DB Bob Sanders
On how he feels:
"Good, excited, glad we're in this position, just ready to get to work."
On what he sees in QB-Philip Rivers:
"I just see a player who's consistently getting better. He's very accurate, he's a very tough guy. He's really led this team to where they are right now. He's been playing exceptionally well and we definitely have to put some pressure on him and not let him get started."
On WR-Vincent Jackson:
"He's done well. He makes a lot of big catches down the field. He's their big-play receiver. They rely on him a lot. He's going to make a lot of plays, we know that, but we just have to get him down. When he makes some of those plays we just have to tackle him."
On his goals:
"Just to play consistent, play well, do my job and have fun. There's a lot of teams that really would love to be where we are and be in this position, so it's a good feeling. You want to have fun, you want to enjoy it, but you want to be able to execute and you want to win. So that's our main goal, is taking it a day at a time, practicing well and just being prepared and ready for anything."
On if this is similar to 2006 for him, returning for the playoffs:
"You could say that. The injuries are a little bit different, rehab has been a little bit different, but it is what it is. I'm here now, this is a new season and I'm excited and ready to go."
On if he is confident he will play every playoff game if the Colts keep winning:
"I'm confident. I'm going to take it a week at a time. I can't look too far ahead, I just have to take it a day at a time, make sure I'm doing my job, on the details, and just ready to execute and play fast. I can't worry about three, four weeks from now, not even looking to next week. We have to be ready for this week and this week alone."
"I just see guys who are hungry, guys who really want to make a play, and great players. This year, they've played great for us. It's definitely good to see. Robert made the Pro Bowl, that's excellent. Dwight, he came off his injury, a lot of people didn't expect him to do what he's done this year. Just to see him come off the injury and play so well has been exciting and we're glad to have him on our team."
On not having Freeney for the 2007 playoff game vs. San Diego:
"This year is this year, we can't worry about that. This is a new year and we're just happy that we got guys back healthy and guys ready to go."
On what happened in the San Diego playoff game last season:
"There are a lot of things. You can pin-point a lot of things in that game that you can say caused us to not play well, but I think a lot of it's just tackling, executing, just being on the details. And we really, really have to make sure that we're prepared and ready to do our job. That's our main concern."
On if LaDainian Tomlinson looks like he is back to where he normally is:
"I think he is. I think he played well (last Sunday vs. Denver). He ran the ball between the tackles, he made a lot of plays, he looked like he was sticking that foot in the ground and making some good cuts. We have to be ready for him. He's an excellent player, he's going to make plays and we have to expect that. We have to be ready to get him down and tackle him."
On the similarities between the two teams, starting out slow and gaining momentum:
"I think both teams kind of just realized, ‘We have the personnel to get the job done.' It's just, when are you going to step up, when are you going to have guys make plays? We've had guys injured and guys stepped in on both teams and have been able to make plays for us and keep us rolling. That's all we want. We just want guys to continue to get better and grow, and I think they've had the same thing."
On if it is different or tough being a wild card team instead of a division winner and hosting a playoff game:
"No, we like this. This is fine for us. We're just excited to be in the playoffs. However we have to fight to get there, we're willing to do it. It's just great to be playing in the playoffs right now."
On how difficult it is being injured and how QB-Peyton Manning has made his way back from the early part of the season:
"It's always tough with injuries. It's always tough coming off injuries. You don't know how you're going to play, especially in the offseason when you have to do a lot of rehab and you may not be able to get the reps in that you would like. It's tough, and I think he's done a great job coming back and leading us to where we are now. We're excited, we're happy and we're just looking forward to coming out and having a good game this week."
On the difference he makes on defense and tackling:
"We just have to swarm to the ball. You can't rely on one guy. There are 11 guys on the field, you can't rely on one guy to make a play. Everyone has to be there, and that's the type of defense we have, is a swarming defense, fast and physical. So we're looking to be able to do that this week, run to the ball, swarm tackle and just have fun and make plays."
On if he feels he is back and ready after not playing last week and missing much of the season:
"This is the playoffs, I have to be ready. Regardless of how much I played during the season, if I didn't play a game at all and I came back in the playoffs, you have to be ready. No excuses, no explanations. You have to be ready to get on that field and make plays."
