Q: A little bit of a contrast depending on who they have back there returning punts. Trindon Holliday is dangerous and Eric Decker was back there last week. How you would you compare the challenge of covering one versus the other?
MS: I think it's important for us to understand that both guys, whoever it is, are more than capable of getting the job done. They both have a track record in this league and they've both made plays. Both of them have scored back there. Obviously with Trindon, he's a little bit smaller guy, shiftier. I don't think there are too many guys in the world that can run like him. We have to be ready for that. With Eric, he's obviously a bigger guy, who is shifty as well and very capable of taking it the distance. However you slice it, we have our work cut out for us. We'll just try to do a good job in preparation this week and hopefully we can come out and execute on Sunday.
Q: Is there a sense in that locker room that the game is never too big for you guys? Yes, you're playing for a chance to play in the Super Bowl, but let's focus on what you've been doing all season?
MS: I think Coach [Bill] Belichick does a good job of honing our focus and just focusing on the little things, continuing to focus on the fundamentals just like we did day one of training camp. We try not to acknowledge all the noise and hype surrounding ballgames. We just go out there, prepare for our opponent, do the best that we can throughout the course of the week and try to come out Sunday and execute our game plan.
Q: Kanorris Davis made a couple plays that might get overlooked in the punt game. Can you talk a little bit about his mentality in that role and how he's been able to adapt and adjust coming off the practice squad?
MS: I think Kanorris has done a good job all year of staying ready. He's a tremendous worker. He goes out every day and prepares himself. He just asks a lot of questions, he takes coaching and I don't think that any of us as players were surprised at the success that he had during the game. Like a lot of the guys that we have, it's all about what you do in practice and working hard and he's one of those guys. He did a great job for us Saturday and hopefully he'll continue to do so moving forward.
Q: Is there anything Stephen Gostkowski can't do?
MS: That's a good question. He's the ultimate team player when you look at all he's been asked to do this year and how he's stepped us for us when we really needed it. We love playing with a guy like that.
Q: Did you know he could punt that well?
MS: Yeah, sure I did.
Q: Everybody talks about the effect of noise on offense and defense. Does noise impact special teams? We saw the impact of communication at the end of the first game against Denver.
MS: It can be a factor. Definitely when you're on the road and the crowd is into it, it can be a factor. What we have to do is just concentrate on doing our assignment. There are things that we've been doing since day one of training camp that we just have to go out there and execute. We can't control the noise, the environment that we play in, but we can control what we do and how we execute. I think Scott [O'Brien] does a good job of getting our attention on the sideline, making us aware of the situations as we go out there and thankfully we've had no issues in that regard as far as communication is concerned. Hopefully we can continue that moving forward.
Q: Does the ball travel differently there?
MS: Yes and no to that. Obviously when you're dealing with the thin air, the ball may carry a little it. But as players, we just have to focus on the fundamentals. It all comes down to that. We can't worry about that. If we need to make adjustments then we'll do so. But we can't have that in the back of our minds, that 'Oh, we're in a different atmosphere. This, that and the other.' We just have to focus on the fundamentals.
Q: So many playoff games have come down to special teams play. You have a lot of young guys, so are there any conversations about playing tight or nerves in a game like this?
MS: I think it's important for us to not play tight, for sure. There's a thin line between playing with a sense of urgency and playing a little too tight. I don't think we've had that issue yet and hopefully we don't have it moving forward. We just try to keep the guys loose but focused at the same time. Like I said, it's a thin line there but these young guys, like they've done all year, they need to just focus on – as well as the rest of us, all of us – just need to focus on going out and executing, doing what we've been coached to do all year long and let the game play itself out.
Q: Is that something that you actually discuss?
MS: It may come up throughout the course of the week. You have conversations with different groups. I think it's something that will come up at some point.
Q: Talking about the ball traveling differently, what about off the foot of Ryan Allen as opposed to Stephen Gostkowski? Does him being a left footer have any difference in terms of coverage?