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Quotes from Inside Giants Locker Room


**Head Coach Tom Coughlin

**This is a very exciting time for us. We have just finished our first practice of the three that we will have here before we travel out to Indianapolis. We have been off for a few days, I wouldn't say the practice was sharp but I believe it was okay. There are a number of guys that were not able to participate today and I think you know who they are but hopefully we will get some of them tomorrow and then as we move along, we will get them all back in preparation to play an exceptional New England Patriot football team who has a 10-game winning streak since the time that we visited there. They have two home playoff wins and outstanding play on both sides of the ball with an outstanding kicking game as well.

Q: Is there a difference in planning to play Bill Belichick versus any other coach?A: Each team and each coach has their individual characteristics that we look for but by in large, you break it down and you have to be very detailed. Bill is an outstanding football coach who has his finger on everything that goes on there and does an exceptional job of planning in his own right. Therefore, it presents outstanding problems and for that and just as important is that they are a very, very good team. 

Q: When you coached with him did you know he would be this good of a coach?A: I didn't have any doubts that he would. He started very young and advanced with a lot of responsibility at a young age. He was constantly preparing for the opportunity that would come to him. He did an outstanding job as a defensive coordinator and secondary coach the three years that I was here. I was not here for the 86 team and run but I was fortunate enough to come in 88 and be here for the 90-91 team. I didn't have any question about the meticulous detailed work that Bill always did and the process that he went through to prepare his defensive team. 

Q: Did going against him in practice build your relationship with him?A: We worked very well together and I think that is the thing that is very, very important when you evaluate that time in our lives. We cooperated well and or players cooperated well. We did a lot together and I can remember Parcells saying, 'Again?' when we said we wanted to do some red zone or one-on-ones together. He would say, 'Again?' We did work well together and our players worked well, we prepared one another and we acted as each others' scout team in the individual practices that we had. We would discuss things back and forth to a certain extent and what the offensive strategy would be and the defensive approach. It was a good time. It was fun and the whole staff was an outstanding staff.

Q: When you describe him, is that you? Do you say that is a coach like me?A: I hope so, I think in many ways the characteristics are the same but in many ways different. I think Bill probably had more to do with their offense in the past few years with Tom Brady being there but he came up through the ranks and special teams and defense. Although I did start in college as a secondary coach, I then went to offense. 

Q: Do you talk to your players about the importance of this moment?A: We talk about it a lot. It is historical, which is very, very important to me that the players understand the historical significance. The opportunity that is there for our team and we have been building on this theme for quite some time now, this is not something new that has just been presented to our guys. With each step on the way, it has been pretty much that and we will continue to use that strategy in preparing our guys so they understand the significance of it, why and the sacrifices made to put yourself in the best position to win and preparation being the key to success and right now we have the opportunity to prepare ourselves in our home ground. Although we don't have a game staring us in the face today, we do have to project and understand the importance of how critical it is. When we leave here we pretty much have the knowledge of how we will defend, attack etc.

Q: How do you play against Gronkowski?A: This is a very gifted tight end, as you know, but we played against them and had some people that were tall that our guys had to work against. Certainly, this is a very gifted guy that has had an outstanding career and re-written some record books along the way. He has done a very good job of making the big catch as well. He is a person that Brady looks to go to in certain areas of the field and in the red zone. There are things that we have to do to slow that whole aspect down a little bit and that would be the way that we have to start out approaching it anyway.

Q: Do you plan on treating Hernandez like a wide receiver?A: Nothing has really changed except for the fact that he is running now too.

Q: What does the Super Bowl mean to you personally?A: Just the fact that we are in this game, a game of this magnitude in Super Bowl XLVI and that the opportunity for these young guys do not come along very often in their careers and how important it is to grasp that. We have some players on our team that have lost the Super Bowl game and we will draw from those experiences. We have guys who are playing in it for the first time and we have guys that have won it just a few short years ago and have suffered a little bit in between but know the importance and excitement that goes into the playoffs and this tournament. When we presented it this morning we said, 'And now, there are two.' Last week it was four and now it is two and those are the things that I am talking about. It is an opportunity to be in the biggest game of them all again and that is exciting. That is what you work for. That whole year is about planning and preparing for this opportunity and for us, this team was pretty much written off at one point in time, so that makes it even more significant for all of us.

