Offensive quotebook

<b>DUCE STALEY</b><br> <i>Did you have your explosiveness?</i> I did have it a little bit. Actually, just to get in there felt good. Jerome was having a great game. He came out, had a little hamstring, so when I saw him on the sideline trying to warm up I thought he was having problems. He was like, 'Duce I need you this one.'

Were you guys wearing them down?
Yeah, we did start moving the ball well. The coaches saw that from upstairs. They started bringing three or four linebackers in. We kept pounding the ball. The game was on the line so we had to pin our ears back.

What was the plan for you and Jerome coming into the game?
Pretty much how it went. Jerome was going to start, rightfully so. Jerome's had a great year and he deserved to get out there and start the game and pretty much we were going to rotate.

Do you believe in destiny?
Oh, no question. I have faith. I believe in God, you know what I'm saying? So he truly blessed us tonight.

How did you feel in overtime when the load was on you?
As soon as I saw Jerome limping a little bit I knew I had to go in and step up. I'm thankful to get the carries and just to be productive.

Did you get your bell rung at the end?
No. My something was wrong with my chinstrap. I came off and Verron came in. We ran one play with him then ran the quarterback sneak and we were in field goal range.

Tell me about cutting back away from Kreider's blocking?
It was a zone play. That play is designed to run any way you want. So we were going strong side with it and everyone was flowing strong side and I saw a cutback lane and just took it.

Isn't it funny how Jerome picked you up first this season and now you're picking him up?
Right. That lets you know what kind of relationship we have. You know, this wouldn't work on a lot of teams. (We are) two guys that love the ball; two guys that want the ball; two guys that are competitors. You put take this situation and put it on any other team and I don't think it would work.

How did you feel this game relative to a month ago against them?
I felt good about the situation. I felt good the whole time on the sideline. I had a chance to finally warm up and stay warm. So personally I felt good and I'm just happy to get the ball the way I did. Coach had faith in me and that's all you need.

Counting on going back to the running game in the second half?
You have to take your hat off to the Jets. The Jets did a great job scheming things and coming out and playing a lot of two man. It kind of gave us some problems. We stuck with our guns and it worked for us.

Disappointed you didn't get in earlier than you did?
Nah. Like I said, that's not my call. That's coach's call. Coach and I talked about it and the rotation kind of went like he planned. I have no say so over that.

Happy to contribute in such an important way?
Definitely. Any time you can go in and be productive, coming off a serious injury. Like I tell a lot of people, I'm still not 100 percent. I know coach is going to get me for that because he hates when I say that. But hopefully I can continue to build, the team gets stronger and we come back and fight next week.

What was the roller coaster of emotions like out there?
Oh, it was tough. But you have to understand guys, I've been in three NFC Championship Games. I've seen a lot happen. To see the ball roll my way for a change is good. Thanks guys.

JEFF HARTINGS
Did Duce give you more cutback down the stretch?
Jerome cuts back a lot. It doesn't look like it but he does. I think the difference is he just had fresh legs. Jerome ran a lot of plays. He's been in the league 11, 12 years and there's a lot of yards on those legs. I don't think there's any doubt it kind of refreshed him to put Duce in there. I think obviously, he's the most humble Hall of Famer I've ever known. He's fine with that.

Was it nerve-wracking out there?
Nope. I never get nervous. It sounds a little corny but God's in control. You've just got to do your job ands if it was his will for us to lose then I'm just going to go on with that, live and learn with that. I'm not going to go on any depression watch or anything like that. It's a game. It's just a learning lesson. We made a lot of mistakes. We probably should've lost that game, really. You don't expect (them) to miss two field goals and get that many chances, that's for sure.

Among the linemen, was anything said in the fourth quarter or overtime?
Nope. All year long nothing's ever been needed to be said. Actually we don't like talking to each other. We don't like each other (laughs). We get ourselves pumped up. We know what we've got to do. We made a couple mistakes on some pass protections but we knew what we needed to do. Most of the credit goes to coach Whisenhunt. We do our jobs. Coach Whisenhunt calls those plays and kind of puts us on display.

Does it help to play a division with so many good run defenses?
I think it does a little bit. But with only four teams in each division, I don't think your division play defines you as much as it used to. Those games are so spread out. I think it's helped we've played so many good defenses the second half of the season, basically against the bye. We played a lot of the top 10 defenses. That's forced us to work hard. And it's given us confidence.

Expect to see more 3-5 the rest of the way?
I think New England's capable of doing it but I also think they have a really good 3-4. I think they believe they'll be able to stop us with just their 3-4. And you know, it doesn't really matter. If they come out with a 3-5, we'll be ready for it.

