Wednesday, January 5, 2005

S Adam Archuleta

(On how it feels to be in the playoffs)
"This is three times in four years for me. It's definitely a better feeling than going home and being in Arizona right now. Which definitely could have happened. It feels good, especially after everything that we have been through, to get a chance to go on."

(On his back)
"It is what it is. It's a situation where I have had to pretty much battle it out, and grind it out throughout the end of the year. Really the only thing that is going to help is rest and rehabilitation. It's been manageable, I've been able to play and get through it, and it's starting to feel better. But Just like any injury, there's setbacks. It's just football, it's NFL football. I think it is evident that I haven't been as physical (this year). I'm not a guy who is going to sit here and make excuses, and say, 'the back has done this, and it's affected me this way,' because I still have a responsibility to my teammates and this organization to go out there and do my job. I know that I haven't forgot how to play football, to be physical, and how to run around and fly around. It just doesn't happen overnight. I have to say that due to not being able to workout throughout the season, my body going a little bit downhill, and not having that explosion and that pop, I have to say that it has been a factor."

(On how he hurt his back originally)
"It was in training camp. I had a back twinge. It was kind of my fault, I tend to overlook little injuries. Throughout my career they've always kind of gone away and taken care of themselves. So I really didn't say anything about it. This time it just kept getting worst. After the Arizona game I went to (Rams' Athletic Trainer) Jim (Anderson) and said, 'Jim, my back is really tightened up, it's really starting to bother me.' Then we took the MRI and saw that there were some disc issues, and it just kind of snowballed from there. So it's a little bit of my fault for not taking care of it when it first started acting up, and just kind of let it get out of control."

(On how frustrating his injury is)
"Like I said, it's frustrating because I have an obligation to my teammates. That's what they expect out of me, and that's what I was brought here to do. When I don't bring that style of play, when I don't bring that intimidating physical presence to the defense, to me I feel like I let everybody down. It's hard to look at the guys in their eyes when I had an opportunity to make a play and I didn't make a play. It's hard as a football player, and it's been difficult."

(On if will be back to 100% next year)
"I'm fine. Trust me, this won't happen again. I've learned a lot about how to take care of my body through this experience. I just can't ignore things, and put them off, and have the mentality that they'll take care of themselves, like I have in the past. Definitely this season has been a tremendous learning experience in all types of phases of the game. It's been a tremendous learning experience with all the adversity that I've had to face, and this team has had to face."

(On the problems with special teams)
"That's a great question. That has really hurt us this season. It's evident that that is something that we need to fix. You just can't have a kick returner go downhill at your kicker, with a lead blocker. We can't expect Jeff Wilkins to make the tackle, he's not suppose to. A kicker should go through an entire football season and not make a tackle. It's up to us, we have to be accountable. It's something that needs to be fixed, and is a glaring weakness on our football team."

(On if Seattle will look at this game as revenge)
"Perhaps. They had their shot at revenge. That game against Seattle has kind of been indicative of the way our season has gone. We were down and out that game. They were really taking it to us, offensively and defensively. At a time, like at the end of the season, when we could have packed it in, and taken it home, this team persevered and found a way to win, when almost all of the odds were against us. It's just kind of been a reoccurring theme with us."

(On the Seattle comeback win)
"I was elated. It was unbelievable to come back from those kind of circumstances, and to see Shaun McDonald catch that ball and go into the endzone. It was one of the better feeling that I've had as a football player, just knowing that this team was able to bounce back, offensively and defensively, from such adversity. It was an unbelievable feeling, just one of those great feelings in sports."

(On how the defenses confidence is making a difference)
"I think it does a lot. Confidence is key, and I don't think that we played with a lot of confidence throughout most of the season on defense. I think that when things got tight, or something bad kind of happened, guys tended to wallow around, and feel sorry for themselves. We were really kind of unsure of what we were doing. We didn't know if we were doing things right, or why didn't I make that play, or who's play was that. Instead of just saying, 'we know what kind of players we are, we know what we can do, we are just going to go out there and be physical, we're going to play fast, and we're going to know what we're doing.' And regardless of what happens, we're going to try and set the tone on defense. I think you can see in the last in few games we have definitely had more of that attitude, and guys flying around and being physical, and really having fun out there."

