New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2008.
Q:Tedy, just talk about the defensive effort today.
TB: It was crucial that we had those red zone stops. I mean, when you hug your coach after you've won the AFC Championship and the first thing he says was, "Great job in the red area," you know it was important. It's something we've been emphasizing and of course we had our struggles early in the year and then we make some progress and then give ground a little bit and then make more progress. It's great to see in the biggest game of the year that we come up and force them to kick field goals, because when our offense can get in the end zone and they are scoring field goals that puts us up.
Q:Can you talk about the emotion of this win given everything the team has been through?
TB: We feel very satisfied because we've won the AFC Championship, not because I think we're through with that, to tell you the truth. We've had I think week two after San Diego, we let our emotions show a little bit about all the criticism we received and some of the criticism we received after that. You know, I think that's over and done with now. It was about winning the AFC Championship and having the extra motivation, even about San Diego making a comment here or there; if you need that to get motivated at this time of the year in games like this you're probably not a very experienced team. You know, we would rather focus on preparation.
Q:You know how hard it is to win a game in this league; how hard is it to win 18 of them?
TB: If I felt any pressure this year, it was before the Giants game when we realized it's possible to be achieved; it's possible to be achieved, that we could achieve the undefeated regular season. I think you could see it on our faces a little bit before the game, how we knew that this was a huge game and there was history on the line. So you recognize that and acknowledge that. But once the post season comes around, we've been in the post season so many times; it's about winning the next game, surviving on the next play, because all you want to do now is advance and then once you want to advance, you want to win that game. So that's really our focus now.
Q:The first half of the year with the touchdowns. The last two weeks particularly have been old fashioned, conventional football and you won on defense and then by controlling the ball the last nine minutes of the game; is that more satisfying as a football player to win those games that way?
TB: To me, defensively, yes. I mean, 52 7, I never was used to. It was something that even in all our championship years that never happened. That never happened on a consistent basis. We would have a blowout or two here or there but never three, four, five in a row. These are the games we are used to. This is what we consider Patriot football. And of course Jacksonville scoring 14 points on us the in the first half last week and then us holding them to six points the rest of the game; forcing San Diego to kick field goals every time they are in the red area, that's our defense. I think our defense always does what we need to do to win. Holding them to field goals today was what we needed to do to win.
Q:Do you feel you were in good position at the goal line, I think in front of Antonio Gates. How did that develop?
TB: It started out Junior [Seau] and I sort of had a bracket on Gates and the play sort of broke down and [Philip] Rivers had to scramble out of the pocket. Junior went up to try to put pressure on them and Gates tried to run away from me and once there was a little bit of separation, I knew I would pick it up a little bit because I knew the ball might be coming back and I could tell early on in the play, that's who he was looking for. Once he saw Junior and I were on him, that's what made him scramble back. Going back into position was what I had to do, because Junior was putting pressure on the quarterback -- basic defense. Sometimes you want to put your right arm around the back and knock him down, which I had done before but I thought I was in good enough position to make a play on the ball and put both hands out there and wasn't able to catch it.
Q:What did you say to Rodney Harrison after the game?
TB: (Chuckling) I told him I was proud of him. I told him I was proud of him and I told him I was proud of him as a man because of what he has gone through this year. The year started tough for him, and we all rallied behind him. But for him to come back and face his critics and to say, yes, this is what happened; but this is who I am, and he just kept working and kept playing, and I think the last two weeks, if there's anyone that you can look on our defense that you may find irreplaceable, it's him.