Head Coach Tom Coughlin**
I'm proud of our team, not only how they rallied today, but to win the last two ball games. I thought the way we played today – we had a lot of injuries; a lot of things happened out there – obviously not a great day, and the weather too. But everybody hung in there on both sides and battled well. There were a lot of turnovers in the game, naturally, because of the weather, but I liked the way we finished. We did put the ball on the ground there toward the end and we made substantial yardage. We were playing down to our last offensive lineman – we didn't have any left. We had a couple of injuries there, so I was happy with the way we finished. Our defense played very, very well, and did not allow them really any points in the second half. The outcome of the game was good. We handled some of the more difficult areas well. We did blow a couple of snaps back, but the punter handled that and did a good job with it. I thought with our special teams, we didn't quite cover the kicks the way we wanted to today and the ball came out a little bit, but we got the same type of returns. It certainly was, from the start to the finish…the last 10 games, we did win seven, and I was proud of the way they stayed together as a team. That was the whole idea. We had good leadership. With regard to that, our captains did a good job and they can't do it alone. The attitude and the approach that this team took, regardless of some of the very difficult Mondays that we've had, was very impressive from the standpoint of maturity and professionalism, and I was proud of that. No questions? Good.
Q: You talked about the team and emphasized the team finishing strong. Individually, what are your thoughts on how Jerrel [Jernigan] finished the season?
A: I was really pleased with him. The way in which he played and the way he finished. He grew into a guy that wanted the ball and did things well with the ball when he got it. The throw from Eli [Manning] to Jerrel [Jernigan] for the touchdown catch was an excellent throw and an excellent catch among the two people in the crowd. Then, we were really trying to get the ball to him in that fashion in the second half in the run and it gave us the opportunity. He had a lot of yards for two runs, one of which was obviously a score. He played very well and he responded to the circumstances toward the end of the year. His play time increased and he responded very well to it and I was happy for him. The way he played – he's a tough guy and we saw that down the stretch.
Q: How bad is the ankle injury to Eli [Manning]?
A: It's a high ankle sprain.
Q: It had to be strange for you to see him limping off the field.
A: I don't want to see it again.
Q: What about [Will] Beatty?
A: That's a fracture of some type. I'm not exactly sure tib[ula], fib[ula] or just one of those. I don't have that information for you, but he's hurt.
Q: Now that the season's over, can you say definitively that you do want to come back next year?
A: Don't ask me that. I'm not answering that type of question right now. There will be an evaluation of everything, I'm sure, and we'll go from there.
Q: What did you think of [Justin] Tuck? It could have been his last game because we don't know what's going to happen with his contract either.
A: He played well all year. He did what I had wanted him to do and what he wanted to do. He was just an example and he played hard. I thought he was an excellent example for our younger players. He practiced, he played well. He really kept his mouth shut most of the year and did a nice job with that. He responded well and had a very good year.
Q: The beating Eli [Manning] took this year physically finally culminated with the rare sight of him having to leave the game. Do you have any concerns that this type of season might carry over for him or do you think that, no matter who is here next year, he will be better?
A: He'll respond and hopefully we'll do a job on the other end as well by protecting him.
Q: It's only been over for 10 minutes, but what do you think will stand out for you about this season? What will be your impression?
A: If I want to look at it in extremes, the first thing is the 0-6 in my mind and how did that happen. The rest is the fact that we battled back from that. Too little, too late. Again, when I said I was proud of this team, I am. I know it's not what everybody wanted; I didn't want it, either, but 7-9 is a heck of a lot better than 6-10.
Q: When Eli [Manning] first got hurt, he stayed in for one more play. Could you tell that he was hurting?
A: Eli [Manning] was doing what he always does. When I saw him having difficulty coming off the field, though, I didn't think that he'd be able to continue.
Q: In a lot of ways, this franchise has been built around Eli [Manning]'s durability – his ability to stay on the field every Sunday. Because of that, in the offseason, do you find every way possible to improve the team as far as protecting him? Is that a priority?
