Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, October 29, 2008.
Q: Why are the Colts 3-4 right now?
DC: We're doing our best trying to figure that out every day, but I think just looking back it's a combination of a few things: just people making little mistakes that we're normally not making, kind of younger guys gelling, it's timing, just misfortune and other things that happen in the NFL. We're really not trying to try to put blame on anything or anyone. We're just trying to get better and we're just trying to keep the focus on getting better every day and we showed signs of that last week and it just didn't—you've got to play the full fourth quarters and we're learning how to do that. It's just been on and off this year, for whatever reason.
Q: How odd is it to be facing the Patriots under these conditions? Usually when you guys meet it's for supremacy in the AFC, but this year both teams are kind of fighting for their lives.
DC: This is definitely different, but both teams, I think, have great confidence in themselves and they have great leadership. I feel both teams aren't really kind of panicking [or] hitting the panic button yet. I think the leadership—that's really going to help gel the teams and really get through this tough time for both teams. And I think both teams are definitely going through some adversity they're not used to facing, but I think everyone is approaching it the right way. This is definitely a different situation for us and we're definitely looking forward to the challenge.
Q: After the last game it sounded like Tony Dungy all but conceded the division, saying it was going to be tough to get back and make the playoffs but really the division title was probably out of reach. How tough was it to hear that halfway through the season?
DC: Yeah that's very difficult but that's the hole we put ourselves in. We had no one to blame but ourselves for that and that's tough, but we do know that there's a lot of season left to be played and anything can happen and there's still a chance for us. We're definitely not checking out yet, no matter what some people may be saying or whatever you hear. We've definitely put ourselves in a hole and now every game from here on out is critical and we've got to focus—not on week 15, 16—but we've got to put all of our focus in each week, each game, each day and just keep it at that. Just take care of this week and put all our effort—no matter what happens this week—put all of our effort into the next game and just keeping our mindset that—trying to keep the blinders on to the games down the road and just really put all of our energy and focus and concentration on one week at a time.
Q: Can you talk about your previous battles with Rodney Harrison who obviously isn't going to be there this week and how that might affect your game or the game overall?
DC: Rodney is a great player and he definitely gives a big lift for their defense. Everyone has—they always say 'next guy in', but I think just on this side of the fence, I think Rodney's a tough guy for them to replace. He brought so much to their defense, so much versatility and just that toughness that the defense always shows, so I think he allowed them to do a lot of different things. He can cover tight ends, he can come and pester a wide receiver and stuff like that, so when you don't have a guy like that, that's tough. But they have great leadership on their defense and they have guys that have been there and have been in situations like this before and they're just rallying around each other and helping the younger guys out and they're definitely not going to use that as an excuse for anything. They're still going to be able to do their thing and fly around and make plays as they do every game.
Q: Your performance last week would definitely be one of the things the Colts have to be happy about. Do you feel like you're hitting your stride after your knee problem?
DC: No, actually not. I actually was very disappointed in my performance last week. I had a few—especially the ball that went through my hands for the interception: that really was a turning point for them and it was very frustrating. Things like that in tough, close games like that—every play counts and you can forget about what you did in the first, second quarter, whatever. When it comes to the third and fourth quarter that's when it counts and your team is expecting you to make plays and I didn't make that one and that's very frustrating. I wasn't very satisfied with the performance and definitely I have to keep working and keep getting better.
Q: Considering the hype that usually surrounds Pats-Colts games, particularly last year, how different does this one feel?
DC: I don't think it's any different. I think if you've been in this game long enough—I think anyone on the Patriots team would probably feel the same—you let everyone else kind of build up the game hype. I think it's best for the players to really just look at every game the same. Every game is important and you put every effort, you put everything into it each week and then when that game is over, it's over. You can't do anything about it. There're no what ifs, we should have done this, should have done that. There're no second chances. So it doesn't really matter records, where we're playing, when we're playing, all that; you face each opponent the same, you put all the effort, you put the same routine of game film, studying personnel and all of that for each team. What's great about these matchups and why it's such a big—it's always hyped up because both teams play really well and this year we haven't, so that's different. But it's always a great challenge between us and it's usually a close game fought to the end. So [that's] definitely what people look for in football and we look forward to it as players.
Q: Does that mean there's even more at stake than there has been in the past?
DC: No, I mean, what I think I said in my answer is each game is the same; every game is big, no matter what, so I think that's kind of what I was trying to explain. It doesn't matter what the record is, it doesn't matter where you're at in the division. Every game is big all the way from week one to week 16. Anyway, that's how I handle every game or face every game. Every game is big. It doesn't matter if you're facing 0-7 or 0-8 or whatever or an 8-0 team, you prepare for them the same and you give the effort the same.
Q: How have you found the Colts' new stadium? How fast is it and how does it fit with your style of play?
DC: The new stadium is beautiful. It's definitely different than the RCA Dome in many areas, but I think it's definitely—I think we're getting used to it and I think we're getting comfortable with it. But it's a great, great thing for the city and for the fans of Indianapolis. I think everyone, even players, have been excited to play in it this year. But in the same sense, definitely getting used to it took a little time. But it's a fun place to play and play a game.
Q: How has Dominic Rhodes filled in for Joseph Addai and how has your offense changed with Rhodes in the lineup?
DC: Dominic is a fantastic player. He just brings so much energy and he's definitely a playmaker and I think that was kind of the point when we brought him back this year, just what he's been able to do in the past for us. So having him back, especially in a situation like this with Joe getting hurt - having that and not really losing much. They're two different style runners so defenses have to prepare differently for him, but Dominic is a spark plug. He can make a big play happen and if there's poor blocking or if somebody screws up he can make a guy miss. Joe is as elusive but more of a power runner and [he] hits the hole a little harder. Dominic has been a big addition for our team and definitely brings a lot of energy into the huddle.