Q: Is your schedule leading up to the game the same as 07?A: With changes based on the location you are forced to do because of your practice facility being 20 minutes away, we may do most of our teaching right in the hotel rather than move over to a complex and teach, those are the kinds of things that we had to adjust. Basically, the format will be the same in terms of how we operate here and what the days off are, when we travel, and what we will do when we start up again.

Q: Are you concerned about the rookies?A: We are talking a lot about that. When we did our first organizational meeting the other day, I started the meeting off just making sure that they understood the significance of the three practices that we will have here and the idea to have about 90% of your game plan in. I left and I heard at the end of the meeting that Eli spoke to the team about the businesslike approach that is necessary and some of the dos and don'ts. That was a very good start and it was responded to very well by our players. What I have chosen to do is talk about two or three things a day as we get closer on the things that I want them to keep in mind going forward.

Q: Giants won in 86 and 90. Your team won in 07 and now four years later. Is there a common theme to teams getting back to the Super Bowl?A: I am not sure that there is. If you look back in history, 87 was the strike year and the year after they won it for the first time here. For us, we came back with a real strong team in 08 but had some unfortunate things that happened when we were about 11-1 and derailed us a little bit and lost out on a great opportunity there. I think those things lead to a real strong feeling to wanting to get back, trying to get back and the desire to get back. Tying things together, teams are different and things change from one year to the next. Changes and no two teams are exactly the same. I am aware of some of the parallels and analogies that are taking place and want to have taken place but I try to stay as much as I can with this team.

Q: In other Super Bowls, the Giants have tried to control the ball and have the time of possession advantage against good quarterbacks. Do you still plan to run the ball against this team even though you have proven you can go toe to toe with high scoring offenses?A: Balance has always been a key factor for us. Sometimes we are not able to keep that kind of balance and we have to adjust on the fly. I like to think, in terms of the planning of it, the balance is there and we would be able to do that. It is certainly a part of our plan.

Q: Why were there so many players out of practice today? Because you have the extra time?A: We are trying to be smart and not aggravate something that is there that will be able to be managed in a short amount of time and make sure that there is not anything else that happens.

Q: Was Ross returning punts late in the 49ers game because of Blackmon's injury?A: Yes.

**QB Eli Manning

Q: Is it different preparing for the Patriots this time?**A: I think any time you play the Patriots they're always going to have something new for you. The last time we played them they showed a lot of different looks, some different schemes on defense – things that they have not shown before. When we played them in the Super Bowl four years ago they had some new things for that game. They tend to have a theme of the game and it changes from week to week. You go back and watch the last couple of games, each game is a little different, a little different scheme that they're going to play. They're always going to be well prepared. They're always going to have some things that they think are going to slow us down so we have to be prepared for that.

Q: How hard is it to stand in the pocket and not get rattled when you're getting hit like you did in San Francisco?A: That's the job of a quarterback. When it's a game, where first off, you're going to throw it 58 times you're going to take some more hits. That's just part of the deal. It wasn't like we were throwing it every play, we just had a lot of plays – over 90 plays in the game. Our guys protected well and did some good things. They had some coverage sacks and different things going on. As the quarterback, you have to stand in there. I didn't feel like I was taking many big hits. You have to do your job and keep your eyes down the field and make sure you're playing smart football and make sure, whether you're getting hit or you're getting pressure, [it doesn't] affect your decision making and your throws.

Q: Do you have to fight off looking over your shoulder?A: Yeah, you have to try to eliminate that and not let the play before dictate what happens on the next play. You have to do that no matter what. It could be any type of circumstance. Each play you have to forget about the last one and move forward.

Q: Is that a skill you can get better at?A: I don't know if it's a skill. Really, it's just a mindset. Yeah, I think you can work on it. I think it's something you have to think about, something you have to tell yourself – 'Hey, last play they got good pressure. This time I'm going to be well protected. I'm going to be smart and go through my reads.' If you feel something, if you sense something, then you have to be smart and move up or get the ball out quickly, but don't try to imagine there's someone behind you.