A: It will be an objective, for sure.
QB Eli Manning
Q: How bad does it hurt? And I'm sure it's disappointing to not finish.
A: Yeah, at this point I couldn't finish the game. I obviously wanted to. The doctor said it would not be a good decision, and I agreed with him. I don't think I could have been very effective playing after the injury.
Q: Can you describe what happened?
A: It just felt like he kind of bent me back and my foot was stuck. I knew it was hurt a little bit at the time and just hoped it wasn't worse, and I'm very happy to hear it was just a sprain.
Q: Should you have stayed in for that next play?
A: Obviously I would have liked to eliminate one interception on the year, but it didn't work out. I was hoping that sometimes you get an ankle or you get something banged up and it goes away after a second, so I stayed in and covered the guy pretty well. I didn't think I was going to pull it down and run it at that point and tried to fit it in there and it ended up being tipped up and intercepted, so it didn't work out well for us.
Q: Is there any doubt in your mind that Tom [Coughlin] will be back next year as coach?
A: I hope he's back and he said he wants to be back and the Giants want him back. You never know how these things work out, but I definitely hope that he's the coach of the Giants next year.
Q: Have they given you any indication one way or another?
A: No. I don't know either way.
Q: What do you have to do for this now? Is it just rest?
A: Yea, I think it's just rest. Rest for a few weeks and I'll probably be in a boot for a while, that's what they say with a high ankle sprain. Obviously I have time now, so I'll just rest it up and start rehabbing. I'll probably have a little better idea tomorrow or the next day, as I go in and figure out what I need to do to get better.
Q: Does this feel like the most serious thing you've ever had? You wouldn't be able to play next week, would you?
A: You never know. It's the only thing that's ever really taken me out of a game before. I think it's serious, but it will heal and I'll have all off-season to do that so I'm not worried about it being a lasting effect.
Q: Your durability has been a big part of your success and it seems like you take a lot of pride in that. How hard is it for you to come out of a game because that's not something you're accustomed to?
A: Yeah, it's not something that happened before. You hate to leave your teammates and you like to finish, knowing it's going to be the last game of the season – go out there and finish and get a win. We made enough plays early in the game to get us a lead at halftime and the guys played outstanding in the second half with some big plays, and the defense played outstanding. It's good to at least finish the season with a win and obviously now we just have to put this season behind us and learn from it, try to get better from some of the things that happened, heal up this ankle, and get ready for next year.
Q: Will you do anything differently this offseason based on some of the numbers?
A: We'll look hard at this season and see if there's a common reason why we didn't have success, whether it's throws or just the offense in general, and try to talk to the coordinators and the coaches and try to figure out what 's the best way to make improvements. How do we improve, if I have to look at something with my mechanics, look hard at it and try to figure out the best way to get back to playing at a high level and making good decisions.
Q: Is it as simple as getting better protection in front of you?
A: No, I think it's a number of things – protection, I have to make better throws and decisions sometimes. Throughout the course of the season there's going to be protection issues on certain plays and there's going to be pressure sometimes. I have to do a good job making good decisions. Receivers have to do a good job, so it's a combination. The offense was not as sharp this year as we needed to be in a lot of areas. We didn't score enough points, we didn't get down to the green zone enough, we weren't good enough on third downs, a lot of things that led to us not being as good as we needed to be, but we can look at that and make improvements.
Q: Given the injury on top of the interceptions, is there any part of you that's glad that this season is in the rearview mirror?
A: I don't think you're ever happy to see the season end. Unless you win a championship, you always wish you had one more game, or could have done something better. It was a tough year. We had a tough start to the season, but I'm proud after the way we started to end up (winning seven of 10). It wasn't always easy. At that point we had guys banged up, we had guys hurt, had a number of guys playing. It wasn't always as pretty as we've played in years past, but we found ways to win, and that's the most important thing. There were some good moments and some good wins that you can remember about this season.
Q: At the start of the season, you had the prospect of winning a third Super Bowl in your own building. When that was officially lost, how much does that take out of the season?
