Re: Running backs coach Jerald Ingram:
He is an excellent coach. He’s been with me a long time. He was at Ball State and I hired him as the offensive backfield coach at Boston College. When I had the opportunity to go to Jacksonville, I invited him to go with me. He’s been very loyal. He’s a Michigan guy. He’s from Western Pennsylvania and played in the great football lore out there, and he went to Michigan to play for Coach [Bo] Schembechler. So, he has all of that great background. He’s been a real solid guy for us here and has been very loyal to this program. He’s a hard worker and he’s developed and believed in the same principles that we do in terms of ball security and the way in which it’s taught and being primarily responsible as a runner for protection first and those kinds of things. Those are the reasons he’s a good coach and he’s done very well and he’s developed some talented runners over the course of his career, including Fred Taylor in Jacksonville.
What have Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning meant to their respective franchises?
They’ve been outstanding players for their franchises. If my math is right, both have two Super Bowls. They’re outstanding leaders. I know Eli does and what little I’ve been able to note of Ben in his career, he’s done a good job of working the chemistry of his team and that’s the way Eli has worked here. Both have been the voice of their franchise and done a good job of that. That was a very good, talented draft, and both the Steelers and the Giants got a couple of outstanding players.
Did you have issue with the timekeeping at the end of your game against Dallas last week?
You think you’re going to get me into that, do you? The only issue I’ve got is I try to think of myself as somebody that’s always interested in trying to sculpture down and realize what you can do with a limited amount of time. I’ve had a difficult time thinking you could get three plays off, two of which are throws into the end zone, in ten seconds. That was my only thing. If that’s possible, then I’ve been going about it the wrong way because I’ve stopped and kicked field goals with seven seconds left because I was worried something would happen and we wouldn’t get the field goal. I was surprised that you could get that many plays.
Re: This current Steelers team:
I think that based on most recent history, the Steelers did a nice job with the Redskins the other day and we were fortunate to win in our game. We keep everybody in the stands right until the very end at our place and it took an outstanding play at the end between two outstanding players for us to make it happen. The Steelers have always been, in my tenure in coaching, going way back to the middle of the 90s, and we were trying like heck to be as good as that franchise, so that we could have something to say about postseason play. Even now today, during all those years, the Steelers have been certainly a benchmark for anybody who’s trying to develop their team as the example and model of toughness.
Re: Your relationship with Coach Mike Tomlin:
I just admire him as a young coach and the opportunity he’s created for himself in Pittsburgh and what a great job he’s done there. I really enjoy being around Mike and his family and seeing them at the league meetings and the coaching meetings is fun too. He’s never at a loss for some challenging words, whether it be officiating meetings or whatever. He’s very respectful of it but he’s not about to stifle himself in terms of asking and inquiring.
Are the Steelers surprising on defense or do you know what you’re getting coming in?
I think you’ve always got that card. We all study everything. We study in the offseason. When there’s a new opponent on our schedule we research in the offseason and we try to gather as much information as we can. But there’s always something that comes up during the game because the people that are doing the planning, in this case it’s Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau, whether it’s our defensive staff here with Perry Fewell, you’re looking for something which allows you to be little bit different or attack a certain way or a style or perhaps a formation or concept. But, therein lies the difference. So whether it be something on third downs, whether it be something on early downs, there’s always going to be something different. That’s the nature of the game.
Have you approached this season differently in terms of winning the championship last season?
No. We tried to do a good job of talking to our team about what we call “build a bridge,” bridging over from the six-game run that we had at the end of last season and the championship, and into the new season. It remains to be seen whether we’ve captured all of those outstanding elements but we continue to strive to do that. But our approach, no, our approach, and everyone in this league, their approach has been modified by our new collective bargaining agreement and to be honest, I think some of us, and me included, are still trying to find the best way to prepare your team for the season ahead under the new regime.
Would you like to hit a little more in practice if you could?
I don’t know. I suppose practice would help. We’re currently into the real belief in trying to do, as long as we can have all the jog-thrus, and those things are great, and we’re hoping we’re making progress mentally with that throughout the course of training camp. But the fact of the matter is you’re not going full speed, and when it comes time to go full speed you have an awful lot of things you’re trying to capture that you know is accumulative and whether or not you get the time spent as you start the season, sometimes you shake your head and it takes you awhile. Even when you’re talking about having played X amount of games, still sometimes you’re not sure. Coaches are always going to be looking for more, you know that. But as far as our approach to this season, it wasn’t really any different. Quite frankly, we counted on having played longer than most of the teams and the league and we thought that was going to be an advantage for us.
Quarterback Eli Manning
Re: Team’s mindset coming into this game:
We know we‘ve got a big, tough challenge ahead of us. It’s not a team we play very often but it’s a team with a lot of talent and a good scheme. We’ve got to do a lot of preparation to get ready for all the different looks and for their players. We’ve got to have a good week of practice and we know we’ve got a good team on our hands and we’ve got to play great football.
Do you view this game as you versus QB Ben Roethlisberger?
No, I don’t. This is Giants versus Steelers. My focus is on getting ready for their defense and I know their offense is capable of making plays and scoring points, and he does a great job leading his team. This isn’t about me and him, and I’m sure some people are trying to make it that way. This is us playing against a top-quality team in the NFL and us trying to go get a win.
Have you followed Roethlisberger’s career?
Yeah, of course. I think you always pay attention to guys in your draft class, and especially quarterbacks at the same position. In my case, you root for the guys and when people look back years from now, you say that was great draft class, Philip Rivers and Roethlisberger and some of the quarterbacks. I’ve really kept up and I can’t recall his stats but I know he’s played in three Super Bowls and won two of them, obviously that being the most important thing.
