QB Eli Manning
Q: How important was it for you guys to get this win? A: I think it was huge. The way the season is going, the way these last 10 or 11 weeks have gone, the team obviously needed a win just for morale and to keep things going. It's tough to go every week, be close, to compete and practice hard. Guys are giving great effort and doing a lot of good things, we're just falling a little short. But today, we obviously were able to put it all together. The defense played great. Offensively, we ran the ball well, hit up big plays in the passing game and did enough good things to get the win. Just proud of the guys. I know they all wanted to get me a win, and I wanted to get them a win as well.
Q: What was going through your mind when you were walking off to the ovation? A: Obviously, I don't know what the future is. I don't know what lies next week, let alone down the road. Obviously, the support and the fans, their ovation, chanting my name from the first snap to the end, I appreciate that. I appreciate them always and all my teammates coming up to me. It's a special day, a special win and one I'll remember.
Q: Was it hard to block all of that out until the final seconds? A: Yeah, I think I did a good job of blocking that out. Just because I don't know what's going to happen going forward. Whether I'm playing next week or not, or in two weeks when we play again at home. I think my focus is just getting this win. That's all I cared about. I was just trying to go out there and play well, get into a rhythm and put the team in a situation to have this feeling. It's still the feeling of winning, in the locker room with your teammates, after a hard-earned game. To get the W is still the best feeling of all.
Q: A bunch of your teammates credited you with a rousing speech before the game. There might have even been some kind of expletive said to send them out on the field. They said it was really emotional and it helped them. That's not usually your style, is it? A: You know, I don't think a pregame speech has ever won a football game before. I still don't think it has. I just said a little something to get them ready. I appreciate the hard work they've been putting in all year. Offense, defense, everybody, they've been competing and they work hard. You see it in practice, and you're just excited to give them this feeling afterwards.
Q: What did your daughters say to you when they hugged you on the field? A: They didn't say much. I think they were a little overwhelmed. A lot of cameras, a lot of people. I wanted to get a little family picture after the game. I got one last year. We have a new addition with the little guy, so I thought we could do it kind of quietly and low key. Obviously, that wasn't quite the case. But it'll still be a good one to have.
Q: How special was that moment to you? A: It's special. I think it's special that my kids get to come and watch some games. I don't remember my dad playing at all. He retired when I was four years old. My brothers have memories. They always kind of talked about it, in the locker room, around games and I don't remember. So, I try to bring my kids around as much as possible, bring them to some games. I know my youngest son won't remember any of it, but we'll at least have a picture to show him one day.
Q: Would you like to start next week and the following week? A: Yeah, of course. Of course I'd like to. I know Daniel's (Jones) getting close to getting ready and getting better. We'll see what his status is. I get it either way. I know they want to get him back and get him more experience and more reps and everything. Whatever I'm asked to do, I'll do it.
Q: Did you feel honored when the fan ran on the field with your jersey on? A: I don't want to support that and encourage that for anyone. I felt honored from all the fans today and their support coming out. They were here early, cheering from the get-go and a bunch of chants. I appreciate their support these last 16 years.
Q: What were your emotions as you were leaving the field for the curtain call so to speak? A: I tried not to get too emotional just because we still have a couple football games left. I know I'll still be back in the stadium. I don't know if I'll play that day, but I know I'll get to run out one more time at least. But still excited. Excited for the win and an honor if it is the last one playing here where I'm starting and getting a win. Try to enjoy it and take it in for a moment.
Q: Did you know they were going to take you out of the huddle like that? A: I kind of heard them talking a little bit. I saw some of the coaches kind of gathering up and discussing something. It's not my first rodeo, so I had a feeling that something might be happening. It just kind of depended on the circumstances of the game.
Q: Peyton (Manning) was able to walk off the field for his last game. Obviously, special winning a Super Bowl. You won't have that opportunity, but if this turns out to be your last game that you walk off the field winning, what does that mean to you? A: Again, I don't know what the circumstances are. We still have some football games left. I'll have time to reflect on all of that when it's all done. But it's still a special win no matter what.
Q: What will you remember the most about today? A: I don't know. Probably just the fans, the chants, the awkward feeling of standing there on the sideline, kind of a circle around me. Everyone looking at me and staring at me, a camera on me and not feeling real comfortable in that circumstance. But getting taken out there in the fourth (quarter) and just having all my teammates come up to me and say something, little hugs. You appreciate all of those guys and everything they've done to get this win today.
