Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, October 4, 2009.
BB:It was quite a finish. That was a good football game out there today. I'm really proud of our players, couldn't be prouder of them. They stepped up, went toe-to-toe with a team that, offensively, already set some franchise records this early in the season. Defensively, [they are] probably as good a defense - really clearly the best defense - in this decade. They've got some great football players. I thought our guys really hung in there and made enough plays to win. I'm really proud of them. [They] made some key plays, a couple fourth-down stops, a couple big conversions, got the ball in, in the red area, tried to punch a few runs in there at them, but they are tough to do everything against defensively. [I] give our players all the credit in the world. Special teams, we got some big plays in that area, started the game off with a great tempo to play, knocking the ball off on the kickoff coverage. We just got to turn it around now and get back on the road, but this is a real good win for us. [The] guys prepared hard. They had a real good week of practice, and they played pretty good against a real good football team, a well-coached team, a team with a lot of good football players. [I'm] happy to win, real happy to win.
Q:How do you think your defense played?
BB:[They] played well enough. That's a good offensive team. They've got good skill players. They've got real good [running] backs, [a] good quarterback, well-coached. We had our hands full. We made enough plays to win. We stopped them on fourth down twice in the fourth quarter that's when you've got to be there and luckily we were.
Q:On that second to last drive, what was the key to those two back to back short-yardage stops?
BB:It looked like they opened the formation up, got some penetration inside. There's a wall of bodies in there, so it's hard to tell from the sideline, but they didn't get much movement on the line of scrimmage.
Q:Can you talk about Wes Welker's return and the ripple effect he had on the rest of the offense?
BB:It's good to have Wes back. It's always good to have all our players healthy. It's good to have him back out there. He made some key plays for us, as did a lot of other guys. But yeah, sure, it's great to have Wes.
Q:It looks like Mike Wright is getting a pretty consistent pass rush from the inside, a couple of sacks and he's been in that role all year...
BB:I thought - overall - we got some pressure from up front. [Joe] Flacco hung in there. He got hit a few times, but he hung in there and made some throws under pressure. It was a battle. We hit them a few times. They hit us on their share of passes. Mike [Wright] and all those guys, they worked hard. That's a very good offensive line, very experienced with [Matt] Birk and some good young players, like [Chris] Chester and [Ben] Grubbs, and [Michael] Oher is a good player. We battled them in there. It was tough. They got some, we got some. But Mike's done a good job for us, no doubt about it. We've asked him to do a lot and he's playing our regular sub inside [and] outside. He's had a good year, but so did Jarvis [Green]. Jarvis hung in there and played a lot - Tiny [Ty Warren], Vince [Wilfork] - those guys. [We] got some plays out of [Terdell] Sands and [Myron] Pryor. I think it was a pretty good group effort by that unit.
Q:You didn't run for a ton of yards but you kept at it, do you think it's important to keep trying to mix it in?
BB:Yeah, absolutely. Especially that we got a couple runs in the red area, fourth and one, we got some runs when we had to get them. They're tough to run against, no doubt about it. They got a lot of guys there that can play the run. Their linebackers are good, their front three, four - whatever you want to call it there. They've got some big strong guys that are really good football players. They're hard to run against. I don't know, when [has] anybody run against them in the last couple of years? It's hard.
Q:It also seemed like you used the running backs a lot in the passing game. Was that a key aspect to the game plan?
BB:Well, they played a lot of coverage over Randy [Moss], like we expected, with [Ed] Reed over the top, and so they took a lot of those plays away. We had to go to other options and we got good production from our backs, from our tight ends and certainly some of the other receivers - Sam [Aiken], Wes [Welker] and those guys. So they did a good job, too.
Q:Joey Galloway was inactive for the game...
BB:Yeah, we had four receivers active for the game. It was Julian [Edelman], Wes, Randy and Sam.
Q:Can you go through the two fourth-down stops?
