Richard Seymour picked the Giants to get here in a pool with his friends. How about you? We’ve been there. We’ve had those season before where you play well, you flash it and then it kind of goes away for a few weeks. Certainly when we played them the last week, they played their best ball when they needed to to do well in the playoffs in the National Football League - after Thanksgiving and on the road in the playoffs.
Is that how you judge your team, after Thanksgiving? Well, there’s a few things I’ve learned from Bill [Belichick] and that’s one of them. Kind of take a look and see what teams do after Thanksgiving, see what kind of shape they’re in, what kind of plays they make, how they play, how tough they are. A lot of those early season number - I guess you want to win every game you play, but you can make a lot of hay after Thanksgiving.
Their toughness was demonstrated in that game. They didn’t need to beat you to make the playoffs. It’s a physical football team. They’re built like that and I think Coach [Tom] Coughlin wants them - That’s the type of team he wants. That’s the type of team he had in Jacksonville and certainly with the Giants. Right across the front, they have big running backs, they have physical linemen, big receivers that’ll block, so we have our hands full.
What advice do you have for the guys that haven’t been to the Super Bowl? I just think the biggest thing is when you come off the field for pregame warm-ups there’s about 50 minutes to where you’re just sitting there, as opposed to maybe 10 minutes in a regular season game. There’s a lot of time. I remember in 2001 Bill had been through it before and said don’t go out there and kill yourself in pregame warm-ups because you’re going to come back down and you’re going to cool off, then we’re going to have to stretch again and we’re going to have to get warmed back up again. Just little things like that, where you take it for granted where you think it’s a normal game, but really there’s a lot of logistical things that factor into the Super Bowl with TV and the time that we’re out on the field and coming back in. Then when you finally leave, then it’s two minutes. Then it’s the national anthem and they’re kicking the ball off.
Anything about the week itself? I think everything with the hotel, it’s a road trip for us, really. We’ve actually stayed at this hotel, so it’ll be nice knowing the surroundings. When we played Arizona, I think we stayed at this hotel, so not too much [is different]. Practices are going to be the same, meetings are going to be the same. You’ll meet with the media, your day is done at 5:00 or 6:00, after you’re doing watching film and have watched practice.
Can you talk about how your relationship with Bill Belichick has evolved since you first came here? Yeah, I think obviously I have a lot of respect for Bill and what he’s done with this football team and the decisions that he makes. I certainly don’t always agree with everything that he says or does, but I think ultimately the end result is very positive. I just think that he’s given me - He gave me an opportunity to come here. He said I won’t ever promise anybody a spot, but there’ll be an opening for you to compete and be an every-down player. And then from 2001 on, it’s kind of evolved. My role on the football team has kind of evolved, where the first year I just played first and second down and then the next year I played on third down and did a lot of other things. I just think it’s just expanded since I’ve been here. He’s not really caught up in the guys that are supposed to be good player or allegedly good players. He wants guys that are going to go out there and work, be smart and are dependable and consistent. Those are the kind of guys we have on this football team.
You’ve been able to joke with him - you have a good relationship. Has it been like that from the beginning? I think that any time you have a certain comfort level with somebody, I think that certainly if he’s able to give it to us, I figured why not give it back to him.
You’ve been around long enough to understand the way fans think. Talk about the fact that it’s Boston/New York for the Super Bowl. It’s no Yankees/Red Sox, but it’s going to be determined out on the field. It will be fun for the fans to go out to Arizona and to enjoy some good weather, I guess, and leave the east coast and go out there. I think the fans will have a great time. I know the players will enjoy it and, most importantly, I think we’ll have to go out there on the field and prove and fight to see who will be the champions.
All three Patriots Super Bowls were won by three points and the red zone becomes much more important in the Super Bowl. With three big red zone stops last week, is that something you hope to carry over to the Super Bowl? Obviously it’s something we want to carry over. It’s something that just doesn’t happen. You just don’t go out and hope you’re going to stop them after you’ve given up an 80-yard drive and just hope that you’re going to stop them down in the red zone. So you have to put some time in it and work at it. You have to look and see what they like, what they had success with in the first game - which they did, and that was a big thing. It was the reason the game was so tight, I think, was their ability to convert on third down and their ability to score touchdowns in the red zone.