Did it give you trouble again?
I don't believe that at all. We missed a third-down-and-three. I can recite: We missed a third-down-and-three when Verron kind of got twisted up and dropped it; the second half we had a pick down in there territory; got back down there and fumbled the ball; next time we scored; next time we threw a pick in the two-minute offense; next time we scored. So I don't know if you can call that trouble.

Ever sense that Ben was shaken?
Nope. Never.

KEN WHISENHUNT
What was the plan with the running backs coming in?
We came in with the idea J.B. was going to play and we were just going to get a feel for it. The way it kind of ended up in the fourth quarter is what we kind of envisioned happening pretty much the whole game in that J.B. would go go and then Duce would be in there and go. Both of them ran really well.

Why does it seem to be so difficult to move the ball on the Jets?
You know what happened is we had some pass plays we didn't hit on early in the game. That was kind of our plan. We had a couple things we tried. We just were a little off throwing the football.

Did you want to throw against that 3-5?
That was one of our plans. We had some runs that we could run against it but when you're single-covered outside with you receivers you've got to win. That's what you want with your wide receivers. We were not in sync. It took us awhile. We did some good things but we had penalties, dropped balls, some mistakes. It seemed like we kept getting ourselves in third and long.

Do you have different plays for Duce and Jerome?
No.

What's the difference between them?
Not a whole lot, judging by the way they ran tonight. I think maybe Duce is a better receiver than J.B. but as far as being a pure runner, they're both big pound-it backs who do a good job for us.

Did you sense at any time that Ben was rattled or shaken?
No. It didn't seem like he was rattled or shaken. We had some checks in tonight and he did a good job with those. We felt something was missing. We were just a little bit out of sync. That's what it seemed like. It didn't seem like it was any one guy. We'd have a chance for a play and a guy would move, or we'd drop the ball. We were just missing our opportunities. The thing we've done all year that we've been good at is that we've been efficient. We've made the first downs and we've got on a roll and that seems to carry over, and I think that's what happened to us in the fourth quarter. We started making some first downs, had some success running the ball and that kind of carried over and we got on a roll.

He had more passes that were way off than in any other game. Any explanation for that?
No. I mean they're a good defense. They are a good defense and they deserve a lot of credit for that, but I think it was more a factor of us not doing the things we'd been doing all year. The only thing I can say is that I think we're a good football team because we won the game and we didn't play our best.

JEROME BETTIS
Why did you leave the game?
It was a cramp. It was just a situation where we were off the field for so long. They had two drives and into overtime they had the ball and I'm starting to warm up on third down and I started cramping. It just wouldn't stop. It wouldn't let me out there. So there was no sense for me to go out there and do something stupid. Duce was ready. I limped over there to him and told him he had to go. Nobody knew what was going on but me, but it was a situation where I knew I couldn't go out there.

Isn't it curious how it's worked out all year between you two?
It's been amazing we've been able to be consistent and play off of each other. I really think the team feeds off of that because when you have two backs who can pound the football, it makes your life a lot easier.

Surprised there's no tension between you two?
Duce has been in the situation before where he's had to deal with something like this, so it's not new to him. It's not new to me either, so I think it's a situation where you've got two guys who understand the situation and don't want to derail the train because of ego. I think it's beautiful because neither one of us have big egos.

How did he look?
He looked good. He was quick, making the cuts. That was great to see. I needed him and he was big for this team.

Ever worried this wasn't your night?
No. I kept fighting. That was a situation where you've got to hope for the best. I fumbled the football. That's something I can't do. It's a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. But the defense stopped them and gave us a chance.

The fumble?
I was cutting back and the guy did a great job and got his hand in there and knocked it out of there. I was reckless with the football and you can't. I couldn't believe I fumbled the football. I never fumble it. It was a mistake on my part. That's something I pride myself on not doing. I pride myself on being a guy you can count on.

Feel fortunate?
No doubt. I feel real fortunate. We didn't play our best game; played poorly at times but found a way to win. Regardless of how it looks we get the opportunity to play next week.

Thoughts on Ben?
He doesn't get shaken. He made some mistakes and then in overtime you saw him walking around telling guys 'let's go, let's go, let's go.' It takes a lot of confidence when you struggle a little bit and you've got to go back out there, so you've got to stay positive. That was impressive to see. We needed him.


When did you find out you were going to start? Saturday.

Isn't today Saturday?
No. I'm sorry, Friday.

How satisfying is it to get back to the championship game?
It's personally satisfying because this is the one reason I decided to stay and take the pay cut and do everything that I had to do with this team was to be here. It feels incredible.


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