DE Osi Umenyiora
Q: Why is your defense different from the one that played them a few weeks ago?A: I think we are playing a lot better, for whatever reasons, I don't know why. I think everybody seems to be coming together now. In the back end we are playing better now and in the front we are playing better. The calls are coming in better and we just seem to be playing better than we were back then.
Q: Does it mean something to you that everyone else is saying it is because Osi is back?A: I guess that would be a logical explanation but I don't think that is the case at all. As a defense, on the defensive line, they were playing better when I wasn't there so I can't attribute that success to me. I think, for some reason, everything is coming together at the right time now.
Q: Where are you guys mentally after coming out of today's practice?A: I think it was a good practice. It was sharp but the last couple of weeks, we have had good practices. Today was no exception and I hope we finish strong tomorrow.
Q: Mathias thought it was one of the best practices of the year, do you?A: It was a good practice but I don't know if it was the best of the year but it was definitely a very good practice for sure.
Q: How is the team approaching this challenge in general?A: We have confidence. We know we have a huge challenge ahead of us. They are an outstanding football team and they are coming off a bye so they will be extra prepared. We are confident in our practice and our coaching and what we are able to go out and accomplish. I think it is going to be a good game.
Q: Can there be an advantage to not having a bye?A: There are advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is that you get the rest but the disadvantage is your timing probably isn't what it was after you played that last game. They have some things working for them and against them.
Q: Do you think you can take advantage because they are getting some linemen back whose timing may be off?A: I would hope so but I don't know if that is going to be the case. I hope that is the case for sure.
Q: Everyone is saying it is all on the defensive line, how do you respond?A: It is a team game. We can get all the pressure we want but if they are not covering, it doesn't matter and if they are covering and we are not getting pressure, then it doesn't matter. Everything has to work hand in hand so it is not on the d-line, it is all on the defense.
Q: How do you feel?A: I feel good. A lot of the things that I was going through, I feel pretty good. I went to see my own doctor and they took care of me along with Ronnie Barnes and Doctor Warren and those guys came together and I think they did a good job. I feel pretty good.**
Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride
Q: Are these the three best receivers you've ever had?**A: You don't ever want to get into comparing. I'm very pleased with the guys we have. Certainly I have great confidence in their ability to perform. I think they're looking forward to the challenge of not only beating the Packers, but also proving that they're in the same class as the Packers receivers that everybody acknowledges as a special group. I think the thing that we're probably the most proud of is just the growth that's taken place, particularly with Victor obviously, but also with Jake Ballard, whom I know you're not including, but to me he's an integral part of our passing game as well.
Q: Is it fair that the coordinators get singled out as much as the head coach? Do you have the freedom to do what you want? Should coordinators be held to as high a level as the head coach?A: I would probably phrase it a little differently, but there's a certain autonomy that you have. Obviously Tom sets the framework for us offensively and defensively – 'This is what I would like to have happen' – but there's no question we have autonomy and latitude as to what we're going to do not only in how this thing was originally put together, but how it comes together on a weekly basis and what gets called and everything else. That's on our shoulders – good or bad. We certainly understand that that comes with the position.
Q: How do you handle the heat from the media? Does it bother you?A: No one likes it. Anyone who says they like it is being less than truthful, but I think you know as a coach whether or not you've done a good job in, A, putting together a good plan, B, preparing your guys the way they need to be prepared. You understand the limitations and strengths that your team has. I think that most guys are pretty comfortable knowing that they've done about all that could be done. You live with the consequences. The bottom-line is you try to put your guys in a position where they have a chance to be successful. If you're doing a good job, you know what your guys can do and that coupled with what is the defense doing. I think good coaches – the majority of coaches in this league are very good coaches – they're going to be able to maximize what their guys can do within the framework of what defenses are allowing you. I think most guys can come away saying, 'I know what the public is saying, I know what people are saying, but the reality of it is we did about all that we could do.'
Q: Do you know when the back-shoulder became so predominant?A: Let's say this, we did it in 1989 with the Houston Oilers so we've doing it for a long time. A lot of people have picked up on it since then. Probably Warren Moon threw it about as well as it could be thrown. It's an effective measure, obviously, against people that are playing press-man. It's a great anecdote for people that are bringing pressure and you have to get rid of the ball quickly and you have a DB that's up pressed and you turn his back. Then you hopefully have gotten good enough at it that you throw it in a location, a position that really only your receiver can make a play. It's as difficult of a play for a defender as any play that has to be made.
Q: When you ran it with Houston it was taught?A: Oh yeah. We've been doing it, unfortunately 23 years ago. So it's been done for a long time.
Q: When Brandon Jacobs is running the way he did last week…A: You always love the fact that you can do everything. What I always look at is what are people doing to us defensively. Where are they schematically most vulnerable? And then you try to go after that area. Now when you go after that area, whether it's throw or pass, and you're not having success, what do you do next? [The Falcons] were playing us in a certain way that gave us an opportunity to get some runs going. To be quite frank with you, some of the things we thought we could get done early on in the game we couldn't. I realized that fairly quickly and made some adjustments. I thought when we gave those opportunities to the backs after that they made some big plays for us and that really kind of sparked us and got us going.
