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Patriots Locker Room Quotes - 1/15/2008

New England Patriots players comment on their upcoming matchup against the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship game.

WR Jabar Gaffney

(On San Diego's defense)

Gaffney: They lead the league in turnovers and when they get the ball they usually win. We've got to keep it and not give it to them.

*(On Patriots being the best in the NFL at not giving the ball up) *

Gaffney: We'll have to be that way this week. Everything is out the window this weekend coming up. Whoever executes the best will be moving on.

*(On drawing motivation from Shawne Merriman not knowing his name) *

Gaffney: No, he's alright.

*(On QB Tom Brady not throwing many interceptions) *

Gaffney: He's taking what the defense gives him. He goes back, makes his reads and gets rid of the ball.

*(On if the San Diego Chargers defense is faster than the Jacksonville Jaguars) *

Gaffney: They are very similar. They get the ball out a lot more, so ball security this week and making good decisions will be very important.

*(On if the history between these team mean anything) *

Gaffney: We know they will be fired up. We won the last two against them. They're going to come in here with a chip on their shoulder, but we'll be ready to go, though.

*(On if it's concerning not many give San Diego a chance) *

Gaffney: Not really. We've looked at the tape. Since Thanksgiving they haven't lost. They're a very good team. We're going to have to bring our best this week.

*(On San Diego's difference from the earlier meeting) *

Gaffney: That game was early in September. Right now they're playing a lot better ball than they were back then.

*(On the coaching staff warning not to watch the earlier game against San Diego) *

Gaffney: He [Bill Belichick] made that emphasis earlier this morning to say that's not the same team. Looking at them they're not the same team, they're a lot better and playing real good right now.

TE Kyle Brady

*(On the difference in the Chargers from earlier this season) *

Brady: They're playing at a very high level. At that time I think they were figuring some things out. They expressed that themselves, that's not any breaking news. They were in interviews and expressing some of their frustrations at times. They've really got things going at a high level, as evidenced by their record in the last two months of the season.

*(On the Charger defense creating turnovers) *

Brady: They're opportunistic and very talented. You've got to give them every bit of respect they deserve. They're making opportunities for themselves and creating opportunities out there, so you've got to be at your best against them.

*(On Chargers beating the Colts last week and any team winning in any week) *

Brady: I wouldn't say any team can be, I'd say how good they were on that day. They were very good that day. They didn't make many mistakes. They forced Indy into some mistakes. They've been doing that a lot. They've created a lot of turnovers this year; I think they're averaging three a game through the course of the regular season. You've got to give them all the respect and understand that it could be you if you're not careful.

*(On the Patriots not being the same team as the first meeting in September) *

Brady: My old college coach Joe Paterno (Penn State) used to say 'You never stay the same. You're either getting better or you're getting worse.' I think that's true. Hopefully we've managed to find ways to get better in spite of all the various adversities that come to you in the course of the season. You have guys get injured; other guys have to step in sometimes. We've had our share of that even though we've been fortunate not to get too many serious injuries. Hopefully we've done some growing ourselves.

*(On the speed of the Chargers defense) *

Brady: They are fast. I think they're a physical defense as well. They are fast and physical so they can be a dangerous group.

*(On the Chargers rebounding from their injuries) *

Brady: The nature of it now is if you win you keep going if you lose you don't. I can imagine that every player that can get on the field on both sides is going to be ready to go.

*(On putting out of your mind that the next win puts you in the Super Bowl) *

Brady: You need to do your best to. You can't do a lot to control the outcome; all you can really control is the upcoming play. No matter how great the last play went, not matter how poorly the last play went all you can control is the one that's called in the huddle. I really try to keep it down to the essentials like that.

WR Donte' Stallworth

*(On his catch vs. Jacksonville and looking at the JumboTron) *

Stallworth: I was looking at the JumboTron the whole way; I should have just peeked up there and just ran but the guy made a good play. We got some points out of it -- not seven like we should have but we got some points out of it.

*(On feeling good to contribute during your first game as a Patriots) *

Stallworth: It's always good to contribute. You're contributing no matter what you're doing, if you're blocking or whatever, but it's always good to get your hands on the ball as well, so it was good from that aspect.

*(On making a big play vs. Jacksonville) *

Stallworth: It's really just a matter of staying focused. Tommy's [Tom Brady] going to find you whenever and you never know when that is so you have to stay ready and that's what I was trying to do.

