Dirty Birds flying south to Miami after stunning Vikes

Mile High exit? Elway leads Broncos back to Super Bowl

Chandler answers bell in final round

Reeves, Shanahan meet again

Notebook: Falcons' win was for Rankin Smith

TJ's Take on the conference finals

  Monday, Jan. 18 2:04am ET
Sunday Conversation with Dan Reeves
From ESPN SportsCenter

For a coach who had bypass surgery at the end of the regular season, a football expression like sudden death may be a poor choice of words. It also isn't the best recipe for recovery, but Dan Reeves and his Falcons are survivors on several levels.

Sunday, they survived a 20-3 deficit against Minnesota and rallied to give the franchise its first Super Bowl appearance this season. On the heels of a victory that was thick with emotion, Reeves explained his feelings about his fourth Super Bowl appearance and his first against his former Broncos in the Sunday Conversation with ESPN's Andrea Kremer:

 Dan Reeves
Six years after leaving Denver, Dan Reeves' new quarterback Chris Chandler (right) has led him back to the Super Bowl.

Kremer: Has it sunk in yet that just over a month ago, you were laying down, undergoing heart surgery?

Reeves: ... It will be five weeks Monday, and to have open-heart surgery and less than five weeks later you're sitting on the sideline or standing on the sideline, coaching a football team that's playing in a championship game and you end up winning that way -- the Lord has been good enough to you to allow you to do that.

I feel so good about being a part of that game. And ... to win it that way, and all of the things that happened and five weeks ago you'd just be glad that you hope everything turns out all right. And then all of a sudden, something like this just blows you away.

Kremer: When the clock was winding down during overtime, how were you physically feeling?

Reeves: You know, really and truly, I felt great. But I wanted to watch it. I've seen so many of those games where guys turn their back and they don't want to see it. When we got in field-goal range, I just had great confidence that he was going to make it.

The biggest thing to be concerned about is that they do a great job of middle rush. (You're) hoping your guys don't turn somebody loose and all of a sudden they come up the field and block it. But when he hit it, I knew it was going through.

Kremer: And physically, you were feeling fine?

Reeves: Yeah, I was fine. I just said, "I've got to stay here." Because I saw guys go running out to the field, and I knew if I got out there that I might get crushed.

Kremer: How do you inherit a 3-13 football team and put it in the Super Bowl two years later?

Reeves: You've got to be very lucky because if you look at it in situations that you decided to do, and the way they've worked out, you understand it wasn't all you.

If you start looking at it and start patting yourself on the back, and say, "Boy ... that was a great move." If you really look at it and evaluate it, you would have been very fortunate that those things, the decisions you've made that they have blended together and guys have made it work.

Kremer: You're going to be hearing this question for the next two weeks: How personal will this meeting be against Denver?

Reeves: Well, I think it's very important that I don't make it personal. You know, I had 12 great years in Denver. They didn't end the way I would liked for it to have. There were a lot of things that I would love to have been able to change.

But all I can do is I can look myself in the mirror and say I did everything the way that I thought was best for it to be done.

Kremer: And with John Elway, there has been so much talk after the fact about how you inhibited him.

Reeves: Well again, I can only look at it from my viewpoint. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what John Elway accomplished. I could not have been the football coach that I have been without John Elway.

And I'm sorry that whatever caused the situation to where it wasn't fun for him, that I wasn't really aware of that. And maybe that's blindness on my part or whatever. I have a lot of respect for John.

Kremer: What do you think will be different for your trip to the Super Bowl this time around?

Reeves: You know, I don't think it will be any different.

Kremer: Well, you hope to win this one, right?

Reeves: Well ... yeah. That's what your goal is, but I was excited about going to all the Super Bowls I've been to. And believe me, I've been to eight, and I've only been on two winning ones.

I've tried it every which way, but it still boils down to getting your football team to play as well as you possibly can. Not worrying about the other team, but just getting your guys to play as well as you can. If you do that, then you have a chance.

Kremer: When you were up accepting the conference championship trophy on Sunday, do you remember doing the Dirty Bird or at least trying to.

Reeves: Oh, I remember. But it was awful noisy. I couldn't hear what was going on. I've got to practice because I've promised that if we went to the Super Bowl I'd do this in downtown Atlanta, and believe me . I've got to practice. Jamal (Anderson) has to work with me because hopefully I won't have to do it very long. I just said I would do it. I didn't say how long I would do it.

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