WR Wes Welker
(On the bye week being the calm before the storm)
Welker: That's right. I don't know if it's too calm or anything around here. You know, we're trying to get our work in and making sure we get a jumpstart on this week.
*(On watching the NFC Championship game between the Giants and Green Bay Packers) *
Welker: I was back at my house and I was just kind of watching the game. It was a hard-fought game and you could tell it was pretty cold. New York did a great job of finding away to win.
*(On facing the Giants for the second time in a little over a month) *
Welker: They're a great football team. They have a lot of confidence going into this game and they've really come together this past month. We're definitely going to have our hands full leading up into this week.
*(On how much of a factor confidence is) *
Welker: Confidence is a big thing and they're kind of on a roll right now. We're definitely going to have to do a lot of good things to keep up with them.
*(On how different the Giants are now from when the teams met in the regular season finale) *
Welker: I think they know it's a one-game season at this point and they've played up to it. They're playing physical out there and their special teams has been excellent, their defense is playing really well and their offense kind of speaks for itself. It's definitely going to be a great match up for us.
*(On the Giants improvement in the secondary) *
Welker: Obviously [Corey] Webster has stepped up for them and has been a great player, especially going into the playoffs. Sam Madison looks like he's going to be healthy, so he's definitely a veteran player -- he's been around for along time - who can definitely make some plays. Then [Aaron] Ross is no longer a rookie anymore and we're going to end up having our hands full with those guys.
*(On how much the team is looking forward to playing in warm temperatures in Arizona) *
Welker: It will be nice. Anytime you can get down in some warm weather and stuff - It will definitely be a change for us. It will be like how we had it at the beginning of the season, so it will be good to get back in those warm climates.
*(On the talk of late hits and chippy play in the teams' previous meeting) *
Welker: I think that's any game, especially late in the season like that going into the playoffs. I think every game is going to be like that and that may have been amplified a little bit now.
*(On Tom Brady's ankle injury) *
Welker: I don't know. You'll have to ask Tom about anything pertaining to him and his ankle.
*(On Tom Brady's toughness and if it is an underrated quality) *
Welker: The guy - he hasn't missed many games. He's done a great job of keeping himself healthy and being ready to play.
*(On the Giants coming between the Patriots and an undefeated season twice this year) *
Welker: I don't know. I guess ya'll look at that stuff more than we do but we just know it's the next game and this one really counts. We just need to make sure we prepare ourselves and we're ready to go.
*(On any nervousness the players faced in the first game with the Giants because of the possibility of going 16-0) *
Welker: I don't think so. I think we went out there and executed our game plan and it's going to be the same way. The Super Bowl is definitely going to get your nerves up and you have to make sure you're able to handle it.
*(On if he is aware of comments about the Patriots being a dirty team) *
Welker: I'm not, no.
*(On how he would respond to a Giants player saying that about the Patriots) *
Welker: It's their opinion about it and we can only control what we can control. We're just going to make sure we're ready to play come next Sunday.
*(On if the Patriots came out of the season finale with a healthy respect for the Giants) *
Welker: Absolutely. They're a great football team and obviously the game could have gone either way. We were lucky enough to come away with a win there and we're going to have to play really well to be able to do it again.
*(On if it makes sense that the Giants have advanced to the Super Bowl after the way they played the Patriots) *
Welker: Absolutely. It doesn't surprise me at all that they're in the position that they're in. They're one of the best football teams we've played all year, so it's no surprise to me at all.
S Rodney Harrison
*(On how much big game experience helps a player going into the Super Bowl) *
Harrison: I think experience helps because you know exactly what to expect, what to look for, but at the same time if you don't go out there and prepare properly and translate that onto the field, what is experience? It's something that's in the past. Something that we definitely have but we still have to go out there and play well.
*(On what he tells the younger players that haven't been to a Super Bowl) *
Harrison: Just to focus on the Super Bowl. We're out there for one thing and that's to win a football game. We're not out there to party or - You spend some time with your family but all other side distractions, keep them away from yourself. Do the right thing and just focus on the game.
