Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, October 18, 2010.
BB: Well, it was certainly good to watch the game this morning knowing what the outcome was. It was really a hard-fought game going back and forth for 70 minutes, whatever it was, 73 minutes, however many it was. Good feeling to come out on top. The Ravens are a good football team. They did a lot of things well. I thought we just were fortunate to be able to make a couple more plays than they did and come out on top. As I said after the game, I think our captains in particular did a real good job of setting the pace and bringing some guys with them. The team practiced well. We went over a lot of situations that came up in the game. I think that helped us. Hopefully, we can build on this one, have another good week of practice and play well out in San Diego. It's a real good football team. They've had a couple of disappointing losses, but you watch them on film, they're real good on offense, defense, and also have a lot outstanding football players, well-coached. We know what it's like to go out there and get hammered, what happened to us two years ago. They're good. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for them this week.
Q: You mentioned the captains. Can you talk about the decision to make Alge Crumpler a captain?
BB: With Kevin [Faulk] being injured and Tom [Brady] really being the only other offensive captain, who's a quarterback, that position is a little different than all the others positions on the team. We just felt like it would be good to add somebody. We talked about it as a group, and felt like Alge would be a good choice.
Q: It seems like whenever the tight end group comes up Tom Brady is creating reasons to talk about Alge Crumpler and the impact he has had on this team. What does Alge bring?
BB: He's very professional. Alge's really smart. He's into football. He works hard at it. He has a great presence. He's one of those guys that just seems like he always does the right thing no matter what the situation is. Whether it's in a game, in practice, in a meeting, in a walk through, whether it's a decision on the play, whether it's the way his demeanor is at that particular time, he knows when to smile, he knows when to be serious, he knows when to [step up], when to back off, when to gear it up, when to say and do the right thing. He's constantly helping his teammates and making reminders to them or telling them what to do to help them work off of him and so forth. I guess I think the best way I can put it is it seems like he always does the right thing no matter what the situation is. On or off the field, in the locker room, meetings, practice, it just seems like he always does the right thing.
Q: You guys had five third down stops in the fourth quarter and overtime, and you used that same package. Had you shown that before? Is there something in the past that made you bring that up? Or what did you like particularly about that package?
BB: No, we've used that throughout the year, one defensive lineman, well not [Dane] Fletcher. He hasn't played a lot. It's the most plays that Dane's had on defense. But we've used one defensive lineman and either five linebackers and five DBs or four linebackers and six DBs.
Q: What did you see from that package?
BB: We played a little better coverage a little bit differently than we did with our regular nickel package. So it was just a little changeup. This is why I don't think it's a real big thing. It worked well for us, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't like we recreated a defense or anything.
Q: When you had Dan Connolly at fullback and he had another nice block on the BenJarvus Green-Ellis touchdown, he's your normal player at left guard, but on those jumbo packages, he moves back to full back, you put another guard in, Ryan Wendell. Knowing how the offensive line likes cohesiveness, how come it's better for him to be at fullback those plays as opposed to where he normally lines up?
BB: We could do it differently, but we just feel like that's the best combination for us for a combination of reasons. We've used other people back there in the past – offensive players, defensive players, bigger guys at that position. Last year, Dan did it, did a good job. We picked it up this year. We've used those players less in the tight end position because of our depth at tight end this year and a little more in the fullback position, whereas last year, we used them at times as an extra tight end. Those guys all work together anyway. The line really needs to know who the back's blocking, and the back obviously needs to know who the line's blocking. So I think those things are all pretty well tied together. Dante [Scarnecchia] does a real good job of preparing everybody for all that stuff. We could do it with a different combination of people.
Q: How do you coach a player to maintain his aggressiveness and be mindful of where and how he hits a guy with those helmet-to-helmet hits?
BB: You try to teach the proper techniques in tackling and playing the ball and those kinds of things. I think everybody does that. You try to teach those techniques in training camp and when they come up in game situations. The NFL officials comes in and give us an annual rules review about what's permissible and what isn't permissible in different plays, not just that, but all sorts of things. That's how we do it.
Q: Do you feel like the rules take a certain aggressiveness out of the game?
BB: Well, it's not my job to make the rules. We just coach them.
Q: In a situation like Brandon Meriweather had yesterday, do you have to tell him to tone it down?
BB: We tell all the players what the proper techniques are, how to play, how to tackle, how to play the ball in the air and all those things. We've done that from day one.
Q: There is talk about suspending players going forward who have helmet to helmet hits. What's your view on that?
BB: My view is I'm getting ready for the Chargers. It's not my job to make the rules.
Q: A lot of situations in the game to teach the team, to go back over and review. What stands out to you from the game?
BB: That'd be a long list. A lot of third downs. Certainly the short yardage, quarterback sneak stop is a big play for us. Plays at the end of the game. Having the ball down there in the red area at the end of the game. The final few seconds there. The kicking game. Ball handling. The penalty that Baltimore got at the end of the game that put them in third and 20 or whatever it was. Kickoff out of bounds. There were a lot of plays both ways. And we talk about that situationally. 'This is what they did, but what if this was us. This is what we did. Okay, we learned from that, but if we were them.' How would we play this play, this situation, that type of thing.' We talk about that all the time, not just the day after the game, but watching the games that we see in preparing for each team, we take time during the week to address those different situations. Fumble plays, the ball was out at least three times really, a couple which were called, a couple weren't. But those fumble situations, loose balls, ball on the sideline, things like that. So there were a lot of plays that it never hurts to review. Each one is a little bit different, but try to review your basic rules for how you want to play certain situations or what you want the players to do. And when those come up, hope they can react quickly enough to them.