(On Seattle RB Shaun Alexander)
"He's huge. Our first game he had about 180 yards, and our second game he had about 200 yards on us. That's embarrassing. We know what kind of running back he is, he is a heck of a back. So much of what they do on offense is obviously centered around him. In the NFL you can't allow teams to run on you. When they have that success, usually the advantage goes to them. We have to stop him, we have to shut him down, and allow them to make plays in other areas of the game."

DE Bryce Fisher

(On the defensive line playing better towards the end of the year)
"I think guys are really starting to understand what Coach (Larry) Marmie, and Coach (Bill) Kollar wanted us to accomplish on each different play. The real good thing that we've been doing, is the last couple of weeks we've known what teams are going to do based upon their formations. If the fullback moves in this direction we can pretty much key in on what kind of play is going to happen, and guys are just selling out."

(On playing a playoff game in his hometown Seattle)
"I love it. I already called my mom and asked her to cook, and a friend of the family is making cookies. All of that is good, but once we get there Saturday morning, the only thing that is going to matter is getting a win. It doesn't matter that it is going to be in front of everybody that I grew up with."

(On leading the team in sacks)
"Actually I didn't really pay too much attention to it. Obviously, the way teams set their protections, it's to account for Leonard (Little) on one side, and if we bring a safety or a linebacker down in the box. I've been lucky that this year I've gotten some one-on-one matchups against running backs and some tight ends, and I've taken advantage of some of those opportunities."

(On going into the playoffs with confidence)
"We feel like on any given Sunday, if we play our type of football, which is with a lot of intensity, guys knowing what they are supposed to do, and with a lot of enthusiasm, there's not a team in this league that can beat us. We have the talent, and all year we have shown that we have talented guys, but we've been making crucial mistakes in crucial moments. If we eliminate those kinds of mistakes, and play with the kind of enthusiasm and intensity that we're capable of, then things will work out well for us."

(On Seattle RB Shaun Alexander)
"The thing about Shaun Alexander is that he starts to play one way, and then checks every single gap coming back. If he finds a guy that's not where he is suppose to be, then he is going to exploit that weakness. It's going to be important that we trust that the other six or seven guys that we have in the box are going to be in their gap, and none of us come out of our box. Otherwise, what should be a two-yard gain, can turn into 20. We don't want him running on our free safety all day."

(On if he thinks the last couple of games have been his best performances)
"As an individual, I think I've played pretty well over the last couple of weeks. I think I've had a couple of games earlier on in the year that I probably played better, but didn't get noticed, because we weren't able to come out with the win. I think when we win it's easier to highlight guys that are playing well, and it's easier to cover when guys are playing poorly. Earlier in the year, when we were winning some games, and I was playing as well, it didn't get noticed. But when we were losing some games, and I wasn't playing very well, obviously it was noticed."

(On the Rams' special teams problems)
"We've tried a lot of different things, from putting different guys in different positions, and different movements. I think it's going to come down to the 10 guys that are out there, other than (Jeff) Wilkins, has to play with their hair on fire. Whichever one of us is covering, we have to be in our lane, we have to be disciplined, and we have to blowup the wedge and force the kick returner to make cuts that he doesn't want. If he can run downhill, any kick returner in the league looks great. If you can make him make a cut that he's not ready to make, then most of the time it's a tackle inside the 25."

(On if the hit he took in Miami set him back)
"I don't want to make excuses, but it shook me a little bit. It was definitely hard as far as I couldn't breath for a couple of weeks right, and I was coughing up blood for probably another 10 days or so. I don't think that was necessarily the reason for that four weeks that I didn't play very well, I think it was just a matter of not making plays when I had the opportunities."

