By SCOTT PURKS
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001
Q: How did your defense's performance stack up to others this year?
A: We've done that all year; this is just what they do. We had a great deal of respect for the New York Giants. But until you face our defense in particular, you don't know what you're getting yourself into.
Q: Could you talk about the game plan against the Giants' defense?
A: We have a great deal of respect for the Giants defense. We knew we weren't going to be gashing them up and down the field, but we thought we could push and shove and get some things down the field. Clearly, the objective was to not turn the ball over.
Q: You've talked all week about how loose your team is. How important was that?
A: There is a difference between confidence and being loose. We've said that all week. For those that haven't been around us, this group knows how to enjoy itself, stay focused when need be, and go to work. . . . It's kind of an agreement we have. Give me your focus, and we'll keep the meetings short and keep practice upbeat. We won't make an hour-and-a-half practice two hours. We won't meet just to meet.
Q: Can you talk about the momentum swing on the back-to-back kickoff returns?
A: The emotional swing at that point was huge. You could see what it meant to their sideline, and then Jermaine (Lewis) took it back the other way. The emotional flop had to be devastating to them.
Q: Were you surprised how you wore them down at the end?
A: This team will hit you and keep coming at you and they don't let up. In the fourth, we've been able to separate from other teams, whether it's running out the clock, finishing off and not giving them an inch and making them punt. That's kind of the way it's been all year.
Q: What was the key in shutting down Kerry Collins?
A: We got some pressure on him. Kerry had a tremendous year, but we have some incredible talent on the defensive side of the ball. And opponents have to have a healthy respect for putting the ball in certain areas. If you don't, then we'll make you pay for it.
Q: What makes your defense as good as it is?
A: It's a great mix of veterans, youth and athletic talent. There is no weak link against our defense. There is nothing you can hang your hat on to attack our defense.
Q: Chris McAlister's pick just before the half?
A: Getting that pick in that situation is tough to overcome emotionally.
Q: Is your defense the greatest ever?
A: If we're talking about a year, yeah. You guys set the parameter. . . . We've given up the fewest points in the history of the game for a year, and we've won the Super Bowl. Is there a better criteria?
Q: You said that these guys taught you for the first time in 25 years what teamwork really means. What did you mean?
A: You guys (the media) can use a little bit of schooling yourself on that issue as well. I'm talking in terms of character, not rushing to judgment, not writing articles with things that aren't substantiated. I've learned a lot from these guys and I think you guys could learn a lot from them as well.
Q: How much of a difference did having the two-week layoff make?
A: If we would have had to come back in one week after traveling across country from Oakland, well, we would have (been) willing but I don't know if the body would have been able. It might have been too much for us. Having the two weeks was pivotal for us.
Q: How about a little comment on Jamal Lewis?
A: For a young kid like that to just keep pounding away, well that says a lot. It's a long year for a young man.