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Postgame Quotes (11/24): Coughlin, Cruz


Coach Tom Coughlin**

Good, hard fought divisional game.  It came down to the last couple of seconds. I thought we played hard.  We didn't make as many plays as we'd hoped.  We drove back in the second half.  We got the ball in the end zone, got the two-point play.  We let them out of the hole a couple of times, rose up and got the ball for the offense a couple of times, which was the only way we were going to have any kind of field position.  Very disappointed.  Players played hard.  They wanted to win very badly.  We were down in the green zone a couple of times in the first half and came away with field goals.  You always hold that in the back of your mind, is that going to come back and haunt you?  Obviously it did.  We rushed the ball very well tonight.  We didn't particularly throw the ball or have as much yardage as we would have thought with the passing game.  Our defense, I think, had one third down up until that last drive.  We had them in outstanding position there a couple of times, 3rd and 10.  Even the last one 3rd and 10, that's not gimme field goal, not on a night like this where the ball is hard.  Both teams played hard.  We felt like we obviously had a chance and should have won, but we didn't.  Credit where credit is due and back to work.

Q: You've been in a lot of positions over the years where you've been down by a touchdown or two and Eli calmly led you guys back.  At that point when you get the first touchdown do you think that he's doing it again? Did you feel pretty comfortable?
A: Yeah, but you knew that something had to happen right away for us to get the ball back again and we just weren't able to do it at that time.  As far as his ability to take us down and put the ball in the endzone and win the game, yeah, no question.  We all felt that was going to happen.

Q: Given the success running the ball, were you tempted to run the ball more?
A: No, we're a balanced team. We play for balance.  We had a good mixture.  We felt like some of our play action type things which should have been good weren't quite as good as we'd hoped they would be.  I don't feel… We're down in the green zone, we rushed the ball.  That's where we had an error and lost yardage on one.  You're doing all you can there.  Eli made a nice play late in the game here.  He hit Murphy with that touchdown and showed us a little bit of his maneuverability there.  No, I don't feel bad at all.

Q: Are you willing or able yet to figure out the implications – you talk about keeping the dream alive – of what this means?
A: We have a five-game schedule left.  Every game is critical.  We have to prepare and work as hard as we possibly can and stay together, try to win football games.  We lost a game that we were all excited about having a chance to win, but it's gone.  We've got five games to play.  Let's go win five games and let's give ourselves a chance to hold our heads up high.

Q: Was Hakeem Nicks at all close to playing today?
A: He didn't practice all week. We made the decision not to play him.

Q: How much did the loss of McBride down the stretch… It seemed like the secondary had guys in position…
A: He tried to go.  He had a reoccurrence of a groin strain.  He tried to go back out and go.  Naturally, it wasn't what we expected.  It did hurt us because you see the shuffling around that had to take place to get the proper alignment to try and defend their three- and four-wide passing.

Q: On Victor's play with the forward progress, can you just tell us what you saw? The Cruz turnover.
A: I don't know what the officials saw.  There were four guys battling one guy and he's up in the air.  He's still spinning.  You can look at it either way.  We started the year off knowing full well that the officials were going to blow the whistle this season for every play.  You hope that the whistle should blow.  For them to have a touchdown on a play like that is just unbelievable.  

Q: You threw a red flag.  What were you looking to do there on the roughing the passer play?
A:  I wanted an explanation for the spot of the ball.  We had all these things going on, then all of the sudden the ball was right where… It didn't look as if there was anything.  We thought the ball was too far forward.  I wanted an explanation and I didn't have any other way to get it done.  It was not challengeable and they let me have it back.  

Q: What's your message to the team?
A: Just what I said, exactly what I just said.  There are five games to go.  We've got it back in this position.  We won four in a row.  We had a setback today.  We have five games to play, one game at a time.  Let's prepare as hard as we can and go win a game.

Q: You had 11 penalties and 3 late hits? Is that the intensity of the game? What do you attribute that to?
A: The one thing that I think we can learn from this is the bigger the game, the more you have to control yourself, more poise.  There isn't any question that we were frustrated with some of those fouls.  There wasn't any question that that occurred.  Even when things go against you, you have to find a way to settle down and play the next play.  We lost it a couple of times and it cost us.

Q: Two of those were on Kiwanuka.  Did you have to talk to him?
A: I did talk to him.  He knows it as soon as it's over.  You have to control yourself.  It happens.  It's hard for people to walk away.  It's always retaliation.  The guy who retaliates always gets caught.  It's as old as football.

Q: Are you surprised that the receivers are still not on the same page with Eli in terms of timing at this point in the season?
A: One play, two plays out of 62.  It's guys that haven't started before, haven't played that much.  I don't want it to happen, but does it happen? Yeah, it happens.  Take a look when their quarterback runs down field and runs and screams at one of their receivers.  It happens.

