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Bill Belichick Press Conference

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Q: Did you get any sleep Bill?

BB: A little bit, not much, not much. Still cruising along.

Q: I know everything happens very quickly and you don't have time to sit back and think about anything other than the next opponent, but have you thought about how far you have come in such a quick time?

BB: I would say a little bit, but not really. We are still looking at what is in front of us and what we need to do and I think the time to reflect on every season is at the end of the season not while it is going on. I think it is a hard thing to enjoy when you are in it. It is hard to enjoy it during the ride, but I am sure we will look back on this year and have a lot of special memories, but right now it is really about what is in front of us.

Q: Why was Tom [Brady] so much more effective in the second half than in first half? Was it just a question of getting used to the conditions?

BB: No I think…we made some changes. We tried to do a few things differently in the passing game. Some of the things that we went into the game thinking that we could do against the Raiders weren't really going particularly well. We had a lot of trouble in the first half. We only had a couple of first downs and I don't think we converted any third downs if I remember correctly. Charlie [Weis] and I talked before the game about the Buffalo game last year and even though the schemes were different, conceptually the types of plays we wanted to run in those kind of conditions, they were really very similar to what we saw in Buffalo. At halftime we kind of went back to that and said we have got to do more of what we did last year and that kind of thing and I think that helped, but also giving Tom and the receivers credit, they just did a good job of catching the ball and throwing it and handling it in those conditions. It wasn't all play calling and all of that, but we did adjust it a little bit in the beginning of the game, but then even more at halftime.

Q: How was it that Jermaine [Wiggins] became such a factor after catching only 14 passes all year, to see him catch ten last night was pretty amazing?

BB: He kind of did the same thing for us last year in the Buffalo game in similar conditions. He is just a snowball. As we have always said he is a pretty good catcher. I know he dropped the screen pass, but he catches the ball pretty well and if he is open he will catch it and because of some of the coverages they were playing, they were doubling Troy [Brown] a lot and just playing zone in those conditions, which you have to do, both teams did it, Jermaine was open and Tom got it to him, but it wasn't like we were calling…the one play that we specifically called for Jermaine was the screen. When you call a wide screen you know who the ball is going to and of course he dropped that one, but you know the other plays were just plays that he could have got it or somebody else could have got it and it was Tom's decision based on the situation and the coverages that he saw.

Q: Do you buy into that whole idea of being a team of destiny? The call, the field goal just inching over to tie things up [David] Patten bobbled a reception and it caught in the air by another Patriot before he goes out of bounds, do you ever buy into that some breaks just happen for a team and things are going your way?

BB: No not really. No I think that that stuff evens out. We've had a couple of close calls go against us. Again I go back to the St. Louis game before the half, that's a close call there and we didn't get it. You know we have had some and we haven't had some and that is just the way it goes. We had a couple of plays in the game yesterday that we could have been helped out on, but anyway we take it as it comes to us, but I think when you are hustling and your players are playing hard you have a tendency to come up with a tipped ball or a you have a second effort or third effort run like J.R. [Redmond] did on that screen pass, you have a tendency to gain 20 yards instead of two because you are working harder and you are playing harder. I think that stuff evens out in the long run.

Q: Have you had a chance to look at Brady's fumble or non-fumble or look at the rule? Do you feel it was the right call and they made the right call on the field?

BB: Well yeah, I think it is…absolutely, the way the rule is written it is absolutely the call and we had a very similar play come up earlier in the year that went against us with the Jets, with Vinny [Testaverde] and that is the rule. Until the quarterback pulls the ball back in it is a pass and anybody can complain about the rule all they want, but that's what it is and that is the way it is going to be called. It is clear cut, there is no question about it and when I saw the replay up on the big screen, as soon as I saw the replay I said there is no way that they are not calling that an incomplete pass because the ball had not been tucked back in. So we sent the offense back out there and there was no question about the way that play is called.

Q: Aside from the rule itself, were you at all surprised or upset that they did not call Charles Woodson for going for Brady's head on the play?

BB: I really didn't see that, so yeah, I can't comment on that. I didn't get a good look at that.

