Wednesday, January 17, 2007

An Interview with Bob Sanders

Indianapolis Colts
Q&A – January 17, 2007
Q. Bob, what's been the difference with the defense in these last couple of games, especially against the run?
BOB SANDERS: I think it’s attitude, everyone being passionate about it, wanting to go out and win and wanting to be the team where we don't have to really rely on our offense. And I think everyone has done a great job. We know what type of
defense we are. We know we can play well. It's just when it was going to be the we'll step it up and actually just do the things we need to do. And I think we just kind of picked it up postseason.
Q. Did you guys ever get tired of hearing about how bad you were against the run and did it motivate you at all?
BOB SANDERS: We didn't really get tired of it. You just don't listen to it. You're going to get criticized if you are the last team in the league rush defense wise. And we didn't really worry about it. We knew that we just had to focus on getting better every week and practicing well and keep on preparing like we have been all year and things will turn around for us.
Q. Bob, after the Baltimore game, you mentioned that after the Baltimore game, last week, you said that maybe last year was set up too perfectly. Everybody thought you were going to win the conference and go on to the Super Bowl. What's your feeling now that things sort of fell into place to give you this home game? Is it too perfect now or are you still think it's a big battle?
BOB SANDERS: I think it's a battle. We definitely have some tough opponents, definitely a tough opponent this week and we've just got to keep working and get better. As long as we're in the details, everyone is doing their job. I definitely think we'll be fine.
Q. What adjustments do you think you've made on defense in the playoffs compared to what happened during the regular season?
BOB SANDERS: Like I said, one guy can't really come in and change things around. We have the same personnel that we had all season. A couple guys here and there changed up. But other than that, like I said, I just think it's all about attitude and everyone being passionate about it and wanting to win.
Q. Bob, how did you guys get that attitude back? How did you revise it?
BOB SANDERS: I mean just knowing in the playoffs it's do or die. If you lose you go home. You win, you keep going. And we know that. We came from last year like I said everything was set up perfectly for us. Everyone was saying and you know it just didn't work out. We know if we had ever gotten an opportunity again to say we have to make sure we do everything we can to
keep on winning, and we needed our defense to step up and guys to make plays and I think we've been able to do that.
Q. You weren't there for the '03 playoff but you were there for the '04 one with New England and two regular season games. Is this a special rivalry for the Colts and if so why do you think it is?
BOB SANDERS: It is. I think it's big for both sides. We're two competitive teams coming in. We're back and forth on a win-lose streak. And it's exciting knowing that they're going to come here, they're going to play tough. They're going to give us their A game and it will be a challenge for us. And we're looking forward to it. We're excited about it and I'm pretty sure they are as well.
Q. Bob, on facing Brady, can you tell a little bit how do you prepare for a quarterback like him?
BOB SANDERS: He's a great quarterback. Real poised. He doesn't panic at all. He makes a lot of plays down the field. He has good receivers to get the ball to him. He spreads the ball around. So he's not a selfish guy. They're not a selfish team. They all play together, and I think he's a great, great leader, and he takes his team and they follow behind him and he keeps it
Q. Do you feel because you have faced these guys many times in the past, in big playoff games, that you know what they're going to bring and you know what to expect and you know what you have to do to stop them?
BOB SANDERS: It's just like any other week. You can't really pinpoint anything to say you know they're going to do this. You just have to game plan as much as you can. Watch as much film as you can to get a good look at them. But you never know. They could come in with a totally different game plan.
So you just have to prepare for the worst and you know hope for the best that things turn out the way you planned it in the game plan is on point.
Q. Bob, do you guys feel you're a little bit different defense playing in the dome?
BOB SANDERS: Playing at home is, I mean you couldn't ask for a better opportunity to come back in and play at home with your fans, your crowd. That also helps. I think everything plays a big part into it. I think we are a little bit better in our record at home this year shows that we do play a little bit faster. We play better and we play well together.
It's just something that we won't worry about it. We're at home. We won't take them lightly. We've just got to make sure we continue to do the things we need to do.
Q. Bob, you're known as a player that's pretty quick to fill the hole at the line of scrimmage, can you talk about facing two different running backs in style like Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney this Sunday?
BOB SANDERS: They're both good runners. Maroney is a fast guy. Dillon has very deceptive speed. They're very strong, they both have great balance.
So you just have to -- they can run downhill, sometimes when they get outside they can run to the corner and get around you and break your leverage. We've just got to attack. We have to make sure we swarm the ball, you know, just try to get them down when we can. If we have opportunities to make great plays we've got to make those plays when they give us the
Q. Bob, what's it like to have Adam Vinatieri on your side. I saw Tony Dungy's lips on his last field goal saying "money, money, money," what does it mean to you as a team to have their kicker on your side?
BOB SANDERS: It's great. He's a guy who has been in this situation many times and has won games for his team. It's nothing new to him.
He's just a veteran. He's a leader. He's just a great guy to be around in the locker room and it's just good that we have him on our team now. And he's reliable. You can rely on him at any time.
Q. Bob, has gap discipline been a big thing? I know with Rob Morris being in there it's a little different and you being in and out of the lineup. On stopping the run like you guys had trouble earlier in the year has it been a big thing for you guys to play more disciplined in playing gap?
BOB SANDERS: You know, it's just everybody doing their job. I mean that's pretty much what it boils down to. It's simple. You know as long as you do what you have to do and coaches have us ready, have a great game plan for us this week. We just have to be what we need to be.
Q. Bob, do you sense that Peyton is due for a big game and that he hasn't played as well as he normally does in the playoffs thus far?
BOB SANDERS: They'll be ready. I'm not sure exactly what thegame plan will be. But they're going to be ready. We have to. It's a must this week. And we are just going to keep working. I'm pretty sure that they're excited about it on the other side.
And we're excited as well.
Q. Bob, you've missed quite a lot of games this year due to injuries. Can you talk about being injured and still stay focused and maintain your composure being on the side lines, wanting to get in there and do some hitting?
BOB SANDERS: Just never giving up, never losing faith. Knowing that things will get better. It's kind of hard to start off. But after a few weeks I kind of realize that it was going to be a thing that I was going to deal with all
And I just had to be patient. Patience is the main thing. And I think I was able to be patient and now that I've worked myself back i n, I'm comfortable. And I feel good.
Q. Late in the season was the main focus to get you back on the field for the playoffs?
BOB SANDERS: Yes, I mean that was the main thing. It got sort of away with the Week 13, 14, 15. Got kind of around there and it was like, well, okay, do we continue to go this, up and down this roller coaster? Do we continue to do that or do we just say, okay, now we're in the playoffs and should we get him ready. And that was pretty much the plan and it worked so far.
Q. Bob, Daniel Graham talked about the fact that you're a free safety everybody has to be aware, where you are at all times is that something you try to do is be at different places where they don't know where you're going to be at all times?
BOB SANDERS: We just put our game plan in. We'll be working on it today. It's just doing, doing like you said, just doing what you have to do, just being where you need to be. It's not a mystery to us. It's just going out and making plays.
Q. There was a comparison made today about you and Rodney Harrison. Very similar within this league, the two guys that at that position that kind of sets a tone for the defense.
Is that a compliment to you and is that what you hope to do for your ball club?
BOB SANDERS: Definitely, man. He's definitely a great player and has made a lot of plays in this league and helped his team in many ways. So you know that's definitely a compliment for people to compare us and say we play alike, that's a good thing. He's a good player.
Q. Bob, how satisfying is it as a defensive player to win these games like 15 to 6 and 23 to 8 as opposed to maybe to a shoot-out like you might have had to do in the past?
BOB SANDERS: I mean, just knowing that your defense has stepped up and is really, if you can keep a team under, keep a team within 14 points, you got a great chance of winning every week. I mean that's our thing is to not rely on our offense to score 40, 30, 40 points a game. And we give up a lot. Just to try to focus on the things we need to focus on and that's keeping them out of the end zone and stopping the run.
Q. Patriots are known for mixing up their game plans on a weekly basis. How do you prepare for this game not knowing that they will definitely run the ball, definitely pass the ball?
BOB SANDERS: You watch as much as film as you can. You hope your game plan works the way you planned it out. But sometimes it's not that way. Sometimes they'll come up with a totally different scheme and you gotta adjust.
But I'm pretty sure we'll have a great game plan. And the coaches have done a great job this year making sure that we're ready and we know everything that's going on.
Q. Bob, you played your college ball under Kirk (Ferentz) in Iowa. Bill (Belichick) and Kirk are good friends, former assistant to Bill. Did he give you any insight into Belichick? Do you feel you know his styles playing under Kirk?
BOB SANDERS: No he has not, not really.
Q. Bob, LaDainian Tomlinson last week kind of accused the Patriots of being classless in their game last week. What are your thoughts on that and what do you think of when you play a Patriots team?
BOB SANDERS: I think they're all well coached. They're not selfish. They play hard. They know how to win. They have a lot of veteran guys who have been around a while. And it's up to a team to win a lot of games and a lot of championships. So I don't really have much to say about that. I think they are a good team and they're well coached.
Q. Bob, what's it going to take for the Colts to get over that hump and make it into the Super Bowl?
BOB SANDERS: Just doing what we do. Playing hard. Playing fast. Playing smart. And playing aggressive with a lot of passion.
Q. A lot of people have been talking about that. Is that in the back of your minds at all?
BOB SANDERS: We are taking it one game at a time, one week at a time, one day at a time. We have to take care of today first before we start looking to tomorrow. So we just keep working, practicing hard, studying hard and just keep moving forward.
Q. Bob, personal self-preservation seems to have gone out the window for you. You've had an injury and surgery, had to spend a lot of time out. What kind of personal sacrifice are you making this year with your health and your future. Do you ever think about that?
BOB SANDERS: It's nothing bad. I'm not sacrificing anything. I'm just doing -- I'm playing according to the way I feel and I feel great. I don't have any problems. There's nothing that's going to affect me future-wise or anything with this injury that I have. So I'm not really worried or focused about that at all.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what Williams your defensive back coach have been, how he's influenced you and developed you as a player?
BOB SANDERS: I mean he's just a smart guy. He knows exactly where I'm supposed to be, where everyone is supposed to be on the field. He's a great coach. He's detail-oriented and he makes sure you're doing everything that you need to do.
And he goes way out of his way to really put in a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of work to make sure we know as much as we need to know about our opponent every week.
Q. Bob, what's your perception of the two franchises going, you've got Belichick and Brady who has won all the Super Bowls, and Coach Dungy and Peyton Manning, you've all been fighting and scraping to get there. That's the perception you have and what can you all do to correct that?
BOB SANDERS: You know, just stay focused in on the task at hand. Not really worry about what everyone says outside of our complex, just we're a team and we're going to play as a team and that's the only thing that we'll focus on and we'll worry about is ourselves and what we can control and that's the way we prepare and the way we play on Sunday.
Q. Bob, even though you guys have beaten them in the regular season, do you need to really beat them in the postseason to kind of get that monkey off your back? Is it appropriate that it's the Patriots that you're playing and you have to beat to get to the Super Bowl?
BOB SANDERS: Monkey on our back, we don't even worry about that. That's a lot of talk from everyone else saying it's a monkey on your back, because you need to beat them in the postseason, whatever. I mean it doesn't really matter. We don't worry about that. This is a great opportunity for us and we're just going to keep moving forward trying to get better and hopefully play well enough to win. But we're not really worried about getting a monkey off our back.
I mean every week is a tough week. So we just need to keep doing the things that we do.
Q. Bob, what are you seeing from Peyton this week, how is he handling himself and what do you expecting in terms of how he'll go into this game?
BOB SANDERS: I expect a lot of leadership. I know he's excited about it and he's been in this situation before. So it's nothing new. You know it's making sure everyone stays on the details. Everyone is doing their job and the leadership that we have around here is excellent. I mean we've got a lot of guys here who has been in the situation and know what it's like. So they're going to be, you know, the energy is going to come from them. Those guys are going to be moving around and making plays in practice and making sure everyone is doing what they're supposed to do. So the younger guys just have to follow their lead and keep moving forward.
Q. Do you sense a lot of pressure on him just because he's in the high profile position he's the quarterback and when you think how the defense has played the last couple of games, how have you guys done to kind of ease some pressure on him, from him?
BOB SANDERS: He might be getting pressure. I'm pretty sure he is. But I don't think it will bother him at all one bit. This is another game. This is another opportunity. This is a great opportunity. So I'm not sure the pressure will bother him at all. It's just, you know, how well you're play and it starts with practice and preparation.
Q. What do you see as the key to stopping the New England Patriots offense?
BOB SANDERS: Just being on the details. You know, they do a lot of things as far as if -- you know, if you give them opportunities or if you're not where you're supposed to be, if one guy is not here and one guy is not doing their job, I mean Brady is the type of guy where he can -- he can hurt you and he'll exposure weaknesses. So we just got to make sure we're on the details and we focus in on what we need to get done.
Q. How do you prepare yourself from stopping a player like Ben Watson?
BOB SANDERS: It also depends on what you're in, what coverages you're in and how you need to handle it. So I'm pretty sure our coaches will have a great game plan as far as that. And we'll look into it and get things done this week to make sure we know where we need to be.
Q. Bob, how impressed are you with Antoine Bethea for a rookie to come in and start as the playoffs have gotten underway really making some big plays, from one safety to another, what is it about his game that you like and have been impressed with this year?
BOB SANDERS: I mean all around he's just done a great job. He's handled the pressure well. I know coming in as a rookie is tough going out there and playing like right away and he came a nd ended up playing right away right after camp.
So I'm pretty sure it's been tough for him. But he's handled it as well as anybody that I know who has done it.
So he's done a great job, made a lot of plays. Helped us out, made it a lot better this year.
Q. What's the toughest thing for him to have to deal with coming in and playing that position?
BOB SANDERS: I mean just listening to the things from the past, the past years, it's been they talked about, you know, our safeties and our corners and just bad talked us. Him stepping in there, taking the role after Mike (Doss) ended up going down, he's done a great job so far. And I'm pretty sure he'll continue to work and he'll be a great player in the near future.
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Interview With Scott