You talked about when you first came here and Bill Belichick calling you. Do you ever think about how close that was? It was just between Pittsburgh - It was either going back to Pittsburgh and resuming the same role that I had with the Steelers, which Coach [Bill] Cowher welcomed me back. He said, hey, I totally understand you looking somewhere else and seeing if there’s an opportunity there. If not, give me a call and you’re welcome back here.
Adalius Thomas shifted from inside to outside. Can you talk about how he’s handled the role? I think with AD, I think the expectations that everybody had of him coming in here were so great because he was such a sought-after free agent in the offseason, but he came in and I think just became one of the guys in the locker room. [He] put everything else aside and just learned kind of what we do here and how we do it, learning every position - learned inside, learned outside, and certainly in his flexibility, I think his talent has enabled us to do a lot of things. It’s enabled me to be outside and it’s allowed him to play inside and outside and also cover. He’s a great coverage linebacker. He doesn’t get enough credit for it, but he does a great job. He’s just a big athlete that we can put a lot of different places.
How fine a line is it between tough, hardnosed football and the dirty play that some fans or some people think they’re seeing? It’s just like, you know, for a player or anybody, you just can’t throw out accusations. A guy - You come off the field and you win or you lose a game, emotions are very high. There are plays that happen to me, that happen to everybody out there that if you wanted to spin it another way, you could say, man, that was a dirty play. But, I mean, it’s football. There’s going to be some things that happen that aren’t by design, maybe certainly you didn’t want to do, but they happen. And so guys can come in after the game and if they say this guy’s a dirty player, then red flags go up. That’s a you-problem; that’s not our problem.
Can I ask you to reflect on your hometown of Equality, Ala. and how well you know Justin Tuck? Actually, it’s funny you say that. [We] went to the same high school, our parents went to school together. [It’s a] small town. Most of the neighbors are either your aunt or your uncle or your grandparents. His sister is in the class with my sister now - I think that’s right. I know Justin very well. [We] grew up together. Again, he went to church down the street from where I went to school. I talked to him this week. They’re calling it the Coosa County Bowl instead of the Super Bowl where we’re from. It’s so funny, though - two guys from the same area, which is a very rural part of Alabama to play in the Super Bowl, so one family will be happy and one family will be kind of sad.
Richard Seymour talked about making picks with his buddies and he chose the Giants straight through, based on the fact that when he played them he thought they were a solid team. Do you think that? I really didn’t know who would be here, because in the playoffs it’s always some kind of twist or something like that, but I knew that they had a great chance because of their road record, first of all, and the way that they played at the end of the year. They were starting to play well at the right time. A lot of times teams hit their all cylinders at the wrong point and then have a lull at the wrong time of the year. In the playoffs, you can’t have that, that lull at the wrong time of the year. They’ve done a great job of going on the road [and] playing games, winning on the road against very good teams, so they have the momentum right now. Eli’s [Manning] playing great. Their defense is playing well. Special teams is playing great, kicking off and making a short field for them. We definitely have our challenge cut out for us.
When you talked to Justin Tuck, can you give us a little bit of the flavor of it? First of all, we congratulated each other. I congratulated him on his new deal, whatever, and we said we would just talk later on in the week and get together. But, you know, it’s not like we play against each other. Both of us are on defense, so I think it would be a little bit different if he was a running back or a wide receiver or something like that, but just hoping each other stay healthy. Other than that, [that’s] pretty much it.
You came in here and got basically immersed playing inside and then all of a sudden got shifted outside. Was there any impact? No, it helps you learn the defense as a whole when you’re playing inside and then you go to outside. You understand now as you go through the calls what you may have to do at Mike as well as Sam or Will or Jack - whatever it may be. It just helps you understand the defense, which helps you as an overall player. I think that’s the biggest thing that it does for me.
Knowing that now, having played both, is it easier to shift outside or would it have been harder to go inside? I don’t know. It really doesn’t matter when you’re dealing with a new system, because you have to learn both of them either way it goes, so being that I was the Mike I think it’s easier now to go outside, because you do know a lot about the calls because when you’re at Mike you deal with both sides, vs. when you’re a Sam or a Jack you deal with just one side.