Q: Do you think the practices at Hoboken High School helped?A: I think it was productive. I'm not trying to say that was the reason we've reached the Super Bowl, but I definitely think we got some work done. One of the guys who was probably at every one of those throwing was Victor Cruz, a guy close, a guy who did a lot of spot work and making decisions and reads and just talking through things. Obviously he's a guy who's had a great season. I'd like to think that that work paid off and we got better. We got to talk over some things and decisions. I'd like to think that the work that we did during that time helped guys have a better understanding of our offense.

Q: Do you get tired of people asking about your legacy?A: Yes.

Q: What will winning this Super Bowl do for your legacy?A: I don't think I get asked much about a legacy. I don't think that's anything that I worry about. My job is to try to play at a high level, try to play football for the Giants. I think the important thing when you play in big games, like a Super Bowl, is don't let the fact that it is a big game make you think about other things. You have to keep it simple in a sense of this is a great opportunity for this team, for this organization to win a championship. That's the important thing. That's what you play for. You had a goal at the beginning of the year to set out to win the Super Bowl and be champions and that's what we're working on. We have one game and really you're just thinking about going out and playing your best game of the year. That's the mindset, that's the focus you want to have. When you start thinking about other things or what this might mean, that's when you're really distracted from what your job has to be.

Q: When's the last time you put on your Super Bowl ring?A: I don't know. Three years ago, plus. It's been a while. I probably haven't put it on since the start of the '08 season.

Q: Did you think about the story of Super Bowl XLVI?A: No. I think you just think about their defense. You start thinking about the last time you played, some of the new things they did, what was their scheme, what was their thought, the type of game that it turned out to be – trying to work hard on focus. It's been a lot easier now. We have the game plan now. We have more film. We have our rules, things we think we can attack them with. I think you just stay focused without thinking about the football part. You don't think about the celebration or you don't think of the ticker-tape parade. You think about playing that football game, those plays, things that might happen, the decisions you have to make. I think it's important that everybody keeps that focus.

Q: Does it help you at all that you beat them in the regular season without some of your weapons?A: It's always nice to have all of your weapons anytime you play a game. Last time we were missing Hakeem and Ahmad and Baas, I think. Obviously had a few guys out, but I think our game plan was probably pretty similar. I mean the game plan that day didn't change based on the players that we had going in. Obviously you feel good about every game you go into. I don't think it will make a difference from our mindset because of the new players.

Q: How much does your preparation mirror what you did in 2007?A: I hope the preparation is pretty similar. I think our plan last time was very good, as in our scheduling, how we practiced, our meeting times. From my self-schedule to what I did before we went to [Arizona] and once we got to the Super Bowl site – when I could watch film, when I had to do media, practice, what I did at night to get my rest – I remember pretty well how I tried to stay on the same schedule that I normally would for a home game. So things that I did on a Thursday night, I'd do the same on the Thursday night at the site. Obviously it's always a little different because there's traveling, there's other obligations you have to do for Super Bowl week, but you try as much as possible to keep things as consistent as you can.

Q: What did you learn from Super Bowl XLII that you can do differently this time?A: I don't know if there is anything I learned that I'd do differently. I thought I had a pretty good plan last time – a lot of it about my scheduling and staying on the same routine as I've been on the last twenty weeks of the year. Football players get in a routine. I've treated every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday pretty much the same for these last weeks. I want to try to keep that going this week and into next week. I thought I had a good plan last time. I'll try to keep that same thought process.

Q: What are you going to look for knowing that the Patriots switch between a 3-4 and a 4-3?A: They do change up their alignment, but we should be prepared for both of them. We've played a lot of 3-4 teams. We played a lot of 4-3 teams. They can play both of them in a game, but it seems like they try to have a theme of what they're going to base out of that week. It can change. [Against] Baltimore they were more 3-4 it seemed like. Games prior, the last time we played them they were more 4-3. We'll be prepared for both of them or whatever they want to show, we'll have a good plan.

