Locker Room Chat: Thomas Jones

Cedric Benson has been getting better as of late and commanding more attention around the league, but Thomas Jones showed why he is still the starter at tailback. The former first-rounder racked up 123 yards on the ground and scored twice. Jones addressed the media in the Soldier Field interview room after Sunday's victory, and Bear Report was there to hear what he had to say.

You obviously had success today running the football. Was it just the game plan?
We felt like we would come in and run the football. Offensive line has done a great job of saving me and getting Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson to run. We saw some things in the defense from previous games. Coach [Ron Turner] did a great job of calling some of the same calls consistently, give us a chance to warm up and running some of those plays. He called a great game. Our offensive line did a great job and the backs ran hard.

Was the offensive line feeling it on that scoring drive that was all you?
That was one of the drives where he kept calling the same plays over and over, one of the plays we like to run. Our line did a great job of giving me a couple different creases to run through. I tried to do my best to set the safety up. Once I got in the open field and made some moves and get some extra yards downfield. That drive, I guess it was one of those things where we had the momentum. Coach Turner kind of felt like we had a nice chemistry going, and he kept calling the same play.

What's the name of the play?
42 Mike. It's like a draw-type play, and those were actually the plays off of that play, plays when we started hitting some balls to Bernard [Berrian] in the second half because they were trying to stop that run. It ended up being a good play.

On the touchdown drive that kind of broke the game open after the safety, Rex went 4-for-4 on that drive. What was your impression of his performance?
I thought he played a great game. I mean, it's snowing, it's cold, ball is kind of wet. He made some great throws, receivers made some great catches. I was very happy with the way that he played and the way that he led our offense.

When you scored that touchdown on the cutback, what was that like for you?
It was exciting just because any time you're in a game of this magnitude and you score a touchdown, that kind of puts you ahead, it gives your team confidence, kind of gives you momentum. Especially when you're playing at home. It gets the crowd excited. Any time you score a touchdown in that type of situation, it's huge.

The combination of you and Cedric Benson has worked. Describe that.
It's very effective. Cedric was in the game early and kind of pounded them a little bit about three series in a row. We have different running styles, so by the time I came in the game, I was ready to kind of get loose a little bit. I think they were just used to his running style, so they were kind of prepared to take the back on head up. And a lot of times I like to make guys miss, and that was the situation.

After Reggie Bush's somersault into the end zone, did that motivate you a little bit?
Honestly, we didn't pay any attention to that. I guess that's just his way of showing his excitement. We didn't really pay much attention to that. We just wanted to win the football game regardless of what they did on offense.

Some of your teammates talked about this kind of old school Bears football with being forced to play defense and keeping the ball on the ground. Did you have a sense of that today?
It couldn't have been a more perfect situation than this for Chicago Bears football. It's snowing, our running the football, our defense is playing hard, getting turnovers, making some big hits. The fans are out there going crazy. I mean, this is just a perfect situation for us to win the NFC Championship at home with the weather and the way we played.

What are some of the things that Lovie Smith did to get things turned around here?
Just his attitude. He has a kind of quiet confidence about him, and I think that's how our team is. He's definitely a great leader, and we follow his lead. He's always under control, he always makes us feel like he's in control of the situation, and then we feel like we're in control of the situation. So we don't panic. We don't listen to a lot of outsiders. A lot of people doubted us going into this football game. They doubted us all year. You know, he wanted to make sure that we were focused on what we had to do, and that as long as we believed in ourselves and came together as a family that we could accomplish whatever we wanted to. He's definitely been a great leader for us.

When you started out in Arizona, did you ever envision this situation?
No, no, I never imagined I would be talking to you all about going to the Super Bowl. I was blessed enough to be picked high by the Cardinals, but it just wasn't a good situation for me. When I went to Tampa Bay I think is when I really started to get back into the mode I had been before I went to Arizona. Coming here actually gave me an opportunity to be a leader that I've always been since I've been playing football, an emotional leader, vocal leader, and give me an opportunity to lead by example when they brought me here. This has been the best situation that I could have been in. I have a great running back coach. We have a great relationship, and that makes a big difference when you go out there and practice. And we see eye to eye on a lot of different things, and we communicate well. It's a perfect situation for me.

Was it hard to stay that optimistic and that positive even after Cedric was drafted?
I mean, when he was drafted, like I said, I like to focus on myself and making myself a better football player. Everyone gets paid to do a job, and that's make plays. The management's job is to pick guys in the draft. Mine is to play football, and that was just my attitude toward the whole situation.

Does it mean anything to you to make Lovie the first African-American coach in the Super Bowl?
It means a lot because he's worked really hard to get to this point as far as an African-American coach. When you have an opportunity like this, of course, you want to take advantage of it. Any time you're the first person to do anything, regardless of your race or anything like that, it's special. So I'm definitely happy for him.

What does the championship mean to you?
I mean, it hasn't sunk in yet. I mean, it's definitely an overwhelming feeling, especially when it's here in Chicago. This city loves football. I've never been in a city where the fans love their football players so much and have shown so much support. That's actually motivation when you go out on the field to perform at a high level and do the best you can to help them win football games. At this point, I don't think it's sunk in to a lot of us yet because it just happened. We're excited, and I don't even think we really know what's going on maybe until next week a couple days. I don't think we'll know what's going on. Right now I'm just excited.

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