A: That wasn't until three weeks ago, technically. I thought we won two of our last three so we could be in the playoffs, so I think we kept fighting and kept trying to get better and make improvements. I thought we did a good job of handling the circumstance that we were in. From the beginning of the season when you're 0-6 to the last three games and in the middle to doing what we had to do to handle the ups and downs and get wins.
Q: Do you watch the playoffs? Do you turn into a Broncos fan?
A: I'll watch some of the playoffs. I'll watch obviously the Broncos and be rooting hard for my brother and for them to play well. Hopefully they can be in this building in a month or so.
DE Justin Tuck
Q: You finished the season with 11 sacks. How much of an improvement was this year over the past two seasons?
A: I think everybody knows I really don't care too much. Whenever you don't have a season that you intended you wanted, but it's good to go out there and have a personal successful year, I guess. But more importantly we were able to get a win today and kind of go into the offseason with a good feeling in that regard, but I think the most going on from this season is disappointment.
Q: Is this team the team that started 0-6 or finished 7-3?
A: I think the guys that finished 7-3. I think we started to play our style of football. 0-6 man… obviously that's never happened around here and we still can't put our finger on the fact that what caused that, but we just didn't play well. But I think what you saw the last 10 games is what this team is about; the resiliency, the leadership and the never-quit, never-die attitude even supposedly when we didn't have much to play for. We come out and get two good wins at the end of the year to make it a little bit more respectable heading into the offseason and that's what I've always been a part of here and unfortunately there were some games earlier in the season that didn't go our way.
Q: The team finished 7-3 in the last 10 games. As an athlete and competitor, do you look back to the first 6 games?
A: Yes, no doubt, absolutely. If I had the time, I could tell you 20 moments in that 0-6 start that could have possibly had us being 5-1 in those six games. In the NFL it's such a fine line between winning and losing, even today. I think we won by two touchdowns, but there's two plays or three plays in this game and the score could have been completely flipped and that's the parity in this league. You've got to be on your "P's" and "Q's" every time you step on the football field because you never know what play is going to cost you to lose a game or you never know when a game is going to keep you out of the playoffs. So yeah, I think we all will be having our daydreams and our nightmares about, 'Damn, that play.' or 'Dang, that series." But hopefully that's something you learn from.
Q: Knowing what you know about this organization, do you think they'll make major changes in the offseason?
A: Depending on what you define as major. I think they're going to make changes and they'll do it the right way. Jerry Reese and the Mara family and Tisch family are pretty smart about what this team needs and what needs to be changed. I do think they'll probably start tomorrow. I think they'll jump on it real quickly, but I don't know if you would consider it major changes. I don't think so, but again I don't get paid to answer those questions.
Q: Would you be surprised if Tom Coughlin isn't back here next year?
A: I would be very surprised, shocked.
A: You tell me somebody that's better prepared than he does and as far as players being in that locker room for nine years now, I haven't seen him change not one bit as far as has he has this team prepared, how he prepares. I pride myself in being here pretty early on Wednesday through Friday and I never beat him here and I don't think anybody is beating him here. This guy… He prepares his butt off and I think the fire is still there. I think he still feels like he has a lot to prove in this league and I think he's going to go into this offseason just like all of us, figuring out ways to have a better season next year and I think you're not going to find anybody that's going to prepare a team as well as he does. Obviously I'm biased, but I damn sure hope that he's manning the sidelines next year.
Q: Eli hasn't missed a start since 2004. What's going through your mind when you saw him hobble off the field?
A: When he hobbled off the field…like I said, it doesn't happen, but when it happened you've got to know that there's something wrong. I talked to him in the locker room and he said he's fine, but for him to come out of the football game, you know he's hurting. But hopefully it's nothing serious where it's going to cost him offseason workouts or anything like that, but he's a tough guy. He'll bounce back.
Q: Did you take time today to soak in the atmosphere because it could possibly be your last game?
