HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on how they got on such a roll in December) * *
"I think this, it doesn't just switch over and you then you go from struggling to winning. We played a lot better the second half of the season after the bye and I think we made improvements along the way. We lost a one-point game at Pittsburgh, we lost a three-point game against a pretty good Colt team—obviously they're on a roll—we didn't play as well as we'd like to against Atlanta, we kind of struggled in that football game, and then we did get on a roll. But I saw it happening and moving in the right direction. And obviously our record is an indication. We've lost four or five games on the last play of the game, so it's not like the games where people look and say, 'They're struggling. They're losing 38-10.' We've just had a tough time finishing off games. We certainly played better, we played some teams that we were very familiar with, we played some teams that weren't as good on defense as some of the teams we've been playing, and I think that all helps."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on QB-Philip Rivers taking the next step)
"I think just continuous maturation and growth that a quarterback goes through. He has not played that much football. He started two years ago and the second half of that year they opened it up a little bit. Last year, getting used to what we're doing, struggled a little bit early, but once we hit the mid-season point, he played exceptionally well and played great in the playoffs last year, obviously, and has just picked it up to another level, making great decisions, doesn't make many mistakes with the ball. We have good people around him. We have a lot of playmakers and he knows how to get them the ball."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on Rivers' intensity)
"He really does, and the best ones, the best guys I've been around, all have that. It's obvious that Peyton (Manning) has it and you see it in Philip. Guys show it in different ways, but the best quarterbacks I've been around, the number one quality you better have is you have to be a great, great competitor and you have to be physically and mentally very tough because they do get hit, they take a beating and obviously every game, every play it seems like ends up, it goes through them."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on Rivers breaking Dan Fouts' record for TD passes)
"Dan, I'm sure when we talk he's going to have a few choice words for me. He's a big fan of Philip's and he's had a chance to be down here and be around him a couple of times. They're similar personalities. I played in college with Dan and have been close friends with him for a long time and they do both let you know what's on their mind."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on WR-Vincent Jackson raising his level of play)
"No question, and I think he played that way in the second half of the season last year also. I think when we got Chris Chambers it was really good for him to even the field a little bit. Vincent's playing with great confidence right now. He's playing as fast as you can play at the size he is. It's really mind-boggling when you think about him being at 238, 240 pounds and he can run the way he can run, and not only that, he can change direction and run the more complex routes. He's really emerged as I think one of the better receivers in the league."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on RB-LaDainian Tomlinson's situation)
"We're getting ready to go into our meetings. We're practicing late today—I wanted to give them some rest having played Sunday night—so I haven't seen L.T. yet this morning. I know he was sore yesterday but was optimistic and felt he's had this type of thing before and felt that by the end of the week he should be ready to play."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on TE-Antonio Gates)
"Gates is feeling pretty good. I know he has the same thing, he's sore, he's had this before. He was down getting treatment this morning and same deal, we'll see how much he's able to do this afternoon."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on if this is a big week for Indiana natives Nick Hardwick and Kris Dielman)
"It's a big week for everyone in the organization, and obviously equally big for Indianapolis. You take a look at (it), we've played three times in the last two seasons and you have three games that are decided by a total of nine points. We obviously know each other and it's a matchup that is very, very, very competitive and it's going to be an exciting game."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on Hardwick and Dielman being from Indiana and if it's special for them)
"I think maybe the first time you do that it is and then you get beyond that and it becomes special because of the meaning of the game. Everyone wants to keep playing, on both teams and everyone who's in the playoffs, they want to keep playing and that's what makes it special and that gives you that real sense of urgency."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on Dielman being a defensive tackle and tight end in college and Hardwick being a former college wrestler and football walk-on, them being guys who have made themselves good players)
"Yes, they're both very, very talented guys. Obviously with Kris, someone had the foresight to say, 'Hey this guy could be a heck of an offensive linemen.' And someone made a great decision because he certainly has turned into that. He has the attitude, he has that defensive lineman's mentality and he's become an outstanding technician playing guard. I think that wrestling background for Nick, and he's such a good athlete, that center is a perfect position for him."
HEAD COACH NORV TURNER (on stressing the importance of takeaways)
"Everyone's talking about, 'What's happened in December?' Going into December I think we were minus four or minus two in turnover ratio. In December we've taken the ball away nine times and turned it over once. Obviously the first time we played (Indianapolis on November 23), Philip (Rivers) had the fumble in the red zone going in and that ended up being one of the real big plays in the game. I think both ways, the ability to protect the ball, the ability to create some turnovers in a game like this, as close as these games have been, ends up being key factors. Indianapolis has done such a great job protecting the ball, if you get an opportunity, if a ball is on the ground or if you get your hands on it, you have to make the most of that opportunity."
QB-PHILIP RIVERS (on winning three consecutive divisional titles and this one being a little bit unusual)
"It was. It's been a rollercoaster ride. It's been somewhat of a tough year, really. The last four weeks, obviously, have been good, but a lot of tough losses, a lot of close games. There were a lot of games where the game was decided just about at the buzzer, and those are tough, one of them being with the Colts. We fought through it and it's maybe one of the most gratifying division championships, I guess, because of the way we kept fighting, and even though it's at 8-8, the resiliency we showed and the fight and character. We had to hang tight and keep battling and obviously needed help from Denver, but the way we played these last four weeks, we feel like we're a team deserving to get in and obviously we know we're going to have our hands full this week."
