"Playing quarterback is a tough job, no matter what team you're playing for. But obviously there hasn't been a day that has gone by that I haven't been thankful to call Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne teammates. They're special players and every accolade they've received they deserve because they work hard. Their work ethic is second to none. I can't think of one particular touchdown that I've thrown to Marvin -- maybe one that stands out was my first one. It was actually in a preseason game we were playing out in Seattle. I'm pretty wide-eyed and pretty nervous. On the third play of the game the headphones go down. The call doesn't come in, so kind of panicked and nervous I just kind of called a basic three-step drop, the most basic play you have, and Marvin catches it and runs 50 yards for a touchdown. I said, ‘This NFL isn't all that hard.' That was kind of a special one. But both those guys, like I said, real thankful we call them teammates."
(on what he's learned from the two previous playoff games against New
"Well, obviously we've had quite a history with these guys and really since Coach Dungy has been here, it's been the seventh time we've played them. I think every game has its own identity, its own story and certain plays have kind of decided the outcome of the game. So I think in a lot of ways the past games are somewhat irrelevant to this year's game. Obviously the more relevant game is the game we played earlier in the season because it's this year's players and it's the 2006 team. So as you think back and recap all the games, usually just the team that executes better is the team that's won the game."
(on preparing for the Patriots)
"Well, I think it's a lot of the basic fundamentals of football that you would want to do against any team and any game that you want to win. But maybe more so versus these guys because they're so sound in what they do defensively. Very rarely have I ever seen anybody that's running wide open because of the busted coverage or what-not. They're very sound in their techniques and fundamentals so that's where you have to be great as well. Play solid quarterback play. Solid play from all the skilled positions from the offensive line but it's going to take a great team effort on Sunday. All three phases defense, offense, the special teams are going to do need to do their part and we've had a good week of practice and hopefully we can take it to the playing field Sunday."
(on what it is about his personality that allows him not to be bothered by
past playoff losses)
"I wouldn't say it didn't bother me. The past playoff games that we've lost versus those guys, hey, they're there. They're part of history. There's nothing we can do to change the outcome of those games. And I don't think no matter what happens from here on out into the future you're still going to be disappointed about those games that we've lost in the playoffs. But I think one thing this team has been able to do is to bounce back from the ending of the season the year before. And that really starts in the month of March when the offseason lifting program starts. Coach Dungy gives us a date, March 24th, boom everybody is there. Everybody is lifting, working out, participating in the voluntary workouts and that's really all we've known to do, is to just keep working hard, keep trying to become a better football team and it's paid some dividends for us this year. It's been an up-and-down type of season. We started out high and we were pretty low after the Jacksonville game. But throughout it all Coach Dungy has been the same. He's been preaching to keep working hard, to keep doing the things we've been teaching you and good things will happen. And that's what's happened so far."
(on if he agrees with Coach Dungy that it's poetic justice that the team
needs to beat New England to get into the Super Bowl)
"I think it's a great rivalry. It's been an outstanding series over the past couple of years. I think it's rare that you find this kind of rivalry in a non-division situation, because the Patriots obviously used to be a division opponent and we played them twice a year in the old AFC East and it's really been almost like that the past number of years because of playing them once in the regular season and usually once in the playoffs. So it's going to be a great ball game Sunday. I know it's a game that a lot of other people are looking forward to watch. But I think all the players playing in it are looking forward to playing in it as well."
|Colts QB Peyton Manning (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)|
"I just really try to concentrate on doing my job. And the game is big enough itself and I really just try to concentrate on that. My week has been -- I've had a good week of preparation, plenty of film to study against these guys and I've tried to go through my normal week of preparation. So as far as all the outside factors and defining moments in the past history of this series, like I said, there's enough right there in the actual Xs and Os of the football game to think about and focus on. That's really what I've tried to focus on all week. And I haven't tried to make the game any bigger than it is. Believe me it's a big game and a game that we worked real hard to get here and prepared real hard this week and one we want to win, and to me that's enough to focus on and that's plenty to keep your mind on."
