Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, September 27, 2009.
BB:Well, I'm really proud of our football team today. I thought they did a good job against a good Atlanta team. We've watched those Falcons all week and they're tough; they do a lot of things well. I'm very proud of the way our guys played today. We stepped up and made some plays that we needed to make. Obviously, the running game was a plus for us and that helped the passing game, [we] took care of the ball, [we] played better defense, played better on third down. It was a hard-fought game and they're a good football team. I have a lot of respect for them and what they've done. They're a tough team to play, but I'm happy the way our guys stepped up. We had some critical plays. I thought we left some points out there in the red area. We've got to do a better job down there. We've got to coach it better. We've just got to do a better job, but it's good to win. We've got a quick turnaround here. We have another tough one with the Ravens. It looks like they're playing very well, as they usually are. [We will] just try to keep going, but enjoy this one for a little bit and then turn the page and get onto the Ravens.
Q:Can you talk about the thinking behind going for those short-yardage fourth-down tries?
BB:Well, the short yardage in our own end ... I felt like we could get a yard. There would have been plenty of criticism if we didn't, but then we were able to get that and basically hold onto the ball. If I'm not mistaken, we were able to hang onto the ball for pretty much the rest of the third quarter. And the other fourth down, we were right on the edge of field goal range. It would've been a long field goal, so I felt like we had a pretty reasonable chance to pick that up.
Q:Can you talk about the job the defense did on Tony Gonzalez? He was a big topic of conversation this week.
BB:Well, he's good. We devoted a lot of coverage to him. We doubled him a lot and he's a guy - game plan-wise - that you've got to account for. You've got to put some coverage on him; he's really hard to handle. Again, I thought our guys stepped up and did a good job on him. We doubled him plenty of times and he still caught the ball. He's tough, but then we held up in some other spots as well. Terrence [Wheatley], Shawn [Springs] and Leigh [Bodden] really did a good job out there. We didn't give them very much help and they stepped up to the challenge on a good group of receivers and did a competitive job.
Q:Can you talk about Fred Taylor?
BB:Fred's run hard for us all year - in preseason, in all the camps, training camp, and all that. He runs hard and he runs smart. He knows where the holes are, he sets up blockers well and he can carry the load. He did a good job today and I thought our offensive line really did a much better job of coming off the ball than we have the last couple weeks, and gave the backs some room to run, and the backs ran hard. It was much better overall execution in the running game by the entire team, including the receivers doing some blocking than what we had. So that was good on everybody. Fred did a great job.
Q:Did you shift more weight on Fred Taylor when Laurence Maroney went down?
BB:Well, I think those two were ... They were prepared to do what they did and however it gets divided, it gets divided. But both of them were ready to play, both of them were ready to go. If something happens to one guy, then the other guy steps up.
Q:Can you talk about the job Brandon McGowan did today? It looked like he was part of your coverage on Tony Gonzalez.
BB:Oh, he was. Brandon [McGowan], it seems like he does a good job for us every week in the kicking game and on defense. He's involved in a lot of plays, makes tackles and is a good coverage player and he did. He had a lot of responsibility on Gonzalez today. But we put a lot of coverage on Tony, too, and I'm not taking anything away from the job Brandon did, but we gave him some help. I mean Gonzalez is almost impossible to matchup with.
Q:It looked like you got a little worked up on the challenge with the touchdown. What was your view of that?
BB:I didn't know what was going on. Nobody said anything to me, so I was just looking for an explanation. Usually, what they do on a challenge is they come over and tell you, 'OK, well if the challenge is upheld, it's going to be this. If the challenge isn't upheld, it's going to be that.' And you're not sure how much time is going to be on the clock - whatever the deal is - because then when the referee announces it, when [Alberto Riveron] announced it, the crowd screams or boos one way or the other, whatever the result is and you really can't hear the whole thing. So I just wanted to make sure that I had the situation. That's one of the things that they usually do, is come over and tell us and they didn't on that play, so I was looking for an explanation.
Q:How's Vince Wilfork and what do you think about the job the guys did in stepping up in his place?
BB:We'll see how these guys are after the game. I'm sure everybody's got some bumps and bruises after this one, it was a physical game. Atlanta's got a real physical offensive and defensive line and [Michael] Turner runs hard. I'm sure everybody has got some bumps and bruises. I thought we hung in there and competed well with them. They had some good runs. We had some decent plays. It was kind of a slug fest in there with a team that can run the ball and we tried to stand in there and go toe to toe with them. It was a pretty good matchup.
Q:Tom Brady had three completions for 10 yards inside the red zone. It seemed like he had pretty good protection today, was there anything you saw that might have caused some of the breakdowns?
BB:I think we've just got to do a better job all the way around. Like I said, we've got to coach it better in the red area. We've got to do a better job of executing the plays - throwing them, running the routes, designing them, everything. We just didn't do a good enough job collectively, and we've got to do better, and I know we can do better, and I think we will do better. And give Atlanta credit, they're a good red area defense, but we've got to do a better job than what we did today.
Q:Are you putting Vince Wilfork in a bumps and bruises category?
BB:I haven't seen him. I came right in here so I could talk with you guys. I haven't really had a chance to see him.
Q:Was Jonathan Wilhite a healthy scratch?
BB:He was inactive today. Did we announce that? Yeah, he had an injury this morning.
Q:Can you discuss Randy Moss's role today?
BB:He got a lot of single coverage and he did a good job. He ran a lot of different routes. We threw deep, we threw inside, we threw outside, we threw some quick passes to him. I think he did a good job attacking the coverage, the corners and even some of the split safety coverage, working on the safeties. We hit some, we didn't hit some. He's a tough guy to cover. We try to design and create situations where he has an opportunity and a little bit of space to work. He sure made a lot of plays today.
Q:Were there changes defensively in the second half?
BB:No, not really. It was basically the same game plan we went into the game with. The calls matchup differently like they always do. Certainly, a big part of this game was to deal with Gonzalez, which I am not coming in here talking about him being seven [catches] for 110 [yards] with two touchdowns.
Q:Tom Brady looked frustrated. Do you think he is still working through some things, maybe rust?
BB:No, I think collectively we all need to do a better job. I think it's frustrating for any team to be down in the red area and come out without a touchdown, and come out kicking field goals. That's frustrating for any good offensive football team and coaching staff. You want to go down there, and put the ball in the end zone, and we didn't do it several times, and none of us are happy about that: the linemen, the receivers, the coaches. Nobody's happy about that. We want to go down there and get seven points. We've got to do a better job. We've all got to do a better job.