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Payton Describes Emotions of NFC Championship title

    <span>              <span style="">New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton</span>                   
            <span style="">Opening Statement:</span>                  

"I think we came out of the game fairly healthy. Courtney Roby dinged his knee. I don't think it's significant. Lynell Hamilton with an ankle should be fine. And then, obviously, we're making progress with where Jeremy's (Shockey) at, and we monitored his snaps yesterday. Certainly with Malcolm Jenkins being inactive, he's making good progress. From a health standpoint, it's all pretty good news. We met with our team here just about a half an hour ago for a half an hour, went through the game, and really, the upcoming week, to week and a half from a schedule standpoint. This week these guys will be in here lifting and running today, and then they'll be off on Tuesday and Wednesday. And then we'll practice Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sunday is the Pro Bowl. I haven't gotten that far yet what we want to do with that Sunday. A bunch of our players won't be available. They'll be down in Miami leaving Sunday morning. We were pleased with the win and the way our guys responded. I said this after the game. It was a game that went back and forth with momentum swings. It had a lot of effort by both teams. You tip your hat to Minnesota. They played lights out with a lot of heart. The turnovers ended up being a big stat in this game. Without that swing in turnovers, we probably don't come up on the winning end of this game. The turnover at the second quarter right before halftime was significant. Certainly the turnover at the end of the game prior to overtime was significant. And then we made enough plays in overtime to win the game. Pierre Thomas' kick return was big, for him to jump in that role, which is normally been where Courtney's played, and get us good field position. And we make just enough plays to give our kicker a chance to win the game and he does. All of that ended up being pretty special.

Did you tell Hartley anything before his kick?

"He went out the first time, and I just said go hit it. Then the timeout was called. You try to anticipate those moments. And during the course of the week last week I had said something to him at one point in regards to you know when it comes time for you to hit a game winning kick, what do you want me to tell you? So you want to go through it a little bit with him. I just told him "you belong here to hit this kick". "I don't know if he heard me. I said there is a little tiny fleur de lis up there between the uprights. Why don't you try to hit that fleur de lis, and he hit it solid and true. It was obviously a big kick for him and he had plenty of leg."

It looks like both you and Garrett really leaned on John Carney during the final moments of the game. Can you talk about their relationship. Even though Carney is not kicking anymore, is it really important to have him by your side?

"John's done a great job. I turn around and he's got a towel around his waist in the coaches' locker room anymore. Carney now, coach's hat on, whistle around his neck. John's got a great temperament, and a calming affect around people in general. That is one of his big strengths. I think that served him well as a kicker, and it's serving us well now as a guy that is consulting and helping a young player, just from day to day warm up to practice, to this is how you do it. And certainly to have a guy like John Karney in your ear during the work week, on the sidelines. I don't think I've ever seen John blip up or blip down. It's always just been the same, and I think that's a good thing."

People talk about your offense and what it does and points to the records. Did your defense kind of establish its identity last night for everybody to see?

"I think what they did was they kind of to some degree it was a little bit of what they've done all season. If you look at the takeaway numbers throughout the course of the year, it's been amazing. The amount of touchdowns we've scored defensively in a game where the first drive they went ahead 7 0. We were able to answer and come back and tie it. There were a couple more touchdowns exchanged. They just kept battling. But had their pursuit to the football and their obsession with getting the turnovers paid dividends last night that ended up really being the difference in winning and losing."

What about the pressure they put on Brett Favre? And the hits they got on him?

"No question. I think that has anytime you're able to do that there's a long term effect that that begins to have that has on the quarterback. You begin to look at the football. They rushed us pretty well. And we handled that. Both quarterbacks got hit. Both quarterbacks knew that it was going to be a physical game. And it was amazing to be a part of. Really. Just to watch it, and watch the number of great athletes on both sides of the ball, young and old. Just to watch them compete. It was something else."

Can you talk about Reggie Bush's ability to stay focused, having the fumble on the punt return, staying focused to get the touchdown? Can you talk about how he's come full circle?

"I think he understood just the ball security issue there. Our defense bailed us out without any points before we went in at halftime. So we knew we were going to get the ball back in the second half. We had 50 something seconds left. We decided to run some handoffs and both of them were with Reggie. And we were in our spread set in the hopes that maybe we split one of them for a big gain. Then we shift from being conservative there to trying to get in field goal range. Yet I knew we started with the ball to get the second half and I didn't want to turn this thing back over on our own wherever we were at. It was inside our 20. So we ended up running out the clock and got the ball back to start the second half. But he understands how to recover and come off a mistake. And I think our players in general have handled that and that turned out to be our only turnover. "

You were with Jeremy Shockey in New York for a time. Talk about that experience of going through and winning the super bowl. He said he was happy for the team, but it was just hard for him. What do you think it means for him to get the opportunity to get back to the Super Bowl again?

