Head Coach Tom Coughlin * * Conference Call**
I would just start by saying the significance of two special teams plays last night loomed big. One being the Rueben Randle 32-yard punt return which set up the opportunity for us to get the first score and the second being the special teams punt return stop of the attempted fake punt which resulted in a play which was made there by Spencer Paysinger, backed up by Mark Herzlich and that tackle, which was just less than a yard short of the first down, really was a key, key play in the game and the offense then was able to take the ball and drive it the remainder of the way and score and that was certainly a big factor in the outcome of the game, as well as the Jason Pierre-Paul interception, which was a spectacular play, an athletic play that we saw Jason perform a couple of years ago in Dallas and we've seen him do it on the practice field as well, but that was a play which gave us a margin that we needed and certainly something that we could get excited and jump up and down about on the sideline and we certainly did.
I think, again, going into the game and holding them to 55 yards rushing and while we rushed for 78 tough yards, we didn't have as many carries as we've had in other weeks, but we did have two fourth down conversions. We were plus-two in the game. Our net punt was 42.2. We only had three penalties, although there were five that were actually called, but there were three accepted penalties and 35 minutes time of possession was a big thing and we had also talked about big plays. Green Bay had five big play passes and one run and we had four big play passes and three runs. Those factors were certainly those things which I was looking at today as I tried to analyze the game.
Q: I'm wondering how the players responded. Apparently they had some obligations and then they ended up meeting and studying film.
A: We've been doing that. We call it a debriefing session and it's really players only and the players do like to have that session prior to the coaches. I think it does give them a greater opportunity to sit among themselves and talk about the game and the plays in the game and be open and honest about it. Our knowledge of this opportunity to grow together as groups, we've been doing this for a couple of years and it has proved to be a good thing. It's something which is really not… It's players only and we do it with special teams, defense and offense, and as I say on a normal Monday that would occur prior to the special teams meeting, which is full team, and then my meeting, which is of course full team, and then the breakout meetings for offense and defense. I'm pleased that they would continue to do that even on a day when they were actually only asked to come in and get there lift in or their exercise in and then we will get together on Wednesday. That the captains decided to have the players meet, I'm pleased with that, but I'm not surprised.
Q: Are you seeing JPP showing flashes of the player you have seen in the past
A: Yeah. I sure do. The only problem was we spent a week where he actually hurt his shoulder and so was limited in practice and when we did practice him we were doing so in just in such a way that we might be able to evaluate whether he could perform his positional duties and with the reassurance of Ronnie Barnes and some of the methods by which we would try to put him in a position where he felt confident of his shoulder that actually took away a little bit of our normal weekly preparation, but in terms of his taking multiple snaps and performing his normal role. But the athlete… No question about that and as I've said, we've seen him do this before and I thought that he played well the week before, especially before he injured the shoulder. He hung in there. He's a tough guy. He hung in there and then this week just by missing a couple of days he hung in there and played in the game and of course made that great play. So there's never been any question about the athleticism and if his best games have been now and most recent, and that's not unusual for a guy who really didn't have a preseason.
Q: How is he doing today physically with the shoulder?
A: He's sore. I'm sure he's sore, but he'll work his way through it.
Q: Can you talk about how Justin Tuck has been playing?
A: Well he's played well and he did a lot of good things again yesterday. He chased the ball and he chased the quarterback and he made plays at the point of attack. He even made an outstanding play when he was double-teamed when he was aligned inside in a third down situation and they chose to run the ball and they doubled that spot and he dropped to his knee and technically did an outstanding job of holding the point against the double team. Justin has responded very well and again he's played with outstanding energy all year and he's led by example and I've been very happy to see that.
Q: Does it bother you at all that this four-game winning is being criticized in some circles because you haven't played any top rate quarterbacks?
