Thursday, December 23, 1999

Q- Re: Playoff Atmosphere

A- I think we have to treat it that way. It is a playoff format for us. If we lose we are done. I think everybody realizes that. I think everybody knows what we have to do and because of that we will come ready to play on Sunday.  

Q- Are you guys going to be able to put that Rams game behind you and focus on whatís at stake here this week?

A- I definitely think so. We have had two good days of practice. I think everybody realizes we didnít play the way we wanted to against St. Louis. The focus right now is to try to win this game. The fact that we lost last week hurt us in the standings. We are still in position to do everything that we want to do. It is just a matter of coming back and playing well this week. Everybody realizes what we have to do and is focused in. Hopefully we will play our best game on Sunday.  

Q- Is their a little more pressure on the defense this week? The better you do the less the defense has to see the likes of Randy Moss and all of the great players on that side of the ball.

A- They certainly have a lot of big play capability. Our goal every week is for us to be efficient, not turn the ball over, and run the ball well. If we are able to put all of those things together, we will play well. It would sure be nice to keep their offense off of the field. They definitely have the big play capability and big time players. We would like to play our most efficient game of the season.  

Q- How important will it be to get off to a good start, to get the fans behind you, and get going early?

A- Last week, against St. Louis, we went three-and-out a couple of times right at the beginning. It would be nice to get one of those drives where we get a couple of first downs and hopefully we can get some points on the board. It is going to be important, we realize that. We realize that their offense is really good. They have got a lot of good players. We will worry about our side of the ball and try to be as efficient as we can.  

Q- Re: Intensity of the game

A- I donít think we can get caught up in that kind of stuff. I think you saw last week what happens when you get caught up in that stuff. We have got to keep our focus and try to do all of the things that are going to keep our mind on winning. Last week, for whatever reason, things kind of got hairy out there and we got out of our game a little bit. We will come back and learn from our mistakes last week. We will try to come out and play well.  

Q- How tough is that to do?

A- I think we have an intelligent bunch of guys here. We have some good veteran leadership and because of that I think we all realize what we did last week, we canít do again because it is not going to give us a chance to win.  

Q- What are you thankful for this holiday season?

A- I am thankful to be 7-7 and still in the playoff hunt. It is that kind of year. We have got our destiny in our hands. What more could you ask for in at this point of the season. Personally? I am just happy to be healthy. I am happy to be in a great situation here. I am happy to be around a lot of good people and a great organization. I have got a lot to be thankful for.  

Q- Re: Vikings Defense

A- I think they played a lot better last week than a lot of people gave them credit for. You have got some athletes in there. Maybe they havenít played as much as the other guys but they have got a lot of ability regardless of how much they played or ranks or anything like that., We are going to have to play our best football game. This is the point in the season where you have got to come out and play at your best each and every week, or you are going to have a long day. We are not looking at any of that stuff. We are not focusing on any of that. We are going to come out and try to play our game.  

Q- What is the biggest thing that catches your eye about their defense?

A- They have a lot of team speed. The linebackers are real fast. They have some playmakers, too. John Randle, Dwayne Rudd is a Pro Bowl linebacker; you have got some guys that can play. Hitchcock is a good corner. The safety Griffith is one of the best safeties in the league. I am not taking these guys lightly. I think everybody is trying to make us think that we should take these guys lightly and I am trying to get the point across around here that we should do the opposite and take these guys very seriously. Despite their rank and despite everything that everyone has been saying about them. At this point in the season, you have got to be on top of your game or anybody can beat you.  

Q- Re: Realistic to have a shootout in Giants Stadium in December

A- Who knows what the weather is going to be like in there. But, whatever the game is as long as we keep our focus and get back to playing good efficient offensive football; taking care of the ball, running the ball - we need to have a good day running the ball. When you do that it allows you to do a lot of things like it did the previous two weeks. I am not worried about any conditions or anything else, I am worried about our offense and how we are going to do and trying to get to the point where we are playing at a high level.  

Q- Do you hope to have more of Pete Mitchell this week?

A- Yeah, Pete is a little dinged up right now.. I know his ankle has been bothering him. He hasnít been able to practice. We know that he will be ready to go on Sunday. I am not worried about his condition. I think that he will be fine. Pete is a gamer. He is obviously a talented player and is tough guy. We would like to get Pete the ball. Hopefully we can get him more involved this week than last week. I think we just got out of the plan a little bit and felt like we needed to get the ball down the field a little bit more and it took away from some of his underneath stuff. I think I may have been looking down the field a little too much and maybe not looking for Pete specifically. We will get back to what we are doing best. We are home. I donít think our confidence has wavered too much despite what happened last week. Pete is certainly going to be a big involvement, a big part of it, as he is every week.  

Q- Why do you think their passing defense numbers are so bad?

I donít know. They have gotten banged up, that has hurt them. They came into the season with questions at cornerback and that has kind of really hasnít been answered for them all year. There is a lot of things that go on with that, but I am not even worried about that. I am worried about what is going on in here. Worried about what is going on in our house. They must be doing something right, they are winning football games. That is the bottom line for this whole thing regardless of rank or whatever everybody else is saying about them.  

Q- Re: Importance of this game

A- It is a playoff game for us. That is the way we are treating it. It would nice to have that kind of feeling in the stadium on Sunday. We are still in a position to do what we want to do, it is still right there for us, and to have the fans behind us will give us a big boost.  

Q- What do you see when you watch Jeff George play?

A- I think Jeff George is probably head and shoulders, talent wise, above anybody in the NFL. He has got that kind of talent. I have seen some of the throws he makes, moving to his left, throwing across his body 45 yards on a rope. His talent is off the charts. It is not surprising that he is doing what he is doing. I know he has good receivers and guy that can make plays, but that is what is so scary about it. He has guys that have the kind of talent that he does. You put that combination together, you are going to have some real good things happen. He will get the ball to them, regardless of where they are on the field, when it is, or how far downfield it is he will get it to them.  

Q- Can you talk about Tiki Barberís role in the offense on Sunday?

A- Tiki is a guy that each week we want to go into the game and make sure we have the plays in our gameplan to give him the touches that we feel he needs to get for our offense to be successful. We put a package in for him last week, he runs down the sideline and makes a great catch. We called a screen his was, he gets 15 yards on 3rd and 12 or whatever it was. He is a guy that is really emerging as one of the top 3rd down backs in the league. He is one of the guys on this team that we have got to make sure we get him the ball.