Q: Can you just talk about the five minutes early rule and the culture here?
A: I think that’s TC’s deal, just having us aware, and just being a stickler for time. I think it’s just a better overall accomplishment for us to not push the envelope with a lot of things. Guys like myself, I like being the last one to everything, so it probably affects me more than anyone, but guys are used to it, and it’s the way it’s been around here. You have to get it done.
Q: The penalty is severe, right?
A: The penalty is severe. Had a lot of those taken out of my paychecks, but it’s all for the better of this team. I think we all buy into it, we all understand it, all jokes aside. It’s what this team needs. It’s a form of discipline and each team should have it.
Q: How can you defend the two great Patriots tight ends?
A: It all depends on your defensive scheme. There’s many ways that you can try to take away those guys. Those guys are exceptional tight ends and they’ve been Brady’s go-to guys all year long along with Wes Welker. They present a great challenge. No matter how you look at it. No matter what you try to do, you have to go out there and do the job. You have to do the job that’s at hand. It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be a battle each play.
Q: How difficult is the two week wait until the game?
A: I have to be honest with you, I’m not too antsy. This last stretch has been an exhausting one, a lot of hard work, you’re just putting everything to the side for these five games, which was very much needed. It took a lot of mental space, as well as physical pounding and doing whatever it took to get to this point. And you know, once we’re here, we’re not going to stop now. So I’m going to enjoy this little time off, and once we come back to work on Thursday, I will be ready and full speed. Like I said, it all starts in practice.
Q: There are not a lot of guys in the locker room that know about losing a Super Bowl. Is that a powerful message?
A: Absolutely. I was on the other side of it, the losing side of a losing Super Bowl. I can tell you right now there are just not too many other feelings that can feel worse than that. To be so close and have a hard fought game, I think that actually eased the pain a little bit, as opposed to going out there and just getting your butt whooped, but I definitely don’t want to feel that again.
Q: Will you talk to the team about that?
A: I won’t. I won’t. I never speak of any type of losing situations. That’s not in my mind, that’s not what I’m made up of, and that’s not what this team is made up of and neither do we need to hear that. I think we’re fully aware of what’s at stake and we understand what kind of preparation it’s going to take for us to go out there and be victorious versus an outstanding football team.
Q: How big of a task is it going against Tom Brady?
A: It’s tough, man. He’s tough. During the course of a game I’m covering my guys and when I’m in zone coverage, I can just see him scanning the field. I’ve played against a lot of great quarterbacks in my career, and the way he scans the field, I was like, ‘Dang!’ During the play I was like, ‘Wow.’ It kind of stuns you for a second. He’s an exceptional quarterback, man, and he gets all the credit he deserves and then some. And he deserves all of it.
Q: What are the different challenges in covering Welker and covering Branch?
A: Both are very small guys and they can hurt you in many ways. It’s not really the difference in guys, it’s more how the team uses them and what their strengths and weaknesses may be, so once we put a game plan together we will figure that out, but as of right now, we have to do what we’re told. We have to make sure we’re good on our technique and make sure we’re good on our assignments, our adjustments, and everything else, therefore, will take care of itself.
Q: Did Eli’s comments about being in Brady’s class show swagger? What did it mean for the team?
A: I can’t speak for most people, but for myself, it means a lot. It lets me know what kind of guy we have leading this team. Eli is the leader of this team, without a doubt, and we definitely, I wouldn’t be standing up here right now if it wasn’t for him. He is an elite quarterback. I don’t think that needs any further discussion. I think he’s definitely proven himself. I think he’s proven himself before this year, to be honest with you. But we all have to go through it, being a part of this league, you have to go through your ups and downs, your criticism, your speculation of what people may think, what they might not think. When it’s all said and done -- I didn’t say ‘at the end of the day.’ I said, ‘when it’s all said and done’ -- you have to know yourself, you have to know yourself, man. You just have to believe within yourself. And that’s what he does, he has us, he has teammates behind him, he has a great older brother that he can look up to. If anyone can critique him, it’s him.
Q: What did you think when you saw Ann Mara go up to Terry Bradshaw during the presentation of the NFC Championship trophy?
A: That’s what it’s about, man. When I say all on deck, I don’t just mean the men in the locker room. That’s the custodian, that’s the cooks, everybody, we’re all on deck, and that’s what it’s all about. And we’re all one here, we’re all one in this organization. Us as players, we don’t go through things on our own. Our families go through it with us, the fans, the people within the organization and even the cooks in the cafeteria, they are extremely excited about what’s going on. They don’t share those memories with us on the field, but you know they share it with us in spirit, and in their hearts, and that’s something you have to look forward to and something we appreciate going in and grabbing a meal each and every day. Those guys are very appreciative and full of warm graces, hugs. It’s the little things like that that make you keep going and make you keep fighting.
Q: Would you cross Ann Mara?
A: I don’t cross any Maras, put it that way.
Q: Where does Wes Welker rank among the slot receivers you’ve defended this year?
A: Definitely among the best. I think he has proven himself year in and year out also. Very shifty, he has exceptional hands, exceptional quickness. He knows defenders. He knows how to get open and that’s what makes him so dangerous. He’s definitely amongst the top.
Q: How does this team match up with the Patriots?
A: I think we match up extremely well. We have a great group of guys on our defensive side of the ball and they have a great group of guys on the offensive side of the ball. It’s all going to boil down to who makes the least amount of mistakes, who’s more focused on what they have to get done and most of all, who has that dog mentality, who wants it the most. That’s what every ballgame comes down to.
Q: Is it more important to tackle the guys when they have the ball than stopping them from catching it?