Q: What was the big difference between the first half, the interceptions, and the second half, 11 out of 13? A: I think we kind of just settled down. We had some good thoughts of what we wanted to get to, stayed out of some third downs, just kind of played a little smarter football. I had some clean throws and guys did a good job. The offensive line protected well, and I just made the plays that were there.
Q: How important was it for you guys to get Saquon (Barkley) involved in the offense with the running game? A: Yeah, I think that's always the idea to get him going and get him involved. When he's running well, and he had a bunch of five, six, seven yard runs, that puts you in good down and distance. Staying out of third downs. A lot of first down, second down, back to first down, or third and short where we could run it again and get the first. That sets up the play action and the bootlegs and nakeds and stuff. When he gets going and we're running and controlling the line of scrimmage, it helps out a lot.
Q: Did John Mara have anything to say to you personally afterward? A: Yeah. I thanked him. He said just thank you and congrats. Nothing too long from either of us. But I saw some of his grandkids and gave them a high-five. I shook a lot of hands and had a lot of hugs today.
Q: Were you near tears there at the end on the sideline? A: Maybe, maybe.
Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Statement: You saw the only injury. (DeAndre) Baker knocked his knee a little bit, but he got back in there and was able to finish. Well, it's been quite a long stretch, but it felt really good to win. It was a good team win. As you saw, there were contributions by the defense, obviously the offense, and then certainly on special teams we did a lot of good things. I think it feels good for me because these guys have continued to fight. We finally really put a full game together on all three sides of the ball and it worked out our way. We made plays, and it was good to win. It's good to be able to have Eli out there playing with us and help lead us to a victory. He's certainly done many, many good things here for many, many years. For him to enjoy leading us to a victory, should feel real special for him because of who he is. With that, I'll take your questions.
Q: What were your thoughts on the secondary? There were a lot of rookies out there. A: Yeah, I thought they competed well. I thought defensively we did a good job, we got a lot of stops in critical situations. We turned the ball over and forced them to kick a field goal. I felt like…I think along the way our guys have competed. If you look at last week's game, competed throughout the game and then we sort of broke down at the end in a critical situation to end up losing the game. In this game, they fought throughout, made a lot of plays, and really helped contribute in the victory.
Q: How did you think of the way Eli played, particularly in the second half because it was opposite of the second half last week? A: I thought he played a great game. He made a lot of great plays. Certainly, everybody will point to some of the bad plays— which were the interceptions. But I was really pleased with the way he led us and got us in the endzone, was real good with the run game stuff, making sure we were in the right run. He sort of played an Eli Manning type game in my mind and helped lead us to victory.
Q: How was it down the stretch there? It's an unusual situation, you've got the game at hand and take Eli out because you want to take the knee, it's a nice situation obviously now to think about. A: Yeah, I mean it's good when you can start thinking about those other things. Of late, we've been in two-minute trying to race back. So, to be in a four-minute mode was fun and that's what you're always looking for. The ability to put him in and then take him out where he could be recognized by the fans, that was great.
Q: Was that at all an indication that you know this was his last home game start? A: No. I think we have two games left to go and we'll just have to see. Dan (Daniel Jones) is trying to come back from injury and who knows where he's going to be. As we've talked about, the end of last week he was in a boot, at the end of this week he was practicing, but I don't know how much better he's going to be. There's a chance that Eli keeps playing. To enjoy a victory like we did today and for him to be a significant part of it should feel really good for him.
Q: The back of your defense only gave up six completions in the second half. Any big adjustments and what did you see from them? A: No, we just continued to play. When you get on that side of it, where they're playing on offense like we've had to do a few of the last few weeks, it makes it tougher and you can be a little more aggressive with the rush, tighter in coverage. I thought just the guys competed.
Q: What did you say to Eli? It looked like you went over and said something to him. A: Nothing. I guess it was just a hug, "Way to go."
Q: How important was it for you guys to come out and score the first time you touched the ball in the second half? Can you talk about Saquon's running today? A: Yeah, well that score was important because it put us ahead. It put us ahead, 14-10. You always like to get a fast start. The idea is obviously to when you defer, and in this case when we deferred, to get the ball in the second half and score. That's what you're looking to do. It worked out our way, the guys executed well. In terms of Saquon, I thought he ran extremely well. You can see when you keep him involved—three yards, four yards, eight yards, three yards, four yards, 10 yards. That's always good when you have a runner of his quality.
Q: The curtain call for Eli— was that something you thought of during the week? A: No, you just react to it. I just felt like it was the right thing to do. Believe it or not, we as coaches go by our gut and we react to things. That was at the point of the game when we were able to do that. It was a good thing.
