It's going to be a great test. This will be the best test of everybody. Depends on a lot of young cornerbacks to play D line to get some pressure. Going to be tough; they have a great offense.

MICHAEL STRAHAN: Hey, what y'all want to talk about? Let's go. 

Can this Rams offense be stopped?

STRAHAN: How do you stop it? You go out and try to give everybody food poisoning on the offense the day before the game (laughter).  No, you play hard, you play fast. They play hard, they play fast. That's one thing you have to do. You got to try to match the speed they play with, the tempo. Just let it all hang out, see what happens at the end. Hopefully your offense will put something on the board, help you out, too.

Q. Last two NFC champions playing each other. Do you get excited for that? 

STRAHAN: Definitely. I think we're excited, too, because they're a very good football team, probably the best team we'll play all season. Anytime you have that type of challenge, it is exciting.  I know quite a few guys on that team. They are competitors. They do have that ring with all those diamonds in it. I think we're excited about playing them because of that.

Q. Will you talk to Cedric Jones this week?

STRAHAN: I talk to Cedric every week actually. He told me he may not accept my calls this week (laughter). I don't know what that means. But, yeah, I talk to Cedric all the time. Too bad that he got hurt. I would have loved to see him lined up across from us. I doubt he'll give me any tips on how to do better this game.

Q. Rams defense has improved. Can you talk about how that makes their offense more dangerous?

 STRAHAN: Their offense has always been lethal. I thought their defense was the weak link. Now the defense is on schedule. Particularly it can be ugly for a lot of people. I think Aeneas Williams really shored up the defense, some of the linebackers, guys that they brought in. >Right now, as long as they can continue to play and get their offense the ball, they have a potential to score 35, 40 points a game.

Q. The Rams offense is known as the greatest show on earth. Any kind of nickname for the Giants?

STRAHAN: No, not at all. We're not that fancy (laughter). We're a bunch of old boring farts, man. 

Q. Obviously you've got a pretty good defense.

STRAHAN: We're not bad. We're getting better every week. I think that's the great part about it. We feel like we're getting better every week. This will be really a good week to get better than last week. It's going to be a great test. This will be the best test of everybody. Depends on a lot of young cornerbacks to play D line to get some pressure. Going to be tough; they have a great offense.

Q. The Rams offensive linemen are saying you're playing as good as ever. Can you talk about the development of your game this year and last year?

STRAHAN: I'm excited. Man, I love what I do. I think about the second half of last year, that really clicked back into my mind. I had gone through a little bit of a mental and physical rut, some injuries and things like that. >Now I go out and I have fun. I enjoy playing. I look at it every week that I get a chance to prove myself. That's what I try to do against the guys that I face.

Q. How did you get out of that rut?

 STRAHAN: My wife telling me that I'm not old and I can do it - kind of like the water boy: "You can do it."

Q. Was it the mental side more than the physical side?

STRAHAN: I had some injuries. You know, it takes a while physically to get over those. I think the biggest challenge is mentally to get over those injuries. It took me a while mentally to get back on track and be comfortable that I can do the things that I was used to doing before I had the surgeries and things like that.  Now I'm back at that point. I really feel comfortable out there on the field. I feel energetic. I feel like I'm 20 again. 

Q. When was it? Was it the playoffs when it started to click again

STRAHAN: By the time I hit the playoffs, I was on full, all cylinders. I had pretty much hit my stride. This year I came into the season hopefully trying to hit some of that stride earlier than I did last year.  The first two games, I was sleepwalking through those. The last two I think we all as a team and as a defense picked it up and played better.

Q. All of us heard you singing on SportsCenter.

STRAHAN: No record contracts right now. Don't even offer them to me. I'm not accepting (laughter). 

Q. Have you had any requests for encores or karaoke? 

STRAHAN: Plenty. I can't believe how many people saw that. Karaoke. My wife tells me to shut up, if that's what you mean (laughter). >I sing in the locker room all the time. I love to sing. I thought "New York, New York" at the end of that emotional game, in front of those fans that came out to watch us play after the tragedy and everything that happened here, all over the country, it was just very fitting. The way they shut the lights off after I finished singing made it look like we had planned it. It was all out of the blue. 

Q. You know how to close down the house.

STRAHAN: We shut the house down, man. 

