Eli Manning Press Conference, 01.26.12

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.

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