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Bill Belichick Postgame Press Conference Transcript

Posted Jan 14, 2012

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, January 14, 2012.


BB: I just can't say enough about the players today. They obviously did a great job. We had a good week in the bye week and I think we got a lot of things done. Once we found out who we were playing, I think these guys really did a good job of focusing on the target and they were obviously ready to go today. You have to give the players all the credit in the world. They stepped up and they made a lot of big plays throughout the game for 60 minutes. We got contributions from everybody. Great job on special teams. We had a lot of good field position. We played on a short filed, the offense got the ball in the end zone. We got some stops on defense, turned the ball over early. It was a good, solid team effort. We'll enjoy this one for a little while and then we'll find out who we have in the AFC Championship. But it's an honor to be in that game and it's been a lot of hard work this year, but I'm really happy for the players. I'm really excited for them. They deserved it. They've worked hard, they've put up with me, so they deserve this.  


Q: Your defense was pretty disciplined against their option stuff.  


BB: Yeah, they did a good job. They give you a lot of different looks. We had our moments. They broke a couple through there, but in the end, we were able to keep it somewhat under control.  


Q:  Was one of the big keys to set the edge, especially as opposed to the last game  


BB: Well, always. You never want to let the ball outside where they're running on air; you've got to make them run through some defenders. We did a little bit better job on that, but they cut some back, they broke some tackles. They do a good job running the ball, but again, our players did a good job containing him. We tackled certainly better than we did the last time we played them and fortunately we were able to play the game from ahead. That helped too.  


Q: You've talked about wanting to start fast. Is this kind of what you had in mind?  


BB: We always try to start well, believe me. We always try to start well.  


Q: Can you talk about the two-touchdown swing at the end of the half and how important that was?  


BB: Yeah, that was huge. That was huge. We got the first touchdown and then we were able to get a stop there on defense and come back and we were kind of playing for three with 10 seconds to go, and we still had a time out. We saved that time out for the field goal and we kind of took a shot for the end zone and Tom hit Rob [Gronkowski] down the middle against, it looked like, split safety coverage. That was huge, really, to get those points to come in before halftime was big. And then we got a stop to start the third quarter, so that kind of sequence there at the end of the second and start of the third quarter was big for us. I mean, we had the lead, but then the game kind of got out of hand at that point, so that was really well executed by our football team, especially offensively.  


Q: What do you like about having Aaron Hernandez in the backfield in the running game?  


BB: Well, we didn't have any backs in the game in that personnel grouping - we just had the three receivers and the two tight ends. So, that's not something we've done a lot of. You see all those receivers on the field and you're not really thinking too much about the running game defensively, so we tried to pop a couple runs in there just to keep them honest. We thought they might be thinking - I mean, obviously, they're thinking pass - we threw the ball most every time, but we tried to get a couple runs going there. And Aaron made a good run. It looked like he broke a tackle and he did a nice job handling the ball there.  


Q: What did you like about Tom Brady's performance tonight and does Zoltan Mesko have anything to worry about with Tom's punt?  


BB: Tom, I thought, really had a good night other than that one ball that was overthrown. He managed the team well. We were in a fast-paced, no-huddle the whole game and as usual, he did and excellent job of controlling the formations and the plays and got us out of a couple bad situations. That punt, the fake punt - well not the fake, but the quick kick, we've worked on that for, it's got to be like seven, eight years since the last time we did it. So he's two-for-two, two inside the 20. The last one was, I think, inside the one against Miami. This one was maybe on the seven or eight, whatever it was, so he was a little disappointed that we lost that field position. But, it's funny - that's the kind of play you work on forever and you never know when it's going to come. Actually, we talked about doing it when we were backed up there on the two-yard line when it was second-and-12 on the two and then he hit Deion [Branch] and we got the first down and then we ended up in third-and-15 or something and rather than go out there and go through the punt rushes that they have which they like to bring their corners and so forth, we just felt like that was a good time to do it. Tom, as usual, made it work well.  


Q: For as consistent and great as Tom Brady has been for so long, what's different about him now with his experience?  


BB: Tom has done a good job for us for a long time, but I think offensively, it's just our team. We had good execution by a lot of guys out there offensively tonight - certainly a lot better than the last couple playoff games we‘ve had here. Our team performed well, we scored points, and I think that's really the bottom line. Everybody contributed. We had lot of guys do a good job out there. Tom is one of them, but he had a lot of help.  


Q: Did you feel that Tom was feeling the pressure of the poor performances the last few years?  


BB: I think our whole team feels that. I think our whole team feels that.  


Q: Can you talk about Rob Gronkowksi and Aaron Hernandez and their skills and maybe how that position and has evolved over the years?  


BB: I don't know, there have been a lot of great tight ends through the years in the NFL. Rob and Aaron have both done a good job for us. They complement each other well, they compete well with each other, they push each other and they've been very productive for us. They both do a great job. We're fortunate to have them.  


