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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Post-Game Press Conf - 11/24/2002

Belichick: I never thought it was going to be easy. This is an explosive team...



BB: It's good to get back on track here at home, I thought we had, obviously, a pretty good start to the game, especially offensively, we moved the ball pretty well. A big improvement of course on third down and in the red area, turnovers, which I thought really helped us in the game. So it's good to be on the plus side of that. I thought that in the end, defensively, we made some plays in the passing game, we got a little more rush on [Dante] Culpepper, obviously he hurt us with the scrambles in the second and third quarter. That's a really explosive football team and we had to try to just keep them under control here. Fortunately, we were able to make enough plays in the end to win. I've got to give the defense credit for the job they did today. No injuries to report, we're going to walk through Detroit tonight, get ready for them, a short week, so we're rolling. Not much time to get ready, we've got to get on Detroit in a hurry.

Q: You have a walkthrough tonight?

BB: I was kidding.

Q: You had two forth down situations, why didn't you punt in those situations?

BB: I thought they were makeable, and it was hard to get field position in that wind today, tough kicking wind. We thought they were both reasonable, the fourth and ten one was a little bit longer, but we preferred the down, we would probably have only punted for ten or 15 yards of field position, but then we got sacked on top of that and we lost four yards. That obviously works against you.

Q: What about Joe Andruzzi, he came out for a few series?

BB: We alternated a few guys in and out of there, Joe was one, and nothing came up during the game. We just wanted to be able to give him a break, he hasn't really been able to play a whole game for a few weeks. So, he took a few plays off and we gave him a little break. We've got some guys that are a little banged up, but we'll wait and see tomorrow.

Q: When you got the fumble late in the second quarter and didn't score, did it appear to you that it wasn't going to be easy?

BB: I never thought it was going to be easy. This is an explosive team, we talked about the Vikings all week, they can score from their ten, our ten, midfield, you name it, one play, they're in the end zone. They've got some big-play players, and that was a really bad series for us because we had two penalties that set us back, we came up second and 20. Then, the next couple succeeding series, as I said, we were in a little bit of slump in the second and third quarter, we dropped some balls, missed some opportunities that could have kept the drives going and kept us on the field. There's no question that would have been a big series for us with that field position and to tack on a few more points, but it just reversed.

Q: Did you get a little conservative at the end of the half with your coverage?

BB: No I don't think so, he scrambled a bunch. That was a big play.

Q: Did Minnesota tighten up the coverage at all?

BB: Well, they play a lot of cover-two like they usually do, doing a little bit of zone blitz, and then they started tightening up and playing a little man-to-man coverage which is their way of tightening it up, bringing an extra guy down to the box. So they did that in the third and fourth quarter, and particularly going into the wind in the . . .we were going into the wind in there and they started giving us much more of a press coverage look, but that's not what they do. They play two, they play zone.

Q: What is the practice schedule?

BB: We're going tomorrow afternoon, then Tuesday will kind of be like a regular Wednesday for us, Wednesday will be like a Saturday, so we're just going to have to cram in. Tuesday's our big day, and we'll just have to cram it in on Monday and Wednesday.

Q: Can you talk about Victor Green in the starting lineup tonight?

BB: Yeah, I though Vic stepped in, he could have saved me a little heartache there at the end if he would have caught that. But Vic's done a solid job for us all year, he's been around, when there's a loose ball he'll recover them, I think he was in on at least one turnover today. He's really stepped in and worked well with Lawyer [Milloy] in the secondary back there, and obviously he stepped in and did a nice job today and on a couple of those deep balls his deep coverage was pretty good.

Q: Do you put any stock on setting the tone in games, he had that big hit on [Randy] Moss there?

BB: Sure, absolutely. Defensively, you always want to set a good tone on any of the passes over the middle and make the receivers think about coming in there, and that was one where they were in an empty formation, there were no backs in the backfield, and Moss lined up as the third guy in, right in the middle, so it kind of cleared everybody out because they were ready for him to go down the chute.

Q: Were you more worried about [Dante] Culpepper on that last drive?

BB: Are you talking about the very last drive? I wasn't too worried about him on that drive because they didn't have any timeouts and I didn't think he would be able to beat us running, but yes, the series before where they . . .I think on the missed field goal, that yeah, we started pressuring him at the end there so he at least wouldn't be able to scramble out of the pocket on us.

Q: Speaking about the short week, how hard is it to play a team that you don't play twice a year?

BB: Well, we're going to have to work extra on it, no question. We played them a couple years ago, but a lot has changed, a new system, and some new players, so we're going to have to just . . . it'll be like cramming or the final exam, just get as much information as we can on Tuesday, go out and practice it on Wednesday and try to absorb it, I mean on Monday, and then practice it on Tuesday and try to absorb it on Wednesday and try to go out there and play. I think the thing at this time of year is, we've played 11 games, they've played 11 games, I doubt that either team's going to put in a whole lot of new stuff. You do what you know how to do, and try adjust it against the things that they're showing you, but I'm sure that both teams will rely on the foundations that they laid this week.

Q: On the fourth down, what else goes into that decision?

BB: Well I think just risk. You could give up the ball, but I don't know what you'd really get out of that, and if you keep it, then you've either got a chance to score or hold onto the ball longer into the wind and take more time off and wait till things become a little more available. The fourth and ten, what was it? Well you were too far for a field goal, it would have been a 47-yard field goal, so you can punt from the 30-yard line, and again, you're looking at maybe a ten, 15 yard. . . I don't know what kind of position you're going to get on that. Now getting sacked, of course that ruins everything, that takes ten yards off the play. But we're hoping that even if it's a five-yard completion, you've got a shot to get the ball downfield, make the first down, then you're in scoring range, and then you get points. If you don't, then they've got it on the 30 [yard line]. Now if you have a bad play, you get sacked, now they've got it on the 38 or 39, but if you give them the ball on the 30-yard line, that's 70 yards, it's not a really bad defensive position. Now that play was a tougher play because you're giving up a little more field position there, but it was fourth and two.

Q: Is that a called sneak?

BB: Well, yeah we try to take a look and see if we think we've got it. I was never second-guessing on that, I thought we had a shot at it. The spot was close.

Q: The same thing earlier in the game?

BB: Yes.

Q: (Re: No turnovers)

BB: We always look for turnovers going into every game, we try to be aware of the opponents, what kind of opportunity we have, whether it's stripping the ball out of the running back or quarterback, or things like that. Some receivers carry the ball loosely, or they try to switch hands with it, or whatever the tips are for that week. Romeo [Crennel] and the defensive coaches Rob [Ryan], Eric [Mangini], I think they all do a really good job of that, they talk about it with the players every week, and each week, like I said, we really try to understand what our opponents do, who's vulnerable, and just make a conscious effort to always get the ball out, of course always make the tackle, but the second and third guy try to come in for the ball.

Q: (Re: Only having nine men on the field in one play)

BB: Yeah, that was another substitution error. We got confused between . . . there's some guys on the defense that thought we were going to be in a goal line defense and what happens is you run off the field and wait down there on the five-yard line, and by the time you get to the sideline, if you start to run back out there you're already offside, or it's too late and you can't get a timeout called. That's two weeks in a row we had the substitution problem, we'll get the problem straightened out.

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