FLOWERY BRANCH–Excerpts from Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s conference call today with Atlanta reporters.
Q: What is about this team in December? It seems you turn it on.
A: A lot of times we are in that situation where need to win games to get into the playoffs. You’ve got to be excited about those opportunities and understand we are in a great position. But to hold on to the spot we’ve got to play our best football and find a way to win big games.
Q: Your rushing game has picked up with David Wilson. How is that able to help you?
A: Any time you can establish a good running game it always helps out and puts the defense on their heels a little bit. They don’t know if run or throwing and it slows down the pass rush. You’ve got to have a great mix of the run and pass. If you can get those safeties to stay high in a shell defense because they are scared of pass it should open up the run, and vice versa.
Q: What do you see different about the Falcons’ defense?
A: A little bit of a different scheme than last year. They are still a four-down [linemen] team but kind of more of a three-four style. Their safeties have been playing outstanding and getting interceptions. John Abraham has always a strong pass rusher. It seems they are very aggressive on defense and doing a good job getting turnovers.
Q. You played against Asante Samuel in division games [when he was with the Eagles]. How does he give the Falcons a different look?
A: He’s obviously a guy who makes a lot of plays and kind of has his own style, his own technique. When he sees something, he’s aggressive and he always seems to be around the ball. You always have to keep your eyes on him.
Q: There are differing views of the Falcons around the league. What is your opinion of the Falcons?
A: I think they are a very talented team and a good team and the record shows that. Offensively, they move the ball and make plays. The defense gets turnovers. As an opponent coming in know, both sides of ball have to play very smart and play at our highest level to go in there give ourselves a chance to win.
Q: Why do you think Falcons don’t get respect even though they have the best record in the NFC?
A: I’m not sure about that. They have my respect.
Q. Other than a win or loss, is there anything you look at on the stat sheet that are a tell-tale signs of how the team played?
A: I think our third-down conversions usually tell a big story of the day. Red-zone efficiency usually tells a big part of it, and also turnovers. If you are protecting the ball and converting on third downs and scoring when you get down in the red zone that usually leads to good things.
Q. Did you talk to Peyton [Manning] about his game here [a 27-21 Falcons victory]?
A: I haven’t talked to him yet. I may speak to him a little bit about it later in the week.
Q: The Falcons’ defense moved around a lot in that game. Can movement and not having guys in the place you expect make a quarterback and offensive line uncomfortable?
A: It can. I mean, not uncomfortable, but obviously it’s different looks. You prepare for that. They’ve doing it over the weeks and you have a plan for it. I think we are fortunate we have offensive linemen we have guys been here a number of years and we’ve seen a lot of different looks. We should be able to get it called and get things going. And when people are walking around [on defense] and doing different things there should be some chances to hit some big plays.
Q: Do you think you’ve managed the post-Super Bowl lag better this time around?
A: Last time we won the NFC. We started off 11-1 and ended up 12-4. Obviously we are not going to go 12-4 this year but we’ve still got a chance to win the division and get into the playoffs. That’s what we are rooting for and we’ve got to make sure keep focus one game at a time.
Q. On a personal note, is the area there in Hoboken where a lot of the players live back to nornal [after Hurricane Sandy]?
A: The area that we are in is back to normal for a lot of us. There are still people who live there still being affected and still rebuilding trying to get back to normal. These last two or there weeks for me and a lot of players it’s been back to a normal routine with power back and it’s been a lot better.
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