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Bill Belichick Conference Call Transcript

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the Baltimore media during his conference call on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.

Opening statement: "OK, how is everybody doing down there today? Are we talking football or lacrosse? I just want to be ready for this. (laughter) I've been real impressed with the Ravens. Obviously, they are playing really well lately. They've been in a lot of great games. They've played well in crunch time. When they've had to make the plays, they've made them. As usual, [head] coach [John] Harbaugh is doing a real good job with his football team in all three phases of the game – offensively, defensively and special teams. They look like the championship team that we all know they are and [are] well coached."

On former University of Maryland DT Joe Vellano: "Yeah, another Terp. Joe [Vellano] did a good job for us. [He] got some playing time. We've had some injuries at that position, and he has stepped in and done a good job. Joe works hard. He is a tough kid. He really competes well and is in pretty good condition. He has had to play a lot of plays in several games. He has really hung in there and done a good job for us."

On why kickers have been so successful this season: "I would say just in general, just the better quality of play and also practice. Certainly, having the consistency of the snapper, holder and kicker being able to work together all day and work on those things the way it is with most teams, I think that has certainly helped relative to going back a few years when that wasn't the case. It's been like that for a while. And just overall, [there is] better kicking. We've seen each year young guys come out [of college and] be more competitive, like [Justin] Tucker was last year, as a matter of fact, in his rookie year. Guys are more ready to come into the league. There are a lot of good kickers in the league. [It is] no specific thing, but just generally a good quality. Same thing with the kickoffs – you see a lot more touchbacks. It's not just leg strength; it's technique."

On NT Haloti Ngata: "He is a heck of a football player. [He is] strong and has really good quickness for his size. [He is] a hard guy to block. I've always liked him. I've always thought he's one of the – not only one of the best – but, to a degree a little bit, an underrated player. Not that he is underrated, but I don't think there are many that are better than him at his position, let's put it that way. And I think he is having a good year."

On if he views this game as a rematch: "No, I think this game certainly has its own elements. There are a lot of players playing in this game that didn't play in either one of the games last year. There are certainly a lot that did, but there are plenty that didn't. [It is a] whole new matchup."

On OLB Terrell Suggs: "You certainly have to be aware of him. I think he and [Elvis] Dumervil have gotten a lot of attention out there on the edge. Quarterbacks are just trying to throw the ball quick or keep an extra guy in protection to try to slow them down a little bit. I think the Ravens have an excellent front. They play a lot of players in there. They are all good; they are all productive. I think [Terrell] Suggs is a guy you have to absolutely [be mindful of]."

On how not having two of their best-catching tight ends this year has hindered them: "I don't know. I can't put a percentage on it or anything. You always like to have all your best players. Unfortunately, Rob [Gronkowski] got hurt a couple weeks ago in the Cleveland game, but there have been a number of games that he hasn't played in this year, including training camp. We have confidence in the players that we have, and we'll go out there and compete. I'm sure the guys that play will go out there and do a good job and play competitively."

On QB Tom Brady adjusting to new personnel: "I think Tom [Brady] has done a good job. He prepares very hard, he works hard, and he is a good player. I think he has been giving us good leadership throughout the season, going all the way back to the spring. Tom is one of our best and most consistent players. He has been like that for a long time."

On coaching against Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who coached in New England: "Dean [Pees] does an excellent job. Dean is a smart coach; he's got a lot of experience. He's really done a solid job for the Ravens – no question about it."

On if it's strange preparing for the Ravens without LB Ray Lewis or S Ed Reed: "A little bit. It does look a little bit different without those guys. The Ravens have a lot of young players on their roster, and they have a lot of them playing well. I think that Ozzie [Newsome], his staff, coach [John] Harbaugh, the entire organization, Steve [Bisciotti] – all of them – have done a great job of putting their football team together. It's a lot of players that are not on the team from last year, but there's plenty of guys that were, and then there's some new players that have done a good job of stepping up."

On what it takes for a quarterback to be clutch: "Obviously, being able to execute under pressure, being smart, knowing the situation, keeping their poise, knowing how to handle [adversity]. [It's] all the things – the play, the defense, clock management – just good situational football. Each situation is a little bit different, no matter how much you practice it or how many situations you practice. Each one has got a little different twist to it or some aspects of it that just makes it a little bit different from the one that you practiced or a similar situation that you've been in before. [It's about] being able to adjust and have that gamesmanship, poise and intelligence on the field to make good decisions at critical times."

On TE Dennis Pitta: "Excellent player. [He] does a really good job. [He's] a key guy in the offense that Joe [Flacco] has a lot of confidence in and goes to him in critical situations – third down, red area, end of the game and two-minute type of situations. He's a go-to guy and a guy that has had a serious injury, but looks like he's come back from it well and worked hard in rehab. He's made good contributions for them since he's been back. [He's] an impressive player."

On the Ravens' rivalry with the Patriots: "The Ravens are a good football team; I think we all know that. They're tough, they're physical, and they have a lot of good players. They have a lot of good skill players, and they have a lot of good, big players – linemen. They've got good specialists, they're well-coached, and they have an excellent organization from the top on down – the owner, to the general manager, to the head coach and their entire staff. They're a very tough and competitive football team. We know it's a big challenge for us down there this week. They're playing very well and have won four of their last five games with a lot of clutch plays. I think that's what we've got to be ready for. Whatever has happened in previous games – no matter our record – it is what it is. This game will be decided by how two teams compete and perform on Sunday. I don't know that [the past] has much of anything to do with any other game. As you said, it does come out very competitively. What happens Sunday will be determined on what happens Sunday, not what happened last year, last week or some other year."

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