Q: What did you think of the fan who ran on the field wearing the Eli jersey? Any thoughts on that? A: Yeah, the guy that tackled him didn't seem all that fast and he got to him. I mean the guy was running pretty slowly and he got tackled (laughter). But yeah, I did notice he had a "10" jersey on him. I think he's going to jail, too, right? Is that how that works?
Q: Eli or the fan? Just want to make sure (laughter)… A: No, (the fan). Typically, when you do that, right? He's lucky he didn't get tasered or something worse.
Q: The offensive line—you had some injuries and you had (Nick) Gates playing in there. Can you talk about how they played today? A: Yeah, Nick Gates played well. I think we've talked about him kind of on the edges here throughout the year. I think he's got a bright future. He went in there, stepped in there, played for (Kevin) Zeitler. He's played a little bit of tackle. I think he's got a real bright future. He played tough. On one of the scoring plays there, he pulled, cut the edge where Saquon was able to bounce. He's just a really good football player and I think when he's given opportunities he performs well.
Q: With Gates and (Darius) Slayton, are those two guys examples of how well you guys are developing the young players over the course of the season? A: Well, I'd like to think that's the case. Young players that are good players, if they continue to play, will improve. For him to come out and play well today, I think, is a credit to him.
Q: How fitting do you think it is, if this is Eli's last home start or as a starter in general, that you were able to get a victory? He won two Super Bowls here… A: Yeah, I'm not going to overthink that. I think it's— we've had some tough days, some tough afternoons, and this is a good one. I think he and all of the guys in the locker room will enjoy this. He kind of jumped. We asked him to speak and the last phrase of his little speech to the team was, 'See you Wednesday.' Typically I don't do that, but today I won't argue with him (laughter).
WR Darius Slayton
…on the right note. I'm happy for him. I'm happy for our team.
Q: Speaking of Eli [Manning], you know you guys [inaudible] the ball was spread around a lot—Saquon [Barkley] had two, [Golden] Tate [III] had one, [Javorius-]Buck Allen ran it in. Talk about how versatile this offense was today. A: It was really versatile. I think it was the first time we got to see all of our playmakers make plays, you know, all on the same day. Like you said, everybody about had a touchdown, [Sterling] Shep[ard] probably should have had a touchdown—that one right there, but it was a lot of fun.
Q: As you've seen your role expanding in your rookie season, you've kind of become an integral part of this offense. How is that feeling and how do you describe the way your role has evolved? A: It's a great feeling. Obviously I want to go out there and help my team win every Sunday and I just go out there and do what I'm asked every week.
Q: Obviously even a win has moments you want to grow from. What are you looking from today that will kind of bounce and move forward and finish the season strong as you head into next week against Washington? A: Just continuing to execute. I think today we did a really good job, we got Saquon [Barkley] going, which is huge. Like I said, the receivers made plays when the ball came our way, but like I said, there's no perfect game so I'm sure there's some plays we could have executed better. We'll get to that Wednesday or whenever.
Q: Have you talked about being spoilers at all? A: No. We don't really look at it that way. We just look at it as every week we're trying to go out there and get a win. You know, so it's not to spoil anybody else's season, but just, you know, because we're competitive guys and want to go out there and win every time we hit the field.
Q: That connection with Eli [Manning]—it seemed like you're getting more comfortable and comfortable—talk about that. A: Yeah, it's been a pretty easy transition. You know, Eli is a great Hall of Fame quarterback. You just saw he came out and played really well today, so it's been really smooth.
Q: What was the scene like at the end of the game to see him come off and the crowd really give him that ovation? A: I got goose bumps. It was legendary. You know, he's a legend. He's going to go down as a Hall of Famer. I'm happy for him.
Q: What did it mean to you to catch a touchdown from him in what might have been his final game? A: It's probably something I won't be able to appreciate until I get older and look back fully, but it's definitely a special thing for me. Just being a young guy, a rookie at that, playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback, getting to see something like that, it was a lot of fun.
Q: What happened to that ball? I know that you kept the other passes that you caught from him. What happened to that one? A: It will be kept as well.
Q: Are you keeping that one or is he going to get it? A: Well, if he wants it, he can have it, but if he doesn't ask for it, it will go home with me.