A: I don't know anything about that. All I know is that I heard enough criticism at the beginning of the year for six weeks that winning is what's supposed to take place and we don't really have a whole lot to say about the opponent's physical status coming into the game, just as they don't about ours, and we certainly have had our share as well. It's the nature of the NFL that whatever your circumstance is you've got to find a way to get ready to play. I thought Tolzien played very well yesterday. I was very impressed by the way that he played.
Q: How difficult in the midst of a season is it to regroup and make adjustments and really change the results as this group has done over the past four games?
A: You continue to strive to reach that point, regardless of what you're going through. The credit goes to the coaches and the players for the job that they've done week in and week out when things were not pleasant and we weren't getting the result that we wanted, but we stayed together and we worked hard at it. We recognized our issues and our problems and the key being the fact that the leadership, the captains, the veteran players that have experienced some great results here, that were a part of a great feeling of team; those are the guys that have held this thing together and allowed that we would continue to try to grow and to solve our problems and to stay as one. I'm not saying that it's easy, but that's what had to happen and it did happen.
Q: Do you sense any frustration from Hakeem not being able to get in the end zone?
A: I haven't talked with him today, but I'm sure that there is and we all share in that and just continue to try to support and encourage him to be the best that he can be and it will happen. There have been opportunities, but we've just got to continue to try to get better, work together and it will happen.
Q: Did you see when Hakeem got upset on the sideline after the interception that was thrown?
A: That's not something I'm going to discuss. What I did see was the play that resulted in an interception that everybody saw and the play before that, but those things will stay inside and we'll make the corrections and we'll do a better job of trying to get everybody on the same page and we'll move forward.
Q: Did you see any more of a difference in Eli yesterday and one that has you excited as you move forward? He looked like his assertive old self.
A: I saw a guy with great resolve and a guy who was totally focused on doing his job to the best of his ability to help us win and I certainly do concur that I'm excited about that and look forward to moving on and learning and growing and gaining confidence from this past weekend and applying it to the games as we go forward. Yeah. There was great determination there.
Q: The Packers completed five passes of over 25 yards and 10 total over 15. Were they doing something especially well?
A: Especially well was the placement of the ball on a couple of the really long and down the field throws. The one double move was right off the finger tips. Nelson's catch was right off the fingertips, which was again a very well thrown ball, and then two of those plays were very, very good, very believable play action which amounted to a post ball and a crosser and they pulled us out of position a little bit and had very accurate throws and outstanding catches. So what I did see was execution and they did it very well.
Q: What does it say to have guys like Mundy, Paysinger and Herzlich, who have been marginalized on the defense, come up with that big play on the fake punt?
A: They knew what was about to transpire and rose up to make a play that again kept Green Bay out of the end zone and what it says is those guys have taken responsibility for their jobs on special teams and they're performing at a high rate. There wasn't any question that we challenged our special teams last week. I wasn't pleased at all with the week before and they came out and battled and they came out and showed great determination and pride, and I was very happy about that.
LB Jon Beason
Q: This is your first taste of Giants/Cowboys rivalry. What have you been told to expect from this week?
A: Anytime you're playing a division team, there's huge implications. The later it gets in the season when the playoff picture is starting to play out, things become more meaningful. It's definitely a game you knew, especially the last few weeks with them still having the division lead, as of last night it was a big game for us. It's a game you want to go out and play well in. It's a game you try and go out and win.
Q: How do you explain as a defense not allowing a touchdown pass since the Chicago game? This is a league now based around the passing attack. Are you almost surprised to see that, to go this long without giving up a touchdown pass?
A: I think you can do some things in terms of field position and not allowing a team to get down there in the red zone, I think you have a good shot of doing that. The goal is never to give up any points, whether it's running or throwing the ball. Anytime you're shutting teams out, it's something special, it's something that is extremely hard to do in this league.
Q: What's your reaction to the criticism that you guys have beaten up on a bunch of second-rate quarterbacks? Do you think you have something to prove heading into this week?
