CENTER DAVID ANDREWS
January 21, 2019
Q: How do you feel about going to the Super Bowl?
DA: It's been a long year and it's been a lot of hard work. I'm very proud of the guys. We've come in each week, worked hard, kept grinding, kept trusting our fundamentals and we knew if we did that, there would be a lot of good things to come. We've got another big challenge ahead of us. It's going to be a good football team we're playing, best team we've played and it'll be a big challenge.
Q: Does this ever get old?
DA: No. It's why you play the game. It's what you dream of as a little kid. There's so many people that play this game for a long time who don't get to experience it. I'm just fortunate to somehow find my way here, to this organization, and get to be a part of my third now.
Q: Because you realize there are other players that don't go to the Super Bowl every year.
DA: It's tough and like I said, I'm just fortunate that Coach [Bill] Belichick gave me an opportunity here and I get to be in that locker room with those guys year in and year out. It's just a special team, special place.
Q: Are you pleased with the play of the offensive line? You seem to have hit a real peak, particularly in pass protection during the playoffs.
DA: Yeah, there's always things we can work on. There's some things we need to improve on. But the last two weeks, we've been clicking well. I thought it was a big challenge this week – no penalties, we didn't do anything to hurt ourselves on the road and that was going to be a huge challenge with the noise and just that team has a good defense. So it was a big challenge. Our tackles have been playing lights out so hats off to those guys and us three on the inside have been holding our own. We've just got to keep going, keep moving forward and get back to work here this week.
Q: With that noise factor, no false starts or anything like that is pretty amazing.
DA: It's just a testament to the work that was put in all week – guys in our room, the whole team, with Tom [Brady], everybody. There was a lot of hard work, frustrating in practice at times with the music and all that stuff going on, but that was a realistic feel for what it was like. It was hard to communicate. Guys were locked in and disciplined all day and we do that pretty good.
Q: What has Dante Scarnecchia meant to you over your career?
DA: Scar's been awesome. He's a tough coach to play for at times but you know there's benefits to the way he's coaching and the way he harps on us is to get our best. He knows what our best is and we still haven't reached that so we'll go back to work here this week.
Q: What can you say about the performance of Tom Brady in clutch situations? It's a team game, but he's the captain out there.
DA: It's the greatest team game on Earth and when you've got a guy like that – I'm not surprised. I feel like I've been seeing this since I was eight years old so now I just get to be a part of it.
Q: Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl against the Rams and there's guys on this team that might have been too young to remember it. What does that say about his longevity and does that give you guys added confidence?
DA: The experience stuff really doesn't matter. It's about who goes out there and plays the best. But it's unreal what he's done. He's a once in a lifetime player. I'm just fortunate I get to go out there and block for him.
Q: Can you talk about Matthew Slater's ability as coin toss-caller in overtime in this game and the Super Bowl against the Falcons?
DA: He's like all-world. He always chooses heads so that's a good call.
Q: Do you know why he does it? His dad I guess?
DA: Yeah, his dad. His dad always chose that. That's what he told me. I'm glad it was heads.
Q: Do you remember anything about that 2001 season and Super Bowl?
DA: I was pretty young. That was really the first Super Bowl I really kind of remember being excited for – the Titans-Rams one was one that I kind of stayed up for and really watched, really starting to understand the game a little bit more. I was playing the game. So it was really special watching that. But I don't really remember much about the season, I was an Atlanta fan growing up for various reasons but I definitely remember watching the game, staying up all night, probably sleeping through my third grade class or whatever it was the next day.
Q: So no Tom Brady poster on your wall?
DA: No, I probably had some [Michael] Jordan posters on my wall.
Q: Can you speak to how that game was a heavyweight fight between two really good teams?
DA: No, you're right, it was a heavyweight fight. It wasn't one-sided. There were a lot of punches thrown on both sides of the ball. We threw ours, they threw theirs and we were just standing at the end. Good situational football. It was a great two-minute drive to get those points and then when we had our opportunity, we took advantage of it.
Q: Is this a typical Monday around here?
DA: No, this is more of a logistics – we've got a lot of stuff we've got to figure out, try to get all that stuff taken care of by tomorrow, tickets and family and all that. Come in Wednesday and go to work and kind of put all those distractions away, get that handled so you can really focus on the job at hand, what really matters.
Q: Can you talk about the different skillsets Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White bring to the run game and what you guys are doing for them?
DA: They're a dynamic group. They all made huge plays last night. James made some huge plays in the passing game, Sony ran hard all night and then Rex came up at the biggest times of the game. They're great running backs and I'm just fortunate enough to get to block for them. Josh [McDaniels] does a great job getting the ball in their hands and good things happen. We give them lanes and get them moving.
Q: Do you have a sense of how excited the fan base is?
DA: Yeah, I know they're excited. We've got awesome fans and to them I guess it's old hat. I know they're ready to go and I know they'll be down in Atlanta.
Q: So those "Beat LA" t-shirts come in handy twice, right?
DA: Yeah, I guess we can re-wear them. I guess we can. It's the greatest rivalry in sports, right?
WIDE RECEIVER MATTHEW SLATER
January 21, 2019
Q: Can you talk about your coin toss strategy now that you've won two of the biggest ones? Why do you always call heads?
MS: Why I always call heads – Well, I remember as a child watching my father play in L.A. and him going out and doing the coin toss for the Rams. He always called heads, so I asked him one time, "Hey, why do you do that? What's the story behind that?" I think anyone who knows my family knows faith is important to us, and for him, he was always like, "You know, God's the head of my life, so I call heads." That was something he came up with and I've kind of just embraced it. I'm glad it's worked out for us here the last couple times when we needed it.