Q: Could you sense that this game meant anything more to him knowing that it probably was going to be his last home start here? A: Umm, definitely. I mean I knew, we knew coming out this game that we wanted to send him out the right way. Right when we were out of the tunnel, Russell Shepard, one of our guys, he just was saying you want to send your quarterback out the right way. Just fight hard for him. Obviously we go out there and fight for our brothers everyday, but especially someone like him that's put in all the work and time and effort, we wanted to have a special day for him.
Q: You got your day off, too. That's kind of a parting gift, huh? You guys are off tomorrow? A: Yeah, shoot, I hope so. I hope it stays that way. [Laughs].
Q: I don't think you can fight that one. A: [Laughs] No, I won't argue that one at all.
RB Saquon Barkley
Q: What does it mean to send Eli off with a win like that in such a strong offensive effort? A: If that is his last game and that's the way we send Eli off, then that's the way we envisioned doing. I know I wanted to go out there and play my tail off and I know those guys wanted to do the same too for #10. He's meant so much to this city and to this franchise for such a long time. He's a special person and a special player. If that is the way he gets sent off, I'm glad we were able to do it in a win and do it in that fashion.
Q: You talked how hard it is to get over that hump. You guys have been searching for a way to win. Did you feel something click that was tangible in the second half that got you over that hump as an offense or as a team in general?
A: We ran the ball well. We were more consistent. We didn't have a lot of penalties or dropped plays. We played football as a team. I had a great game. When Buck came in, he had a great running game. The O-line played lights out, giving Eli time and opening up holes for me. Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate Darius Slayton - all of those guys were making plays. Tight ends were blocking well and making plays as we need them to. Defense was playing well, special teams were playing well. We were playing complementary football. I think it was the first time we did it in a very long time. When you do that, you're going to find yourself winning a lot more games. Hopefully we can continue to do that and finish the season off strong and have this winning become contagious.
Q: How much confidence does the offense get when you come out and score that way in the third quarter?
A: That definitely gives you a lot of confidence. Just the way we were able to do it. The whole game, we were able to run the ball and get five, six yards. We got some of them split. When we were in the red zone, we scored. Eli was stepping up and making big plays for us. All around, we were consistent. That's why in the last nine games we lost, we weren't a consistent team. We were consistent in all three phases of the game today. We had a good win today.
Q: What was it like for Eli to get that curtain call?
A: Special. I kept saying, 'I'm getting chills over here.' I kept saying I might give him a thug tear. For those who don't know what that means, that means one tear. Even though I've only been playing with him for only two years, that meant a lot to me. I know he means a lot to everyone here in this organization. Like I said, he's a special player and a special person. For him to go out with a standing ovation like that, that is the way to go out - and that is the way he deserves to go out. It says a lot about the type of person he is.
Q: Did it mean a lot for you to go over 100 and get back in the end zone? You hadn't been over 100 since Week 2 and the touchdown in Week 7. Does that mean anything to you? A: No. I don't care. The only way that means something is because of the win. I don't care how we did it. That's what matters.
Q: Did you feel like you were emotional on the sideline? You were jumping. What were you doing on the celebration? A: I don't know. Usually I don't do stuff like that, but I just did it.
Q: You were blowing kisses to the crowd. A: I did that the first time I scored. It's a thank you and an appreciation to the fans.
Q: Were you getting tired of people wondering if you were hurt?
A: I've been tired of that. After the bye week, there's no excuse. I felt like I showed flashes in Chicago and Philly and Green Bay. But realistically, where it was today is where it was going to go. Meaning if we run the ball, stick to the run. We didn't go away from the run. We had nice, long drives where you can wear and tear them down. Everyone loves it when we're popping it for 60 and 80 yards, but sometimes it's those fourd or fives or gritty runs that wear a defense down. That was the first time this year we were able to go out and get a four-minute situation and a six-minute situation and run away with the game.
Q: Is this the offense you envisioned from Day One?
A: I know we have the players on the offensive line to do it. But it's been an up and down season for us. Inconsistent season for us and the run game, you can call it ineffective, but it's easier to run the ball in the fourth quarter when everyone is saying, 'Take the dirty runs'. But when you take the dirty runs and you get into the fourth quarter and you're down by two touchdowns, it doesn't matter which window you're taking. You can't lean on them. You have to go back on the attack and I think we were able to do that today.
Q: Is there a way to quantify what breaking this losing streak means? Is the team able to breathe again now?
A: It's a breath of fresh air, for sure. Winning is fun. I don't want to say that we go out there to have fun. The way you have fun is win the game. Eli said that to us. I think he said it perfectly. It's definitely a breath of fresh air. We work so hard and everything feels like it's been going against us. Today we were finally able to get that win and hopefully it becomes contagious and we finish the season off strong.
