Can you talk about how the defense held you in the game today?
Definitely. Our defense played outstanding. A good job stopping the run and some fourth and third down stops. Those were huge. They were momentum swings and those situations have been flopped with us in some playoff games and if you don't' convert on fourth down, third down, third-and-short, that is tough to overcome. Our defense did a great job getting those stops and huge plays in the game.
How important was your 14-yard run to change the complexion of the game?
You have to give Atlanta credit. They had a good plan all day. They did a good job stopping the run and getting some pressure and we didn't have a whole lot to go on in the first quarter, but the second quarter we had a good drive. Had the run, had a little scramble, hit Victor Cruz and then Ahmad (Bradshaw) had a big run. So a couple big plays and Hakeem (Nicks) had a great catch in the end zone so that was good to get a touchdown that drive, go into halftime with the lead, and the second half our defense continued to play great. Offensively we started running the ball, we started hitting some big plays. Hakeem Nicks played great, Mario Manningham, all the guys, all the weapons started making some plays and we were moving the ball pretty well.
Coming into this game, did you anticipate Atlanta trying to take Victor Cruz out of the game?
I think we are going to run our offense. We are not trying to force things to a certain guy. If they want to try to take away Victor, that is fine. That is why we have Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. These guys are playmakers. We feel good about whatever the coverage is, whatever your plan is, we are going to have an answer. Running the ball always makes things easy and better and opens things up and slows down the pass rush. If we can continue to do that, that's great. Again, we feel good and I feel good back there saying, ‘hey, I'm just reading the coverage, I'm going through my progressions and whoever my read is telling me to throw the ball to, that's where I'm going to try to go.'
When do you decide to run when a play is breaking down?
We had a third down play-action. It was third-and-two right there and I kind of knew right away they had a pretty good coverage. We had all out breaking routes and everybody was playing outside leverage. I did the play-action, I scooted up just trying to find a lane to see if maybe a guy won, and I just saw an opening. I had to get two yards so I just tucked it and ran it right there and got a first down and we hadn't had many, so that was a big play right there.
This was the first playoff game for Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Jake Ballard; did you say anything special to them about that?
No. I didn't say anything special. We just went about our business the same way. Before the game I said, ‘hey, let's have fun, these are special moments and just go out there and play your best.' I knew all of them would be great and try not to make a big deal about things. Those guys have been playing fabulous all year and I knew they would be ready to go today.
Does it help your confidence knowing that you played Green Bay tough earlier this year?
We know they are a good team and we played them tough here. We did some good things offensively, scored some points, and our defense is playing great football right now so hopefully they can continue to do that, but we know offensively we are going to have to play strong. We are going to have to play good, we are going to have to go score some points, we can't make mistakes and hopefully get off to a faster start than we did today.
Was it good to have all of your receivers healthy for this game?
Yeah, it is great when you have all of your weapons in place. That is when we are at our best, when we have Hakeem and Victor and Mario and Jake Ballard kind of as our main four receivers and then with Ahmad (Bradshaw) and Brandon (Jacobs) back in the backfield. Those guys are tough, they have great desire, and are playing great football. Hopefully we can keep those guys in the mix. Our offensive line has been playing well so that is what we need to do next week.
Even though you are not a running quarterback, you have a history of making plays with your feet. Do you think that is an underappreciated part of your game?
I don't think anyone is game planning for me to run the ball, but obviously there's a couple situations where you have to do it. If things open up, I am not scared to run it and get a few yards. I think you try to take pride in the quarterback moving the pocket, extending a play to get a receiver downfield. I think our receivers have done a good job when I am scrambling or the timing is off on a play of finding a lane for me. Victor had a big one today on a third down, third-and-long, that got us a first down. Just trying to make good decisions, moving the pocket, and find the open guy.
Is this the best the offense is playing this season?
Yeah, I think it could be. Just a great mix of run and pass and I think guys have a great understanding of what our offense is, what their responsibilities are. If we can get that run game going like we did in that second half, that opens up a lot of windows. For the passing game it makes the safeties come down and get in the mix and we feel with our receivers we will be able to hit some big plays. We just have to keep grinding, keep getting better, and go with a great game plan next week and know we have to play great football.
Did you know it was third down on the slant just before the half?
I didn't. I don't know if it would have changed anything. I was fooled. I thought we got the first down on the one to Hakeem. That route usually gets the first. I thought he was over the line of scrimmage and kind of by the play call also I was thinking it was third down. I think everybody might have been a little fooled thinking we had the first down right there otherwise we probably would have run the ball or done something just to get the first down.