**BB:** On behalf of the organization and the team, it's a tremendous privilege to be playing in this game, and we certainly respect that honor and privilege.
It's been a long season, been a lot of meetings, a lot of practices, a lot of games, a lot of tough games against a lot of tough opponents, and to get to this point and compete with the Colts for the AFC Championship is a privilege for our team. It's a privilege for me to be part of the team that's doing that, so I preface everything with that.
Obviously, the Colts are, you know, running through these playoff games like nobody I have ever seen before. They have done a tremendous job offensively, and as a team, getting on top, staying on top, and in a way kind of making it look easy.
I think it starts right at the top of the organization with Bill Polian, Dom Anile, of course, Tony (Dungy), and the top leaders and players on their team. Obviously, Manning is the player of the year, deservedly so. He has shown what he is capable of doing, so I think that they are a real solid team.
Our game came down to literally a yard that separated the winner and the loser in that game. We are expecting every bit as tough a game as we had the last time, probably tougher, and I think we will have to be at our best to be competitive with this Colts team who is as hot as any right now in the National Football League.
So that being said, that's kind of our marching orders this week. We are trying to do everything we can to not only look at the first game but, also, you know, evaluate what the Colts have done since then and how we can be competitive with it, but it's certainly a big load on our plate. There is a lot of things to deal with. They are doing a great job, and we have tremendous respect for that organization and that team.
Q: What's the difference between the team that was 2-2 and a team that's now won 13 in a row?BB:
I think in the early part of the year every team is kind of feeling its way along a little bit. There is always things that, as you see the match?ups early in the season that each team is looking for.
You know what the level is and you talk about mid?season form. I know that's a cliché, but I think it's really true that after you have played into the middle of October to early November, then your team really has become what it's going to be, barring injuries, of course. That's a whole 'nother issue. So we're a week?to?week team. We don't really worry too much about what happened in the past, whether it be one week, two weeks, three weeks or twenty weeks ago. We are more concerned about what the upcoming challenges are and how we are going to meet them. That's where we are this week.
Q: Bill, Los Angeles Times over here. Could you describe your relationship with Bob Kraft. He is in his 10th year and he has talked about a sympatico, he calls it, with you. What about your initial meetings and the faith he has in you?BB:
Well, I am privileged to be working for this organization. Robert gave up a lot in terms of bringing me into the organization with the draft choices and all that, and I am very appreciative of the opportunity to be here. Our relationship really started when I was here in '96 with the Patriots for one year, and I think we had a good friendship and a good chemistry at that time. It's grown significantly since then.
I lean on him quite a bit in terms of big picture decisions and input on things like financial management and the direction of the team, again, some of the bigger picture things. He has a tremendous experience in business and in a lot of business dealings, and that's been very helpful to me. He is the owner and he is the boss, but he is also a friend. He is a very good friend and he has been very supportive, and I feel very privileged to be able to work for him and his family and this organization.
Q: Coach, Mark Maskey [ph] from the Washington Post. Adam Vinatieri's numbers were down a bit during the regular season. How much do you think his health was an issue and did your trust level waver in him?BB:
No, my trust in Adam has never wavered. We have tremendous confidence in him whenever he steps onto the field. He is a pro. He is as well?prepared as any kicker that I have ever been around, I put him right there with Dave Jennings. If he has got a job to do, I have total confidence he will get it done.
That being said, you don't see hardly anybody with a perfect score for their entire career. Receivers miss passes, kickers miss kicks, even the best ball carriers fumble now and then, so we understand that it's not perfect, but he is pretty good. We have tremendous confidence in him and it's never wavered.
Q: Bill, opposing quarterbacks often talk about how you change looks during the course of a game and make more adjustments, and so forth, than any staff in the league. How does Manning's determination and control at the line of scrimmage affect your game?BB:
Well, he puts a lot of pressure because he is standing there at the line looking at everything you are doing. I think you have to have a consistent plan on how you are going to keep him ?? I wouldn't say fool him or disguise it, but at least not be as predictable as you can, and that's really the way we try to approach it.
We are not going to show him anything he hasn't seen before. We are not going to reinvent the wheel or anything this week. I think what we need to do is just be able to play defensively a game that's complimentary and that is effective against them, and I know that's maybe a cliché, but we've got to play a good football game defensively. There is no magic to it. They've got too many weapons and too many players that they can't take one guy away.
Everybody has to do a good job, but in terms of disguise, you don't want to be too predictable, but at the same time you can't worry about if he sees this or that.
Q: How would you describe the Tony Dungy?coached football team?BB:
I think Tony's teams are, first of all, very fundamentally sound. You have got to go out there and beat them. They are not going to make a lot of mistakes and a lot of dumb plays to give you the game. You are going to have to go out there and play a good football game and beat them. They are well?coached, their technique is sound, and the things that they do, they do well.
Q: Your guys have heard about Manning's exploits through this playoff run. (Inaudible) Can you give us a sense for how excited your players are about that challenge on your home field?BB:
Well, it's a huge challenge for us, and I think anytime you go up against the best, you want to respond with your best effort and your best performance, so I think that's where our players are and where our team is.
Q: New York Daily News. You mentioned how you have never seen a team like the Colts go through the playoffs this hot. In '91 a lot of people were saying that about the Bills when you went to the Super Bowl with them. I was wondering if this week you have thought at all about that, drawing anything from that past experience? You were able to come up with a plan to shoot the Bills down. Any parallels?BB:
Yeah, I think there are definitely some parallels. I think there are some similarities in terms of their offensive system. The big difference was in Buffalo, that was a very fast?paced offense. A lot of times there were 20, 18 seconds left on the clock when the ball was snapped, so there was a much higher urgency to get the call in, get lined up and to be ready to go when the ball is snapped, because it was a two?minute type of pace. They were racing to the line of scrimmage and forcing the communication issue a lot more so than I would say the Colts do.
Just in comparison, Sam Wyche and the system the Bengals ran was a much slower version, so I would put this somewhere in the middle. I think there are definitely similarities to Buffalo in terms of a great quarterback, great backs, great receivers and a good receiving tight end. A lot of weapons, but the specifics of the offense, though, are different.
There is a lot more play action, there is a lot more variety in the Colts offensive system. They do use some substitution and they do use different personnel groups. Looking back at Buffalo, they were much more of a one group, one formation, hurry up and run the plays and put pressure on you defensively that way.
Q: You, yourself, and all the players have said all week that weather won't be a factor, that it's the same for both teams. Could a snowy day on Sunday and a cold day in any way change the style of the game with a Colts team that likes to score a lot of points?BB:
The weather conditions have an effect on the game. I don't think they favor anybody. I think the teams at this point have enough experience and everybody is playoff?hardened, at this point, through a solid regular season, that you can deal with pretty much whatever you have to deal with.
The ball is not going to go as far if the weather is cold, we all know that. That's just the way it is. It's going to affect the game. I don't think Adam had an easy kick last week against Tennessee because it was cold or because we had practiced in the cold. I still think it was a tough kick to make, but you have to deal with it.
If you play in the south in September, you are going to have to deal with high heat and humidity, but you just work your way through that. I don't think it necessarily favors anybody. It is something you have to take into consideration, and I think the biggest factor in the cold is just the distance that the ball travels when it's kicked. It certainly doesn't go as far as it would in normal conditions.
Now, beyond that, we all have to deal with it individually, just like when you get out of your car, you dress for it. If you don't, you are cold. But honestly, I don't think it's been that bad