Q: Tom, not a bad day for you.
TB: It was a good start for the whole team. We were 0-2 with our backs against the wall and we came out and the defense performed well. We were running the ball, which takes a lot of pressure off of what my job was – to move the sticks. It was a good win. It wasn’t the Super Bowl or anything, but now we’re 1-2 and we’ve got to go down to Miami.
Q: Did you feel any butterflies in your first NFL start?
TB: I’d tell you if I did, and I really didn’t. It felt like it was a practice field. On the first play I went out and got sacked. I wasn’t very happy about that. On the third play, I was throwing into the wind and the ball sailed on me. I wasn’t very happy about that one either, but after that I kind of settled into things and started moving the ball a bit. The defense helped us out a ton like I said. We got 44 points and a win and I like it.
Q: Where will this win rank for you, coming in your first start?
TB: I was laying in bed last night and kind of envisioning the things that were going to happen in the game and the outcomes and the possibilities, and never did I think it would be a runaway victory like it was. It was our day today. A lot of things bounced our way. You need that in football. A lot of times the last couple of weeks the ball hadn’t been bouncing our way, so you just have to take advantage of those opportunities and we all took advantage today.
Q: Did you do some things better than you thought you could?
TB: I thought of some things... It’s funny, in practice you never get hit. Damon [Huard] made a comment to me before the game. He said, ‘Tom, the one thing I can tell you is that it’s a long game.’ I got in here at halftime and that was the longest I’ve played in two years. I was like, ‘We’ve got to go for another half?’ So, that was one thing, just the length of the game and how many chances and opportunities you have with the ball.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the consistent running game? I would assume that helped things out a lot.
TB: It sure does. Antowain ran hard. There was some running room there today. Kevin scored on that touchdown run and made a great cut. I had a great view of that, I turned around... you love to see a guy come out the back end of that line of scrimmage. It makes it easier, it keeps the third downs manageable. We had a pretty good third down percentage, I think.
Q: Coach Belichick talked about taking the frustration of being 0-2 out on the Colts. Did you sense you were on a very frustrated football team that was going to release that furor on the Colts?
TB: I think so. We had a long offseason. There were a lot of guys that worked hard, and we have prepared especially hard. We had a really good training camp. And then you come out your first two games and it doesn’t necessarily show. I think guys at that point were frustrated, because we thought we had made a lot of strides and we had nothing to show for it. Any time you get a win like this... This is the team that we feel that we are. We don’t feel like the team that we were two weeks ago. This is the way we think we can perform week in and week out. There’s no reason why we can’t. It’s our decision.
Q: When you say ‘strides,’ what do you mean? What did you think you guys were going to be better at this year?
TB: I think everybody’s just more comfortable with one another. We’re running the same offense now, we have the same coaching, we’ve just been more prepared this year, more mentally and physically than before. So, you get to know the way your coaches are thinking, the way they envision plays working and you’re able to communicate better with the coaches and the players and even with the new guys, David Patten and Bert [Emanuel] and Torrance [Small] and Charles [Johnson], those guys, communicating better with them as well.
Q: Did you talk to Drew Bledsoe on the sidelines during the game?
TB: Yeah, the whole game. He’s such a help. He’s been playing for a lot of years and he’s been to the Pro Bowl and there’s a lot of things to learn from [there]. I’ll take everything I can get from him.
Q: Tom, are you surprised they didn’t put more pressure on you in your first start in the NFL?
TB: I think they really weren’t in a lot of situations to put a lot of pressure. Those third downs were pretty short, and we were running the ball so well, it was hard for them... if they’re calling all-out blitzes and we hand the ball off and the running back breaks free, I’m not sure they wanted to do that either, so I thought they played like... I talked with Drew last night and asked him what he thought they were going to do. He said, ‘They’re probably going to play pretty conservative, maybe run blitz on first down, try to get you into third downs and they try to confuse you with some zone blitzes.’ I thought that’s pretty much what they did and I think we were prepared for that.
Q: How do you think you’ve matured in just two years in the NFL?
TB: I’m making progress, that’s all I can say. I don’t know how far or how much more I’m going to mature, but hopefully... I certainly know there’s a lot of room for improvement. That’s my objective. I’m going out there every day and to every practice to learn something and to get better. I want to eventually, you know, I want to be out there performing as well as I can. That’s obviously what I enjoy doing and this was a good start today.
Q: Why weren’t you nervous?
TB: I think I’ve always had high expectations for myself. I knew eventually this day was going to come. Since I started playing football, every step of the way I’ve set my goals higher. What people expect of me, they’re always under-evaluating me. I always see so much more in me than a lot of other people do. That’s prepared me, because whatever expectations people put on me, I have higher expectations for myself.
Q: Sixth-round draft picks don’t usually make starts in the NFL.
TB: I was pretty disappointed about that. [The low pick]
Q: So you didn’t even have doubts when that happened?
TB: That was a tough time for me and at that point I made the decision that I was going to be ready to play when I was called upon, so, granted, today was far from perfect out there, but it was a good way to start.
Q: What was your reaction when those two passes sailed on you early in the game?
TB: It was funny, when I let it go, I thought, ‘Okay, this looks good,’ and then all of a sudden... that ball just jumps. I don’t know if you were watching in warm-ups, but you could throw a ball and it’s spiraling, and then at the last second, it’s like a slider. The ball’s diving and sailing. It’s just one of those things. You’ve got to make throws. The thing about it is that they’re playing on the same field and the same elements. I’m sure they missed a few shots too. A few of the interceptions, it looked like the ball dove at the last minute and the ball kind of popped down.
Q: Was that just going into the wind?
TB: I think it’s both. It was more of a side-wind. So when you’re throwing out routes, the ball’s sailing hard to the left. When you’re throwing right, it’s really knocking the ball down. Throughout the game, those are just the elements you've got to deal with.
Q: Did anyone say anything to you on the sidelines after that ball?
TB: Everyone just said, ‘Let’s get the next one.’ That’s the approach you’ve got to take.
Q: What’s the biggest thing that Drew told you during the game?
TB: The one thing he told me was, ‘Tom, the most important thing for you today is to go out there and smile and have fun. You’re as prepared as you could be. I have a ton of confidence in you and just go out there and have fun. Let everything else take care of itself.’ That’s kind of the way it worked out.
Q: How do you rate this win?
TB: It’s up there. I’m always reevaluating, though. Ask me in another year and I’m sure there will be a few more days up ahead.