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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick talks to the press about the win over the Bills in Buffalo yesterday.To read a full transcript, click below.



BB: The game yesterday was a tough, hard-fought game as we talked about all week. It was obviously a real defensive struggle, but both defenses played hard, played physical and there were some big plays. I think in the end probably the thing that helped us more than anything was special teams. Our coverage was better, especially on kickoffs, than it has been. I think that is one of the few games that I can remember being involved in where the net punting was higher than the gross punting. They had a couple of minus yards on returns and we didn't have any touchbacks and we did a pretty good job covering those punts. We made field goals and I thought had better position on the kickoff returns than what we had been getting. So those, some hidden yardage there on the special teams other than, we had two penalties that were both pretty close calls that I think the guys were really hustling and trying and I think that aspect of the game helped us and when you are in a close game you need every little advantage you can get.

Despite it being a tough physical game I think we came out of it okay. It doesn't seem like right now we have anything more than some of the normal bumps and bruises. So hopefully we will be able to get everybody out there Wednesday when we start working on the field for Miami. That is where we are.

Q: How does the procedure work for challenging plays? You must have somebody watching up in the press box?

BB: Right, yeah, what is hard on the replay is, say that you are on offense and you throw a pass and you think you catch it and they rule it incomplete, it's hard for the offensive coaches to do that because they have to get the next play called in the event that you don't challenge it. So it is hard for them to see it. So you really have to coordinate it with some of the extra people in the box or people on the other side of the ball to take a look at it or vice versa on defense. So that is kind of what's involved there. Now if you are thinking about the play yesterday at the end of the game where David [Patten] got hit there on the sideline, because that was in overtime, those plays are not reviewable by the coach. They are replay plays by the officials. If they want to replay them, the replay them, we can't challenge them. So when that happened our thought process at that point was, offensively, if we were to get the ball back what are we going to do with the ball on the 41-yard line or whatever it was and if the ruling was going to go the other way then defensively what would we expect them to do and what calls would we be making. So there was really nothing that we could do there other than sit like you and the fans and everybody else and wait to see what the decision was.

Q: Even the ruling though it turned out to be correct, you certainly weren't anticipating that ruling?

BB: Well I did not know what to expect because I was standing, it was right in front of me, but I was standing behind Patten, so when Patten caught the ball here I was standing back there and I wasn't sure whether they were ruling whether it was a catch, whether the fumble was caused by the contact when [Nate] Clements hit him, whether it was caused when David hit the ground, because I couldn't see when the ball came out.

Q: His head is out of bounds and his rear is touching the ball, the ball is dead?

BB: Well that is the rule and we don't make them and we don't officiate them one way or the other, but whatever they are that is what they are and that is a situation that we have talked about with out team. It comes up in many situations. One is the downing situation like Jermaine [Wiggins] had on the field goal punt last week against Cleveland. It also comes up when there is a fumble near the sideline that defensively, it is just like the Jermaine Wiggins play, defensively if the ball is rolling out of bounds you want to try to tap it back in so that one of your guys can recover it rather than recover it on the sideline and let your body touch the line. Conversely, offensively or on a kick return if you were to fumble the ball near the sideline the smart play in that situation is just to go ahead and bat it out of bounds because you will retain possession. Some of the plays that we have seen looking at and again these are plays that the teams have all seen I am sure that they remember them just like we do, but last year when we opened with San Francisco in the Hall of Fame game San Francisco ran back a kickoff. We hit them on maybe about the 30-yard line, the ball was bouncing toward the sideline it was about maybe two yards from being out of bounds and one of the 49er players alertly just tapped it out of bounds. He didn't even try to recover it and it was a smart play. So we showed that play and said, 'Look if we are in this situation here is what we want to do, just what that guy did,' or conversely if it was us and we had first shot at it we would try to tap it back in. There was a play that we had when I was with the Jets against the Giants where James Farrior had a play very similar to the Jermaine Wiggins play. The ball was fumbled on the sideline and Farrior dove for it and tipped it back into the field of play just kind of like Wiggins did on that punt and we recovered it. So we talked about the ruling there and on that particular one it was also a very close one because I think it was when Victor Greene came over to recover it, his leg was either touching or very close to touching the sideline depending on how you look at the play. So we brought that point up too in terms of recovering a fumble and staying in bounds when it is the new team taking possession as opposed to the team who has possession losing the ball on the sidelines. It can also occur when a guy fumbles in the end zone. If the offensive guy is going in for a touchdown and he fumbles the ball into the end zone defensively you don't need to recover it just tap it out of the end zone and it is your ball, it is a touchback. We work on those things weekly and we have been through those rules and it is tough in a situation like that when you only have a split second to think about it, but sometimes if you are prepared you can react to it properly. Not that we really had a play on that ball it just worked out that way, but that is the rule. We certainly are aware of that. But when I was asked about the play yesterday after the game I still didn't know whether they were talking about was it a catch, was it not a catch, was it the ground that caused the fumble, I mean there were several things there that I wasn't sure exactly and it was explained to me at that time what exactly they were reviewing.

