Opening Statement: Tough divisional game. I'm glad we were able to hang in there and win it. I thought the defense did a nice job basically for the whole fourth quarter. Offense – not much of a first half, but came out in the second half and did a better job. We got some nice kickoff returns, had field position any number of times but didn't do much with it early on, but finally got going a little bit better in the second half. We knew going in that it would be a tough football game. The first game down there, everything went well for us and not much went well for them. They had been shut out last week. They had been beaten by us down there by a large score. It's in the division. They came in and played hard. It was a difficult team to run on – we didn't the run the ball for anything against them, so they did a nice job of that. Despite it all, we kept battling and kept battling and found a way to win it. It feels good to win again on Sunday.
Q: Coach, can you talk about your special teams today aside from [Odell] Beckham not catching that last punt at the end of the game?
A: Well, that should've never happened. Special teams has done well. They've basically improved from one week to the next all year long, so I was pleased with that. As I said, I thought our kickoff returns were really good today. We faced an exceptional punter with tremendous hang time and the ability to put the ball way up in the air. I thought we might be able to have some punt return success today. Not quite as much, as I said – we had established field position with kickoff returns, we covered kicks very well and did a nice job covering punts.
Q: What was your view and reaction to the end of the first half sequence and how much of a difference did that make? **
A: Well, obviously, as it turned out, it wasn't a (ten)-point game, but it was quite a feeling to go in 10-7 rather than 17. I didn't have any idea how that would come out or whatever. When you watch it live, the guys in the booth were yelling about the juggling the ball, but until the word came back on the field, I didn't know.
Q: Is that something you noticed on the sideline?
A: Not on the sideline, but as I just said, from upstairs they were saying words to the effect that the ball was being bobbled.
Q: Have you ever had a playmaker as dynamic as [Odell] Beckham and what does that do for you offensively in terms of game plans?
A: The young man is having outstanding success. When we are getting the ball to him, he's doing very well with it. He's a very good football player. He has the ability to go the distance, I think, any time he gets it – whether as a punt returner or as an offensive player. He can run the football; he can throw the football, so we've tried to create a lot of situations. He does have the talent to exploit the defense in a lot of different ways.
Q: Considering the fact that you're focusing obviously a lot of offensive attention on him, and I would assume the defense is, too, are you amazed he's able to get so wide open so often?
A: Well, I don't know. Today was kind of sticky, I thought. Early on, for example, really in the first half, it wasn't a lot to speak of except for the one score. I think they did a good job. They played us well.
Q: He (Odell Beckham, Jr.) finished with 12 catches or whatever, plus he touched the ball almost 20 times. Is there anything he does at this point that surprises you?
A: Well I'm cheering for him every time he gets the ball. He does the best he can and can excite everybody in the building.
Q: You guys often talk in terms of who, on the other side, scares you. What do you think the other side's impression is of Beckham?
A: There's a bunch of guys on the other team that scared us – I'll tell you that. That number 11 (DeSean Jackson) usually comes to town and we don't have a lot of fun with that.
Q: Fair enough, but what do you think of the ripples that Odell [Beckham] is making around the league?
A: He's a young player who missed a lot of this season, so a lot of people are basically seeing him for the first time, and so I'm sure they're very impressed when they watch him on film. Then they go in the other room and try to decide how to take the ball out of his hands. We've got to continue to try to be innovative in that regard.
Q: What happened with Rueben Randle?
A: That's between Rueben and I.
Q: When [Colt] McCoy went down, did you know what to expect from RGIII?
A: Well, we had to know that the expectation was that the ball somehow remained in his hands, and I thought they kept the ball on the perimeter as a plan and they were successful for some time doing that. McCoy did it, and obviously when RGIII came in, he did the same thing.
Q: Was that the plan with Rueben [Randle] to not have him in the first quarter?
A: Not necessarily.
Q: You were 4th and 1; you didn't go for the field goal. Can you talk about your thought process at that point?
