RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on how much of a difference he has seen in QB-Peyton Manning over the last nine games compared to the first seven)
"I think he's just back on his game now. It's hard when you've been sitting out all of training camp and a little bit of the mini-camp. For him, I think it's a rhythm thing. He likes to be in there so he gets the rhythm with the receivers and with the backs and just with everybody. He finally started catching up to the speed of the game and it slowed back down to him, and now he's on all cylinders and it's hard to stop him once he's in this type of rhythm."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on what kept the team together after the 3-4 start)
"Veteran leadership, love for one another, the coaches, what it means to us. You don't just go on runs like this if you don't have love for the other person that you're playing with and love for everybody around here. Everybody's here for a common goal, and that's to win championships and to have one another's back. I think that shows the character of us and our coaches and everyone in this organization."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on if anything was said when the team was 3-4)
"Basically, just keep working hard, stay focused on what we do and just play Colts' ball. 3-4 is a tough situation, especially for us because we hadn't been in those types of situations before, but if we just stick together and do what we do and play Colts' ball then we'll get it done. As a result, now we're 12-4 on a nice winning streak and going into the playoffs hot."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on comparing this season to Manning's two MVP seasons)
"The other years everything started off fast. There were records being broken during the year. He's still breaking records this year, but the receivers catching 1,000 yards, three of them, a slot receiver catching more touchdowns than anybody had ever caught, everybody was just playing big and putting up big-time yards. This year, there was a bunch of negative talk and at the end he showed up and he's done what he's always done. He brought us from the depths whenever we needed to be brought from the depths and played his game, stayed calm and stayed patient with it. Right now, he's playing some real good ball, probably the best ball I've ever seen him play."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on if the running game has to improve for the playoffs)
"You always need the running game to come along. The year we won the Super Bowl, it was definitely obvious that the running game was very prevalent in what we were doing. We need the running game to get going, and I think we will. Our linemen take a lot of pride in running the football, and so do our receivers as well as the running backs. We're working hard at it. We know that we've been struggling. It's obvious. Everybody knows, but we've done enough to put up 12 wins. We just have to keep working. It's going to come. I'm one of those people that when I go out there I think I'm going to run for 100. I think Joe (Addai) thinks the same way, and I know that sometimes we might not, but I'm just going to keep digging, keep digging until something comes out of it."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on how he is physically)
"I'm great. It's time to ball, man. It's win or go home, it doesn't matter. Everybody's hurt right now. Everybody has something going on with them. Everybody's banged up. We've been playing for eight months now. None of us are young kids. We're all grown men, and your body takes a pounding. That's what this game is about, but it's who can withstand it and who can keep going. I'm ready."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on not turning the ball over)
"We preach it. It's the difference between a good team and a bad team and a good team and a great team, and we consider ourselves great. We work on the little things that most people don't work on, whether it be making sure in practice when you're running and playing around you don't just pitch the ball to somebody. Our coaches think that if you are playing around with the ball like that, that obviously in the game something might happen. That's how they think, and we kind of take the same mindset to work on those little things, whether it be catching everything no matter where the ball is, we work on those things and it seems to show on the field because we pay attention to detail."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on going from Oakland last season to the Colts this season)
"I don't want to say it's the lowest you can go because I was still in the NFL, I was still competing with the greatest athletes in the world, but it was a shock to the body. Right now, I'd be getting ready to pack it up and go home out in Oakland. Now, I'm back where I couldn't be more happy. I wake up ready to come to work. A week or two ago, the night before I was like, 'I can't wait to come to work.' I was just excited. It's just the people. I think about (TE) Dallas (Clark), (WR) Reggie (Wayne), (RB) Joe (Addai), P(eyton Manning), I just love to come and compete with them. I'm going to have stories to tell my kids, and for me it's just exciting. I know we have what it takes to go to the Super Bowl, so right now I'm just very happy. Sometimes it's overwhelming to me to know that I come from where I came from. There's always a hurdle here and there, but as you guys know, I keep hurdling, getting back up and growing. It's been great."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on if he tries to have fun instead of looking at this as a job)
"Always. This is definitely not a job to me. I play football because I love to play football, because football brings something to me that not a lot of things have. I've been blessed to play it well, and I love this game, I really do."