Q: Is part of your game plan to keep the ball away from Aaron Rodgers?A: That's an objective that we always have and the key is how do you get that done? That's the thing. The conventional wisdom, to be honest, was quite superficial and probably doesn't hold much water, you run the ball. What you have to do is hold onto the ball and the only way you hold onto the ball, whether you're running or passing, is to get first downs. That's the key and that's what you have to do. But it's something that is always in the back of our minds. How do we win the game? You have to put up more points than the other team. The obvious way is you outscore them. Do you outscore them in a shootout or do you outscore them by trying to keep the ball away from them and minimizing their output? I think you're certainly conscious of it. Whether or not you can get it done is another matter.
Q: Where are the Packers schematically vulnerable?A: I'd rather not share that with you right now at this point, but I'll say this, they have a lot of playmakers. I know their statistics, where people talk about where they rank, but I look at the other thing – their guys make a lot of big plays and they get a lot of turnovers, particularly interceptions. That's the thing that's scary to me, is that they have some players on that side of the ball that are very willing to take chances and gamble and if they give up a few plays they don't mind because they're looking for an interception. Hopefully we can stay away from those bad plays because when I think you employ that style defensively you also hopefully give us some chances on the offensive side to make some plays.
Q: Travis Beckum had that big play against the Packers. Why have those been so far and few between?A: Well, it was a hell of a play. It just so happened that the free safety on that play ran over to play Hakeem and he got over the top of the safety that was on his side and that's who he caught the ball on so there was nobody else there. They tried to recover and of course he made that serpentine finish to the run and it was just a great run. To give you one example, was the last time they played that personnel group against us. From then on they went to a nickel package and put a nickel in and had two more safeties over the top. So the matchup was completely different. Now again, just to a follow-up to some of the things, you're hoping that gives you some running game possibilities and you can take advantage of that.
Q: How does it affect you game planning that you just saw them and they just saw you?A: I don't know who has the advantage. You would love to say they're going to do exactly the same as they did the last time, but they saw where you were successful and how you approached them and what you tried to get done. Here's where the guesswork comes in, you know they're not going to do the same thing. What is the different thing they're going to do? Usually, to be quite honest, you try to predict it. Usually you're not very effective or successful at predicting it. So you have to see it as the game's going on and make your adjustments then. There are certain things that this is the base, they are basically going to do those things and then how do they tweak it to stop the particular things that we had some success with last time. You can try to guess. I think there are some obvious adjustments they can make so you're trying to predict those things and you're going to call some things in anticipation of that, but my experience has been it doesn't happen quite the way you anticipated and game day is different and you have to be able to make some adjustments on the fly.
Q: Are you convinced that a team can't take both Nicks and Cruz out of a game?A: It's not my nature to be convinced of that stuff. I'm always nervous of how they're going to do it and how our guys are going to respond. Again, I do have great faith in our guys. I think they've proven that they can be very dynamic. They can turn some short gains into touchdowns. Hopefully we'll get a few of those opportunities Sunday. The other guy that comes into the mix that wasn't with us last time is Mario. I think he's proven that he's made and is certainly capable of making some big plays for us. Again, we'll see pretty quickly – 'Here's what they're trying to.' Then you'll know what you want to do. Then those opportunities are going to come, whether it's the run game or whether it's a different receiver than Victor or Hakeem. Maybe it's Jake. Maybe it's the backs. Who knows what it's going to be. Then when those opportunities arise those guys are going to have to make plays for us.
**Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
Q: Is blocking a punt harder because the guys aren't used to being in that position?**A: It is hard to do. It looks easy when you come free but you have to get your hands lower than your eyes right on the ball and get it right off his foot. It is a pretty good opportunity.
Q: When the punter punts the ball and the guy doesn't touch it, is that a shutout?A: I think so and I know coach likes it and I like it when you get really good returners that don't touch the ball so it is always a positive. We did have a good net so it is not like we shanked it out of bounds. They were good quality punts. That is what we strive for, it is good.
Q: Is this week just as important as last week in terms of keeping it away from the returner?A: It is because this guy is very dangerous. Obviously, the numbers that he has and the run skills, he is electric with the ball.
Q: With the weather like it is, do you expect a lot of touchbacks?A: The ball gets harder and it doesn't carry as much. It may be similar to what our Washington game was. We still had good distance but we didn't get a lot of touchbacks. He has handled those conditions before.
**DT Chris Canty
Q: How much fun is this time of year and how much do you look forward to this challenge? **A: It's a great time of year obviously, January, playoff football in the National Football League. It's amazing, we're looking forward to going to play a very good Packers team, it's going to be a great environment at Lambeau Field. We're excited about the challenge, we're energized by the challenge, we've had a great week of work so far and we're excited to get up there and compete.
Q: Have you had to tell the young guys 'Take advantage of this opportunity, you may not get this far again'?A: Yeah, I think we kinda had a little bit of that last week before the playoff game against Atlanta. Just letting guys know this opportunity doesn't come along that often and to take advantage of it. Don't leave any stone unturned in your preparation. I think they understand that and I think they're taking heed to it.