On how the playoffs are different from the regular season:
"I think a lot of stuff on the outside is different. There's a lot more media, there's a lot more hype. It's exciting, it's very exciting, but to us, we just want to play football. That's what we're here to do, just play football and do what we do. We say it all the time, and we're just excited about the opportunity."
On where the defense can improve and what is important:
"If I had to (say), we can always tackle better. Every game, we always (stress), ‘Push to tackle, make every tackle.' But they're going to make plays. I think we can always tackle better and we've been getting better at that. We've had guys injured here and there, but the guys who have stepped in have done an excellent job at picking the pace up and keeping us going. I would have to say just tackling, getting better at that."
On the athleticism of San Diego's receivers:
"They're big, they're definitely going to make plays and they know how to get open. They do a lot of good things. They can catch the ball, they can run after the catch, even with their tight ends. They just make a lot of plays in the open field. They're trying to make big plays, they're trying to throw the ball up high. Philip Rivers does an excellent job of knowing that he has big receivers and he throws the ball up high and they go make plays. We have to do what we can to get the ball out. When they throw the ball high and those guys are going up to make plays, we have to get the ball out and make tackles and not let them get yards after the catch."
On Tony Dungy stressing the importance of takeaways:
"Definitely. Coming in to every game we always talk about getting takeaways. The more takeaways, the better chance you have of winning, so we always stress, ‘Get the takeaways.' Fumble recoveries, interceptions, whatever it is, get the takeaways, give our offense a better chance of getting on the field and scoring more points for us. That's what we stress every week."
On K-Nate Kaeding and if he will talk to him this week, but not on the field:
"Yes, I'll talk to him before the game. Kaeding is my guy, excellent player. He's my guy. I'm going to keep quiet this game. I'm won't get after him this game. But like I said, Kaeding is my man and I look forward to seeing him."
On the recent history between the two teams:
"It's always a great game for us. We always play physical. They're a physical team, we consider ourselves a physical team, and it's always a match. It's definitely tough going out there and playing, but have to be ready for the challenge. We have to expect any and everything, just be ready to execute."
On if some of the wins the Colts have gotten this year makes them more prepared being a road, wild card team entering the playoffs:
"I think just our last eight, nine games have really prepared us and gotten us ready. Just with the momentum we started, wanted to get on a roll, because in the playoffs, you have to be ready. There's no excuses, you have to be ready to play. Everyone has to be on the same page. You can't have those mental errors, those breakdowns, you have to be ready. So just the way the season has gone has really prepared us to just be ready. We have to take it a week at a time now, take it a day at a time, get ready to prepare well every day at practice and practice well."
On thinking an 8-8 team would be a weak playoff team, but . . .
"But they make plays. They're a team that, they've been getting better the last four weeks. They've really stepped it up, really had their leaders take control and just rally all the guys together and get those guys playing at a high level. Regardless of what their record says, you can't take any team lightly. They're definitely going to be ready, they're going to be prepared. They have good coaches. They have all the players to get the job done, so we just have to be ready."
DE Dwight Freeney
On if there any particularly difficult challenges in facing San Diego's explosive offense:
"They have a great quarterback back there that has been having a great year. They always have their weapons — (Antonio) Gates and you definitely have (LaDainian) Tomlinson — so they have their weapons and they're hot and they're playing well. So we have to not worry about the record and really hone down. They played pretty well against us (November 23). I don't know how many yards Tomlinson had, but I know Gates had a good game and they had (288) yards passing. We have to hone down on that."
On QB-Philip Rivers:
"I think he's a good quarterback. I think he's competitive. I think his competitive nature really is the biggest thing that he does well. He's going to keep fighting. We're going to have to really knock him out to get to him out there."
On the importance of pressure:
"Most games are, pretty much all of them are, but this one definitely. We have to get back there, rattle him. We can't give him time to throw the ball, especially for what they do. They like to leave a lot of guys in to protect the quarterback, so it's important that we come up with some stuff and just go out there and try our best to rattle him."