Q: Knowing that you went to Foxborough and won without all of your players, how will that help going into this game?A: I think it's still the same mindset. It doesn't make you more confident or any less confident. I think it's still going to come down to our preparation and the way we go out and play next week. I don't think it changes our mindset at all.

Q: Are you happy to be playing indoors?A: I haven't thought about it much. It really doesn't make a whole lot of difference. We've been good outside. We've been good indoors. The fact that the game is in a cold weather city it makes you happy that it is indoors. You don't have to worry about the weather being a factor. It's always a good day to throw the ball inside.

Q: What's the significance of playing in Peyton's "house"?A: Again, we keep focus on the game and none of the outside stories.

Q: How was practice today?A: I thought practice was good today. I thought guys had good energy, running around making quick decisions, fast paced. I think that's good for the first practice knowing that we have six more practices before we play. I thought it was a good tempo, good pace and guys were prepared. We'll continue to get better as the week goes on.

Q: Has the offense peaked yet?A: No. I hope not. I think there's definitely room for improvement in a couple of areas. You always want, at the end of the season or the last game of the season, to be playing your best football. That's what we're striving for. That's with the run, the pass, our defense, everybody playing well. I think we have improved over these last four or five weeks and we have to keep that mentality. We have to keep getting better.

Q: How much do you expect the Patriots' defense to try to hit the quarterback?A: I think that's the strategy of every defense. How do you slow down an offense? Well, you stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback. That's always the objective. It's a matter of can the opposing team do it and can we do things to get the ball out quickly and protect and have a good mix of run and pass and play action where you can keep the defense off balance and not knowing what to expect.

Q: What kind of impact can Peyton have on you for a game like this?A:  He was very helpful in getting me some tickets to the game. I think that's one less thing that I have to worry about.

Q: Have you talked to Peyton about his future?A: I have not. No.

Q: How different are the Patriots defensively from the when you played them in the regular season?A: They're talented on defense. They do a great job of getting turnovers is one thing. So you have to be careful with the football. They can change up their scheme from week to week so you have to be prepared for a lot of different things, a lot of different looks, have a great understanding of what they can do out of certain alignments. Their front four is very large. They have some large guys right there in the middle. They do a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback also – a lot of sacks. Their offense is high-powered so they can score. Their offense gets a lead for them a bunch, which leads to turnovers and different things for the offense. You have to have a great preparation and go in and just be prepared. They do a great job of disguising things and showing different looks. We have to be prepared for it all.

Q: Can you just talk about Kevin Boothe?A: Kevin's done a great job for us, whether he has to play center, whether he has to play guard, sometimes he plays both of them in the same game for a few plays. He's been very important to this team and given us that comfort knowing that whatever happens amongst the offensive line, if a guy gets banged-up a little bit or goes down that Kevin can come in and play a number of spots.

Q: Does Tom Coughlin have to give that message of "finish" anymore?A: The message is still brought up. I think it's something we've talked about for a long time. It was one of the main focuses at the beginning of the season. I think we've done a good job, obviously, of finishing the regular season strong. We finished the fourth quarter strong in a number of games and obviously now we're at the point where it's the last game of the season and let's finish the season strong.

Q: The last couple of weeks you've been the team looking for revenge. Now that's flipped.A: At this point it's not so much about revenge. It's just about the opportunity to win a championship. I think that's what has motivated us these last weeks, whether we were in the playoffs, to make it to the playoffs and a chance to be playing your best football at the end of the season.

Q: How different are you going into this Super Bowl than you were going into Super Bowl XLII?A: Anytime you have four more years of experience you should be a better quarterback and a better player – a better understanding of your offense, better control of what's going on. I think I've made improvements in those four years. I've worked hard to try to become a better quarterback and make better decisions and be a better leader. Those are some of the things I've worked on.

**LB Mathias Kiwanuka

Q: What does this game mean?**A: This is everything that dreams are made of. It is an opportunity not just to play in the biggest game, on the biggest stage. This is America's game and this is the biggest game of the year. I get to do it at home, in front of my family and maybe people who would not have been able to travel and see me. Just being back out there after being injured and stuff, it is all fun.

