After the fake direct snap last week one of the commentators said that you deserved an Academy Award. Are you -- I think I said that.
Are you preparing for a life in Hollywood? No, I'm not quitting this job.
And afterwards? And after football, God, I hope that's a long time from now. I hope I don't have to decide that. I'm still a young guy. I'm only 30 years old. So maybe down the road. I don't think I could, if Peyton goes into it, I know that I couldn't, you know, get close to that. So he's taking all those jobs.
Tedy talked about how this team has endured a year of distractions, whether it was Spygate or the latest with Randy Moss or the constant scrutiny of going undefeated. What is it about this team that's allowed it to bond or come together to deal with the distractions this season? Well, I think it's pretty simple. There's a sign when we walk in the door and right at the top of the sign, it's, "What's expected of you" and No. 1 is "do your job." And every time you walk in and you see that, you understand that you've got to show up and put whatever else is going on in your life to the side and focus, and you have a responsibility to your teammates to do what you need to do.
I think as a player it makes it pretty simple. If you're a quarterback, you show up and do what's expected of you and if you're the offensive tackle you do the exact same. You don't have to come in here and worry about what the guy next to you is doing or what he's going through. Although as friends and I think the camaraderie we have as teammates here, it's been a special thing to be a part of.
But at the same time, you rally around each other, and it's almost like this is a safe haven for everybody, as well. We don't have to come in here and be -- we just have to be each other, and you have to be teammates and you don't have to be anybody else to anybody who may be making demands on you. So it's probably a nice place for a lot of people to come?
You've grown pretty close to Randy Moss obviously this season; how have you helped him get through this past week? Well, he's a very mature and responsible man. I think he's dealt with whatever it is in the past; the fact of the matter; nobody knows anything about what happened except Randy and whoever was involved and everyone chooses to let Randy speak on it because he's the only one who has true knowledge of the situation.
So it's not right for me to speak about it or other teammates or coach. We all support him. I know the kind of guy he is and I know the relationship I have with him and how important it is to me. As a teammate of his, I want him to know that I'm here to support him no matter what he's going through, because we all face challenges in our own lives and you need support from the people that care about you to work through those things.
Mind-set big playoff games, there always seems to be a guy that kind of comes out of nowhere and makes a big game-turning play; are you expecting that from your team this week? Which guy would that be?
I don't know, you tell me. I don't know. I don't know which guy hasn't made big plays. I think everybody who is really a part of this offense has stepped up at different times to make great plays, and I think if you're out on the field, that's truly what's expected of you whether it be Randy or Dante or Wes or Jamal.
The running game I think has been a big part of it down the stretch and the consistency we've had up front has been critical to the success of our team. I wish I had somebody that they probably weren't paying attention to, but unfortunately I think most of the guys that are taking the field for us they are going to be pretty honed in on.
How tough is it two days before the game now to deal with the anticipation leading up to the game and when the game does get here, honestly how tough is it for you to keep the adrenaline in check? Well, I think we've dealt with big games all season. There's a build-up to the start of the season and there's build-up to Monday night's game in Cincinnati and there's a build-up to an undefeated game against the Cowboys and a build-up against the Colts in week nine and our Monday night home against Baltimore and the game against Pittsburgh and last week.
We've dealt with a lot of things on the line and at stake and you try to take the same approach that you take and just be prepared to play and know that you don't want to waste a whole lot of energy that are not related to the football game. So make sure all of the guys are in bed early tomorrow night and be ready to play on Sunday.
Everyone is going to be excited. I'm probably the one that needs help on that the most with just the excitement of the game and the excitement of the season on the line, because you realize there might not be an opportunity for you to get back together as a team and play again.
So you try to put everything you can into it and whether it be adrenaline or I don't think anyone is going to not be motivated for this game. I think everyone is going to be -- hopefully play our best game.
How much of being a good decision-making quarterback comes from time on the job and how much comes from God-given talent? That's a great question. You know, I think decision-making is critical to any quarterback, any quarterback play. And the more that you do it, just like any situation you're in, the more times you face certain situations, hopefully you make the best decisions you can.