Q: A lot of the players were saying that they are so focused it makes no difference who they play now, do you get the same notion that they are so confident that no matter who you play it makes no difference?

BB: Whoever we play it is going to be a real good football team. There is no doubt about that. Whoever it is we will do our normal preparations and do our best to get ready to play them, but whoever we play is going to be good. They wouldn't be playing at this time of year if they weren't good. I don't know about we don't care, I mean we can't do anything about it and whoever we get they are going to be good, they are going to be tough and we are going to need to play a real good game.

Q: Where would you rank Adam's [Vinatieri] kick in terms of big kicks you have ever seen or experienced?

BB: I probably would have to say number one. I really would because of the conditions and what was at stake on the kick, but that was a tough kick in tough conditions. That type of kick would be hard in perfect conditions, but in three or four inches of snow and with everything else going on that was a big time kick, but I'll tell you that Polish guy hit a couple too that were two-thirds of the way up there on the uprights, both of those guys and the punters, I mean both punters, both kickers and the snappers I thought did a an outstanding job handling the ball and kicking the ball in the conditions they had to kick in last night. That's about as good as you can get from those specialists, both teams. That was really just outstanding play all the way around.

Q: Just before the two minute warning, your guys called a time out before they brought the chains out, then after they came up short they gave you the time out and you seemed a little agitated on the sidelines, were you agitated that your players had called that timeout, what was going on?

BB: Yeah, I think what happened, I think it was just a little bit of a misunderstanding on that one with the officials. We called timeout because whether they come in and measure or not it didn't really make any difference, the clock was going to run, either start running down or if they measure it then they would have started the clock after the measurement. So we were taking a timeout regardless, but what the officials do when the clock is stopped is they don't always give you the timeout because they don't want you to take one unnecessarily. For example if it ends up being an incomplete pass and the guy calls a timeout they will usually ask him, 'Are you sure you want this?' and that kind of thing. I think what happened was when we took the timeout they didn't give it to us because at that same time they decided that they were going to measure it and then when they measured it then they started the clock again so we wanted to immediately take that timeout to try to get one more play in before the two minute warning and I understand what they were doing. We probably just should have made it a little more clear that we want this timeout regardless.

Q: For clarification on the rule, what does tucked mean, does it have to be cradled in the arm or does the first pump fake have to have been completed because it seemed as if Tom had put his second hand on the ball which would make it seem that he completed his move?

BB: Well the way the rule reads, it is actually not the rule but it is an interpretation, it's on page 12 page of the rulebook under Article 2 Forward pass, Section 21, Article 2 Forward Pass, Note 2, 'When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.' So you heard it, that is the exact wording of the rule in the rulebook, you see the play, to me there is no question based on that wording how it should be ruled.

Q: I guess, I mean define tucked, does it have to be under the armpit, or both hands on it?

BB: Well where I saw the play I didn't see the ball tucked into his body. 'Even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body,' which I didn't think the ball was tucked into his body, then it is a fumble and again I am familiar with the rule because we had, I would say almost the exact same play happen with Vinny in the Jet game, that was also ruled an incomplete pass and when you look at the rule that was the correct ruling on that play as well. Look, all I can do is tell you what is in the rulebook. We all saw the play, you can interpret however you want to.

Q: J.R. Redmond contributed a lot in the second half, but was there a reason that Antowain Smith wasn't in there or was it just a change of pace type of thing?

BB: No, Antowain he was running hard he came out for a little bit and then went back in and that has happened to him several times during the year and J.R. is the next guy in. We have seen that in quite a few games this year. I think when a running back is running hard, he takes a few hits here and there sometimes he comes out for a couple of plays and that kind of thing. J.R. is a little bit more of a…we use him a little bit more in passing situations anyway as a receiver for blitz pickup. So there were some situations where we wanted him in the game in terms of some of the passing situations, those were times when he is in there. So it wasn't about what Antowain doesn't do, it is more about what J.R. does do in some of those situations.

Q: The fact that you are taking up time to talk to us now even though the other game is going on is that an indication that what you see on TV is not all that worthwhile until you get the video broken down the way you want?

