*Ryan, you've won a Super Bowl before. What advice are you giving to the younger guys on this team? *Oh, I haven't won one.
*Gotten to one, sorry. *Gotten to one. The advice to them is enjoy this time, but stay focused on the game because I went and lost and that wasn't a fun experience at all. As a matter of fact, I'm still sick to this day that I got there and lost. So just try to pass small things like that to them.
*What's on your checklist this week before you get on the plane? *What's on my checklist?
*Yes. How much do you want to have done before you go down there? *I mean, that's why we've gotten all the business taken care of now. Coaches, they made us get our tickets done and take care of our families and stuff these last two days. So tomorrow and on, from that point, it's going to be all Pittsburgh and all football. So when we get on the plane, we're already in our game plan. We'll be ready for Pittsburgh.
*What's it like to tackle a quarterback that's almost as big as you? *It's hard. It's hard. We were watching the film of last year with Big Ben, and we had five sacks, but, man, we could have had him down 10 times, but he's tough to tackle, man. He's a good quarterback. And he breaks more tackles than any running back I've seen. It's tough to bring him down once you get past the offensive line, it's tough to get him down.
What do you do then? What do you do differently with him than you would with a 6'3", 200‑pound quarterback?
I don't know. It's tough. Obviously not many people have the answer to how you get him down. That's why he's been to, what, three Super Bowls the last six years. It's tough. He's an elite quarterback. And it's no easy answers. When you get your opportunity, you have to try to tackle him, but that's not easy.
Charles said he just thinks about winning the Super Bowl around the clock. Is that you, too? Are you kind of that possessed?
Yeah. This is why we play, man. This is my 10th season. And to be at this point, when we're this close, that's all I can think about now is winning a game. The activities and the festivities, everything that's going to be happening in Dallas, it's going to be great. It's going to be awesome, but we're focused on winning this game, you know? We have four quarters left for our season. So this is big for us.
Seems like Charles is taking on more and more of a leadership role in the season. He says he gives a lot of thoughts to what he says when he addresses the team. What do you think about his messages?
He's been our leader. His messages have been on point. He has been more of a vocal leader. He is normally quiet, but he's been speaking out. Just letting everybody know, man, this is hard, this is rare. We have players that have been on this team 13, 12 years, never been to a Super Bowl. So it's hard. So we have to seize this moment and capitalize on it. So me and him both are very vocal, because we've been there and fell short. And it's hard getting there.
*Did you ever doubt you'd be back here? *You know what, after my first year, I made it my first year so I kind of, I thought this is easy, I'll be every year. I mean, how crazy was that? But when you play, you just know how hard it is to get here. I mean, everything, the ball has to bounce your way. You have so many tough teams and things like that to beat. It's like this is hard. But at one point I didn't know if I would ever get back.
*What did you think about Mendenhall's first half last week? *Unbelievable. I mean, he came out. He ran the ball extremely hard against a good defense. So I don't know ‑‑ he broke a lot of tackles. The guy runs hard. He's a good running back. So you have a lot to deal with when you're playing with the Steelers. You have to worry about Big Ben, you have to worry about Mendenhall, their receivers, their offensive line, they're physical. Plus they've been there three times. This is their third time so they know what it's like. So it's a tough opponent.
When you say the ball has to bounce your way, at the end of the season as guys kept going down, kept replacing one guy with the next guy, the next guy. Did you think the ball wasn't going to bounce your way this season?
It was tough times for us. It was ups and downs, but we stayed the course. And Coach McCarthy always had us believing that we were going to be at this point. As the players got together, we just decided, man, this is going to be some great story, man, when we overcome all these injuries and stuff that we had to overcome and go to the Super Bowl to win, it's going to be a great story. That's the approach we took.
You guys have had your backs against the wall five straight games now. Has that helped? Do you need a little time off? Or do you just want to keep that thing going?
No, we'd like to keep going. We wish we could play this week. The guys are excited. Everybody is ready to play. You've got guys doing film now, extra film. We're excited about having an opportunity to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay.
You're one of the quiet veteran voices on this team. Did you or some of the other guys go up to Mike and just say, hey, let's include the injured guys on the team photo? And what's that like to have guys that listen and change things, or whatever you want to call it?
I have no idea. I haven't heard anything about that. But I wasn't one of the guys that went and said anything. But I definitely would agree with that. I had no say in that.
With the composition of this team, you're still a relatively young guy but you're kind of an old guy. What approach have you taken especially with so many young guys? You're talking about leadership and Woodson's approach. What's your approach?
I've been more vocal with the younger players. And that's not really my thing. I'm a quiet, laid-back guy, but I think it's important to let them know what we're headed for and what we are trying to do. Like you say, you can get easily carried away with all the things that happen at a Super Bowl. But the bottom line is we have to go and win. It's a business trip. And that's how we have to approach it. So that's what we're preaching to our young players, and they're buying into it. The young players are still watching film now. So they bought into it. The whole team has bought into it. That's where we're headed.
*You said you were going to be back every year as a rookie… *Yes.
You re-signed here for a long‑term deal, and I know you want to win on February 6. Are you guys built in a way that you think you're going to be in the conversation every year because of the young guys coming up and the way this team is built?
I definitely think Ted Thompson, all these guys put together a great nucleus. It's a team. We have a lot of good players and a lot of them are young. But it doesn't matter. I mean, it's hard in the NFL. You have to take your shot when you have it. So we can't even think about five ‑‑ I mean five weeks down the road, five years. Who knows? Injuries happen. Everything happens.We just know that we have to take the opportunity that we have now and capitalize on it.
You talked about watching the Steelers' game from last year. You said you had five sacks on him, could have had 10 sacks. Obviously he ended up throwing for 500 yards and the game‑winner. Does it make it a little personal for this defense?
Oh, yeah, it was embarrassing. To give up the kind of yards we gave up against Pittsburgh last year, we definitely are motivated. It wasn't ‑‑ the tape wasn't easy to watch. They did everything they pretty much wanted on us. Like you said, 500 yards passing, I don't know how many yards rushing, but it was probably a lot of rushing, too. But they just moved the ball up and down the field on us. It is kind of hard to watch.