NFC Championship Game 2012: Eli Manning Press Conference, 01.19.12

Q: Can you remember ever getting so much attention over an illness?

A: No. I wasn’t watching much TV yesterday so I didn’t see the attention it was getting, but obviously when you get into big games like this, any little thing that pops up, people are going to make a big deal about. I’m glad we can put it behind us now and just focus on the game.

Q: Are you 100 percent healthy?

A: Yeah, I’m 100 percent. I had a full practice today, I did everything, took every rep. I feel good. Yesterday I at least got to be here and getting into all the meetings and go through the walkthrough. I didn’t take any live reps, but I know the game plan, I know what’s going on. The arm felt good today, it felt fresh, and it was coming out good.

Q: What happened yesterday?

A: I just woke up not feeling well and just tried to tough it out through meetings and everything and did fine. Once we got out to practice, it just wasn’t going well, so I just kind of tried to be smart and just say hopefully this will be a 24-hour bug. I came back in and got some fluids and just tried to make sure I didn’t make it worse. I’m just fortunate this happened on a Wednesday and not later in the week.

Q: Were you aware of the Rob Lowe tweet about your brother’s false retirement?

A: I haven’t heard anything about it.

Q: Did you hear what Jerry Rice said about Brandon Jacobs?

A: I thought Brandon gave a good answer that he didn’t think Jerry Rice would want to tackle him. I agree with that statement and I don’t think it’s anything we’re going to make a big deal about.

Q: Talk about the impact Kevin Gilbride has had on your career.

A: Coach Gilbride and I have a very close relationship. When I first got here, he was the quarterbacks coach, so I sat in all the meetings with him. A lot of the plays we were running then, even though he wasn’t the offensive coordinator, were his plays and stuff he knew very well. So I got to kind of learn from him, and hearing him directly and watching old film of the Oilers and different things when they were running it. It’s the only offense I’ve been in, it’s what I know. We think the same way on a lot of things and certain looks. A lot of times he doesn’t even need to finish his sentence, because I’m already on the same page. I feel very comfortable with him and telling him my thoughts and listening to him. It’s a great relationship and we work well together.

Q: What’s the best thing you like about his play calls?

A: I think with Coach Gilbride, he wants to throw the ball, I think. He has a quarterback mentality. He also knows, he’s going to be smart and if we’re running it, we’re going to continue to run it. It’s kind of whatever is working. On Sundays if we’re not running it really well and we’re throwing it well, I’ll just go up to him and say, ‘Hey, they can’t stop us throwing it, let’s just keep throwing it.’ And he kind of gets a smile, I think that’s what he likes to hear. He wants to throw it and he wants to be consistent and find completions, but he likes to get the ball downfield and hit some big plays.

Q: How comfortable are you throwing the ball in the rain?

A: I think I’m fine throwing it in the rain. It’s not something I worry about. I’ve had success throwing it in rain games. I don’t know what my numbers are, I’m sure you’ll look it up. If it comes to it and it’s going to be a wet game, I always felt the offense has an advantage throwing the ball, especially. The receivers have an advantage when the ground is wet because they know where they’re going and what they’re doing. They should be able to come out of their breaks a little bit better. We shouldn’t be the ones slipping, it’s usually the defensive side that slips.

Q: What is your mindset one game away from the Super Bowl?

A: I think the mindset is we have to go out and play a great game. We’ve been playing smart football, we’ve been playing great as a team, as one unit, as everybody doing their part to help out each other. We have to continue doing that. It’s whatever it takes. If it’s a game we have to run it, great. If we have to throw it, I think ideally we’re going to have a good mix. We can just be consistent and have some long drives. Last time we played them, we started the game with two great drives, we just had to settle for field goals. It’s a team where you have to get touchdowns, you’re going to need touchdowns when you get opportunities.

Q: How do you put your running backs in a good position against a team that is ranked number one against the rush?

A: I think it’s going to be dependant on what they’re doing. Last time we played them, they were keeping two safeties back and playing a little bit more two-high. If that’s the case, we’re going to have to run it. It’s a team where, if you’re not getting 10-yard runs, but let’s at least get three or four-yard runs a pop and that way it at least sets up better third-down conditions. Their front four on third down in passing situations is very good. They get a good rush on the quarterback, they’re powerful and big inside. So you don’t want to be stuck in third-and-10, third-and-11 all day, you want to try to get manageable situations. We’re just going to try to be consistent. Let’s not have the negative runs. Last time we played them we were pretty good about that. Not losing yards on runs and just getting our three or four yards a pop and it at least keeps you in good management and a good rhythm.

Q: Did what happened to Peyton this year with his injury remind you how quickly things can change in the NFL?

A: Yeah, I think we’re reminded every year how fortunate we are to play this game and how quickly it can slip away. Whether it’s an injury, whether it’s one of your teammates who you’ve had here who gets let go. You never know when your last play might be. You [don’t take any] play for granted, any season. In this case, in our season, you never know if you’re going to get back to this point, playing for an NFC Championship game. You try to enjoy this opportunity, enjoy this experience, have fun with it, yet go and make sure you’re giving your all in your preparation. It’s fun when you’re in these situations and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.

Q: Why do you think people are saying you’re a dangerous team?

A: I think it’s just the team coming around and playing together. All season we have kind of had the defense play great one game and the offense would play good the next game. It was never a combination, it seemed like. We weren’t complementing off each other. Now it’s that way. The defense is playing with great confidence. Offensively, we’re not making mistakes and putting our defense in a bind. We’re making teams try to drive the whole field if they are going to score. That’s the case, both sides are healthy, everybody is back and playing at a high level. We have to continue to do that.

Q: Are you surprised at how well your receivers have played?

A: I guess from the first part of the season, just the way it has worked out. We had Hixon, Brandon Stokley, a lot of guys we brought in that we thought were going to play the slot position. The guy who is here, Victor Cruz, kind of stepping up into that role. He has played outstanding. We knew Hakeem would do well. Mario Manningham, we knew he would do well. It’s been good to have all three of those guys in the mix. We’ve had some games where one of them might be out, or this guy is out, or some are banged up and not able to practice all week. Now everybody has been healthy for the last few weeks and all three are playing at a high level, so it makes my job a lot easier. I’m not having to try to force it into certain situations, I’m just going through my reads and trusting those guys to get open.

Q: Is this the best group of receivers you’ve ever had?

A: Maybe, just from having three strong receivers all in there who are playing well. It’s a good group.

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