How excited are you for this one?
It's the playoffs. This is what we fight all year and the playoffs for, the opportunity to get here, have a chance to go into the postseason and see what you can do.
How would you have been if you had to play last week?
It was good to give us all a chance to get rested and give our bodies a chance to heal, an extra week of preparation. We didn't know who we were playing, but preparation can mean just resting and relaxing. I think that's good for us.
How did you feel after practicing on Monday?
Good. I had a little headache after putting the helmet on because it was so tight. But we'll deal with it and move on.
Statistically, it was a strange game the last time. You moved the ball well but were unable to punch the ball into the end zone. How do you change that?
Our red zone efficiency has to improve. We know that's a great defense but we moved the ball, we converted on third down, we had success in the no-huddle. The key is getting down there and scoring six points rather than three.
How much pressure did they bring the last time and what do you expect this time?
They brought quite a bit of pressure. We expect the same thing this time. It's been their M.O. recently, bringing people up and using their athletes in the secondary to cover. We have to be on our p's and q's and be ready for it as a line and as a unit. We have to be ready for everything.
Does it get your attention when they shut down Peyton Manning?
Yeah, absolutely, because it's Peyton and he's so good at what he does. They looked like a different football team out there. We're hoping that the home field will be to our advantage as it was to them when they played the Colts. We know that our fans will be loud when they have the ball and quiet when we have the ball. It's going to be a good one. Hopefully, we'll get some snow and it will be cold weather.
Is it tough for you to cheer for that kind of weather because it affects you as well?
As a quarterback you don't like it, but if it helps the team, I don't care what my stats are as long as we win.
What do you have to do to score?
We just have to find ways to get the ball into the end zone. We left some plays out there the last time we played. Some of that credit goes to them, some of it was our fault. There's no magic solution. I can't tell you we have to do this. We've got to take care of the ball and find ways to get into the end zone.
Last week the Chargers' punter kept pinning Indianapolis back deep. How hard is that for an offense to get started at that point on the football field?
That's huge. He won that game for them, I don't care what you say. He was the MVP of that game. That's enormous. When you have a team backed up and they're punting and thinking you're going to get field position and all of a sudden, they put it inside the 10-yard line. I think he had one of those when we had our safety. He killed it and knocked us back deep again. That's big. The field position game is huge. We'll have to hope he has a bad day.
Coming off the concussion, is it an extra burden on you being that this is the postseason?
Everything is faster in the postseason. Identifying blitzers, blocking. It's that time of year when mistakes have to be limited. But you have to be careful because you can't play with that kind tentativeness in doing things because you don't want to make a mistake. It's a fine line that you walk but I walk it every time I go out and play.
Willie (Parker) said teams don't respect your running game, does that make it tougher on you as well?
That's coming from a running back. You know what? We've had a lot of people talk about our offense because we have the No. 1-ranked defense in the world. That's awesome. They're going to shine over us, but we don't mind that. We know that when the time comes, we'll step up and deliver like we have a couple of times this year. Hopefully we can do that in the postseason.
Are you improving every day or do you feel the same as you did Monday?
We're going to keep improving all the way until Sunday.
Mike (Tomlin) always talks about January football, how important is it for a quarterback to play his best football in January?
It's huge. Every turnover, every mistake is magnified. You watch someone like Chad Pennington, who had very few interceptions in the regular season and had three or four in the postseason. I've had those kind of games, in the AFC Championship game, last year against the Jaguars. When you can limit the turnovers, you give your team a better chance to win. That's why you have to play great football. You still have to prepare to not be too cautious.
Has the offensive line gotten too much criticism this year?
Absolutely. They have come a long way. I remind people that Max Starks and Darnell Stapleton are fill-ins. They came in and filled in for Kendall (Simmons) and Marvel (Smith). They have gotten so much better and they've played against some phenomenal defenses. I wish people would understand what kind of defenses we played against and how good they are with their pass rush. They've done a good job. I'm still upright, I'm walking around. I'll always have their back and I know they'll always have mine.
What's the biggest difference you've seen in San Diego's defense?
They like to blitz a lot. They like to move around a lot and they take chances and are gambling. They've been playing playoff football for the past month and that's kind of what you have to do in the situation they were in. They had to do it.