The Patriots’ Super Bowl wins were all by three points and the red zone becomes very important in the Super Bowl. Last week you had three red zone stops. Do you think that puts you right on schedule? It is. That’s definitely a momentum shifter, especially when you can give up three points. You don’t want to get them down there, first of all. You don’t want to major in red zone defense, but if something goes down and they’re down there - a long drive, a turnover or a kickoff or something that got them to that point, whatever it may be - you want to always be able to stand up and hold them to three points, and I think that is a big thing, vs. three points, you give up two scores, which is the same thing as one score - it’s six points. So I think that definitely helps as far as that goes. They’ve been great in the red zone, and so one of them is going to have to give. Hopefully we can continue to bring focus to that point and continue to play strong to that point, because that will definitely help us on Sunday.
When you were thinking about signing someplace when you were a free agent, was this in your mind why you signed here, the opportunity to be here and talk about the Patriots in the Super Bowl? I knew it gave me a great chance to be here. Did I think it would be the first year? I really didn’t know, but I knew you had a great chance of being there. That’s all you can really ask for in this game, is to have a chance to play - to get an opportunity to get to the playoffs and play for a championship and go on to the stage that we’re on now. So that definitely was a big part of why I signed here.
Their two running backs are different styles. What kind of challenge does that present? It represents a big challenge. Both of the guys run hard. [Brandon] Jacobs is a more downhill, big guy, run you over, but at the same time he has good speed. [Ahmad] Bradshaw is a cutback, cut - He can bounce outside. He’s a very, very hard runner, always keeping his legs pumping, and so you just have to gang tackle both of them. That’s the key. That’s the only common thing that they do have, is you have to gang tackle both of them because they’re very good backs.
Were you surprised at all the coverage Tom Brady and his walking boot got the last few days? I didn’t know anything about it until I think yesterday. It was what it was. Tom gets enough coverage. I don’t know.
Do you feel pretty confident you’ll have him at 100 percent? Is this a non-issue for your team? I’ll let Tom answer that. I don’t know anything about a boot or a cup or a shoe. I don’t know anything like that. I don’t know anything - slippers, I don’t know. His slippers cost more than my shoes, I don’t know.
Could you address the development of Eli Manning and what you’ve seen in him in the last month? He’s just taking care of the ball. No turnovers in the playoffs. If you don’t turn the ball over, you give yourself a greater chance to win. He’s throwing the ball very well. Running the ball has been taking a lot of pressure off him as well, and Plaxico [Burress] has been running big, and when not throwing to Plaxico, the other guys have stepped up. [Amani] Toomer, [Steve] Smith and [Kevin] Boss. You really can’t just focus on one guy because he really is going through his reads and delivering the ball where it’s supposed to be delivered.
Some people grow up in certain areas and wish they were from somewhere else. Are you grateful for where you came from? Of course. That’s what made [me] who I am. I don’t have any regrets. That’s one thing you can’t choose, is your parenthood and where they live. It’s a great I think motivation or encouragement for the kids that are from rural areas that are small areas. Nobody really knows where I’m from and it goes back to the old cliché it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you go. I think Justin and I are just two prime examples of guys that came from middle class families that worked hard. The one thing that both of us really had was great support from our parents, our mother and our father, his parents as well as my parents. I think that just goes to show a lot about the character that he has and I have as well.
You were injured for a short time this season -- What injury are you talking about?
The ankle injury that showed up on the injury report. I think everybody could be on the injury report at some point, but I don’t think it’s really impacted - To a certain extent - I’m fine, as far as that goes. I didn’t miss any games, [or] anything like that, so I don’t think - It’s a non-issue.
You guys are pretty heavily favored in this game. That doesn’t mean anything. It’s not like - Favored? Just like I guess Green Bay was favored. That doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that matters is when the ball is kicked off, when it’s time to play, you make more plays and go out there and play good defense and good team ball and try to win the game. That’s the only thing that matters. That favor doesn’t do anything but motivate the other team.
Has this season been more of a learning experience than you anticipated? I knew it was going to be a learning experience because, again, you come into a new system, new players, new environment, it’s always a learning system, learning how things work on and off the field. It’s been a learning experience and I’ll continue to learn. Just learning from the guys, from Junior [Seau] and Tedy [Bruschi] and Vrabes [Mike Vrabel], those guys really showed me the way and so I continue to lean on those guys.
But here where the system is so complicated to play? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s very complicated to play. I mean, I think it’s a good system to play in.