A: It's funny you use the word 'soak' because I think we all were soaked in the atmosphere today. I think there were periods in this game where you look at the clock and you look at it like it's not too much longer, but I appreciate how the fans came out with as crappy as it was today to cheer us on and for the guys to stay here till the end even when they figured the game was finished. That's what I will remember. That's what I always do remember from playing in this stadium and how great the fans are and just the atmosphere to get the opportunity to be a part of, but I don't know if I sat there and reminisced on the good old days or anything like that.
Q: Could you talk about how you finished the season?
A: I think I played pretty decent today. Honestly, the only thing that's in my head right now is that play where I didn't see the ball and the running back got outside and he rushed for about 12 yards on my side of the ball. That's the thing that bugs me. You don't really think of the good stuff until somebody else brings it in. I think everybody knows I still play the game at a high level and when I'm healthy I feel like I'm one of the best to do it and I've been blessed to be healthy this year.
Q: There have been few athletes that have embraced everything about New York as much as you have. Can you talk about what that's been like for you to be a part of not just the Giants, but New York City?
A: I look at it as a blessing to have a platform to be a New York Giant and be in this media market. I think, for me, philanthropy is a huge part of my life and getting the opportunity to work with such great individuals in this city and the surrounding areas. That's been kind of my calling card off the football field is to give back and it's worked well. I have a beautiful wife that supports it and is more involved in it more than I am. I'm kind of the face of it, but she's more part of it than I am. That's one of the reasons why the Giants are so great. They promote it. They encourage it and it starts with the top and I would just love to be able to take that … and make it a part of my everyday life. It's more blessings to me than it is to the kids out here who are in shelters or whatever it may be. I think it puts a big smile on not just me, but there's a lot of guys in that locker room that go out and have ingrained themselves in this community. We get more of a kick out of it than sometimes the kids do. I think I look at it as a blessing to have an opportunity to use them.
Q: Do you expect to be back?
A: Do I expect to be back? There you go. Get right to the point. Do I expect to be back? I really don't know. I don't know. I really don't. If you tied my hands, I think I did the best I could do to warrant being back, I guess. But like I always say, time will tell. We'll go into this and we'll sit down and we'll talk and we'll figure it out.
Q: What happened after the play where you were getting looked at by the doctors?
A: I was being a baby. That's all.
Q: Did you not want to stay on the sideline after that?
A: I definitely didn't want to sit on the sideline, but if I had it my way, I wouldn't miss a play today. But based on the play, I made a tackle and one of my teammates came in and assisted with the tackle and then slipped and knocked me head first into the turf. They looked at me. I went in after a couple of plays and moved forward.
Tackle David Diehl
Q: How important was it for you to play in this game after a knee injury that you were dealing with last week?
A: It was very important for me to play in the season-ending game. It's what you want to do. I've been a guy that if I'm on the injury list, I'm sick to my stomach because that's not the guy that I am. I've been a guy who has been durable, who has fought through injuries. To be out here to play the last game was very important for me because this could be the last time I wear a Giants' jersey and a helmet, or it could be the last time I play football in general. This was my last year on my contract and number one, to be blessed to have the opportunity that I can walk away on my own terms if I decide to, that's huge. Not many guys in the NFL can do that. I'm proud and I'm honored to be a New York Giant and be here for over a decade. I've accomplished everything I could possibly dream of. In 2003, if any of you would have written that Dave Diehl, a fifth round draft pick out of Illinois, would start 160 games, play in 164 and tie Phil Simms for number 12 on the all-time playing list for the New York Giants, to win two Super Bowls, to be an All Pro, to play in the Pro Bowl, and win two Super Bowl rings, and win every single Giants' award possible, I think if you guys would have written that in '03, they would have said you're crazy. I've got a lot to be proud of and, most importantly, I've earned everything. Nothing was given to me, I've never been a silver spoon guy. I've been a guy who is a blue collar guy who has worked and earned everything, so here in the next couple of weeks, I'll spend some time with my daughter and enjoy the time and make the decision if this is my last game or not. I can walk away from this game, if that's my decision, with my head held high. I've accomplished a lot of things on the football field, I've given every ounce of my body and heart and determination to the New York Giants. I've got these teammates, this organization, our fans, I've been honestly blessed to play for the best organization in the NFL. We'll see here in the next two weeks, but I've come away with this game, walk out victorious, and to be out here with my teammates, that's what it's all about.