Q: What did you learn from seeing Rodgers here in person a few weeks ago that you didn't see on film?A: Just his ability to extend plays and be so accurate downfield. He did a great job, I mean, he's kind of like Houdini out there a little bit, he avoids pass rushes, he avoids that initial surge. He can get out of the pocket and make plays downfield with his wide receivers, or he can extend it, he can run the football with his legs, he's a tremendous runner in his own right. You just have to be very disciplined when you're rushing.
Q: What did you learn from the Chiefs' gameplan that beat the Packers a few weeks ago?A: The Chiefs did a great job of being physical. They tried to slow the game down as much as possible and contain Rodgers in the pocket as much as possible. Rush him as a group with their front four, they rushed him as a group. They did a good job working together. Collectively I think everyone understood the task at hand and responded. You have to do that as a defense to collectively be on the same page.
Q: How important is it to get to him with a four-man rush so you can leave more guys in coverage?A: It's important that whoever's rushing, that we make sure we rush as a group. Understanding your lane and your responsibility and make sure we keep that integrity. We don't want to open up any windows to throw the football or escape through. You have to be cognizant, you have to be very disciplined in your assignment
Q: I don't think I've ever seen a quarterback make as few mistakes as he has this season. What is it about him that allows him to play so clean?A: I think he plays very, very disciplined football. You see he doesn't make a whole lot of mistakes. He doesn't try to do too much. He gets the ball into playmakers' hands and allows those guys to do what they do. I think they do a great job of keeping teams off balance, staying ahead of the sticks, down and distance wise. And playing really downhill. They haven't had to play uphill without the lead throughout the whole season. So when you're in that situation, you're not pressing, you're not making those kinds of mistakes. We have to understand they like to play downhill like that. We've got to put them in situations where they're behind the 8-ball and they're playing uphill.
Q: Was the Chiefs game kind of like a blueprint? Did you guys watch that?A: Absolutely, absolutely. The Chiefs collectively did a good job of understanding their assignments and then going out there and executing as a defense. And really, in all three phases. Special teams and offense also have to be involved in contributing to that. You have to be involved in contributing to that. You have to beat them as a team.
Q: When you say they haven't really played 'uphill,' what do you mean by that?A: I mean, they've always played with the lead throughout the season. They're always ahead, they're always up, they're always playing ahead of the sticks, so far as down and distances. They're having 2nd and 5, 2nd and 4, they're not really having to press. You see they do a good job converting in those down and distances and those situations. They haven't really been behind the 8-ball and had to press in any game throughout the season. We understand that as a team and we understand the positions we have to put them in to be effective.
Q: They make it easy on themselves?A: Absolutely, absolutely. They make it easy on themselves by playing disciplined football and executing. They're one of the least-penalized teams in the NFL. You can see they're disciplined in that regard. They're a confident group and they've been performing at a very high level throughout the whole season. So you have to understand what you're getting yourself into.
Q: The old saying, 'Make 'em sweat, let's see em sweat'. Do you think they've sweat a lot this year?A: They've done a good job [laughing] of playing disciplined football and executing. It just is what it is. I don't think they've been in too many situations that they're not familiar with and they've done a good job of finishing games and closing out games. We have to put them in situations that are uncomfortable.
**DE Justin Tuck
Q: Just talk about how the team came together throughout the course of the year.**A: We've had our ups and downs this year, obviously. But like you said, things have started to take place as we thought they would have a long time ago. It's just all about being persistent; resiliency and guys are getting healthy at the right time. We're still somewhat banged-up, but healthier than we have been in a long time so hopefully that translates into us playing better. We've played pretty good football the last couple of weeks and we can still play better so that's where our focus is this week
Q: Do you appreciate that coach talked about this 'Road Warriors' mentality?A: He didn't have to talk about it. We understand it. We know that to get to where we want to be we have to embrace it. We won't have another game in MetLife Stadium this year. Hopefully we have three more road games. That 'Road Warrior' mentality is more than just a saying, it has to be something embedded in you. Going into hostile territory it's easier said than done, especially when you have a team like Green Bay and that home field advantage that they have in Lambeau Field. Hopefully we can embrace it and wake up some echoes to what it meant to us in '07-'08.
Q: What are your memories of the interception by Corey Webster in the 2007 NFC Championship game?A: Not much. I remember the replay more than I do seeing it live. It's just one of those plays. You give Brett Favre that ball and to throw that out 10 times, he probably puts it away from Corey nine out of the 10. But it just happened to be our time. I'm sure you've asked Corey. It's probably one of the best breaks Corey's had on a football. Hard football – I'm giving Corey a lot of credit here – hard football, wind was blowing like a 100 miles per hour. It was a hard catch.
Q: Do you remember the reaction?A: No, you don't remember little things like that. You were just so engulfed in the chance that you have to end the game and go to what was my first Super Bowl. You don't remember any of those little tidbits.
Q: Do you have to bully the Packers? Is that what the Chiefs did?A: It looks like it. It looks like they were more physical. The Chiefs missed a lot of opportunities too. Obviously I saw a lot of dropped passes from the Green Bay Packers that they normally wouldn't drop. But I think at the end of the day the team that wins this game is the team that is more physical. You used the word 'bully.' I'll use the word 'physical'.