A: No. People can say we haven't faced the best quarterbacks, but we don't get much props for shutting down the top running backs either. To me, it all depends on how you want to spin it. Guys are going to say you haven't played anybody, but we know how hard it is to win in this league. A W is a W and injuries are a big part of this game and the way the championship/playoff teams looks at it is, it's the next guy up. You know he's as good as that guy who's going to go in there and step in his place, for a quarterback or any position. Guys have to step up and be ready to play.
Q: Is that a source of motivation maybe heading into this week, going against a guy like Tony Romo, who everybody thinks is a big time quarterback?
A: This week, if you're looking for motivation for this week, something is wrong with you. Those guys over there, they're talented every year. Romo is a great quarterback. He can buy time with his legs, he makes unbelievable plays. It's a typical Giants-Cowboys matchup and you have to expect that. We're not looking for any extra motivation or motivations there.
Q: When you got here, did you imagine Cowboys/Giants would be this big a game? At the time I think you guys were winless.
A: Well I think every game in this league, whether you make the playoffs or you don't, or you're close, you look back at a game that you gave away late or a game that you had and should have won. They're all equally important. Regardless of if we were rolling the way we are now going into this week, we know that it's still Giants/Cowboys and it's still going to be one of those games. It's going to be very chippy and we're going to want to knock them off because it's a heated rivalry and guys usually come and play because it's usually a great football game.
Q: If there was a concern coming out of yesterday, it was Tolzien threw six passes that were more than 25 yards. What was happening out there?
A: I think prior to last night's game, we haven't given up many big plays. I think we consider a big play as a play over 20 yards and that's standard across the league in terms of defensive stats. I think the biggest play we gave up was my pass interference call on McCoy. Until last night we were playing lights out. It's hard. Guys are going to take some shots. They block up the protection and nobody's able to get after him and the kid made some throws. He really came ready to play. The good thing is you give up those plays, but they result in the field goals. They scored a touchdown but they did leave with field goals a couple of times. Yards don't really equate to points at the end of the day. We'll look at it, we watched it today, we're going to make some corrections and do some things better and hopefully we'll do that better against the Cowboys.
Q: The Giants obviously were winless, but what made you think that a run like this was possible when you first came here?
A: From the outside looking in was the talent. I can't control what happens on offense, but I can have an impact on the defensive side of the ball. When I came in, I said wow, there's so many players, there's so much talent everywhere. Why are we 0-6 and you sit back and kind of evaluate and you kind of figure out, let's start over because the pieces are there. That's what guys have done and you look at it from the standpoint that this team was 9-7 when they won a Super Bowl. They've made those late runs. The usual suspects, the same leaders that are on this defense, special teams, the offense, the same coaches that made those types of runs, you're never out of it until you're out of it. That's just the way it goes in the NFL.
Q: Was there a point maybe when you hit the reset button kind of like what you're talking about? Starting over there?
A: When we talked about what took place in the Chicago game, at least on the defensive side of the ball it was, hey man, we held you to 3 points in the second half. We didn't start fast, but I think we finished the second half the way (…) and we can build on that. That's when we said, we can do this if we just buy in. You notice that guys are making less mistakes in the second half of the Chicago game. Guys are doing their jobs, guys are playing harder and faster and once you know you can do something, confidence is the number one thing you need enforced. If you're a confident player or confident team, the sky is really the limit.
Q: When you hear your teammates talk about you the way they have since your arrival in this locker room, how do you react to that?
A: One, I'm grateful when I hear the comments. I try not to read too much of the stuff that has been written because I don't want to be (…), there's so much more that I can do. There's so much more that I want to do. I actually appreciate those comments because they're putting more pressure on me to continue to do those things, to continue to play at a high level. I'm trying to play hard for them. I'm trying to fight every down for those guys. We're doing it together. It's not one person or a coincidence, it's a group effort. You don't even know who is going to make the play and that's the mark of a great defense. Guys are doing their job and when it's their turn to make that big play, they're making it. Whether it's Antrel, or JPP, or Terrell, or Tuck, the list goes on and on. Even Prince made some huge, huge stops in the run game last night that was amazing. To see our corner come up and get two tackles for a loss, I think it was on the same drive, guys are really buying in and just doing their job. I hate to mention names because you leave guys out, but it's really a collective effort.
