**Q: What makes Tennessee so difficult?
TB:** They have a lot of good football players. I think they are very well coached. They do play very physical. You have to earn everything you get from them. We are familiar with them. It is the third time we have played them in about a year, so it is almost like a division team. We just have to go out and play well.
**Q: Considering you have not played them in the last 11 or 12 weeks, are they the same team or have they changed?
TB:** They were a good team then and they are a real good team now. You saw what they could do to Baltimore—they can shut down a guy that can rush 2,000 yards and make the quarterback turn the ball over a few times. It is a good team. Their scheme fits their players real well and their coaches do a good job of getting those players in good shape. They have a great secondary—some of the best secondary guys we have played all year—athletic linebackers and probably one of the top defensive lines in the league. Defensively they are as good as it gets. It will be probably one of our toughest challenges this entire season.
**Q: One of the things that Bill [Belichick] often talks about is complimenting how you play the next play after a bad play so well regardless of the situation, that you just forget what just happened and go on. Where does that come from? Is that just something that you have always been able to do? Or is there a time when you didn't play that way?
TB:** I would like to think that I am always doing that. Obviously there are a lot of bad plays that are followed by bad plays as well. I think we do a good job here of putting ourselves in pressurized situations in practices and in mini-camps, so when it does get to game day we are so prepared. And when you are prepared there is no hesitation. You just let loose. You just be the player that you are. Because of that, those bad plays don't happen repetitively. You don't give in to the mental aspects of the game because you believe in yourself and you have too much confidence in your teammates.
**Q: How did it feel to place where you did in the NFL MVP voting?
TB:** Third? It was good. I think it is easy to be third when you are playing with a whole bunch of great players like I am. I have always said that this goes far beyond the quarterback position here, and if there is one team that symbolizes that it is this team. I have the most underrated receivers in the league. I have an offensive line that has been protecting me all year. That is the reason.
**Q: You are talking like you have very little to do with it.
TB:** Well, I think I play a role on this team and it happens to be quarterback. Coach puts different things on me that he doesn't put on those guys and he expects me to do a good job. I try to go out and do the best I can just like the other guys. Heck, I couldn't block or tackle or run with the ball or do any of that stuff. In that case those guys are the most valuable. Rodney Harrison, he is playing like the best safety in the league. There are guys up and down the roster who have really played their role at an MVP-type level. That is all I'm trying to do. I am just trying to be the best quarterback for this team. When you go 14-2 obviously you are proud of yourself. That is what I said. That is all I really do care about. It has been a great year because the guys on this team make it easy for me to go out there and do my job.
**Q: Can you talk about Tom Ashworth's success?
TB:** Yeah, Tom stepped in this year in probably the third game or fourth game and just has not given up the position. He has gotten better each week. He is big. He is strong. He is athletic. He is smart… I guess. Those offensive linemen, I have to take shots if I can. He is a very very very good football player, and he is only getting better. As a first year player to come in and do what he is done has been remarkable.
**Q: The first game of the postseason in '01 that started it all was that great game in Oakland. How did you approach that '01 postseason?
TB:** There is no doubt that it is at a different level. The intensity is different, the attitude of the team is different. It is much more focused. It is much more intense. Not that every game isn't, but this time of year everything gets put aside. The other parts of the year you still have to live your life. Now you don't have a life. You are just playing football from here on out. I think I learned that that first week [in '01] and then playing Pittsburgh, that was a great experience. Going to a stadium like that, it was the loudest place I had ever been. Then obviously the Super Bowl. It gives you confidence that you can do a good job and go out there and play in those pressurized situations. The only way you can get used to it is doing it, and hopefully you get used to it while doing it and winning. I think the things we have done this year—we are 14-2 and Tennessee was 12-4 and now they are 13-4 and it all comes down to this week for both of us.
**Q: You grew up watching Joe Montana and some of those guys—quarterbacks that led their teams through the playoffs. Did you ever think you would be here, and how you would be remembered in leading your team in the playoffs?