RB-DOMINIC RHODES (on playing San Diego)
"That field right there, going out there to play against those fans and that team, I know they're going to be rowdy, I know they're going to be talking. I'm excited. This is what football's about. This is what you live for. For the young guys who thought that we went down there (on Nov. 23) and we pulled out that victory and that's what it's going to be about, they have no clue because that's not what it's going to be about. This is going to be one of those types of games where everybody's going to be getting hit in the mouth and the last guy that wants to get up and keep playing is going to be the guy that's going to come out and be playing in the next round. San Diego, they bring a lot to the table, a bunch of athletes, a bunch of great players, as do we. This is probably one of the best first-round matchups you can get. This is like an AFC Championship Game right here, or maybe a Super Bowl. It's going to be a great game. I'm excited about it. I can not wait for the game day. We can just skip practice and let's go get it. I'm ready."
"Doing well, just taking care of a little maintenance, but nothing major. I don't anticipate having any issues on Saturday."
WR-ANTHONY GONZALEZ (on facing San Diego in the playoffs in consecutive seasons and if anything is different)
"Obviously not getting the bye is a little different. I feel good about where we are. I think we've put together some pretty solid victories over the last nine weeks, and now is when it gets fun. It's what you play all year for and I know I'm looking forward to it."
WR-ANTHONY GONZALEZ (on entering the playoffs with Peyton Manning at QB)
"For me, it's the same as last year. You know what you're going to get out of him. You're going to get a guy who's as prepared as anybody in the league, who's going to make the right throws, make the right reads, get us into the right plays. And obviously we're lucky to have him. There's tons of MVP talk going around about him, and it seems warranted. It's great if you're a receiver and you get a chance to play in an offense like this."
WR-ANTHONY GONZALEZ (on Peyton Manning)
"I don't evaluate other guys on the team like that, I just don't. It's nothing I've ever gotten into. I just worry about doing my job better. Like I said, it doesn't seem like he's missed a beat in the last however many weeks. We're thrilled to have him, we're lucky to have him and it's great being in the offense."
WR-ANTHONY GONZALEZ (on Manning's completion percentage the last month being 80 percent and completing 23 in a row at one point)
"That's definitely impressive. I remember when we were playing Jacksonville and he threw the deep one to me in the end zone and I pulled up. We got over to the sidelines and he said, 'Man, that was our first incompletion.' I was like, 'Really?' That was crazy to me. It didn't even occur to me at that point. I had to apologize for probably doing something wrong. He's really been on a role lately."
WR-ANTHONY GONZALEZ (on if he could tell Manning was off the first seven weeks)
"I couldn't tell. I thought the first seven weeks or eight weeks or whatever it was, I thought we were all just a little bit off in different ways. It was just one of those things that, we just weren't consistent. And how do you get consistent? I don't know. But I think what we did a good job of is just focusing on getting better individually, which ultimately results in getting better collectively. And I think that's what we all did. You can see it from the top down."