Q: How seriously did you consider letting Stephen Gostkowski kick the 62-yard field goal at the end of regulation?
BB: We thought about it. We felt like what we did was our best play for us in that situation.
Q: A lot of players acknowledged just how physical the game was, but especially down the stretch in the fourth quarter and overtime, I'm sure you can acknowledge the mental toughness aspect of it as well to come back from 10 points and for that defense to make as many stops as they did.
BB: Well, sure. As you get toward the end of the game, there are obviously fewer plays left, and each one becomes more important. So the ability to focus on your assignment on the situation, on the other team's tendencies, on what you think they'll do, where their personnel's deployed and so forth, that's critical. And that's what situational football, that's a big part of it, the mental part of it, as well as the physical part of it, actually going out there and executing and doing the job. It doesn't help to know what to do if you can't do it. You've got to be able to then physically do whatever the requirements are. Absolutely though, that's what those kind of games are about. And, again, dozens of plays from the fourth and overtime periods that any one of which could of and did affect the game.
Q: Do you think the depth you have on defense is helping you not be as tired in the fourth quarter this year?
BB: I don't know. I think this year's team is this year's team, and we have our strengths, we have our weaknesses. A lot of things we need to work on. Some things that we've done well enough to win four games. Whether that will be good enough going forward, we'll have to wait and see. I think we've got a long way to go. We've got a lot of work to do, but I think that the team's working hard. I think we've made some improvement. And we got a long way to go.
Q: Obviously, Danny Woodhead's size and his background caused him to an undrafted guy. But does his size also help him at this level?
BB: I think that's sometimes a little bit of an issue with running backs. There are a lot of backs that have been, let's say under 5-10, that have been really, really good backs, great backs in this league. At times I think there is a certain advantage to that in terms of kind of being able to…it's difficult for the linebackers and sometimes even the defensive lineman, but in particular the linebackers, to really locate where the runner is when he's kind of behind those big offensive linemen and defensive linemen. Sometimes that's definitely true. I know defensively we've talked about that where there are certain runners that you hear the defensive players talk about it, 'Boy it's just really hard to see that guy.' I think at times that's true.
Q: He's smart enough to use that to his advantage?
BB: I think what any running is looking for is space. If you can see it and they can't, and they can't see you, then that gives you a little bit of an advantage. I don't think the runner really goes in there thinking, 'I'm going to hide behind this guy or hide behind that guy.' I think you run the play, and then you see where the space is. But again, it's a little harder defensively if you lose vision on the running back regardless of how big he is, for whatever reason, if you lose vision on the running back to really maintain the proper leverage, to distribute the defenders as easily as you need to be in the running game, so that can be a problem.
Q: What was the main difference on third down to where it was in the first quarter and second quarter to where it was on the last five possessions?
BB: I think it's execution by the players. They did a good job. We adjusted to some of things that Baltimore was doing. Maybe had a little better feel for the passing game, the timing, the tempo of it, and all that. We were just able to defend it a little bit better.
Q: A question on the reverse to Brandon Tate. The exchange was a toss, it wasn't a direct handoff, it seems like it could be a lower percentage exchange.
BB: It was a higher degree of difficulty ball handling.
Q: You see that a lot more often now where on a reverse, they'll do that instead of a direct handoff. Why is it being done more?
BB: The reason why you do it is you kind of want to make sure they see the ball. So you toss it, and okay, you bring it back. In some cases for guys that aren't used to ball handling like a back handing to a receiver or somebody like that, it's sometimes easier just to flip it to them rather than just to find the pocket and put it right there on the hip, and if it's a little short. Sometimes, just actually placing the ball in there when two guys are on the run, when there could be some pressure coming from the edge on something like that, sometimes, it might be just a little safer to flip it. In terms of starting the reverse off, and again there are a lot of different ways to run the play, one line of thinking is to toss the ball to let the defense see it and say, 'Go ahead, there it is. There's the toss,' and make sure everybody gets a good look at it, run it, then try to come back on them.
Q: What did you think of Jermaine Cunningham yesterday?
BB: I thought Jermaine played very aggressively. He certainly had some good plays, some big plays. He made a good pass rush there, got a holding penalty on [Michael] Oher, made some good plays in the running game. He's still got a long way to go, but he's working hard, and I thought he did play very aggressively, which is what we need at that position. I thought Rob [Ninkovich] actually did a good job too. Our other outside linebackers did a pretty good job of keeping [Ray] Rice from really busting a lot of plays outside, which he's been known to do. And then our inside defenders did a good enough job of trying to keep him contained. He's a really hard guy to shut down. They're a good running team. At least we didn't give up a lot of long runs, and that's a big improvement from the last time we played them.
Q: The trade deadline tomorrow. Are we going to have to stay up late?
BB: I don't know Mike [Reiss], you're always up. You're just 24/7. Can't get anything by you.
Q: You've already made two.
BB: That's a lot of trades for the regular season, historically. I know you'll be on alert. We won't be able to slip anything by you if we tried.