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QB Eli Manning on Packers


Q: What are some things you learned about yourself and the team when you played the Packers in a similar situation four years ago?

A: I think this is a whole new situation. It's a new year, a new team, new players going against a new team. It's just a matter of guys executing, guys knowing the game plan, going in there, looking forward to the opportunity that's ahead of us, getting excited about it and have the attitude that we're going to go in there and play great football. That's what we need to do to get a win.

Q: Is it even more important than normal to take care of the ball?

A: Definitely. [The Packers] defense gets a lot of turnovers. They try to make some big plays so they give up a few plays, but especially with an offense like they have, that has the ability to score and score quickly, you can't give them extra opportunities. You can't give them a short field. We have to take care of the football. We have to capitalize when we have opportunities to hit big plays, but be smart and don't turn the ball over.

Q: What about Charles Woodson?

A: Charles is a great defensive back. He's a guy who is just a great football player. He's around the ball and he finds ways to make plays whether he's rushing the quarterback and blitzing, whether he's in coverage jumping routes. He's played a lot of football games – a guy who prepares hard. He will know your tendencies so you have to have an eye on him. You can't assume that the receiver is going to be open. You always have to see exactly what he's doing.

Q: What do remember about the cold in the 2007 NFC Championship game?

A: It was chilly. That's about all I remember. The weather, I haven't really looked at this week. The last time we played there we were not concerned with it. I didn't talk about it. We didn't make it an issue. I don't think we'll make it an issue this year.

Q: What's the team's mentality right now?

A: The team's excited. You have to enjoy these opportunities. That's the thing. It's great to be in this position – we're playing great football right now, we're doing some things – we have to take advantage of this opportunity. It's hard to get here. It's not easy. We have guys healthy. We have people in the right positions doing good things. It's just a matter of everybody coming together and continuing to play our best football during this time of the year.

Q: Are the playoffs exciting? How is it different for you?

A: It's definitely exciting. This is fun, though. It's not a situation where you say, 'Hey, it's playoff time. Let's get all tensed up and serious.' It's a time to be yourself. It is, obviously, a big game. It's important, but you have to go out there with the attitude that you're going to enjoy this opportunity, you're going to have fun with it, you're going to take everything in. The only way to really have fun playing football is to play at a high level, to play to the best of your ability and make plays. Hopefully we can do that as a team.

Q: Do you think games like this define a quarterback's career?

A: I don't know. It's not really my concern right now. I'm trying to get concerned with Green Bay, understand their defense, getting our offense ready to play and just try to go out there and play my best.

Q: What do you think about what Aaron Rodgers did this season?

A: He had a great season. Aaron played very well. He does a good job of making plays, extending plays, running, doing whatever it takes to score points. Obviously their offense is very talented. We have to know that as a team – that they have a good offense. That means our offense has to do our job. We have to control the ball. We have to stay on the field as long as we can and not give them a short field to work with.

Q: Did you ever look at Rodgers' numbers and say, 'Wow. That's impressive.'

A: You see what other quarterbacks are doing. Obviously he's had a great season.

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Q: Are you looking forward to bringing back the 'road warriors'?

A: Yeah. We know that from here on out we're going to be on the road. We can play well on the road. This team has responded well when everybody is against us and things aren't looking as bright as they could be. Kind of like the last couple weeks of the season. We've come out and played well, played well last week. We have to keep that mentality that we're up against a brick wall. It's not going to be easy. We know that. We know it's going to be a tough road ahead. We're playing against a good team, but that's what makes it exciting. You get fired up for these opportunities.

Q: When you watch the Packers' defense on film, why do they get so many turnovers?

A: It's a combination. They do a good job of mixing up some different pressures, different looks. A lot of it, they get a lead so teams are forced to throw it and try to make plays. They do a good job of everybody getting involved, everybody getting their hands on the ball, being aggressive with the DBs and jumping things. I don't think there's one common theme, they just find ways. They run around and play fast so they get opportunities.

Q: Did you see Victor Cruz coming?

A: No. I don't think anybody really saw it coming – a guy who had a good preseason game last year versus the Jets and then after that he wasn't around. He was on IR. I don't think anybody saw it coming. You hope that he can come in and fill that role and do some good things for us. We thought he'd be a guy that once you got the ball in his hands he could make some big plays. He's played great. He's done a great job of just learning the system, learning the offense, figuring out how to get open in the NFL.

Q: How important is it to establish the run game? A: If we can establish the run game, that makes everything a lot easier – you get in better down-and-distance, you start to dominate the line of scrimmage, it slows down the pass rush. It does all of those things. The last time we played them they liked to play a lot of two-high safeties. It's tough to throw against that look. If you can bring their safeties down, then we can get some better looks to throw it. We're going to try to continue to establish the run game. That's when our offense is at our best – when we have that good balance, mix of run and pass.

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