…An Interview with:
gentlemen, we have got Scott Fujita on the line.
Let's open it up for questions.
Q. When you played for Bill
Parcells he always liked having players around
him that who knew him as a coach and kind of
what he wanted and could be the leaders. Has
it been sort of that same way with Sean
Payton? Have you and Scott Shanle kind of led
the way in knowing what he wants, especially
in the beginning when he first got there?
SCOTT FUJITA: I think he created an
atmosphere early on where he just wanted to find
players who would come in and accept their role,
whatever that may be. And that's what most of the
guys have done, stepped up and accepted their
roles. He looked for leaders. He looked for guys
with a lot of heart and character. And for the most
part, I think he found the right 53.
Q. Did you guys ever dream before the
season when you left Dallas that you guys
could be in this situation, in the NFC
Championship game?
SCOTT FUJITA: I've been dreaming
about this moment since I was eight years old, so it
has been a long time coming.
Q. How do you think that people in New
Orleans will react if you win on Sunday and go
on to the Super Bowl?
SCOTT FUJITA: They'll react the way
they always do and then some. The last playoff
victory over Philadelphia, it's just been a great city
to be a part of. That atmosphere is contagious
and the players feed off of it. The coaches are
encouraged by it.
I say this all along, and I have throughout
the course of the season, I have never been on a
team where I really felt like the community and the
team were in it together. And that's not just lip
service, that's the truth.
Q. Why do you think that's the case?
SCOTT FUJITA: You know, there's so
much stuff for them to latch on to. Like I said, I
think it's kind of a reciprocative relationship. When
I first moved here with my wife, we bought a place
down right down in the Warehouse District
downtown. Walking around the city for the first
couple months or so, people were so excited the
Saints were back in town and they had a chance to
come watch our games.
Then once they started to buy into what
Sean Payton was doing, and started to believe in
what the team was doing and we won a couple of
games, then it was, "thank you, guys, for winning."
And I've never been in a place where it was so
authentic and heartfelt.
Everywhere you go people come up and
say, "thank you for being here. Thank you for
winning." And I'm like, "no, thank you for your
support." And again that's the truth. They just
support us so well each and every week. They are
with us to the very end, and I'm proud to be a part
of it.
Q. Do you feel like you're giving hope
to people in New Orleans?
SCOTT FUJITA: If we are -- it's funny,
because at the same time -- maybe we are. At the
same time, I feel they're giving a lot of us hope.
Seeing the things people have been through and
what they have given up just to be able to go to our
game, you hear stories about people who are still
trying to get their homes rebuilt or they're still
staying in hotels and they're behind on payments
and everything because (inaudible). Things like
that inspire me.
Like I say, it's a reciprocal relationship that
this team kind of shares with them. It's rare, it's
unique, and it's something I've never been a part
Q. Scott, you have a penchant for big
plays and big games, and you have the plays
on 2nd down and 3rd down that really forced
January 17, 2007
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them to punt the other day. Can you talk about
those two plays? And then I think back to the
Kansas City game last year where you had a
penchant for making big plays.
SCOTT FUJITA: One of the things we
talked about as a defense, especially throughout
the course of the season, just being able to make
the play when you're nervous. It was just one of
those times where the play came my way and it
was our responsibility, and it worked out that way.
It was at the end of the game at a crucial situation,
and obviously my name was attached to it. But
people don't pay as much attention to the play that
was 2nd and 1 down there in the red zone. Will
Smith made a huge play to make it 3rd and 1. It's
just little things like that. When guys on defense
need to make a play, they make them.
Q. What it's like being reunited with
Joe Vitt, who you had in Kansas City?
SCOTT FUJITA: Words can't describe it.
I don't know how well you know him. This is a guy
that drafted me in Kansas City, gave me my first
opportunity and gave me my first start against San
Diego five years ago. So he's really a second
father figure for me. We've been really tight over
the years. We've stayed in touch as we've gone
our separate ways. And we've both always felt
that at some point we're going to be back together
again. When I found out the Saints had hired Joe,
I was really excited about it.
Q. When he was interim head coach
here, he did a lot of -- in St. Louis last year, he
did a lot of motivational talks to players on
Saturdays, showed them film clips to get them
fired up. Is he doing the same thing in New
SCOTT FUJITA: Absolutely. His
enthusiasm is infectious. He is probably the best
public speaker and motivator I've ever been
around. He's been in the league now 28 years.
He's a two-time cancer survivor. He has got so
many life experiences that apply to so many things
we do on the field, where he just finds a way to
relate to everybody. He's definitely a great
motivator, and I think all the guys, in all positions,
enjoy coming by our meeting rooms every once in
a while just to hear what he has to talk about.
Q. Before the season, a lot of people
said this linebacking group was weak. Talk
about how you guys have played this season
and kind of dispelled what people thought
before the season began?
SCOTT FUJITA: I think it comes down to
guys playing their role. It was kind of an interesting
off-season, especially at that position, because
from the point that I got here there was a lot of
criticism that I was hearing, and especially during
the preseason, through training camp and the
preseason games. There was still a lot of moving
parts. And obviously that's not an ideal situation
where you're trying to build the right 53 guys for
your roster. But credit to our scout staff and the
coaches and everything for finding the right guys to
come in and to fit into what they want to do.
I mean, to pull in a guy like Scott Shanle
from Dallas with two preseason games left, then to
go find Mark Simoneau from up in Philly right
before the last preseason game. And then to have
everything come together for that first game in
Cleveland and have everything go so smoothly,
that's a credit to everybody involved.
Q. Have you thought about the national
perception that the Saints would come back to
earth? I know you were riding emotion for a
long time, but you never did. I wonder what the
feeling of the team was in that regard.
SCOTT FUJITA: Yeah, I think the
emotional part of it. We have been riding an
emotional wave this whole year. But you can't
discredit this is a damn good team that I'm playing
on too. From the very beginning, like I said, the
emotions, guys were excited about that, and the
community and the rest of the country kind of
looked at it that way. But the more games you
watched and the effort you see the players are
putting out there and also the talent level, you see
it's a lot more than just an emotional story. This is
a legitimate contender.
Q. Do you think people realize that this
really isn't the same roster as last year either?
It's not the same coaches or the same players,
SCOTT FUJITA: There has been a lot of
turnover and a lot of change, but at the same time I
don't want to forget about the players that were
here in the past, because there are so many guys
that are so important to this team that were here in
the past.
When I got here in free agency and a lot of
the new coaches got here, I looked at it as kind of
a fresh start for me in my career and a fresh start
for the coaches, but it was also a fresh start for the
guys that were here in past and wanted something
new to come around, and something new to get
emotional about and get excited about. So I don't
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want to forget about those guys at all, and I don't
think everyone else should.
Q. Is there one or two things about
Sean Payton that has kind of characterized how
he's coached this team?
SCOTT FUJITA: He's so detail oriented,
as I'm sure a lot of coaches around the league are,
but this guy is almost obsessive about it. He gets
the situation ready better than any coach I've ever
seen. That's why I feel like defensively, two-minute
situations, red-zone situations, 3rd down situations,
I feel like we're always ready for those situations
because he runs us through it so much and has
since day one of the off-season and did all through
training camp.
Q. It ends up the Cowboys had a lot of
problems at linebacker this year. If you had
been offered a contract by them, would you
have come back to Dallas?
SCOTT FUJITA: I had been offered (a
contract) in the few months prior to free agency,
and as free agency hit, the offer still declined. For
me it was all about finding the right fit and the
place where I felt the most comfortable and
thought I would be the happiest. Once free agency
opened up and I came down to New Orleans, I just
felt like I was right here where I belonged. It was
nothing against Dallas. I enjoyed my time there, I
felt like they had a good thing going. It was just
time for me to have a change.
Q. All the teams that are left in the
playoffs have two-headed monsters at running
back. As a defensive player, does that create
problems for you or make game day a little
different, or how so?
SCOTT FUJITA: Yes, it's not easy. Both
these backs are good solid backs. They run real
powerful. And for me, not playing the whole NFC
division that Chicago plays through the course of
the season, with the exception of Green Bay earlier
in the year, we didn't get to see a lot of their
offense. So for me, watching that game against
Seattle the other day was really the first time I got
to see their offense. Both the backs, to me, are
really powerful, really strong, and really athletic.
Like you said, it is kind of a two-headed monster.
I've seen our offense, the problems that they pose
for the defense, and it's a lot to prepare for.
Q. How do you see your matchup with
Rex Grossman who has been struggling lately?
SCOTT FUJITA: People keep saying he's
been struggling lately, but when I look at him and
look at the film from the last couple of days, I see a
guy who stepped up and played well when he had
to. Early in the season he was on fire. And they
clinched their division so early in the season and
just got way out ahead of everybody. And at that
point, maybe his play slipped a little bit, but
everything was in the bank for him. Things were
going the right way and they still finished 13-3.
And you can't do that with poor quarterback play.
Again, you look at the first playoff game, he was
pretty sharp all the way through and that was with
quite a bit of pressure in his face. People talk
about his struggles and everything, but I look at
him as a great quarterback and it's going to be a
big challenge for us because he has got every
throw in his arm and he's got a lot of poise. He's
got a little bit of gunslinger in him too, which can
make you a little bit nervous that he can make
those plays.
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The Ty Warren