Ready for the madness? Absolutely. I think this is one of the reasons that you play the game, obviously to be in a situation like this. We work hard all year and we’ve put ourselves in a great position. Now it’s about finishing it.
What kind of advice do you give the guys who have never been to the Super Bowl before? Well, I mean, I don’t want to give too much away because obviously our opponents will be listening, but I think in-house, I think we understand what we have to do in order to be successful in this game, and we know what we shouldn’t be doing as well. I’ll just keep that in-house, and talk to me after the game. I’ll give you all our tips.
Seeing Tom Brady walk around New York in a walking boot, are you at all concerned? I think that’s something you have to talk to Brady about. I have just as much information as you, so I’m really not sure about that issue.
You know it’s the heat of the moment in games, but are you distressed at some of the words that have been aimed at you in terms of being a dirty player? First of all, it’s not true, so I think the facts are the facts. Secondly, I can’t control what others say or think. The only thing I can do is control my actions, the way that I approach the game [and] the things that I’m able to do throughout the week. For me, that won’t change and I think the people that know me best know that’s something that’s totally bogus.
From your experience, these couple of days here, are they the most important days in terms of preparation before you get to the Super Bowl site? I think it’s a combination of both. I think you have to be pretty balanced. I really can’t say one is a little bit more important than the other. Obviously the most important is Sunday, but we have to do a good job preparing for this team. I think they do a good job. They’re obviously road warriors and they do a lot of things well, and it’s the reason that they’re in this game. They went into some hostile environments [and] beat some really good football teams. Even when we played those guys, they played tough, they played hard, they play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. From a fan’s perspective, me and a couple of my buddies had our picks for the week, and I rode the Giants all the way there. I’m off of their bandwagon now, though.
What did you personally take from that last game? I think obviously they’re a tough, physical football team and they’ve gotten better since that point, and we have, too. If you look at early in the year, Green Bay beat them pretty handily and they came back. It wasn’t the same team that played early in the year, so we understand that. And even from the last game of the season, those three games that they played in the playoffs, they’re a better team now than when we played them, and we are, too. We understand the magnitude of this game, but at the same time it’s still a game and you have to go out and have fun in doing it.
In what way are you better since that Giants game? I just think recognition of plays, I just think a better tackling team, I think our red zone defense. I think we’ve stepped up in a few areas and we’ve made plays that we needed to make when we needed to make them.
The New York/Boston rivalry is well documented, obviously, from a baseball standpoint. How much do you recognize it now from a football standpoint? I think it’s two cities that put a lot of pride in their sports. The fans are tremendously supportive in both regards, Boston and New York, and rightfully so. They pull for their teams. I think as a player you want to play in an atmosphere where people care. The fans that we have here, they definitely care, and I know the ones in New York do as well. We’re definitely excited about this match up.
Can you add to Nick Hardwick’s thing yesterday that you head butted -- I just addressed it.
The head butt thing? I just addressed everything I’ve - I mean, I can’t. Yeah.
OK, but this one specific thing. He claimed you head butted a coach, although the tape -- I don’t - A coach? A coach that was out on the field? I mean, so…
When you look at Eli Manning, in the game against you he threw four touchdown passes. Do you think he’s used that as a platform? Anytime when your quarterback doesn’t make turnovers and he has some targets to throw the ball to as well, and they have a good running game and also play well defensively - I think all around the board they do a good job. We’re excited about this match up, to say the least. I think if we just do our job individually, I think collectively as a group that we’ll be fine.
On your picks with your buddies, you picked the Giants. Right. I rode the Giants.
Based on your game with them, did you have inside information? Yeah, I mean, because I played them. I wouldn’t call it [an] inside scoop. I mean, I played them. I knew they were a good football team and it was just something fun. Me and my buddies got together and did that, but they play the game the way the game is supposed to be played. Defensively, they’re tough. They can stop the run, rush the passer, [they’re] good on special teams, they’re well-coached. They have really good players over there, so we understand what they have and I think that’s what makes this match up intriguing.
What kind of challenge do you face with the running backs? I think obviously in [Brandon] Jacobs, he’s a big, pounding, bruising-type back. He also has the speed to take it outside and hit the home run ball. It’s a change of pace when the other back comes in. He cuts the ball back and gives us a different look defensively, so we definitely have two running backs in practice this week getting us prepared.
