CASSEL: “I’m about to thaw out right now. I think I’m in the process.”
CASSEL: “I thought it was a great game for us, it was a big bounce-back game. I thought all three phases complemented each other very well. The defense stepped up a number of times throughout the game, put us in some great field position, the specials teams played well and then the offense got it going and put it together. It was just a great overall team victory for us heading into the Tennessee game this week. I think that they’re a very good team, to be completely honest. Watching them on film, they’re big, they’re physical, they’re fast. We’ll have our work cut out for us but it’s great to be coming home in front of our home crowd. We embrace the opportunity to be playing meaningful games here in December and it’s exciting. I think everybody in here is excited about it.”
Q: How was your Monday, coming off of your game in St. Louis?
CASSEL: “It was just a normal Monday for me. Got in here, got a little treatment, worked out and watched some film. Just a typical Monday.”
Q: No residual pain, no soreness?
CASSEL: “No residual pain, no soreness and it felt good.”
Q: At what point did you know you were going to play?
CASSEL: “I think throughout the course of the week we monitored it and we stayed on top of it. The medical team was very open about it with the coaching staff, they evaluated me and really going into Saturday night I was confident I was going to play but really we didn’t make the final decision until Sunday.”
Q: You took a couple good shots where your appendix used to be. Were there no worries on your part that those hits could be damaging?
CASSEL: “Not really. I think just being cleared by the doctors gave me the confidence to go out there and play and I told them if I was going to play I was going to play 110 percent like I always would and that I wasn’t going to be going out there and play gun-shy or worrying about getting hit or anything like that. I was just going to go out and play.”
Q: You’re the same person but all the talk is about how people have discovered this new toughness in
CASSEL: “Well not really to be completely honest. I try to stay consistent and my wife keeps our household very consistent so whether it’s good or bad I don’t read it. I just continue to try to do my best and continue to try to work hard each and every day, be accountable to my teammates and hopefully they understand that I’m trying to do whatever it takes for us to be in a good position and to help them win.”
Q: Do you sense appreciation from your teammates for what you did last week?
CASSEL: “I hope that all of us appreciate each other to be completely honest. I think from where we were last year and the full circle that we’ve gone, and a lot of the guys that were here last year and went through the struggles and the ups and downs, to be where we are right now, leading the division and playing in meaningful games, I think that we all appreciate the hard work and the effort that’s gone in not only by the players but the coaching staff and the organization. I think there’s a lot to be said but there’s still a lot of work to be done. We’re excited about going out there this week.”
Q: How much pressure did you get to not play in that game?
CASSEL: “That is a good point. I probably got more pressure from her leading up to the game and there was more worry in her voice that I have heard in a long time. I told her I was ok and she said she would be praying for me and everything worked out for the best.”
Q: Can you talk about playing the next two or three weeks in the cold at Arrowhead?
CASSEL: “I think that this is what football is all about. This is football weather and this is the nitty-gritty. It comes down to crunch time and coming home to Arrowhead, it is a place that we have played well at all year in front of our home fans. Hopefully that continues and as the cold weather comes in, I think that works to our advantage because coach Haley has done a great job preparing us for those situations. We have practiced outside in the elements a lot and I think our team will be ready.”
Q: What was your first reaction when you stepped out on the field into the cold in New England? Did you wonder why you left California?
CASSEL: “Well I wondered but I was happy to be living in the valley for the job at hand. I think I probably used a few curse words and thought, ‘what is this,’ you know? I bundled up and put a bunch of shirts on. I went out to practice and tried to just continue to do jumping jacks.”
Q: Did it take you awhile to get used to going out and playing in the cold?
CASSEL: “I think it takes a certain amount of mental toughness. It is easy to go out there and let the elements get the best of you. Things start to ache that normally don’t ache when it starts to get cold, but I think pushing yourself and challenging yourself to just fight through that initial … I don’t know what exactly it is called but it takes a little bit of mental toughness.”
Q: Is there something that Bill Belichick does special with cold weather?
CASSEL: “I think in terms of cold weather a lot of success comes down to situational football and being situationally sound. Especially if the wind is blowing or the snow is going, you have to understand the elements and you might have to taper your game plan based on what is going on outside.”
Q: What do you attribute giving up fewer interceptions to?
CASSEL: “It is a tough question because I think there are so many different elements and so many different reasons for why, not only for myself but our team has been successful this year. Just to name one, I think that everybody has done a great job throughout the course of the year of working together. I think the running game has helped tremendously, the offensive line has done a great job and everyone is working together. That is something that we have taken a lot of pride in this year and it has really helped me and helped my success.”
Q: With the INT last week, it obviously wasn’t your fault. How do you balance motivating the receivers by being supportive and being direct?
CASSEL: “The one last week I have to do a better job of not stuffing it in there, even if someone messes up on a route you still can’t be careless with the ball and I think I got careless in that situation. That definitely was my fault and doesn’t fall on those guys. Anytime you get into a tough game, especially on the road, I believe that sometimes you have to weather the storm and you have to stay positive on the sideline and understand that this is a 60 minute game, it doesn’t happen in 15 minutes sometimes. You just continue to stick to the game plan and move forward. That is what we were able to do and it worked out well.”
Q: We heard the story about you telling DE
CASSEL: “When defensive guys get to come into the offensive huddle the first thing is that they shouldn’t talk at all. He was yapping and I don’t even know who he was yapping to or what he was talking about, probably his next meal. I just told him to be polite and it was important that everyone heard that and we were just able to move forward.”
Q: How have you balanced Christmas with your football schedule?
CASSEL: “I think this time of year you are always able to put things into perspective and realize how blessed we are to play this game, but also realize how lucky we are to have our family. My family is coming out and I will get to spend my first Christmas with my daughter, it is her first Christmas and I am sure that we will take a bunch of pictures, which she won’t remember. We just feel very fortunate and we will spend a lot of time with family and those who mean the most to us.”
Q: Do you have a tradition at Christmas time?
CASSEL: “Normally we open one present on Christmas Eve and then open most presents on Christmas day.”
Q: Is there any Christmas you remember more as a kid than any other?
CASSEL: “Yes. I received the red bike that I wanted so bad, I was like six years old. I remember it like it was yesterday and then my brother overshadowed me with a drum set and I was like, ‘what is up with that, it is cooler than the red bike.’”
Q: What was so cool about the red bike?
CASSEL: “I have no idea. It was red and I was fired up about it.”