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Quotes (1/9): Manning, Collins, Pugh


Giants players meet the media a day after their season-ending loss in the Playoffs:

QB Eli Manning

Q: Would you say this game was just missed opportunities?

A: Yes. Obviously, I thought we did some good things. We had some opportunities to score touchdowns, make some plays, convert third downs. When you have an opportunity to jump on a team and build a lead, we have to do it. We let them off the hook a few times. They got hot in the late third quarter and into the fourth quarter. At that point, it was too late. We couldn't make up the damage.

Q: How much do those missed opportunities go through your mind after a loss like this?

A: We'll see. Obviously they're still right there. This one hurts when you look back and see that we had some chances. We had a good plan and had good plays called at the right time to take advantage of what they're doing. We just couldn't make the throw, catch or block. Just too many, not mistakes, but didn't make the plays at the right times.

Q: How close was the offense to really having the type of game that it felt it was capable of having this year?

A: I thought we were close. I thought teams weren't giving us a whole lot of opportunities to get the ball down the field. They gave us a few and we had the right calls at the right times to possibly hit some. We took them. We had an opportunity to hit big plays. Hit the one post but had an opportunity to hit other go routes that were touchdowns that we didn't make and some third down conversions. Stuff that was the difference in points. The points left out there. You have to make those plays in the playoffs.

Q: What grade would you give yourself this year?

A: I'll let coaches grade me or let you grade me. I don't worry about that. Did some good stuff. It was tough. It was tough offensively the way teams were playing to run our offense as efficient as we wanted to. Kind of hung in there and did some good things. We have to protect the ball better. You win 11 games, you're doing something right, but we didn't score enough points offensively. We'll have to look back and see how we can improve.

Q: What's the mood swing like for you?

A: It's tough. I don't know if it's truly sank in yet. It'll probably hit more tonight when you wake up knowing that you don't have anything to do tomorrow. That's the first time that it's happened since July. Even at that point, kind of training and getting ready. It's difficult but I'll manage. I've done it before. I'll take a little time to reflect on this season and look at things I need to improve on and start working on for next year. Get back to it.

Q: What did you think of Odell punching the hole in the wall?

A: I don't know anything about it. I've seen some reports but I didn't see the hole or him do it. I really don't know anything about it.

Q: Do you feel you have enough this year to get that offense over the hump for next year?

A: Yes. I thought we did some good things offensively. We have guys that have been here in this system for a number of years that know what they're doing. Have some young guys that did some good things for us that will continue to grow and get better. I think we have a good core of people to be an explosive and top offense. Some guys have to play better and some guys have to step up. I have to get better and play better. I think we're at a good position but need to improve as well.

Q: Do you need to do anything different in the offseason to reach your goal and play better?

A: I think I've handled a lot of offseason well in improving. Just getting stronger and keeping my arm strength where it needs to be. I thought my arm strength is good. I still can make the deep throws and make all the throws. At my age, I can't relax. I have to work harder than ever just to stay where I am.

Q: Do you have any lingering concerns about Odell?

A: I don't have concerns. I think Odell is passionate. He's passionate and he wants to win. This was important for him. He wanted to go out there and have the best game of his career. Maybe he put too much pressure on himself and emphasis. Unfortunately, going to the playoffs is different. It's different for everyone. We didn't have a lot of people that have been to the playoffs. You hate to say that it's a learning experience for a group. I hate to say that when I'm in my 13th year, but sometimes guys just have to go through it and see what it's like. Understand that they can't make it bigger than what it is. You have to have a calm mindset and just go out there and play football. Be relaxed and bring out your best. Don't try to play your best, you just have to trust the training and just go do it. I think Odell is going to be fine. He's learning every year and this is another learning experience for him.

Q: Is it unfortunate that the last narrative is going to be the trip that they took?

A: Yes. You just have to learn the perception of things makes it different. If you do things, you have to back it up. I don't think it had an impact on the game. I thought we had a great week of practice. Guys were making plays and running around. It was intense, focused and everything good. Unfortunately, we just didn't have it yesterday.

Q: Datone Jones said that he thinks the stage was too big for Odell. What do you think about that?

A: I can't comment on what everyone else has to say. I don't think his opinion has anything to do with it.

Q: Did you talk to them about having to back it up and why it wasn't the best idea?

A: No. At the time, obviously you want to try and make a joke of it. Don't make it a distraction. We're about to go play a playoff game so you want everyone feeling good and right. I thought we handled it the proper way to get the best out of our guys.

Q: We've seen people get to the Super Bowl one year and not get there the next. How do you work it so this team knows it has to build off of this?

A: I think you can't forget the feeling that we're having right now and the feeling that we had last night. You have to understand that you can't just think it's going to happen again and you're going to make the playoffs again because it's hard. You have to win close games and you have to catch breaks. A lot of things have to go your way. That comes from the commitment to get better. I truly believe that when you have a nucleolus of guys that start their training early that they're going to get better and work hard. Just truly commit and sacrifice for the better of the team. Those are teams that find a way to win games. I thought our guys were committed to getting better last year. That's how you win close games. We didn't win in the end but I don't think it was a lack of commitment. We have to stay, keep that hunger and commitment and make improvements.

