<span style=""> <span style="">Q: Mike Ditka said that when his 1985 Bears lost a game after starting 13-0, it helped them refocus and he thought that was a big thing. Do you look at it that way?</span>
A: That's the only way you can look at it. Yes, it stings more than a normal loss would just because of where we were in the season having made it so far undefeated and having a chance at a perfect season. You just don't have many opportunities like that. You don't know if you'll have another opportunity like that, so that's why that loss hurts more than maybe one from last year, the year before or another year. I definitely think you're right that you have to be able to turn it into a positive, somehow, someway. What it's done, it's clarified things, as far as we know that we win this game then we are the number one see in the NFC. That's all that matters and that was a big goal on our list of goals as a team. That's what's important. Obviously there's things from the team we've had a chance to look at and point at and say, check your ego at the door, these are the things we need to get better at. This is what got us beat and we fix these things we're going to get back to where we want to be and even beyond where we were and be playing the kind of football we want to be playing going into the playoffs.
Q: Darren Sharper said after the game that maybe the game could serve as a wake-up call since the team hadn't been playing that well the last three weeks. Do you see anything to that?
A: Has it been perfect? No. Have we found a way to win? Yes. When I look at the three weeks prior to that New England on Monday night, where we played very, very well, then on a short week having to go up to Washington, win one on overtime. We were down ten points on two different occasions. That was big. That was a big win and then going to Atlanta where on paper you say yes we should beat them because our record's a lot better than them. We're getting everybody's best game. I felt like we got Dallas' best game. Everybody wanted to be the team to knock us off. Like I said last week, I have been a team that was playing a team like that, you wanted to knock them off. Knowing the extra motivation there, I feel like we're getting everybody's best effort now. There are definitely some things where if you win, the things that need to get fixed or the problems or areas of improvement, it's easy to not necessarily sweep them under the rug, but we still found a way to win. That could always be our response. We still found a way to win. This time around we didn't even give ourselves a chance to win, being down 21 points in the fourth quarter, so there are definitely some areas that need to be improved. I felt that today's practice with a day of rest and that kind of thing was crisp and guys were locked in.
Q: Do you feel the team as a whole was a big overconfident going into the Dallas game?
A: I wouldn't say overconfidence, but maybe the fact that we're playing at home. We know what kind of home field advantage that is, our fans, and the Saturday night primetime atmosphere. You can't just walk in the door and expect to win if you don't play well. You still have to play well. You still have to do all those things you've been coached to do and execute the game plan. Looking back on the game and I know the defense feels this way offensively, us too, we just feel like we really didn't do anything very well. Give credit to Dallas because I think they played a very good game and had a very good plan, but we got outplayed and I think that's when you have to be able to put it aside to say what improvements can we make to make sure this doesn't happen again, but certainly just understanding what we have in front of us.
Q: After Sunday night's loss by Minnesota, it still gives you a shot by giving you home field advantage in the playoffs if you win Sunday. How excited are you about that?
A: Like I said, we win this game, all that we're guaranteed is hosting a game two weeks after the end of the season, but it doesn't guarantee us going to the NFC Championship.
Q: Did you know that in 43 years there hasn't been an NFC Championship played in New Orleans?
A: I hope that happens.
Q: You haven't had the run pass balance the last few weeks that you had earlier. Are there other factors that go into that?
A: We haven't executed as well as we should in the run game. That's everybody. I have a hand in the run game as much as the offensive line and the running backs and receivers, blocking down the field, situations and everything else. That's something we're all taking a look at to make sure we improve upon and get that going again, because obviously we preach balance, talk about balance. Certainly we're going to get in a game and if the defense tries to take something away, we're going to find other areas to take advantage of. All in all, when you're balanced and able to mix the pass and run effectively to really just be efficient in both then each one kind of sets up the other. You become very efficient on offense.
Q: Are teams coming up with a formula to take away the downfield throw?
A: No. There's opportunities for big plays no matter who you're playing. It's just kind of finding the right situation, the right timing. Obviously it's give and take. I guess you could prevent the big play, throwing it 40 or 50 yards in the air down the field by putting four guys that deep every time, but you're giving up a lot of space underneath. I thought in Atlanta we did a good job of converting third downs with the football and taking advantage of the opportunities that were given. We had a lot of possessions in that game, but Dallas, we just did not execute on third down. When I watch the film, there's plenty of places where we could've, should've, converted, but I'm not going to sit here and say could have, should have, would have. We didn't execute, but there are things that can be fixed. We have been a good team on third down. We have ever since Coach Payton's been here and we've all been here for four years. We just didn't do it very well the other night.
Q: Are you amazed at the number of Pro Bowl votes you get from the fans?
A: I'm more concerned about me continuing to help my team find a way to win and the grand prize at the end which would be a Super Bowl. Certainly it's an honor to have the fans vote for you that much and know that the Who Dat nation was madly clicking their mouse online for everybody on our team. There are a lot of guys on our team that are well-deserved. When that stuff comes out, I hope we do see a lot of our guys on there, because guys deserve it. It's definitely an honor when the fans show their support that way.
Q: Do you feel the same way about MVP talk?
A: I think just like Pro Bowl, certainly the award goes to an individual person, but a lot of it is about your contribution to your team and how your team plays and responds, your record and all those things. Whatever happens there, happens. I'm not concerned with it besides the fact that I want to play well for my team and help us win games and put us in the position to win.