New England Patriots
Q&A – January 17, 2007
Q. Ty, you won two Super Bowls right off the bat. First of all, do you
feel lucky at being drafted by the team you were drafted by; and, secondly, can
you appreciate really how hard it is, the Dan Marinos and those types of guys
and Peyton Manning who have played for years and years and Hall of Fame
careers and haven't won even one yet?
TY WARREN: Yes, I think that I do feel fortunate enough, blessed
to be drafted where I was drafted and to the team I was drafted, to win the two
Super Bowls back to back. I would say it's kind of spoiled me to do so.
But along with all that, I think it instills another level of work ethic
and how to go about my business as a professional athlete. Because there's a
lot of examples in the locker room, and I could go on all day naming those
examples, but I think you know who they are.
So, yeah, I feel fortunate. I think the Dan Marinos of the world and
even John Elways, the pinnacle of their careers, I've got a special amount -- I
have a certain amount of respect for guys like that. It doesn't come easy, and
you know every athlete plays their sport to win the world championship. So, yes,
I do feel fortunate.
Q. Ty, can you talk about overcoming diversity like in the game versus
the Chargers and how that mentally boosts the Patriots team going into this
game versus the Colts?
TY WARREN: I think it's always good to get that win, and we had
several wins prior to that going into the playoffs and wanting to start the playoffs,
and it's always good to have a streak, kind of so-called streak going on, positive
streak going on going into a game like this.
At the same note, the same token, I think Indianapolis has had the
same streak. They have strung some wins together here this last part of the
season and that's built momentum for them going into this game.
And so it's always good. But we do have a tough task at hand
coming Sunday, and they are two up on us in the latter part of this series.
Q. The Colts have won their first two playoff games without Peyton
playing his best. Are you at all concerned that he'll break out all of a sudden and
start to have one of those games you've seen him have before?
TY WARREN: No question. I think he's dangerous any time he
steps on the field. I think the fact that he had two of his best games to start off
the playoffs is kind of irrelevant to how he will come into this game. Peyton is a
professional. He's one of the best athletes out there at his position in the NFL
and in the world.
So I'm sure he's prepared. He's been in this league for a while. He
knows how to prepare. He knows how to bounce back. He's done that. There
were a few things in the middle part of the season where they were having some
losses and things like that. And (you can) look at the team, at the end of the day
as a team. I think they've been playing complementary football with the offense
and defense playing together.
Q. Ty, all four of the teams left in the playoffs, use two or more running
backs a lot. As a defensive lineman does that change what you do or how you
approach things when you have more than one running back to worry about?
TY WARREN: Yes, it does. I think you mentioned these four
teams have two running backs, and usually both -- each running back has a
different style. So you always have to be aware of the back and the type of style
that he brings to the table, because it can affect how you approach it.
And a lot of times with that being said, you know, different players,
different backs have a different running style.
Q. As a follow-up to that, how are Addai and Rhodes, how are their
styles different?
TY WARREN: I think Rhodes is similar to Edgerrin (phonetic) in
the sense because he's played behind him for so long. That type of running
game, they do a lot of stretch run where the running back runs all the way to the
numbers and starts, charge on the numbers after the offensive line and
everybody tries to stretch everybody out and get the defensive line separated
and the linebackers separated.
So he's more a run to the numbers, cut down the numbers and just
go downhill. Addai, he's a home run hitter. He can pretty much do any run you
ask him to do. He can meet that type of run I just that explained Rhodes does or
cut back. He jump cuts, a lot of things that Rhodes can't do. That's why he's
emerged as a starter here the latter part of the season.
Q. I know a lot of writers had you on their All Pro teams. Yet you didn't
make the Pro Bowl team or the official All Pro team. Did you feel you had that
type of season, a Pro Bowl, All Pro type of season this year?
TY WARREN: I think so. But the fact that I didn't make with the
official deal or even the Pro Bowl, it has no bearing to the type of work that I'm
going to continue to bring to the table. And I think all those things are coming in
due time. I'm still in my yo uth. And I think the thing is, I said before, I feel like I
got so much more growing to do as an athlete and just knowing the system.
The sky is the limit for me. I think I can only go up from here as
long as God willing I stay healthy and everything.
Q. Ty, I want to ask you about the familiarity between these two
teams. You guys have played each other so much over the past few years.
What impact does that have this week?
TY WARREN: I think in a sense you kind of look at it as even
though they're not an AFC East, we've played them just as much as teams we've
played in the AFC East that we play every year. It started to become a series I
think before I even got in in '03 and it's continued to be so.
And you know this is a good series. I think it's good for the league.
It's good for football. Every time we play each other it always goes to the wire.
So I think it's just a good match-up.
Q. From game to game, though, do you see a lot of difference in what
they do or when you play them do you tend to say: This is kind of what we saw
before and then it's just a matter of who can make the plays? I mean from a
scheme standpoint, do they do a lot of things that get you off guard?
TY WARREN: I think they do, they pretty much do what they do. I
think that's the reason why they're good at what they do, because they don't
spend too much time trying to be this copy cat team and do what everybody else
is doing. They pretty much stick to what they do so they can master what they
But at the same time it's a copy cat league. If they see it hurts you
in the previous weeks some of those things might show up. But at the end of the
day they tend to stay with what they've been doing the whole season.
Q. Can you talk about how to prepare for a guy like Peyton Manning,
would you do something specific to prepare for the game?
TY WARREN: I mean Peyton is a guy -- they do a lot of timing
routes and those, him and those receivers work day in, day out and you can see
it by their production, consistently on a year-to-year basis and this week -- this
season on a week-to-week basis.
So I think it's important that we try to get to them as much as we
can and try to try to reroute and break up some of those routes before they
develop, things like that.
Other than that, that's the only thing that's going to make us
effective against their men. And I think first and second down is going to be the
key because they are the number one offense on third down this year. And he's
the number one pass completion percentage quarterback in this league this year.
Q. What's the sense that the defense has on the side lines in the
fourth quarter when Brady is on the field? Do you all kind of anticipate something
good is going to happen because that's happened so much? Or what's going on
there with you guys?
TY WARREN: I think so. I think you know Brady's history as being
a clutch guy has spoken for itself. It's on this long list on his resume, and we
always feel comfortable. We always feel like we have a chance when he's out
there on the field in the fourth quarter.
Q. Ty, what have you done with your two Super Bowl rings and do you
ever wear them?
TY WARREN: I haven't worn them in a while. They kind of get old
after, you know the first couple of months. So I don't wear them much. I just
keep them in a safety deposit box and you know on occasion, if we have any
type of appearance or some type of speaking engagement or something like that,
people like to see it.
So I just go show them.
Q. How many Super Bowl rings do you think you're going to win in
your career?
TY WARREN: I don't know. I don't know. Only time will tell. I
couldn't tell you that.
Q. Ty, can you talk about coming in as a young player and work with a
guy like Bill Belichick and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, how have they
been able to develop your game coming from college?
TY WARREN: Well, I think every year even during the year your
coach -- we always sit down with our coaches and they tell us how we're doing
and some of the things that can take us to the next level.
And every offseason I've got word from Bill on things I can work on
as well as every other player does, and then these past couple of years, we've
taken the wind out of our schedule in the off season, watch them throughout the
whole season, throughout that previous season and just look at the game from a
run defense standpoint and from a pass defense standpoint and see the things I
can do better and try to improve upon the things I've done good.
Q. Ty, the Colts have your old kicker, won games for you. And now
the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. What would you feel like if he went out
for them to try a big kick on Sunday, how comfortable or uncomfortable would
you feel in that spot knowing his background?
TY WARREN: It was awkward at first when they came and played
us early on in the season. He threw us a bone early on in the season, but they
still came out with the win. Almost gave us a chance to get back into the game.
But it felt awkward early on when we first played them. But it's
football. These are the guys you end up on different teams at the end of the day.
So he was clutch in his last game against Baltimore with the five
field goals and I'm sure he'll be the same if we give him that opportunity to come
Q. The San Diego game essentially turned in your favor on a fumble
by Marlon McRee after he intercepted a pass in fourth down, which he would've
been better off just knocking down. Do your coaches instruct the players
specifically not to intercept the ball when it's fourth down?
TY WARREN: Just emphasizes making plays, making small plays.
Marlon made a good play on that ball Sunday. And I think he made probably --
he made the biggest play of that game by stripping it from Marlon McRee, giving
Brady an opportunity to go down there and put points on the board, which they
did. We talk about capitalizing on our opportunities out there on the field and just
playing smart.
Q. Ty, what's the toughest thing about Peyton Manning, playing
against Peyton Manning?
TY WARREN: It's difficult. It's difficult. I mentioned that he's the
number one pass guy that had the highest pass completion this year and was
one on third down. He's going to hit his passes he knows where his guys are
going to be. It's going to be important for us to strike anywhere possible that we
can, because he's dangerous any time he's back there and he has the ball in his
Q. What about all of his audibles and check-offs that he does at the
line of scrimmage, how does that affect you?
TY WARREN: There's been a lot said about his audibles and
things like that over the years. I think we've kind of learned, and I've learned not
to really get into that. It's a system they go by. Some of the calls are (inaudible)
you just really can't get into that. You just have to press into who is on the field
and the person that's out there on the field and what they can do out of that.
Q. The fact that the Colts won the last two meetings you played even
though they were in the regular season, does that give them any kind of
psychological advantage, do you think?
TY WARREN: It probably does for them. I don't know. I think the
way the series has went in the past, you had us, the Patriots being at the top of
that series for a while there and now Colts are on top of that series and they're
going to continue to go on top. So we need to go out there execute whatever
game plan we put in this week in order to go out there and be successful on
Q. A lot of people have made a lot of the post game incident in San
Diego with Tomlinson. How do you respond to people saying the Patriots image
is now tarnished with how that game played out?
TY WARREN: I disagree with that. With the things being said after
the game, a couple of things I agree with. A couple things I don't agree with.
What I do agree with, I didn't see a lot of guys jumping on logos and doing all that
stuff that he said he seen them doing. So I can't really say that they did that. But
if they did, maybe they did take it too far. What I do disagree with is that maybe it
came from the coaches, the head coach Bill Belichick. I think I disagree with that
because Bill has never condoned any of that. What he has condoned is
enthusiasm and showing your emotions and you know sometimes those things
you can't control.
Being in a game like that, if you ever want to draw up a football
game, that's the way you draw it up. You have two teams, tough teams that went
head to head and it could have went either way. And it ended up turning to our
favor at the end of game because of heads up plays made by Troy Brown and
Antoine and Brady and Carl and Samuel on the last three and out.
So he does condone that but he never condones us going out there
and being --
Q. You talked earlier about disrupting the routes of Peyton's receivers,
how much emphasis does Belichick put on that during the week and does your
defense do any hitting at all during the week?
TY WARREN: Oh, yeah, we'll do some hitting. We'll do ball
stripping drills, you know things to try to make turnovers and things like that. And
along with trying to defend some of the things that Peyton does. And what you
just said, just trying to strike some of the routes and getting in his face and things
like that, some of the key things.
Q. You have a young defensive line. Can you talk about how it is to
work with Richard Seymore and Vince Wilfork in the middle, what chemistry do
you have?
TY WARREN: I think we have a special D line here in New
England. I think, you know, Richard, myself, Vince, Jarvis, Mike Wright has
made a name for himself as a reserve here on this defense and stepped up when
he's been called to. So I think we have a unique line and we are complementary
to each other.
Q. In terms of your development, Ty, is this about where you thought
you would be at this point in your career?
TY WARREN: You can never determine it. But you know different
people peak at different times. I haven't peaked yet. But it has been steady
improvement, steady improvement that I've been happy with.
Q. A lot of experts think that you and not Richard Seymour should
have been in the Pro Bowl, how do you feel about that?
TY WARREN: I mentioned earlier the Pro Bowl and things like that,
that will come in due time. I still say I haven't reached my full potential. I have
things I can work on to improve my game. I'll continue to do that. I'm happy for
Richard going. He deserves it. You know what I mean. It's not his fault that he's
going and I'm not going. He's a great player and he's been a great player for
some years now.
Q. Just what do you recall about the regular season game against
Indianapolis this year?
TY WARREN: I know the first game they hit a lot of pass routes for
a long time in the first half, first game of the season, and they kind of got up and
we -- the defense took a lot of time out there on the field. Reggie Wayne and
Marvin Harrison they stepped up and they hit passes, we could have got more
pressure and right on down the line.
So everybody, you know, everybody can take a little blame for how
that game went there in the first half and then the second half we kind of settled
down. With the team like the Colts you can't, you know, you can't settle down in
the second half. You need to be settled down in the first half and be
complementary with the football from the front line to the back line.
Q. I just wanted to ask about you and Keesha, the foundation you've
started, the First and Goal. Can you kind of tell me what you guys hope to do
with that?
TY WARREN: Me and Keesha, we grew up, me and my wife grew
up in the Boys and Girls Club here in Bryant, Texas, and the Boys and Girls Club
has done a lot for us as teens and adolescents coming up, as a youth.
We just feel like the Boys and Girls Club has done a lot for us. So
we feel we should give back to them because they've done a lot for us which has
allowed us to get to where we are right now. So we're pretty much targeting the
boys and girls clubs, United Way and nonprofit organizations like that.
Q. Considering your background and the way you grew up like you just
spoke about, can you talk about being a role model for young kids? I mean
working hard and achieving what you did.
TY WARREN: Yes I always, I believe you know, in influencing kids
in a positive way. I have two kids of myself and am expecting another one. And
I know when I was younger growing up in the Boys and Girls Club, I didn't grow
up in a town where there was a lot of professional sports being played, but we
did have Texas A&M, which is the college I went to.
And you see them on TV and hear stuff in papers, good stuff about
them and the people wearing the gear and stuff like that. You would see that and
you say I would like to be a part of that.
And whenever you get a chance to go to one of the basketball
games or football games and things like that you grasp that and you hold onto it.
There's been guys that have been influences to me when I was younger and I
just want to be the same to them. And I think it's important to kids to tend to hold
onto that and grasp those moments and ends up being a positive thing for them
in the future.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Brian Urlacher