Q: So you just breathed a sigh of relief and said we will take it, we will find out why later?

BB: There was nothing I could do. I mean no matter what the ruling was I couldn't challenge it and I didn't feel like I was going to talk them into anything.

Q: But I mean once you got the favorable call you still didn't understand why?

BB: Yeah at that point I was kind of switching back and forth between Charlie [Weis] and Romeo [Crennel] about, what are we going to do offensively if we get it, what do we do defensively if they get it? When Mike Carey went over to review the play in the box there were three or four officials standing there right t the end of our bench and I walked down to them and I said, 'Look can you tell me exactly what you are reviewing on this play? Is it the catch, is it the fumble, is it the ball rolling out of bounds, what is it?' and they basically said we don't really know Mike got buzzed from upstairs and that is kind of between him and I think it was Gary Lane was the replay official for this particular game so I am sure it was between Gary and Mike talking about whichever of those things they talked about. Yeah, believe me I didn't know any more than anybody else did at that point.

Q: Are you a proponent of instant replay?

BB: I have coached with it and I have coached without it so whatever the rules are I think that is something for the fans and what's best for the game. I have seen the game with it and without it and it could probably be a good game either way, but whatever is best for the fans and what the competition committee and the owners decide is best for the game that's fine.

Q: When a coaches responsibility enters into it as well, Greg Williams had an opportunity yesterday, just as an example, to review…

BB: Right, there is no question that that is just another rock on the coaches' pile. Which ones do you challenge, which ones can you see, which ones can't you see and you have to rely on somebody else unless they play the thing back up on the screen which my eyes aren't very good anyway so I don't know that I could see as precisely as you need to see on some of those plays, but yeah it just adds one more rock on the pile. The thing that I would be in favor of and I have brought this up before, but the thing that I would be in favor of on instant replay is for every stadium to have a camera on the goal line, on the sideline and on the end line like you have in tennis. Where you have the judges on those lines do that if you are thinking about challenging a sideline catch you know for sure as a coach that there is a camera that gives you that look at the play. Whereas the way it is now, is the guy in the end zone or isn't in the end zone, did he cross it, well when you look at those replays you are getting an angle on a shot sometimes it shows it and sometimes it doesn't. I am not saying that's going to show all of it, but part of the problem now is when you challenge a play you don't have any idea what you are going to be looking at. You can either go by what you have seen or just hope that what you have seen on the field is reflected in some kind of camera angle somewhere. But I think it would give a lot more consistency to the rule if again as a coach you knew for sure, 'Okay I am going to challenge that sideline play and I know there is a camera going right down that sideline so it is either going to confirm conclusively,' which is the other key word in this whole thing is conclusive evidence to overturn the call that it will conclusively show it. Again what we have seen so many times is a close call looks like it could go either way. We are all sitting there and saying, 'Well you know you can't quite tell from that angle, it is not enough.' So they leave it as it stands. Again if you knew that you could conclusively get the right angle then it might help your decision in terms of challenging it or not.

Q: Miami is ranked number one against the pass in the league and yesterday Tom Brady and the passing game had trouble any idea as to some of the things that you will do to remedy that?

BB: Yeah, we are going to have to a better job all the way around. The passing game yesterday, even though we made a few plays in the passing game and at times executed okay overall it was just too inconsistent. We had protection problems, now a lot of those came at one particular point in the game, we went along for quite awhile and the protection problems were insignificant then we had a whole bunch of them at one point. We had some sloppy route running, we had some poor throws, we missed a couple of reads and we dropped a couple of balls. So the combination of all of it made for an inefficient passing day yesterday and you are right Miami is very good on pass defense. They have a good pass rush, they have good speed rushers, they have power guys in the middle and they have a very athletic team that covers well and they cover very tightly too. So we are going to have to do a better job all the way around. We didn't do a very good job down there in the first game against them either in the passing game so that is an area that we are going to have to put a lot of emphasis on this week and I don't think we are going to be able to go out there Saturday and throw for 80 yards like we did in Miami and feel real good about the game.

