Coughlin:Its a Tremendous, Tremendous Feeling

Tom Coughlin, make that Super Bowl champion head coach Tom Coughlin, met with the media in Phoenix the morning after his club's classic Super Bowl XLII victory over New England. Here are some of the highlights of Coughlin's press conference before his triumphant club flew back east.

Opening statement: "I'll just start by saying that it's about the game, and it's about the players that play the game. What I'm so proud of is this group of young men who actually bonded so tightly together and became the true definition of team. They exhibited that throughout the entire year. Even when we were down 0-2 early in the year, there wasn't any panic. Players knew that we had a good football team. We were still working our way through some of the changes that we had to go through in terms of the defensive scheme and getting to where we wanted to be. The players and everyone had great faith that we would work this out.

I don't think anyone would question that if you're going to win the Super Bowl championship, you have to play great defense. I thought all the way through the playoffs and a great part of the year, we played outstanding defensive football. We were very aggressive. The thing that happened in the playoffs that hadn't happened over the course of the year was that we began to gain some advantages with turnovers. That was really huge. We stopped turning the ball over offensively and on special teams, and we played really good defensive football and were able to (force) turnovers, and give ourselves some opportunities to have the ball a few more times than we had been having it, and deny some of the other people some of the drives that they (could) have. A lot of those things took place as we moved through the playoffs.

The real distinguishing factor was that we just kept getting better and our confidence grew. Our players actually felt that they could win under any circumstance. Each game that we approached, they believed it. We used the phrase, ‘Believe it. Feel it.' And they did. We practiced that way. We prepared that way. Their minds never altered from the idea that we can win. We knew going into all of these games that the margin of victory was very small. We would have to play at a championship level in order to win. We did that. We were able to do that.

What I'm most proud of is the opportunity to see the smiles on their faces. I told the players on Saturday a little bit of my personal experience, having been an assistant coach on a Super Bowl Champion. I wanted that for each one of them because describing it is very difficult. The sensation and the feel from a professional standpoint – I'm not talking about family – the professional standpoint, when you win and realize that you are the World Champion, it's a tremendous, tremendous feeling. It's one that permeates everything that you do.

When Eli (Manning) began talking about family after the game is another thing that I told the players about, is the way that your family embraces being a World Champion as well, all members. That really to me, gave me great satisfaction. Seeing my wife and my children and their children and husbands, wives, etc., and their reaction to winning the Super Bowl championship. I opened the door to my room to come out this morning and my son Tim was in the hallway dressed in a jogging suit. I said, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing up?' He said, ‘I didn't sleep. I watched the game twice.' He has two little (kids) and he's up all night watching a couple times over.

The fourth quarter summed it up and says it all. From the earlier time on, going into the Washington game earlier in the year, we adopted a phrase which a lot of people use but to us it was very important, that was to ‘Win the fourth quarter.' Because in our first two games, if you look at the statistics of the games, it had been the fourth quarter or right in that area where we weren't able to secure the win. So we adopted that and used that pretty much every week. Of course, last night winning the fourth quarter. Studying the Patriots, in their close games they won in the fourth quarter as well. The challenge was definitely there. Last night we were able to make some outstanding plays when we had to, to give ourselves a chance to win."

On winning a championship: "You dream about those things. I tell the players, it's good to dream. It's good to dream and visualize and see yourself in those circumstances and situations. It's funny because when I was right out of college as a Division III coach going from club football to varsity football, my college teammate Larry Csonka was playing very, very well in the pro game. Actually, that was the '72 season, the (Dolphins) undefeated season. In watching the way in which he impacted the game, you dream. You continue to dream.

The jump from Division III back to Syracuse was a huge jump and great starting point. You always dream. You always want to be the very best that you can be. Once the professional experience came for me, the real starting point was to get with the New York Giants and have a chance to work on that staff and that group of men, then to win the world championship and have some opportunities for ourselves."

On when he realized he should alter coaching style: "I think it was right after the season last year. In evaluating the season and trying to take it apart and find ways in which I could do better, which I always do anyway, I think you have to learn and you have to be prepared to make adjustments and change. Gradually it set in that I'm going to have fun with this. I'm going to enjoy this. I'm going to enjoy the players. Even when we started 0-2, as I said before, there was no panic. We didn't approach it any differently. There was no stress involved. There was nothing involved in terms of how we continued to move on. I think one of the things that we were able to do, when we started this leadership council, one of the reasons that I did that is simply to communicate better with the players.

What had happened is I would stand in front of the team and present something perfectly logical to me, but there might be three or four pockets of people out there that, once I kind of listened to what they interpreted me saying, it wasn't anywhere near what I thought I said. The group of leaders that we had I felt did a great job of distributing information and being responsible if you will, demonstrating ownership of their team. It was a great experience for me to see these young men, in this responsible role, do a great job of it."

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