An Interview with:
Q. What do you think of the game
coming up? You're in the NFC Championship
BRIAN URLACHER: I'm excited. It's the
biggest game of my career so far. This is where
we wanted to be when we started the season. It's
a big test for us with the Saints coming in. We're
just excited to have a chance to be in this game.
Q. How about the challenge of facing
the No. 1 offense in the NFL?
BRIAN URLACHER: It's a big challenge
for us, the things they do on offense. They move
the ball around a lot. They have a great
quarterback, pretty good running backs, good
receivers, and a good offensive line. It's a huge
challenge for us.
Q. What about the diversity in their
running backs with the power and strength of
Deuce and the speed of Reggie Bush?
BRIAN URLACHER: Our number one
concern is stopping Deuce McAllister. We want to
stop the run every week. So he is our main
concern right now, especially after what he did last
week. When they throw the ball, we'll rally to it and
hopefully make the tackles. We have got to stop
the run. Reggie is an explosive guy. He catches
the ball well and he's pretty good in the open field.
So we've just got to try and get eleven guys to the
football and make some plays.
Q. Can you talk about how Coach
Smith has got the program turned around there
after you all had success early in your career
and you have got the two young coaches, him
and Payton, one step away from the Super
BRIAN URLACHER: He's done a good
job. Obviously the last two years we've been in the
playoffs. His first year, we kind of were bit with
some injuries, but the last two years, this is where
we want to be. He's turned everything around, the
way we do things, and the players we have here
now. He's brought in pretty much everyone new,
except for myself and I think two other guys, pretty
much all new guys.
But he is a good coach, he is a player's
coach. He takes care of us for the most part
during the season, training camp, and it's paying
off. I think as long as we keep winning, he'll keep
letting us -- we don't really do two-a-days during
training camp. We do one-a-days and have a
special team practice, but he takes care of us. He
played the game so he knows what it's like to be a
Q. How do you stop Drew Brees this
BRIAN URLACHER: Pressure on the
quarterback is always nice. If we can get some
guys in his face, put him in some bad situations,
2nd and long, 3rd and long, we think we'll have a
chance to make some plays. He's a good
quarterback. He's done it all season long, made
plays. He's going to make plays on us, we just
have to tackle the guys when they catch the ball
and get them on the ground.
Q. You say Coach Smith turned things
around. Anything specific you can name?
BRIAN URLACHER: Just the way his
attitude is. He told us we were going to be good
from the day he got here. He said we're going to
be a good team. We're going to be good on
defense. We're going to be a physical team on
offense and we're going to run the ball. We're
going to stop the ball on defense. And we've done
everything he said.
His number one goal was to beat Green
Bay and win the division. We've done that. And
the next goal was to win the Super Bowl. So he's
done everything he said so far, we just have to get
that third one finished up.
Q. There's been a lot talked about Rex
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Grossman throughout the season. How nice
was it to see him have such a good game last
BRIAN URLACHER: This is our problem.
Rex was 14-3 at the start of this year. I don't know
how many guys in the NFL can say that this
season. I don't care what his numbers are, what
people write about him. He's 14-3. That's enough
said for me. I'm just tired of people talking about
him, especially our media around here. The dude
has won 14 games at the start of this year. That's
pretty good if you ask me.
Q. The Bears have such a great football
tradition. Do you have any sense what the town
is like here, what the mood of the fans are and
so forth, now that you're one step away from
the Super Bowl?
BRIAN URLACHER: It's a little crazy right
now. I was listening to the radio on the way to
work, just the regular music stations, and all they
talk about is us now. The fans are excited. It's
been a while since we've been in this position. So
everybody is pretty pumped up around here. We
have to stay level headed as much we can this
week and don't get caught up to much in the hype
because there is still a football game to be played.
Q. So they're not playing music, they're
just talking about the Bears?
BRIAN URLACHER: Yes, talking. The
morning shows, all they do is talk anyway, but now
all they talk about is us.
Q. Can you talk about the job Roberto
Garza has done and just his development?
BRIAN URLACHER: Garza is great. He's
tough to practice against because he's not very
tall. He always gets under me, but he's done a
good job. Our whole offensive line has done a
good job. If you look at how many sacks we've
given up and how we run the ball, we've been in
some bad situations at times this year, and they've
done a good job running the ball.
Garza, I don't think he made the Pro Bowl.
I think he should have made it. He had a great
season. He stepped up. He's been hurt the last
few years, but he's played great for us this year.
Q. What comparisons do you think we
can draw from the 1985 Super Bowl team?
season is over.
Q. Do you feel the pressure of the great
Bears teams to get back to the Super Bowl
Q. Because of the tradition of the
BRIAN URLACHER: There was one
season where -- it was '85 the last time it
happened. Obviously you guys know that. We
don't feel any pressure. We're just happy to be in
this position. This is where we wanted to be from
training camp, summer workouts, this is where we
wanted to be. There's no pressure. We're having
fun with it. We felt we've earned the chance to be
here. We just have to go take advantage of the
Q. Many kids growing up want to
emulate their offensive stars. Do you think
maybe you've showed some kids that it's cool
to play defense as well?
BRIAN URLACHER: I hope so, because I
love defense, obviously. I love it. The thing about
defense, I think, you don't have to have someone
else call the play for you to get the ball, like you do
on offense or someone to throw you the ball. If
you don't make plays it's your fault. So on defense
you kind of do your own thing.
The number one thing I try to do is have
fun. You see that when we're playing as a
defense. We have a good time when we're out
there. And I hope that's the number one thing that
kids take from this game, is fun.
Q. Have you had to adjust your game
with both Harris and Brown out?
BRIAN URLACHER: No. I've said this
before. Our defense has stayed the same. We
have had different guys in there who have stepped
up. You're not going to replace either of those two
players. They're great players. But we've had
some guys step up and do a good job for us while
they've been out. Our defense has stayed the
same. We've had the same calls, just had different
personnel in there.
Q. Brian, the Bears obviously have had
a couple of good middle linebackers before
you, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary. How
does it make you feel when people compare
you to those two guys?
BRIAN URLACHER: It's pretty good.
They played for 10, 12 years, so I have got a ways
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B. Urlacher - 1.17.07
to go. I know winning a World Championship
would definitely help put myself in that category.
But it's an honor to be thought of with those two.
But I have got a long way to go. They are in the
Hall of Fame. This is my 7th year. I have got a
long ways to go.
Q. What do you think is going to be the
difference this weekend that puts you guys
over the top against New Orleans?
BRIAN URLACHER: If we're more
physical than them and we stop the run, we think
we'll have a chance to win the game. Like I said
earlier, they are going to make plays. We know
that. They're too good on offense not to make any
plays. If we're more physical, if we can stop the
run and slow those guys down a little bit, we have
a chance to win the game.
Q. How do you prepare for a running
back like Reggie Bush who lines up at wide
receiver in the slot as the regular running
BRIAN URLACHER: We have a good
game plan. That's what our coaches get paid for,
to put good game plans together. They have done
that for us so far, and we just have to go out there
and execute it.
Q. How big of a difference will
home-field advantage be, especially
considering the support the fans get from --
BRIAN URLACHER: I think it's going to be
loud. Our fans are behind us right now. It's going
to be loud as heck. People want to talk about the
weather. I don't think weather is going to have a
big deal to do with this game. It's going to affect
both teams. The eleven guys on the field will win
the football game, not the weather. But we're
excited we're home because of the fans.
Q. Do you feel like you've made any
adjustments for this weekend because you are
playing the most high-powered offense in the
BRIAN URLACHER: We do all season
long. There's times it has hurt us, there's times
we've been successful. We're not going to change.
We don't double anybody. We don't really change.
Our defense is pretty simple. We do what we do
and we try to make the offense adjust to us.
Q. How did you guys regroup after
losing a guy like Tommie Harris early in the
BRIAN URLACHER: We lost him, I think it
was the 12th or 13th game. Like I said, you're not
going to replace Tommie. We have a bunch of
good D linemen. Our guys have stepped up and
do a good job. The pass rush hasn't been the
same because Tommie did such a good job on the
passing game. Our run defense is still about the
same with the guys we have in there, but you're
not going to get a guy who can rush a passer like
that anywhere I don't think.
Q. What does it mean to get that first
playoff win and move on to the NFC
BRIAN URLACHER: Get that monkey off
our back I hope. In my career, we were 0-2 before
last week. We had the bye in the first-round home
game, or second round, whatever it is, and we lost
twice. Both times I've been in that game, we lost.
It's nice to get over that hump to show ourselves
that we can play in the playoffs and we are a good
football team. So that was big for us to get over
that hump.
Q. Do you feel that they (Saints) feel
like they have nothing to lose in this situation,
that they're going to come out and play
because they've never been to the Super Bowl?
BRIAN URLACHER: I don't really know.
That's how we feel too. No one on this team, on
my team, has been to the Super Bowl with the
Bears. We can say the same thing. I know they
had a tough season last year going through
everything they went through, but we can say the
same thing. I think pretty much every team in the
NFL, when you get to this point, has got nothing to
lose. You want to get there and win that big game.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports....