And at quarterback, you've got to make them in two seconds and you've got to make a lot of decisions very quickly. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you understand what needs to be done and in our offense I think that's what's been great for me over the years is to be in the same offense for eight seasons and the carry over and the coaching with Josh being here for another, really, in his third season as coordinator; and with Coach Belichick, understanding the system, so that you can just become comfortable with every situation that you face whether it be in practice or in situations in games.
I know we've been a pretty good situational football team in games over the years, and I know that's because we've practiced diligently at whatever it might be, a fourth down situation or a field goal at the end of either half.
So there's a lot of situations that come up that need quick decision-making and the more you practice them obviously the better you'll be at them.
Everyone I've ever spoken to about Junior, whether a coach or player, has always had something to say about what they have learned or how intense says; what have you been able to learn from him? Yeah, he's as great a leader as you could possibly have on a football team. Not only is he a great player, but in terms of motivation, the way he works, he's 38 years old but you would think he's 22 by the way he practices. And he gives motivational speeches -- I think he's been through a lot in the NFL. He's been in a lot of big games, been in a lot of big situations. I think he's great at kind of conveying his thoughts to the rest of the team. He always has a lot of positive things to say. So I know he's excited about this game, as he should be, especially playing against his former team.
Does he give you guys a lot of motivational speeches? Always, oh, yeah, before every game. He's usually the one that talks to the team. And guys listen. He has a great way of kind of inspiring us.
Which is more fun, putting up 42 points in a first half or winning on the final possession? You know, the ones that you win on the final possession are the ones that are the most fun afterward. I think the Baltimore game when we won, I look back on that game, and God, that was fun. Now when I was going through it, I wasn't thinking how tough that was in Buffalo, midway through the fourth quarter when we were up by as many points but it's a little bit different when you're in those pressurized situations and your focus is kind of laser sharp and you've got to continue to make the plays to be able to win. And if you can do that, you can pull it off, those are the ones you certainly remember at the end of the season.
Wondering way back to your first Super Bowl against the Rams, it was reported that you had taken a nap in the locker room prior and now you're talking about the adrenaline and keeping it in check; what's changed over the years? I think I was naive back in the day. My first couple years, I thought it was easy. I got to the Super Bowl, hey, this is no problem, you start a few games, you're in the Super Bowl and U2 is out there playing in the field. It was a great environment.
I think we all look back on that Super Bowl, any time it's your first time in those experiences and everything felt like it was so out of control, you can look back and realize how much fun it was.
Now you kind of know what to avoid so you lose a little bit of that naivete as Mr. Kraft would say and you just focus on whatever you need to focus on. The adrenaline, it comes and it goes. I think for me the more prepared, the more comfortable I feel with what we're doing, I think the more relaxed I'll be.
I think adrenaline is a little bit different because you get very excited when you run out in front of 75,000 people, and especially in a game like this, and those emotions just play out.
Can you talk about how pressure affects you; good, or bad? Pressure, pressure in the sense of playing the position?
Position and then some of the biggest games. Sure. I think the important part for a quarterback in dealing with that is you have to be able to deal with those pressurized situations in practice. When they come up in the games and we had the two-minute drill that we practiced yesterday against our own defense that I was trying to score -- I was trying to score like it was the San Diego Chargers, and we did.
I think you can look back on that drive with confidence when you get there, if it happens to come up on Sunday, you say, you know what, we just did this three days ago. It's not like you have to prove it to yourself over and over again. So even though those situations have a lot of pressure to them, because you have the confidence that you can deal with it, I think that allows you to go out and play with anticipation and awareness and instinctiveness rather than dropping back and going, I wonder if I can figure this out and I don't know who is going to be open and I wonder what coverages are going to be play and are they going to blitz me.
I think as long as you go through and practice it, you can play with the speed that you want. We always talk about playing fast, and I think a big part of that is the preparation that allows you to understand what you're seeing so that you can go out and execute at a very high speed, because that's what it takes.
And having the different number of weapons this year that you do -- Like I said, I think Coach really keeps the pressure on us as a team, and the players keep pressure on each other to perform and you keep pressure on yourself so you don't lose your job. That's a great motivator for all of us. And the more that you can practice with that type of mentality, I think you can really just hone your skills. I mean, you can't all of a sudden go out and go Wednesday, Thursday and Friday don't mean so much because we're not playing and Sunday go out and go, God, I'm nervous out here, how do I deal with this. You have to be able to put that pressure on new practice so when you actually get in that environment and it means something, that you'll have the confidence to know that you'll be able to go out there and execute.
