(Three years ago, what do you remember from that Giants game and what did you learn from it?)
You can't think you're going to play the same team that you played earlier in that year. Once you get into playoffs, that means the team's hot and they're playing well and that's the way you've got to approach it.
(What was the feeling after that game, and do you use that as motivation at all heading into this game?)
I think that's one thing that you learn from it. I don't think you want to have that same feeling that you had after that game. So you have to put everything you can into it and hopefully everything turns out well.
(The play at the end of the Eagles game and the one at the end of the half against Atlanta are two of the biggest defensive plays this team has had. What does it mean to you to be that guy that the team can turn to to make one of those big plays? What does it mean to be in that position?)
I think it just means that I've been put in a situation. I think we have lots of guys on the defense that can make those plays. I think I've just been put in that position the last couple of weeks and made those plays from my teammates. I don't see it as a big deal.
(I think you mentioned after the game Saturday night that one of the interceptions you got was because you knew the formation. How many interceptions are you getting by reading the quarterback's tendencies, and how many do you think you're getting based on your film study and knowing their plays and where they're going?)
I've got quite a few off of film study this year. Probably about half of them I got off of film study. And the rest, you know, just based off of instincts.
(Is that new? Did you put more effort into studying this year as opposed to … ?)
You know what, I've always put effort into studying. It's just that you learn more and more every year. I've learned a new way to study, and that's what I'm basing my studies off this year, is different ways. I study about three different ways. Each way you learn something different. That's what's been helping me out.
(That playing surface down there is a little unpredictable. Does that put a cornerback at a disadvantage, because at least the wide receiver knows where he's going?)
At some point it does. Chicago field has always been like that. So it's nothing different. It's something that we're prepared for, and you just gotta have the right cleats or whatever. It shouldn't really be a problem.
(How do you prepare for something like that?)
That's about it, just equipment. Hopefully the equipment's good. Obviously the weather is going to be Chicago weather, so the weather's going to be kind of tough out there. But both teams have to play in it, and we just gotta deal with it.
(What do you think about Hester on punt returns, is it just natural ability or good reading ability of the formation?)
Natural ability. From watching film, everything he does is great. He has the vision and the ability, everything that ‑‑ coach said he's the best ever. So I feel the same way.
(In those situations where the field is bad, who has the advantage, the DB or the wide receiver?)
Usually the wide receiver, like he said, because he knows where he's going. But when it's all said and done, the playing surface is tough and everyone has to deal with it, so it's just something that you have to deal with.
(With all the experience you got last year starting and at nickel back, was that sort of the major impetus for your improvement since you've been here? Or did you take another step this year?)
I think the more you're out on the field, the more you recognize things. My understanding of the game has gotten better. When the offense goes into a game, they have a certain game plan, certain number of plays that they're going to run certain situations in. If you kind of pay attention throughout the game, they're going to repeat some of those same plays, and that's where you make plays at.
(You guys have really played four very solid games at the end of the season here. When did it click in? Was there a point it clicked in for this team where you thought we can really get on a roll here?)
Just the urgency of feeling that we were in the playoffs, two games before the playoffs started. Basically it was win or go home, and we knew that. We knew the type of team we had, and we knew it would be a shame if we didn't make it to the playoffs. And I think guys took that approach and saw it like I saw it and just kind of got it together and everyone's kind of playing together at this point.
(I know you don't care who you play in the NFC Championship Game, but was there a small part of you rooting for the Bears to get another shot at them?)
I don't think so. Like I said, it really didn't matter who we played. The way we're playing right now, we feel that we can pretty much match up well against anybody at this point. So it didn't really matter.
(About the film study, when are you picking up those key things about formations that you've been able ‑‑ are you taking your laptop home or are you staying here late? Take us through your film regimen.)
Like you said, I got a computer with the same programs that they have here for us to watch film, and I take it home and I'm able to break down film the same way they have it broke down here at the stadium. And like I say, I go home, play with my son a little bit, and then just go in my office and watch film for two or three hours. The time flies when I'm watching film, and that's basically my day. It's 24‑hour thing. Just go home, play with my son for a little bit, watch film for a while, go back and play with my son and watch more film maybe until about 12, 1:00 in the morning and go to sleep and wake up and go to practice is basically my day.
(Nationally people might think of Packers and they think of
There's been a lot of texts and things like that from some people who I haven't heard from in a while. But for the most part, you know, things still have been kind of normal. I kind of keep my circle small, hang out with the same people I've hung out with since I was small. So I keep my circle small, and that's the way I've been living.
(Are you sort of amused, now that you're an instant star, that it only took four years to become an overnight sensation?)
Not really. You know, it's fun. It's what you work for to be great and pretty much be the best at what you want to be the best at. And that's always been one of my things to work at being the best. You sit back and watch other guys make plays and do things and get all the attention, and as a competitor, somewhere deep down inside you want to do the same things those guys are doing. You want to be that player. So the best thing you can do is learn from that player, and that's what I've been doing.
(Did you honestly know, though, that you could be this good when you were sitting as a freshman at Louisiana Tech, watching the game from the stands, or getting bypassed in the draft … did you think the whole time you were capable of this?)
I don't think I could have sat up there and told you I was capable of this. But my mentality is coming up, if you ask anyone who I've grown up with, I've always been a smaller kid going up against the bigger guys. My athleticism, I was always that athletic. So they always say ‘little
(How come nobody saw it in high school and then in college, how come nobody saw that, take a chance on you?)
I don't know. That's a question that I think that's always going to be up in the air. That's something that I don't know. Of course, there may be the answer somewhere down the road, but not right now.
(How would you describe this defense, your defense?)
Relentless. We just finished watching the film, and as a DB you don't get to see the front seven doing their job because you are in coverage all the time. But when you come back and watch film and see the way those guys are playing up front, it's crazy. They've done a great job up there and kind of made our job easy in the back end.
(When you see a team for a second or maybe a third time, what are the differences ‑‑ do you see different route combinations at all, or do you see different formations or is it almost everything within …?)
It's not going to be much different. It's one of those deals to where you know someone so good that you know the game is going to be a battle. It's going to come down to the small details. And when you play a team like that, you may not feel that you have to put in as much studying because you feel you know that team, but you don't take that approach. You have to go back in, pay attention to more details and kind of go into Chicago Bears locker room and see can you understand their players like they understand it. And that's something that my coach just finished telling me that he's going to do, detailing this work like that, and that's something that our defense has been doing, detailing their work all year, and I think that's what made us play the way we've been.