A: I thought we had moved the ball down well. I thought we had some momentum on our side. They could not take the lead with a field goal. I thought if it was a time where we could've made that and push it in for a score, it would've been the score that eventually we ended up and would've had another opportunity to score. It was a risk, no question. Given the way our kicker has been doing, it was no question that I think the three points would've been there and put us up seven. There was some risk involved, but I thought it was worth taking.
Q: Even after Rueben [Randle] got back in, you still seemed to rely on [Kevin] Ogletree and [Preston] Parker more at times. Has he fallen behind them on the depth chart?
A: No, I think they all mix in and play. Parker's played steadily since the beginning of the year. Ogletree's had a chance to work his way in this week and did a pretty good job, so the more people you have, the better.
Q: I know you don't play "what if's," but Victor Cruz and Odell [Beckham] out on the same field?
A: That would be a good idea.
Q: After the Dallas game, where you didn't use pressure to close out the game, the last games since then, you've had a lot of more pressure from the defense. Can you talk about any adjustments, or are these guys showing more pride? What are your thoughts on that?
A: There's more people involved in making a lot of plays, which is a good thing. JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] has turned it up and he's made a bunch of plays here in the last four or five games. You're getting plays from the interior guys. When Damontre [Moore] had a couple plays a week ago; [Jonathan] Hankins had a play today or a couple of plays; Devon [Kennard] has a done a good job of that as well and gotten pressure. The more the merrier.
Q: Did [Rashad] Jennings get hurt on the one carry?
A: Right away, he did.
Q: Did [Odell] Beckham call for a fair catch on that last punt?
A: I think he did. The ball was fading away from him and he was trying to come in. He never really got planted in front of the ball.
Q: So it's just a physical mistake?
A: I think so.
Q: Their running backs did a lot of damage in the first half with the receiving game. Did you guys do anything specific to get that under control?
A: The number one thing for us was to stop the run because we weren't doing a very good job of it. We had prepared our entire plan around that and I think we just tooled it up. We didn't do anything really different, but we got in better position and made some plays in the second half.
QB Eli Manning
Q: Can you talk about the first half offensively and what you guys were able to do in the second half?
A: The second half, they were really challenging us to run the ball. The amount of personnel and they had a base defense for the most part, so running it was going to be pretty tough. Second half, we just said we have to throw it. They were giving us the quick throws so we just kept throwing it. I had good protection so we made some big plays in the passing game. I think that was a help to convert a few more third downs. The first half, we had some decent downs, we just didn't convert. Third and one, then fourth down in the second half, we didn't convert.
Q: With the success you've have with Odell Beckham, does that make you think about what could happen if he was healthy the whole year?
A: He's been healthy most of the year, his first couple of games. But I think it's more of the fact you think about if you have Odell and Victor (Cruz) both healthy all season along with Preston (Parker) and Rueben (Randle) and the other guys that are playing well. It would've been nice to have all of them active.
Q: Talk about your rollouts this year and this game.
A: It worked out a few times. We've been doing it a little bit just to move the pocket. We've got pass interference on one and a couple others were scrambles. They did a good job of playing zone and taking away the first guy and getting some pressure. I was trying to rollout a few times, so I had a few rollouts and hit Odell on the sideline and hit Daniel Fells on a crossing route. I tried to do another one on the same guy and took a sack on that one. But besides that, I think we did a good job moving the pocket … and changing the point where I'm making my passes.
Q: You've obviously relied heavily on Odell the past couple of weeks. Defenses can see that. Are you surprised the option is still there, that they haven't been able to take that away a little bit from you? **
A: Maybe a little bit. But we're moving him around a bunch, so you can't just see exactly where he's going to be. As we keep going, I'm sure some other teams will kind of keep two guys on him some. But I think they'll keep their base defense and we'll just have to try to find our best match-ups. The other guys, Preston and Rueben, made some big catches for us at times and that's what we need. We need everyone playing at a high level.
Q: You've had some pretty impressive weapons here over the years. Does Odell rank up there with anybody you've played with?