Q: What was it about Buffalo with the pass blocking you gave up sacks in both games?

BB: Again a lot of the sacks came in one particular…but it was a combination of things. We had a couple of situations that I would say were coverage sacks where there was really nobody to throw to and I think it is better to take the sack then to throw the ball into coverage. There were other situations where the protection broke down, a couple of times where they blitzed and we flat out cut people loose, didn't block them and they came in there unblocked and nailed us. Then we had a couple of situations where we should have gotten rid of the ball quicker and didn't. Where it was either a combination of the quarterback and or the receiver not really being on the same page and executing the play cleanly. It was a number of things, but obviously the protection and the timing between the quarterback and the receivers and the quarterback's accuracy at times those were all factors that were to a certain degree negative in the passing game. Even though there were a few positive plays in there, but it wasn't nearly consistent enough.

Q: You had a game plan which called for longer passes, you still ran the ball with good consistency in the first half and kept a good pass/run balance, yet in the second half the offense was not as balanced was there a reason for that?

BB: The running game got progressively worse. It started good, okay to good and then it kind of declined I thought as we went into the second quarter and then early in the third quarter and the plays that we had run earlier Buffalo had seen and we weren't blocking them as well and they were defending them better. So the running game kind of deteriorated a little bit as the game went along and they were crowding the line of scrimmage. They had eight guys up there a lot and there were some real tight fits in the running game. We hit a couple of plays early, but once they saw them and tightened up those creases they were harder to get to as the game went on. We felt like there was some space down the field and we hit some plays. We hit Patten, we hit Wiggins, we hit some plays down the field, but not consistently and so we really weren't able to get them back out of it. Antowain [Smith], even the run he broke at the end of the game, there wasn't a lot of running room there. All 39 of those yards came pretty much on his own. It was inconsistent. We were just never able to run the ball well enough where we could just keep on running it and then obviously we got into a lot of long yardage situations on third down. We were third and eight, third and nine, third and ten, third and 15, third and 17, third and 22, you know I mean you guys call plays in that situation. I mean third and 17, what do you want to call?

Q: This weekend you will be facing perhaps the biggest game here since the 1996 season. This is gigantic, this is going to be a short week and they are unhappy and you are happy…

BB: Happy now is a relative term. We are in second place.

Q: Right you are in second place and you have a chance to be in first place after this game how do you think your team has matured, how do you think they will handle a game as big as this?

BB: I think we have been in some other big games this year and I think this is certainly the biggest and I think we are going to find out this week how we handle it. This will be a big test for us. There will be a lot of attention to the game. Like you said it is a short week, but it is a division game. First place in the division is at stake and this is a team that we didn't play very well against in Miami. I think that we need to approach the game with a level of confidence that we need to win it, but at the same time we need to play a whole lot better than we played down there in Miami in September.

Q: How has your defense grown, is it determination or is it just growing together?

BB: I think we have added things into our scheme quite a bit since the Miami game. We were predominantly a 3-4 team at that point in the year and we have got a little more depth now on the defensive line and now we are playing a combination of the two fronts. We have also added some coverages and some blitzes. So I think we are more multiple then we were at that point, but in the end I don't know that that is going to matter much against Miami. What it really comes down to against the Dolphins defensively is tackling, blocking and tackling, getting off of blocks, making tackles. They are a powerful football team and they really emphasize the running game and they are going to run it. They know it, you know it and it is a question of being able to stop it. Now the thing that they have gotten recently is some big plays out of [Chris] Chambers and [Jay] Fiedler is an athletic quarterback that can hurt you with his legs as well as his arm. He brought them back against us last year and we have seen him do it several times this year too. So I think that certainly the passing game is not any kind of afterthought, but at the same time we saw in Miami if you don't stop the run they are just going to keep running it. That's got to be a priority for us and third down conversions which also was a big problem in Miami and that has to be better, but that will be a big challenge. But I think defensively our scheme has expanded quite a bit, but honestly in the end I don't know that that will do any good against Miami. It won't if we can't stop the running game.