QB Eli Manning

Q: How critical was it for you guys to get into the red zone but then only get field goals?
A: It's disappointing. Early in the game we had some opportunities to get some touchdowns and get the lead or keep the game close, and we obviously didn't execute well enough down there. We had a couple plays where we went backwards, which is always tough, and it makes it more difficult to score. We had third and goal from the 10, so we've got to do better down there to get touchdowns and not settle for field goals.

Q: You guys were on a great run, 4-0, so this was a huge game. You're still in it, but what is the outlook for you?
A: I think our mindset is we've got to win five. We've got five games left and we have to win every one. That's the only way that will possibly give us a chance. We don't know if that's going to be good enough, but that's the only way. Again, you can't trade anything differently than what we've been doing the past few weeks, and take it one game at a time. Next week we're at Washington – another big one in the division. We've got to go in there and find a way to win.

Q: You've had enough fourth quarter comebacks in your career to know what one feels like. Did it feel like that this time? Did it feel like at the end you were starting to regain some control?
A: I was proud with the way we responded late in the game. We needed to get some touchdowns, and we did. Brandon Myers on a big fourth down conversion and he scores, then obviously late in the game, we know we've got to score and hit Victor Cruz on a big third down down the middle. We get the touchdown and get the two-point conversion. I'm proud of the way we responded and offensively came through and came up big when we needed to. We just didn't quite get enough.

Q: Was the wind a factor at all today for you?
A: It was definitely windy and it wasn't the ideal day to throw a football, but for the most part I don't think it affected too many passes.

Q: Did you sense that, after those two early drives that resulted in field goals, that it was going to come back to haunt you?
A: No. I think obviously we were going to continue to get some drives and get down there again. I think we had a couple of opportunities. With the way we ran the ball we should have been more successful. We got there close a few times and had to go for it on fourth down and came up empty, so I knew we were driving the ball well. You like to score every time you get close, but that's not always going to happen. We stayed within the game and stayed close and obviously tied it up at the end, but you just wish you had one more opportunity to win the football game.

Q: You obviously play with what you have, but Hakeem [Nicks] has made a lot of big plays for you guys. Did you miss him today?
A: Obviously Hakeem [Nicks] is one of our star players and you like to have all of your guys out there, but hopefully we get him back healthy so that he can help us down this stretch. I thought the receivers and other guys did well. Rueben Randle, Victor [Cruz], and Brandon Myers, we had [Jerrel] Jernigan involved, we got Louis [Murphy] a touchdown, so all those guys stepped up and made some plays for us.

Q: Were you surprised that Hakeem [Nicks] didn't play or did you kind of know that coming in?
A: He didn't practice all week, for the most part. He maybe got a few plays in, but for the most part he did not practice, and didn't practice much on Friday. I didn't know what the circumstances were, but usually if you don't practice very much, there's a good chance you're not going to play.

Q: Your history is in big games. When you make a play like you did on the escape and throw to Murphy, everyone in the house feels like you're going to win this game. Did you have that feeling?
A: Yeah, I had the feeling that we tied it up and we had some momentum going. Our defense played outstanding all day and you're hoping they'll get a stop or a turnover or make a big play, and it was very close. Dallas' offense, Tony and their offense did a good job making some big third down conversions and obviously have a late drive to kick the game winning field goal.

RB Brandon Jacobs

Q: How deflating a loss is this?
A: It's always tough, you know, when you are on the sideline and you can't do anything about what's going on. It's always painful. I thought our overall game was pretty good. We had some penalties that really hurt us during the game. We had some plays that I wish we could have had back. We just got to keep fighting and try to battle back. We got five games left, play one game at a time and just hope for some other things to happen.

Q: The team ran the ball very effectively. Is that how this team wins?
A: I mean, it always good to be able to control the line of scrimmage, get the clock going, but we got to put up more points. We are getting down in the green zone, we are getting down in that area, we have to score points. We got down there twice and it ended up with two field goals. We were stuck at six for a while. We just have to convert those into touchdowns.    

Q: Being a leader and a veteran, what do you tell the young guys to keep them up for the next game?
A: Just look at it, learn from it and move on. Just always come out, practice with the same fire you've had, and keep working and keep pushing because you never know in this league what can happen.

Q: A bunch of close calls went against you. How frustrating is it to have the refs play a big role?
A: You know, that's something we can't really, we don't have any control over that. We have to take it out of their hands. A lot of calls that were made were questionable for us. It is what it is. That's why you say never leave it up to them. 

DE Justin Tuck

Q: Thoughts after a game like this?
A: I'm disappointed. I thought we played decent but not as well as we have been the past four weeks.  We had an opportunity to win a football game.  The effort was good, we just didn't execute as good as we have in previous weeks.