Q: Do you have to bump the Packers receivers at the line to get them off of their timing?A: I think you do. I think it helps a lot. With the talent they have at wide receiver and the talent they have at quarterback, those guys have been working on this stuff for a long time. A lot of the film with Aaron and those guys, the ball just finds ways to be in the right place at the right time. When it doesn't happen that way it's normally when guys have knocked them off their rhythm and have knocked the timing off and it just buys that extra second for the rush to get there. I think that's important, very.
Q: Considering the defense didn't play its best, are you surprised the Week 13 game against the Packers was as close as it was?A: It is what it is. Like you said, we didn't play our best game and I think that's encouraging to know that we hung in with the best team in the country and didn't come close to playing our best game. Our motto around here this week is to just go out there and play our best game and see what happens. I'm sure they're going to play a great game too, but we always felt around here that if we play our style of football and play our best game, we can play with anybody.
Q: Can the defense feed off the physical run game of Brandon Jacobs?A: We always do. Absolutely. It's exciting to see other defenses start short-arming or trying to arm-tackle a 265-275 pound back. It's exciting to see him plowing his way for 3,4,5 plus yards. It wears down a defense. I've been in games where we've had the same thing happen to us. I know the effect it's going to have on a defense come the fourth quarter when you have [Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw]. It's such a great changeup from Bradshaw to Jacobs. It's tough to mentally prepare for that. You can't simulate 270 pounds hitting you with that force and then coming back with a scat-back like Bradshaw, who is powerful also. It's tough to simulate.
Q: Did you ever think you weren't going to be here in the postseason?A: You never allow yourself to think that, regardless of how bad things are at the moment. I've seen it too many times, where it seems like a team that's been counted out finds a way to right the ship. It happened to us in '07. It happened to Green Bay last year. There's so much parity in this league that once a team figures it out and gets hot, it's hard to stop. Hopefully that's where we're at right now. We've been here before. We know how this feeling feels. I think we're poised to get on a run, but it's going to be a tough ride.
Q: When playing a mobile quarterback like Rodgers do you have to rely on the speed guys to get to him?A: As far as the D-line speed? Yeah. We have some things that we're trying to do on the backend to kind of get him to hold the ball a little bit longer, but the pressure is on our D-line. Even when you can't get to him, just to let him feel you, make sure you're around him, maybe some batted passes. Things like that. Even when the rush gets to him he's athletic enough avoid it and with his feet he buys himself some more time to make plays downfield. He's pretty athletic like that. It is a lot of pressure on us up front to not only contain him and get pressure on him, but even when we can't get pressure on him, get our hands up and make sure that he doesn't have those windows to throw the ball in. That's when he's tremendously dangerous. He's dangerous anyway, but obviously letting him sit back there and get comfortable, we don't have a shot.
Q: What was one thing that you took out of the Week 13 game defensively that encourages you the most?A: Nothing. We gave up  points.
**RB Brandon Jacobs
Q: Your reaction to JPP's prediction**A: I am not going to stand up and make a prediction, like he did because he did it. I ride with him, he's my teammate, I'm riding with him on whatever he says, I'm riding with him, no doubt about it.
Q: How confident are you?A: I am very confident, I feel good about our opportunity. Wake up every morning feeling so good about this game. They are a good football team, you can't take anything away from them. They are 15-1 and to go 15-1 in a league like this is special because guys are coming for you every week. I just like our opportunity that we have and we've got to go out and take advantage of it. They are going to go out and lay it down for us and we've got to take it.
Q: What are your memories from the '07 Championship game?A: It's a special thing watching that then, but this is a different team now, a different opportunity, a different year, we've just got to hope that we can do it again. That's all I hope for. Like Tuck said earlier, we are playing against a ferocious quarterback, great receivers that know where to go, he knows where they are going to be, they protect the line. We just have to go out there and do the best we can.
Q: Why does the running game look better in recent weeks? What is the key to making that happen?A: Our line, the guys move people out of the way, the coach puts us in the best position that we could possibly be in to run the ball. We knew (Atlanta) did a lot of slanting and angling and knew that they were light and like to run. So with a team like that you have to go right at them and that's what we came out in the second half and did.
Q: What do you recall about that first run in '07 over Woodson?A: Oh yea because nothing had happened before that. They only had one drive and we got the ball and that happened and the sideline got up, everybody got pumped up and on it went. It was still a dog fight, we just didn't run away with it, but it definitely came out to our favor in the end.
Re: the defenseA: I think our defense is playing well right now. They are playing as well as anybody in the league. Things come together like they have in the last couple weeks, it's going to be tough to beat us and that physical presence they have and we have as well on offense, we've just got to go out there and make them want to play, we have to play our game.
Q: Do you think the running game is as important this week with Aaron Rodgers?A: Oh yes, if we can keep him off the field and the less opportunities they have on offense, the better our chance of winning. They've got a good defense, we played them already. There are not going to be any secrets to what they want to do. They've got some heavy guys in there. They've got a good team overall, it's going to be a dog fight, but a dog fight I think we can win.
