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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 11 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 16 - 11:55 AM

Bill Belichick Post Game Press Conf Transcript

Belichick: Defensively, you just can’t say enough about that group. They played hard and they played pretty well.



            **BB:**  That was really about the way that we expected that game to go, again, as I have said all week, Cleveland is a team that has been in a lot of close games.  That is usually what it comes down to and that is certainly what it came down to today, last possession of the game.  Defensively, you just can't say enough about that group.  They played hard and they played pretty well.  Cleveland did too.  They kept us out of the end zone.  Their red zone defense, which is right at the top of the league, was obviously very good today.  We couldn't get the ball in.  In the end, we were able to make a few plays.  Obviously [Daniel] Graham had a nice day for us.  He came up with some good production.  We ran the ball a little bit there to create some field position.  Overall it was a real good day for us defensively.  Those guys have been playing well.  Anytime you hold a team to three points in this league that is more than one guy doing it.  But it was a big play by Ty [Law] there, just going up and taking the ball away on that last interception.  I thought the pass rush was better.  In the end it was enough.  That is all you are looking for in this league is just to find a way to win.  

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about Kevin Faulk's workload today?

BB:** Kevin ran hard. There were a lot of plays where Cleveland's line slanted and he was able to cut the ball back and I thought he did a real good job of reading the blockers. They are tough. They are a good football team and a good defensive team. I think there was a lot of patience in the running game. The backs have to have that in order to be able to run the ball against them. I thought that Kevin did a good job of letting them set up his blocks and having patience and letting some of those plays sort themselves out.

**Q: Were your red zone troubles more a product of your lack of execution or their execution on defense?

BB:** I think you have to give them credit. They did a good job. When you come down there and you are first and goal and get a 10 yard penalty and now you are second and 20 or whatever it was, that is not a good formula, kick a field goal and get that taken off the board and come back and miss one. We had our opportunities and we screwed a few things up and at the same time they are right at the top of the league in red zone defense. There is a reason for that too. It is not just a coincidence.

**Q: On a consistent basis, your players are in a position to make a play at the end of the game. That is not by accident. Can you talk a little bit about that?

BB:** I think that this team prepares pretty well. I think they try to know what the other team's tendencies are and what are the things that we have to take away and stop on a week-to-week basis. Usually when it comes down to key situations the team will go to the well and they will go their key players and go to their key plays. I think the team general prepares pretty well on a weekly basis. I am sure that guys can take advantage of some of those keys.

**Q: Your defense held them to only one conversion after the 50-yard line. What does that say about your defense?

BB:** I think they did a good job today. We had a couple of guys step in and give us a little bit of a lift. [Mike] Vrabel looked like he had a pretty good day. Ty came back. Willie [McGinest] came back. It looked like we had some pressure inside from the tackles, [Ty] Warren, [Richard] Seymour, and [Dan] Klecko. The linebackers looked pretty active. It was a good team effort. No one guy can stop that offense. They have too many good skill players and they have a good running game and good attack. But overall, the team stepped up. I thought they had a good week of preparation and they played hard and played well in the game.

**Q: Why was Graham able to have a break out game today?

BB:** First of all, I thought he made a couple of nice plays. He made a couple of catches and got some yardage after the catch running hard. A couple of times we hit him down the seam and they were in post safety coverage and he was able to split the seam there between the corner and the safety, a couple of good throws and good catches. It looked like pretty tight coverage on a couple of those. Tom [Brady] put the ball on the back shoulder of the linebacker, I think it was [Kevin] Bentley, and Dan made a couple of real nice adjustments and some nice catches on it. It wasn't like we went into the game knowing that he was going to have whatever he had, 100 yards. Tom saw him going up the seam and hit him. Dan made some nice catches.

**Q: Could you comment on the release of Kenyatta Jones?

BB:** Basically it came down to the fact that he was on PUP [Physically Unable to Perform]. We didn't think that we could activate him this year and therefore he wouldn't be playing at all. I know he wanted to play this year and wanted to try to play and now he will have the opportunity to do that now. We just couldn't provide it.