BB: As I talked about last week the TV scouting, there are some things that you can see, but from a coaches perspective and for what you show and use for the players, the coaching tapes are more structured that way for teaching. Obviously we have a lot of interest in the game and I know that it is 17-0 Pittsburgh, but what really matters to us the most is the final score and we have already started our preparations on both teams, but in a couple of hours we will be a little more specific with it.

Q: Looking back do you think that your team was rusty at all after playing one game in 28 days?

BB: No I really don't. I think we were ready to play. I think that some of the problems we had early in the game offensively were related to just our execution and the defense that we were up against. Oakland did a good job of taking some things away from us and they played some tight coverage and with the field conditions it was hard to get the ball outside which was smart playing on their part and we tried to throw a couple of balls out there. We slipped on our comeback and had a couple of problems with it. I don't think that was the result of the layoff though, I think that is just football. I thought there were some things early we did well in the game. Those first couple of screen passes and all were pretty well executed. No, I wouldn't say it had anything more to do with the layoff then any other time we didn't execute perfectly in the game either.

Q: How much of your game plan ended up being outright scraped or significantly altered because of the weather? How much of the preparations that you did ended up being wasted time?

BB: Maybe a third.

Q: Did you figure that running would be easier and then you saw with all of the snow that nobody could get traction and passing was the way to go for both teams?

BB: I think there is a lot of truth to that, yes I really do and I think again if you look back at last years Buffalo game, which I think the conditions were actually a little bit worse, it was a similar type of scow but the wind was more of a factor, but that game ended up being a passing game and more of a spread out passing game too. I think it was very similar to what we saw last year. The problem in the running game is exactly what you said there is no traction, you can't get any movement, it is hard to stay on a block. It is just a bunch of guys standing there and it is hard for the back to make a good cut to get into the whole. I thought really one of the most telling plays in the game, in terms of that field, was on a kickoff return where Patrick Pass who is a pretty nifty runner and he has got good feet and can change directions well that the coverage, we miss one guy and there was plenty of room for Patrick to avoid him, but he just couldn't move laterally quick enough to do it and it was a one-on-one wide open field tackle and Patrick just couldn't avoid it. I think that really was a good example, a real vivid example, of how difficult it was for the ball carrier to have any type of lateral movement. Whether it be getting up in a hole in the running game or getting up in a hole in the kickoff return I think it really illustrated the point I was making.

Q: On Adam, have you seen anything over the last couple of years that you see at practice, anything that led you to believe that this is not just a good guy, this is a very good to one of the elite kickers and what happened last night was not a total surprise, is this something you weren't surprised at?

BB: I can't say that I was surprised because we have seen Adam kick the ball in poor conditions in practice and in games this year, last year and as you mentioned in '96, but Adam is just really a consistent player and a consistent kicker and I think the thing that, I would say the thing that most stands out with Adam is he kicks the ball the same or very close to the same all the time. It doesn't matter if we are in a dome or if we are in the kind of conditions that we were in last night, for the most part he kicks the ball about the same and the bad weather doesn't seem to negatively affect him like it does a lot of other kickers. There are some guys that you are watching in ideal conditions and they just kill the ball and then you just don't see that same kind of kick in bad conditions. With Adam he doesn't just light it up, but he kicks it well, but then when the conditions are bad he is just a tiny bit below that, but he is not going to go and outkick the best kickers in the league in ideal conditions he just doesn't have that kind of a leg, but when the conditions drop, he doesn't seem to drop very far.

Q: If you had to play a game in conditions like you had to last night was the only thing that was working in your benefit was the fact that for most of the game until late at least there wasn't really much wind?

BB: Right I thought the wind and really the snow, the wind and the snow I didn't think were really that big of factors in the game, I am talking about the snow as it was falling, the problem was the footing more than the moisture or the precipitation. Yeah, the wind I didn't think really was much of a factor in the game. I mean it was minimal compared to some of the days we have had around here.

Q: When did your night end?

BB: 2:30AM

Q: Was there any postgame tent stuff with the players? Did you have any time to digest it other than the time in the locker room, with the team?