*(On if the team looks at this game like a division game because it's the third time the two teams have met) *
Harrison: No, we approach it like it's the Super Bowl. It's the most important game that we've played in our lives. It's a very important game, a game that we need to go out there and just do what we've been doing and continue to get better and win. I mean, we're out there for one reason. I've been on the other side of losing and you don't want that, so our number one priority is to win.
*(On what the team can take from their last meeting with the Giants) *
Harrison: They have a good team. They're physical, they're big, obviously they have a lot of weapons but at the same time we didn't play particularly well on defense and that's something that we look to improve on. We did a lot of things terrible and we really need to improve on that and we won a ballgame. They're a different team from a month ago. I feel like we're a different team. Both teams are heading into this game with a lot of confidence and we'll see what happens.
*(On the Patriots giving up red zone touchdowns) *
Harrison: Well it's contrast and difference from the last time played…San Diego, [you] give up four touchdowns, give up four field goals -- big difference. It saves you 16 points. Obviously we're disappointed they put up what, 35 points on us, but at the same time we learn from it and move forward. That's a month ago, so that has no relevance to this next week.
*(On if there's a fine line between hardnosed football and dirty play) *
Harrison: Of course there is, but that's not up to me to judge. We go out and play the game hard and someone wants to think we're a certain way or someone else is a certain way, that's on them. Our game is to be physical and to play whatever game you want to play, whether its finesse, physical, match up against us intellectually -- we can do that as well. That's for you guys to judge.
*(On if he sees late hits or dirty plays in every game) *
Harrison: Who cares? It's football. It's football. You're going to have some late hits, you're going to have some penalties, you're going to have some guys on the offensive side of the ball trying to blow your knees out just as well as guys on the offensive line. That's part of football. We signed up for a dirty sport, a tough sport, a very physical sport. That's what we do and when you're on the field anything can happen.
*(On if other teams target the Patriots) *
Harrison: We'd had success and teams are going to bring their A-game every time they play against us. When you play you want to play against the best. Same thing with us when we play against the best teams, the Indianapolises, the Jacksonvilles, the Giants -- All those different teams, you want to bring your A-game. That's what's going to happen emotionally [and] physically as well as mentally.
*(On the amount of trash talking the Patriots have faced and if it is an attempt to gain a psychological edge) *
Harrison: I don't know. You'd have to ask them. That's not for me to figure out. Our team is built on one thing and that's winning football games. The rest is just a sideshow, serves as a distraction.
*(On Tom Brady's physical and mental toughness) *
Harrison: I don't think he would have the success that he's had if he wasn't mentally and physically tough. He's started a bunch of games consecutively and he's one of those guys that's in here busting his butt. You see him every day, not missing practices, not missing weight room sessions. Then out there in the game he's a constant, so as a leader of our team and as a guy that really respects the game of football you really appreciate that about him. He's no prima donna. He's one of those guys that lays it on the line each day.
Fullback Heath Evans
*(On Tom Brady's status) *
Evans: I know he'll be ready to play. He always is. You know how we do injuries around here. He looks fine to me.
*(On what was made of Brady's walking boot) *
Evans: Well, considering the fact that he always has cameras in his face, I guess it was only a matter of time.
*(On Tom Brady's physical toughness) *
Evans: I don't think you're here unless you're physically tough. That starts with him and it works all the way down the roster.
*(On what making pre Super Bowl plans has been like) *
Evans: I'm not doing any of that. I've passed the buck on all that to my wife and mom and dad and this is a one shot for me. I've never been this far before and I'm trying to make the most of it.
*(On talk of the Super Bowl leading up to this point) *
Evans: I think the way we're taught to focus is the proper way to focus and now that's here, that's the focus and we're excited about this challenge.
*(On what can be taken from the last time the Patriots played the Giants) *
Evans: They look a lot better, which is scary, although they gave us a heck of a run [the last time]. We've got to do some different things. We've got to execute better. On my part, particularly, we have to be better on special teams and we have to be better running the ball. Less than two yards a carry, I don't think that'll get it done in the Super Bowl.