TB:** These are the types of weeks where, in February and March and April and May, you think about. What greater opportunity could you ever have than to be a starting quarterback in this game? Over this season it has really become a goal of ours to get in the playoffs and then to work our way through the playoffs. We stay very focused in the short-term to be able to do that. To be able to play this Saturday night, it is like a Monday Night game. Everybody is watching and there is that much more excitement. There is no emotional letdown. There are no excuses to not go out there and play your best game. It is almost easier for a quarterback in these types of games because you know that everybody else is going to be into it too. Sometimes over the course of the year, guys lose focus. You become distracted and for a lot of good reasons. But now, like I said, it is the number one priority. It is going to be fun to lead the guys out there on Saturday night.
**Q: How important is it for you guys, in playing a team like Tennessee, to take it one game at a time?
TB:** This is as good a team as we have played all year. Thinking back to that Week 5 game, they were physical and tough and we came out of that game saying, 'gosh we beat a good team there.' They haven't changed. This team is still one of the best in the league and they have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. They have a running back who is playing and is just sheer heart. They have a great linebacker in Keith Bulluck. Samari Rolle is a great playmaker. Kevin Carter is probably one of the best defensive linemen in the league. These guys can play. If we don't go out and play well, they will come here and kick our butt. If we go out there and play our game, we would expect to come out feeling pretty good about ourselves too.
**Q: When you hear people talk about their quarterback Steve McNair and how tough he is and all that, what do you think about that?
TB:** He is phenomenal. There is no play that he can't make. He is strong. The thing about him that I see is that he just stands back there. He is like a big bull back there and if people try to bring him down he just shakes them off and throws the ball 60 yards down the field to a guy who is double-covered and he just squeezes him in. It is pretty awesome to watch. I remember watching him when I was in college, watching him come out from Alcorn State, and he is still amazing people.
**Q: When you hear the [Joe] Montana comparison I am sure you are flattered. Do you think that you have some similarities to the way Montana played quarterback?
TB:** He is the best of all time. Joe Montana, he was everything. Everything that he did was great. He threw the ball great. He managed his game great. He made his other players great. He really had some great qualities. I think as a quarterback you have to emulate some of those things. There will never be another Joe Montana. Can guys do some of those things? [Dan] Marino could throw the ball great. [John] Elway could improvise great. There are a lot of great qualities. Do I think I have any of those great qualities? I am working at it. I'm working to try to become that, but it is going to have to take a lot more playoff games and a lot more Super Bowl wins to ever mention those two names in the same sentence.
**Q: A couple of years ago you guys were the underdog. Nobody expected you guys to win. This year you are the favorite. How does it change?
TB:** I think there is psychology in it in that we always felt that we were the best team anyway, whether anyone else gave a damn or not we always felt that we were pretty good. I don't think it changes much. I think that if we go out there and play the same way we have played in the games we have won this year, we don't feel that it will be any different. Of course a team like Tennessee is going to make it very tough for you to do that. We just have to go out and play our style of football. Whether we are the underdog or the favorite, Tennessee doesn't care. And we don't care. We just feel like the only people that can really influence the outcome of that game are the people in the locker room.
**Q: All the adrenaline that comes with the playoffs and all the emotion—is that going to affect the team too?
TB:** Being overly emotional? It can. You don't want to go play the game on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday afternoon. You want to save as much energy as you can. We are going to go out there on Saturday night and give it all we have. Hopefully we have enough in the tank and we don't expend our energy other places, whether it be on the practice field or whether it be not getting enough sleep. This time of year, like I said before, it is a great time of year. We are in these meetings and everybody is into it. The attention to detail is great. The practices are great. We just can't wait for the game to get here.
**Q: Can you talk about the personal level of satisfaction that you feel being back in the postseason?
TB:** Last year was a tough year. There is no question. You finish 9-7 and it makes for a long offseason. To start this year 2-2 and then win 12 straight and get the bye—it has been a good couple of weeks. I think with that you still understand there is a job left to do. There is still football for us. I was thinking about it and saying, 'God, I just can't imagine the season ending. I wouldn't know what to do. I would just be sitting around the house all day.' So we are going to do everything we can to keep this thing going for a while.