(On if he is shocked that they are in the playoffs)
"We believe that anything can happen in the league, but it was definitely a thin chance. The funny thing is, it doesn't matter where the statistics or ranking are going into the game, the only thing that matters is the 52 yards and 100 yards on the field, and when it comes down to it, those 22 guys out there competing."

(On if he thinks they are the long shot to make the Super Bowl)
"We're still the St. Louis Rams. We still have as talented of an offense and defense as there is in the league. I'm sure that there are a lot of teams that when they saw us make it in, where kind of wishing somebody else did."

(On playing Seattle for the third time this year)
"We know what Seattle is going to do, they know what we're going to do. They're a fairly simple offense, we're a fairly simple defense. So it will come down to whichever guy has an opportunity to make a play, be it their offensive guys, or our defensive guys stepping up and making a play. When it comes down to our offense scoring, our offense has scored on their defense forever. So we're going to need to hold up our end of the bargain."

(On the comeback win against Seattle)
"They were stunned, their fans were upset, but that's why you play the whole 60 minutes. The game isn't won in the first half, and it's not won in the third quarter. It's not over until that last bell is rung. Shaun (McDonald) made a couple of huge plays in that game. Last year he didn't have a whole lot of opportunities to make plays, this year he has been making a ton of plays for us, and that's the kind of effort that we're going to need from a lot of guys on this team."

QB Marc Bulger

(On his shoulder)
"It's about the same. I don't think it will ever get back to 100% as long as we're playing, just from landing on it a couple of times. It's still better than two weeks ago."

(On warming up on the sidelines between series)
"I've done it more this year. I started up in Green Bay doing it, and kind of found out, the loser I stay, the better I am. Especially like the Philadelphia game, we didn't throw the ball the whole first series. It had been 25 minutes since I'd thrown, so I figured I would keep throwing. It's worked, so I'm going to stick with it."

(On if making the playoffs has taken a lot of criticism off the team)
"Yeah, it helps getting into the playoffs. Obviously, if Minnesota would have won, we wouldn't be in there, and we would be taking a lot of criticism. We've brought a lot upon ourselves this year, going 8-8, but we squeaked our way in. I know there are momentum factors, and you can look at past games and say who we are going to win and lose against. The slate is clean right now. Sure we have to go on the road, but we've done it before."

(On his progression from last year to this year)
"I've been a lot more consistent this year. I've learned a lot from last year. There are mistakes that I made last year just because it was the first time I had seen the situations or protections. As long as I didn't repeat the same mistakes this year I thought that I would be better, and fortunately I haven't. I think, like what you were saying, last year to this year is like night and day to me."

(On the fourth quarter of the Seattle comeback game)
"I think coach did a great job of telling everybody to stay on course. Obviously we were down to six minutes, but we didn't have to get it all back in one play. I think that is a good way to keep guys in the game. You think you are going to score 21 points in five minutes, to think of it that big seems unrealistic. But just to take one series at a time. After Kevin's (Curtis) touchdown, I think guys started believing. You could see our defense feeding off of us and vice-versa. Not thinking we had to do it all at once was the key to that game."

(On knowing they can come back in any game)
"I think any team can say that, but unless you have done it, it doesn't have much credence. We, obviously, didn't make that many comebacks, but just knowing that no matter how bad it gets, we can always fight our way out of it. Who knows, maybe when we were 6-8 just those experiences helped us climb out of that hole a little bit."

(On if Seattle is any different than the last time they played each other)
"No. They have stayed with the same fronts and coverages. They play us a little different, in certain personnel groupings, than everybody else. Whether they will stick with that, we don't know. I think at this point in the year, you pretty much do what you do. They have a sense of what we do, and we have a sense of what they do. Now it's just a matter of old football, blocking and tackling."