Q: When did you decide to go no-huddle virtually the entire game?  


BB:  I think it was certainly something that helped us when we played them out there. We had a couple no-huddle series there at the end of the second quarter, start of the third quarter in Denver and we felt like that gave them a little trouble. And then today, it looked they lost a couple safeties and I'm sure that didn't help the communication and we were able to pres it a bit. It seemed like we had an advantage so we tried to, like I said, continue to try to take advantage of it and try to press it a little bit.  


Q: Thirty-one first downs speaks to your offense in itself, but can you talk about the offensive line that didn't allow any sacks?  


BB: Yeah, I said the whole team; I think all the players did well. Of course you want to give all the credit to the guy throwing and the couple guys catching, but it's everybody out there. The offensive line protected very well. Our backs, as well, when they were in pickup, I thought we ran the ball well. Benny [Green-Ellis] ran well. I think it was a full team effort all the way around. You can't move the ball and score points unless everybody is doing their job; it's not just one guy out there. That's the way we practiced and that's the way they all played out there. They executed it extremely well today. We didn't have very many penalties. We had a couple at the end, but overall we played penalty-free and that was a big help to us offensively, as well. We weren't in a lot of long-yardage situations. As you said, no sacks. A couple runs that weren't great, but we didn't have a lot of sacks and penalties, so we were usually in a fairly favorable down-and-distance situation.  


Q: Tom Brady had six touchdowns passes to tie the record and you guys were striking distance of a seventh. Why didn't you let him take a shot at it?  


BB: I don't even know what those records are. We were just trying to win the game, that's all. We were just trying to win the game. That's all we're here for.  


Q: We know how focused you are on each game, but having lost the last few games in the playoffs, in the back of your mind, how did you keep the focus on this performance today  


BB: That's all we care about is this game. There's nothing we can do about [the past]. Look, we've won games around here and we've lost them, but all of that is in the books. There's nothing we can do about any of those. All we can focus on is this week. I think the team went out there and practiced well, prepared well and played well and that's all we can do. And that's all we can do next week: just go out there and get started on whoever we play once we find out who it is, have a good week of preparation, practice, film study and so forth and be ready to play our best game in the AFC Championship. We're going to be playing another great football team, whoever it is, and we're going to have to play well. We don't really care about what happened in the past. There's nothing you can do about it.  


Q: What do you like about your defense?  


BB: I like our whole football team. Our defense, they compete well. I thought they did a good job. We, unfortunately gave up a touchdown there on the short field, but overall, I thought they competed well. We had some better plays on third-down, got off the field and gave our offense good field position. We were able to turn the ball over, so early in the game that was big. The guys played together, they communicated well, and we've gotten better throughout the course of the year.  


Q: Your thoughts on Rob Ninkovich?  


BB: Rob's been a very consistent player for us all year. He did a great job tonight. I know he was a little bit disappointed in the way he played in the last Denver game and he's very determined. He had a great week of practice, great week of preparation and he had a real good night tonight along with a lot of other guys out there. It just comes down to team defense and being able to do our job in the running game, inside with the quarterback on the pitch, those kinds of things, play action passes - they threw a lot of those, the balls down the field. It takes 11 guys to stop that offense, not one. As a team, I thought they communicated and executed pretty well.  


Q: When you think about the preparation, how much did it help this time around having already faced that offense?  


BB: It definitely helped - the fact that we had actually seen it live as opposed to just watching it on film. We try to simulate it in practice, of course, and our guys did a great job of giving us a good replication of what they did, but it's always different to see it in person. And of course trying to tackle [Willis] McGahee and [Tim] Tebow and [Demaryius] Thomas live is challenging. Those guys break a lot of tackles and that's a big part of it, too. They did that tonight and we tackled them, but it's challenging. But to see that, having seen it once before, I think that was a big advantage. Like watching the Kansas City game, as an example, it seemed like the second time Kansas City played them, their players and their team had a little better feel for how to play some of that than they did the first time. That was probably true for us, too.  


Q: In all your career, did you ever face a team that used two tight ends as extensively as you do over an extended period of time?  


BB: I don't know. I'd have to think about it.  


Q: Detroit, mid-70s?  


BB: Yeah, Charlie Sanders and David Hill. Yeah, we tried to do that with them, thank you. Yeah, that was really the first - I mean, honestly there wasn't a lot of two-tight ends in the mid-70s, there really wasn't. There was one tight end in the game and occasionally teams used two tight ends in short-yardage, but that's kind of where the two tight ends and one back. And then [Don] Coryell and San Diego and so forth, it became a little more prevalent. But when we had Charlie Sanders and David Hill at Detroit, those two guys were pretty good. One of them is in the Hall of Fame, right?  


Q: [Joe] Gibbs…  


BB: Well, absolutely. Coryell and Gibbs, same thing.