Q: What are you most encouraged about what you’re seeing from you defense?
BB: I thought we did an OK job today. We played well in the red area, that was big [to] keep them out of the end zone. Next week, we’ll have a new set of challenges so we’ll have to do everything well against Atlanta. Today it was red area defense and we made some third and fourth down stops when we needed to. They moved the ball, they had some long drives but fortunately it didn’t result in a lot of points.
Q: Was the improved chemistry between
BB: I think we get better every time we have practice. If we don’t, I don’t know why we’re going out there. We had an opportunity to have an extra day this week with the Thursday game – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – I think it helped our entire football team. Our execution, our communication and our timing on everything was a little better. Hopefully it will be better next week.
Q: Were you pleased with the way the rookie receivers stepped up today?
BB: I think they’ve been working hard, they’ve given us good effort every week.
Q: How crucial was
BB: I thought all our backs ran well. Brandon did a good job for us but Stevan [Ridley] and LeGarrette [Blount], they all had some good runs, some key runs for us. It’s a tough defense to run the ball against but we were able to chip away and at least keep them honest and stay out of a lot of long-yardage situations and that helped us. When we got into long-yardage, those were our bad series. But when we were able to control the distance situations and the running game certainly helped that, that was a positive for us.
Q: How important was it for you to limit Vincent Jackson early?
BB: He’s a heck of a player. He made a big catch there on us early. I’m sure they missed him when he went out but I thought Aqib [Talib] did a good job competing against him and played him tough at the line of scrimmage. Jackson made a couple, but Talib made a couple. It was a good, competitive matchup. He’s definitely a guy, obviously him and [Doug] Martin, are two guys you have to stop on this football team. Being able to keep him out of the end zone and just limit his catches was huge for us. But Aqib did a great job, he worked hard, had a good week of preparation, he had a real good week of practice and it showed up in the game. He made that play in practice – the interception – a couple times, just the way it turned out in the game. It’s just a good example of practicing well leads to the game performance.
Q: Some of the rookie defenders were able to get in the game. Were you able to get a good look at them?
BB: We’ll see. We’ll look at the film and see how it goes. We got a lot of contributions from a lot of players today. I thought we were OK in the kicking game. Our field position was competitive. We made some kicks; the kick at the half was a big kick. But you know, all the guys that played, we had good, solid contributions from everybody.
Q: When you set up the field goal at the end of the first half. Was the sneak by Tom Brady the call coming out or was it an audible based on the defense?
BB: We usually don’t talk about how the plays are called and all that. Obviously, what we were trying to do is get the ball as close as we could into field goal range. Where we had it there was on like the 40 or 41, it would have been 57, 58-yard field goal with a strong crosswind. Each yard to get a little bit closer would increase our percentages on that. We only had, I think it was six seconds on the clock, so we didn’t have a lot of time to run a play and call timeout, so we had to do something pretty direct, get as many yards as we could in a short amount of time and take a timeout. Then Steve [Gostkowski] made the kick. All that stuff is great but it all comes down to making the kick and having good execution by the field goal team and we had it on that play with the specialists and the protection. That made it all look good. Otherwise, it doesn’t mean anything.
Q: What made the offense start to click?
BB: Staying out of long-yardage. We got in some long-yardage situations early: second-and-18, third-and-15 and couldn’t overcome them. You’re not going to overcome those very often. When we were able to keep it in third-and-twos, threes, fours, ones, we were able to convert more of those. I think that was the big thing: avoiding the negative plays and staying out of long-yardage, like it usually is.
BB: Yeah, it was touchback game [for] both kickers. I think there was only one kickoff returned, right? And that was like the 20-yard line. So it was a touchback game. You see al lot of that this time of year. The weather is good and it’s warm and the ball is flying. But we’re going to have to overcome them sooner or later and we’re going t have to return them sooner or later. I’m sure we’ll get our chances but today was a touchback day.
Q: Can you talk about Tom Brady’s poise to get the offense going on that fourth drive?
BB: Well again, once we eliminated the negative plays and stayed out of long yardage then we were able to move the ball competitively. But the second and third-and-longs, it’s just too hard. As a group offensively, we didn’t have a lot of negative runs. As we got it going, we didn’t have too many penalties; we didn’t have too many second-and-10s, third-and-10s. That’s the key to it. Second-and-15, third-and-15, you just can’t expect to get too many of those in this league, not against a good defense like Tampa.