You said that the locker room is a safe haven for you and that you don't see the end of your career, you're only 30 years old; can you explain how your life has changed? I think in a lot of ways, for myself, for other athletes, you're right, as you grow older and I think for most people in your life that were once a part of your life move on to do different things and there's other people that become even more important in your life because you share experiences with them and you grow with them and they are a part of your life.
So you're right. It has continued to get smaller and I think the people that I trust becomes less and less, and I think that's why when I come into this locker room and I come around this environment, whether it be coaches that I've been with for eight seasons for teammates like Kevin Faulk and Tedy who have been through a bunch of experiences with me, both on the field and off the field, I can rely on those guys for anything I may need.
Do those two things pull in different directions on you to some degree knowing that at the end you'll have peace and quiet but you'll never have the competition again? Yeah, and I think you enjoy both parts of it. I think with everything in life, there's give and take and you have to understand that, you know, if there's a take, you've got to give, too.
So we've got, as athletes, I always feel what better job would you ever want. I remember sitting up ten rows from the top of Candlestick Park watching down with binoculars looking down at Joe Montana and Steve Young and I was this kid with a dream and now all of a sudden I'm the one on the field.
To look back on those days and how it's progressed to the point where it's at is extremely fulfilling and I think the competitive nature of this business is what continues to drive you as an athlete. I look back on those things always with great memories and I think I always try to focus on the positive because life's too short for all of us and just got to enjoy every day, and especially in whatever anyone does, you've just got to be -- just try to truly enjoy what you're doing and there's no doubt that do I that.
Transcript: Tedy Bruschi's Friday press conference
What are the benefits of having been here before, and what do you have to protect yourself against since it's so familiar? I think the benefits of us being here before--this is I think my sixth. This is my sixth AFC Championship, and I think you learn how to prepare for these games. You realize it's a big game, it's the game that gets you to the game that you want to be in. You realize that it's big, it's huge, it's probably one of the biggest games that a lot of people in our locker room have ever been associated with. But you learn how to prepare from your experience. You really try to break down the biggest games you've had in your career to the simplest forms, how do I prepare better to help us do a better job on offense or defense.
You've seen Tom Brady operate under pressure in Super Bowls, but what are guys saying to each other when they see him on film during the week or just see him in practice and see him in the Jaguars game and saying to each other, what is going on here with this guy? I think early on this season when we saw a lot of the early stages of Brady [throwing] to his new crop of receivers this year, we would look to each other on the sideline and sort of raise our eyebrows and say, “well, this can really be something special,” and a deep ball to [Randy] Moss or to [Wes] Welker or [Donte’] Stallworth and you look to your defensive teammate and say, "Wow, these guys are pretty good," and they do it in the game and you see those deep balls and the triple passes or whatever they do.
I don't want to say you get used to it towards the end, but every time you see it you get excited and it really pumps some life into the defense.
Has Rosevelt Colvin’s absence hurt the performance of the defense? You look back at the last couple of games and you didn't play up to par especially in the long drives last week. How much is that he being out and you guys having to play a little bit more? I guess I can really answer that question as a linebacker group as a whole, we are five guys in there rotating and everybody doing different things and everybody had their roles. And when you lose a cog, you have to adjust. And of course Rosey was making big plays for us, the sacks, the interceptions, the forced fumbles, and you minus that from an equation, of course other guys are going to have to do different things and we have to adjust defensively especially as linebackers.
One thing you miss [is] his production out on the field and his presence in the locker room because he's one of the favorite guys we love to joke around with and makes the backerhood a lot of fun.
How physically fresh do you feel and how fresh do you feel the defense is, because it seems like at the end of the season, you started to get things going defensively and in the first half, the offense seemed to be doing work forcing the other teams to catch up; how do you feel this time? Well, it's Friday. It's Friday, so we've had a few extra days to rest and recuperate. I think I'd be the first to tell you as I get older along in your career, 34, 35, 18 years like Junior [Seau] has been in the league, it takes a little bit longer to recuperate.
