Last night, the main positives were obviously that we won the game. It was a big game that put us 1-0 in the division. We had an awful lot of very, very good plays throughout the game. We had lots of team success in terms of the way our defense played, the way our offense played, kickoff with Lawrence Tynes booming the ball, which I should've talked about last night. With our rookie punter punting two balls. We didn't like the way we started the game offensively, and certainly didn't like the way we finished the game offensively. The turnovers are an issue. We thought we had that under control, and obviously we didn't. We didn't start the game real fast offensively, and I thought we got ourselves in trouble with pressure on the quarterback right away. A couple of picked balls, one was probably an errant throw but certainly the other was a tipped ball. That provided outstanding field position for Dallas. Also, the fact that I thought one of the more critical series was right there was holding them to a field goal with 10 points. I think that was just as important as, later on, the four plays from the six yard line that they did not score on. As the game ended up, obviously, if they took the field goal there, that would've reduced the margin and made the opportunity to have a long field goal tie the game real late in the game. There were a lot of plays and a lot of things from last night, and certainly one of the things we have to do as an offensive team is to figure out how to finish the game better and be in control of the game better and manage the game. Even if it comes down to having to punt the ball, if we can punt the ball and punt the ball away from the outstanding returner, then the opponent has to drive it a long way. They did have one long drive late in the game, which was their drive following the field goal. Other than that, we were giving them opportunities to revamp and regain some momentum. That was the issue that we were concerned with. We are very excited and very happy about winning and we think that to be able to come down there and fight our way back from adversity and the way in which the game began for us. To have all three phases supporting and encouraging each other, with the realization that an outstanding comeback did take place, the idea that every play is so critical. The fumble just before the half that set up what we call was a 43-yard field goal, whoops, wait a minute, we're going to call holding there. Then, it becomes a 53-yarder and Tynes makes that up. That was very, very critical, as you know when the game was completed. Just as we always talk about it, it's a long game, you have to play yourself the full four quarters to give yourself a chance to win. There are some axioms that we believe in that the number one thing being the turnovers. We did not follow last night. We will say this: we did play hard, we are very physical, we were physical last night, we rushed the ball, we defended, we pressured the quarterback. We got outstanding, physical play all around. The big tackle by Chase right at the start of the second half was a huge play. We play hard, we don't always control things the way that we should. I think that's something that we certainly do have to address.
Q: Any injuries coming out of last night?
A: We have some nicks but we'll just wait and see how that turns out. We do know that Wilkinson had the fracture of his left hand. That will cause him some issues, just as it caused Richie some issues early on. He'll end up playing, I'm sure, with a big cast but it just depends on how much time they'll allow him to have to recover before they allow him to play with a cast on, and that I'm not sure of right now. There were some issues that I hope were just minor.
Q: You've been 5-2 in six of the past seven seasons, what do you need to do to keep it going?
A: Well, we have to continue. You're picking your words very well, at 5-0 like it was a year ago, but I think it's a totally different team. I think this team is capable of playing outstanding football and being able to support ourselves with all three phases. Our return game is not what we want it to be, but I think that our defense has played very well and our offense has played very well. What we have to do is continue to play together and show the quality of team that we are. We put ourselves in position with outstanding teams as we go through the second half of the season after the bye that we play our brand of football. We have become a smarter team, and we should do a better job of taking care of the ball.
Q: With the turnover issue, is it more mental reinforcement or physical technique reinforcement that needs to be made?
A: There are always aspects of the technical part of the game that you need to improve upon. When we're talking about the pass, we protect the passer and allow him to step up into the pocket, step into the throw, and the throw becomes more accurate. Maybe you don't get the tipped ball. Maybe the ball gets caught rather than that. So, you have that aspect of it. The ball security issue with the runner, one of the issues was we ran into the back of our own guy. Somehow, the ball came out. We have done a pretty good job of protecting the ball in traffic. There were a couple of lapses last night and we continue to work technically in the way in which we try to secure the ball for the runner or for the receiver. So, you continue to work on that as well. It is an awareness thing and something that no one harps upon more than we do. Quite frankly, we haven't had the return in regard to that. A week ago, we thought that we were really on the right track and yesterday obviously, we were in a position where we have a lot more work to do.
Q: Is it possible that this team might be able to get away with this, being a fast and loose team, or will it eventually catch up to you?
A: There is no question, whatever type of team you are, giving the ball to the opponent in scoring position and adding to the number of drives he could have in the game anyway, you're only enhancing the percentages in favor of them scoring more than it should happen. There isn't any question in my mind that this is a critical factor and we were able to overcome it last night. We were most fortunate.
Q: Talk about how important it is for the team to hold itself accountable:
A: Who has talked about that?
Q: You have, saying you need to hold each other accountable?