WR-ANTHONY GONZALEZ (on if he feels comfortable in his second season with Manning)
"I think more than anything, having a full offseason with him helped a bunch for me because the previous year, my rookie year, I was still trying to finish school and I was commuting back and forth a lot and I was writing term papers and final exams and all kinds of craziness. Having the full offseason where I could work with him, and a lot of times Reggie and Marv would be doing their own business, and so I got a lot of time with him this offseason. I think that helped more than anything in terms of getting on the same page."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on how he feels)
"Good, excited, glad we're in this position, just ready to get to work."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on what he sees in QB-Philip Rivers)
"I just see a player who's consistently getting better. He's very accurate, he's a very tough guy. He's really led this team to where they are right now. He's been playing exceptionally well and we definitely have to put some pressure on him and not let him get started."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on WR-Vincent Jackson)
"He's done well. He makes a lot of big catches down the field. He's their big-play receiver. They rely on him a lot. He's going to make a lot of plays, we know that, but we just have to get him down. When he makes some of those plays we just have to tackle him."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on his goals)
"Just to play consistent, play well, do my job and have fun. There's a lot of teams that really would love to be where we are and be in this position, so it's a good feeling. You want to have fun, you want to enjoy it, but you want to be able to execute and you want to win. So that's our main goal, is taking it a day at a time, practicing well and just being prepared and ready for anything."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on if this is similar to 2006 for him, returning for the playoffs)
"You could say that. The injuries are a little bit different, rehab has been a little bit different, but it is what it is. I'm here now, this is a new season and I'm excited and ready to go."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on if he is confident he will play every playoff game if the Colts keep winning)
"I'm confident. I'm going to take it a week at a time. I can't look too far ahead, I just have to take it a day at a time, make sure I'm doing my job, on the details, and just ready to execute and play fast. I can't worry about three, four weeks from now, not even looking to next week. We have to be ready for this week and this week alone."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on what he sees from DEs-Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis)
"I just see guys who are hungry, guys who really want to make a play, and great players. This year, they've played great for us. It's definitely good to see. Robert made the Pro Bowl, that's excellent. Dwight, he came off his injury, a lot of people didn't expect him to do what he's done this year. Just to see him come off the injury and play so well has been exciting and we're glad to have him on our team."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on not having Freeney for the 2007 playoff game vs. San Diego)
"This year is this year, we can't worry about that. This is a new year and we're just happy that we got guys back healthy and guys ready to go."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on what happened in the San Diego playoff game last season)
"There are a lot of things. You can pin-point a lot of things in that game that you can say caused us to not play well, but I think a lot of it's just tackling, executing, just being on the details. And we really, really have to make sure that we're prepared and ready to do our job. That's our main concern."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on if LaDainian Tomlinson looks like he is back to where he normally is)
"I think he is. I think he played well (last Sunday vs. Denver). He ran the ball between the tackles, he made a lot of plays, he looked like he was sticking that foot in the ground and making some good cuts. We have to be ready for him. He's an excellent player, he's going to make plays and we have to expect that. We have to be ready to get him down and tackle him."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on the similarities between the two teams, starting out slow and gaining momentum)
"I think both teams kind of just realized, 'We have the personnel to get the job done.' It's just, when are you going to step up, when are you going to have guys make plays? We've had guys injured and guys stepped in on both teams and have been able to make plays for us and keep us rolling. That's all we want. We just want guys to continue to get better and grow, and I think they've had the same thing."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on if it is different or tough being a wild card team instead of a division winner and hosting a playoff game)
"No, we like this. This is fine for us. We're just excited to be in the playoffs. However we have to fight to get there, we're willing to do it. It's just great to be playing in the playoffs right now."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on how difficult it is being injured and how QB-Peyton Manning has made his way back from the early part of the season)
"It's always tough with injuries. It's always tough coming off injuries. You don't know how you're going to play, especially in the offseason when you have to do a lot of rehab and you may not be able to get the reps in that you would like. It's tough, and I think he's done a great job coming back and leading us to where we are now. We're excited, we're happy and we're just looking forward to coming out and having a good game this week."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on the difference he makes on defense and tackling)