But physically, I think we are feeling well. This week was a good week of preparation, and we had full pads one day of very physical practice, and yesterday and today were also good preparation days.
So physically, come Friday, Saturday, you start to feel good again and get ready to do it on Sunday.
In other years were you more worn out? I guess when you're a rookie or second year player, towards the end of the year you sort of still feel like a young man. But I think you get to -- towards the end of every year now, especially I think as every player gets into double-digits years, it gets tougher and tougher towards the end of the year, yes.
As a leader on this team, what lengths have you gone to press upon younger players to let them know the season will be a waste if you don't win Sunday? I haven't. I haven't, because that's not something we're going to emphasize. Because it would sort of encapsulate our entire season up to this week of preparation or practice or anything like that. We can't really worry about what's going on in the past.
If you're thinking about what's going on in the past, all right, you think about the regular season, we're 17-0 and yes and all that, and oh, man, if we lose this game. We don't think that way. We are right in the middle of this right now so all we think is how we prepare the next practice or day or meeting to help us win this game. You don't want to have that type of finality attitude right now in terms of preparation. You just want to look at the AFC Championship as a football game against the Chargers.
Are you feeling any extra pressure as you get closer and closer? No, I think our experience will also help us in the fact that we have been on win streaks before. There are a lot of people in this locker room who have won 21 games in a row who have won world championships before, and so we've gone on streaks before, do we think about, “oh, man, if we lose, the streak will be over?” We don't think about that. We just think about the next game and that helps us dealing with pressure, if there is any.
You mentioned it gets tougher the number of years that have passed, but looking at the games you've played in at this level, does it also become more precious? Absolutely. I would be the first to tell, I'm not in the beginning of my career anymore. I'm in my 12th season now and how many can you possibly play?
I've had great examples in my career, Willie McGinest and Junior played 18 and they have taught me a lot of things on how to take care of yourself and really have longevity in this league.
One thing you learn as you get older and experience season after season after season is that the bigger the games get, the better feeling when you win them because you don't know if you'll be back.
I was in the Super Bowl in 1996 losing to the Green Bay Packers and you come away from that game feeling like, “we're a great organization, I'm part of a great team, we're going to go far.” All of a sudden we're looking for a new head coach and we go down on a downward spiral until we turn it around again.
If Tomlinson is limited on Sunday you'll obviously see more of [Michael] Turner and [Darren] Sproles. Do you see that as an advantage or disadvantage? Well, each one of those running backs brings different challenges. We really respect Turner as a returner. We think he's a very strong runner that breaks a lot of tackles and between the tackles, he may be the best of the three for his because of his yard per carry average and the way he's able to run through the tackles and break those tackles.
Sproles is his own little individual player. He's a guy that sort of can scatter around and you never know where he's going to be on screen passes, kickoff returns, punt returns. He's a guy that poses a totally different threat. So each one of those running backs brings a formidable threat that we have to stop.
During the last two playoff runs, Rodney Harrison has not been available for you guys. What does it mean to you guys to have him in the lineup and available this year? Well, to me, to me Rodney is our tone setter. He really sets the tone for us. Probably the most physical and violent teammate I've ever been a part of, and his aggression he uses to his advantage.
He'll be the first to tell you that sometimes he's a little too aggressive. For us to have him is a big plus. He can do so much. He can be a linebacker, he can be a safety, a defensive back and cover one of the best tight ends in the league. I think he can do everything that this coaching staff has ever asked and that's a big plus for us to have him.
What's made this team so good at coping with distractions? You know, I hate to say it, but we are sort of used to dealing with them. I think this year has been a year of distractions since opening day, hasn’t it? To tell you the truth, week after week there's something different we have to deal with.
The way we do that is we sort of feed off of it. If we feed off the distractions and we come closer for it, we just bond together. Whoever is being scrutinized, whoever is the target for any type of criticism, we rally around that person whether it is our head coach or our all-star wide receiver or whoever it may be, some types of problems that sometimes you don't know about, we will rally around our teammates in the face of criticism and become stronger for it.