Did it surprise you the intensity that they brought to that last game of the regular season? Well, we knew they were a tough, physical team, just watching them all week and it was a playoff atmosphere when we played down there. The sidelines were filled with people - I mean, it was a circus. They came out and they performed. It wasn’t a surprise. We saw all week long what they were capable of.
For standings, they were locked into their playoff position, so why would they go about it that way? Well, they get paid to play. They get paid to play and the coaches get paid to coach, and that’s what they did. Obviously they made those decisions and we showed up and did the same thing.
With Adalius Thomas coming in over your shoulder, is it that unspoken thing you had with Rosevelt Colvin, where you instinctively know what’s going on behind you? I think defensively it’s probably a little different than offensively where quarterbacks can look at the receivers and they kind of know, etc. I think defensively we all have a job to do and the coaches put the guys on the field that they feel like can get it done. Adalius has been doing a great job for us - all of our linebackers have. If you need your best game, this is the game to do it. If you want to be one of the best to ever do it, this is a primetime opportunity. The world is watching and [hoping we’ll] bring another championship back here.
You’ve often been cited for being a size/speed combo that’s rare, and so has Adalius. Beyond that, what strikes you about him? He’s very athletic. He can go out and cover and do a lot of different things for us. He can rush the passer, he can stop the run, he can do some of the things that defensive backs do. He’s a guy that can move around for us defensively and also he’s a smart player. He knows how to break down defenses and understand what they’re doing in certain situations. He’ll be out there giving calls and making calls and, hey, watch for this, look for that, etc., etc. He’s an instinctive player. He’s a smart player. We’re definitely going to need him next Sunday.
The Patriots have placed safety/special teamer Mel Mitchell on injured reserve with a biceps injury.
Things have not gone exactly as Mitchell likely planned since he signed with New England before last season -- last year, he missed the entire season with an arm injury, and he this year he battled a groin injury before the biceps injury happened. In all, he played in 11 games this season and totaled 11 special-teams tackles.
New England now has 52 players on the active roster, though it would be surprising if the player chosen to fill Mitchell's spot is named before next week.
Photo: 2 quarterbacks at practice, and neither is Brady
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
With no sign of Tom Brady, Patriot backup quarterbacks Matt Cassel, left, and Matt Gutierrez practice in the indoor field at Gillette Stadium today. Photos and video of Brady wearing a walking boot in New York City Sunday night sparked concerns over his health. Today, in a press conference before practice, Coach Bill Belichick had this to say (or not say):
Q. Can you comment on Tom Brady’s foot and any concerns you may have?
A. No. I don’t have any comment on it.
Q. Is he going to practice today, regular practice?
A. Well, we’ll go out there. I don’t know. The injury report will be out next Wednesday and we’re excited to give that to you. That form will be filled out completely and I can’t wait to give that to everybody. I know you’re anxious for it, so when it’s due on Wednesday, we’ll have it for you. Don’t worry about that.
The Pats leave Sunday, a week before they're due to play the New York Giants in the Superbowl in Arizona.
Transcript: Bill Belichick's Thursday press conference
We’ve spent the past three days looking at the Giants. Even though we just played them a month ago, I think that they’ve certainly improved dramatically as a football team. The number one area I would say is in the kicking game. They’ve really done a good job there. I think they’ve pretty much had the edge in that phase of the game in all three of their playoff games, and not turning the ball over, offensively. That’s been very impressive, especially against the defenses they’ve gone up against. Tampa, Dallas and Green Bay are all outstanding defenses and they protected the ball perfectly, really, in those games and of course came up with the turnovers on defense. [They’re a] real good football team. We had a great game with them a month ago, roughly, so we have a lot of get ready for and I think it’s a team that’s playing its best football at this time of year. Tom’s [Coughlin] done a great job with the team and he’s an outstanding coach. They have a great organization. They’re physical, they do everything pretty well and this will be a big challenge for us. Hopefully we can have a real good week up here in terms of our preparation and getting a lot of things done - not everything, of course, but getting a lot of things done so that when we do head down there on Sunday we’ll be familiar with a good chunk of the game plan, what we want to do, and then be able to just polish it up a little bit in Arizona. That’s kind of the plan for this week and we’re excited to get started. I think the players really had a good attitude this morning about coming in and getting on to business. We know we have a lot of work to do and we’re anxious to get started on the preparations.