 Q. You always seem to be in a really good mood.

STRAHAN: I am. Should be excited. You know what, I run around all day, hanging out with guys, just like being in college again, or high school. You get paid to do it. I mean, what could be any better than that?  I think that's the philosophy that this team has taken on, the outlook we've taken on. Just enjoy what you do, do it as best as can you, let the chips fall where they may.

Q. I remember last year making your Super Bowl run, you said you discovered fans and friends that you never knew you had. Are they still on the bandwagon out there?

STRAHAN: I think at the beginning of the year they were reading too many papers. Thought the Eagles were better than we were. Some moved to Philly. Now they seem to be coming back to us.  We have really good fans, really good friends. Usually once they're with you, they're with you. That's one thing I think we appreciate.

Q. What happened last year after you lost to the Rams, Jim came out quite vocally saying you were going to the Super Bowl? What was the big impact of that on your team?

STRAHAN: I think when he did that, it just took a lot of pressure off of us. We went out and said, "He's thinking of us winning, why don't we go out and sink or swim. Let's go play unconsciously, don't worry about what the other team is going to do. Don't worry about the results. Just go out there and just worry about the product." If do you that, the results will be good. >That's one thing I always say, told to me by a friend of mine, like last year facing Minnesota, no one gave us a chance, can't stop their offense. "You don't focus on the problem; just focus on the solution." That's one thing I think we take to heart.

Q. Jason Sehorn said there's an open relationship between Jim and the players. Can you talk about that?

STRAHAN: Yeah. Every year he's been here, he's definitely evolved into a better coach. I think the respect level of the players increases every year with him because he's a guy, he has the right thing to say always at the right time. He's a guy that you can have anything you need to talk to him about, and you feel comfortable.  We have personal situations where a guy needs to miss a pre-season game because he wants to go to a wedding. He lets them do it. One guy missed the walk-through on Saturday because he wants to watch his son play his first football game. He let him do that. You do things like that for players, those players will go out of their way to do anything for you. We all respect him, have a very open relationship with him. Everybody is comfortable. 

 Q. Is that something that organizations should learn by, keeping the stability in the coaching staff is something that's very important to a team's success?

STRAHAN: Oh, yeah, it's huge. Now you don't have guys who are worried, "He could be out of here this year." When you do that, when you have instability, you have guys who are more worried about themselves as individuals and what they're going to do because they don't know: Is the next coach going to like them? They're more worried about themselves instead of a team effort. When you have the stability, we all working towards a common goal. Seems that way, there are no individual agendas, we don't care who gets the credit, as long as we all win. That's the best thing about it.

Q. What jumps out of you when you watch film on Kurt Warner?

STRAHAN: Well, he's accurate. He has a very quick release. He is so accurate. He puts the ball perfect almost every time. I'm watching film going, "How are these receivers getting so open on every single play?" I tell you, those guys run great routs. He puts the ball where it needs to be, they march it down the field. That's the most impressive thing, how cool they are doing it.

Q. Is there any kind of sense of normalcy that's returned to playing for the Giants in light of the attacks?

 STRAHAN: I think it's never going to go away because it's just something -- I've been looking at the skyline for the last nine years. A lot of us, our homes, that was our view, our skyline that we used to look at. So you're never going to forget. To go out and play, especially here at home, there's always just that feeling, these people, you've got to win for them, you know, you've got to win for them - no ifs, ands or buts about it. I don't know if that will ever go away, how long it will be around. It's definitely good to have now, gives you a sense of urgency, you're playing for a bigger picture than yourself.

Q. Tougher in a big city like that as opposed to Green Bay


Q. More difficult to have that direct relationship with the fans than they have in Green Bay. Has this really helped? 

STRAHAN: You know what, the great thing about it, though, New York fans aren't shy to come up to you. Every time you're out, have you somebody come up: "I'm a season ticket holder, Section 319." You definitely have a direct relationship with your fans here as well. Because there's so much media coverage, everyone here feels like they know you. I think we probably have the greatest fans out there. That's one thing I love about being in New York, the fans. The fact that, you know what, you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. That's the truth, because of pressure and all that I think is a lot greater.

Q. All that attention and newspapers can make it tough on a player if have you your ups and downs. Nine years, how have you learned to live being in the ultimate fishbowl?

