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Payton's Monday Press Conference Transcript

Coach previews Seahawks game, talks about team's playoff schedule

Opening Statement:

"Obviously we're on a short week schedule wise. Players were in for treatments today, tomorrow being more of a walk through. Then we get into the game planning."
How does it work to your advantage if at all to play a team that you've already seen?

"When we went in to last night, one thing we knew was that either team would be a team that we played given that we had the NFC West. You get a little bit more familiar personnel-wise. You've looked at your last game and you're always paying attention to the other games they've played over the course of the season. There's plenty of tape to look at. They played well last night and really did a good job of getting to the ball defensively. In the kicking game they played well. Offensively they played pretty much mistake-free. That allowed them to get a big win, a win they needed to get into the postseason, but at this point, you really start from square one in that it's a new season. We're going to have to have a good week of practice. We recognize it's a little bit shorter and we'll be traveling out there for the first game Saturday."

How concerned are you with your roster from an injury standpoint?

"I think that guys are getting treatment. We'll get them up to speed, get them healthy. We'll have to be real careful about how we practice this week and go from there."

Do you think that some players that were injured might be back?

"Again, I won't have anything to say in regards to any of these players right now regarding injuries. I was optimistic today with the news in general and we'll get them up to speed and get them healthy as quick as possible."

Are you guys possibly going to go out to Seattle a day early?

"Yes, possibly with the distance of the trip."
What do you attribute to Seattle playing better than they did earlier in the season?

"I think just looking at the film from last night, they played real good team defense and I think they ran the ball better yesterday than they had in recent weeks. Those were two things that stood out in the game last night."

Is it tough to prepare for potentially two starting quarterbacks?

"I think that you have to go in prepared. The system doesn't change much. It's something we can't control. More than anything else, you pay attention to the film that you've seen and the two are different in how they play, but the system itself isn't drastically different. Charlie (Whitehurst) played real well last night and I think it sounds like Matt (Hasselbeck) is getting close to being ready. We'll follow that this week."

Is it a tough decision to leave on a Thursday on a short week?

"We've done this before a number of times. It's a shorter week. We'd leave in the evening."
Can you talk again about the challenge of preparing for two quarterbacks?

"I don't think it matters as much because I think from a system standpoint, I think it's a little more challenging when you're preparing for two completely different style quarterbacks. Charlie (Whitehurst) did a good job within their scheme last night in third down and managing the game, but he came up with some big plays. They threw on first down efficiently and very well. The scheme doesn't really change a lot, whereas with some teams when you play a second quarterback, it's a whole different ball of wax."
A lot of teams try to milk the clock against you. In the regular season game with Seattle they came out with an aggressive approach. Were you surprised?

"I don't know if it surprised us. Matt (Hasselbeck) is someone who gets rid of the ball very quickly. He's an efficient player. They were going to be pretty aggressive. They made some plays because of it, but I don't know that it was a big surprise. I think more than anything else they were playing to their strengths."

How challenging is it preparing to play in a first round of playoffs as opposed to a bye that you had become accustomed to?

"I think it is different from a time standpoint. There's a lot of work that we have to do today. When you play a Saturday game, there's a quick turnaround, but that being said, we're looking forward to the challenge. We know it's going to be a tough place to play. The crowd noise is as loud as it is in the league for an outdoor venue. We'll need to have a good week of preparation, weather included."

Both you and Drew Brees have tried to avoid calling games must win games. Since this is win or go home, how do you factor dealing with that now and the execution yesterday?

"I think you make the corrections like you talk about doing all the time. You don't dwell on it. You point out specific things and work to correct things through practice. The one thing we've been consistent with since we've been here, that whether its' a win or a loss let's look closely at what we're trying to do, what we didn't do as well as we liked and making those corrections."
Do you look at Seattle as the team that has struggled much of the year or the team that had their back up against the wall and had to win their way win?

"The latter. The fact is that they had their back up against the wall and they came through with a big win. Once you get into the postseason, no one's really interested in how you got there. That's been the history of our league and they played awfully well last night in a game that was very much like a playoff game unto itself."
Seattle is known for having such a loud stadium and being a tough place to play. Why is that?

"If you're in that stadium, the structure of it with the one end enclosed and the nature of how it was built puts the crowd very close to the playing field."

Will you practice there Friday?

"We'll see."

You'll have a walkthrough somewhere on Friday?

"Yes. We'll just see what the schedule permits and go from there. Right now we're just kind of working through the departure times and all that other kind of stuff."

We had discussed during the season the possibility of a division champion having a sub-.500 record. Do you have any further thoughts on that now that that situation has occurred? Is it something that the league should look at as far as re-seeding?

"We all have a formula for getting in; we all know ahead of time. No one was upset about it or complaining about it before the start of the season. I think that value of winning your division means something. Just as a season ago when the postseason began, the teams that are in now really are 0-0. That's just the truth. I think our players understand that more than anything."

A lot of teams go into the postseason thinking they can do well. You've proven that you know what it takes after last year. Is there a difference between thinking you can do well and knowing you can?

"In regards to postseason experience, there's a value to having it and yet it's not essential. We have a number of players in our locker room that have a number of postseason games played under their belt and I think you can draw from that. Yet we've seen young teams play very well in the postseason and go on and have success. A lot was made a year ago of the lack of experience that our team had. I think more than anything else, it's playing your best football at the right time, and that time is right now. It's eliminating all the things that can keep you from winning; playing turnover-free football; playing well in the kicking game as well as defensively and offensively. I think that's the most important thing. Clearly everyone recognizes that you have to win to advance."

Do you have an overtime philosophy given the rule change?

"I think you'll pay attention to how the game is progressing; how the first four quarters have gone would predicate your decision on how you would handle it."

What was it about the game you played the Seahawks previously allowed Hasselbeck to have success against you?

"One thing is that he's an accurate passer and the ball comes out very quickly. I thought they did a good job in their third down packages; they got up to the line of scrimmage with some quick counts and he was very decisive. He knew where he wanted to go with the football. He plays with very good tempo; that's something that's harder to see on film but when you see it in person and having been on teams that have played against him before, it's recognizable once the game starts. So his tempo and his accuracy are things that you're reminded of."

Based on your experience in coaching, would you be surprised if Hasselbeck didn't play in this playoff game?

"Nothing would surprise me. It would be strictly me trying to guess the health of where he's at and where their team is at. I'm sure Pete (Carroll) will look at that decision closely and do what's best for their team."
Is there any scenario where you would not take the ball first in overtime?

"I think the one scenario always exists with how heavy the wind is. That factors in. But typically we would always want to take the football and then factor in the playing conditions and the win."

But it would have to be pretty significant?

"Yes. Before you decide that you were going to go the other way, it would be real difficult to decide to kickoff and have them return the opening kickoff for a touchdown and the game end."
 You and Drew Brees have both said that no game is a must-win until it's absolutely win or the season ends. Now that you're at that point, how does it feel different? Do you like it?

"It's a sense of urgency. You work all season to get an opportunity to play in the postseason so to answer your question of if I like it, yes. It's exciting. As you game plan, you can already begin to feel – although we're tired and it's a short week – there's a sense of urgency about putting together the best plan possible, getting our players rested and yet getting them back to work. All of those things will be important this week and I think when you play in the postseason, it is exciting."

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