Official ESPN Transcript
Mike Greenberg: Welcome back to Mike and Mike in the morning on ESPN Radio. Joining us now to break down this weekend's NFC and AFC championship games is Hall of Famer Mike Ditka. Coach, thanks for joining us. First, what is the key to victory for the Steelers-Ravens game?
Ditka: Well, this game is for the bragging rights, Mike. The Steelers can't underestimate the Ravens, and have to go out there and play Steelers football. They have to find a way to limit what Ed Reed can do. He can take over a game. The weather is going to be a factor, and Ben Roethlisberger has to dictate the tempo of the game. He has to stay upright and avoid the sack.
Mike Golic: Coach, talk about what the Cardinals have to do against the Eagles.
Ditka: The Cardinals need to get it done in their building. Stay out of third down and long situations, and prevent the Ravens from working with a short field. Get the crowd into the football game. Kurt Warner has to find passing lanes, make the big plays downfield and eat the clock.
Greenberg: Coach, break it down and tell us if the Cardinals have any shot at beating the Eagles.
Ditka: If I'm the Cardinals, I know any time you're in a playoff game you always have a chance to win. You just have to minimize the mental mistakes. The Eagles need to neutralize Larry Fitzgerald. He's a big play threat every time he touches the football.
Golic: Coach, is the Ravens defense going to be the difference in the football game?
Ditka: It will if they go out there and punch 'em in the mouth. The Ravens have to get after it. When you talk about the Ravens defense you talk about putting pressure on Donovan McNabb. He can't force the football into the secondary against this defense and try to win the game by himself if they hope to win.
Greenberg: Coach, as you break it down, what is the X factor in both of these games?
Ditka: They need to score touchdowns inside the red zone, and establish a tone. Each team has to take advantage of the opportunities they're given and stick to the fundamentals. If you lose, you go home.
Golic: Coach, why have the Cardinals made it deep into the playoffs?
Ditka: The players have bought into the system, and they're doing all the little things they need to do to win. This team has taken on the personality of Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt. When you've got a Kurt Warner calling the plays, you can put points on the scoreboard. He's a natural leader.
Greenberg: Coach, Willie Parker rushed for 146 yards for the Steelers against the Chargers. Break down for us why that happened.
Ditka: He's a physical football player, and their workhorse. He has a nose for the ball, and can make things happen out there. The writing is on the wall if he runs for another 146 yards.
Golic: Coach, why has coach Andy Reid been able to engineer this comeback for the Eagles?
Ditka: Give him a lot of credit. He's all about winning. He always has his team ready to play. He has a good, solid foundation there. I can't say enough about him.
Greenberg: Coach, break down what the Ravens need to do to stop the Steelers rushing game.
Ditka: The Ravens are playing inspired defense. It's a swarming defense. Ray Lewis is still getting it done by playing with reckless abandon and making the players around him better. Number 52 thrives under pressure.
Golic: Coach, what are your picks for each game, and the eventual Super Bowl winner?
Ditka: The Eagles and Steelers. No question about it. It's a game of inches, and it will be a close game. But Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb will finally get the monkey off their backs and win the Super Bowl.
Greenberg: Hall of Famer Mike Ditka is with us. Coach, thanks for joining us again to break it all down.
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