STRAHAN: You know, the writers, I don't know if they like this statement I made last year. "Michael, why are you playing better? You don't seem like you're mad at the media."  I said, "I learned that I just don't listen to the opinions of guys who the last time they put on a uniform was when their mom took them trick-or-treating when they were seven."  I think I made have ticked off a few of them. I hope I didn't offend anybody on the other end of the line.  You go out and play your best. You don't worry about anybody else's opinion. They don't know what's in your heart, they don't know what's in your head, they don't know all the sacrifices you make. Until they do, they shouldn't have any bearing on how you take things. And don't read the newspaper.

Q. You talk about the fans. Of course, New York is usually a city everyone else in the country loves to hate. Have you been amazed going on the road and the reaction of the fans since September 11th?

 STRAHAN: I tell you, we played one game on the road against Kansas City Chiefs. That's the place I always looked forward to playing. I played there once before because of the fans. "The home of the Chiefs." When they said "The home of the Brave" with the same enthusiasm, just the way they gave us a standing ovation when he came out. A lot different than what I expected, but at the same time very classy. I think that was real tough to play that game. That game was actually tougher than playing the first home game here in New York, from the mental aspect.  The fans around the league have been great for us, the Jets, the Redskins, for everybody.

Q. You played in the dome twice. What kind of memories do you have of memories? 

STRAHAN: I'm ready to get back to the "Boo Dome". I hope they're going to greet us just like we've moved on from that. I would prefer to get booed, gives you that little extra edge.  I don't have great memories from the dome because we haven't won there since I think I've been here. Be nice to change that, as well.

Q. Talk about how tough it is going against this Rams offense. You mentioned the young cornerbacks earlier. How important has that been for the defense, being able to move Jason Sehorn around in that secondary?

STRAHAN: I think our young guys are playing well. It's not going to be easy because they have great, great receivers they're going to face. Our young guys have played pretty well. At this point, if they're not ready, I don't know if they ever will be ready. Just have to put them in there and let them go. Like I told the guys today, "Don't think, just react. Let's just play and react." I think cornerbacks play a lot of instinct. That's what those guys are going to have to do. 

 Q. Going up against Ryan Tucker, a guy banged up after last week's game. Any thoughts on playing him?

STRAHAN: He's young. He can't be too banged up. He'll heal quick (laughter). As old as I am, then you get banged up and it sticks with you for a few weeks. He's a good player. I played against him last year. It's a challenge. It's a challenge. I would just truly be surprised if I'm stuck over there the whole game by myself anyway. You can put something in the paper, tell the coach I would appreciate it if you do that. I doubt that will happen anyway. I look forward to the challenge. 

 Q. What should we tell Mike?

 STRAHAN: Tell him to leave me over there by myself with Ryan Tucker all game long. I'm not saying he's not a great player. That would really take a lot off my body if you don't put anybody else over there with him.

Q. Don't want to see any tight ends? 

STRAHAN: Don't want to see anybody (laughter).

Q. As reigning NFC championships, are teams getting more up for you? Around the league, you have had this no respect issue. Are they wondering how good the Giants are?

STRAHAN: I think teams still wonder. I don't think we win pretty. I think that's the deal. We don't win pretty. We'll win like the ugly duckling of the family that still gets good results. That's all that matters. Winning is the only thing that matters. Doesn't matter how you do it. Anybody only remembers the record at the end of the year. The respect factor, if we're not getting it and winning, I would hope people still don't give it to us. If that's what's happening, I'll take it, anything to win.

Q. Does that come from being one of more balanced teams? When you think of Baltimore, you think of best defense in the league. Rams, the best offense. You are one of the best teams that has it on both sides of the ball other than maybe the Rams. 

STRAHAN: I think we're pretty balanced. I think that's why people don't look at us as a team that is really as good as we probably are because we don't do anything flashy. The offense goes out, they consistently just eat up the clock. The defense just goes out and sometimes bends, but doesn't break, other times we dominate. I think because of that balance, that's what carried us as far as it did last year.

Q. Can you talk about the play of Michael Barrow so far this year?

STRAHAN: He's playing great. He's a man on a mission. I'm not sure how many tackles he has, but I think he's probably pretty close to double digits every game. He's been definitely on a tear since the start of this season. I think Michael is a player that we all expect that from, anybody that knows him knows how hard he works and how dedicated he is.  There are two things Michael talks about: bible and football. He does both of them, you know, extremely well. 

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