NFL-PER-20 1/17/07
New England Patriots Probable Tom Brady (Right Shoulder)
New Orleans Saints
QUESTIONABLE WR Joe Horn (Groin); S Omar Stoutmire (Hip); TE Mark
Campbell (Knee)
Listed players who did not participate in ''team'' practice:
(Defined as missing any portion of 11-on-11 team work)
WED Joe Horn; Mark Campbell
Chicago Bears
QUESTIONABLE WR Mark Bradley (Ankle)
PROBABLE DE Adewale Ogunleye (Quadricep)
Listed players who did not participate in ''team'' practice:
(Defined as missing any portion of 11-on-11 team work)
WED Mark Bradley; Adewale Ogunleye
New England Patriots
DOUBTFUL S Rodney Harrison (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE DE Mike Wright (Illness-Flu); T Ryan O'Callaghan (Illness-
Flu); WR Troy Brown (Illness-Flu)
PROBABLE QB Tom Brady (Right Shoulder)
Listed players who did not participate in ''team'' practice:
(Defined as missing any portion of 11-on-11 team work)
WED Rodney Harrison; Mike Wright; Ryan O'Callaghan; Troy
Indianapolis Colts
QUESTIONABLE WR Ricky Proehl (Hamstring); CB Nicholas Harper (Ankle);
T Ryan Diem (Shoulder); LB Cato June (Concussion); S
Bob Sanders (Knee); G Ryan Lilja (Knee)
Listed players who did not participate in ''team'' practice:
(Defined as missing any portion of 11-on-11 team work)
WED All Players Participated

