosive guy – we threw him a couple reverses in there too. So yeah, we are pleased. He is back healthy and he is having an impact on the games.”
When you were deep in your own territory, 3rd-and-longish. You had an option to run or pass there. What went into the thinking to run there on 3rd-and-long?
“I don’t know which one you are talking about. We ran the last one because we were on the one-yard line. I thought we could pop a run against two deep, we hit two deep and we almost did pop it so that was the reason for it. Tactically that could be a good move.”
You guys were really disciplined through most of the game. What accounted for the penalties on both sides of the ball late? Especially Janoris’ (Jenkins) cost you.
“I think the penalties you are probably referring to are the pass interference and the defensive holding-type penalties. They are in a mostly throw it game and we are out there competing and battling and we fell victim to that a little bit. Well then backed up we get a holding call on a screen. What’s happening now on screen passes is, and we got to look at the rule, the defenders are just turning their backs and that’s becoming a block in the back. I don’t know, we need to talk about that. When a defender just runs solid downhill and turns his back on a blocker that is coming flat down the line so maybe something fun to discuss in the offseason, but we can’t have them. That screen pass we threw backed up and gave us some breathing room.”
You did a lot of good things in the passing game, you got a bunch of points, but did it put undue stress on the passing game because you really did not have a lot to lean on on the ground?
“No. I think you just keep running it, keep running boots and nakeds. There is deception. If you don’t run the ball, and we’ve seen it and you guys have quizzed me on that in previous weeks, if you don’t run the ball then the rest of your game doesn’t – we were playing from ahead so it made sense. There are games when like last week we were playing from behind where we threw the ball 15 times in the fourth quarter. It depends how the game plays out and even though we weren’t getting the chunks in the run game that we wanted we are still going to run it when it makes sense to do so.”
Did you call the quarterback sneak or was that something Eli (Manning) did?
What yard line did you need to get to at the end to feel comfortable?
“I will leave that to us.”
How do you think Eli (Manning) played overall today?
“He did a heck of a job.”
Was that one of his (Eli Manning) better games? In light of the fact that he had to do a lot on his own because the running game wasn’t.
“I think Eli (Manning) did a good job, but I think it was still coordinated. We had the run play-action going and he did some good things, but we didn’t do enough at the end. None of us did.”
What did you see on the interception there at the end?
“We were just taking a shot down the field. We had three receivers up the field and they split the safeties on us and he tried to take a shot on them. I don’t fault that. We had to get the ball down the field anyways.”
Would you prefer Saquon (Barkley) go out of bounds on the first one there?
“I would have. Yeah. That is what he should have done. If you ask him about it I am sure he will tell you that, but the clock was running and we had a play ready to go. So on the next play we threw it in the flat and the guy did get out of bounds and the clock stopped.”
Do you take anything positive out of this game overall or does the loss just negate anything that you might?
“Right is right. You win or you lose and we didn’t win. We will go back and we will clean up the film like we do every week and make corrections and move forward to Dallas. That’s what we’ll do. That’s the reality, that’s the big boy part of this – just keep working and you keep trying to get better and you keep trying to find ways to make plays at the end and both sides really all three sides.”
What did you think of Tae Davis?
“I will have to look. He was out there battling. With Tree (Alec Ogletree) being out we kind of rotated some guys in there. It’s hard for me to say really definitely whether he played well or what but he made some plays.”
It seemed kind of both ends of the spectrum.
“You maybe had a little bit better view of that part of it. I know he was out there battling.”
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Do you still like playing this game? A lot of losing lately.
“Yes. No matter winning, losing, it’s a game that I loved since I was a little kid. This is my dream, playing in the NFL and I’m living my dream out. So, can’t complain on that side”
Do you take away a moral victory from today’s performance?
“This game obviously hurts. You know every loss hurts but when you come down to the wire and don’t find a way to finish it definitely hurts a little bit more. Got to give credit to the Colts, they played a good game.”
You had a nice discussion with the rookie on the other side of the ball (Darius Leonard), exchanges jerseys. What’d you guys talk about?
“Just kind of giving respect. I think he’s a heck of a player and he said kind of the same to me. I think the fact that he didn’t make it into the pro bowl, I really don’t agree with that. When you’re a rookie and you lead the NFL in tackles, you should be mentioned. He’s a heck of a player. Between him, Derwin (James), (Bradley) Chubb, probably one of those guys will win defensive rookie of the year. To be able to play him and obviously we’ll have more games against each other – to see him live, he’s as good as advertised.”
That’s two weeks in a row where teams concentrated on taking you away as much as they can. Do you notice the difference in that? When they’re using more weapons to kind of go against you and is there anything you can do differently?
“Yeah, I guess you can say it’s a difference but I want to say it’s been the last two weeks we’ve been running the ball efficiently recently. Going back from the bye week, teams still was kind of focusing on the run then and we were able to execute and split them and get gashes and get big runs. That’s just the difference. At the end of the day, you can give credit where credit is due. They’re over there, they’re game planning just as much as we are. But when we make the calls, we got to execute. We got to pick up the blocking right and I got to make the right reads as a running back. That’s how the running game works. The last two weeks we weren’t able to do that. When I say we, I mean as a run game. Myself and the o-line included. We got to be better.”
Tight End Evan Engram
How tough is that situation at the end of the game when you have no timeouts?
“It’s tough. You got to just be on top of it, got to be smart, got to know when to get out of bounds, got to know when to fight for yards. It was a tough bind. We needed one of those big plays and they made the play.”
Where did those run plays come from, something new in the playbook?
