Giants Vs. Packers: Aaron Rodgers Conference Call, 01.11.12

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers smiles as he leaves the field after a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on December 25, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Q: How has the transition been different from underdog last year to favorite this year?
A: I think we learned a lot last year being a six seed and having to go on the road. You take on a different attitude as a team as the road team going into a hostile environment. I think that prepares us for the mindset that the opposing team is going to have. It is a different feeling and last year we just got in and this year we had a run and got a bye so it is a different feeling but last year really helped.

Q: Have you or the team used other motivational tactics this year?
A: Without a doubt, because last year was different challenges, different personnel and different people. We had more injuries with 15 people on IR and different guys filling spots. This year we are not sneaking up on anybody and the Super Bowl champs often have a target on their backs so it is has been a different set of circumstances and different adversity this year. We have all challenged ourselves individually and collectively to improve to be better and to be consistent. We still have a long way to go.

Q: Does playing against Eli make this game more special?
A: You have to have a lot of respect for Eli and the way he plays, his consistency and the way he played last week was great. I think you have to expect him and their offense to make some plays so you have to go in knowing that you are going to have to put up some points of your own knowing the kind of challenges we are going to have with their defense. You understand that Eli has played in big games before and played well so you expect them to play their best and we are going to have to do the same.

Q: Is there any rust from all the time off?
A: No, I don't think so.

Q: What differences have you seen in the Giants defense compared to the last time you played them?
A: When we played them they dropped a couple coverages, the touchdown to Donald, but they have been playing really sound with their defense. They are not just letting guys run free, they are in their rush lanes getting after the passer and they are making plays. They are tackling well and they are doing everything really well. I have a lot of respect for that defense because they play hard, play well, they play within the whistle and they have respect for the game. It is going to be a tough challenge for us.

Q: How important is the running game this week considering the Giants pass rush?
A: I think it is important anytime the conditions get difficult. We need to make sure that we have some balance on offense to not allow their guys to just rush up the field every time and get in their rushing lanes. We are going to have to slow them down.

Q: What kind of impact has the Philbin situation had on the team?
A: It is really tough. If you look at our season as a whole, three of our linemen have lost family members. Obviously, with the passing of Joe's son it has been difficult but I think it brings us together and makes us realize how important life is and not just our football family but our immediate family. Joe and I have a real tight relationship and it has been real hard on me to not be able to have the words to comfort him, his wife and the family. It has been difficult. We love Joe and we are behind him. It has been a tough year as far as having deaths in the family.

Q: How much can you gain because you played the Giants recently and what impact do you think Jason Pierre-Paul will have?
A: Hopefully, Chad will be able to block him pretty well or Marshall or whoever is in there. He is an incredible pass rusher and his athleticism is fun to watch. I think the team is playing better than when we probably played them up there in New York and were able to come out with a last second victory. I think both teams are playing better on both sides of the ball. It is going to be a tough challenge with Jason, Tuck, Osi, David, Chris and those guys. They all offer their own difficulties when you try to block them and protect. It is going to be important to try to slow those guys down a little bit and for us to win those one on one matchups.

Q: How much does last year's championship run help this year?
A: I think it helps us because we made the run, we know what it is like and we know the pressure that we are going to be under. It is a little different feel because we were the big underdog starting in the postseason last year and we made a run. We are the number one seed now so it is a different feeling. There is something about having a home playoff game, having our crowd here with their noise and the way they can be. We have a great opponent this week so we know we are going to have a tough challenge and we are looking forward to a home playoff game.

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