Vikings Defensive Coordinator Mike Tomlin Favorite For Pittsburgh Steelers Job - Mike Florio


At a time when pretty much everyone in the league and the media believe that the Steelers will promote offensive line coach Russ Grimm to the position vacated by Coach Chin, don't rule out Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

Though some in the organization also believe that Grimm will be the guy, the reality is that the decision will be made, in the end, by Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and team president Art Rooney II, who are being very tight-lipped (we're told) about their plans.

Tomlin is regarded by the organization as a great candidate, but his lack of experience is a concern. Due to the Buccaneers' standard refusal to allow assistant coaches under contract to leave for bigger jobs other than head coach, Tomlin was stuck in Tampa until his deal expired, and he has worked as a defensive coordinator for only one year.

The Steelers conducted a second interview of Tomlin on Tuesday, meeting with him for several hours before taking him to a Penguins game at Mellon Arena.

And unless Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was merely looking for filler for his Wednesday item, the fact that he spent a full article getting the locals ready for the changes that would come if Tomlin gets the job could be a strong hint that Grimm might not be the guy who gets the gig.

We've said it before and we'll say it again -- we'd hire Tomlin. In a heartbeat. He instantly energized a Vikings defense that had played soft and loose and weak for most of the past decade. Sure, he's young; so were Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll.

And there's something to be said for learning on the job. Tomlin will improve, and the team that is employing him when he peaks will be a team that is annually in the conversation for the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

AFC and NFC Championship Weekend Game Capsules -

NFL-POST-3 1/16/07

“Two wins away from having a ring on my finger for the rest of my life.”
That’s what quarterback REX GROSSMAN exulted after leading the Chicago Bears to victory last Sunday. And that’s
where every player on the four teams competing this weekend in the AFC and NFC Championship Games find themselves –
one win away from Super Bowl XLI in South Florida on February 4 and another victory away from wearing a Super Bowl
championship ring “for the rest of their lives.”
The four teams going for those “two wins”:

3:00 PM ET New Orleans Saints (11-6) at Chicago Bears (14-3) (FOX-TV)

6:30 PM ET New England Patriots (14-4) at Indianapolis Colts (14-4) (CBS-TV)

The 2006 playoffs through the first two rounds have been the most competitive since the NFL went to the 12-team
format in 1990. The average margin of victory in the eight Wild Card and Divisional games was 7.3 points per game. That is
the lowest point margin since 1990. The previous low was a 9.8-point average in 2003.
The AFC-NFC Championship lineup is an impressive one:

· New England plays in its third championship game in the past four years. Indianapolis plays in its second in that
· The combined winning percentage of the championship teams is .757 (53-17).
· They are a resilient bunch. They come off a Divisional Playoff weekend in which all four games were decided by a
total of 18 points – the fewest since the divisional round began in 1970. Three of the four games were decided by
three points or less – the first time ever in the Divisionals.
· The top two passing offenses of 2006 are featured, led by the two starting Pro Bowl quarterbacks – New Orleans,
No. 1 (DREW BREES) and Indianapolis, No. 2 (PEYTON MANNING).
· The Saints are a resurrected team. In addition to going from “worst to first” in their division, winning it one year after
finishing in last place the year before, they are the first team in history to go to a championship game after losing 13
or more games the year before.

A rundown of the AFC and NFC Championship Games:


DUNGY & SMITH A FIRST: An NFL milestone will be reached in this Sunday’s championship games.
Two of the four head coaches – TONY DUNGY of Indianapolis and LOVIE SMITH -- are African-Americans. It will mark the
first time in championship game history that African-American head coaches led two of the four teams involved. African-
American head coaches in AFC-NFC Championship Games: Dungy (1999, 2003), DENNIS GREEN (1998, 2000) and ART
SHELL (1990). No African-American head coach has coached in a Super Bowl.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-6) at CHICAGO BEARS (14-3) (Sunday, 3:00 PM ET, FOX)
STORYLINE: Top two seeds go at it.

And that’s just the way the No. 1 Bears want it. “This is the matchup we wanted,” says Chicago CB NATHAN VASHER.
“It’s great for us, great for TV, everything. We wanted to see the highest-seeded team and beat the best.”
It’s January at Soldier Field, so the running game should play a big part in this one. Both teams come equipped with RB
tandems. The Saints bring in “the big guy,” as Bears LB BRIAN URLACHER calls him – 6-1, 232-pound DEUCE
MC ALLISTER – and fleet rookie REGGIE BUSH. The pile-moving McAllister rumbled for a Saints playoff-record 143 yards
and two TDs in the Divisional. Bush produced some spectacular moves, including a four-yard TD scamper and a 25-yard run
that set up a field goal.

The Bears have their own ground-eating tandem in THOMAS JONES and CEDRIC BENSON, the second-year runner who
has been worked into the rotation more and more recently. The two combined for 1,857 yards this year and 111 yards (with
two Jones TDs) in the Divisionals.

New Orleans – 6-2 on the road this season – arrives with the league’s No. 1 offense, controlled by the ’06 passing yardage
leader DREW BREES (4,418). His key targets have been WRs MARQUES COLSTON and DEVERY HENDERSON, but the
Bears also will have to keep an eye on TE BILLY MILLER, who, after 129 yards this season, led Saints receivers last
Saturday with 64 yards.

And for all the attention Chicago QB REX GROSSMAN has received – “he’s taken us to 14 wins,” says head coach LOVIE
SMITH -- one stat is overlooked. Grossman’s seven games of 100.0 passer ratings tied PEYTON MANNING for second
most this year in the NFL behind St. Louis’ MARC BULGER with eight.

