Q: Has your father, Jackie, given you any advice about playing in a game of this magnitude?
MS: Yeah, he has actually. I got almost an email every day from him this week, just telling me to really not take this opportunity for granted. He played 20 years and he only played in one Super Bowl. You realize that this is why we all play the game. Everybody has been brought here for games like this, to win games like this. He just keeps telling me, 'You can't let anything come between you and what you have to do on the field on Sunday. You have to be extremely focused.' Obviously that message has been echoed around here all week. He knows what's at stake, I know what's at stake, we all do.
Q: Mr. Kraft said that he could sense the chemistry in this locker room change midseason. What is it about being in this particular locker room?
MS: I think during the middle of the season we really went through some adversity. Adversity can do one of two things – it can either tear a team apart or really bring a team together. I think looking back on it now and when we lost those two games back-to-back and everyone was counting us out, we really rallied together and showed some resiliency. I think in hindsight that might have been a good thing for our team. It's never a good thing to lose football games, but we really responded and we really showed some mental toughness down the stretch being able to string together wins. You don't find that often, that takes something special and this team has it. We realized that as we went along in the season that you know, we have something here, we think we have a chance to do something special. The guys on this team really get along so well. We all just have that same singular focus and we all just want to win. Any of us are willing to do what it takes for the man next to us so we can go out there and achieve our ultimate goal.
Q: What was the biggest thing that had to change? Everybody talks about the secondary and the yards given up.
MS: I think our mindset definitely. We had to start believing that this team is a good football team, meaning us, and we can do something here, we have something here but we had to believe it. Physically everybody has talented players, but I think it's the chemistry and the mindset that puts you over the top. Once you started believing and buying in and kind of ignoring what was going on outside our team and just focusing on the guys in that locker room and the coaches, then I think we started to see things turn around and it's brought us all the way to this point.
Q: How much does it help to have veterans around who have been through this before to make sure that mindset stays?
MS: I think that's huge. There's no replacement for experience. You can't coach it, you can't buy it; you either have experience or you don't. We have guys here that have experience, that have been on championship teams and have been on losing teams, so they know what it takes. That message was sent from the top down, starting with our leader Tom [Brady] and Vince [Wilfork] and Jerod [Mayo] and those guys, Brian Waters, Logan Mankins, those guys kind of set that mentality and started it and that message has been well received by everybody on this team.
Q: Have you guys focused on special teams more after seeing an opposing team struggle with holding onto the football during the year?
MS: We try to get the ball out every time if we could. Those guys have had their problems but they're still a very tough unit. We know we have our work cut out for us, especially Coach Harbaugh with his background in special teams. They'll be ready and I'm sure they'll be holding onto the ball and they're going to make it tough on us. We know they have great players, [Brandon] Ayanbadejo, three-time Pro Bowler, who has made a career out of being a demon out there. It's going to be a challenge for us this week.