Q: You spoke a lot last week about not looking beyond the Bills game and that you stressed to the players not to look ahead to the Miami game, do you think that worked or was there a little bit of looking ahead to Miami involved?

BB: No I don't think we were looking ahead to anybody I just think that Buffalo, it was the game that we thought it would be. It was tough, it was low scoring, not that we were looking to go in there and not score a touchdown, but again historically if you look back 30 points between these two teams in the last four years would be one of the highest scoring games. All of the points that came in the first game I would say that about half of the points came in the last three minutes in the game. We turned it over and they scored and then Antowain broke the long run. I mean if you take that out of it, it is a 14-3 game to that point. It was tight, low scoring, hard-fought, tough game just the way we expected it to be. I don't think that anybody, I can't imagine anybody going into Buffalo in December thinking it would be anything other than that and you know we have seen plenty of Buffalo. I think Greg has done a good job. That team is a tough, physical team. They play hard, they are aggressive, they smack you around on both sides of the ball and you have got to give them a lot of credit. They played us toe-to-toe twice and I think unfortunately for them their record doesn't reflect the quality of the team or maybe some of the tough games that they have been in, but they easily could have one seven or eight games this year. I think they are a better team than their record.

Q: In all of your years in Cleveland did you ever see anything like the incident they had yesterday?

BB: Oh sure. When I was in Cleveland our last home game was against Cincinnati and we were ahead in the game maybe by ten points or so and as we were driving up to the Dawg Pound end, that was in the old Cleveland Stadium where the Dawg Pound was within maybe five feet of the end line and the other end was the home plate end which was probably 30 yards from the end line, so as we were driving toward the Dawg Pound and they started throwing stuff onto the field then the officials switched ends and we drove into the closed end. Then we punted and Cincinnati…so we switched ends four times in the fourth quarter to always be going away from the Dawg Pound. Every time we would get across mid-field or anytime the team got across mid-field then we would switch ends there to stay away from the Dawg Pound. That was a game too where a lot of the fans I guess had come to the game planning on taking souvenirs home so they had their tool kits and the seats were coming out and there was one situation where they were throwing, those chairs are in pairs they're welded together in the middle or whatever and they were throwing chairs out of the upper deck. So if you are asking have I ever saw things thrown on the field in Cleveland Stadium yes, but that wasn't good. You know throwing dog bones and all that is just part of warming of warming up to the dawg pound. The visiting team always warmed up in the dawg pound in old Cleveland Stadium and they would just launch those dog bones into you and players kept their helmets on.

Q: It is a good thing that they didn't serve beer in Buffalo then?

BB: We had a couple of incidents in Buffalo too where we got pelted there on the sidelines. I can't really imagine that that is what they league is looking for. I can't imagine that is what they are looking for. I can't imagine that is what they are looking for. I can't imagine that they are looking for what happened in Cleveland either. That is hard for me to imagine. I know there is some people that maybe thought that that was okay, but that is hard for me to imagine.

Q: Yesterday that happened in Buffalo?

BB: Yeah. We had a couple of incidents on the sidelines that I don't think is what they league is looking for.

Q: Does this happen a lot more often then it is reported?

BB: No, no I mean usually it is just verbal.

Q: That is to be expected though?

BB: Oh yeah, sure, right.

Q: Do you know what it was?

BB: Yeah, well I don't want to get into it, but I will just leave it at that. They were probably aiming at me.

Q: Is there anything to a warm weather team may have trouble in a cold weather environment?

BB: I think with an experienced team at this level I don't know how much there is to that. Miami beat us up here in December last year. They went and beat Buffalo in Buffalo a couple of weeks ago. I don't know. Let me put it this way I think what we have to do is we have to prepare and we have to play our best game against the Miami Dolphins football team, period, end of story. I think if we are going to sit around and cross our fingers and hope for snow and hope for wind or hope for whatever, leaves blowing through the stadium and all of that, I think we are really barking up the wrong tree. I think our football team needs to prepare for the Miami Dolphins and we need to play the Miami Dolphins, not the weather, the wind or any other situation. Now whatever the conditions are we have to play in and we have played in pretty much everything this year and I think that will be part of the game whatever it is, but I think in terms of our preparation and our attitude and our approach toward the game we need to totally focus on the Miami Dolphins and there is nothing we can do about anything else. I mean it could be 60 degrees here.

