Aikman outtakes: Cowboy great talks Giants-Niners, and how he couldn’t throw a wet football

Fox Sports analyst Troy Aikman shared a few minutes of his time this week to discuss the Giants-49ers NFC Championship game.
Here is a weblink to the story that appeared in Friday’s editions.
Here is some additional material that did not make the print editions:

What are your thoughts on the two quarterbacks, Eli Manning and Alex Smith?
I think they’ve both had excellent years, which is a big reason why both teams are playing in the NFC Championship game. They’ve both taken interesting paths to get here, more specifically Alex. I am proud of both of them and how they have persevered.

How has Alex Smith been able to turn around his game after six disappointing seasons?
This year they’ve started having some success early. They started gaining some confidence and with that he gained confidence. It’s been kind of a development over the season. He’s done a nice job protecting the ball and leading that team. They have a lot of good things happening for them. It hasn’t all been about Alex and it probably shouldn’t have been all about Alex in the past.

Why do the Giants do so well on the road in the playoffs? How tough is that?
It’s really tough. It’s hard to win on the road. The reason I think is everything becomes magnified: every incompletion, with the crowd reacting to it; every missed third-down conversion, and the crowd reacting to that. Your emotions become heightened where you feel the game is getting away from you when it’s really not. To be tough mentally and not let it get away is tough for some teams. You tend to over-react to some situations.
Sometimes playing on the road frees players up. You don’t hear the negative stuff from the fans. I don’t know if that is necessarily the case with the Giants. In 2007 they played great on the road. It’s a testament to (coach) Tom Coughlin.
(Former Dallas coach) Jimmy (Johnson) always talked to us about going on the road and quieting a home crowd and really getting satisfaction in it.

Will the wet weather this week affect either team?
I don’t think so. I think most people say it will affect the Giants more because they throw it more. The wet field favors an offense because defensive backs are worried about falling down so the receivers have a little benefit there.
If I was playing quarterback for either team, I would bet heavy on the other team. I couldn’t throw a wet ball. I thought that was normal. I was the only guy who couldn’t throw a wet football. I would talk to quarterbacks in our meetings and ask them if they could throw a wet football. Most times they would look at me funny. “I don’t have a problem with that,’’ they’d say, and I’d feel silly.

Any quick thoughts on the Patriots-Ravens AFC championship?
We saw the Giants go in (to Foxborough) and beat them (the Patriots). That’s not supposed to happen and it really doesn’t happen that often with (Pats QB) Tom Brady.
I like what (coach) John Harbaugh has done in Baltimore and I like the toughness of that team. But it’s hard to imagine anyone going into Foxborough and beating them. The Giants did it, the Jets did it last year in the postseason, so it can happen. I don’t see the Patriots losing.

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    Ken McMillan

    Ken McMillan has been covering sports since he got his first writing job in 1979. He has covered Section 9 athletics for most of the past 28 years. He reports on college sports, including Army and Marist College. He also writes on TV/radio sports ... Read Full
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