**Q: Was it just that he had a ways to go?

BB:** Well, we looked at the situation and did what we thought was best. I think it was best for us and best for him.

**Q: Can you talk a little bit about Mike Vrabel's performance today?

BB:** Mike had a little bit of freedom in the pass rush. We used him some coming off different edges and a little bit up the middle. We kind of tried to move him around a little bit. I thought that he took advantage of his quickness, getting off on the ball, knocked a couple of them loose, it looked like we were real close to recovering one or two of those. Mike stepped up and had a lot of big plays. This is the second week that he has played. He got a little bit last week and them was able to do more in practice this week and play a little bit more in the game. He gives us a good lift. It is good to have him back out there and he is a smart player.

**Q: Did you see something on their offense? It seemed like when he came in nobody was touching him?

BB:** Again, we were just trying to move the front around a little bit but it is tough when you are on the road. You have a lot of crowd noise; the quarterback is trying to communicate the different protections and the alignments and all of that. It is just tough. I thought that Mike and Tedy [Bruschi] and Roman [Phifer], those guys moved around a little bit to try to create a little bit of an edge so that we could get off on the ball and force them to make some blocking adjustments.

**Q: Can you talk about the special teams play especially the punting game?

BB:** Well we had a couple of big plays down there, getting it downed inside the 10-yard line overall. That has been a real strength for Kenny [Walter] since he has been here. He has been a good 50 inside the 20 type of punter. He hangs it up there high and on a field like that which is relatively soft, you are not looking for a lot of big bounces. For the most part he had a little bit of a backspin on the ball there. The coverage was good. It looked like we had a shot for one more there early in the game. It was a nice job by Kenny getting the ball up nice and high to give the coverage a chance to get under it.

**Q: On the fourth and 15 just before the interception, was that completion just good execution on their part?

BB:** We were in a zone coverage and we took a timeout right before the play. The thing we were looking for was for them to try to throw the ball to one or more of their receivers at the sticks. It was fourth and 15 so we figured they would be running 15, 17-yard type of routes. That was a good throw by [Kelly] Holcomb and he just got it in there. We were pretty close but he made a good play on it. We would like to think we could make that play but you have to give them credit too. It was a good throw and a good catch.

**Q: How important was that punt? The one that was downed on the one-yard line, that hems them in right?

BB:** Well it hemmed them in, but then they just ran it right out of there, the first play, they threw it out on the flat for about seven or eight yards and then cut it back on that run over to the left and had it out to the 20. You get them down there on the one-yard line like that, the only way that can really help you is if you play good defense and force them to punt out of that situation right there and we didn't do that. We were eventually able to hold them and get the ball back. When you get them down inside the 10 or even on the one-yard line like that, you would like to force a three and out and make them punt out of their endzone but they dug it out of there.

**Q: Week-to-week offense can come and go with its consistency. If you have a defense that you can rely on, does that put you in a very advantageous position each week?

BB:** To me you just try to get your team the best prepared each week that you can and you never know how it is going to come out. We won one game 38-30 and win the next one 9-3 and a couple of in betweens. You really don't know. I think we are capable of scoring a lot of points and moving the ball well offensively and getting the ball in the endzone. We haven't done it the last couple of weeks as well as we would like to. Hopefully we can get a little bit better in that area. Defensively you can go out and play good a couple of weeks and that can unravel in a hurry too with a couple of bad plays. So we are just going to have to stay right on top of it all the way through. I think we have to do everything right, every week to give ourselves the best chance. I don't think we can just roll it out there.

**Q: Do you generally know the level of performance you are going from the 11 guys on defense here?

BB:** No. You don't know how it is going to come. I mean they are going to go out there and try. I am not saying that. But I mean, how things match up. I thought that Romeo [Crennel] called a nice game today. He kept them off balance. But you never know how that is going to go. Sometimes you get some calls and they match up favorably and the next time that you make a call that all of the percentages are with you and for some reason they change what they have been doing and they end up hitting you on it. I am not saying it is luck, I am just saying that is the way it goes sometimes. You are not going to shut everybody out in this league. So you just try to hold them to less points than what you get.