*(On what teammates have told him about the Super Bowl experience) *
Evans: I really haven't had an opportunity to ask too many questions. I'm pretty good at taking Coach Bill's [Belichick] lead, but I think he does a good job at always telling us exactly what we need to know. For me, I've tried to make this as normal as possible, especially next week, being on the road, everything from bedtime to what I eat. Hopefully, it'll work.
*(On watching the Super Bowl as a fan) *
Evans: It's kind of funny. Since I've been in the league, I've never really watched too many Super Bowls, especially last year. You get so close it's kind of a bitter feeling. This is kind of my first rodeo all the way around so I'm going to try to enjoy it, but I'm going to try to do my part in helping this team win.
*(On playing the Giants for the third time this season) *
Evans: Most of the time, we get the division guys twice and, like you said, this is three so, hopefully, we're familiar with them, but you always expect those different wrinkles. Hopefully, we're good at guessing what they're going to do and get the job done.
*(On the Giants pass rush) *
Evans: Hopefully it's snowing and it's really bad weather so they'll be a little bit slower out there. They're good. You have a lot of good ideas of how to slow them down. Whether they work or not, we had a lot of the same ideas last time so I think it really just comes down to executing what we're coached to do and what we're taught to do.
*(On the Giants' sense of purpose in the regular-season finale) *
Evans: Down the stretch, everyone had a purpose, as well as we did. It's been no different the last two weeks for us. They're a good team. I think going into it, we were the only ones that gave them credit to be able to win that game. We saw game film from Coach Belichick's perspective that led us into that game believing that this was a team that could easily beat us if we were not on top of our game plan. That's the same team we're facing this week; they've just only gotten better.
*(On whether there's added pressure being undefeated going into the Super Bowl) *
Evans: It's the Super Bowl. I'm not sure that you could add any more pressure to it. This is the biggest game of the year. I guess that it's everyone's goal at the start. Our goal is to win every game and we've been blessed to be able to do that so now the goal is to go 19-0 because that's the next and the last and the only step to go. The pressure's there, we're coached well enough to hopefully fly under that pressure.
*(On what makes the Giants' defensive front tough) *
Evans: They're fast. They're athletic. They know their defense and they play within their defense. They're always in the right place at the right time.
*(On what Coach Bill Belichick presented to the players this week) *
Evans: It was the usual. He gave us their statistics from top to bottom. He let us know all their strengths. He showed it to us on film and made us believers. Obviously, we all ready played this team in Week 17. His job wasn't as tough today. We know what they have to bring to the table and we have to do a better job if we plan on beating them this time around.
Running back Kevin Faulk
*(On the off week before the Super Bowl) *
Faulk: All I know is we've got a game to prepare for in two weeks. That's all we're doing right now is preparing for a game against the New York Giants.
*(On preparing for the Super Bowl) *
Faulk: You're playing for the Super Bowl. If that's not motivation enough for you, something's wrong.
*(On whether it's like playing a divisional game after playing the Giants twice all ready) *
Faulk: We're going to approach it as one of the biggest games we play. This is the biggest game in our sport - the championship game - so you've got to focus in a big way.
*(On whether the Giants will change things up from the last meeting) *
Faulk: They're going to do whatever they have to do to win the game and if that's throwing new looks in, that's what they're going to do.
*(On what advice he gives to younger players going to the Super Bowl) *
Faulk: Get done everything you need to get done before you get to Arizona. We've got a job to do. Our job is to win the game.
Linebacker Mike Vrabel
*(On the Giants' youth versus the Patriots' experience) *
Vrabel: I think they have a good group of core guys. I think you can look at Michael Strahan, [Antonio] Pierce. I think they've got some veteran offensive linemen. [Amani] is older than I am, Plax [Plaxico Burress] is. They have core veterans at some important positions. I don't think they're that young.
CB ELLIS HOBBS
*(On distractions off the field and tickets requests) *
Hobbs: It is a distraction if you let it be. Obviously, its kind of like anything in life -- You can't please everybody. All of a sudden everyone becomes your best friend. I got a guy who knows a guy who knows Ellis Hobbs, can he get a ticket -- Whatever. I think it is difficult for all of us but I think Bill [Belichik] put it best in the meeting -- I think the best word we can use this week is no. No on a lot of things, to just kind of simplify everything. Not to try justify it or, well, can I get back to you? Just clear and dry no. Like I said, you can't please everybody.
