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Mike McCarthy Post-Game Press Conf. Transcript - Jan. 23

(On how it feels to be going to the Super Bowl)
I'm numb. It's a great feeling. I'm just so proud of our football team. You know, it's always tough coming into Chicago to win a football game. I have tremendous respect for the organization and Coach Love Smith. We felt we had them on the ropes there for a while. We just couldn't get the game to a three-score game. I think that says a lot about them as a football team. But it also says a lot about us as a team. Defense, special teams, people making plays down the stretch. It was the typical Green Bay-Chicago game with everything on the line. I'm very proud of our players and very proud of our coaches. As we stated, we have a goal of playing 16 quarters and we've completed 12. We're fired up and getting ready to go to Dallas, Texas, and see who our opponent is.

(On Green Bay's big plays)
Rodgers' big tackle – you would hope that wouldn't be in the "big play" category, but that is the play I was referring to when I said we had the chance to get to a three-score game. That was obviously a big turnover for Chicago. B.J.'s play was a huge turnover for us, and obviously the 7 points that came off of that. Adverse situations were a major emphasis for our football team. Time and time again we've been stepping up big time throughout the season. It definitely happened here today, and that's why we're moving on to Dallas.

(On the importance of the first drive)
Frankly, the first drive was the way we anticipated coming into this game. I thought we were able to get into a tremendous rhythm. Compliments to the field crew, I thought the field was excellent. The weather was great. It was much better than I anticipated during the week. We would have liked to play that way for most of the game. We lost Chad Clifton on the touchdown, and we really didn't get back into the balance and rhythm that we clearly had on the first drive. We did a lot of positive things on offense, obviously it was enough to win the game. But there are some things we are going to have to improve before we get down to Dallas.

(On whether the defense was overlooked this season)
I think if you watched us play, and our formula for success, and really, our formula coming into this game, we played field position throughout the game in a number of situations. When we were struggling offensively, it shows the confidence we have in our defense and our punter. I thought our punt coverage was outstanding today. Devin Hester is a special player and it was key for him to not have a big return today. We were able to accomplish that.

(On being the first sixth seed in the NFC to go to the Super Bowl)
We've always felt that we are a very good football team. Now we have the opportunity to achieve greatness, and that is winning the Super Bowl down in Dallas. Bring the Lombardi trophy back home. We never doubted that throughout the season. Really, the way that our season went – the trials and tribulations that we encountered, to me, that was how we were shaped. I think it's made us a better football team. It's challenged our character. I think we've really grown through it. Our players truly believe that we will be successful in Dallas, just like how they truly believed that we were going to be successful here today. We had to on the road, and that is fine, we are still going on the road to Dallas. I have a feeling there will be a lot of green and gold there. That will be great. This was the path that was chosen for us, and I think it's really shaped a hell of a football team.

(On Rodgers' health after the Julius Peppers hit)
He took a good hit. He's fine. I was talking to him afterwards and in the locker room. He feels pretty good right now. He'll be fine. But he took a big hit.

(On the play of Sam Shields)
Sam goes up and tracks the ball. We need to work on that last play, getting on the ground a little sooner. Sam, for a rookie – and I told a couple other rookies this – you have no idea what you've accomplished here in your first year in the league, especially being in Sam's situation, being a rookie free agent. It speaks volumes about himself and his position coach. Joe Whitt and Dom Capers have done a great job with the veterans and with him, and he is going to be a great player for the Green Bay Packers for a long time.

(On the unknown element of Caleb Hanie)
Well, going from Todd Collins – there was a certain way we felt we should play him. When Hanie came into the game, we were a little more cautious of his mobility, based on what we knew about him. We still called our defense as-is. We didn't have to add anything when he was in there playing.

(On comparisons to Mike Holmgren)
I have great respect for Mike Holmgren and what he accomplished in Green Bay. I'm in year number 5, and hopefully this is a repeated situation that we can stand here and talk about. He had a great career in Green Bay, and being mentioned in the same breath as him is definitely an accomplishment.

(On whether this game is the personal highlight of his career)
Yes. This is my first opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. My daughter will be happy. I always told her she could go when we finally got there, so she gets to go and is excited about that. Definitely, this is the highlight of my professional career.

(On what this win means for Aaron Rodgers)
I think any young quarterback who gets this opportunity – there is a ladder that you have to climb. You have to first show that you belong as a starter. He definitely showed that in his first year. You have to win big games. He is a 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown-a-year quarterback. He is definitely in the upper echelon as far as the way he plays statistically. The next step is to win playoff games. He has accomplished that now. Now he gets the challenge to be a Super Bowl champion. To me, it's the process and the progress of a young, talented, special individual who has taken full advantage of his opportunities.

(On his conversations with Ted Thompson)
I can't say enough about Ted. Ted built this house. He is responsible for everything that goes on. He is our leader and he is our point man. We are proud of what we have accomplished, but once again, we are only three quarters of the way there. We talk about 16 quarters – that is our motto and that is what we are sticking to. We have completed 12 quarters and we have 4 quarters left.

(On how it would feel to win against the Steelers)
Well…… we will get into that tonight, maybe. We will discuss that when it comes.

(On the play of B.J. Raji)
We've been using him on goal line, so I guess now we have to throw him the ball, since he's shown he can catch and score. He is a special athlete. He has a unique body type, and the quickness that he has. His instincts too. That was a huge play of the game for us, and could definitely be classified as a game-winner. He is having a tremendous year. He is having a Pro Bowl-type year. The number of reps and snaps he's played this year compared to last year, the productivity he's given us throughout the year – he is playing big for us.

(On the injury report)
Chad Clifton had a neck stinger. He did return in the second quarter. Greg Jennings had a bruised knee and missed a few plays. Erik Walden had an ankle and did not return.

(On the evolution of the defense)
Our defense has been extremely consistent. We've moved a number of different players throughout the season. It's all about the scoring defense. That was clearly one of our goals coming into this year. We were number one in rush defense last year, but our goals were that we needed to do a better job in the red zone, tackling and scoring defense. We've accomplished that so far, and that is the game we need to take to Dallas.

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