A: Well, first of all, we’re trying to focus on them not catching the ball, period, and that’s our focus as a defense. The run after the catch, that’s all hustle. You hustle to the play. You have to make sure that you cut down the percentage of YAC yardage as much as possible. Our focus is, first of all, not to even let them get the throw off. Second of all, don’t let them complete the pass. That’s how we look at it.
Q: Is it fitting that you guys are wearing your road jerseys?
A: It doesn’t matter what we have on. We could go out there bare skinned. You’re going to get the same outcome. We come to play ball. All those other intangibles really don’t matter when you’re talking about a game of this magnitude, which is the Super Bowl. We’re extremely blessed to be in this situation.
Q: The Patriots won 10 in a row since you beat them. How are you different now?
A: I think our play speaks for itself. I think we’re a different team. We’ve always been a very physical team, we’ve always been a very gifted team physicality-wise, but we were lacking something. What that is, I don’t know. Neither am I going to try to figure that out at this point, but whatever it is, we found it and we’re going to keep it here as long as we can. This game, I think we’re going to have it here more than ever. We’re extremely focused, and we got an excellent message from Eli just a few minutes ago, and it was very well needed. For players like myself who have been to a Super Bowl, it’s still great to hear someone speak with that kind of leadership. You know Eli doesn’t say much, he doesn’t say much and when he says it he means it, you know it’s coming from the heart. It’s about business, and that’s basically what the message is about. We’re going out there to take care of business. Everything else is for the spectators. Everything else is for your family, for your friends, we’re going out there to handle business.
Q: How often does he speak up like that?
A: I don’t know, I’m on the defensive side of the ball, but I talk to Eli a lot. I like to pick the brains of the quarterbacks. I think that’s been helping my game a whole lot. Eli and I have a lot of side conversations. He’s a leader, man. Him going out there and doing what he did two nights ago, I think that definitely exemplifies what kind of guy he is and what kind of leadership. Most of all, a lot of people question – just because of the facial expressions that he may make – how much fight does he have? How tough is he? Let’s put it this way, if he can handle and withstand what he did going up against the 49ers and their front seven, you can’t question his toughness.
Q: Did Eli speak to the whole team?
A: Yeah, it was a message for the whole team. Like I said, I’m not going to go into all the detail and everything that he said, but it was a broad message that needed to be said. It was a message that was heard loud and clear from everyone. Basically, ‘This is about business. Let’s go take care of it. Let’s go get it done, whatever it costs.’
Q: How close were you to Santonio Holmes when he made the catch in the end zone in Super Bowl XLIII?
A: That play is a crazy play. I was actually on the opposite side and the guy that Ben Roethlisberger was targeting first was actually the guy I was covering. I kind of bumped him and he fell down. Ben Roethlisberger went to cut back and he was going there and I was like, ‘This is a pick and I’m taking this to the house’ because there was no one in front of me. He just turns the other way and chucks the ball. You can’t be mad at that play. You have to take that one. You have to live with that one.
Q: Is that still on your mind?
A: I don’t worry about that. I’m a Giant now. We have great things at stake right now, at this moment and that’s my only focus. I don’t worry about that Super Bowl. It’s long done, it’ll always be a memory, can’t take that away, but we have a bigger prize right now.
Q: Do you remember watching Super Bowl XLII?
A: I was actually watching that in Brazil. There was only one place in Brazil showing the game. I was standing on top of maybe like two bar stools and probably a midget was under me. Who knows? I don’t know? It was extremely crowded. Everyone was stacked on top of each other. It was a small place in Brazil, probably no bigger than this restroom, and there were a million people in there. It was the only place showing it and I had to watch the game.
Q: And what do you remember about the game?
A: I just remember it being a game. The only thing I really remember from that game is obviously the spectacular catch from Tyree and then I remember Eli scrambling for dear life, and I remember that front four just getting on Brady. I’m like, ‘I’ve never seen him get attacked like that before.’ Once that game started I was like, ‘New England, they’re in for trouble.’ And I felt it, and I would have probably bet money on it but I’m not taking it that far.
Q: Did watching that game make you want to be a Giant at all?
A: Not at that point.
Q: Did you think about it when you went to free agency?
A: I’ve never been a fan of football. I’ve never been a fan of watching football. I just know I’ve always loved to play the game. I love to play it. I wasn’t very in tune with organizations and their team history and everything like that. I didn’t even know Arizona before I got drafted there. They’re like ‘the Cardinals’ and I’m like, ‘Jerry McGuire?’ I don’t know, I just play the game, I love to play the game.
Q: Are you taking anything away from beating the Patriots in the regular season?
A: No, that means absolutely nothing at this point. Means absolutely nothing. It’s a totally different team, totally different mindset, two teams going head to head, whatever it takes.
Q: How much more complicated does your defensive scheme have to be knowing how Brady adjusts?
A: I wouldn’t say tricks. I think you have to be very, very disciplined as far as your adjustments and keys. Make sure the man beside you is also on the same page and make sure you do whatever you do. We can’t get beside of ourselves because of this game, because it’s the Super Bowl, because it’s the New England Patriots. We’ve all been here before. It’s another game. You just attack it with a different mentality, a no holds barred mentality, and understand you do whatever it takes to win the game.
Q: Was the plane ride back from San Francisco loud?
A: I wouldn’t know. I was asleep before the plane even took off. I was just mentally drained. I was exhausted. I’m the kind of guy, I enjoy things for the moment, but I also get over it extremely fast, especially when there’s something else at stake. I enjoyed the win. I had a great time with the guys, but as soon as the game was over, my mind went to how do I get better? How do I make sure this doesn’t happen, this doesn’t happen, and make sure that we get the job done? It’s not good enough just to be here. I think we all feel that way. It’s not good enough just to be here. We come here with one goal and one goal in mind, which is to win.