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Bill Belichick Press Conference - 1/20/2008

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2008.

BB: Well, I can't tell you how good it is to come in here after that game. You know, the players, they just did an awesome job; they have all year. It's a real privilege to coach this group of guys, and they stepped up and made the plays again today like they have all year and I really think it was the players' game. They did everything they needed to do to beat an outstanding football team. Congratulations to Norv [Turner] and the San Diego Chargers organization. They are a tremendous football team and we certainly had to do everything, especially in the second half, that we possibly could to hang on and beat them. [I] thought the red area defense stepped up and of course Laurence [Maroney] ran well, made some key plays when we needed to, especially that last drive to be able to hang onto the ball and run out the clock for the better part of the fourth quarter. That was good and we'll certainly enjoy this one for a few days. [The] players definitely deserved it, they worked hard all year. [We'll] start getting ready for the trip to Arizona.

Q:Kevin Faulk came up with some of the biggest plays of the game and maybe even the season.

BB: He always does. He's been big for us all year. We've had guys step up all year and Kevin and Laurence have done a great job for us and certainly did today. Wes [Welker], they all made big plays, [Dan] Koppen, [Nick] Kaczur, [Stephen] Neal -- those guys did a tremendous job, too, running behind [Benjamin] Watson. I thought Ben really did a great job blocking for us all day today and especially picked up short yardage goal line runs and Kyle [Brady], also. Got to give a lot of credit to the guys up front.

Q:When you went to the three tight ends much more in the second half, what was your thinking?

BB: We were just trying to keep them off-balance the whole game. We went from four wides to three tights to three wides and two tights and two backs. We had a lot of different personnel groups and kept as much balance in the offense as we could try to make them defend everything. They are hard to move the ball against and score against, they played good defense. In the end we were generally able to make more plays than they could.

Q:Was that more of a reaction than a plan?

BB: No, no, we wanted to go into the game trying to force them to defend everything, you know, from our spread offense to our tightened down offense from the vertical passing game to the intermediate passing game to screens and the whole works. You know, I thought Josh [McDaniels] and the offensive coaches did a great job of coming up with that. Unfortunately we left a few points out there on the field but again, they are a tough defense. They have been tough all year, and they were tough today.

Q:What were some of the keys to your success when it comes to red zone defense?

BB: The players. They played good. They didn't allow they didn't allow San Diego to score on some of those long shot kind of passes like on the 20 yard line before the half, we were able to flush them out and coverage was good. And of course didn't let them run them in. Nothing worse than red area than letting them hand off the ball and run into the end zone. But hey, the players made plays and we played well today.

Q:Before CBS signed off, Phil Simms said he would never see the day when an NFL team would go 18 0. Did you think you would ever see the day?

BB: It's been one week at a time for us, it really has. I think there will be a time and a place to sit back and reflect on it. Right now I'm just proud of our team for winning this game and having a chance to go play for the NFL title.

Q:Can you talk about what your relationship is like with Tom Brady and how instrumental has that been to the team's success?

BB: Well, I'm glad Tom's our quarterback. I love Tom. He's a great player and he's been a great leader for us. He does so many things for our football team on and off the field and he's been a tremendous competitor, tremendous player. So privileged to be able to coach him, and have him on our team, and we meet on a regular basis, a couple times a week and I really I mean, I enjoy coaching him. He's a terrific player.

Q:Is he like a son to you? (Laughter)?

BB: I've got two sons. (Laughter).

Q:Talk about the veterans and the plays they made?

BB: I'm happy for all our players, I really am. I'm happy for the guys who have been there before and the new guys that have come in this year, Junior [Seau] and Randy [Moss] and Wes, all those guys. We have a lot of guys we brought in there and even some of the younger kids that have just been here the last year or two, and this is their first experience, and Laurence. Everybody had a big role in this team and this season, and this game today, and I'm happy for all of them. I'm happy for Junior, but I'm happy for Laurence and I'm happy for all of them. They all deserve it. It's been a total team effort all year, and it's just you can't single one person out. You know we did it as a team and I think we love each other as a team.

Q:Last week we talked about the two incompletions Tom had. Today he had three interceptions. Was the cold a factor?

BB: No. I think the Chargers were more of a factor. They are a good defensive football team. They turned the ball over all year and they got a couple today, so give them credit. We got a couple, as well. You know, the Chargers are a good defensive football team.

Q:When it became apparent that LaDainian Tomlinson would not return to the game, did you adjust accordingly or were you prepared for Turner?

BB: No. Of course we worked on [Michael] Turner all week and [Darren] Sproles as well. They have great depth at that position and you saw those guys made great plays last week. Tomlinson is a great player and there's no question about his ability and the things he can do but we made a lot of good ones, too. We were prepared to defend all of them today.

Q:Can you talk about the conditions and did they play a factor?

BB: You know, I didn't think it was that bad, I really didn't. I thought the kickers kicked the ball well, all of them, you know, made the field goals. I thought Steve [Gostkowski] kicked off well. [Nate] Kaeding made the field goals. I thought overall the punters punted well. It was a huge play by Kelley Washington down inside the five yard line and that led to a big touchdown for us in the second quarter. That was huge. I didn't think it was that bad. I mean, I think we've all played and coached in a lot worse than that. I mean, it wasn't a balmy day, I'm not saying that, but it wasn't that bad. Okay. Thank you.

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