Q: How hard is it to beat a team twice?A: We just have to get it done. It is always hard to beat a team but this is the biggest game for a reason because it is two great teams. We have to get focused and get going.

Q: How are you feeling right now?A: We have been in some situations like this before and we are ready to go.

**WR Victor Cruz

Q: Does this field play to your advantage? Is the fast track something you're looking forward to?**A: Of course. Anytime you get a chance to play on turf and play on a fast track and be able to run your routes and not worry about weather, slippery conditions or anything like that, it's always a plus, especially for receivers.

Q: What does it mean to see Eli get up after the hits he took last week?A: It says a lot about his character and about how much he loves the game and to just get up and keep plugging away no matter how hard it may be, no matter how much they're getting to him. He just kept it up and got up every single time and just kept his head in the game. That was huge for us. He's our leader. He's the one that has to keep his head in the game in order for us to. It just said a lot about him and about how much he has love for us and the organization and the teammates. I respect the guy a ton for it.

Q: How does knowing Eli can do that change your confidence?A: It changes my confidence a lot. It makes me understand that no matter what happens, no matter how many times they get to him, he's going to get up and he's going to keep plugging away. He's going to move onto the next play and he's going to act like it never happened. It definitely increases my confidence in him. My confidence is already sky high throughout this season, but going into the playoffs and into a new season has definitely increased my confidence in him by a lot.

Q: Did anyone show you a Super Bowl ring from four years ago yet?A: Yeah. One of our trainers gave me a pound today and he had the ring on. I was like, 'I can't even pound you because the ring is so big.' It will be cool to get one of my own coming up, God willing.

Q: Has it hit you how rare your story is – going from being unknown to the Super Bowl?A: It's starting to hit me now. Once I spoke to my friend Mike Adams, he's out of Paterson and plays for the Cleveland Browns. I speak to him all of the time. He told me, 'Man, I've played this game about 11 years now and I haven't even made it to the postseason.' That really says a lot about how fortunate I am, how fortunate I am just to be here. For a guy like that who has paid his dues in this league and hasn't even made it to the postseason is definitely tough. It shows you how tough this league is and how hard it is to win each and every week. I'm just a fortunate guy. It's really starting to sink in – how rare my story is and how far I've come.

Q: How much do you remember about last year's preseason game against the Jets?A: I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember warming up before the game and being really, really nervous, having a lot of butterflies. I was a rookie then so I had to wait until the second half to get into the game. It was just anxiety and I'm just waiting patiently. There were a lot of thoughts running through my head. I just wanted to get out there. Once I got out there I just let myself go and let myself play the game. Playing in that game really taught me a lot about the league and taught me a lot about myself. It was an important game for me, especially my family being there. It was just one of those feelings that I'll never forget.

Q: How much of a difference will having Hakeem Nicks in this game make?A: I think it will make a big difference. His assets and his ability were definitely missed in that (first) game. Just having him out there, his presence alone is going to call some attention by the defense. Having all of the receivers healthy is going to cause a lot of attention either way. So we'll see how they play us. It's going to be an interesting ordeal to see how they come out against us and we'll see how it goes.

Q: How are you dealing with this week?A: I'm just taking it day by day, taking it one practice, one meeting at a time and just making sure I'm ready for whatever comes up, whatever the upcoming meeting or the upcoming arrangement is. I'm ready for it and I make sure I get as much sleep as possible, just being prepared for whatever comes my way.

Q: Could you have sold yourself on this story?A: Not initially. Every step of the way I just tried to play my hardest and whatever opportunity came my way, I just tried to take advantage of it. I understood that opportunites were going to come few and far between and when that small window opens for me I have to jump right through it and make sure I seize that moment and that opportunity. Thank God I have.

Q: Can you talk about the conversation you had with your mom when you got kicked out of school?A: That was an eye-opening conversation for me. She held me accountable. She held me accountable for everything that I was doing – all my faults, all my rights and wrongs. That was the moment where I realized I had to turn into a man. I was a sophomore or junior in college and that's when I needed to really look at myself in the mirror and understand that I'm a man now. My mother can't come and be there with me and be my voice anymore. I had to really speak up and speak for myself. That was one of the turning points in my life. I had to turn a leaf and become a man.

