Eli Manning, 12.14.09

Q. It looked like you guys were in a good offensive rhythm for most of the game last night?

A. Yeah. Offensively we did some good things. We made a lot of plays, did a lot of positive things. The two fumbles hurt, so that is something that we have to clean up. A lot of things to build on and we had some opportunities. We missed some opportunities, but also some guys made some great individual efforts and made some big plays. We can build from this and keep improving. We go into these last three games knowing that we have the ability to make some big plays, move the ball and score some points.

Q. How do you see this team’s playoff potential over the last three weeks?

A. We know what is ahead of us. We’ve got three games to play and it starts this week with Washington on Monday night. So we’ve got to take care of our business starting with this one. Right now every game is a must win.

Q. Do you think this season is salvageable?

A. Sure. Yeah, definitely, without a doubt.

Q. Do you think it is going to be a fight right to the finish between you and the Dallas Cowboys?

A. Yeah. All we can do is worry about ourselves though. You can’t get into, you know, we need some help, but we’ve got to handle our business. We’ve got to win all three games. That is what our focus is, our focus is this week, right now, on Washington. We’ve got a big game. They are playing well. We’ve got to go into their place and find a way to get a win.

Q. As an athlete, is it difficult to know that you don’t control your own destiny?

A. No, it is not difficult because all we can control is what we are doing anyway. We’ve got to control our games and control our season. We all know who Dallas plays and they’ve got a tough schedule. We are in the mindset that if we win these three games, we think we will make the playoffs.

Q. Do you feel fortunate that the Cowboys have the remaining schedule they do?

A. No. Again, it is still about us. I feel fortunate that we did some good things the other day and we can use this as a little momentum. I know it is a tough loss. When you do a lot of good things, you can build from that and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to keep doing those things. Let’s eliminate some of those errors. Let’s fix those and move forward.’

Q:  How much has Washington’s defense changed, if at all, since the first time you guys saw them?

A:  I haven’t seen any film on Washington yet, so I’m really not sure. I know they’ve played a lot of teams tough. The games that they have lost have come in the last few minutes of the game. So I know they are talented. Offensively they are doing well. Defensively they have talented players. So we know we have to play our best football.

Q:  When you guys gathered this morning was there more a sense of anger, disappointment, and frustration? How would you characterize the mood?

A:  A combination – just kind of felt that was a game that we could have won and we let it slip away.  I think guys were upbeat about the potential, the way we played at times and the good things that we did.  Sometimes when you lose a game those great plays get overlooked. And so you need to remember those and say, ‘Hey, we did a lot of really good things, but let’s see how we can get better. Let’s see how we can improve.’ Really what it comes down to is that it doesn’t matter how great you play or what happens – it is about winning the games and that is what we have to do.

Q: Have you looked at the replay of the slide that you had and the one that was reviewed?  How do you understand the rule to be?

A:  I would have to read the exact rules and kind of get a greater understanding of what that is. I don’t know how you say if a guy touches you and you go down, how do you say whether he tackled you or that was a part of the touch for three steps. That is kind of what I heard – that I took three steps. Kevin Boss had one where he stiffed armed a guy, took three steps and fell.  He didn’t fumble but I just wonder if he had fumbled when he went down would that be a fumble or not. So that is kind of what I was claiming. It still comes down to me. I have to hold the ball; no excuse for me to fumble the ball in that situation. So I still have to hold on to the ball right there and can’t afford that. But I thought I could argue my point that the guy touched me – he got my foot, he grabbed my jersey.  It was a play where I don’t think I could have slid feet first if I wanted to with a chasing you. You are going down. It was just unfortunate that happened and we lose the ball right there.

Q:  Can you tell there is some pressure on this offense to carry things or make sure you score 30-35 points?

A:  You never know what kind of game it is going to turn out to be. I think we have to do a better job of starting faster. You can’t afford to turn the ball over early on and all of a sudden you are down 14 points right away in the first quarter. So we have to do a better job of helping our defense out from that standpoint.  Obviously special teams - 14 points that the defense really didn’t give up – they go on the scoreboard. They are in a bind also. So I thought we fought back in that situation. And that is when you look back on some of the positives. We could have easily gotten down and gotten frustrated with the way the game started, how things went, especially in the first half. But we fought hard. We fought hard in the second half to get back in the lead. But still we had some great opportunities in that fourth quarter that we didn’t take advantage of. We had some plays, had some good field position where we could have gotten more points on the board than what we did.

Q:  Describe the swing of emotions – you throw the touchdown pass to Hixon, you are in the lead and before you could settle down they score again.

A:  We just said, ‘Hey, we are going to have to score.’ Even after we got that touchdown we kind of had the mindset, ‘Hey, we are going to need two more scores – whether it is touchdowns or field goals. This game is not over. There is still a lot of time left. We are going to need to keep going out there and scoring.’ And we knew we were getting the ball back right away. We said, ‘Hey, they haven’t stopped us really all game.  We have hurt ourselves on some plays. We just have to keep doing it.’ It is one of those things that happen.  They are going to be quick plays.  We kind of did it to them in a sense and we had some quick plays and some big plays. That is what happened to Dallas the week before. And they go and score and also we throw a flat to Brandon and we took the lead back. So those are momentum changes and you have to come back and respond when they have a big play.

Q:  On the third and five draw play, was that the right play called?

A:  It should have been a great play for us. The defense that they were playing – it had everybody kind of overloaded to the right and we had a counter coming back side. It should have been a big play and we couldn’t have drawn up a better coverage for it. We run the ball on third down some. That is just kind of one of the things we say that we can do. They play a lot of 2-man on kind of that third and four; third and five range.  And so we had one earlier where we tossed it to Ahmad and got a big play on about a third and three. So that is just kind of our game plan. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Whether you had a pass play called and it didn’t work – it is the same thing. That was the game plan; that was a good play that we had called. It was just that we didn’t execute it.

Q:  Early in the game Hakeem Nicks had those drops back to back. You went right back to him two plays later. Do you at all make a point of going right back to him to keep him involved in the game after those drops?

A:  It was hard to say anything really right there just because we were on the field the whole time. I went to the sideline and said, ‘Hey, forget about those. We have to make up for it. But we have to keep going. We have to make some plays and so don’t get your head down.’ So he did a good job and made some tough catches and made some plays. Drops are going to happen sometimes. They can be frustrating and what not, but as long as the guy’s head is in the game and he is fighting still, I think it is a part of football. It is better than a mental error. Mental errors bother me. That kind of says your head is not in the game and you are somewhere else. We didn’t have many mental errors. Guys were doing some great things. You are going to have drops or have bad plays. That is part of being an athlete and trying to overcome those things.

Q:  You showed a little emotion when you wanted to run that play fast and the subs were coming in and they got the replay.  It worked out OK, but is it one of those things that you need to smooth out a little bit and get everybody on the same page at the same time?

A:  Yeah, a little bit. We have the coaches upstairs that saw the play and they said he was in bounds. I don’t always see exactly how smooth it is and I had rather get up and run the play so I guess on the sideline they were pretty confident that he was in bounds. So I was kind of getting up there calling plays. And they were confident that he was inbounds. So that is kind of what happened.

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