A: We do need that, we do need to have that. I think that becomes a very strong positive peer pressure thing when teammates are very aware of what we're trying to accomplish and they support one another in the attempt to do that. The guys get the sense that they understand that the extreme high priority is ball security and in order not to let everybody down that has so much invested here, the ball becomes so precious that it must be preserved and it must not end up in the other guy's hands. That's an important aspect of this. I do honestly know that our guys are very much aware of that and feel extremely bad when they, in fact, turn it over. Our game doesn't allow you to get away with it.
Q: Talk about the dynamics of the game and how they change when the starting quarterback is knocked out of the game?
A: Well, the dynamic of the game is that you prepare yourself against the outstanding number one quarterback in the game, and you prepare yourself and realize that the pressure on the quarterback is an extremely important and resourceful way for which the game is played. You can't allow all these great quarterbacks to have all kinds of time to throw the ball, and coming in against Dallas, they were averaging 51% pressure on the opponent's quarterback. So, you're facing a game today that is very much pressure orientated and in the case of going in and preparing for the outstanding quarterbacks week in and week out, you try to realize that the quarterback position primarily is where the turnovers come from. You try to put yourself in the position where they will throw the ball before they want to throw and get a ball tipped, or rush a throw so it's not as accurate as it should be. That's one of the major intents from a defensive standpoint. Most people in this league have quality, quality backups that are in position of coming into a game and contributing. Let's face it, the starting quarterback is the starting quarterback for a reason.
Q: Have you ever been a part of a team like this that is so hard on quarterbacks?
A: Well, I don't know that I could tell you that point blank but we have had some teams get after the quarterback.
Q: Can a bye week have an adverse effect on a team with so much momentum?
A: You've got some great questions today. Can a bye week have a negative...? You stay positive with a bye week and this is a positive situation for us. We're going to take a good look at our tape from last night. We're going to go ahead and evaluate some of the self-scout information that we need and we're going to be aware of what's going on around the league in terms of their accomplishments. We're going to attempt to incorporate some thinking along those lines and share some of that with our players. We are going to condition and strengthen our players. We are hopefully going to get some of these little nicks rested up a little bit if we can and we'll go from there.
Q: What did Tynes do before the game that allowed him to kick so strongly? You should make sure he does that every week.
A: Well I made sure that he ate a diet according to exactly the way I described it and I made sure that he drank the potion that I made for him and it obviously paid off.
Q: Have you ever seen him kick the ball better than that?
A: No. He was smooth as silk, too. That's the thing that I really wanted to impress on him was how smoothly he struck the ball. Lawrence is a pretty good golfer but sometimes he tries to just drive it and sometimes the harder you go for it, the less you like the result. I thought he was really smooth last night - didn't bat an eye when he lined up to take the 52 yarder.
Q: Where did all that power come from?
A: I think he's been saving it.
Q: Is there any message that you leave your players with before their time off in order to maintain the momentum?
A: We're going to - as we always do - we'll provide our team an analysis number one of our game last night, number two of where we are, number three of what's ahead, and we will give them time to get away from it so that they do have some quality time with their families and then when we come back together, obviously we have a difficult road in front of us and one that we certainly need all hands on deck, so we want them to come back feeling very good about themselves, being as healthy as we possibly can be and excited about the challenge ahead.
Q: Do you have the feeling that if this team stays healthy, its best football is ahead of it?
A: I do. I really do. I think that a lot of it has to do with the way in which we continue to prepare and practice and then the attitude about these things and the amount of focus that we can put into a day's work. I don't think that the way that we have this thing organized - it's a quality amount of time spent here in preparation and if you take full advantage of it and follow as I call it 'the protocol of preparation,' you put yourself in a position at the end of the week where you really feel good about where you are. It just enhances your confidence along with the way in which you play and the wins that you can accumulate if you keep things safe and balanced and realize that every game is a different game and preparation, every team is capable of beating another team week in and week out in this league. There is so much parity - all you have to do is look around and see it - if we maintain a good, solid attitude, a humbleness about ourselves and our recognition of the quality of work that we have to do to put ourselves in a position to win, that we can go forth and play our best football in front of us.
Q: Where exactly do you think you are right now? Are you the best team in the NFC?
A: That's not what I'm talking about. Where we are is we're 5-2. We have as many wins as anyone in the NFC and we are in position now where we lead our division and that's where we are. No more, no less.
Q: Terrell Thomas - did he hurt anything last night?
A: Not really. I think he came in this morning and his ankle was bothering him, but we didn't think there was too much to that.
Q: Is there anything new on Kiwi?
A: Not to my knowledge, no. Not since arriving here at six in the morning and grinding away at the tape. I haven't heard anything more.
Q: Are you sure that the field goal towards the end on fourth and one was the right call?
A: Am I sure that was the right way to go? Yeah, I was sure that was the right way to go. We had an opportunity to... There are a couple of ways that you could think about that. I'm not aware of any discussion out there, but we put ourselves in a position there to go ahead and advance and as it worked out, we wouldn't be tied by a field goal. I thought that was the right way to go. Certainly if we had tried and been stopped, they would have had to drive the ball a long ways - there's no doubt about that. But I think that's the call, to go for the points.