"We just have to swarm to the ball. You can't rely on one guy. There are 11 guys on the field, you can't rely on one guy to make a play. Everyone has to be there, and that's the type of defense we have, is a swarming defense, fast and physical. So we're looking to be able to do that this week, run to the ball, swarm tackle and just have fun and make plays."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on if he feels he is back and ready after not playing last week and missing much of the season)
"This is the playoffs, I have to be ready. Regardless of how much I played during the season, if I didn't play a game at all and I came back in the playoffs, you have to be ready. No excuses, no explanations. You have to be ready to get on that field and make plays."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on how the playoffs are different from the regular season)
"I think a lot of stuff on the outside is different. There's a lot more media, there's a lot more hype. It's exciting, it's very exciting, but to us, we just want to play football. That's what we're here to do, just play football and do what we do. We say it all the time, and we're just excited about the opportunity."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on where the defense can improve and what is important)
"If I had to (say), we can always tackle better. Every game, we always (stress), 'Push to tackle, make every tackle.' But they're going to make plays. I think we can always tackle better and we've been getting better at that. We've had guys injured here and there, but the guys who have stepped in have done an excellent job at picking the pace up and keeping us going. I would have to say just tackling, getting better at that."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on the athleticism of San Diego's receivers)
"They're big, they're definitely going to make plays and they know how to get open. They do a lot of good things. They can catch the ball, they can run after the catch, even with their tight ends. They just make a lot of plays in the open field. They're trying to make big plays, they're trying to throw the ball up high. Philip Rivers does an excellent job of knowing that he has big receivers and he throws the ball up high and they go make plays. We have to do what we can to get the ball out. When they throw the ball high and those guys are going up to make plays, we have to get the ball out and make tackles and not let them get yards after the catch."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on Tony Dungy stressing the importance of takeaways)
"Definitely. Coming in to every game we always talk about getting takeaways. The more takeaways, the better chance you have of winning, so we always stress, 'Get the takeaways.' Fumble recoveries, interceptions, whatever it is, get the takeaways, give our offense a better chance of getting on the field and scoring more points for us. That's what we stress every week."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on K-Nate Kaeding and if he will talk to him this week, but not on the field)
"Yes, I'll talk to him before the game. Kaeding is my guy, excellent player. He's my guy. I'm going to keep quiet this game. I'm won't get after him this game. But like I said, Kaeding is my man and I look forward to seeing him."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on the recent history between the two teams)
"It's always a great game for us. We always play physical. They're a physical team, we consider ourselves a physical team, and it's always a match. It's definitely tough going out there and playing, but have to be ready for the challenge. We have to expect any and everything, just be ready to execute."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on if some of the wins the Colts have gotten this year makes them more prepared being a road, wild card team entering the playoffs)
"I think just our last eight, nine games have really prepared us and gotten us ready. Just with the momentum we started, wanted to get on a roll, because in the playoffs, you have to be ready. There's no excuses, you have to be ready to play. Everyone has to be on the same page. You can't have those mental errors, those breakdowns, you have to be ready. So just the way the season has gone has really prepared us to just be ready. We have to take it a week at a time now, take it a day at a time, get ready to prepare well every day at practice and practice well."
DB-BOB SANDERS (on thinking an 8-8 team would be a weak playoff team, but…)
"But they make plays. They're a team that, they've been getting better the last four weeks. They've really stepped it up, really had their leaders take control and just rally all the guys together and get those guys playing at a high level. Regardless of what their record says, you can't take any team lightly. They're definitely going to be ready, they're going to be prepared. They have good coaches. They have all the players to get the job done, so we just have to be ready."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on where his game-winning kick at San Diego on Nov. 23 ranks on his personal-best list)
"You're always proud of the ones that help your team out for sure. Like you said, the year before wasn't so great. It didn't change any of that, but it definitely helped get the monkey off my back a little bit. I don't really rate my kicks too often. I go out there and try to kick the ball well every time I step on the field and help my team be victorious. I don't know. I'm happy that I hit that one earlier in the year, but I'm pretty sure when we step out on the field here in about five days, the score's going to be 0-0 and what we've done in the past, this last game or last year, isn't going to make any difference."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on if there are conditions to prepare for in San Diego)
"San Diego is usually a pretty nice place to play. The weather's usually pretty decent and not too windy comparatively speaking to what Buffalo saw last weekend. You get out there early and you start checking out the field conditions and the weather conditions and if there's any wind or not, but we know it's not going to be snowing and it's not going to be 12 degrees. It should be a nice evening, hopefully, but we'll prepare for it either way. I don't think the weather's going to be a big enough factor. I think the team that goes out there and executes the best is going to be the team that's going to win the game."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on if he will think about this year's game or last year's game at San Diego leading up to this one)