Safety Antrel Rolle
Q: What does it mean to end your season winning seven of your last 10 games?
A: It meant everything. This is the last game we had to go out there and showcase what we had for the 2013 season and closing it out with winning seven of our last ten games, we can't ask for too much more than that. The team showed a lot of resiliency and we went out there and fought together as a team.
Q: Especially after starting the season 0-6, what does that say about this locker room?
A: That we're a never-quit and never-die locker room. No matter how tough times may get, tough times never last, tough people always do and this is an extremely tough football team. No matter what kind of ups and downs we may face throughout the season.
Q: What did you think when you saw Eli going into the locker room?
A: Actually I didn't see him go into the locker room, I saw him at halftime and I saw him undressing and I didn't know what was wrong with him. I told him and reassured him that we'll take care of this. We'll bring back the W to the locker room for him and just make sure you take care of yourself.
LB Jon Beason
Q: Nice way to end the season, winning seven out of the last 10, huh?
A: Yeah, not bad. It's tough, when you win games you feel like that's what you're supposed to do and then the ones you lose, you always look back at those and those are the ones that kind of linger a little bit. Based on where we started, a great finish, upwards for next year, but still bittersweet.
Q: How do you reconcile this season, with how it started and ended?
A: Well, we could have folded. We could have just said 'hey, we're out of it,' but we didn't. Guys showed a lot of character and pride, individually and collectively as a team. When you do that, I think that's important. Those are the type of guys you want in your locker room.
Q: How do you separate the 0-6 start from finishing the season seven and three, in terms of judging how the season went?
A: A seven and nine finish is not bad considering you started 0-6. I'm not big into stats, but I'm not sure how many teams have done that starting 0-6 and the chance to win five in a row would have been the first time in NFL history. We did some good things, but it's all about the playoffs. Still like I said, bittersweet.
Q: How much better was this defense, in your mind, from the beginning to the end of the year?
A: I think for me, when you walk into a defensive meeting room you say, 'wow, there's a lot of great players here, there's a lot of talent here and there's no reason why we can't be elite.' Really what transpired was guys coming together, saying, 'I'm going to do my job, play for the man next to me, play hard and finish each play.' That's really what it boiled down to. We got on a roll and played up to the level I think we're capable of. I still feel like there's a lot of room to grow.
WR Jerrel Jernigan
Q: You've been waiting a long time to get this opportunity. How satisfying is it for you to have the type of success you've had?
A: It's a great feeling to come out there, you know, the coaches have been telling me through the weeks that I'm getting my opportunity to go out there and make plays for the team and also just wanted to let the coaching staff and organization know that I can make plays. Victor (Cruz) is down or whatever, but when he comes back, I also still want to be out there when he comes back.
Q: Talk about the touchdown catch over the top.
A: It's a route we always ran with Eli and Victor. Coach had warned me before the play. He was like, 'If you get the run through opportunity and the safety is away on the other hash, just run through.' That's exactly what happened and E threw the perfect ball out there.
Q: Not sure if you know this, but that end around was the longest run from scrimmage for any Giant this season. What happened on that one.
A: It wasn't like we drew it up because the end didn't pinch at all. He widened out so I just saw the cutback lane and I cut back. Bear Pascoe and Louis Murphy made some great blocks out there and I just hit it and went.
Q: Do you have a completely different level of confidence now heading into next season that maybe you've never had before since you've been here with the Giants?
A: Yeah, you could say that. These last three weeks I've been having good playing time but I have confidence every week. I go in week in and week out, like I said before, the coaches know what I can do at practice, they see me every week at practice. It's just a matter of time before I get out there and start showcasing my abilities.