A: Yeah, I think you don't want to get his head too big too early right now, but he's got a lot of skill. He's got skills and you just hope to keep working, keep grinding, and keep getting the little things correct. There's definitely some room for improvement still, just on decisions and understanding the offense to its fullest. And that's me, as well. Us getting on the same page with things. So hopefully we can continue to do that.
Q: With a young player like Odell and in a season like this, where you're not going to the playoffs, does he even energize you in a way?
A: Yeah, he definitely brings a different energy to practices and to games. He's always upbeat walking around and has that energy. It's exciting when the ball gets in his hands. You see it in games and on punts and just the way he's a playmaker. We like to have those guys on the field and he's done a good job working hard to do everything correctly. And he needs to continue to do that.
Q: The touchdown where he split the two defenders, can you talk about that one?
A: Had a slant call and they kind of brought on a blitz and kind of rolled to him. They were doubling him in a sense, but playing zone. I had to hold it an extra second and kind of hit him in the second window as the linebacker was running out. So I kind of threw it right behind the linebacker and entered a stride to go to split the safety's. It was kind of a big play right there to get the touchdown and get the lead.
Q: When the touchdown to Beckham got called back, was he your third read?
A: Yeah, he was my third read. I was looking at Larry (Donnell) to the left on an out route, came back looking over the middle for a crossing route. Sometimes you kind of hear the crowd. I knew something was going on. The crowd started cheering really loud, like I was about to get sacked or we had a runner wide open. So I kind of came back to my third progression. Really he was supposed to have an in-breaking route and he just realized no one was on him. I found him and unfortunately it didn't count.
Q: You mentioned this earlier, but in this season, if it's a disappointment, is it exciting to soon have him and Victor on the same field?
A: Yeah, definitely. I think it's exciting to have a young receiver who's very talented, making plays and growing within the offense with him and getting on the same page on a lot of things. I think we have a good pool of receivers and guys who've worked hard. This offense gives us opportunities to make some big plays and do some good things. I think we're starting to get the feel of it. Today wasn't as explosive as we'd like it to be, but if we're smart, we're patient, eventually we'll hit those big plays and make more plays down the stretch.
Q: Did you see they had 12 men on the field and snap the ball quick?
A: Yeah. We were at third and four or so, and they had their base defense. We got to third and four and we had our same personnel. They tried to substitute to their sub-defense and they were a little late. So I got up there quick and quick snapped it to get the easy first down. Off that, I hit Odell down the field for a big play as well.
Q: You seemed to challenge Bashaud Breeland a lot today. Was that a weakness you guys picked up on?
A: No. He's probably one of the better corners. So we just had our matchups with man and one-on-one, and we had Odell there a number of times. On our man coverage, we tried to hit a couple of people on the field. They were pulling and tugging on our guys a little bit, got a few pass interferences and holdings called. But we didn't really connect on any. But we got a number of pass interferences called on shots down the field.
Q: What do you say about Rueben that he doesn't start, doesn't get a lot of snaps, but then he makes that big catch later in the game?
A: He had a big play for us right there on a big third down. I know third and 17, I think I hit him on a curve route and ended up being a half-yard short. Ended up being a third down and at the end he made the tough catch right there. Rueben's got to play well for us and he's doing some good things. And we've got other guys stepping up and making plays for us.
Q: Is it frustrating for you that he's done something to get benched partially twice in the last three weeks?
A: Yeah, you don't like to see your starting receiver get in trouble. It kind of throws off the rhythm of things, being in tune with what's going on out there. But Kevin (Ogletree) and Preston (Parker) have done a good job stepping up and those guys have worked hard. I get a lot of reps with those guys, so I don't feel like we've missed a beat. You just want to have all your weapons out there, you don't want to see a guy having to sit for a quarter or whatever it is.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: Can you talk about the second touchdown on a slant where you split the defenders?
A: It was a normal play for us. Eli [Manning] made a check to the tight end and gave me the post route to try and occupy the safety. The slant came open late and it just looked like a lot of open field, so I tried to run as fast as I could.