“No, we ran it once in Atlanta. Just stuff that has always been in the playbook. The defense, with what they offered this week, gave us some good looks. Both made some yards both times they called it today.”
When you guys were pinned down deep in your own territory the drive before the last drive, what was happening? Obviously some penalties.
“Yeah, we were just shooting ourselves in the foot. Had an offside (penalty) on the first down, or at least close, I couldn’t really see from the angle I was at but it look like we had it. But, one play doesn’t lose a game. There’s just a lot of things we got to fix and a lot of things that kind of hurt us today.”
Quarterback Eli Manning
How tough was that result when things were going so well for so long?
“Yeah, it’s a tough game. You know they’re a good team and they have a good quarterback who can kind of score late on teams. So I knew we’re going to need to score more points. To not get a touchdown when we were down there that last time and had to settle for a field goal, it was tough. We got second-and-two from the five or six-yard line and then can’t get a first down. Then go backwards on second down. So we’ve got to do a better job there. Did a lot of good things throughout the course but obviously not just quite good enough.”
Why was play-action so effective today from the jump? Even with the run not getting going, you guys were play-actioning well.
“I think obviously when teams are dedicated to stopping the run, it sets up play-action. They were bringing some pressures – some run pressures. They were bringing a lot of one-high and just were able to get on the edge and make a couple of plays. Then we got it to third-and-manageable a bunch of times and did a good job in those situations. So again, (we) did a lot of good things and something to build off. I think the whole second half of the season, we’ve been playing well. Last week obviously, (we) didn’t do well in tough circumstances but besides that we’ve been moving the ball and doing a lot of good things.”
So despite how this game ended, you see progress or positives as far as building on into next year?
“I mean yeah, there’s definitely positives and hey, it’s tough circumstances. No one wants to be in a position where you’re not in the playoffs, but you kind of get questioned how you’re going to play but there’s a lot of heart. We came out with the defense getting stops, offense moving the ball and scoring two touchdowns on the first two drives. So just a lot of character in this group of guys and guys competing – missing a lot of guys, missing some key guys but guys stepped up and made some plays.”
Was that as good of a throwing day as maybe you have had this year?
“I felt like we threw the ball well. I don’t what all the stats were and everything, but I can only think of maybe one or two I wish I had back. But besides that I thought I threw the ball well and had a lot of good plays.”
What did you see on the interception on the last throw?
“Yeah, just trying to hit Bennie (Fowler III) running down the middle. I probably have to look at it on film just to see. I thought I threw it in a pretty good spot, but obviously just a little high. It’s one of those deals – throw high over the middle, those guys are going to make a play. But I thought I threw it in a spot where he could make a catch on him and get a chunk right there. So, kind of had a double move called on the outside. Those situations, you’re in a bit of – you’ve got to take a shot. You’ve got to take a chance and get a chunk play. I thought I threw a pretty good ball, but obviously not.”
Did you talk to Andrew Luck afterward and say anything? Can you talk about what you might have talked about?
“I told him, ‘Good game and good luck going forward.’ Just the usual stuff, but I got to talk to him before the game a little bit.”
Evan Engram had a particularly good game.
“Yeah, it was good to get Evan going. He’s a tremendous athlete and player and we got him on some things – hit him on a nice seam-route, hit him on a little throwback to him where he got a big play. He had a couple of nice third-down conversions and a second-and-long conversation, that was big. So, he made a number of nice plays and good to get him going.”
Was that play down to the one-yard line the seam-route you were talking about?
“Yeah, hit the seam. Yeah so get him on a linebacker, tried to move the safety a little bit and ran a nice route and got a big play.”
Was it encouraging that the passing game was as productive as it was despite Saquon Barkley not getting his yards?
“Well yeah, I feel like we’ve been throwing it pretty good in the second half. The fact that teams are going to play one-high, give you opportunities to throw it and we’ve got to protect. Different guys – the ball is spread around to a lot of different guys, a lot of different players and guys were all stepping up making plays.”
Was Will Hernandez spiking the ball after your rushing touchdown preplanned or did that just happen?
“It just happened. So I figured let someone spike it, let one of the linemen get after it.”
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
RE: Today’s game:
“Yeah, pretty tough. I feel like the guys fought really hard. We did a great job moving the ball, especially in the first half. Got to find a way to come up with six on that last one but you know that’s the way the game goes sometimes. But I feel like the guys fought really hard and they did a good job answering the second half.”
How much can you take from the performance you all had today in terms of going toe-to-toe with a team playing for the playoffs?
“We’re super close, we’re there. We just got to find out what the little things are and correct them. We got to correct them fast. We got one more game coming up and we’re going to try to put together a complete game.”
You guys were able to move the ball today without Saquon Barkley having a lot of big chunk plays in the run game. What does that say about the progress your passing game has made in the last few weeks?
“Yeah, I mean we took a step back last week but that was tough conditions for us, kind of took away some of the stuff in our game plan. So we were able to get back on track today. I think the guys did a great job getting open and Eli (Manning) did a great job delivering the ball.”
Cornerback B.W. Webb
RE: The loss:
“It hurts man, a lot man. I hate losing, I’m sure everybody else in this locker room hates losing too. It sucks. It’s just not fun, man. I know outside looking in people think we don’t have anything to play for but we playing for each other in here, we playing for jobs next year so guys can come back. Everybody in here playing for their family. So it hurts, it hurts to lose.”
What was Pat Shurmur’s message to you guys?
“Just keep fighting. It sucks that we couldn’t pull the win out. We got one more game to prove what we want to be next year. There is no let up in any of the guys, we just gone come into practice next week and keep fighting.”