"I think certainly there is a competitive side to him that makes him unique and different. I think the one thing is this additional time for him to get healthy and he was close to 100%, yet because of the amount of practice time he missed, wanted to be careful. I didn't want to play him too much. So he got some quality snaps and yet we went more with Dave Thomas. I think this additional week will help him because there weren't any setbacks in his case with his knee. His toe's fine. So I think the competitive side of Jeremy Shockey is something especially when you take a handful of these guys that are going back to a city where they played college football at and, you know, we're going to practice at Miami, the University of Miami's facility, the Hurricane's facility. That is unique."

Is it the emotional aspect for him though?

"I think it's certainly a goal of his to get back in this game and to be a participant rather than to have to watch it as tough as that is. But people forget how important he was to that team the year they won the Super Bowl. When you go back to look at the early two thirds of the season that year before his injury. He had a lot of big plays. It's just hard, I'm sure, for any player when you can't finish the season and then you see the team that you've played for having success, and you can't be a part of that. I think that is difficult for any player."

What observations can you tell us about what you saw and heard when you left the dome last night?

"Well, there was just so much emotion. You know, when you finish with the locker room aspect, you just try to find your family. My son's concern is the confetti's going to keep us from being able to play catch on the field. That was his concern. It was just good to hug them and be around the family and enjoy the time. There never seems to be enough of it. But when you're able to get a win like that and you have the people closest to you to be a part of it, and so many of us had family in and friends in. You know, for them to have a chance to be part of t I think it makes it really special. Obviously the same goes for this upcoming game."

Last night was there any sort of congratulatory posters? Anything that your neighbors put on your lawn?

"I haven't been home yet. I ended up staying in the city rather than trying to go home. We ended up having dinner downtown at Harrah's and spending the night there. So we'll make our way across the bridge here this evening."

How many texts and phone calls did you get? And did you talk to anyone that you made a point to?

"I really haven't had a chance to talk to anyone. You get 80 to 90 text messages. It's overwhelming. I think there are just a lot of people that are excited for the success that we've had. Somewhere during this off season, hopefully you get a chance to reach out and really touch base with everyone. "

Getting back to Jeremy Shockey just for a second, did you take any sort of leap of faith when you traded for him? And do you recall your first conversation with him after the trade?

"Yeah, I don't know that it was a leap of faith. But I think it was a fit for both teams. And I can recall talking to them and shortly after the trade was made. I know he was excited, excited to get to work. I think it was something that benefited both clubs. You hope that happens with the trade. It doesn't always happen that way. You know, he had a real good career in New York, and a lot of good memories there as I did briefly as a coach for four years. I think in this day and age it's not unusual now for a player to spend more than a portion of his career with a different team. I think it's probably the norm. "

I can just imagine the pandemonium in the city. Making your way from Harrah's from the Dome, it's not a far trip?

"It took a long time. It took a long time. It was interesting, exciting and all that. I was with my family, my in laws, and it was pretty special. "

A lot of first time franchises getting to the Super Bowl are just happy to be there. Is that a point of emphasis for you over the next few weeks and days? And how important is it for you guys to finish it off right?

"I think having been in this game before and coached in this game, I think this is the goal. We set it yesterday. We were excited about the win yesterday. What it did was it gives us an opportunity to play in this next game, which when you get into coaching or playing, your goal is to someday win a Super Bowl championship. I don't think the focus is that of the first time. I think each year when you look at a team that goes, it's made up of so many different players. You know, the Steelers a year ago you could say well, they've been to X number of Super Bowls. Yet when you look at the roster, the guy that makes the play of the game is a first or second year player. I think the challenge is winning a championship, and understanding that we're playing a great Indianapolis team. It's been a long time since you look at the Super Bowl and here sit the two No. 1 seeds. The two teams that were unbeaten for 90% of the season until the end, here they are with an opportunity to play for the championship, so that's exciting."

Will you lean on your veteran leadership as you have all year?

"I wouldn't change anything just in regards to how we approach it."

Were there any different targets yesterday? This is par for the course for him. How did your offensive philosophy evolve? You had so many different people involved in this passing game. What is the key to making that work?

"The key is those guys painting the right picture and landmarks of where they need to be in the passing game. And there is a confidence level in the quarterback of finding open receiver. He's done that all year. I thought Minnesota did a good job of creating pressure in their four man rush. They're a handful. That defensive line and the linebackers run extremely well. We got a lot of zone coverage yet some zone pressures. They create problems. Fortunately the one thing we set out to do is protect the football. We felt that that was going to be important. I thought when we needed it, like I said, there was some momentum swings, but in the end there we needed that final drive. Drew and the players came up with the plays we needed. Fourth and one was a big play up you front. Our guys up front did a good job. Like I said, that is a real good defense we played against."

