Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
18 Jan 2007
compiled by Alex Carnevale
"I'm trying to make a play. Every time I get an interception, I'm trying to score."
-- Chargers S Marlon McCree, on his interception-turned-fumble that kept the Patriots alive in the divisional round (Chargers.com).
"Unless it's a two-minute situation and it's a Hail Mary pass, I'm never going to try to knock the ball down. I got the ball and I'm trying to make the guy miss and go up field. There was a receiver behind me, and he made a good play. I have no regrets for trying to make a play. That's what I was trying to do."
"I would do the same thing if I had the opportunity to do it again. This time I would just secure the ball better. It's tough because if I hold onto it, we probably win. That's the way things go sometimes."
"And not withstanding the disappointment and frustration of the events of this day, I'll choose to look at this team in a very positive light, because the men that are in that locker room laid it down every single time they were asked to and at the end of this situation, really, we ran out of time is what happened. We ran out of time."
-- Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer
"And just the fact the way they showed no class at all, absolutely no class and maybe it comes from the head coach, there you have it."
-- LaDainian Tomlinson, on Artrell Hawkins and others parodying Shawne Merriman's taunt after the Patriots win.
"You know, pointing to the score board, doing the 'lights out' dance, stomping on the helmets, all that. That's part of it, I don't want to blow it up, we've all been there. Guarantee I've jumped up and down and that's why I don't want to blow it out of proportion, it was just a heck of a game, a battle. You know, yeah, guys talk, I was talking. It was one of those kind of games, you have a good time and you compete. It was kind of to me, hey, it's over, great game, you won, and you know it struck a nerve. You know what, it may not have been as big a deal, the competitors in L.T., myself, and all of us, you hate to lose, and you hadn't lost at home all year and you do, anything can bother you."
-- Chargers QB Philip Rivers
"You've got Lorenzo Neals and hey, they may be back, the Randalls and Keenans, and they're in the latter part of their career, how many more years they play. Those are the guys, you don't know if they'll get the shot again. They obviously had a huge part of our success, and it's --it's, again, that's why I think it's the greatest game there is. That's why we all play it and we'll all be getting ready to go again here in a couple of months."
"Give them credit. That's why they've won some Super Bowls. We had everything going for us. We had everything we could have wanted and we did everything but win."
-- Chargers OT Shane Olivea, on the Pats.
"That was very classless. When we went in and beat their head in New England, blew them out, we did nothing but compliment them and say they were a good team. We would never disrespect a team like that. Shaun Phillips will have a grudge against them the rest of his career."
-- Chargers LB Shaun Phillips. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
"[Bleep] New England and their team... Get the look of shock off your faces. Don't be shocked. We beat your [butt]."
-- Chargers CB Drayton Florence to the people of Foxboro after San Diego's 41-17 victory in 2005. (Providence Journal-Bulletin, October 3, 2005)
"All right. What a game. Really -- I'm speechless. Really proud of our football team."
-- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
"I'd rather be up 40, actually. We'll take what we can get."
-- Patriots QB Tom Brady, on whether he thrives in close contests.
"Troy saved our season. Without that play, we're flying home losers tonight."
-- Tom Brady, on the Troy Brown strip that led to a Reche Caldwell recovery of Marlon McCree's fumble. (Sports Illustrated)
"We got tired of hearing their comments. They're a great team. We knew they were a great team. No one respected them more than us. We took what they said and let it fuel us. We were prepared in the end."
-- Pats FB Heath Evans
"They were planning their Super Bowl party. They had scouts at all the other games. It was really a lack of respect for us."
-- Pats WR Jabar Gaffney
"We're a class team. We carry ourselves with a lot of class. We don't say what we're going to do. We just go out and play Patriots football."
-- soon-to-be former Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel (Boston Herald)
"People say the offer was an insult. I don't care what people think. If [Brees] wanted to come back, he would have accepted the offer."
-- Chargers GM A.J. Smith, on negotiations with Drew Brees last off-season.
"I was supposed to be the guy to take that team to the next step. But then I started thinking, How can I go back when that's what they think of me?"
-- Saints QB Drew Brees (Sports Illustrated)
"When you set your goals high, which we try to do here, you hope as the season goes on that you can get into position to play in a championship game, an NFC championship game and onto the Super Bowl. Years from now, (the media) will be able to grade the teams, the history and all those types of things."
-- Saints head coach Sean Payton, on getting to the NFC Championship Game matchup against the Chicago Bears.
"But a lot of coaches think you either have to be a disciplinarian and be a jerk or you have to be a players' coach and be a pushover. Coach Payton is showing you can be disciplined, hold guys accountable, but you can also be on the same level as your players."