*(On difference in the Chargers from September) *

Stallworth: It's black and white. It's two different teams. They struggled a little bit early. Bill [Belichick] mentioned it in the meetings don't get sucked in by what everybody's telling you. They've won more games than anyone -- including us -- since Thanksgiving. They have the most turnovers of any team since the Baltimore team did in 2000 and we all know what that team ended up doing. Their offense is scoring more points, they're playing really well. We played Jacksonville last week and they were playing probably the best football and same with the Chargers. They're playing the best football of anybody else in the league regardless of anything you guys say. It's going to be a challenge. I don't know the spread -- It doesn't matter, I don't keep up with any of that stuff. We know we have a real fight on our hands.

*(On Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie) *

Stallworth: He's a really good athlete. He's a young guy, but he understands their scheme and what they want to get done. The guy had a hundred interceptions; I think he's got an extra arm or something. He's cheating somehow, but he's making a lot of plays. Like I said we've not only got our hands full with not only their secondary, but their whole team.

*(On the way the Chargers beating Indianapolis last week) *

Stallworth: They played hard. People were thinking about them [San Diego] not being that good of a team and how the beat the Colts. A lot of their key guys were out and they had other guys step in. Me seeing that on a personal note, I think they're the deepest team in the league, definitely the deepest team of the last four teams in this tournament. Like I said it's going to be a challenge and they played really well against the defending champions in their place with guys down. That says a lot about that team there. They're not afraid to go anywhere and play anyone. That's what that shows me.

*(On paying attention to the Chargers injury report) *

Stallworth: It doesn't matter what you've got. If you're able to see and walk you'll be playing in this game. We know those guys are going to play in this game. I am going to try to fly to San Diego tonight and [am] probably going to kidnap LaDainian [Tomlinson] and I might have to get Shaun Phillips and (Shawne) Merriman, too. I'm going to have to kidnap both of them, too. I don't know how I'm going to do it -- Anybody want to help me? Anybody, I'm serious. Y'all are laughing, but I'm serious. Those are great players for that team. We definitely have our hands full. We understand that, we've seen the film. Those guys are making plays all over the field, offense, defense and special teams. It's not a part in their game where they are lacking playmakers or guys that can't get the job done, so we've got our hands full.

FB Heath Evans

*(On San Diego's defense) *

Evans: They come at you from every direction. They pick off every pass that comes their way that isn't perfectly thrown. Their linebackers constantly put pressure on the QBs. That's a good scheme so we've got to be smart this week.

*(On how much San Diego's changed since the teams' first meeting) *

Evans: There are so many changes. It's been like three and a half, four months. Same players, playing physically tough as always. I think they've just come a long way. They're going to be tough.

*(On being on win away from the Super Bowl) *

Evans: That's what it comes down this time of year. You always want to play one more. If we win, we'll get that opportunity.

*(On the Charger's adjustments over the second half of the season) *

Evans: It's hard to put a finger on one thing. They've just gotten a lot better. Bill [Belichick] told us today it was Jacksonville and San Diego [who] were basically the two best teams in the league from Thanksgiving on. I don't know [if] you all got the stat sheet we got, he basically proved his point. If he was a trial lawyer today he won by a landslide. If fear is good, he put fear in us by what they've accomplished and what they've done over the last two months. I always say we have our hands full being in the NFL, but this is the AFC Championship Game and it's going to be a tough battle.

*(On the stats that stand out) *

Evans: I wish I was as smart as Bill, but everything from their turnover ratio. I think he said they are 11- or 12-0 when they win the turnover battle. Just that as a running back, it's more focus on ball security. Everything we can do, catch every ball, don't let it be a tipped ball. Their third-down percentages, their sacks, if they're not number one, they are up there in every statistical category.

*(On ball security being an emphasis) *

Evans: It's a focus. The coaches make it a strong point here, because it's something we practice every single day. It's just being aware that you've got the life of the team in your hands when you're carrying the ball. It's definitely a priority that's focused on around here.

*(On the weather being a factor for the Chargers) *

Evans: I'm from Florida; I can handle the weather. They'll handle the weather. I've said it before, sometimes we wish we could play the weather, because that's pretty easy to beat, you can get warm. It's playing a tough team like this that's going to create the issues.

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