Philosophically, where did that come from? Wanting to spread the love so much?

"This has been what we've done offensively for a while now. It he involves to your personnel. Some weeks it changes how you're going to approach a game. We try to be flexible. Look closely at what we think is the best plan to win each game. We don't just go into a game and say this is just what we do. We try to pay attention to our opponent and really look at what is the best way for us to win that specific game. But more importantly how that ties into what we're doing defensively in the kicking game and having a complimentary plan. Not where we're operating independent of each other. I think all those things are important."

Three games against three potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks, that is a really daunting task for your defense?

"When you play in the championship game in the Super Bowl, they're always daunting tasks. So you're going to play when you get to this game a real good football team. A few weeks ago we were doing the FOX pregame interviews and this is before the divisional game. And Tony Siragusa said to me you're playing Arizona coming off a big win now and you guys haven't played. And the comment I said to him is when you get a first round bye and you play that first divisional game, you're going to be playing someone that just came off a win. In other words, you're going to be playing someone that just won a wildcard game. And Arizona had played against Green Bay very well. But I guess to answer your question, when you get to this point, you're playing the best teams. The four best teams played yesterday. The process this tournament is challenging. As you progress through it, it becomes more challenging. There's no secret that these teams have outstanding quarterbacks that are playing at this final game."

Do you look at the fact of the off season and really the way this team is built and the reason you guys are this far is because it started with what you did in the off season?

"I think you've got to lean heavily on your foundation. I think it served us well. At times when you have a deficit, you know, we played from deficits a lot this season. We played with big leads. But I think your foundation of what you do and what you installed during training camp and what ultimately becomes who you are as a team is something that you never lose sight of. "

Did you walk around the city at all with your family?


What kind of problems will Peyton Manning present for you? And are they any similarities with Brett?

"Maybe a little different in that Peyton does such a good job at the line of scrimmage, really taking advantage of the whole time allotted and putting his offense into a variety of different plays. He does a great job with the snap count. He's got a great grasp of the offense. You see the improvement throughout the course of the year that they've grown with young players at the receiver position, obviously, a veteran offensive line, a veteran player in Dallas Clarke, and guys like Reggie Wayne. He's got a great grasp as to what he's seen. And I think throughout the course of the game that becomes in itself a challenge. As to his ability to really in his experience to direct traffic and put them in the best place possible, I think he does that better than anyone. "

You turned to Pierre Thomas in a couple big spots, the fourth and one also. Can you talk about how much you trust him in so many different situations?

"We just felt the way that game was going, Reggie had been handling a lot of the nickel. Pierre had been handling a lot of the base. I hadn't gotten Mike bell the snaps maybe I would have hoped to have. So I didn't want to put him in for his first carry that situation like that. And certainly he's a guy that we want to hand the ball to. He's one of the guys that is part of what we do offensively. But you get in that moment, and Pierre just had the return. He and Reggie had been rotating a little bit in that series in overtime. It felt like that was the right thing to do at that time. "

Is he a guy that delivered for you in overtime so maybe doesn't get as much?

"Well, he's a consistent player. He's been a guy that you know exactly what you're getting from the player. There is a value to that as a coach when the guy's performance each week is going to be consistent and reliable. I think that would be a good word to describe Pierre Thomas. That's a good thing to be as a player. "

It seems like Mike Bell hasn't been getting the touches in the postseason?

"Just the way these games unfolded. Certainly that wouldn't I don't know that I'd read anything into that other than just the way we were in a lot more nickel two weeks ago against Arizona with the injury to (Dominique-Rodgers) Cromartie and what we were wanting to do. They were banged up in the secondary. But he'll have his touches and his opportunities certainly this week in practice and in the game next week.

Are you aware of the disparity in time of possession and yardage? And were you aware that the defense was getting tired? And how important was it to win the coin toss maybe because of that overtime?

"Well, you don't have the exact numbers in your head. In other words, you don't know. You just know that we've been on the field a little longer in that fourth quarter defensively, not as long offensively and you're mindful of that. Yet certainly you wait for the coin toss. With both offenses having the potential to score quickly, I thought the kick return was significant to put us in field position. But with the amount of snaps our defense took later in that game, getting that coin toss was big, and giving our offense a chance to win the game was significant."

What did you tell Brett Favre after?

"I just said it was amazing his performance and what he's done this year. It was amazing just to watch him one more time from a field level. I just was proud to be on the field and watching him play. It was really something else. "

Who called the coin flip for you?

"We're the home team. So I think they called it."

When will you fly down to Miami as a team?

"I don't have the final details yet. "

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