The familiarity of having played them a month ago - The coaches obviously have an advantage, but what about the players? Sure. Yeah, I think it’s sort of like a division game when you’ve played the team once earlier in the year and you’re familiar with your opponent more so than a team you haven’t played. I don’t think it’s an advantage for either team - both teams are working from the same point - but it’s just more familiarity so there’s a little bit of, we did this the last time. Do we want to change it up? Do we want to stay with what’s been successful? Do we think they’ll adjust to it? There’s a little bit of that game that you go through anytime you play a team a second time in a season - actually, this is the third time, counting the preseason game. There’s a little bit of that, but I think the familiarity, it helps the coaches, it helps the players, it gives you a higher starting point in your preparations, but I don’t think it favors either team. It’s just more information.
Can you comment on Tom Brady’s foot and any concerns you may have? No. I don’t have any comment on it.
Is he going to practice today, regular practice? Well, we’ll go out there. I don’t know. The injury report will be out next Wednesday and we’re excited to give that to you. That form will be filled out completely and I can’t wait to give that to everybody. I know you’re anxious for it, so when it’s due on Wednesday, we’ll have it for you. Don’t worry about that.
Can you comment on the historic nature of the game coming up, the Super Bowl? It’s been one game at a time for you and now this is it. I think there’s always a time to reflect back on the season; this isn’t it. Right now the time is to focus on the Giants and prepare for this game, so that’s what we’re doing. Later on after the season or whenever, some other point in history, looking back is fine, but we’re not anywhere close to that right now.
You kind of make it sound like it’s just another game, like any old game. Well, it’s the championship game. That’s what it is. Last week was the AFC Championship game, this week is the championship in the National Football League, and the most important thing for us is to prepare for the game and do the best we can in it, so that’s where we’re going to put our time and energy.
Does it make it more special for you given your personal history with the Giants, to be playing them? I don’t know if I would use those words, but certainly I had - My 12 years with the Giants was a great time in my career. I enjoyed really everything about it. It was a great organization, with Wellington Mara. We had good teams. I was fortunate enough to be a part of an outstanding defense. We had a lot of great players there and we all had a lot of success. We had a great coaching staff. That period of time was a good one for me and so I have very fond memories of it, particularly the two championships in ’86 and ’90. But that being said, that’s all in the past. We’ve moved on and whoever we’re playing this week, it’s the biggest game of our lives and we’re going to put everything we have into it. But [I am] familiar with the Giants and what’s on the other side of the field to a degree, more so than probably pretty much any other team.
Because of the undefeated season, if you win the Super Bowl, will this one be more special than the others? Right now we’re just thinking about doing the best we can on Sunday against the Giants. That’s all we’re thinking about.
Can you talk about Tom Brady’s toughness? Even at different points in his career, when he’s been banged up, he’s had the ability to play through it. I think Tom’s one of the toughest players on our team, mentally and physically. He works hard and he can be focused on his job regardless of what’s going on in all of the surroundings - the crowd, the game, the - whatever it is, stuff flying around him, but he’s very calm. He’s a great competitor, but he’s very calm.
What has been the difference with Eli Manning? I think as usual it goes to the entire team. And Eli’s done a great job, I’m not taking anything away from him, but the coaching staff, the offensive line, the protection, the receivers - last week against Green Bay he made some excellent throws but the receivers made some great catches against tight man coverage in certainly less than ideal conditions. His offensive line has given him good protection. They’ve done a good job with the running game, which has kept defenses off-balance so that they have to play everything. [Ahmad] Bradshaw and [Brandon] Jacobs have done a nice job of balancing the offense. They’ve been productive and have gotten plays out of the tight end, [Kevin] Boss, which I don’t know how much was expected there when [Jeremy] Shockey got hurt, but he’s stepped in and done a good job. [Steve] Smith’s stepped up, so I think they’re getting contributions from everybody. They’re playing very well as a team, offensively, and again, I think that starts with the coaching staff and the quarterback but it certainly extends to all the other players on the field as well. And Eli’s done a terrific job, I’m not taking anything away from him, but I think it’s not just him. It’s the entire unit.