-- Saints special-teamer Steve Gleason (San Jose Mercury News)
"Fred has been a big reason why this team has had such a good run. He's leading the league in a lot of categories. He's a big reason why we are playing in the NFC Championship game. He understands the importance of consistent play out there, I think the best thing a corner back like Fred can have as an experienced player is a short memory. You've got to get back out there and get back up. We saw some good players last week and a good offense. He's just got to get back up and start playing again and get ready for the next challenge."
-- Payton, on DB Fred Thomas' performance.
"I thought in a media market such as Chicago, in a playoff game, he played extremely well.
-- Payton, on Rex Grossman's performance against the Seahawks on Sunday.
"If they haven't heard from me, then it's not good news."
-- Payton, on requests for tickets for family in Illinois.
"Mike Ditka isn't a member of the Bears. He was a member of the Bears 20 years ago, and he's not a member of the Saints. I'm the only guy who has that distinction of being fired from both of those teams, and that's terrible ... and that's breaking my heart and I feel bad."
-- former Bears and Saints coach Mike Ditka
"Why? Why not think of Walter Payton, and Dan Hampton and McMahon, and Suey and Fencik, and that's who they should think about then. All those guys, Singletary, not Mike Ditka. I was just a guy there."
-- Ditka, on the suggestion that when people think of the Bears, they think of Mike.
"I was a guy passing through, I got on the train. Said, 'Let me take the train to New Orleans to the Super Bowl.'"
"I'm just not gonna stand here in front of people and pick one team to beat the other. First of all, the greatest story in sports may be for New Orleans to run the table and go. If you understand that, that might be the greatest story in sports in the past 20 years."
-- Ditka (NBC5.com)
"We can say that it really shouldn't matter, but we know it does."
-- John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors and promotes the hiring of minority coaches, on having three African-American coaches in the playoffs.
"As an Afro-American man, I want to do well to make it better for other guys coming up through the ranks to get an opportunity."
-- Colts head coach Tony Dungy
"At some point, someone's got to finish."
-- Doug Williams on the losing playoff ways of Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards, Denny Green, and Art Shell. (USA Today)
"We are going onto a time that, at least in the nine years that I've been here, the least amount of possible change is to come up. We have a very small number of players that are up contractually. I am very confident we will be able to keep the integrity of this team going forward."
-- Brian Billick, Ravens head coach.
"We have fewer unanswered questions going forward than any time since I've been here with regard to our personnel, our quarterbacking situation, the direction of the offense, the personnel that will be staffing it. There are a lot of things to be optimistic about, and I'm excited about it going forward."
-- Billick (TDN.com)
"We talked one time."
-- Former Giants coach Jim Fassel, on whether or not he talks to Brian Billick. (WFAN)
"I definitely think it will this year. No question about it. I know that for a fact."
-- Fassel, on whether signing on with the Ravens and then parting ways after a 4-2 start has hurt his chances for another head coaching position.
"The worst decision I made in all my coaching decisions is I should have just laid low and got out of it completely and not gone down there to consult. There were some opportunities after my first year ... it probably would have turned out differently I think."
"Eli's progress right now is not where we want it to be, obviously. He's played for two full seasons as a starter, so he's really not that far behind. I think it's overexaggerated. Look at the quarterbacks that are playing now in the playoffs, are those guys that much better? I don't think so. He's our franchise and I hope he'll be here for a long time."
-- new Giants general manager Jerry Reese (WFAN.com)
"I'm not going to deviate from anything that I said. I'm not because that's how I felt and I still feel the same way today and I'm going to feel the same way until. But I just never thought that I was considered a guy that was capable of going out there and making plays. All that I've done prior to this season, I thought it warranted that at least. And I just didn't feel for 16 games that I was given that opportunity."
-- Ravens WR Derrick Mason (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
"It was a stressful day at the office. Back and forth, back and forth, and then we go into overtime and they get the ball first. It's a great game, but it's a stressful game too. Luckily we were able to pull it out."
-- Bears running back Thomas Jones, talking about the anxiety the players felt Sunday. (ChicagoBears.com)
"He played his best game this year. He played his ass off. He doesn't play a whole lot in the nickel, and he still made a bunch of plays. He's meant a lot to me the last few years."
-- Seahawks defensive end Bryce Fisher, on DL Grant Wistrom. (Seattle Times)
"If you'd have said, 'You're going to be the head coach of the team that plays in this facility,' I'd have said, 'Wow.' I would have been surprised."
-- former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. (Casper Star-Tribune)
"I have decided that Marty Schottenheimer is the best person to lead the Chargers in the 2007 season. General Manager A.J. Smith and I agree on this fundamental point."
-- Chargers team president Dean Spanos
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120 comments, Last at 22 Jan 2007, 8:42pm by Sid