**Q: At 6-2 especially given with what you have been through, I would like to think that you would be satisfied.

BB:** I think that the team has won some good games. They have played some tough teams and come out on top. Six wins that is not going to get anything. We are going to have to do a lot more than this. We will just take it week-to-week. We have a big challenge this week out in Denver. It is a team that we historically haven't done real well against. So we are going to have to come up with our best effort out there. I am sure they will sky-high, it's a Monday night game and that is the next challenge. We are just taking it week-to-week.

**Q: What do you know about your team right now, 6-2 heading into this game?

BB:** I think they are tough. I think when we concentrate, we can play without a lot of mistakes. We didn't have too many penalties today. We didn't turn the ball over. We have been pretty good on that the last couple of games in the penalty area. The last few games offensively we are not giving the ball away. Defensively, we are not giving up a lot of big plays and have been fairly solid in the kicking game. I think if you can do that on a weekly basis you can be in every game. If you can make a few plays then you can start to get the upper hand. You don't want to put your opponents on a short field by turning the ball over. You don't want to let them get a long play and get an easy 70-yard touchdown or that kind of thing. If you can keep from having a lot of penalties offensively and getting in negative situations and keep the third downs manageable, I think we will pick them up and we will be able to move the ball some.

**Q: Is field position a bigger importance in a nip and tuck type of game like today?

BB:** Sure. Field position is huge. Today, this was a classic field position game. I think that defensively, it never really felt like we were on a short field even at the end of the half, they drove it down there, it took them pretty much the whole drive to get it down there and only had a few plays right there at the end of the half. We were basically playing on a long field defensively. Even when they had a couple of decent runs or hit a pass or two, they were still short of mid-field. That is a great way to play defensively. The worst situation is they get the ball inside the 50 and hit one pass and now they are on the 20 and they are banging on the door and maybe they only made one play or maybe one first down. Having that long field gives you a lot more margin for error and it forces them to execute consecutively, eight, nine, 10, 12 plays to march it down the field. That is the way you want t play.

**Q: This is a little off topic.

BB:** Oh, that is okay.

**Q: Do you think with a 6-2 start, the Patriots have the capability of easing the pain for New England sports fans in general with the way the team's seasons have ended? [Laughter]

BB:** I am no expert on that. I am just trying to get the team ready to play and try to get them to play a good game every week. I can't get into the psychology of the entire New England sports population.

**Q: But you follow it?

BB:** Well I think you have a better feel for it than I do. I just follow football. That is what I follow. I follow the Patriots. Very closely. And pro football and where everything else comes in… I am not saying I am unaware of it.

**Q: Defensively you seemed to make very few mistakes. It seemed like there weren't blown coverages. I know you are modest but some of that clearly is coaching and preparation. The guys didn't seem to be blowing assignments.

BB:** I think that is true. I think that one of the best things that we did today was tackle. They got whatever they got, they caught a pass or maybe they hit a run in there for five or eight yards, but for the most part, Boom! We had a guy right there to make the tackle and that was it and they were lining up again. It is pretty easy for those little five and six yards plays when you miss a couple of tackles and it could turn into 20 yarders. But the more you can keep them confined and we had some good open field tackles by the linebackers in the secondary and that kept some of those plays that could have been first downs, second and three or second and two….

**Q: You were that far off even before the fourth down conversion.

BB:** In the drive before the half they hit a lot of short passes right over the middle. We were trying to get on those a little quicker but we just weren't quite on them quick enough. They were getting those five, six, eight yards gains in there. Overall I thought the defense was pretty tight. They didn't create a lot of space in the defense. As a result when they did have the ball for the most part we were able to make the tackle with minimal damage. The pass rush, we got some negative plays there so it put them in some long yardage situations

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