QB-PHILIP RIVERS (on not knowing how things would turn out for the team despite his individual play improving from a season ago)
"I played at a more consistent level throughout the year. I still had some key mistakes in some games that really hurt us, a couple of turnovers here or there in crucial moments in some of these close games, because every game has been so close. I guess all eight losses are 36 points total or something. I feel like I have played better but I still have hurt us in some situations. And again, we've lost to a lot of good teams. You look back to who we lost to, Colts included, Pittsburgh, Miami, we're talking about some teams that are obviously in the playoffs and they're playing well. So it's been one of those years where the record doesn't show it completely, but we feel like we're a good, solid team that has a chance."
QB-PHILIP RIVERS (on his fiery personality and interaction with the fans last year in Indianapolis)
"I just play the game and have a lot of fun. As you picture a 10-year old in the back yard down in North Alabama where I grew up, I kind of play it the same way, where you're going back and forth with your buddies and you're playing. I kind of have that same mentality, obviously with a little more structure and at a lot higher of a level. Speaking of the fans back there, there's really nothing of any tenacity between any of it. It was really fun, playing with a lot of fun. You got the guys behind you that give it to you all game, every time Peyton (Manning) throws a completion and says, 'That's how you do it right there.' So you're kind of interacting with these guys for three-and-a-half hours. I think the thing I did learn there, though, is you're not going to win. So I've left that part of it alone. But as far as playing with passion and emotion, I think it works to my benefit as long as it works to our team's benefit, as long as it's a positive. I never want it to come and get in the way of what we're trying to get done."
QB-PHILIP RIVERS (on Colts fans not being that bad)
"It was a lot of fun. That's what you expect when you go on the road. You have 65-, 70,000 excited fans that are pulling for their team and giving it to the opposing guys a little bit. There was really nothing of any tenacity or anything nasty really going on. It was all what you expect when you go on the road in a tough atmosphere, and I'm sure our fans will be the same this week, as highly excited and fired up for this game on Saturday."
QB-PHILIP RIVERS (on WR-Vincent Jackson's improvement)
"He's really every year gotten better and better, and he's turned into a big-time receiver, obviously having over 1,000 yards. I think he's right up there at the top of the league for average per catch. He really came on late last year and into the playoffs and this year, he's been nothing but steady. His play has been so consistent. And such a trusting guy, with his route running, with the way he catches the ball. He's obviously a huge force in the run game, such a big guy and presence, and he really takes a lot of pride in blocking and blocking the safeties and doing those things. He was a big key to some of our runs last week against Denver and always is against Indianapolis because obviously we know with Bob Sanders and the way he likes to get down in the box, he's certainly a guy you have to have some wide receivers that are ready to stick their nose in there."
QB-PHILIP RIVERS (on breaking Dan Fouts' touchdown record, but this weekend and playoffs meaning so much more)
"There's no question. Those things, and speaking of Dan Fouts' record, that's something I'm grateful for and certainly appreciative of, and obviously a lot of guys go into it. Norv (Turner) was kidding me this week and said, 'You throw more screen passes to Darren (Sproles) and L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson) and those guys, and Brandon (Manumaleuna), they've made touchdowns for you.' So a lot of guys, obviously the guys up front, have been great all year, too. Those things you appreciate, they do mean a lot, and they'll mean more when the dust settles and you look back and think about the season. But there's no question about it, you play 16 games and in our case it all came down to the last one, but you play 16 games to give yourself a chance in the playoffs. We all know what we're all playing for, each and every year every team is, and it's games like this that are the most meaningful and that you prepare for all year. It comes down to one game, and then hopefully it comes down to another game and then another game. It's familiar territory for the Colts, being in it just about every year, and we've been in it now three of the last four. A good matchup with them last year and I'd expect more of the same. With the way the game is, it'll come down to the end."
QB-PHILIP RIVERS (on the game at Kansas City and almost not getting where they are)
"Yes, we talked about it as recent as yesterday just thinking, 'Man, look back at Kansas City how that game turned out.' We were pretty much dead in that game and all this, we'd never (had the opportunity). But guys never quit. Guys believed, 'We're going to get the onside kick.' And Mike (Scifres) put a good ball up there and then guys were fighting to go get it. You're holding your breath and you see the guy jump to catch it, you kind of are already headed into the tank and then you see it squirt out and it was pretty clear our guys had gotten it. Then you feel like, 'Hey, we have three timeouts left. A minute-and-fifteen, we're fixing to go win this thing,' and we were able to go finish it off."
QB-PHILIP RIVERS (on facing the Colts' defense with Freeney and without)
"Certainly it is different. I tell you now, though, now there's two, three of them. You throw (Robert) Mathis in there and (Raheem) Brock and those guys, there's so many of those guys you feel like they're coming from everywhere. But certainly the force Freeney has been over his career and the force he is, there certainly is a difference when he's in and when he's not in. We did a pretty good job the last time playing these guys. I turned the ball over once, I think it was Mathis getting there when I was kind of careless with the ball. And that's their whole deal. They're such a, I don't want to say vanilla or simple, necessarily, they're to a point. There's no secrets: 'Here we are, this is what we like to play defensively and we're going to play it so sound that you're going to have to drive it 80 yards. We're not going to give up a big play, and then hopefully we're going to get a turnover, a sack-fumble or you're going to throw us an interception.' And then obviously they're offense is so good that if they can get a lead, they're tough. It's certainly a challenge, one that we've handled pretty well. We've played them now, it seems like a bunch the past four or five years, and it's going to come down to the wire like I mentioned earlier."