You mentioned the Giants’ kicking game. How significant is that in your mind? Very significant. I thought they - really, they killed us in the last game. They returned kickoffs and that was the big equalizer in the game. We had a few more yards than they did, but they more than offset that with their kickoff returns and their good field position. They return kicks well. Of course, David Tyree I think is one of the best special teams players in the league. He’s outstanding and everything. He’s a threat to block every punt, he’s a gunner, he’s outstanding on kickoff coverage, so he’s very good. Their specialists are good. They’re a very physical team. [Chase] Blackburn, Tyree, [Gerris] Wilkinson, [Reggie] Torbor - they’re a big, physical group. [Madison] Hedgecock - they’re 240, 250, 260 kind of guys and they’re hard to stand up to in the return game and they’re hard to get around into coverage. And they have outstanding skill players. [R.W.] McQuarters has done a good job for them, and of course we’ve seen the kickoff returns. Nobody saw it better than we did. That’s held true in the playoffs as well. That was a great play that Tyree made in the Tampa game, downing the punt on the 2-yard line. Just like it was a big play for us against San Diego when Kelley [Washington] did it. Those are almost like scoring plays. They don’t go down as scoring plays, but they result a lot of times in scoring plays. They’re good. They’ve done a real good job.
The fact that Tom Brady has been able to start 126 consecutive games, does that speak to his toughness, or is that just luck that he’s been healthy? Well, Tom works extremely hard. He trains hard, he’s a well-conditioned athlete and he does everything he can to be ready so I think that certainly has something to do with it. On the other hand, I’ve seen other players that have trained hard that have had bad breaks and have missed games because of injury. If I had the answer to that question, I wouldn’t be standing here; I’m sure there’d be something else I could do. But he trains hard, he’s in good condition. There’s no question about that. I’m sure that helps him.
Ahmad Bradshaw seems to give them a significant spark in limited touches. What does he bring? He gives them a spark when he touches the ball. You just answered your own question. He has good quickness, he has good power, good vision, he’s a good cutback runner. He made a huge play there in the draw play against Green Bay. I known it got called back, but they had him for no gain, he broke a couple tackles, used his quickness to break out of there and went the distance - 50 yards or whatever it was. He’s done a good job for them in kickoff returns. When he missed out game, they replaced him. He really hasn’t gotten back in there, but I know he can do that as well. He was very productive doing that earlier in the year. Bradshaw is a good back. He’s quick, he’s fast, he catches the ball well, he has good vision and he’s a threat to go anywhere on the field. He’ll hit the hole and he’ll cut it back.
After the last regular season game, could you see how dangerous the Giants could be in the postseason? Well, we saw it going into the game. You’re the only ones that didn’t think that was - that there was some kind of mismatch in the game. You never heard that from us and you never saw it from us. They’re a good football team. We felt like that was a playoff caliber game when we played in it, and they’re a playoff team, which obviously they were. They had already qualified and didn’t need to win that game to get in the playoffs, but they’re physical. They’re a good football team. They’re physical, they can run it, they can pass it , they can stop the run, they can rush the passer, they’re good in the kicking game. They’re a good football team - and they’re getting better. They’ve gotten better through the entire year. Just look at their series with Dallas. I think those three games are a good example of their progress as a team from Week 2 or whenever they played them early in the season to the postseason game. They started behind, but by the end they passed them up. I think that’s where their team is.
What’s the common denominator on a team like that, that gets better as it goes along - confidence? Your 2001 team had that. I’m sure confidence is a part of it [but] I think playing good football is a bigger part of it. I think you’d have to ask them that question. I’m sure they’d know more about it than we would, but they’ve done a good job and they’ve played their best football in the last month.
Does having as many players as you’ve had play in Super Bowls and big games - Can you measure that at all? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with experience. I don’t think that’s a negative, but I don’t think it really does anything, either. I think the team that plays the best is the team that’s going to win. We went into the 2001 Super Bowl in New Orleans with a lot less playoff experience than the Rams. It didn’t seem to make any difference in that game, so I don’t have any reason to think it would make any difference in any other game. I think the team that plays the best, that’s the team that’s going to win, not the team that has the best statistics or the most experience. I don’t think those are negatives, but I don’t think that really does anything, either. You have to go out there and prove it.