*(On how different the Giants are from a month ago) *
Hobbs: The team that you saw us play in December is a team that has been present this whole playoff run, a team that had a lot of momentum going into that game and used a lot of situations that came out positive for them in that game and just used it and carried along to the playoffs.
*(On Eli Manning) *
Hobbs: It is all about the NFL. You can go either way. You can go with a bad swing of momentum or a good swing and, like I said, they have used him and that team [is] just continually building momentum throughout the playoffs, the big three: simplifying the offense, hitting the easy routes and making big plays off that.
*(On how much confidence plays into it) *
Hobbs: It plays a lot. It plays a lot into the whole season. Confidence, confidence gets you victories in this league. Going out there knowing that you can do it day-in and day-out and play after play, it speaks volumes about your play and about the team and it just helps with the momentum.
*(On playing against Plaxico Burress) *
Hobbs: Big receiver, big bodies over there. Not necessarily just him but everybody over there. Big bodies. [They] want to be physical, want to intimidate, they want to go up and catch the ball. Like I said, you just have to understand what they are trying to do and they are going to do it.
*(On how much facing them just a month ago helps) *
Hobbs: It helps a lot because now you can use that game for film studies for practice, what you did wrong in that game and also taking the positives out. When he wasn't catching the ball or when the ball wasn't thrown his way, what were you doing now allowing that.
*(On the Giants offense playing well against Patriots defense last game) *
Hobbs: What happened in December, that was two totally different teams. [It's] not any excuse or anything like that, but the playoffs are a little different and obviously the Super Bowl is much different. Going into that game, a lot of key factors helped that game be the way it is on both sides of the ball and for both teams, but you can't go into it like that. Take it for what it is worth and just worry about the Super Bowl.
*(On the last game getting chippy) *
Hobbs: Yeah, it's the end of the season. We had a lot at stake. They wanted to end that perfect season or whatever, this and that. Just the whole hype behind it, the media, broadcasted on so many televised stations or whatever and it just had a lot going into it - a mini Super Bowl or something like that. I don't know.
*(On what they way the Giants played the last game said about their team) *
Hobbs: Just being a competitor. It's not necessarily the team but the individuals. If you are in this league and you are worth anything or consider your self to be worth anything, you want to compete all the time, not shut it down at the end of the season just because you have something. I think both teams do that, as far as the Patriots and the Giants go and you know that is pretty much how I carry out my life and a lot of guys in this locker room and throughout the league carry out their lives, being very competitive.
*(On how the team stays focused and ignores off the field talk) *
Hobbs: Through trial and error and looking at other people's mistakes, understanding that all that talking doesn't do anything and just coming to your senses. Common sense tells that you can sit here and jaw all day, but in between white lines - It's kind of like boxers, all that stuff they do and all the stuff. They say you see a completely different person in the ring and afterwards they are hugging, talking about how much money they got. Beef sells. Like I said it doesn't matter. Take care of what is between the lines.
*(On facing big receivers in the Super Bowl) *
Hobbs: Technique. Great technique -- You can't make mistakes on guys like that. When the ball is in the air you have to be aware of your body, what position you are in and not allow him to get himself in a body position where he can box you out. It's almost like basketball, rebounding, things like that where he already has the size advantage but don't give him anything else.
*(On fronting receivers) *
Hobbs: Yeah, [I'm] always trying to front him, just doing anything to not allow his body to get in your way.
*(On if that is that what happened on the big first play the Giants had) *
Hobbs: He came off didn't do anything special, went straight down the field got his body in the way of me and the ball and then just went up and got it.
*(On red zone defense) *
Hobbs: It was one thing that we didn't do in that game that was very key to the points that they had. Obviously you see when you can stop teams in the red zone it helps you win championships, and you saw that last week in the San Diego game. Hopefully you'll see that again this time.