Q: There was an obvious back and forth between the players… They tried to get in your head and get you out of your game… How do you deal with that?
A: That is part of the game. Competitors play with passion and loving what you do. You are going to get frustrated. You do the best you can to not make those types of personal fouls and unsportsmanlike penalties, but it is a heat of the moment thing. We love doing this. [Bashaud] Breeland is a great defender. I think he is going to be great in this league. There were times today where we were back and forth and the flag actually got called on him and not me. That is part of the game as well.
Q: How much do you think you maybe got in his head?
A: You never really know. Sometimes you can see it, sometimes you can't. He was smiling and laughing the whole game and competing. That is what it is all about. You take it at somebody and you do the best you can to win every single time. Sometimes you come up short. I know he broke up the pass in the end zone. It is going to give me trouble sleeping at night. It's little things like that. There are a lot of good that was in the game, but there is still so much to learn from.
Q: Some of the passes you caught were on the back shoulder… How often do you and Eli work on that?
A: I think it is just a natural thing. You see the defender over the top. A quarterback is naturally going to put it back shoulder. He is not going to try and throw it past him if he is already on top. I think it is an automatic read. He just put in spots where I could only get to it. You can only be thankful for the opportunity.
Q: Is that the result of a safety being placed over the top because of your speed and quickness?
A: Whatever you want to call it. Whatever it is, they were playing high over the top and just allowed for the back shoulder throws.
Q: Are you starting to see a lot more adjustments now that there is a lot more tape on you?
A: You can definitely see some more adjustments. I don't remember exactly who it was, it was '91' [Ryan Kerrigan], he was out there at almost cornerback on one play. I just think he was out there as a decoy and to distract, but as the game goes on, you can see the teams make adjustments and the defense shift. We did a great job at changing the plays up and getting where we needed to go.
Q: How do you feel when you think about the future and playing with Eli?
A: Not just me and him. Like I said earlier in the year, we have potential to be one of the best, if not the best, offense. There is no reason for you not to think that. Anybody on the team should think that we should be the best. That is just how it is. There is a lot to look forward to going into next year, being realistic. You know you are not going to the playoffs. You look into next year and you look into the team and you watch how these guys play their last couple games and you get a feel for how each man plays.
Q: Are you a better receiver now than when you first stepped on an NFL field and in what ways?
A: Absolutely. Each and every way. Each and every day you find something that you are better at, whether it is blocking or whether it is the way you place your hands on a catch. Whatever it is, you have to find something to improve your game every day.
Q: Do you feel like you are on a roll statistically or do you think this is normal and that this is the way it should be?
A: You keep going with the punches. Whatever is thrown at you is whatever situation you are going to be in. For me, it's about making the most of the opportunities and whatever chance I get, to just make the most out of it.
Q: You set the Giants rookie record for receiver yardage… Thoughts on that?
A: That is great. That is something that is always in the back of your mind. I didn't know exactly what it was until somebody told me today. That has a lot to do with the way we have been playing these last couple of games. It is an honor.
Q: When you missed the first four games, did you think it was a realistic goal to get to 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns?
A: For me, I set the expectations as high as possible. I hate settling for anything less. I wouldn't expect anything less for myself. There are a lot of guys on the team that even though I missed those four games – Antrel [Rolle] came up to me from the minute I got back out on the field and said you still owe me 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. That stuff is always in the back of your mind when you're playing, but you really have to focus on each and every play because you never know when it could be your last.
Q: What about your touchdown dances… Are they planned?
A: That is just something that comes with it.
Q: You had some new ones today?
A: It is a group of people down in Atlanta that created the dance. It is called 'The Whip' and the 'Nae Nae' and all these other things. It is a way of expressing yourself and I enjoy having fun, so why not?
Q: What was the spinning of the ball [touchdown dance]?
A: Whatever comes to mind. You only have a split second to think about what you are going to do. You never want to look bad on TV. Never want to look bad, so you just do the best you can.