Grossman’s WR targets are as potent as New Orleans’ – BERNARD BERRIAN (105 yards in the Divisional with a 68-yard

Championship tidbit: Saints RB REGGIE BUSH can become the fourth Heisman Trophy winner to play in a Super Bowl in
his rookie year, following RB MIKE GARRETT, Kansas City, 1966 season; RB TONY DORSETT, Dallas, 1977; and RB RON
DAYNE, NY Giants, 2000. Only Dorsett won a Super Bowl ring.


STORYLINE: Here we go again!

For the third time in the past four years, the former AFC East rivals – with identical records -- will meet in the playoffs. The
game also marks the seventh time since realignment in 2002 that the clubs have met, including for the second time this
season (27-20 Colts win on November 5). Overall leader during that span? The Patriots, 4-2, including both playoff meetings
(2003 AFC Championship and 2004 AFC Divisional).

What does the Colts quarterback who has started all those games (vs. New England’s TOM BRADY) have to say about
Sunday’s opponent? “The Patriots,” says PEYTON MANNING simply, “are as great a team as there is…ever.”
But the Colts have two things going for them right off: they have won the past two meetings, so they know the winners of
three of the past five Super Bowls are not invincible…and they finally have a home playoff game against New England. It will
be the first AFC Championship contested in a dome.

The meeting will be one full of great positional matchups.

There’s Brady vs. Manning – pitting two of the most-recognized NFL quarterbacks, and the most successful since
realignment in 2002. Manning has won 60 regular-season games since 2002, the most in that span, with Brady at No. 2 with
59. But Brady also comes equipped with a 12-1 playoff record and three Super Bowl titles.

Then there’s the combo running backs. New England has basically split time between COREY DILLON and rookie
LAURENCE MARONEY the whole year. Colts RB DOMINIC RHODES started every game, but JOSEPH ADDAI became the
first rookie in history to rush for 1,000 yards without starting a regular-season game.

Next comes the well-known/getting-to-be-well-known wide receivers. Indy’s MARVIN HARRISON and REGGIE WAYNE
turned in their usual 1,000-yard seasons. New Patriots JABAR GAFFNEY and RECHE CALDWELL have really come on in
the playoffs, with 18 (1 TD) and 12 catches (1 TD), respectively.

Finally, there’s the big question: can the reenergized Colts defense, which finished 32nd against the rush this season, yet
has allowed only 44 and 83 rush yards in two playoff games, replicate this performance against Dillon/Maroney?
Championship tidbit: Patriots QB TOM BRADY has six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in the playoffs
since he became a starter in 2001 – the most of any quarterback in that time.


(Home team in CAPS)

AFC: INDIANAPOLIS 23, Kansas City 8, January 6
NFC: SEATTLE 21, Dallas 20, January 6
AFC: NEW ENGLAND 37, N.Y. Jets 16, January 7
NFC: PHILADELPHIA 23, N.Y. Giants 20, January 7
AFC: Indianapolis 15, BALTIMORE 6, January 13
NFC: NEW ORLEANS 27, Philadelphia 24, January 13
NFC: CHICAGO 27, Seattle 24 (OT), January 14
AFC: New England 24, SAN DIEGO 21, January 14

Sunday, January 21:
NFC: New Orleans Saints (11-6) at Chicago Bears (14-3), 3:00 PM ET (FOX)
AFC: New England Patriots (14-4) at Indianapolis Colts (14-4), 6:30 PM ET (CBS)
SUPER BOWL XLI: Sunday, February 4 at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida, 6:30 PM ET (CBS)
PRO BOWL: Saturday, February 10 at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii, 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

TEAMS MEET in AFC Championship Game for 2nd time in past 4 years & for 3rd time in postseason play. New England is
2-0 against Colts in postseason. This marks 1st time in AFC history that neither top seed has advanced to conference title
game as Indianapolis is 3rd seed & New England is 4th. Since 1970, home teams are 47-25 (.653) in conference
championship games.
PATRIOTS: Team is 5-0 all-time in Conference Championship games since 1970…Among NFL teams w/ at least 10 playoff
games played, NE has 2nd-highest win pct. of .633 (19-11)…Head coach BILL BELICHICK is 13-2 (.867) in career playoff
games, 2nd-best win pct. all-time behind HOFer VINCE LOMBARDI (9-1, .900)…QB TOM BRADY is 12-1 (.923) in career
playoff starts, including 3-0 in Super Bowl. Brady is 1st QB in NFL history to win 12 of his 1st 13 playoff games. Brady has
100+ passer rating in 4 of last 6 playoff games – all 4 were wins. Brady has TD pass in 11 consec. playoff games, 3rdlongest
such streak in NFL history (BRETT FAVRE, 16; HOFer DAN MARINO 13). Brady has started 13 postseason
games & has thrown 0 INTs in 8 of those contests. Only HOFer JOE MONTANA has more postseason starts w/ 0 INTs (9
of 23 career playoff starts). Brady threw 51 times last week vs . SD, becoming 1st player to pass 50+ times in non-OT
postseason game & win (26 previous times resulted in a loss). In two career postseason games indoors, Brady is 2-0 w/ 48
of 75 passing for 499 yards & 4 TDs vs. 1 INT (95.4 passer rating)…RB COREY DILLON has 3 career postseason rushing
TDs for NE, 2 shy of franchise record held by CURTIS MARTIN (5). NE is 36-8 (.818) in games he’s played & 1-4 (.200) in
games he has missed since he joined team in 2004. RB KEVIN FAULK has played in 13 career playoff games, most by RB
in team history…WR JABAR GAFFNEY has 18 catches for 207 yards in two playoff games this season, including 1st two
career 100-yard playoff receiving games, after finishing ’06 regular season w/ 11 receptions for 142 yards. WR RECHE
CALDWELL led team with career-high 65 receptions in regular season…CB ASANTE SMAUEL (10) tied for NFL lead in INTs
in regular season & has INT in 3 of last 4 playoff games, 2 resulting in TDs. Samuel is 1st player in NFL history to score
postseason TDs on interceptions in consecutive seasons. S RODNEY HARRISON is only player in history w/ 25+ sacks
(28.5) & 30+ INTs…Rookie K STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI is 6 of 6 in FG tries in 2 career playoff games. Gostkowski
became 1st rookie to kick a 4th-quarter game-winning FG in postseason since former Baltimore Colts K JIM O’BRIEN
defeated the Dallas Cowboys on last-second FG in Super Bowl V.

COLTS: Team advances to AFC Championship Game for 3rd time in past 12 years. Colts are 2nd AFC team & 6th team
overall since 1970 to advance to conference title game with 4,000-yard passer (QB PEYTON MANNING, 4,397), 1,000-yard
rusher (rookie RB JOSEPH ADDAI, 1,081) & 2 1,000-yard receivers (WR MARVIN HARRISON, 1,366; WR REGGIE
WAYNE, 1,310). Team is 1st No. 3 seed to host conference title game since 3rd-seeded Washington Redskins hosted 5thseeded Minnesota Vikings in 1987. Over past 35 years, Redskins were only other team to hosted postseason game after
road playoff game in previous week. Colts (12-4, 2006; 14-2, 2005; 12-4, 2004; 12-4, 2003) join Dallas (1992-95) as only NFL teams to win 12+ games in 4 consecutive seasons. Defense has allowed just 14 points total in 1st 2 playoff games…

Head coach TONY DUNGY aims to join HOFer MIKE DITKA & TOM FLORES as 3rd person to win Super Bowl as player & head
coach. Dungy has led his teams to playoffs in 8 consecutive seasons…In 2 career playoff games vs. NE, Manning has
thrown 42+ passes in each contest, including a career-postseason high 47 times in 2003 AFC Championship. Manning
owns 5-6 (.455) career record in postseason & looks to advance to his 1st Super Bowl. Manning has posted passer rating of
90.0+ in 3 of last 4 vs. NE. In 5 career games at home vs. NE, has passed for 1,345 yards with 12 TDs & 3 INTs for 99.8
passer rating…Addai is 7th rookie running back in AFC history to rush for over 1,000 yards & lead his team to conference
title game & 1st since JAMAL LEWIS in 2000. He led all rookies w/ 1,081 rush yds, averaging 4.8 yds per carry w/ 7 rush
TDs. Addai finished with 48 rushing yds & 1 TD in regular-season game vs . NE in 2006 mtg…Harrison has 10+ TD catches
in NFL-record 8 consecutive seasons. Manning & Harrison have connected for 106 TD receptions – most in NFL history by
any tandem. Harrison has nine 10+ reception games in 18 career matchups vs . NE & has 7 100-yard receiving games,
including past 2. He finished with 145 yds receiving & 2 TDs in Week 9 victory at NE. Wayne has 15 receptions for 214 rec.
yds in last 2 regular-season games vs . NE…DE DWIGHT FREENEY has 4.0 sacks in his last 4 postseason games. S
ANTOINE BETHEA has 2 INTs in his 1st 2 playoff games…K ADAM VINATIERI has made 34 playoff FGs, most in NFL
postseason history. He has scored in 19 consecutive postseason games, tied for 1st on NFL’s all-time list with HOFer
GEORGE BLANDA. Vinatieri booted 5 FGs last week at Bal., becoming 1st player to kick 5 FGs in 2 postseason games in
a career (2003 AFC Championship Game vs. Ind.).
# # #