Q: How much is your collective confidence in the game plan during the week and as you practice translating to a flow we're now seeing from this defense, where a lot of times guys are in the right place, and it seems like it's working how it's supposed to work frankly?
A: When you've been around this game for a long time you know what a Wednesday practice or Thursday practice, or a perfect Friday practice is supposed to look like. You get that sense of we're rolling, when guys are really out there doing their job in practice, you know it's going to be one of those games you're going to go out and execute and the coaches are going to touch on it. Coach Coughlin, Coach Fewell, they're going to say we had a great week of preparation. Guys are focused this week. You kind of feel that so you know going into the game what it's going to be, but you always have to anticipate teams are going to have a wrinkle; they're going to do something different. They're going to break tendencies. In that game you have got to be ready for it and you go back to your rules of a certain call and you stick to the concept of that call and hopefully you can go out and have a successful play.
Q: How satisfying is this personally for you after what happened in Carolina?
A: As you get older in this league, you realize that it's a business. You can sulk and feel bitter about the cards that were dealt because it's no one's fault, not even my fault, that I got injured, but it happens. A lot of times when people deal with setbacks, they fold and they allow them to kind of control the situation and this happened so this is the end of the legacy, it's the end of the book. For me, I knew I would have my day again. Being healthy is the first and number one priority. Once I'm healthy, I know who I am and who I can be. To get the opportunity to come in and play with a great group of men, great coaches, was a blessing. Truly a blessing and I'm just trying to take advantage of the opportunity and give back because I don't know what was supposed to happen, but I'm just trying to make the best of a bad situation and a lot of times if you look back at stuff you say this is all part of the plan. This is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now.
Q: You talked about how it's a bad thing when teams are moved out of prime time games. The NFL announced today that two weeks from now, you guys are staying in primetime against Washington. Is that a sign that maybe people are starting to believe in this team?
A: I think from everybody on the outside looking in, everybody is saying, are they really going to make this run? It seems like it's happening. Are they going to hit a road bump, or is it ever going to be one of those special seasons, something you've never seen done before. I think people will want to get out and watch that. Prime time, the reason they created the flex schedule is because they want to play meaningful games at peak hours. If you're playing in those games, then you're doing something right. If you're not, then it's a bad thing. You want to play in meaningful games and I think that if we can continue to do what we've done over the last month or so, we'll be in that primetime slot.
Q: Did you go into the facility today to do anything?
A: I did. Probably everybody was there. Coach did give us the afternoon off, but guys still came on their own, watched tape, worked out. Guys are getting ready for Dallas. That win yesterday was huge, but it's short lived because now it's all about Dallas. The preparation starts effectively, immediately after the game. We had our hands tied. It's going to be fun and you always want to see how you measure against one of the better teams, especially on the offensive side of the ball. They pose so many great matchup problems. They have it all, so it's got to be one you're easily motivated for.
RB Andre Brown
Q: Do you guys feel like you're a significantly better team than the last time you played the Cowboys?
A: It's definitely a different team because of the offensive line. We had Snee and Dave (Baas) back then, but now it's Cordle, Diehl and Boothe now. We're effective on offense. We're starting to create a bit of a balance, so I would say so.
Q: Do you feel like you've overcome the six turnovers that were such a problem the last time?
A: Yeah. We had a couple of screens that got picked and it was just freak plays that didn't bounce our way. Going into this game, eliminate the turnovers so we can go out there and give ourselves a fighting chance.
Q: Where do you remember watching that first game with the Giants at Dallas?