Q: On that last drive it didn't seem like there was the same amount of pressure.  Did you do something different there?
A: I thought we did a good job of getting the ball out of his hands a little bit quicker.  We were trying to play coverage a little there.  It was third down. They made some great throws.  I don't think we did anything different.  I just think they executed a little better than we did.

Q: Were you almost waiting on that last drive for Romo to make a mistake?
A: No.  Romo is a good quarterback and he showed it again today.  For us, we just have to be a little bit more aggressive there, for the team to do what we did the previous three or four drives prior to that.

Q: As far as coming after him?
A: Sure. Hindsight is 20/20.  Like I said, they made plays to win the football game and we didn't.

Q: If given the chance with the balance, would you want the offense or the defense to be out there?
A: I wouldn't have it any other way.  Our offense did a great job of continuing to fight and getting us back into the game and getting us tied.  As a defensive player, you never want to be in any other situation but that.  You want the opportunity to close it out and get the ball back to your offense for them to go down and score.  This time it didn't happen for us.  That will never change my mentality about being out there.

Q: Did you feel like you played more aggressively as a defense in the three or four drives before that last one?
A: Sure.  I think we got in a groove there.  We had some calls go against us and got us out of sync there a little bit.  We settled in a little bit that second half and started to get some stops.  Obviously we were very confident going back out there with four minutes to go to get another stop.  That's a good football team.  They made the plays that they needed to make to come out victorious.

Q: How big of a hole are you guys in now?
A: I don't know.  We probably need to win now and get to 9-7.  Like I said, the reason that we had a meaningful game tonight is because we took it one game at a time.  That's what we'll continue to do.  This is definitely a setback, but that won't deter us from going out next week and preparing to win a football game down in Washington.

Q: You've seen so many comebacks for Eli Manning, fourth quarter comebacks.  Did it feel like that at the end?
A: Sure it did. Absolutely.  The crowd was into it. We got some stops.  Offense made big plays to go down and get scores and get the two point conversion to tie it up. It was almost déjà vu. Like I said, it wasn't meant to be tonight.  I thought we played hard.  I don't think we played as smart as we could've. Again, they made the plays they had to make to win the football game.

Q: Did you sense with Trumaine McBride not there – the secondary had to shift some things?
A: Sure.  We put a lot of pressure on Terrell.  He's been at safety, at corner, in nickel. That's a lot of adjusting for him.  Unfortunately for us, we are a little banged up in our secondary.  Corey Webster is banged up.  It's tough to continue to shuffle guys back there, especially when you're playing against a potent offense like this, the way that they have.  Obviously they took advantage of that a little bit. You have 11 guys on that football field and you expect all of our guys to step up and go out there and play.

Q: You say you didn't play as smart as you wanted to.  Are you referring to penalties or the execution?
A: I think it's a combination of both.

Q: What did you think of the pregame when you finished your warm-ups?  Do you see that often in the NFL, that two teams are so close before a game?
A: Not anymore.  It used to be an occurrence often.  It's a heated rivalry between teams that really needed this football game.  I didn't see anything wrong with it.  It's just friendly banter.

WR Victor Cruz

A: It's a big loss.  Obviously we wanted to win, but we didn't.  It is what it is.

Q: What happened on that play?  The fumble?
A: I was going out of bounds and he stripped the ball and he ended up taking it for six. 

Q: Did you think maybe the play had ended?
A: I don't know.  I just can't let those types of things happen.  I have to take better care of the football and know that they're doing that and they're going to try and come in and strip it.  I need to take better care of it.

Q: It's a tough play early in the game, but do you think you guys still should have overcome it?
A: Absolutely.  We were in positions where we could have put points on the board, put touchdowns on the board and unfortunately we didn't get it done.  That's why we didn't come out victorious. 

Q: You said before the game that you were surprised when you didn't see Hakeem's stuff here.  Was that a surprise to everybody?
A: I don't know.  I can't speak for everyone, but I don't know.  All week things happened throughout our team.  Coaches make decisions.  I have no part of that.  Obviously when I come and I don't see him, I'm going to be surprised.  I'm not in the loop of what other players and coaches go through. 

Q: It's obviously a disappointing loss, but how does it feel after how far you'd come and then when you came out here today?
A: It felt good initially.  I obviously understand that we battled through a lot to get to this point, to be in this position, to win this game, and be a leg up in the division and move up in the division, but we didn't get it done.  It's unfortunate, but we have to keep pushing.  That's the only thing we know and that's the only thing we're worried about, to keep moving forward. 

Safety Antrel Rolle

Q: You guys played great defense all day and then the final two minutes to have them drive down the field, how frustrating is that?
A: It's frustrating. It's frustrating to know that we were kind of holding them the way we wanted to hold them. We played some good defense throughout the course of the game. I don't think anything was pretty at all times on either side of the ball. Both teams fought, you have to take your hat off to both teams. They fought extremely hard and Dallas, you know, they came out on top.