Q: Last time you played them they didn't have both inside linebackers, how different do you feel that will be in this game?A: I have no idea how different it's going to be. I don't care either way. I don't care who's in there, that's just the way I feel and I hope everybody else on our football team feels the same way. I don't care whose back, whose playing, it doesn't bother me one bit.
Q: Is this as good as you've felt in the late season as you have in a long time?A: Oh no question. I feel really good and I don't know the reason for that but I feel good and I am confident in our chances and a lot of guys on our team are healthy this time of year and that's all that matters.
Re: distribution of carriesA: That's not planned, it's just the way the game goes. We've got a lot of different situations and we've got different running backs that do different things and that's the only thing that can stop me from getting as many carries as I would like. Just the way the game goes. No one plans for me not to get this or to get that and if the game could go our way, we both will have a lot of carries.
**Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Q: Do you have an update on Ahmad Bradshaw?**A: We expect him to practice tomorrow like usual. He has struggled a little bit with the back but hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
Q: What did you think about today's practice?A: It was good energy, real good energy. Still some stuff to clean up but good energy. Guys were flying around and did a nice job all the way through.
Q: What about Webster's hamstring and Grant's quad?A: Just so we don't get any issues. We did the same thing last week with Webster. Grant, you saw him in the game, so we thought we'd be careful of that and not have any problems going forward. Just limited.
Q: Is it good to have the 'us against the world' mentality?A: I have not sensed that for three or four weeks, but certainly we could take a straw poll here and it is 'us against the world,' no doubt about that. We haven't really pushed any buttons in regards to that but the truth and the reality are what they are.
Q: What is your message about belief?A: You have to believe. All things are possible for those who believe. We have been working that one real hard for a while. That is a major theme of ours and 'keep the dream alive' is another one.
Q: Do you want to go any deeper than that?A: Not out here, thank you.
Q: What is a 'road warrior' mentality?A: Mental toughness is what I think it is. It is a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in, that is persistent and will battle through the good and the bad, the physical side of the game but also the mental side of the game, the resiliency and just the ability to see things through until the end and believing that you are going to win.
Q: Was Ware able to do something?A: Yes, he did.
Q: Do you feel like he is on the path to play?A: He is on the path.
Q: If one of your defenders were to get beat and gives the guy a tap on the butt, how would you feel about that?A: I don't see any of that happening. I know if I got beat, that would be the least likely thing that I would do. I am not sure if you have a specific reference or not. If you are talking about the game and the highly competitiveness of the game and the seriousness of the game and where the game is, guys are going to play hard. We have great respect for the Packers. They are going to play hard and guys are going to play hard on both sides of the ball. They are going to do the very, very best they can but during the course of the game, I think it is going to be competitive.
Q: Do you remember Woodson doing that fist bump to Hakeem and what did you think about that?A: I remember that. I thought it was an acknowledgement of respect, that's all. From a very, very good football player and a veteran player that leads the league in interceptions.
Q: Is that balance that you have on offense something you strive for?A: It is what we strive for from day one and on but it has been very good that last few weeks. It has been very good because of the nature of the way our defense has played and improved and on special teams. We didn't start out very good with the run but we stuck with it.
Q: What do you say about them missing some key players the first time around?A: They were and they were missing a couple linebackers, too. It is a part of game and we were missing a couple, too. As I read, everyone is back now and they are healthy.
Q: Can your aggressiveness change during the game depending on the calls?A: No, what we talk about is when the ball is snapped, play through the whistle and play great whistle effort. The physicality of the game, meaning turn the run back, run the ball and be aggressive but not anywhere near outside of the game. That is not what we talk about.
Q: Can you talk about the job Weatherford has done?A: He was outstanding last week. When you have a weapon such as Weems or whoever, we have faced a number of good returners in the last weeks both punt return and kickoff return. The fact that there was no punt return yardage although we would like to have the touchback go out of bounds at the three, the three balls that he did kick out of bounds were well placed. They were good directional punts and helped us tremendously because of the nature of the returner.
Q: Does your physicality change from week to week?A: No, you just try to win the physical battle.
**Tackle David Diehl
Q: Keys to getting running game going?**A: I think it's great to have both Brandon and Ahmad healthy and playing the way they are, but I think it's just a collective determination. We understand how important it is, especially when you're playing up against good football teams with dynamic offenses who can control the time of possession, can kill the clock, and that's going to be a crucial point to this game. It's no surprise how this game is going to be won by the offenses and defensive lines by either side and doing that is controlling the time of possession, controlling the line of scrimmage, keeping yourself in third and manageable downs instead of third and long situations and I think that's something we put on our back and said that "If we want to be successful, if we want to continue to keep this thing going, we need to get the run game going" and I think all of us said "it doesn't matter if there are eight guys in the box, nine guys in the box, we are going to find a way to get it done."