(on head coach Tony Dungy)
"Well, I think what you see with Coach Dungy on the sidelines is really, is very accurate. He's very calm in the first quarter and he has that same calm look on his face in the fourth quarter when it's fourth-and-one and we have to go for it to try to win the game or to try to get back into the game. And I think that calming presence really resonates with the rest of the team, especially our young players. And we have a very young football team. So he talks about being calm in the high pressure situations and being able to do your job in the high pressure situations. So his personality and his demeanor, people see how calm he is and how focused he is in the beginning of the game, end of the game that allows everybody else to have that same type of attitude and allows us to execute in the high pressure situations."
(on how he judges his postseason career following Tony Dungy's remark that
quarterbacks are ultimately judged by whether they win Super Bowls, such as
Brett Favre and Terry Bradshaw)
"Well, I don't know if that definition is the tell-all definition or the lone definition of a quarterback. Hey, I can't change what's happened in the past and the facts are what they are. We have a tremendous opportunity this year in this playoff run and it's a run we'd like to keep going and continue. People talk about the legacy, it's kind of a deep word for me here as a quarterback getting ready to play a playoff game and I really haven't taken much time or really any time to analyze that and all the things that have been kind of stories with this week. I really just focused on the game and the task at hand. Believe me, this Patriots defense is plenty to think about and plenty to keep your mind focused on."
(on whether he feels a clock is ticking as his career advances)
"Certainly you feel the clock ticking. I think with free agency and with injuries especially when you see it firsthand. When you see Edgerrin James get injured or you see Edgerrin James go to another team or you lose good players like David Thornton and Ken Dilger and Marcus Pollard -- not only great teammates but friends as well -- and you realize when you have an opportunity you certainly want to take advantage of it. And I think you hear this term all the time ... the days of building or playing for next year are long over with. And even Coach Dungy mentioned -- I think from the 2003 team [when] we played these guys last -- there's only 18 players still on that team. And nothing will change what happened in that game. There's 35 guys not on this team anymore, and so you're disappointed that you didn't take advantage of the opportunity right then with that team. But this is a different team and we have an opportunity now -- one we want to take advantage of. But certainly you're definitely living in the moment, and sure the more you play the longer you play going into your ninth year you realize you probably won't get as many opportunities and when you have one you want to be able to take advantage of it.
(on whether he thinks the team has been built for this kind of game
indoors with their speed)
"I've never looked at it that way. And I guess the people in charge of building this team have been Coach Dungy and Bill Polian and Jim Irsay, and I've never been aware of what the true theme, what they were trying to do as far as where we were playing and the surface and the weather. I think you try to get good football players on your team. And that's what we've been accustomed to around here. We've had good players. We've lost some really good football players. We've added more good players and the players that have been here for the core of the period have gotten better every year, like Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne and Jeff Saturday and Tarik Glenn and it's been an honor to call all of those guys teammates. I think to win in this league it's important to have good football players and I've been lucky to call a lot of those guys teammates.
(on if he feels he has to carry the team on his shoulders this time
because he didn't perform as well the last two playoff games)
"I just feel I need to do my part. I think it's important that I play the quarterback position well on Sunday and it's different ways to define that. But obviously I want to make good decisions with the football. I want to protect the ball 100 percent and keep our defense out of tough situations. When the opportunity rises to try to help my team get into the end zone. We had to settle for five field goals last week, which was enough to win. But it's hard to count on that every single time. So we like to score more touchdowns. So I want to do my job well. That's what I've tried to do every game I've played, to perform my position at a high level in order to help my team win and that's kind of been my motto. That's kind of what my coaches have coached me to do and I think that will be important this Sunday.
(on if he wishes he was facing someone other than the Patriots this
Once again, that's pretty -- I don't know what the word is, but I guess that makes for a good story and all of the past history and all the side stories. But, hey, you don't have a choice who you're going to play. Once the seeding comes out, you kind of know who you're going to play in the opener, and then you sort of look at it and you say I think this team will win. But I, like probably most players or anybody that knows football, you know, assume that the Patriots would beat the Jets in the first game and then you look going out to San Diego, I think they'll beat San Diego. So I kind of had a pretty good idea that they would be in this game, and I was really focused on just trying to get us there and to get us to do this part. As far as you know who you're playing, I'm sure it wouldn't have totally bothered me if we would have been playing Oakland in this game. (Laughter) I think they do have the first pick this year. But like I said, common sense tells you that you're probably going to be playing a great football team like New England. And they did a great job taking care of their business the first two weeks.