Q: Any idea what your all-time record is calling coin tosses?
MS: No idea. But I'm glad that the two biggest ones I've been involved in have thankfully worked out for us.
Q: And you were pretty emphatic with the "We want the ball." Did you just have a feeling that once you got the ball, it was going to be over?
MS: You always have a lot of confidence when No. 12's [Tom Brady] on your team. You always have a chance to win any game, no matter what the situation is. We felt pretty good about giving our offense the ball and they certainly did the job once they got it. We're really thankful to be a part of something like that last night. Pretty tired today, but what an exciting time.
Q: What can you say about the performances of Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski?
MS: I think that was vintage Jules and Gronk last night. Those guys have stepped up big in so many big moments for this franchise over the course of their careers and they don't flinch in those moments. I think last night, you saw them when we needed them the most. When our season was on the line, you saw those guys step up. They weren't afraid of the moment. They were looking to make plays. They've always been guys that have been willing to do whatever this team needs to win football games, and last night, we needed them to make plays and that's what they did. I'm so proud of both those guys. It's really an honor to have been teammates with Julian for 10 years now and Rob for nine. I've learned a lot about being professional and respecting this game and how to approach certain situations from the two of them. You've got to tip your hat to them.
Q: Every year it seems like the team comes together. Is it any different this year or every year do you feel like you're a cohesive unit?
MS: The story of every season is a little bit different. The makeup of every team is a little bit different. You hear me talk about it quite frequently – I think the brotherhood in that locker room is always a common thread to those stories. The relationships that we share, the belief that we have in one another, the time that we've invested in one another, I think that's a big part of what happens on game day in those tough moments. So, this year, yeah we faced a little adversity, the story was a little bit different, we weren't expected to do some of the things that we've done thus far, but our belief never changed. We never doubted one another and here we are.
Q: Can you count on your dad's support when you play against his former team in the Rams?
MS: We had a good conversation last night. He's going to support his son, so we cleared the air on that last night and we're all squared away.
Q: You're only the third team to make the Super Bowl three years in a row. Are you amazed by that?
MS: Absolutely. There's so much parity in this league, there's so much talent, you look at the salary cap era and how that's really leveled the playing field. There's so many good coaches and ownership and tradition in this league. It's really remarkable what we've been able to do and it's something that you really can't take for granted. We realize how blessed and fortunate we've been to have the ball bounce our way, to have the coin toss our way at certain points along the way, but I don't think that it's something that will ever be, "Oh, well this is what we do." It's so hard to win in this league and every opportunity you have to play in the postseason you've just got to be thankful for and try to make the most of it. Fortunately, we've been able to do that.
Q: That Week 6 game was one of the more exciting games of the year and a lot of people are saying this game topped it.
MS: Well, two great teams going at it and nobody wanted to lose that game last night. I have a ton of respect for Coach [Andy] Reid and his team and the way they're coached and the way they played. Their fans were tremendous for them last night, and unfortunately somebody had to lose that game. But that was a heck of game. I'm sure our fans were pretty on edge throughout the course of the night. But I think it was good for the NFL, good for football.
Q: How do you feel about Jared Goff and the Rams?
MS: They're a really good team. Many would argue that they're one of the most talented teams in the National Football League. They've got a great young head coach who really has a lot of buy-in and belief from his players, so it's going to be a tough game for us. They're going to be the best team we've faced all year. I know one thing about Super Bowls and these types of situations – the only thing that you remember at the end of this Super Bowl experience is the score of the game. That's the only thing you remember. You don't remember who didn't get a ticket to this, who's hotel room was messed up. That doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it's who had more points at the end of the game.
Q: Can you talk about the job the offensive line has done these two playoff games?
MS: Yeah, they've been outstanding. In my opinion, offensive linemen don't get enough credit. I think those guys can be underappreciated at times, their job is a tough one but our team goes as they go, our offense goes as they go. For them to be able to keep Tom clean and open holes for our running game is huge. It's the reason why we're standing here today talking about playing in the Super Bowl. Great leadership all across the board there, starting with David [Andrews], TB [Trent Brown] and Marcus [Cannon] have been great. And then [Joe] Thuney and Shaq [Mason], just steady-Eddie always there, you know what you're going to get from them. So that group is great, our depth players are great, what a great room, what a great group of guys. I love those guys.
Q: What changed for you guys after those consecutive losses in December to now?
MS: I think there are a number of small things that changed, but ultimately, the biggest thing that's changed is how we've executed under pressure. We suffered those two losses and I don't think our mentality changed at all. We still had belief, we still had faith in our process, we still had faith in one another, but we understood that hey, at some point this has to carry over to the game, we have to be able to execute under pressure. So, I think we've done a better job of that the last four times we've taken the football field, understanding that we need to play with a sense of urgency and no more "My bads" or "I'll get it next time." We've got to start executing now, and I think we've done that the last four games. We've had some good success.
Q: How much does experience factor into this game?
MS: I would say it helps a little bit. But ultimately, it's not about experience as Coach [Bill Belichick] always says, it's about playing well under pressure when your team needs you to play well. We've seen time after time, a guy who hasn't been in those moments, Malcolm Butler or even Tom his first Super Bowl, guys that hadn't been in those moments before but they were ready when their number was called and they were ready to execute. Experience does help with some aspects of this whole process, but ultimately, there's going to be a football game that's played, two teams that are going to be giving everything they got and there's only going to be one winner. Experience, Pro Bowls, years in the league – none of that's going to matter. It's going to be about who has one more point than the other team at the end of the day.