New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, December 27, 2009.
BB: That was really a nice performance by the players today. I thought those guys really did a good job. We had a real good week of practice with the holidays and everything. But I thought they did a good job of being focused all the way through - Wednesday, Thursday, Friday [and they] just carried it right into today. I thought they played a real good football game today. The players stepped up. They made play after play. We just did a lot of things right out there. I'm really proud of them. I thought they earned what they got today. It's a good win for us, a real good win. Right now we'll just enjoy it here for a little while and then kind of figure out what's next. But it's good to walk off that field as AFC East Champions this year and I'm really proud of the way the players stepped up and played today.
Q: What does this title mean to you?
BB: Right now, it means that our season goes on. We'll figure out exactly what that means later. It's good to be in the postseason.
Q: [On winning this game]
BB: I thought we played a solid game. We played a solid game in the kicking game. Offensively, we moved the ball, scored points. Defensively, we made some plays, got a couple turnovers and made some stops and created some long yardage situations. I thought overall the players had a good week of preparation and they went out and they played hard today and they made a lot of good plays. You've just got to give them credit. They made a lot more plays than our opponents did.
Q: Your defense made two plays to turn this game. One was the fourth-down stop and one was Brandon Meriweather's interception. Can you go through those plays?
BB: Jacksonville's a real good short-yardage team. We were most concerned about the quarterback sneak. We were up in there tight trying to stop that. We ended up running off tackle and it looked like we got a little penetration. I don't know exactly what happened. It looked like there were a lot of bodies there. I didn't get a great look at it. But most of all we were trying to keep it from going straight ahead. The interception, they motioned out to a two-by-two look. We were in split safety coverage and it looked like he was trying to throw to the seam and he overthrew it a little bit. Brandon [Meriweather] made the play. That was a play we worked on all week. That's one of those, part of the preparation that I'm talking about, that we had a good week of preparation and that play came out about the way we practiced it and Meriweather made a nice play on it. It was well covered, too. I think it was [Jerod] Mayo running with him down the seam, wasn't it? I don't know, but it was somebody.
Q: What has pleased you most about the growth of your defense?
BB: I think these guys have worked hard on a weekly basis. We come in and prepare and have been consistent doing that. It hasn't always been perfect, but I think that our preparation, our communication, our understanding and just playing together and playing situational football has improved, which it should. I mean we've had over 100 practices and fifteen regular season game, but those are the kind of things you get out of it.
Q: Is it good to get all your running backs back on the field?
BB: Yeah, it's good to have everybody. We got Steve [Neal] back today. Fred [Taylor] was back. Ty [Warren] played. So we got some guys back. But everybody's banged up at this time of year and I think a lot of players stepped up and played less than 100 percent. It's the end of December. They played, they played hard and they played well.
Q: Did you give him an extra week? You didn't have to monitor his reps at all.
BB: I think Fred's had a couple good weeks of practice and we felt confident of him going in there and playing. Sammy [Morris] really got hot and was running the ball great. And so we kept giving it to him and we were able to get Fred some carries there at the end, which will benefit us in the long run. All of our backs were productive today.
Q: You had success offensively in the red zone the last two weeks, is there one thing you can trace that back to?
BB: Better execution, just better execution. It's not really that we're doing anything that is that revolutionary or that new, we're just doing a better job of it and that's usually the case. It starts on the practice field. I think we had - like I said - a good week of practice and that usually translates into playing better.
Q: Can you go back over Chris Baker's touchdown catch? It looked like both Benjamin Watson and him were occupying the same spot?
BB: Yeah, it was a seam route by both players. We probably could have had a little more separation. It looked like they might of got jammed up coming off the line. Chris kind of got behind him there and went up and made a nice play on the ball, made a nice catch. We were probably trying to get a little more separation that we had on that play.
Q: The tight ends were more involved as pass catchers, is there any explanation for that?
BB: No, I'm not sure that he caught a ball in practice on that play. We ran it two or three times, I'm not sure that he caught one. I think Tom [Brady] did a great job today of getting the ball to the open receivers and the receivers made a lot of plays. I don't know what he was, but there weren't a lot of incompletions out there. It was a nice job of the receivers getting open and a nice job of Tom throwing it and we had good protection. Offensively it was a real solid performance.
Q: [On James Sanders' play]
BB: We got good play out of all our safeties. James has done a good job for us. He's a solid guy. He prepares hard, is real professional and is always ready to go. But [Brandon] McGowan, Meriweather and Sanders, they all played well for us back there today and we used all of them. We had a lot of people involved in this game and it seemed like they all stepped up and made plays for us at one point or another, so that was good.
Q: You've won three in a row now. Has there been any difference in your team - attitude change or maybe the team felt hungrier after those previous losses?
BB: We played hard in the games we lost. We lost one game at the end of the fourth quarter and another game by one point. They were close. We just didn't make enough plays in those games to win. Nothing that I would say is dramatically difference.
Q: Was Vince Wilfork a close call?
BB: I think we had a lot of guys that were close and again we had a lot of guys play that I think were less than 100 percent. That's where we're at. It's the end of December. I don't think anybody's 100 percent at this time of year that's played in 15 or however many regular season games. We're out there. These guys are fighting through it to be on the practice field, so we can get our timing and execution out there during the week and they're fighting through it out there on Sunday's. That's what good players do and we're fortunate we have a lot of good players on this team.
BB: With that in mind, knowing you have the division wrapped up, is one of the first things you decide is what approach you will take against the Houston Texans?
BB: Honestly, we just came off the field beating Jacksonville and that's all we're really thinking about. We'll worry about this week this week and next week next week, whatever you want to call it. Right now, we're just happy to beat Jacksonville. We're going to enjoy it for a little while and then we'll get ready for Houston and whatever the postseason brings.
Q: What are your thoughts on Urban Meyer?
BB: I just saw the news reports. I don't know anymore than that. I have all the respect in the world for Urban. He's done a great job. He's been a great contributor to college football in all the different places he's coached, whether it be in the MAC [at Bowling Green], Utah or Florida. Certainly, that's a loss for all of us in the football community, particularly the University of Florida. Nobody's been better to me than he has as far as visiting Florida and being helpful with scouting players and those kinds of things. I've had a great relationship with him. I don't know exactly what all the details are, but our thoughts and prayers are with him.
Q: Is Laurence Maroney healthy and how much was his not playing due to the fumble in the first quarter?
BB: I think all our backs were productive today. They all had opportunities to carry the ball and play and they were all productive. Whichever ones were out there it seemed like they all made positive plays.
Q: A year ago you were 11-5 and were left out of playoffs and this year if you go 11-5 you could have a home playoff game.
BB: In 2001, we were 11-5 and had a bye. That's football. Sometimes you go out there and play good and you don't win. And other times you go out there and don't play very good and you do win. In the end, it's doing what you need to do to get the job done. Obviously, last year we didn't do enough to get into the postseason and this year we did relative to what our competition is. That's the way it always is. It's not about stats and stuff like that. It's about the competition you're up against and whether you can do more than they can or whether you can do more than you can. This year, we did more than the other teams in the AFC East. We're proud of that.