Q: Are you going to lose sleep over the fumbled punt at the end of the game?
A: That is something to take from the game and learn from. Earlier on in the game, I was frustrated. Just being a young player and trying to keep your head in the game, there were plays, I think it was a third down earlier in the game and I didn't get both feet in bounds. The throw in the corner of the end zone I feel that I should have caught. There was another one I feel that I should have caught. It doesn't matter what it is. Whenever I get a chance to make a play, I feel that it should be made.
Q: Did you take your eyes off the ball on the punt?
A: I was being lackadaisical. Too relaxed. I went and apologized to the special teams coach because that is just not acceptable. We should have definitely had the offense on the field in the victory formation. There is notthing better than the offense running on the field in victory formation.
Q: Earlier in the game the referee said you didn't give a fair catch signal… Did he explain more about what you needed to do?
A: No, not really. It is something to learn though. Maybe next time, I think that it came back to haunt me on the last play of the game because I tried to fair catch for as long as possible and make sure I gave a good signal. It ended up not working out in my favor.
Q: Both Coach [Tom] Coughlin and Eli said they didn't want to praise you too much and to keep your humility in check… Is that a concern of yours?
A: You have guys like that in your corner that remind you each and every day. It is just something that I have always been because I have been humbled multiple times.
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Q: What did you see on the Robert Griffin fumble at the end of the first half and how did you find out the touchdown was taken off the board?
A: I thought it was good, to be honest. To have it taken off was definitely a relief and now you go in just 10-7 and not (17)-7. Then coming out, getting the onside kick, they get the penalty, we make it, swing three points that way, you just go from there.
Q: When did you realize they took the points off the board?
A: I was still on the field. The half ended, but I was still out there. That's all.
Q: Was there any doubt in your mind you were going to catch Andre Roberts on the 61-yard completion?
A: Nah. I mean, I played with him at Arizona. I know his speed. I definitely thought he was going, but the more I kept running, I realized I had a chance.
Q: There has been so much talk about what guys have to play for in the last couple of weeks. Is that play indicative that you guys are still playing? **
A: Once you are on the field, you are on the field. You are just playing. Everyone has their own reasons to go out there, but once you hit that field, you still have to play as one and just win out.
Q: Do you think you guys showed something as a team this week?
A: It was definitely a team victory. At the end of the day, Coach harps on 'finish' a lot and for the most part, we haven't been doing that, and to finish these last few weeks, you can just build from that.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Q: What did you see when Robert Griffin III was coming across the field for the last play of the first half?
A: I was just playing football. They called the call and we played great football. I saw him running, everybody had their man and he scrambled. It's bound to happen during the football game. He's a great quarterback and I just took off running after him.
Q: Did you have an angle on him? At that point, did you realize if you knocked the ball loose?
A: I was just making a tackle. I was just trying to prevent him from getting in the end zone. I didn't even know I knocked the ball out. I was just trying to not let him score a touchdown and I guess I knocked the ball out there. But I was just being a football player.
Q: Did you hear when they announced that they took the touchdown off the board?
A: No, not at all.
Q: When did you find out?
A: When we walked in and with whatever the brawl was out there, whatever was going on out there.
Q: Does the emotion go from disappointment to excitement all in one decision?
A: Anytime you prevent a touchdown, or when the other team doesn't score, it's a plus for us. I was excited about it.
Q: Were you upset with yourself that you didn't make the tackle?
A: I was upset that I ran all the way down there and I thought he made the touchdown. He spread out and reached, but I guess it is what it is. He didn't make it.
Q: How much of a momentum swing was getting that play overturned?
A: It was a momentum swing. They would have been up. I think they would have been up 17(-7). But it is what it is. I was just playing football.
Q: How much did it help you guys having to prepare for both quarterbacks this week?
A: I think we did a great job of preparing for both quarterbacks because we didn't know who we were going to face this week. Coach Perry (Fewell) did a good job of communicating with us and we did a great job executing plays in practice from Monday through Friday. We did a great job and sure enough (Colt) McCoy went out and RG3 came in, but we were already prepared for it. Anytime you prepare for both quarterbacks, you're good.