On not playing in last year's playoff game vs. San Diego and wanting to play well because of that:
"There's a little bit of that. Last year at this time I was sitting on the sideline watching the game. That was probably one of my lowest points, lowest moments, and this one's a high one. Now I'm going back to the field that I got hurt at, again. I'll always remember that, so I'm going to be fired up and ready to play this game."
On if he remembers the game-being on the sidelines during last year's game:
"Oh yeah, I remember it, definitely. That was the first game I actually came back (to watch) after I got hurt, standing on the sidelines with the guys. It was tough watching all my teammates out there just playing without me. Hopefully we won't have to go through that again."
On if he was telling Defensive Line Coach John Teerlinck to put him in:
"No, I couldn't do anything. I couldn't do anything back then."
On how frustrating it is when teams throw quick passes stay away from the pass rush:
"That's a very frustrating thing as a defensive lineman whenever you can't get there, but we're taught, ‘Keep rushing.' You don't know what's going to happen. The quarterback could pump or a coverage guy can get in the way and then he holds onto the ball. A lot of people like to dink and dunk on us a lot of times, leave a lot of guys in protection and you don't usually get there, but when you do, you have to make a big play."
On continuing to rush:
"That's the mentality we have to have. You have to keep rushing, keep coming, because you don't know what's going to happen. You don't know if the quarterback's going to trip or fall or what. You just have to go out there and make the play."
On if playing so many close games will help them get ready for the playoffs:
"There are a lot of things that happen in a game. I think it's a combination of everything. It's a little bit of, ‘OK, maybe we didn't play the best game, but yet we still have some positives because we won the game.' Certain games are that. Other games, ‘They had a great game plan, they stuck with us.' You like to win the game however, whatever it comes down to. So if it's a close match or what have you, it really helps in the playoffs because during the regular season you have those games and you experience that. You go out there and play those type of games and so when you get in the playoffs, you did that already, so you kind of feel a little bit more confident when you get into those situations knowing that you can go out there and make that play happen in the fourth quarter."
On the speed of San Diego, particularly throwing screens to the RBs:
"Things like that, to be honest, get us running even more. Even though you're running screen passes and all of that, that still makes us turn and run and really gets our motor going as a defense. It's not hitting the quarterback, but yet it's still hustling, running and using our speed. A lot of teams do like to do that, but we play the screens pretty well. I think they hurt us a little bit last year in the playoff game doing that, but historically we've played the screens pretty well."
On San Diego running screens and short throws:
"Misdirection, get us running up the field and all of a sudden they throw a little dump pass, but that's why we have 11 guys on defense. Everybody has responsibilities and you have to be accountable. I think everybody goes out there and does their job, so if we're hitting the quarterback on a screen pass and the ball happens to be over there, the linebacker's going to make the play, the safety's going to make the play."
On getting double-teamed quite a bit by San Diego and not knowing when you will be one-on-one:
"They double a little bit, a little bit of fullback, definitely the tight end. They definitely like to mix it up, kind of keep me off-balanced. They do a pretty good job. We're going to have to come up with something in this game which, who knows what we're going to be doing, but we're going to have to go out there and really just ignore it sometimes, and you're just going to have to run through two guys if that's what it is. It's the playoffs, so you have to make a play happen."
On the injuries and inconsistencies on defense and bouncing back from 3-4:
"It's been kind of tough just because as a defense we've had a lot of holes this year. We never had a consistent nose, a D-tackle, until like the eighth or ninth game, and then Bob (Sanders) comes back and in and out, and you have other guys go down. You have Marlin (Jackson) go down, you have corners going down, so it's hard to get the team playing together. The last string of games we've been playing decent. Gary's (Brackett) been down so there's another hole, but the backup guys have been playing pretty well. We've been stepping it up. We're just trying to really rely on our techniques and fundamentals and having 53 guys—or the guys on defense, whether it's the backup guys—to really be accountable and know what they need to do and be ready to play at any moment."
On the defensive unit having the time to jell:
"Get some opportunities to jell, get together, and really focus on that and really pay attention to detail, ‘You have to make this tackle, you have to make this play.'