"I don't think I'm going to think about either of them to be real honest with you. You can always build on past experiences and you can remember past playoff games and you can remember all that stuff, but honestly past successes for either team is not going to make much of a difference. What either team did last week, last month, last year isn't going to make much of a difference. The team that prepares the best this week and goes out and plays the best is going to be the victorious team. I think both teams know that. I think both teams are preparing hard, and the team that executes the best and has the fewest amount of turnovers and penalties and all the stuff that you guys know already are the things that are going to make the difference in the outcome of the game."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on if his preparation has changed now from earlier in his career)
"I don't necessarily think I kick quite as many balls as I did the first year or two in the league, but I do prepare maybe even more than I did back then as far as stretching and getting warmed up. I spend more time getting loosened up and ready to go. Maybe more of the mental side of it and a little bit less of the physical side of it. Every year it may change a little bit, but I'm pretty particular in the way that I prepare myself. I'm usually one of the first guys over there making sure I'm loosened up and stretched out and mentally ready to go. That doesn't change from week to week and, really, that much from year to year either. I just think the young guys kick a little more than the older guys do."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on the key to longevity)
"Keeping yourself healthy. Different guys can do that in different ways. I've tried to talk to some of the guys that have played a long time in the league to see what they do and how they keep their body going in the offseason and no two guys do it exactly the same. Every person is a little bit different, but what works for me is a lot of stuff in the offseason, staying flexible, trying to keep your body in good shape so you never have to climb too high back up that hill again."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on QB-Peyton Manning)
"Nobody does it any better. Peyton has really, really played well down the stretch these last nine games. Obviously, you're team usually lives and dies with the success and the productivity of your quarterback and he's doing it as good as anybody at any time right now. He's playing very well. That's kind of what we've all come to know and expect from him, and he's not letting anybody down, that's for sure. I think that goes back to his preparations and knowing and understanding the game so well that when he steps on the field he knows exactly what he's doing and what everybody else is doing. He's fun to watch."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on playing with Manning and New England QB-Tom Brady)
"I've been blessed to be able to play as long as I have and to play with those two quarterbacks. That means I get to get on the field a lot and kick a lot of extra points. You look across the league and you see that there are 20 teams out there that aren't playing anymore the rest of this year and the transactions that are being done right now and teams that go out there and go 0-16 or 4-12, it's definitely a blessing to be able to play for this team and be a part of 12-win seasons. It's hard to come by, and to be able to be a part of those types of things is great, but we can't get lost in past successes and that kind of stuff. What we're thinking about now is not playoffs in general. We're thinking about one playoff game. If you don't win that game, you go home and the rest of the successes all year long don't mean anything."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on the similarities between Manning, Brady and former New England QB-Drew Bledsoe)
"Obviously, all of them physically have the tools to get it done. That's a given. You don't get to this league at that position if you aren't a good athlete, but I think what sends some of those guys to the upper level of that position is their work ethic, how much time they spend in meetings and watching film and lifting weights. I think above and beyond the physical part is their understanding of what everybody on the field is doing. For them to have that much stuff going on but be able to slow it down enough so they know what the heck is going on is what a few of them do very well and some other ones, at any position, can't quite accomplish because they're so good at doing that."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on if there is another place like San Diego with good and bad experiences)
"I'm sure looking back 13 years there are plenty of kicks that I've missed that I would like to have back and some that I've done well. I suppose the divisional games, you play those twice a year so you have maybe more opportunities to make a lot of good ones and miss a couple that you wouldn't want, but for back-to-back situations like that, that was a pretty unique situation for me."
K-ADAM VINATIERI (on if RB-Dominic Rhodes' personality has helped the locker room)
"It really has. He's a fun guy to be around because he comes into work every day ready to work hard. He's a good guy to have on your team because he's a good athlete. He's always out there giving it his all and to have him and Joseph (Addai) as a 1-2 punch, obviously a couple of years back it really helped us a lot. This year it's helping us a lot as well, giving us some extra depth. His personality off the field in the locker room really helps out a lot. It really helps with the younger guys. I can't say enough good stuff about him. He really has been a real big blessing to our team."