Kevin, you've been through three of these rodeos; can you just give us your thoughts entering the game? Are you excited at the preparation, does it help being here before? A little. It helps a little bit. But at the same time -- being in three different right now, that's the last thing on your mind. The only thing on your mind is worrying about the opponents you are facing because it's a big game.
You've been in this game a long time and you've seen some retired guys who probably are not walking so well; do you talk a lot in the off-season, not during the season of course, about how long to keep going, and how much is it worth, even though you're at the pinnacle right now of where you're going into Sunday, but what do you guys talk about when it comes to long-term health? Of course you talk about it. You ask guys who you are close with how they are feeling, how your bodies feel. What we love to do is play football and when that time comes, you'll know, your body will let you know. Your thought process, your family members that you trust, they will let you know.
You were named captain this year and you have obviously taken that responsibility seriously. What has that meant to you to be a captain, especially in a season that's gone as well as this one has to this point? It means so much to me. It's one of the most important things in my life. When the guys -- when Coach announced it, it was such a surprise to me, but at the same time I knew how hard I've worked to get to this point throughout my whole career and just being able to hear your name being called as captain is just a very special honor.
Now that you're on the doorstep of history, you’re undefeated, how much bigger is the fear of failure among your teammates and yourself? You don't think about it. You live in the moment and continue on doing what you've been doing.
How do you not think about it? Your process is thinking about winning the game, thinking about going to the next week and knowing that you have to play better than what you did the week before. Because if you play the same way you played the week before against a different opponent, you may not win the game.
Can you talk just about L.T.'s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, that's one of your strengths; what do you admire about him in the passing game? Oh, just being able to do everything. Not just catching the pass, but being able to pick up the blitz. Being able to run the ball four or five times in a row and come back and run a 15-yard wheel route down the field, catch it and run 40 yards and come back and pick-up a blitz pick-up. Everything he does you can tell how hard he works during the off-season and during the season and that's why he's L.T.
Tedy was saying this has been a year of distractions. As a team captain, how proud are you of the way the team has dealt with distractions all year and lot let them distract you? Very proud. The season is not over and we're still in the season and we're just trying to be able to bond as a team together. Whatever comes about, just be stronger and just come together as a team and put that product on the field.
Is there any way that you guys turn something that most people might see as a negative, turn it as a positive on the field to motivate you guys? Every negative you can turn into a positive, it's just the way you do it.
Nervous? For this [press conference]? No. I think we're excited. I think we look forward to playing big games. I think as a player who has been there, like a lot of the guys on our team have, you realize how fun they are when you go out there to compete against another team in a Championship Game.
Is this really an announcement that you're into the final four now? I think it's an announcement that we're close, close to game time and we are starting to button things up for less than 48 hours or close right there. I think that's what it tells us, that we're close.
How helpful has it been in the past, to bring in hungry veteran guys who have had individual success in other places, but haven't achieved team success, guys like Rodney Harrison and now Junior Seau and Randy Moss; how much does that help you keep the fire burning? Well, I think that we have a lot of guys on our team that have been successful, like you said, and have had individual success on other teams.
I think that they bring a lot to this team. I think all the way back in 2001, when I think Bill [Belichick] and Scott [Pioli] kind of started to transform this team into what they wanted it to be, and then it's been a tough team to make ever since then. They always bring in talented guys and positions are deep at training camp and every position has eight or 10 guys and it's a tough team to make.
The beginning of the week Bill Belichick said the team would look at week two but focus on what the Chargers have done in the last few weeks; what have they done so well down in the stretch? It's just a team that is executing that much better. It's the same guys, the same guys we saw in week two. They added Chris Chambers. The receivers are playing a lot better, so not only do they have the playmakers that they had before, you know, with L.T. [LaDainian Tomlinson] and [Antonio] Gates and [Darren] Sproles and [Michael] Turner, but they have added the receivers that have showed up the last half of the season, and their record has shown and their offensive numbers have shown and their offensive production has shown because of it.
The last two games, what is has been the difficulty in getting to the quarterback? If you look, I don't think that we put terrible pressure on David [Garrard] last week. I think that he played well. I think that we forced him to not stand back there and hold the ball. I don't think he held the ball. I think you can go around and around about sacks and numbers. I think sometimes you can have a lot of pressures and not have any sacks.