Q: Was it special to see how the defense tightened up on Robert Griffin III in the second half?
A: We came in at halftime and we weren't playing great. We could have done better. We came out with energy and we wanted it more. We were the most physical team and we proved it out there.
Q: Did the play at the end of the first half change the trajectory of this game?
A: It definitely helped us out, that's for sure. They got a good play on us going into halftime. Unfortunately he couldn't hang on to the ball, which is a plus in our eyes. We were able to capitalize on it coming out and getting the onside kick, which was a phenomenal call, by the way. Defense was playing resilient and offense was doing what they're doing.
Q: What does it this mean for the team to be able to put two in a row together at the end of the season?
A: For us, it means everything at this point. We know there is no future for the postseason for us right now, so all we have to do is go out there and try to win each and every game we possibly can to close out the season with some wins under our belt without negativity and a bad taste in our mouth.
Q: I know you're a defensive guy. That gives you the chance to see what Odell Beckham is doing out there. What's that like? **
A: Nothing this guy does amazes me at this point. He's a phenomenal talent and more importantly, I think he has the attitude and passion that this game deserves and that this team needs. He tries to go out there and be the best of the best each and every time on the field. He has a lot of goals in mind and he's trying to reach them.
Q: Do you see the opposing defensive backs? They're getting frustrated. They're reacting to him. As someone that's in that spot dealing with the receivers, can you see the frustration it's causing for your opponents?
A: Absolutely. When it's hard to contain one guy, it's definitely going to cause some frustration within the defensive unit. He's been that guy. He's been that bug in their ear. I hope he keeps doing what he's doing. I know he will. We're just trying to get as many wins as we can.
Q: How much does the defense feed off of him? When you see the plays he's making, does that energize you guys?
A: Yeah, obviously. This guy feeds the entire team. He fills the stadium. He's an exciting guy to watch. He's a hell of a player. He goes out there and he makes plays when given the opportunity. He plays beyond the Xs and Os, for sure. We love to have him as a part of the Giants.
Q: Some players are saying that the success you guys are having these last couple of games is a testament to how you feel about Coach Coughlin for next year. Do you agree?
A: We're always positive and have a great feeling with Coach Coughlin. I'm a firm believer in coaches coach and the players play the game. He's always been the same. In my five years here, he's always been the same guy. He's not going to change. It's up to us as players to go out there and execute our assignments and make the plays.
A: RGIII is a phenomenal talent. He's been going through some tough times. When it's all said and done, when you're on the football field, you're on the football field. He possesses a lot of great things. Strong arm. He can move. He's elusive in the pocket. He made some good plays for himself out there today.
Q: How important is it to take away that first read from him to give your defensive line a chance to get to the quarterback?
A: That's always important. I think we did a great job of doing that today. A lot of our defensive line got out there with heart and got some sacks. That's pretty much it. In the second half I think we came out and played phenomenal defense.
Q: Did you get a look at the touchdown that was called back?
A: I saw it when it happened, yeah.
Q: Did you see the ball come loose?
A: Yeah, I saw the ball come loose.
Q: So you were confident?
A: I wasn't confident that it was going to be overturned, but I did see the ball come loose. I didn't know how they were going to judge it though.
Q: He took quite a leap.
A: Obviously, yeah. For sure. It definitely helped us out. It made us put our foot down and go out there and play ball.
A: It happens. The ball definitely came loose. He had to maintain possession all the way to the ground and once he hit the ground, it came out again.
Re: specific play
A: With the receiver down, we were playing tango coverage. I did exactly what I was supposed to do, drive the aiming point. There was supposed to be someone on top of me, but there was no one there. Things like that are going to happen depending on the route that they run. They ran an angled route that kind of draws the corners eyes to the back field to the angle. As a safety, I'm supposed to drop the dig route. He kind of stopped on the dig route. There's supposed to be a corner on top of me.