Q: Is the pressure all on the Packers with the 15-1 record they have?A: Obviously there is a lot to lose. Either you win and you continue playing or you lose and you go home. Obviously they are a very good football team, 15-1 is an unbelievable record and they are a very good football team and I think we had an 'us against the world' mentality throughout the ups and downs of this season when people told us that we couldn't do this, we couldn't win the division. I think that our team really rallied together and I think that we became a stronger team because of it because it took all of us to look each other in the eye and have that accountability, that we believe in one another and in order for us to do it we have to go out there and play that way and I think that's the way we have been winning games. It's not just one phase of the game. It's the offense, it's the defense, the special teams, and I think the most exciting part about it is we come off of a big drive and you've got all the defensive guys high fiving, running around, excited. Same thing, they get a big 3rd down or 4th down stop like they did, you've got the offense screaming onto the field and I think that's the type of atmosphere and that's the type of way you've got to play it. Especially now in the playoffs, all three phases have to be playing their best football, especially against a good football team like we're playing this weekend. You know, you don't want to create turnovers, you can't have tons of penalties. I know offensively for us, like I said, you have to convert third downs and keep yourself 3rd and manageable downs, but also it's crucial down when you get down in the green zone. You have to put up touchdowns against good teams, you can't settle for field goals. We are focused on all of those things and we understand what it takes to be successful especially on the road.
Q: Talk about the transition this offensive line has made?A: Obviously we lost two very good football players, guys I played with for 7 or 8 years here. Everybody in the beginning was talking about how are you going to adjust, how are you going to regroup and being on an offense line is so much about continuity and playing together and getting that experience and I think the best thing that happened is that throughout everything, throughout the injuries that happened, guys stepped up and played extremely well. You've got guys like Kevin Boothe, who played multiple positions, Mitch Petrus coming in and playing games. I bumped out to tackle when William Beatty went down and I think the one thing we knew is that if we continue to stick together and fight together that we would get the job done and I think one of the main things is that when you're challenged as a group, especially for us on our offense, we know how good Eli is, we know how good our receivers are and we know how good our running backs are and we know that if we keep Eli's feet clean that he's going to be able to do a lot of things. He's going to get us checked into the right plays and running the football. That if we go out there and lay it all on the line for 60 minutes especially for our running backs the way they are running, we can be successful and I think that we kind of taken that and put it on our backs and said "hey put it on us and we are going to go out there and get it done."
Q: memories of '07A: Obviously we are still hearing about going there from '07 in a championship game and all that stuff and yeah, I mean, it brings back memories and stuff like that, but this is a whole new year, this is a different team, this is a different type of excitement and I think with the way this season has gone I think we realized how precious it is to be in the position that we are in right now because you never know if you're going to get it again, but also we understand how hard we had to work to get here. Nothing was given to us. We have earned everything and I think that's through the way we prepared and the way that we practiced. So having that game there and still having those memories and everything are great and I think any fan can remember those feelings too, but this is a whole different season and that game has no bearing on the outcome of this Sunday.
Q: How do you guys feed off of Brandon and the running game?A: It's exciting, I mean, to be able to have him come in there and set the physical tempo in the running game is amazing. He's not scared to try running over a linebacker and you get defensive backs that aren't going to take him on full steam ahead and when you get that going and you hear big hits, I think that gets everyone energized and I think having him and Ahmad together, that tandem they do a great job and I think the main thing that we've worked on in the running game is keeping ourselves out of negative runs, not losing yards, making sure "hey we are going to fight for 2 or 3 because each yard in the run game makes a difference" and like I said especially when it comes to 3rd down this is a very good defense we are playing against. They blitz a lot and not only from there linebackers, they blitz their secondary and one of the crucial factors in that is keeping them in those 3rd and manageable downs. So number 1 you can be aggressive, but number 2 you don't allow them to pin there ears back and just attack the quarterback.
Q: Do you get that sense of joy in where you are right now?A: I would definitely say so. This is my 9th year playing here and being a veteran guy here who has been here my entire career, it means a lot for me to be wearing a Giants Helmet and a Giants Jersey and there's no other team that I would rather play for and most importantly the guys that I am playing with, football is all about camaraderie and we are all brothers. We all go out there and fight together, through ups and downs we stick together and I think we understand how precious this is and being a guy who is a veteran you realize how difficult it is to win football games in the NFL, let alone make the playoffs and have the opportunities we have because you hate to use a cliché but 'opportunities are never lost, somebody takes one you miss' and we're not going to have any regrets. I think the way we have prepared and the way we handled ourselves with that business-like attitude and the way we've approached the field on Sundays. I know guys are selling out and leaving everything they have out on the football field and for me, I mean there's no other way to do it. We are grown men playing a kid's game and to be doing what we are doing and be living a dream like I am living, what's not to be excited about and there's times where teammates pick you up when something bad happens and you do the same for those guys. This is an emotional game.
**Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell
Q: Perry, a lot of guys have said you emphasized being more physical this week. Do you think you have to be more physical than you have been, that's something you have to do against Green Bay? **A: Well, it's the last game of the season, so to speak, or postseason, if you're not. And so, you have to get to your technique faster than your opponent, you have to be more physical than the opponent, and you gotta want it more than your opponent.