Q: How much does the familiarity within the division affect the way the teams play?

BB: Oh sure, I think it has a lot to do with it. I think that is why they are so tight, I mean every game is so competitive, it is such a dogfight. I mean our two games with the Jets come down to just a couple of points, our games with Buffalo, just a couple of points, I mean those games both teams know each other so well and you throw in a new wrinkle or something like that, but then once they see it they are ready for that and it is tough sledding.

Q: Buffalo, the Jets and Miami all seem to have two good, topflight cornerbacks and I am wondering if they have seen everything that your receivers can put out there, is that why the passing game is a little bit harder to come by against those teams?

BB: Well they have good players no question about that. I think that probably has more to do with it then knowing what the plays are, but I think when you combine the two together, when you get a good player and you put them in a repetitive situation two or three times then the expectations are that it is hard to do a lot new things against them and he has seen it and he is probably going to play those things pretty well. Sometimes you can surprise them or slip something on them, but now I think you see that good players in any division, if they get to go up against the same player repetitively or the same situation repetitively then they are probably going to play it with good confidence and play it pretty well.

Q: Because of the time of year and the circumstances, this could potentially be an old classic defensive game, where does your defense stack up against them?

BB: Well totally different styles and you know it is funny you talk about those kind of expectations and a lot of times those games end up being real high scoring games or vice versa. You think about two real explosive offenses and it ends up being a 6-3 game, but two totally different styles. Miami I think plays as consistent a defense as anybody in the league does. They pretty much use one front, they pretty much use two coverages and they have a couple of variations in there after that, I am not saying they only do one thing, but they only do a couple of things a lot and they do them all the time and they do them very, very well and that is a philosophy. It is an offensive philosophy too. Do one thing, do it well. Whatever play they run against you, you know how they are going to block it, you know how they are going to run the play and we know what we are going to be in and that is how we are going to match it. If you look at our defensive team you are not going to see that. You will see a lot more different combinations both in fronts and coverages, changes week to week, you won't see nearly the continuity or the consistency that you see from a team like Miami. They each have their advantages and their disadvantages, but I think they have very good personnel. They are extremely well coached. I think Dave [Wannstedt], obviously he is a great defensive coach, Bill Lewis, those guys really do a good job and again I have been in that boat before too when I was with the Giants we played 34 cover two, we would play it 40-50 times a game. I mean there was no need to break down our film and really there is no need to break down Miami's film. I mean you could break them down three months ago, you could break them down now, you are going to get the same front, you are going to get the same two coverages and that is going to be the core of their defense, but they play it well. They have those big tackles inside. It is hard to get to through the middle linebacker. The middle linebacker makes plays all over the field. The corners press you. They do a good job in man-to-man coverage. The safeties and the outside linebackers are fast. Guys cover a lot of ground. Safeties support well. They have got good speed rushers with their ends. I mean that's what the have got and I think they are doing the right thing. Once they start getting away from that then they just hurt themselves. Jason Taylor is a great speed pash rusher. I mean to move him down inside and play him over the guard would just be negative to the things that he really does well. Tim Bowens is a great inside run stopper and he is a great inside pocket pusher so to move him around and shoot him out over the tackle would just be putting him further away from where he needs to be. Those corners are great press corners, cover corners. To back them off and play off coverages would probably hurt them more than it would help them. So they have done a good job of identifying their system, they have got the players to play it, the players play the system well and they keep doing it. When you are leading the league in pass defense and playing defense the way they are you don't need to make a lot of changes, you don't want to make a lot.

Q: You talked about Cleveland and being at the last game in that stadium this weekend with this being the last game in this stadium…

BB: This is a totally different, no, no, this is a totally different situation. First of all getting these bunches up would be a lot harder than getting a seat up, but you are talking about a franchise that was leaving town and the circumstances were totally, totally different. There were obviously a lot of people there that had great, I mean there were a lot of negative feelings about that stadium.

Q: Do you think the possibility that there might be another game here might leave the stadium intact?

BB: I think it would be hard to get these benches up. You would really have to get a lot of people to cooperate on that, no, there is no way other than it being potentially the final game, other than that I don't see any similarity at all between those two situations.

Q: They carried the goal posts out of here and took it down Route One?

BB: Yeah well let's hope those are the feelings after the Miami game.

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