Q: What was the importance of protecting the ball?
A: We knew coming in that we had to protect the ball. We couldn't afford to have turnovers. [The Bills] won a lot of close games because they were getting turnovers. Their offense thrived on it. They were getting their defense scoring points. We knew that their offense is talented in the first place, but we just knew we couldn't give them short field possession and easy points. I'm proud of the guys - Ahmad [Bradshaw], the receivers, everybody. The emphasis on protecting the ball - the offensive line for blocking things up, not putting us in bad situations. We played smart football. There's some good things. We knew we could make some big plays. There was going to be big plays out there, but when we're not making big plays we have to be more consistent and move the ball, run, get four or five yards, get in good third downs. And we were able to do that today.
Q: What did you see on the play prior to the game-winning field goal?
A: I knew it was going to be tight and the corner made a good play. He sensed it and jumped it, so I tried to put it low and maybe squeeze it in. Obviously the guy was able to get a hand on it. It's always a tough situation right there. You want to be conservative and make sure you don't turn the ball over, but obviously with them having timeouts and time, you'd like to get seven points, you'd like to get a touchdown and not have to settle for a field goal.
Q: How relieved were you to see Webster get the interception and give you an opportunity late in the ballgame?
A: That was big. That was huge. They were driving down and looking like they might get some points on the board, but it's much better going into a two-minute drive or four minutes left knowing you don't have to score a touchdown, you can get a field goal. Any points on the board will be helpful and that last drive was great. We ran the ball really well. On the first play Ahmad goes for 10 yards and a first down. Have a few passes and then Ahmad runs, great blocking. Ran a little misdirection. Mario Manningham came in, he blocked the safety, [Ahmad] runs for thirty yards. Then a couple pass interferences. [The Bills] played hard, they played really smart all day and that was a good outcome.
Q: After you let go of that ball on the play prior to the game-winning field goal, did you think that it might get picked?
A: I did not, no. I thought it might be tight, but I didn't think the guy would be able to jump in front of it to intercept it.
Q: Ahmad said you had their defense on their heels. Is that what set up the misdirection play? Did you have an idea that play was going to work?
A: Yeah, we had an idea. We had kind of called it a few times earlier and never got the right look. We finally got the look we were looking for and had a good idea it was going to be a big play if we could come in and block the safety. Manningham came in and blocked the safety. Ahmad made the corner miss and had a big play.
Q: Can you describe the difference of being 4-2 and 3-3 going into the bye?
A: I love winning before a bye because it's just a long two weeks where you're thinking about what you could have done, where you needed to get better. Just having that locker room excited, especially a fourth quarter come from behind - defense stepped up, offense stepped up at the end, everybody did their part. Special teams got the field goals. We came together as a team. Guys made the plays and a big win. 4-2, feel like were in a good spot. We made progress offensively. Like we said, we just can't afford to make mistakes like we did last week. There's going to be big plays out there. Guys took that to heart and made differences in practice and mindset and we came out there and did exactly what we set out to do.
Re: Mario Manningham?
A: Mario is a talented player. He works hard. He wants the ball. He's been doing a good job of getting open. Doing some good things. I wanted to try to get him into the end zone this week because he's doing a lot of things really, really well. Obviously had one [touchdown] called back and had one put on the one. Another one [the refs] called it incomplete. I think it's good to get him going now. We have three receivers right now that are playing very, very well. Jake Ballard, you throw him at tight end, he's doing some really good things. Things are starting to come around. Guys are starting to understand exactly what our system is, what we're doing. Throw in a 100-yard rusher in Ahmad. Things are clicking. We have to make sure we keep that going.
Re: Game-winning drive.
A: You like to get a touchdown. It's kind of one of those situations where we're on the one-yard line, it's second down. You kind of want to wonder whether you want to take a knee right there, make them use another timeout, but still leave yourself third and goal, where you can try to run it the next play. Exactly what you don't want to do is lose five yards. Now you're in tough situation. You want to try to score. You want to ensure you get three points. They played the next play well. Obviously you like to get a touchdown in that situation and obviously we can't afford to lose yardage around the one-yard line.
Q: Has Ballard been a surprise?
A: No. He's a smart guy. He's been here a few years. He's understanding the system. He doesn't have the great speed, but he just has a great feel for what to do. You can see it on a few of the plays today. It's not exactly how they were scripted, but he scrambles around. He has a feel for what's going on. He's catching the ball well and playing smart football.
Eli Manning, Post-Game 10.16.11
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Q: What was the importance of protecting the ball?