(On if their defensive backs can keep up with all the Rams' weapons)
"They tried to go one-one with us when they came here, and I think they did that for about a quarter. To guard Isaac (Bruce) and Torry (Holt) is nearly impossible one-on-one. That being said, if you do that you get an extra guy rushing the passer. I'll go back to, if we can block them, and they want to go one-on-one, I think that is a good advantage to us. Like most teams, they usually double the wideouts, and try to get a pass rush with four guys. If they can do that, that's when we're in some trouble."

(On how confident he is on his ability to recognize different defenses)
"I think you recognize things so much quicker when you're walking to the line (from experience). You know why the safeties are cheating. Two years ago, if the safeties were down, I'm thinking they are blitzing from that side. You realize that's their disguise. So you see their disguise before they do. It's like driving your car home, you can do it almost blindfolded once you've done it so many times. If it's you first time, and you're lost, you're unsure about yourself. Now that I have such a good understanding of the offense, it just makes recognizing defenses so much easier."

WR Isaac Bruce

(On what he remembers about the comeback against Seattle)
"I just remember guys flying around making plays all over the field. Defensive guys stepping up and making plays, and special teams stepping up and making plays. I think (Shaun) McDonald had a big return on a punt. It kind of led up to a pretty nice ending."

(On being the underdog)
"It just lets us know, and kind of remind us, that we still have to go out and play. We're going to have to be able to come out and play a full 60-minute game, and keep in our minds that there is no tomorrow. So we have to go out and perform."

(On the difference between QB Marc Bulger this year as opposed to last year)
"He's played well. He's really stepped up. Anytime he's not in there, things don't seem to go as well as they've been going. He's a really important piece in what we do as far as this offense is concerned. He's played marvelously this year."

(On if the series with Seattle has become a rivalry)
"I think it has. From a standpoint that I think players from both teams pretty much know each others names on a first name basis right now. From that standpoint it's a rivalry. We kind of know their tendencies, and they know ours. That's what translated into a rivalry. Plus they're in our division, and two top teams that usually fight for the division title. Here it is in the playoffs."

(On Seattle's secondary)
"They have two really good corners. I think (Marcus) Trufant has the best feet I've seen in a long time in a cornerback, as far as changing direction is concerned. He has good enough hands and awareness to play the football. You usually don't find that in a total package with a defensive back. A guy who can play the ball, and get in and out of his breaks really well. I think he would be a pretty good receiver."

(On appreciating making the playoffs more as he gets deeper into his career)
"Definitely. My first five years I didn't even smell the playoffs, so I really didn't know what to expect. I was always home right after Christmas just watching games on FOX, just being a part of playoffs that way. As time has gone by, I am accustomed to playing in the postseason. I seem to get my mind ready to play in the postseason now every year. I think I'm spoiled now, and it's good being spoiled that way."

(On if he thinks they are a better team now than earlier in the season)
"I believe we are playing a whole lot better overall. It's important to peak this time of year. I'm not saying that we are peaking, but I just think we are playing football as a unit a whole lot better than we've been playing."

(On the progression of WRs Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald)
"It's kind of amazing to see. You see Curtis coming in and making plays consistently. When Shaun gets in the game and he makes a big play, it's kind of like a coat of confidence overtakes him. He'll go around and give high fives to guys. It's amazing to see, because he's a guy that doesn't say much, and when a big play like that comes his way, he automatically turns into a leader. It's kind of funny to see sometimes on the field."

(On if it was hard to keep his head up during the season)
"Not really. Me honestly, I haven't sat back and just looked at the season. I'm still in the presence of the season, so I haven't had the chance to go back and look at it to see if it's been crazy or not. But that season is done. I'm still working in the postseason, and still happy to be doing it."

(On the young players understanding the playoff intensity)
"I'm sure they've seen it on television. They've seen how intense every game is, from the standpoint that we can't afford to make mistakes, we can't afford to have a missed assignment, and can't afford to turn the ball over. I'm sure they've seen it through their college careers. But just being in the mist of it, like any other sport in the world, it's hard to compare."