New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, December 21, 2008.
BB:That was a nice job by our players out there today. I thought they, like last week, came out ready to go early. We had a good plan at kickoff, stop on defense, good punt return, took it in, did the same thing again and got on top of them early. It was a great formula. Our players were prepared to play well today early. They took advantage of a couple mistakes, a couple errors and got on top. I thought it was a good solid effort all the way around. It's good to win at home. I thought our players played with good toughness and pretty good execution in the game against a good football team. I know that wasn't their best day today. There is no doubt about that. They have done a lot of impressive things this year. I have been impressed with the job that Ken [Whisenhunt], his staff and that organization has done. I am sure they will be heard from in the playoffs. We are happy to win. Now, we have to get back at it and get back into the division against Buffalo next week. Whatever else happens, happens. There's nothing we can do about that. We just have to do what we can do, which is win today and go out there and play well against Buffalo next week. A lot of guys played well. It's hard to single anybody out today. We had a lot of guys step up all the way around in all three phases of the game. It was a real good team win.
Q:Can you talk about the punt return, setting up those first two scores you got and the job Wes Welker did?
BB:We had good field position that first quarter. It seemed like we were on their half of the field all day. It was a combination of kickoff coverage, defense, punt returns and then the offense taking advantage of the field position and getting the ball in the end zone. It was similar to last week. All of it was important. Everybody did a good job. Like I said, it is hard to single anyone out when you are getting three and outs on defense [and] you are getting good field position out of the kicking game. [The] kickers did a good job, the returners did a good job [and] we had good blocking. I thought our players handled the field conditions well. We got up field. We got north and south into the defense and on the returns and made good yardage. They did a good job today. The players really played well. They took care of the ball and it was a good solid effort.
Q:The numbers of your teams' defense in the snow have been tremendous. Is anything connected or are they all separate?
BB:I don't know. I just think today our players did a good job all the way around. We had good tight coverage. I thought the corners got up and challenged the receivers. We had good pass rush. [Kurt] Warner didn't have a lot of time to throw the ball. We hit him a few times. They tried to screen us and we were on those competitively. I just think it was good team defense.
Q:Is there something to a team from the northeast playing in the element of snow and playing a team that may not have the same resume in the snow?
BB:Again, I think each game is its own game. I don't think some game we played a couple of years ago has any bearing on this one. This was a good one for us today because of the way the guys went out there and played it. I don't know if that relates to the Tampa game from two or three years ago.
Q:Were you surprised they opened the game running? They seemed intent on running the ball and they haven't done that all year.
BB:I think their running game is a little bit underrated. I think they have a couple good backs [and] they have a good offensive line. They are real physical inside with those guards, [Reggie] Wells and [Deuce] Lutui. Maybe they felt with the field conditions they wanted to try to punch out some first downs rather than come out throwing the ball. I don't know, you would have to ask them. But, we have a lot of respect for their running game. That is one of the first things I said to the team is the most important part of this game defensively is to not let them get the running game going. We know they can throw the ball, but if they run it then we have to defend all fronts the whole game; that makes it a lot harder. Being able to do a good job in the running game early – our guys up front did a nice job.
Q:Did you have any concerns about Matt Cassel handling the ball with the weather conditions today?
BB:We have been in the rain the last three weeks. We have practiced outside all week. So, we have been in not the greatest conditions the last three games and all week at practice. I think all of our players handled it pretty well in practice and I thought we handled it today in the game – the kickers, returners and all the skill players.
Q:You said all you can do is beat Buffalo next week - but human nature being what it is - the fact that you have two more wins than these guys and totally dominated them is there some injustice, unfairness that they are locked in the playoffs and you have your fingers crossed?
BB:Well, that isn't really anything we have any control over. We just have to do what we can do. We are not in the NFC, so we'll just play the games we can play.
Q:So, you don't go punch blackboards and kick cats?
BB:We would like to be in the playoffs, I am not saying that. We would like to be in the playoffs. That's what we are here for. I think our guys are playing hard, preparing well and they are playing very competitively. But, we are not in it with Arizona at this point. They are in a different conference.
Q:Would you ever be in favor of changing the format of the playoffs?
BB:That is not for me to decide. I have my hands full trying to coach a football team.