On defending San Diego's tall, athletic receivers:
"You just have to be disciplined in what you do. You can't take the risk of trying to make the play over the guy and then he actually catches the ball and then makes progress after the catch. It's just a point of putting yourself in the right position and making the play."
On missing time this season due to injury:
"It was tough. It's always tough to be on the sidelines, even watching the team on TV on the road and not being able to help your team go to war week in and week out. It was just something that I would not let get me down. I thought that if I put in the time and the work to get back on the field then I really wouldn't have much to worry about. At the same time, it was tough, it was tough."
On it being difficult this season with so many injuries in the secondary:
"It was tough because coming into the year, the guys as a unit, we set goals. We wanted to be the top secondary in the league and have everyone just go out there and make plays and have the great stats that everybody wanted to have. Unfortunately it didn't go that way. I went down, then Bob (Sanders) went down, then Marlin (Jackson) went down, Antoine (Bethea) has been having little, nagging injuries, so things didn't go as planned but as a team, things are going as planned. We're in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we're not how we wanted to be. We wanted to be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, but hey, we're in and that's the only thing that matters."
On being a leader at corner with Jackson out and Tim Jennings replacing him:
"I think I need to be more of a vocal leader. Tim (Jennings) is not as fiery as Marlin is, so I try to keep him level-headed, keep him on his game. Besides that, Tim is a great player. He's going to go out there and do what he does, but just keep him level-headed and keep him informed of the situations that occur. That's the only thing that I really have to do."
On DB-Keiwan Ratliff:
"Keiwan's stepped in a played great. A guy who has unfortunately been on and off the team, to come in and played the way he played is just great. But at the same time, we knew what Keiwan could do, so it's not really a surprise to us."
On playing with a bye vs. playing as a wild card:
"The timing is there, but at the same time, your body is not as well-rested as it would be if you had the bye week. The thing is that I prefer timing over anything. I feel like we've been clicking on all cylinders, special teams, defense, offense, and we just want to keep it rolling."
On the feeling of being 3-4 early this season:
"It was a different feeling. Like I said, coming into it, I hadn't lost a game in September or October. It was just adversity that we had to fight through. Guys did not lose focus, didn't lose sight of our goals, we just felt like we put ourselves in a hole and we had to do anything and everything to get pulled out of it."
On leadership helping at 3-4:
"We have great leaders. Peyton Manning, Gary Brackett, those guys just did a great job of telling us, ‘Hey, it's not the end of the world.' The easy thing to do is just to go in the tank, and that's one thing that we did not want to do. We just continued to fight and continued to work and never lost sight."
On going from a WR at Illinois to one of the top CBs in the NFL:
"It's crazy how things work. You never know what the future holds. My thing is, everybody dreams about playing in the NFL, and I had dreams of being a wide receiver. I never really thought of being a cornerback. I just looked at it as a challenge and continued to work and having fun while I'm doing it."
On WR-Vincent Jackson's size and speed and if he is like an Andre Johnson:
"He's one of those Andre Johnson guys. I don't think he's as fast as Andre Johnson, but he's a physical guy and when the ball is in the air, he's one of those ball hawks. As a corner you know that you have to be physical with that guy. That's the one thing we plan on doing, we plan on being physical with the guy and making him work for everything that he gets."
On how you defend a bigger receiver giving up so much weight:
"As a corner you try to use your quickness and things like that to your advantage. All the time, you just want to disrupt the guy, throw the timing off. And that's almost good enough, but at the same time you have to be as physical as that guy when the ball is in the air."
On only allowing six TD passes this year and if he knew that was a modern record:
"You guys kept us informed so when we were going into the game (December 28 vs. Tennessee), we talked about, ‘Hey, if we do our job then we can make history ourselves.' There are guys like Dallas Clark and Marvin Harrison making history, the secondary said, ‘We can make as little bit of history ourselves,' only giving up six touchdowns in a 16-game season. It's a great thing but I think as the playoffs go, we want to keep it rolling."
On winning 12 games despite so many injuries, etc., especially in the secondary:
"It just shows the character of these guys on the team. I went down, Marlin went down, but when the guy came in and his number was called, he stepped in and stepped in well. It just shows that guys watch and follow and do a good job of it."