Q: Is their offensive line a lot more different from last time?A: Well, Clifton only played maybe 20, 25 plays I think in the Detroit game, he was just getting his feet back. So that will, we don't really know,. But that offensive line is good. They've been working together for the last two years. They've done a great job throughout this whole season and it'll be a big challenge for our defensive line
Q: On better communication by the defense late in the season…A: Well, we've had breakdowns in communications throughout the whole season. Not just the communication of the front, but the linebackers as well as the defensive line. We kept communicating throughout the season and we've never stopped listening and talking to each other. And that's, it's taken place now. We are still listening to each other, we are still talking to each other, and we understand what each other is saying. We know what we want to do and how we want to do it. That's been one of the keys.
Q: On what specifically changed to improve communication on defense…A: It was just a combination of, some of our young players started to grow up. We did have a number of young players on the field at the same time. Chase Blackburn has been a tremendous welcome coming back to our squad and being able to communicate with our guys and get on the same page with our guys. I think it's just the work throughout the whole season, guys are listening to each other, talking to each other, and never stop communicating with each other, and believing in each other.
Q: Can you expand a little bit on what Chase has brought since he's arrived after what, four months off?A: Yeah, you know, he was the captain of our special teams a year ago. When he came back, Chase is a studier. He's a guy that takes notes when you're sitting and lecturing to the classroom. And everybody respects that. He asks great questions when we're in the meetings. And so, he brought credibility. He brought a voice that, like I can speak to Chase, Chase can speak to the defense, and we all spoke the same language. We mis-interpret a couple things here and there, but everybody knew he was gonna get it right. And he was gonna work hard to get it right. So I think it settled us down a lot more. Instead of us being indecisive, we became decisive.
Q: And he's played well on the field, once he's been out there?A: No doubt, no doubt about it. He's played physical, he's played well, and he has a great voice. I always talk about how Jon Goff had a good voice. When Chase shouts a command, everybody hears it. He has a great voice for our defense also.
Q: A lot of the Green Bay guys have talked about how the back-shoulder throw can be almost indefensible as a pass, do you agree?A: I don't buy that. I think you can defend a lot of routes. I think they are very good at throwing the back-shoulder fade, or the back-shoulder pass. His timing has been impeccable. You know, you have to defend it. there are some ways to defend it, and we look forward to defending it on Sunday.
Q: What do you see about the Packers on the offensive side of the ball that might open up some opportunities for a guy like Linval Joseph?A: You'd have to ask Linval that [laughs]. I think Linval's been playing good for us throughout the second half of the football season. I think Linval's just growing up. He's really a rookie, so to speak. I think Linval's just growing up a little bit. He's just turned it loose, and he's really playing well right now and with a lot of confidence.
Q: Their backup quarterback threw for six touchdowns when they rested starters for the playoffs, what does that say about their offense?A: That they're all on the same page, really. The timing of the routes, the quarterback's reads, the continuity of their football team because of their coaching staff, etcetera. It just tells you that, when you stick with a coaching staff and you have continuity in an offense, you can accomplish good things.
Q: On Flynn and Rodgers…A: I'm not gonna say anybody, but I'll tell you, they have two pretty good quarterbacks.
Q: On the opportunity for a rematch against a quarterback like Rodgers…A: I think anytime you have an opportunity to put the ball down, you have a chance to prove how good you are. I think that after playing them twice, knowing a little bit more about them, we're up for that challenge to see if we can hold that guy down. It's a big challenge for us, he's one of the best players in the league. This is a playoff game. You're throwing everything in the past out the window as far as everything he's done in the past, we want to find out what we can do on Sunday.
Q: On Kenny Phillips' role for Sunday…A: Kenny's such a good athlete, we want to do a lot of different things with him. Last Packers game we played, we had a specific role for him but he was injured in the ballgame and we didn't see that role come to fruition. We'll use Kenny's talents in certain situations. This week, we'll try to use Kenny's talents and try to get that quantum leap from Kenny this week…At times we see quantum leaps, you know, at times we see leaps, but we're looking for more consistency.
Q: On whether playing Green Bay again presents an opportunity for improvement from the last time…A: Yes, you know, when you play a team multiple times, you continue to study them, you continue to try to dissect and understand their offense and how they think. You'd like to think you have a better feel for the team than when you just play them one time.
Q: On Rodgers' scrambling ability…A: It's a problem. If you just sit back in the pocket, it would be a lot more comfortable for us. He has good scramble ability. I was watching the Bears' film and he made Briggs and Urlacher miss. That's a dimension you don't really count on. And he really can take advantage of you with his legs.
Q: On what he learned from Kansas City's win over the Packers…A: When I looked at the tape, I thought Kansas City did a nice job. They were very physical with them. Their desire up front to get after the quarterback and putting multiple hits on the quarterback I thought was good. I thought their corners covered their receivers well. I thought Kansas City may have wanted it a little bit more and they played like they wanted it a little bit more. From an X's and O's standpoint, there were things that we learned from the tape that, you know, we hoped we could use. I thought it came down to desire in that football game and Kansas City played with a lot of desire.
**DB Corey Webster
Q: What are your memories of the 2007 NFC Championship game?**A: I just remember the whole team staying together, fighting, never stopping until the end, until the clock said zero, zero. I had the opportunity to be a part of that and make a play in an overtime game, make an interception to get our team to the Super Bowl.