Q: Did you try to emulate Wes Welker?A: Yeah, there's a little bit of stuff that he does very well. Obviously he catches the ball very well. He's really quick in and out of his routes and that's something that I try to imitate while I'm out there and try to be as quick as possible. Moving laterally is something that I do well and he's been exceptional at that for years. So I watched a little bit of film on him and I know how good he is and I try to steal a few things from his repertoire.

**DE Jason Pierre-Paul

Q: How much does the defensive line compete amongst each other?**A: We compete amongst each other and if Justin gets a sack, I want two. If I want two, then Osi wants three. Basically you can say that we are greedy but in a good way, to help our team out. We try to get there quick enough to help our secondary cover better and try to get to the quarterback as fast as we can.

Q: Do strip sacks count as two?A: I leave that to Osi, that is Osi's thing. He is very good at it and we just try to get after the quarterback and have fun. That is the most important thing, is to have fun on the field and while you are doing it you just see a great group of guys having fun and it makes you want to have more fun.

Q: Does that competitiveness show in other ways as well?A: Yes, we clown around and stuff. If you look around, especially in the D-Line room, we clown around but when it is time to work, we work. That is a good thing, we know when to shut it off and turn it on.

Q: What were your thoughts on the first time you played the Patriots offensive line?A: The first time I played them, I really didn't know too much about them. We had studied them on film but as I look up on film now, they are a great offensive line but every offensive line can be beat. We are just going to get after them. 

Q: How important is it to get after Tom Brady?A: Everybody likes Brady and he is a great quarterback. He has done many things in this league and has been to the Super Bowl a couple times. They played them in 07 and they won and we play them in 2012 and all I know is that it is going to be a great game and only one team can win.

Q: Did you watch Super Bowl XLII?A: No.

Q: How do you apply pressure on Brady?A: Applying pressure is a big thing otherwise he is going to dink and drop us all the way in our secondary. We just have to get to him fast enough and at the same time we have to play the run game and stay positive and focus on what is in front of us.

**Safety Antrel Rolle

Q: Do you talk to your teammates about your Super Bowl experience?**A: I never speak of losing and I have had my own personal experience with that. It is nothing that I really want to share with the guys. I definitely don't want to be on that end again by any means. If I have to get carried off the field, so be it, but whatever it takes at this point.

Q: Are Cruz and Welker the best slot receivers in the league?A: Wes Welker is definitely improving and Cruz has done exceptional this year. I can't say that they are the best slot receivers in this game. There are a lot of great slot receivers but right now, at the top of their game, I would definitely have to say that it is those two.

Q: Where do you expect to be in your preparation on Monday?A: We take it as it comes. Along with this opportunity comes a lot of great things, there are a lot of things that you have to get yourself ready for. We are preparing this week like we are playing this week. That is the message that has been told to us by one of our leaders and we are keeping that on our shoulders. 

Q: Is a lot of the work expected to be done by the time you get to Indy?A: We are working and a lot of work is expected to be done and will be done also when we get up there. Our mindset is to go up there and win this game so we are going to do whatever it takes to win this game. Our focus is to prepare and be on top of our game.

Q: What is the most difficult part to prepare for when you think about Tom Brady?A: There are a lot of different things but most of all it is his weapons. I don't think you can take his strengths away from him. We just have to be exceptionally good in trying to limit his targets. He is an exceptional quarterback, especially when he scans the field. He is very, very good at reading defenses so we can't take away what he is good at but we can try to work his targets and take those guys away.

Q: When you win five in a row, do you start to feel like you can't lose?A: You never feel like you can't lose but you try to prepare yourself enough and you have done everything you can do to put yourself in the situation to win. I think that is what our approach is and I think that is our mindset.

Q: What is the most difficult part of the first week before you go to Indianapolis?A: I don't know, I don't see a difficult part in anything. We are not doing anything out of the ordinary. We are going to work and we are preparing. We are staying on top of our game and we are preparing this week like we are going out there on Sunday.

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