S Michael Thomas
*Q: Were you surprised by the reaction that Eli (Manning) received?
*A: I wasn't surprised, but it was definitely pleasant to hear. It was definitely something that we rallied behind and we got fired up about. Guys said let's call it like it is, we are playing for him. We are playing for Eli today. Let's send him off right. He's a legend, let's send him off the right way.
*Q: What was it like when they pulled him off the field?
*A: I've never been a part of something like that. It was cool to see. It gave me chills, it gave me goosebumps. That man is a legend and we respect him. I'm glad we were able to get a win for him.
*Q: I'm sure you saw Eli well up a little bit at the end. Have you ever seen him like that? *A: A little bit, but yeah that means a lot. We put so much into this game, but for him, the storm he's been through in his career, the ups and downs. The highest of highs, this year, technically he got benched or whatever and then having a situation where you're starting again to end your career instead of oh well shoot, I'm going to end my career not playing. End his tenure with the Giants, historic. We just wanted to come out here and get the win for him, that was cool.
*Q: It's going to seem silly when he starts next week or in two weeks, right?
*A: Shoot, shoot, exactly! Let's get another one then, shoot! Let's get another one for him!
WR Sterling Shepard
Q: How did it feel to get a win.
A: It felt good. It's been a while to have that feeling in the locker room, that's what we play the game for. It felt good to be in here, especially it's a special day for Eli. It feels good to get a win.
Q: What changed in the second half? A: It was taking us a little bit to get rolling. We were able to get on a roll in the second half, we were able to connect.
Q: How conscious were you that this could be Eli's last home start? A: I think we all knew that coming into the game. It was a special day and we wanted to send him out on the right note.
Q: How important was it for you guys to score at the start of the third quarter? A: It was very important. We wanted to get the momentum started and we were able to do that. (Darius) Slayton ran a great route in the back of the end zone. That's something we had been running a couple times in practice and he's been running a great route all week. Eli came back to him and found him.
Q: How good was it to see Saquon have the game he had today? A: He's been itching for a big day. It was good to see him out there running around getting back to how he does things. He's the best running back in the league and I'll say that until I'm out of breath. He showed it today.
Q: What's your overall thought on Eli and what he has done for this organization? A: He's done so much. David Tyree and I were talking about it on the sideline. He was saying Eli has a piece of all of us and it's just a special day. We were able to get this win for him and send him out on the right note and it's a blessing.
Q: How important was it for you guys to make sure you send him out on the right note? A: Yeah. Saquon and I looked at each other right when we were going out for the first series and we said let's send him out on the right note, do everything in our power. It was a little shaky in the first half, but we were able to click and get things rolling that second half.
Q: How tough was the catch you made to set up the touchdown? To get your feet down and make the catch? A: That's something that coach Tyke (Tolbert) has us going over every week, trying to drag that back foot whenever you are making close catches to the sideline. Dragging that back foot and heel clicking, it's something that we practice over and over again, just bringing it to the field on gameday.
Q: How much is this a weight off this group's back that you were able to finally get one? A: It feels good. I've been encouraging the guys to remember this feeling for the next game. We want to keep having these feelings and carry this over into next season. It feels so good to get a W, especially after that long stretch. I think everybody needed it and we were able to do it.
Q: When Eli came out at the end of the game can you tell what that moment meant to him? A: Yeah. You could see it all over his face. To have that standing ovation, it gave everybody chills. It definitely gave me chills. I'm just so happy for him, proud of him and how he has handled this season and how he's handled his career.
Q: What did you say to him at that point? A: Just I love you, man. He's taught me a lot. I came in here as a young pup and he's raised me right. I owe him a lot and I'm thankful to have him as my QB. He's one of the smartest guys that I have ever been around on the field. It's a blessing to be able to play with him.
Q: How was his postgame speech? A: It was good. He tried to get us another day off, but I don't know if Coach Shurmur will go for it.
Q: Shurmur said it was successful. A: Extra props to Eli, he never lets us down.
Q: I heard his pre-game speech was good, too? A: Yeah, it was damn good. It got everybody fired up and ready to go out and play. He's not one for the pre-game speeches but he gave us one today and it got everybody fired up.
Q: How did he end that one? A: Lets go out there and get a W.
Q: Is a pre-game speech pretty unusual for him? A: He'll get in there from time to time, but he usually lets somebody else do it. I'm sure he has given a ton of pre-game speeches in his career.