Will you talk with your brother about facing the Steelers?
I talked to him a little bit last night. We talked a little football. I asked if they had anything and he said they do what they always do and they have good players and a good scheme. He didn’t have anything earth shattering to tell me that I wouldn’t see from previous games that we played against them over the years or just watching the film from this year.
Is your team finding the challenge of trying to repeat any different than last time?
I think we’ve done a good job of not worrying about repeating. You can’t repeat in the regular season. All you can do is go out there and compete and try to play well and try to win games. Our goal is to get into the playoffs. The only way to ensure that you get into the playoffs is winning your division and we had a big game last week versus Dallas and the week before versus Washington, division games. Now it’s a matter of continuing to play well and trying to win these games. You never know how it’s going to end up, six or seven weeks from now where everybody is going to be. All we can do is worry about ourselves and try to win games.
Have you ever had a team come back like Dallas did last week?
Not that I know of. Obviously, we don’t want that to be the case where we didn’t score any points in the third quarter and didn’t do much in the second quarter as well. But in the fourth quarter we put ourselves in a bind and were down and responded well with two good drives in the fourth quarter that we scored points on and gave us the lead. The defense did a great job holding onto it. In this league, you take wins however you get them. It wasn’t the prettiest. Offensively, we’ve got to do a better job on some things but we did respond when we needed to.
Did you find it easier or more difficult to win your second Super Bowl?
It’s hard. It is difficult. You get in there the same time you completely realize how hard it is and how things have to go your way. You get breaks and if you get a little break you’ve got to ride it out and take advantage of it, and that’s what it’s about. You realize just making it to the playoffs is hard. That’s something to be proud of every year if you can make it to the playoffs, and winning those four games in a row against good teams is tough. You’ve got to make plays. All three phases, offense, defense, special teams, have to play great together and for a long period of time. It’s not easy and we feel very fortunate that we’ve worked hard, and last year our team deserved to be champions.
What’s your reaction to playing the Steelers defense likely without their two starting safeties?
Obviously, that can change things a little bit. Troy [Polamalu] is a tremendous talent and all over the field and just a playmaker. I think their scheme stays very similar though, and it’s a defense where everybody knows what they’re doing and everybody is on the same page. They don’t make mistakes, they’re very fundamentally sound, they have good players and they let their players play fast. We’ve got to be prepared for whatever they throw at us.
Is WR Victor Cruz getting better by the week?
I think so. I hope so. He’s a guy who works extremely hard. He treats practice very seriously. He competes in practice. We talk a bunch. We grind and we want to make practice perfect, and we think that carries over into games. I’m proud of the way he has not lost focus and has come out and done some great things. We need him to play well for us.
Is the league going back to a balanced offensive attack?
It’s tough. Everybody has their differences. Some people want to throw it. We try to have a balance. We try to have the run mix in with the pass and have them complement each other. Sometimes it just depends on the game. Sometimes that’s what you want. If you’re running it well, you’re going to keep running it. If you’re having a tough day running it but you can throw it well, let’s throw it. If we’re getting one or two yards a run, that’s not helping us. Let’s throw the ball and take some shots and take quick throws, hit these quick gains and still get plays. You want to be flexible. If both of them aren’t working, that’s how you get into tough days. We go in with a game plan but if something’s not working or you get in a situation where you want to do one more than the other, we feel very flexible and confident we can be successful using both of them.
Is it tough concentrating on football in the wake of the storm?
These last couple days have been a little different but the most important thing for the players is staying safe and that their families are safe. Coach Coughlin let us come in later this morning and have a little time to get our situations settled. For me, I was excited to get in this morning, see the teammates, check on everybody and get back to preparation, get back to practice. I think once you’re in the facility, once we get these meetings started up, our focus will be on football, on Pittsburgh and doing everything we need to do to get a win.
Re: The Giants defense creating so many turnovers:
It’s great. As an offense you love that. It’s great momentum. The defense is getting turnovers and getting us great field position. Offensively, we’ve got to do a little bit better job of taking advantage of that and scoring touchdowns when they’ve put us in those situations. Our defense starts with our front four and our pass rush. We get to the quarterback, make the quarterback throw it before they want to, make them throw it a little high and then guys being in the right spot and making some great plays for us.
Were you or the stadium or the facility affected by the storm?
No, the facility is fine. We’re in here. Everything is up and running and we’re working well. My building is without power right now. My family is safe and in a good situation now. I’ll probably stay at a hotel the rest of this week until we get some power.
Re: Peyton Manning’s performance this year:
I’m proud of the way he has played this year. I know he’s worked extremely hard to get back to playing at a high level. Last year was frustrating for him. Being injured is always frustrating but he is grinding and grinding and this is a long process. He had his date set for the first game of the season being ready to play and play at a high level. I think he’s accomplished that. He’s gotten better and better over the weeks and more comfortable in learning a new offense, being in a new city. A lot of changes have gone on. He’s playing at a high level. The team is playing well and winning games. I’m just happy for his success and I hope it continues.
What has FB Henry Hynoski brought to the offense?
Henry is a guy who just has toughness. He’s very smart. He’s always got questions for me. Every Saturday he has his four or five questions on a call I’m going to make and how he’s going to block this and how we’re going to do this. He’s a guy who wants to make sure he’s got everything down and he does not want to make a mental mistake. He has great toughness and is just a good person and a great teammate.
Are you going to get Hynoski a touchdown?
We almost had him one the other week. He got tackled at the one. He made a good catch and got tackled at the one-yard line. We’re going to try to get him in the endzone one day.