GAME FEATURES NFC’s top 2 seeds. Bears (No. 1) won NFC North & Saints (No. 2) won NFC South…Teams meet in
playoffs for 2nd time – Bears defeated Saints 16-6 at Soldier Field on 1/6/91.
SAINTS: Play in 1st Championship Game in team history. Head coach SEAN PAYTON was named AP Coach of Year.
Club has 10-3 (.769) mark in conference, including last week’s win over Eagles. Saints are 1st team in NFL history to reach
Championship Game year after finishing with 13 or more losses…All-Star QB DREW BREES set team records with 4,418
yards & 96.2 passer rating. Had 8 300-yard games, including 510-yard performance. In 2 career playoff games, Brees has
99.0 passer rating with 3 TDs vs. 1 INT, 562 yards & 68.9 comp. pct. (51 of 74). Offense led NFL with 65 plays of 20+ yards.
Team tied for 1st with 16 pass TDs of 20+ yards & 18 total offensive TDs of 20+ yards…RB DEUCE MC ALLISTER led club
with 1,057 rushing yards, his 4th 1,000-yard season in past 5 years. Last week, McAllister rushed for team-postseason
record 143 yards & scored 2 TDs (1 rush, 1 rec.). McAllister is 3rd player in NFL history to rush for 140+ yards & score rush
& rec. TD in playoff game. Last player to accomplish feat was TONY DORSETT (12/28/80). McAllister rushed for 116 yards
in last meeting (10/12/03). Rookie RB REGGIE BUSH had team-best 88 receptions, most in NFL history for rookie RB.
Former Saint CHAD MORTON holds NFL record for most catches in postseason by rookie RB with 15. Bush recorded 2
100-yard receiving games & 100-yard rushing game in season’s final month. Scored on 4-yard rush TD in 1st playoff game.
T JAMMAL BROWN was selected to start in his 1st Pro Bowl… WR MARQUES COLSTON led team with 1,038 yards & is
1st player drafted in 7th round or later to record 1,000 yards in rookie season & had team-best 8 TDs. WR DEVERY
HENDERSON led NFL with 23.3 yards-per-catch avg. (32-745). WR JOE HORN has 4 TD catches in past 4 games vs.
Bears…Pro Bowl DE WILL SMITH led team with career-best 10.5 sacks. DE CHARLES GRANT has recorded sack in 6
games this year & Saints have posted 6-0 mark. Has 2.0 sacks & 2 FFs in past 2 vs. Chi. LB SCOTT FUJITA had 1 INT in
only game vs. Bears (12/28/03 w/ KC). CB FRED THOMAS had INT in last meeting…

BEARS: Team has won 9 NFL championships, most among 2006 playoff participants. Club makes 24th postseason
appearance, tied for 4th-most in NFL history. Head coach LOVIE SMITH earned 1st career playoff victory last weekend.
Smith has guided team to wins in 24 of past 30 games, including playoffs. Smith is 1st head coach to lead Bears to
consecutive division titles since MIKE DITKA. Club posted 12-1 (.923) conference record this season, including
playoffs...Team placed NFC-best 7 players on Pro Bowl team, most by franchise since club had 7 All-Stars in 1986: ST
yards passing vs. Seahawks was 2nd highest total in franchise playoff history (SID LUCKMAN, 286 vs. Wash., 12/26/43).
Grossman has won 17 of 1st 23 career starts & is 14-3 (.824) in past 17…RB THOMAS JONES became 1st Bears RB to
register 2 rushing TDs (9, 7) in playoff game since HOFer WALTER PAYTON in 1979 Wild Card game vs. Eagles. Led club
with 1,210 yards, his 2nd consecutive 1,200-yard season. Jones is 1st Bear since Payton to post back-to-back 1,200-yard
seasons. In past 15 when Jones has more than 20 attempts, club is 14-1 (.933) …WR BERNARD BERRIAN’s 68 yard TD
reception last weekend was 2nd longest playoff reception in club annals (WILLIE GAULT, 75t, at Wash.,12/30/84). WR
MUHSIN MUHAMMAD has posted career (192, 9/13/98) and 3rd highest (179, 12/5/04) single-game receiving totals vs.
Saints. Has 2 100-yard games in postseason career. LB Urlacher is 1st Bear LB since HOFer MIKE SINGLETARY (10) to
be named to 6 Pro Bowls. DE MARK ANDERSON led rookies with 12.0 sacks & set club rookie record. CB-KR-PR Hester
set NFL record with 6 return TDs in season, including 108-yard return of missed field goal to tie longest play in NFL history.
CB RICKY MANNING JR.’s 5 career postseason interceptions currently stands 3rd among active players (RODNEY
HARRISON & TY LAW, 6)…K Gould’s 49-yard OT game-winner ranks as 2nd longest such FG in NFL Playoff history (GARY
ANDERSON at Hou., 12/31/89). Set team record with 32 FGs, converting 88.9 pct. & leading NFL with 143 points.
# # #

The Cincinnati Bengals Lease at Paul Brown Stadium Remains Valid - ENQUIRER.COM

Hamilton Co. pays up for PBS turf
And Bengals make their rent payment

The Cincinnati Bengals lease at Paul Brown Stadium remains valid.

During weeks of arguments between the team and its landlord, Hamilton County, there were indications the lease might be defaulted because of disagreements over money.

Concerns about the possible default disappeared, though, when the team paid its 2006 rent Wednesday and Hamilton County starting reimbursing the Bengals for the stadium's new synthetic turf.

In recent weeks, Commissioner Todd Portune signaled that Hamilton County may not make the payments for the turf and its accompanying heating system, which were installed in 2004.

He said that the Bengals insisted on grass fields when the stadium opened in 2000 and the synthetic turf was needed only after the grass kept dying.

The Bengals, insisting the lease required the county to pay for stadium enhancements already in other NFL stadiums, offered Hamilton County to reimburse it for the turf - costing $889,000 - in three yearly payments.

Portune wanted the county administration to investigate whether taxpayers had to foot the bill.

After the Bengals threatened to declare the county in violation of the 30-year lease if the turf payment wasn't made by Wednesday, commissioners reluctantly said they at least would make this year's payment.

Hamilton County paid the team $296,535.32 on Tuesday, County Administrator Patrick Thompson said.

Wednesday was also the deadline for the team to pay its 2006 rent for Paul Brown Stadium.

Thompson said the Bengals sent the rent check Wednesday morning. The lease called for the team to pay $1.1 million for the 2006 season.

Animosity between the sides was heightened after Hamilton County filed a federal lawsuit against the Bengals and the National Football League, alleging they used their monopoly to win a lease unfavorable to the public, paying for the $450 million stadium with a sales tax.

The lawsuit was thrown out but is being appealed.


280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
(212) 450-2000 * FAX (212) 681-7573

Joe Browne, Executive Vice President-Communications
Greg Aiello, Vice President-Public Relations


London will be the venue for the first regular-season NFL game to be played outside North America, the National Football League announced today.

The NFL will stage the first in its new series of international regular-season games in the United Kingdom’s capital city in the fall of 2007. NFL owners voted in October to play up to two games outside the United States every year for the next five years, with the series kicking off with a single game in 2007.

“There is great interest in the NFL around the world,” said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. “Playing a limited number of regular-season games outside the United States is the next step for us in serving that interest. This is what our international fans, media partners, and sponsors want. There is no better place to begin this initiative than London. It is one of the
great cities of the world with an established and growing fan base for our game. We are thrilled to bring the excitement of the NFL regular season to the United Kingdom.”

London’s effort to secure the game was supported by Mayor of London KEN LIVINGSTONE, who visited Commissioner Goodell in New York to state the city’s case for staging an NFL game.

“London is proud to host the first competitive NFL game held outside the North American continent,” Mayor Livingstone said. “There are many NFL fans in London – both American and non-American – and this will be a spectacular sporting occasion. The Super Bowl is followed by almost five-million people in the UK. Hosting an NFL game in London will bring more than
10,000 international visitors to the city. London will be working with the NFL to build on this success to ensure that Londoners, NFL fans, international visitors, and the tens of millions who will watch the game on television have a great day of sport and experience London at its best."

London was selected based upon several factors, including general fan interest, current NFL visibility through existing media agreements, the range and quality of large, world-class stadia, including Wembley and Twickenham, the size and value of the overall sports and entertainment market and the potential to build year-round marketing, sponsorship and fan engagement.
More details about the London game – including the venue and participating teams – are expected to be confirmed during Super Bowl week (January 29-February 4) in South Florida.

The NFL staged its first regular-season game outside of the United States in 2005 when 103,467 people saw the Arizona Cardinals play the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City on October 2 – the largest crowd for a regular-season game in NFL history.
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