If you were in our position, would you be portraying Brady’s injury as a non-issue? Portray it however you want.
How do you depend on your veterans to guide guys who haven’t been to the Super Bowl before, and will your team have a curfew? We’ll handle the team the way we feel like is best for…the best way to prepare for the game, in everything we do, whatever it is. Whatever decisions we make will be what we feel like is best for our football team. Again, I think experience is good and I’m glad we have players that have experience, that are veteran players, but in the end each person has a job to do and I don’t think anybody can do anybody else’s. Whatever everybody has to do, they have to do it themselves and we all have to depend on each other and we all have to do our own job. I mean, I can’t play, they can’t coach, the receivers can’t play defense, the defenders can’t block. That’s the way it is. Everybody has a job, everybody has to get ready, everybody has to play well, so each person’s accountable. I don’t think it hurts to have experienced players, but at the same time each individual player has to go out there and get ready to do his job next Sunday. That’s the challenge we all face, whether they have experience or not.
How important is it to stay away from some of the stupid penalties? It’s always important to stay away from penalties. Penalties, obviously, they can’t help you. All they do is give your opponents other chances or give them extra opportunities or take away positive plays that you make. You want to have as few as possible. Our goal is always to have no penalties. I think it’s unrealistic to go through a season with no penalties, but from game to game we try to do that. Some weeks we do that, or we hit it in certain phases, you know, no penalties in this phase or that phase and maybe we get them somewhere else, but that’s always our goal. The only time we’d ever take an intentional penalty would be a delay of game penalty, something like that, if we wanted to lose some field position, but that’s it. We try not to have them. Are we perfect? Far from it, but we’ll keep working at it.
How personally pleased were you to see a guy like Tom Coughlin reach a Super Bowl as a head coach? Tom and I have a good relationship. We go way back to the ‘80s there at the Giants. We worked together closely, as a secondary coach and a receiver coach would. He’s a good personal friend, and Judy and his family. We’ve spent time with them away from football, whether it was at BC, Jacksonville and so forth. I respect Tom. I think he’s an outstanding coach and wish him well in every game but this one.
Did you try to reach out to him after the NFC Championship game? Again, I think whatever personal relationships or conversations we had, we’ll keep that at that level.
We are back here at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots have reconvened after a couple of days off to start their preparations for Super Bowl XLII.
Not surprisingly, Bill Belichick wasn't saying anything when it comes to The World's Most Talked About Sprained Ankle, replying that he had "no comment" when asked about Tom Brady and that he didn't know if Brady would be at practice.
"We'll have an injury report next Wednesday, and I can't wait to give it to all of you," Belichick joked, drawing laughs.
The coach was in a good mood for much of the press conference, wearing a smile as he approached the dais and took in the vast media crowd sitting before him.
Of the Giants, Belichick said they've "improved dramatically" over the month or so since New England played them last, particularly in the kicking game. He had praise for his friend and former colleague, Tom Coughlin, whom he worked with in New York when Belichick was defensive backs coach and Coughlin receivers coach under Bill Parcells.
However, "I wish him well in every game but this one," Belichick said of Coughlin.
The Patriots are practicing inside the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse in full pads today; we'll have a report on who is -- or is not -- there shortly.
The Boston Herald is outraged -- outraged -- at the New York tabloids' targeting of Tom Brady this week (the Post famously referred to Brady as "girlie man" on the day after the foot-cast image surfaced). So today, the Herald declared war on its front page, using a picture of a missile burning a hole through the New York Post and the Daily News to make its point. The Herald today asks readers, "What is the best reason for Patriots fans to hate the Giants?"
The Post has for now backed off Brady so that it can devote its attention to the Heath Ledger story, while the Daily News is invoking the memory of Joe Namath in reminding fans that, yes, upsets can happen.
Video: Seymour accused of head-butting Chargers coach
San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick, who had already accused Patriots defensive lineman of dirty play during the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, took his allegations a step further on yesterday in an interview on XX Sports Radio, claiming that the helmeted Seymour head-butted a member of the Chargers coaching staff while he was getting into it with Chargers players before Sunday's game.
This video is now making the rounds: You have to wade through it for a while, but about two minutes and 48 seconds into the tape, you can see Seymour arguing with Chargers player Marcus McNeill, then at the very least getting into the face of a Charger assistant.