Q: Did you guys almost play as well as you could play for those first 52 minutes?
A: As a coach I don't think you ever say that that was perfect, but we played well. There's no question. We did a lot of good things. There are a couple of plays that you wish you had back and a couple of opportunities that you didn't fully take advantage of or capitalize on, a couple of calls you wish you could change here or there, but generally speaking we played very well against an outstanding football team and we had a lead and a score that I think reflected that.
Q: Where do you rank the NFC Championship game in Eli's career and his evolution as a quarterback?
A: I just think that like any game where you go out and you play well and you're able to overcome the challenges that are intrinsic in that particular game leads to a reservoir of confidence. Because of the magnitude of the game and the severity of the conditions, you would hope and I would think that it's an accurate statement to say that he came out of that game feeling that no matter what he was faced with, that he would have a chance to go out and compete and do well and succeed, so I can see where that certainly contributed significantly to his development just from a confidence perspective.
Q: How do you assess what you guys did on the ground last week?
A: You always wish you had more. They're a good team, they stunt and they blitz a lot, so they're always going to make it difficult and challenging. Again, as I mentioned earlier, you always wish you made a cut here or a better block here. There were some opportunities we didn't fully take advantage of, but for the most part it was better than the first one where we only had 61, so from that standpoint I think that we are improving. The one thing that happens is where you guys look at one thing independently, I never do. I look at it as it fits into the context of the whole game and when people commit and do the things that they do help to stifle the run game, did it give you some opportunities throwing the ball? It certainly did and I thought that we capitalized on that and having that manifest itself in four touchdown passes I think is a direct reaction to some of the things they do defensively and some of the things they do defensively make it challenging to run.
Q: The Packers defense allows very few trips inside of their red zone.
A: They're good. You look at your breakdowns and there are not a lot of plays, so between their offense holding onto the ball and not giving you many opportunities, we need to get it ourselves and the fact that they have a very, very stout defense that is very low in the points per game that they give up, I'm not surprised by that at all. It just tells you that collectively they play very well together. In other words, they don't give you many chances on offense and when you do go out there, they make it very, very difficult. They're good, they're talented, they've got some big powerful people inside, they've got some good pass rushers, their corners are excellent. They're a good football team. A good defense.
Q: Is that the bend but not break mentality that they subscribe to?
A: Oh no. It's not that at all. They're sixth ranked in defense. They're good. I wouldn't say that that point total or fewest trips into the green zone or red zone is a indicator or characteristic of a team that doesn't bend, doesn't break. They stop you. They just flat out stop you. We had 48 plays one game, 50 plays another - we never play somebody that when we break down film has that few plays for us to break down offensively, but that's more than normal for them.
Q: Doesn't that put a premium on every one of your plays?
A: Absolutely. No question. Every opportunity - because there's not going to be many - you've got to take full advantage of. They're good. Again, when you couple it with what's going to be very challenging weather conditions, we're going to have our work cut out for us, there's no question, but they're going to have to do the same thing. They're going up against a good defense, ours, they have to contend with the same weather conditions that we do, so it's going to be challenging for both offenses.
Q: Will the weather conditions force you to lean on the ground game more?
A: I've never done that unless you couldn't throw. The last time we went up there we threw exceptionally well and I'll hope that that will be an opportunity again, but each game is different. In this game, maybe the weather will be different and prevent us from throwing, but you always try to do whatever is allowing you to be successful moving the ball and if there is a total commitment by them to shut down the run, then you hope that it gives you some chances throwing, just like last week did, and then just as importantly, when you get those chances, that you're able to do something with them.
Q: Your third down conversions are down without Steve Smith.
A: Whenever you lose a terrific player - he is a terrific player and he is exceptionally good at playing the inside. He's good as an outside receiver, he's extraordinary as an inside receiver, so you lose that quality of player. Many times in third down, the way people structure their defenses with the version of a two, whether it's two man or double outside, they give you chances inside, so to have a guy like him in there was a great security blanket for us in terms of our playcalling and for our execution, but he's gone, so you've got to come up with other guys who can do that for you and last Sunday we were just about 50 percent, which is very good against that quality of a team. Hopefully we can continue to get some production from the guys that we have in there. So far, knock on wood, they've done a great job for us.
Q: You mean cover two?
A: Yeah. I'm sorry, I mean two high and they roll at the corners, so what they do is - it's not a double of the outside receivers per se, but sometimes it is - it's just we've got one guy short and one guy over the top, so the guys that are inside have a better opportunity and a little more space to work, so whoever you put in there has got to have the success for you that Steve provided.
Q: After a devastating loss, how good is Tom Coughlin at recovering in those situations?
A: He's great. I think he's great because although he recognizes and responds differently to the circumstances that we've been dealt and obviously losing the way we did, generally speaking it's whatever happened, let's learn from it and he's able to put it behind us and he's able to move ahead and he's a great example and I think guys can lean on that example and recognize that this is a week to week existence and your success or failure really is to a large measure controlled by your ability to learn from what happened and let it go and not be bogged down by it and I think he does a great job of making it difficult to continue to live in the past.