BB:Fourth and one, it looked like they were running, kind of similar to the play they hit with [Ray] Rice on the long run - pull the guard, hit it over there to the tight end side. It looked like there were a lot of bodies there. There wasn't a lot of movement on the line of scrimmage, ran in, got tripped up, [and] ran into a bunch of bodies. And then, fourth down, it looked like Darius [Butler] had pretty tight coverage. I don't know if he had the first down or not, but Butler hit him right as the ball came out, closed on it, made a nice play and obviously that was a huge play in the game. We were close on a lot of those coverages and the last drive there, Jonathan Wilhite and Butler were right there when he caught the ball and slapping at it there on the sideline. But Flacco put it in there. Those receivers made some good catches. Fortunately, on that last series, we were able to keep that last one from getting in their hands.
Q:Is it nice to see your defense go through that?
BB:It's nice to win and I thought it was a great team victory. I thought everybody contributed on this one. We got plays out of kicking games, plays offensively, plays defensively, and there were other plays that weren't great, some of them they made on us. But again, that's a good football team. They've made plays on everybody this year and we're just fortunate we made a few more than they did and we're happy about that. But it's tough sledding. That team's going to win their share of games, I'll tell you.
Q:Can you talk about the fake field goal attempt?
BB:Well, yeah, we thought it would work. We threw it out there and weren't quite set. I think it was a good call. I don't think we were set. We made the first down, but weren't set and got the play called back. [We] thought it was a chance to pick up a ... If they didn't cover Chris [Baker] walking out there - and they didn't initially - then, they saw him late. We were scrambling to get it snapped and get it out there before they had him covered. It was a good throw by Chris Hanson, good catch by Chris, pretty good coverage by the Ravens, but we just weren't quite set. That's what happened on the play. Just about the way you saw it.
Q:[On kicking the ball high as opposed to going for the sidelines]
BB:Yeah, I think you hardly see anybody go for the sidelines anymore.
Q:Why is that?
BB:Because everybody's doing that rugby punt, and when the ball goes end over end, most of the time it doesn't bounce much, it either hits and bounces back, or it kind of sticks. I couldn't see them, but it looks like both of them were pretty close, they rolled in by a yard or two.
Q:So he kicked them too far?
Q:So that is what you wanted him to do, hang the ball high?
BB:Yeah, put the ball up in the air and make them fair catch it. Or if they let it go a lot times those balls just backspin.
Q:Why is it different now than it was in the 1980s?
BB:Show me a punter who coffin corners. No, you don't see it. They don't do it. They do the Aussie punts. Certainly, wind plays into that and - generally speaking - we very seldom see that and I can't remember a punter ... We had [Dave] Jennings at the Giants, we did a lot of it [and] Dave was very good at it. Brian Hansen at Cleveland was good at it, [Tom] Tupa. It seems like that's been a trend. Like I said, show me a guy who does it, and a lot of them have gone to the rugby punt and it's been effective. You get it up there higher, less chance of it bouncing into the end zone you just have to make sure you don't kick it too far.
Q:[On Jared Gaither's injury]
BB:It sounded like to me that they felt he was OK, but were taking him off and doing that for precautionary reasons, which of course we all understand. We hope he's alright, obviously. It sounded like he was OK and it was more of a precautionary thing. I certainly hope that's the case. I didn't really see the play, just the end of it.
Q:When you're in the middle of a game like that with all the back and forth, do you appreciate that it's a great game?
BB:I appreciate it now. I don't know if I appreciated it then, but I appreciate it now. That's a real good football team. We kind of had control of the game, and then all of a sudden [Terrell] Suggs turns it around and now it's 17-14, and we answer that, drive the length of the field, come back. Then they come back and we stop him, and then they stop us, and then they drive it and they're throwing down there inside our 20-yard line at the end of the game. It's a heck of a game. Like I said, that's a real good football team, they do a lot of things well. I felt like we had to do a lot of good things just to compete with them in all three phases of the game. It was a hard-hitting game, a tough physical game. We're fortunate we made a few more plays than they did today. That's about all there is too it.