*(On opponents calling the Patriots players dirty) *
Hobbs: That's your personal opinion. No one's a punk out there. Nobody's going to back down from anybody. I can't speak for any individual on this team as far as dirty players [or] whatever. I play competitively, I'm not going to do anything to cheap shot you but I'm also not going to back down.
*(On how Plaxico Buress makes it difficult for defensive backs to jump routes) *
Hobbs: he does a great job of coming back downhill on the ball. Like I said, [he has] long arms and a normal throw like that from Eli [Manning] that's too high for an average receiver, it almost looks normal for him because he is so tall, he is so big. Now you add into the equation his jumping ability, his body position, things like that and you have to play with more technique and have to be less careless out there.
*(On what the Patriots can do to even things out in the kicking game) *
Hobbs: Understand the scheme, just like offense and defense. Understand the schemes and execute. The only thing we didn't do in that game was execute. It wasn't a game plan, it wasn't anything that they were doing special. On that kickoff return there was a penalty that put them in better field position but if you watch the film we're all out of position. Nobody was executing what they needed to do out there. I wasn't out there and I'm not talking down on anyone but its just one of those things that we have to execute better.
*(On if the Giants are even better than they were at the end of the regular season) *
Hobbs: Oh, definitely. They took the game they played against us -- Even though they lost, they took a lot of positives out of that game. They knew they had a winning caliber team and they've carried that throughout the playoffs. What you're seeing throughout these playoffs and what you saw in December is what they are and how good they can be.
*(On what positives the Patriots took from their come-from-behind win over the Giants) *
Hobbs: You take all kinds of positives out of it, on both sides of the ball. Look at the type of game we played and how bad we played it, yet we were still able to win. It's hard to win in this league, bottom line. We pretty much did a poor job all night on defense but when it came time to make plays on defense, we made the plays we needed to and when we made those plays those are the ones we want to focus on -- what did we do to disrupt them out of their game.
*(On the line between tough, hardnosed football and dirty play) *
Hobbs: It's arbitrary. It's a thing where you have to be the judge of that. What is dirty play, what's not? Really, the refs control that. Whatever these people in the stands or the fans or the opponent thinks is dirty play, that's your opinion. I can say this -- whatever was occurring out there was occurring on both sides of the ball on both teams. It wasn't a one-sided event out there.
*(On Brandon Meriweather's actions contradicting people's perception of him) *
Hobbs: There's a lot of things that go on in this locker room as far as personalities and how people are viewed and it's totally opposite when you meet the guys. This guy's a jerk, this guy's this, this guy's that. We all have our faults, don't get me wrong. Nobody's perfect in this locker room. As far as Brandon goes, I've had no complaints since I've known the young man. To be in the position he's in would be intimidating to a lot of people. Being a first rounder, thinking that you're supposed to just step in and make plays where he came to a team that was already established but he's done a great job of playing his role and just getting in line and following. His time will come. I really have no quarrels with him.
*(On if the team is approaching the Giants game like a divisional game) *
Hobbs: It kind of flashed in my head while I was watching the film that we've already played these guys three times: in the preseason, the regular season and then here now. That's how you have to look at it. It's a great opportunity for film study. You've seen those guys. You know what they're going to do. There's going to be wrinkles here and there and what can we do to get the best game plan out there and execute.
*(On his post-football aspirations as a Disney animator) *
Hobbs: That was a short-lived dream coming out of college but - I say short-lived, but it's still something that I'm interested in. I like to draw. I've been drawing all my life and when I'm bored -- hopefully I won't have to work anymore after this I have enough money that I can just sit down and relax that's one thing that I want to do as a hobby, try to get on a Disney team or something like that. I say Disney, really anything as far as the art world and just work on animation.
*(On whether or not he likes cartoons) *
Hobbs: Yeah I like cartoons. I've always watched cartoons. I love cartoons.
*(On Eli Manning in the playoffs) *
Hobbs: He's making less mistakes. That interception there was nothing special that I did. It was just a mistake that he made overthrowing the guy and I was there to catch it. I think he's done a great job simplifying his offense -- cutting down extra routes, extra reads and just executing the simple game plan. That's basically what they've been doing, allowing the people that need the ball in there hands to be great athletes and make plays.