Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium, on Tuesday, January 11, 2011.
Q: What was your first thought when you saw that you were facing the Jets this week?
JM: I knew it was going to be a difficult game. Anytime you play a team three times in a year, you know them well, they know you well. So, it will be a difficult task for us but hopefully we can get it done.
Q: Has it been easier jumping back into preparation having only played them a month ago?
JM: I mean, yeah. We played them a couple of weeks ago, so you go in and we still know what they do. But, at the same time, they do a little bit different things in the playoffs. Against the Colts, they showed some different looks. So, we still have to study film and study these last couple of weeks that we didn't play them and hopefully get it ready to go.
Q: How different you expect this game to be compared to the last one?
JM: I think it will be very different. Like I said, they did a couple of different looks against the Colts. They got [Mark] Sanchez out of the pocket a little bit, trying to protect him. At the same time, they still want to run the ball, so we still have to study a lot of film.
Q: What did you think yesterday of the back and forth between what Coach Rex Ryan and Coach Belichick said?
JM: I really don't pay attention to that stuff to be honest with you. I let Coach Belichick handle all that stuff. I'll give you a 'Belichick answer.'
Q: In reality, how hard would it be for either team to try to do something different because of your familiarity with each other?
JM: I think it would be very difficult. Both teams won a good amount of games this year. You don't want to change too much and get away from what got you to this point. There will be a few different looks, but at the same time, it will be pretty much the same.
Q: What did you learn from the trouble your defense had stopping the Jets' run game in the second half of the last game?
JM: What they were trying to do was get us in those sub packages and things like that and run the football. Now, we show different looks and move the defensive line around a little bit and try to stop the run that way.
Q: Are you starting to explain to the rookies more often now about how important the details are?
JM: You know, I think those guys have done an excellent job putting the extra time in the film room and doing all the little things to make this defense successful. So, I am stressing that to those guys and hopefully they'll get it done.
Q: Did guys stress that to you when you were a rookie?
JM: Yeah, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, all those guys, they were on me. They were on me tough. My rookie year, as a matter of fact, we won 11 games and missed the playoffs. But, the last game of the season they were stressing me to get it done, so that's what I did.
Q: What's Vince [Wilfork]'s role as a captain this year?
JM: Vince has done an excellent job as far as getting the guys together. That's been a rotating door in that defensive line room and he's really taken them under his wing and got them in the right place.
Q: There has been a rotating door on the defensive line, but it seems like it's almost been a rotating line the locker room, too. How would you describe this year as opposed to your first two in terms of the new faces?
JM: Yeah, we've had a lot of injuries, but at the same time, Coach Belichick has done an excellent job getting guys ready [and] prepared. Like Eric Moore, he came in that week, played well for us and has played well every since. I think the extra time that these guys put in is really paying off on the field.
Q: How much more challenging is it for you?
JM: I wouldn't say it's too challenging because I'm always here late, always here early, so becoming familiar with those guys isn't as hard as it is if they weren't here late and early.
Q: There were a lot of people questioning your defense at the beginning of the season. How many of those doubters have you guys answered in the last five games or so?
JM: You know, I'm not sure. Every time you have a young defense, you have to stay on top of everybody. That Cleveland game is still in my head, so I try to go out and work hard each and every week and make sure that everybody else does the same thing so we don't have another repeat episode of that. But, these guys have really been stepping it up the last couple of weeks and hopefully it continues.
Q: Do you think it's an advantage having a Bye Week while the Jets were playing?
JM: I think so, just getting people healthy, getting everybody back in. But, we really didn't know who we were going to play, so what we did was try to get the Patriots better and I think that's what we did.
Q: In terms of the rookies, is a playoff game something you can really be ready for or do you just have to experience it for yourself?
JM: I think you have to experience your first one. My first one wasn't too good against the Baltimore Ravens. The first play or something like that, they got an 80-yard touchdown. Hopefully it's different this year and that's the plan.
Q: Is the Jets offensive line one of the more challenging ones that you've faced because of how big it is?
JM: I think so. All across that offensive line is experience and those guys do an excellent job opening up holes for LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. Those are two different running styles. LaDainian has obviously had an explosive year and Shonn Greene is a downhill pounder. We have to prepare that way.
Q: Did the Cleveland game teach you guys the importance of matching the physicality of the offensive team?
JM: To be honest, I think we learned the most from that game throughout the whole season. Cleveland came out and ran the ball effectively, so now we know what to expect from other teams that try and do the same things. So, hopefully we can get on top of them early and make them throw the ball.
Q: You guys talk about how from the preseason to the regular season to the postseason, you have to keep stepping it up. But, in reality, you can't run four seconds faster in the postseason. Is it the mental aspect that is different in the playoffs more than anything?
JM: Yeah I think so. The mental aspect, everyone is sharper in the playoffs, just like after Thanksgiving - everyone is sharper than they were in preseason. So, we have to study that extra film and get everybody on that same page.
Q: Has Belichick reminded you not to get into any word wars with the Jets?
JM: Definitely, that's why I'm hoping no one asks me those types of questions.
Q: What was his phrasing?
JM: Just to let him handle it. He does a good job of doing it.
Q: What kind of things was coach stressing during the Bye Week?
JM: During the Bye Week, we just talked about fundamentals, like I said, [and] getting the Patriots better. We didn't know who we were going to play until after the playoffs this weekend. We are all about us and hopefully it pays off this weekend.
Q: How will it be to get Brandon Spikes back for the playoffs?
JM: Oh, it's great anytime you get a guy back. We treated that like an injury and guys really stepped up. I think Gary [Guyton] did an excellent job filling in for Brandon, but we're very happy to have him back.
Q: You mentioned your first playoff game against the Ravens. Has that been on your mind this week?
JM: A little bit. I was a little disappointed after that game, but at the same time, I'm not really harping on that game. I'm living for this game.
Q: Does it feel a little bit more like the playoffs this week, now that the Bye Week is behind you?
JM: Oh, definitely. We know who we're playing. We know our opponent. We've played them twice before. It feels like the playoffs.