New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, December 18, 2008.
MC:I'm just going to start by saying, as it relates to the last week, when it comes to my personal life and everything I'd rather answer questions about football today. If we could stick to football questions, I'd appreciate it and thank you very much for being so respectful over the last week or so. With that being said, shoot away.
Q:This might be sort of borderline so why don't you lead the way on this. Football wise did you ever think about not playing in the game?
MC:No, I always felt like I was going to play. I took some time away last week and then came back and was able to get enough preparation in to go out there and play. I think that's what my father would have wanted.
Q:Did it help you being around your teammates, being in your job?
MC:It was a good distraction last week, there's no doubt. Being around my teammates and having this secondary support factor with a family away from home definitely helped.
Q:Where does that win rate on the satisfaction scale?
MC:It was a big win. It was a big win for the team. It was a big win for me, personally, and it's always good to go out there and win each and every week.
Q:Can you talk about Arizona? Obviously, you hear about their offense, but can you talk a little bit about their defense?
MC:They're a very good defense. They've got a lot of speed out there. They try to confuse you a little bit. They'll give you multiple fronts, multiple looks. They'll bring different blitzes from, like I said, multiple looks. They're going to be a challenge for us and we've got to be able to manage their blitz zones and get the ball downfield on them.
Q:Did you target [Nnamdi] Asomugha? Usually, teams have stayed away from him, but you seemed to go at him right way and get some defensive holding calls and Randy [Moss] caught some passes against him.
MC:It was just kind of coverage based. We thought that Randy against anybody is a good matchup and Asomugha is a great player - I hope I pronounced his name right. I don't want to disrespect him at all. Randy is a great player and anytime Randy is in one-on-one [coverage] it gives us an opportunity to get him the ball. We feel like Randy will be able to make a play.
Q:What was your reaction to Wes Welker being named to the Pro Bowl?
MC:I'm excited for him. He is well deserving and he's a guy that, as I've said time and time again, gives 110 percent. He's a guy that you root for each and every week because he's such a great team player. For him to get honored in that way, myself, as well as our team couldn't be happier for him.
Q:Have you thrown a lot of passes in the snow?
MC:I did in practice. Not many going forward in a game so we'll see how it goes. I don't know what the weather is going to be Sunday, but in New England it could change in a heartbeat.
Q:How productive was that practice yesterday? It was a little unusual because a lot of times with the elements you guys will go up to the [Dana Farber Field House] but you were outside.
MC:It was good. The last few weeks we've really stayed outside, tried to get used to the cold weather and the environment. We've got to prepare for that going on the next few weeks and, hopefully, moving on after that. It's always good to get out there and get to practice in those types of elements.
Q:Do you feel any pressure to put points on the board especially early in the game knowing Arizona's firepower?
MC:We're just going to go out and do what we do. We're going to run our offense and whatever the coaches see fit in how we're going to move forward and try to attack this team. That's what we're going to do.
Q:What part of the offense do you feel has come a long way and do you feel most comfortable with now?
MC:I think we continue to progress each and every week. We've definitely made a lot of strides from the beginning of the season and where we are now. Hopefully, we'll continue to do that.
Q:I know you guys are always focused on yourselves, but you don't live in a vacuum. How aware are you of scenarios in terms of playoffs? For instance, this Saturday night if Baltimore loses you guys control your own destiny.
MC:I'm not too aware of everything going on because I know the only thing that we can control is if we win. If we don't win, then all the other scenarios don't matter. We've got to take care of business on our end and then if things fall into place then they do.
Q:In Oakland, it looked like you left the game with the game ball. I was just wondering if you kept that for yourself or if you passed it on to anybody?
MC:I did keep it for myself and for my family.
Q:It's been a while since you've been a starter in 14 straight games. How are you doing physically, emotionally with the wear of the season?
MC:You just move along and from one week to the next. You try to take care of your body. I think you get stronger mentally because you've been doing it for awhile. Whereas, in the beginning when you first become a starter, it's pretty stressful, especially in the situation that I came in under. Then, as we move forward, you start to get a little bit more control. You start to get comfortable in your position and you start to enjoy the game again and have fun playing it. Whereas, in the beginning, you feel like you have to achieve more than just going out and playing.
Q:What are your impressions of Kurt Warner?
MC:I think he's a great quarterback and he's shown that year in and year out. He's obviously had a tremendous amount of success in the league. [He is] a guy that I look up to, a guy that had to fight through some of his own adversities to get to where he is. He's a great human being as well so I've got nothing but respect for Kurt Warner.
Q:How difficult do you think it's been for Matt [Leinart] to handle that situation knowing that he was the quarterback there and then Kurt came in and won that job?
MC:I think, as a backup quarterback, as a competitor, anytime, you want to be out there. You want to be playing so that part's very difficult. But when you're able to step back and learn from a guy like Kurt, because he's so good and because he's so established you can learn a lot of things. Then, when Matt is ready to go and he steps in to take over that team, he'll be ready and probably more prepared than what he was.
Q:Do you talk to him much?
MC:I do. We've text messaged back and forth throughout the season. We've talked back and forth throughout the season. He's one of my friends and, obviously, a guy that I went to school with so we keep in touch.
Q:After an emotional week, how did that win in Oakland help get those emotions out on the football field? How did that win help you mentally?
MC:I think it helped the team and for me. I was just going to go out there and play my best. That's all I was going to do. It wasn't for me as much as it was for the team and everybody else. I knew that's what my father would have wanted - for me to go out and play. It was great to get a victory. And if we didn't get a victory, I still was out there giving 110 percent and that's all I can do.
Q:Wes is pretty remarkable when it comes to yards after the catch. Anquan Boldin is pretty good too on the other side. As a quarterback, obviously, it helps you, but could you elaborate what it means sometimes when you just throw a quick pass and then see a guy run with it?
MC:That's what we talk about all the time is getting the ball to the playmakers. Guys like Wes Welker and Anquan Boldin and those guys who are able to get the ball in their hands and then do something with it. When they do get the ball in their hands, they are special. As much as you can as a quarterback, you like to get the ball to those guys and let them work.
Q:How would you asses Mark LeVoir's performance filling in for Matt Light?
MC:It's always tough when you lose a guy like Matt, who is a leader on this team and who is obviously a great left tackle. But I thought Mark LeVoir came in and did a great job. He was steady. He knew the offense and executed for the most part.
Q:Through the different challenges you've faced this year, whether they were professional or personal, what have you learned about yourself?
MC:I've overcome a lot of adversity and I think it's [taught me] to keep pushing forward, and keep moving on, and don't listen to people who are negative and work against you. Just continue to surround yourself with people that are positive and can help you and things will turn around for you.