If somebody was standing back there and we are not getting to him or guys are not getting in his face, then I think it's an issue. Certainly, I will say that the Giants game, I don't think that the front four, we didn't rush how we needed to rush. I'll say [in] the Giants game, we probably could have done better.
But you know, last week I think that the pressure was there. I don't think that the sack numbers were there.
What is the overall feeling now on defense, after you mentioned the Giants game and last week, Garrard had quite a few long drives; is that a concern still and have you done special things to correct those? Well, I think that you can play really well against the run-We played a Jacksonville team last week that averaged 150 yards rushing a game and I thought we played a run pretty well, but when you don't get off the field on third down, that's all negated. That means nothing. We've had games where we haven't played well against the run. Played really well on third down and nobody really cares how you play against the run because you get off the field.
For us it comes down to third down, it comes down to living in the times that they are able to go out there and convert. Certainly if they have the ball for 12 or 14 plays, two things are happening. One, Tom Brady doesn't have the ball and two, they have a chance to score.
If Philip Rivers doesn't play or if he's more hobbled than he is normally, how much of an advantage is that for your pass rush and for your defense? Can you talk about the play of their offensive line so far this season? Well, I think the offensive line--I think that they work really well, the three guys inside work really well together.
You know, [Marcus] McNeill is obviously a great athlete out there at left tackle. And then [Jeromey] Clary, he played on my side. You know, they work well together and then Brandon [Manumaleuna], the big fella, I'm not going to try to pronounce his name, he's Brandon to us, he kinds of provides -- he's kind of that searchlight back there for them and an added blocker.
So they do, they play well together. That's really been the key the last, I think, half of the season for them is keeping Philip clean, keeping him upright and his numbers have shown because of it.
There seems to be a consensus among media and maybe even the general population that the outcome of this game depends on the Patriots, if they play a typical Patriot football game, this game is well in hand; do the players have that same feeling? I think we think that every week. I think every team would; that if they went out there and they played their best that they would win the game.
I think that's the attitude we take every week is that if we play well and we do what we're supposed to do that we are going to win. If you don't have that attitude, I think guys are on the wrong team.
Your defense throws something different that they just didn't expect, what is it like walking into your defensive meetings every week and seeing a new wrinkle; what is it like, does it jazz you up when you know there's something completely different? Well, I mean, I think you have to be -- I hear that a lot. I think you have to be pretty conscious of just changing the whole defense just to change it. We don't do things just for the sake of doing them. We try to do things that really are pertinent to what we are trying to stop and what we are trying to take away.
You know, you have to study and you have to be on top of things and you have to be able to adjust on the fly. There were things that we changed last week and the week before. You know, we don't wait till halftime. We try to come over on the sidelines and say, this is working and this isn't working. You know, you've got to be truthful. You've got to be honest with the coaches. If you're getting handled, you've got to say, "I got blocked" or “this is what they did.” Bill is like, “I don't need everybody coming over here telling me they got double-teamed. They can't double-team everybody.”
How difficult is it to be talking about the anticipation of the game on the Friday, and two, why is this team so good at staying within itself, staying on an even keel, looking at that proverbial one game at a time? Well, I just think that's just what we are used to doing. That's the way we approach every week and that's the way we approach every day is: this is Friday, here is our schedule on Friday, we do short yardage, goal line, red zone, move the field, whatever it is. You know, come in and get out of here. And then Saturday is another day and Sunday we'll try to amp it up for the game.
It makes the weeks go by so much faster when you're not looking down the road when you just stay inside yourself and stay focused.
Since the Eagles game, the games have had a different tone. They have been closer for the most part. Would you just assess the two different -- This is professional football --
What have you observed about the sheer effort teams are bringing in and the schemes -- I think probably offensively they get it a little more than what we would. I think we're seeing -- you know, this is a copycat league for the most part. A lot of teams are going to run what they have seen be successful on film. The games are close. I think everybody in here in this locker room anticipated that we weren't going to win every game by four touchdowns. So sooner or later, you have to go out there -- and I'm glad that we were able to make plays under pressure, in the fourth quarter and coming down the stretch when it mattered.
Each of the last two playoff runs you have not had Rodney Harrison available; what difference does it make this year to have him? Just emotion. You see him making a huge play to end the game last week, and he's always played very, very well in playoff games that he's been healthy for that I can remember.