Q: Do people bring that play up when they meet you?A: A lot of people hold that play in high regard. I just take it as another play. It was a play to get us to the Super Bowl and not much more than that.
Q: With Terrell Thomas hurt, did you step up as a leader?A: I mean we had to, just being here. You hate to lose anybody on your team and we lost a couple guys this year. We always want to step up and make plays. I think the younger guys did a great job with whatever we asked them, they stepped in, they listened. Everything may not have been as smooth as we wanted it, but I think they did a great job of listening and cooperating and getting everybody better to play and I think everybody prepared like they were a starter so I think that helped too.
Q: Do you think your interception symbolized the team's resilience that year?A; Yes sir, and same thing like I said I got beat early in the game and you just want to make a play for your teammates. You never want to end on a bad play like that so you kind of want to equal out everything and that's all I was waiting for, not to do anything outside of the defense, but in the contents of the defense, trying to make a play and I had the opportunity to make it and was able to make it right there in overtime.
Q: Have you seen it on TV?A: Not exactly, I'm not a big TV guy, I don't really watch a whole lot of sports especially when it comes to football, I am kind of out of the loop when it comes to that. So, not at all.
Q: Did you take anything away from that game?A: I gave the ball away, I gave it to Lieutenant Colonel Gadson so I didn't take the ball after the game, but same as he said. I think it was a big thing of just showing us never giving up, never stopping, always fighting, the resiliency of you are never out of the fight as long as you have time on the clock and I think that was big for that play as well.
Q: Do you remember what was going through your mind as the play was developing?A: Donald Driver and Favre had worked together for a long time so you kind of think he is going to go with someone he is familiar with. So my goal was to just stay as close as coverage as I could to Driver and when I saw the ball come I was able to undercut the route and make a play on it. I just wanted to catch it being that it was cold and freezing at the time. I just wanted to hold onto it and give my team the opportunity to get on the field and get a W.
Q: What is the key to shutting down the Packers?A: I think we have to be conscious of where there playmakers are at all times. I think we can't give up anything like mental errors, give up mental busts. We have to stay solid in our techniques and our fundamentals and I think that will help us go a long way doing a lot of small things right. Its late in the season so most people think about the schemes and everything like that, but as a player on the field I think we need to do all the little things right – attention to detail, be very fundamentally sound and I think that will help us eliminate a lot of the big plays and ultimately giving us a chance to win on Sunday.
Q: Rodgers doesn't make a lot of mistakes.A: No I think it comes in our films and studies to try to get those tips and tendencies and I think that our guys do a great job of studying the opposing team. I think we will do the same this week even more so to try to make him create turnovers and I think that happens when you got the front rush and you got the guys staying close in coverage. I think we can get some turnovers and stuff like that, but he normally doesn't turn the ball over, but it's our goal to go out there and force those turnovers.
Q: Did an 'Us against the world' mentality develop?A: I think it's always started that way. I don't think it had anything go bad. We sweat; we do everything together so it's kind of hard to not be on the same page. So when things get a little hectic I think we did a great job of staying together, nobody bickering or arguing. I think we stayed together great in the locker room and we just kept on fighting and I think that shows the resiliency like I said about that one play. I think that shows a lot, shows the character of the team and I think we put ourselves in a good position here by doing that.
Q: Is the pressure this Sunday on the Packers?A: I think everybody knows its win or go home, I don't think it's any added pressure needed to be there. We have nothing to lose. We can go out there and put our best foot forward. I think they are going to do the exact same thing. I think it will be a good challenge for us to go out there on Lambeau Field and I think we are going to be up for it. I think all the guys are preparing, flying around to the ball this week. We have a lot of enthusiasm going through our practice and I think that's going to carry over to our game.
Q: As a secondary how do you make Rodgers hold the ball longer?A: I think it's a mixture of things. I don't think you can say you could do one thing or another. Like to go out there and play all man or all zone or press or play all off. I think with a good quarterback like that you want to throw different things at them so they don't get comfortable with what they've seen. Let them see different things, whether it's disguising things, whether it's pressing – just mixing it up, never let them get a tip on what you're doing and I think that will help us out.
Q: A lot of people remember the field goal to win the first meeting. Aaron drove down the field in about a minute to set up that field goal. Is this the secondary's chance to revenge for that?A: Revenge? Ultimately we want to win every game that we play. So I don't know if revenge is the right word, but we are going to be conscious of what they did last game, we are going to take everything they did last game and build off of that and know where we went wrong, where were our mistakes and hopefully that will help us better to eliminate those things that helped move the ball fast and quickly down the field.
Q: Being underdogs in the playoffs, is this an easier way to go into the playoffs?A: I don't think it's easy to get in the playoffs, easier way to get in? No, I just think this is the situation we have in hand right now, we are going to make the best out of the opportunity that we have. We are in there now, so all we can do is put our best foot forward by taking care of the opportunity on hand. That's going up there and taking care of the next game on the schedule. I think everybody will be up for it and it will be a good challenge on Sunday.
Hit the follow botton to join the Giants community! Follow @Giants