S Landon Collins

Q: Is this season a success?

A: Yes. We went to the playoffs. It's been five years since the Giants have made it there. It's a definite success.

Q: A complete success?

A: It's not complete unless you win the Super Bowl. It's not complete at all. It's a success just from the outcome that came with having a new coach, the season we had last year, and the overall unity that we accomplished.

Q: Do you look at this as a missed opportunity?

A: We don't look at this as a missed opportunity. Just a blessing. Not many teams got this far. We're a young group with a new coach. Just the opportunity to be there was a blessing.

Q: 32 guys making their playoff debut. How much will this help going forward?

A: Experience is the key. It's the key to a lot of things. It's definitely helped a lot of guys out in understanding how the playoffs are. Just what it takes to be there and what it takes to win.

Q: What does this mean towards building towards the future? Does this mean that this is going to be a good team for years to come?

A: Definitely. Like every other team, we have to fill in some holes. At the same time, the team that we had this year, we got it that far. We have to continue to push ourselves each and every week. When we come back we have to continue to push for something.

Q: What about your growth? Not many people though last year that you would be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.

A: It's fantastic. I wouldn't have put myself in that category either. I was just trying to work and be the best that I could be for this team. In doing so, I got acknowledgement everywhere. Just to go from the mindset, the planning, the workouts, the eating right. All of that has contributed into how I played this year.

Q: Do you see yourself partaking in the Pro Bowl?

A: Yes. Definitely will be playing in the Pro Bowl. Have the opportunity to play again, put the pads on, and do something great.

Q: Do you know what the Pro Bowl experience will be like?

A: I don't know what the experience will be like. I have to ask around and see what to do and how it's going to be. It's my first rodeo. Basically, they can call me a rookie because I've never been in a Pro Bowl. I know there are all types of tricks and schemes that are going to happen. I have to be on my "p's and q's" while I'm out there. I'm just really excited to be out there and have fun with everyone.

Q: How good can this defense be next year if it stays intact?

A: Phenomenal. We have the same guys that we had this year. Just the energy that we have and the confidence that we have. The guys know each other. We know our strengths and our weaknesses. We feed off each other. It'll be fantastic if we get all the guys to come back.

Q: How can you take away what you were able to do this year and carry it on to your third year in the league?

A: Experience. The more knowledge that I have, the smoother things are. At the same time, bringing into next year, I'll know what I know against teams and quarterbacks. It's going to get better.

Q: At what point did you feel that you had the confidence in Coach McAdoo?

A: The confidence in him was tremendous. We knew what we had. He was doing a phenomenal job calling the plays. Really, the offense last year did a great job keeping us in the game. The confidence level is high in him. We know what he's going to do and we know what kind of coach we have. Now, we just have to continue to keep buying in and finishing this time.

G Justin Pugh

Q: How do you fix the offense?

A: Score more points. We have to go back and break everything down. We have to score in the red zone. I was just watching some of the film, and if we get touchdowns where we got three points; it would have been a totally different game. We were up 6-0 and it should have been at least 13-0, and they come down and get two touchdowns in the last five minutes and that ended up being, not really the difference in the game, but it had a major impact on the game.

Q: Would missed opportunities be the narrative from yesterday?

A: Yeah, I mean I think they just beat us on every side of the ball. They beat us on special teams, their defense was better than our offense, and their offense made plays against our defense. I don't know. I guess I didn't realize that we hit them for a Hail Mary the last time we played, so I guess it was a little poetic justice and they got us back.

Q: Is that sometimes the hardest thing to deal with? Sometimes you look at it as a learning experience, but the flipside is that this team is not going to be the same.

A: Yeah, that is the saddest part, but I am going to be smiling. I have gotten so much better this year, I have come a long way in my career and it is crazy to think that I will be going into my 5th season the next time we talk again. We have done some really good things this year. 11 wins, 11-5 is the best season that I have ever had in the NFL. There are some things to be proud of and there are some guys in here that deserve a lot of praise and have done a lot of good things. Our coaches have been unbelievable. I say it every time I talk to you, this is the most fun I have had playing football. So that is what I am sad about today, but I am going to be happy tomorrow, I will be happy to go talk about these guys and the things that we went through and how much fun we had playing this year.

Q: You mentioned the feeling of watching their fans at the end of the game. Is that the most important thing you can take away from this game; not letting go of that feeling?

A: Yeah, that last hour after the game, just in the locker room how everyone was. Obviously, everyone is blaming themselves and everyone thinks they could have done more, and everyone could have done more. Obviously we would have won if that would have happened, so I think that everyone takes that little feeling and realizes what needs to be done. Sully and I were talking and he said that in '05 and '06 they lost in the playoffs and it takes some setbacks and some learning experiences to come back and learn from it and go win a championship.

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