You know, in the Super Bowl, with the pick, a touchdown against [Ben] Roethlisberger and I'm sure I'll forget some sacks, but the best players, they have got to play great in the big games, so I don't expect anything less from Rodney. Certainly he's done that in the past and shown that he can do it when he's out there.
Can you talk about the role of James Sanders? [It has been] just a maturation process for James. He learned under Rodney, studied under Rodney and did the right things. He's smart and he's tough. It's a good fit for our defense. He's a young guy that came in and really learned the system, and so I'm happy for James and the amount of time that he's been able to play and he's had that opportunity when guys went down and he made the most of his opportunity.
How much has the linebacker core in particular and the defense in general missed Roosevelt Colvin, and how do you feel the adjustments have been since he went on injured reserve? Well, I think we missed Rosie. We miss all our players. When you show up and Bill and Scott form a team and you end up with 53 guys, you know that you're not going to play the whole season with those same 53 guys.
So with that in mind, you understand that there's going to be some changes. You're going to go through the season and you're going to lose guys to injury or to whatever.
We've missed Rosie, not only on the field but off the field, his attitude in the locker room, and just the way that he carried himself and kind of kept everybody light. So we see him, and we certainly miss him on the field but we also miss him in the locker room as well.
You've had situations where you played against quarterbacks in the same game with varied abilities. Is there a great difference between what Philip Rivers and Billy Volek does? Well, I think both guys--I think any quarterback in this league is going to try to rely on his playmakers. And they have plenty of them.
As far as advantages go, I think that we're going to have to be prepared for the starter and then if the backup comes in, we'll also have to be prepared for that, as well.
I would say you're not looking at, you know, Tom Brady and Vince Young different, but I would say more similar than dissimilar.
On a personal level, how important was remaining at the same position to your own individual success this season? Well, I think personally it's helped, but I think that you just do what you have to do, I think, to get by. Sometimes that was moving inside and sometimes that was playing outside. To be able to play outside, it's just been-- for the whole season, it’s just been reflective in the rush and everything else.
But I don't have any interceptions so I'm not dropping as much. [For the] interceptions, I was inside. It's just kind of -- what you do is what you're expected. You know, those are the plays you're expected to make.
Just recently a young girl was booed at the Indianapolis game at the RCA Dome building up the whole "Evil Empire" that's starting to come up, calling us the "Evil Empire" in New England; do you notice that deeper into the playoffs that players are making that comment? I think it's great that a girl can go out and win and beat a bunch of boys in a punt, pass and kick competition and she had a New England Patriots jersey on. I did hear that we are going to honor her and I'm sure our fans will appreciate the fact that she had the guts to go into the RCA Dome with a Patriots jersey on.
Transcript: Bill Belichick's Friday press conference
As far as the team goes, we're privileged to be in this AFC Championship Game. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the San Diego Chargers and their season, particularly what they have done since Thanksgiving. They are a great football team.
Our team has worked hard this week to do the best we can to try to be prepared for Sunday. The Chargers are the type of team, if we have three weeks to get ready for them, we could still use more time. They are tough to do that for, but we'll be ready to go and we'll put our best effort out there Sunday afternoon. I know the players are excited for the game, [there has] certainly been a lot of energy in practice and through the weekly preparation. We know we have our hands full. The Chargers are a great team and they have proved it in every phase of the game, pretty much every opportunity they have had the last couple of months, offense, defense, special teams, running game, passing game, big plays and critical plays in the game.
Hopefully we can go out there and play the best game of the year because that's what it's going to take to win.
How crucial is it for your offense, to have a guy like Tom Brady who seems so unselfish spreading the ball around and making sure that not just he is getting the accolades, but all of the other guys are the stars of the offense? I'm sorry, the question is?
Tom Brady--that he's unselfish--how key is that to the way your offense runs? That's the way the whole team runs. We all have jobs to do and we all try to do our jobs for the good of the team and put the team first. I think that's the way everybody approaches our job for the entire year and certainly the way that we each approach it for this game in that we each have something to do and we have to do it well.