A: I was at the house. I couldn't travel or anything. I was just watching the TV and watching the game from the couch.
Q: That was when your broken leg was pretty fresh right?
A: Yeah. That was right after the preseason game. It was like a week after. I was just elevating my leg. I just had my leg up.
Q: The team has come from being 0-6 to playing what is essentially a playoff game against the Cowboys.
A: Yeah and it always comes down to stuff like that against the Cowboys and Redskins in the division games. We've got to take them more seriously whereas… I think we're two games back in the division, so just go out there and fight and try to put ourselves in a better position so we can win the division.
Q: When you guys were 0-6, what did you guys see that made you think that a turnaround like this was possible?
A: We just weren't getting any bounces our way, whether it be the six turnovers that we had or us not running the ball well and passing the ball good. Now we just want to go out there and have a balanced offense so we can go out there and get a win.
Q: What is it that makes Coach Coughlin so good at keeping everyone on board and being able to make the guys buy in and believe?
A: He gives a lot of quotes and a lot of examples of people fighting. Coach Coughlin is a great leader and he always starts something different to get us going where we just have to believe in ourselves and take it week by week so we can go out there and give ourselves a chance to win the division. Even though we started off so bad, with wins it brings more confidence to the locker room, everybody is willing to go the extra step to go out there and make sure that we are productive on offense and defense and special teams. So as long as we continue to make strides and put the ball in the end zone when we're in the green zone and just going out there and really putting points on the board as an offense, the defense is playing lights out football right now and he sees that and he just wants us to believe that we have enough talent around here to get things turned around and it's just everybody has to believe in that talent to go out here and get a win.
Q: What kind of boost does it give the entire team when your defense is making some of the big plays it's making? How would you describe the effect on the whole team?
A: It's exciting. Defense goes out there and you see them fighting and they're flying around and it looks like they're having a lot of fun out there. That's what Beason is communicating with them. Everybody knows what to do out there. It just looks like they're having fun and it sparks our offense to go out there and put points on the board.
Q: Jon Beason was talking before and he said Coach Coughlin gave you guys the afternoon off, but when he walked in there today it seemed like the whole team was there. Is that because you guys realize how important this game is? What's happening?
A: Everybody definitely realizes how important this game is. With every division game, it's very important because we're fighting to make the playoffs. Everyone was in there, we all watched film as a unit. Offense watched it with the offense and defense watched it with their players and special teams came and watched. Even though we had the day off, everyone still sees how important this game is to us and we have to go out there and make sure we're flying around, executing all our assignments and playing smart and fast football.
Q: You came out of yesterday ok? Maybe a little less sore than you were last Monday?
A: Yeah. With that, I just said you get into game shape it would decrease and I feel like I'm in game shape. I'm healthy and I'm ready to rock.
Q: The last couple of weeks, the defense has been able to face quarterbacks who are not completely healthy or not very experienced. Now it seems like it's the offense's turn against the Cowboys' defense that's got some injuries. Do you look at it like that?
A: We just go out there and prepare. We expect to be out there. I don't know how healthy they are, but Dallas is a good team and you can't overlook them. We're just going to go out there. I don't know who's going to play and who's not going to play, but I do know that we're out here watching film, and we're getting ready for the Cowboys.
Q: How much does it change from what you see on film without Sean Lee?
A: Sean Lee is a great linebacker. He's one of their keys vocally, putting people in the right position and it's crucial. That's the quarterback of their defense and it is what it is. If he's out there, we'll be prepared for him, if he's not, that's how we're going to look at it. It is what it is. We'll go out there and play ball.
Q: When you go back to that opener, when you were watching that and you said that earlier like the bounces didn't go your way. Was that all the turnovers or did they do something defensively?
A: Definitely have to catch the ball, hold onto the ball. Some of them bounced the other way. The pick off a screen, we just couldn't buy a break. Definitely just want to go out there and eliminate the turnovers and play solid, smart football.