Q: How deflating of a loss is this? You guys bounce back from 0-6, you bounce back today and tie it up at the end and have a chance to see second place.
A: Yeah it hurts. There's no doubt about it that it hurts. We can't hang our head on this loss. We've still got five more games to play, we've just got to rally up, just keep doing what we've been doing the past five weeks. I think our preparation was good, I think our execution was pretty good. Both teams were fighting, someone had to come up short and unfortunately it was us.

Q: You guys had to make some defensive shifts at the end when Trumaine McBride went down. How difficult was that, you found yourself on Dez Bryant a bunch of times?
A: It wasn't too difficult. I can't say I was at my best with my craft, with my press technique. They were trying to run pick routes, in cover two they were trying to hit the middle, slant. At certain times I think I was a little too antsy in my press technique being that I haven't really been working down there for the last five or six weeks. They were able to slip me. Miles Austin caught a pass and then caught a pass to end the game but there are no more excuses. You've got to make the plays and we just came up a little short.

Q: They just got the ball back, you guys had just tied it up. Were you thinking, "Here's the stop, it's all running our way now?"
A: Absolutely. I think there were a couple times where we were right there and I know that there were a couple times on Dez that I was in perfect coverage and Tony was able to just put the ball in places. I was able to hit the ball but it didn't come loose. You have to give your hat to them, I think Tony made some exceptional throws and I think Dez did a great job in holding onto the ball even when I was punching at it.

RB Andre Brown

RE: The end of the game
A: Yeah, I was just hoping that we'd get the ball back. The last few minutes I was just praying for the ball to get back in our hands. But it is what it is.

Q: Did you feel confident at that time that this was going to be another one of Eli's comebacks?
A: Yeah, if we got the ball back, I was very confident. You've got to believe. We just have to go out there next week and continue to win football games and hope some things fall in our place.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka

Q: Do you have to think that you can't hit him here or you can't hit him there?
A: The coaches work throughout the course of the week to help you understand where you can and can't hit him and then when you go out there on Sunday, as long as you're not intentionally going out there to injure him, I think you have to just let the game come to you. There are going to be calls that are going to be made that you're not going to agree with but if you have to go out there and focus on hitting him within a certain area, it's going to slow you down as a defender. I have to be conscious of the fact that that's the way the game is called now and that's going to hurt our team. We just have to do a better job throughout the course of the week to understand where I can and can't hit the quarterback.

Q: Do you feel like you got him below the neck though?
A: I don't know. We've got to go to the film. I didn't feel like I hit him in the head but if that's what the film shows then that's what it shows.

Q: There was some pushing and shoving, that's not your M.O. usually.
A: No, it's not but that's part of the game. The second man gets the penalty and we're well aware of that from growing up playing CYO until now. You can't do it.

Q: So you're kicking yourself over that one?
A: Yeah, it's something that I wish I could take back but I can't.

Q: Did you think that was a bad call?
A: We'll look at the tape. I'm not going to get into criticizing the refs because I know they fine people for that stuff too. I'll just try to get better as a defender. 

DE Jason Pierre-PaulA: Romo is a good quarterback. I never said he wasn't a good quarterback. He's one of the great quarterbacks in this league and you have to respect him. At the end of the day you have to respect him. He's a good quarterback, those are hard to find.

Q: You said last week that there would be some blood spilled out on the field. Was there?
A: I think we played our heart out but we didn't play to our full capability. We made a lot of mistakes out there. When you make mistakes like that, you're not going to win. We made a lot of mistakes and we just have to move on to the next game.

Q: Do you think the season is over?
A: Anything can happen. You just can't quite give it up like that, you just have to play one game at a time.

Q: You guys were pretty confident coming in, obviously starting with your words on Sunday. Was that a little out of character for you guys?
A: Not at all. When it comes to the division games we don't like them and they don't like us. As you could see before the game started, we rattled up against each other. It's just that type of chemistry between any division teams, so that's basically it. There wasn't anything out of character, it was just… that's the fun in the football. We shoot and they shoot back at us and we just go out there and have fun and try to play the best we can.

Q: You had said during the week that this was your team's Super Bowl. Where do you guys go from here?
A: It was a game like that and we should have won. Any Super Bowl leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the losing team and right now losing puts a bad taste in our mouth. We just have to keep moving forward. The season's not done yet. We've got five more games and we just have to keep going.

Q: What is the feeling now? You worked so hard to get out of that hole to get to this game and now you haven't taken care of your own business and also have to count on other people. Does that make it extra tough?
A: We have to count on people to help us. This is the National Football League, you never know what's going to happen. You see winning teams and then they go and fall from making the playoffs. You never know what's going to happen. What we need to do is to continue to keep playing and win our next five games. Whatever teams, if they have to help us, they have to help us but we're not counting on them to help us. We just have to play football.  

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