The Chargers obviously force a lot of turnovers. I know you stress it every week but any more importance on it this week? Have you done more work? Absolutely. You know, they have set the pace on going back to the 2000 Ravens and even the plus-24 turnover ratio for the Bengals a couple years ago. They have done an outstanding job of coming off the ball defensively and we have to do a good job protecting it, [they have] 30 interceptions. They get it from everywhere, all the players, secondary, linebackers put pressure on the quarterback and [they force] fumbles and those come on special teams as well as on defense. So taking care of the ball is the No. 1 priority for us and that's certainly been a big emphasis point this week, as it is every week. The Chargers have done a great job of it all year and that's crucial for us.
Could you describe the relationship right now between the Chargers and the Patriots considering the way the playoff game ended a year ago? Some of the talk that happened after week one between Tomlinson and some of the players; is this a budding rivalry between the two clubs? I think right now the relationship is you've got two competitive teams trying for one championship and that will be decided on Sunday afternoon. That's what this is about. That's all we're focused on is trying to play our best football game Sunday afternoon at 3:00.
How much fun and enjoyment have you yourself gotten out of the season? Well, there have certainly been some good moments, but really the season right now hinges on one game. It's a one-game season with the San Diego Chargers and they are the best team we've played and we are going to have to play our best game and that's really where all of our focus is right now and looking ahead. We're not really looking back and not doing anything other than looking at San Diego Sunday at 3:00. That's where we need to have our peak performance and be our best and that's what the target is. Other than that, it wasn't too much to think about.
When you initially acquired Junior, how much was that based on the leadership he could bring to the locker room in addition to what he could do on the field? I think the most important thing is what he can do on the field: his playing performance and his versatility and ability to help our football team win games.
He's been a great leader for us but the most important thing for Junior and our football team is for him to play well and for him to do his job and do it well. That's the most important thing for all of us. He's got a lot of energy, he's brought a lot of leadership and energy and experience to our team, and that's been good, but the most important thing he's done [is] played his position well.
When you look around the practice field now in the post-season, do you see a change in attitude at all in your team, whether it be better or worse, do you notice an improvement or change at this part of the season? Not really. Not really. I think I would compliment our players for their effort and attitude all year. They come to work every day trying to get better, trying to understand what they need to do to win and how to improve individually and as a team, and then try to transfer that out to the practice field and execute it there in preparation for our games. That's kind of the way it's been all year. Certainly when you're in a situation like we are now, it's a one-game season, everything is riding on one game. There's a little bit of a heightened intensity and attentiveness, which there should be, but that's been there all year, too.
You keep emphasizing you have to play your best game but you can't look back; is there one game where you felt both the offense and defense had their best game? I don't know. I don't know if that would really make any difference. Right now the only game we care about is the Charger game. What happened in the past is in the past and I don't think it has any bearing on this game.
What we need to do is play and coach and execute well against the Chargers. So that's all that really matters.
Do the Charger injuries--specifically not knowing the status of Rivers--does that change your preparation? Well, we get ready for all 53 players every week, so there's really no change. If a player is on the opponent's active roster, we prepare for him and understand what their strengths and weakness are tendencies and what they do and how they do it. And whoever the opponent chooses to put in the game, that's their decision, we don't have any control over that. We have to be ready for all of them. We practiced this week the same as every other week. Buffalo is a good example; There was one quarterback in the game and a couple plays later, there was another quarterback in the game, and that can happen at any time at any position, so we have to be ready for all of them.
At different stages of the season, mostly at the end of the regular season, you seem to practice for balance in your offense with Laurence Maroney and the game against the Jets how important is it that Tom Brady had a game like last weekend where he was very precise and correct in his throws? Well, I don't really know that has much or any effect. We're not playing Jacksonville. We played them last week and this week is a totally different match-up and we're going against the charger defense. As we know, they set the pace for turnovers and ball disruption and getting the ball out of the offense's hands way better than anybody. So our challenges this week are a lot different than last week and last week and last month and everything else. It doesn't really matter. It's just how we do against the Chargers.
Our focus this week is how we can play our best against San Diego. Again, nothing else really matters.
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light has some fun during a drill today at Foxboro. Light had been sick earlier in the week, but was back on the field today, two days before the team takes on San Diego for the AFC Championship.