BB: We enjoyed the win around here in the office a little bit and then in all honesty as we looked outside it didn't seem like there was any big rush to leave. The traffic was, at 2:30AM it was backed up. I mean you know what it was like at midnight. Yeah, so we just hung out here for awhile and enjoyed it and then made the trek home.

Q: In the past you have talked about the support the fans in Cleveland showed, obviously as rabid as it can get, last night probably approached something that you saw in Cleveland?

BB: Well it was pretty special. I didn't really see many empty seats in that stadium. They looked like there were all there. It was cold and a long game, but they were there right until the end. In fact it was funny because one of my family members was sitting in the stands and they were telling me that when we had the fumble that a couple of people jumped up and they walked out and by the time the officials replayed it and decided that it was an incomplete pass and awarded us the ball then they came scrambling right back down to their seats and they obviously heard the reversal on the way out and came right back and I am telling you the place was full right to the end. It was really a special night. I would imagine that anybody that attended last night's game will remember it for a long time. It was a special one.

Q: What do you say to the team after a game like that? Do you need to say anything? What did you say in the locker room?

BB: Well I mean I congratulated them because of the way they fought and just continued to work even though things were not always going in our favor, but just stayed with it, continued to try to do their job and just do it a little bit better and look toward the next game even though it was a great win for us last night and really a special game and a special win that we have got another one coming up and to enjoy it, but not lose sight of the next target. You know it is a special group of guys and they have gone through so much together and supported each other so well it is really a thrill for me to see them enjoy it as much as they did.

Q: Injuries?

BB: At this point I don't know of anything. They will come in today, but as of last night it didn't seem like there was anything significant.

Q: What will you do today for the rest of the day?

BB: Well we have already worked on Pittsburgh and Baltimore. We had other people in the organization do some advance work on them so we are starting to digest that and once this game is decided then we will turn all of our attention to the winner, but I think we are in position to, whichever team wins I think we are in position to take all of the information and material that we have on that team and go right to work on it other than this game.

Q: What time did you arrive back at the office today and how long do you plan to stay?

BB: Well I didn't get a real early start this morning, I'll be honest with you, but we will be here probably like a normal Monday for us, seven, eight o'clock tonight. Try to get a good nights rest and then be ready to really hit it tomorrow.

Q: Will there be any time to take the kids sledding today?

BB: I don't think so.

Q: Was there a point at all, and I am specifically thinking early in the fourth quarter when it is 13-3, when you said, 'Man we only have a field goal and I don't know if we are going to have enough opportunities to get back in this game,' or even if you said, 'This is really going to be uphill?'

BB: Well sure I think that is exactly what happened because right around that point I think there was about, I want to say maybe early in the fourth quarter, I think it might have been our second drive in the fourth quarter, 12 or 13 minutes, whatever was left, Charlie and I went over there and we talked about it and we said, 'Look it's a two score game we need to get going here what do you think about the no-huddle offense and trying to change the tempo of the game a little bit. It looks like our pass protection is okay. We need to up the tempo and get it going.' So that is what we decided to do and basically, now not that it was the true two-minute break-neck speed pace, but a lot of it was no-huddle and it was at a quicker pace and we felt like we needed to change the tempo of the game a little bit there. So there is no question that we talked about that and recognized it and that's what we tried to do about it.

Q: Can you talk about the work of the defense particularly the pass defense and specifically Ty Law's night?

BB: I thought that the defensive backs really competed against those receivers. That was a real good group. Even with [Jerry] Porter getting hurt and [James] Jett coming in they've got real good depth at receiver and obviously an outstanding quarterback. I thought that the secondary and the linebackers did a good job of tackling on some of the shorter plays and then they really competed on the coverage. Otis [Smith] and Ty [Law] and Terrell [Buckley] really they hung right there with them. I am not saying they shut them out, but they hung with them and competed with them and defensively it was hard to generate much of a pass rush. Neither team could really…it was hard to do those individual pass rushes for the same reason that we talked about the running backs who just couldn't get any lateral movement. The big key to the passing game was both teams' inability to really rush the passer one-on-one so that led to a little more blitzing from both sides. Then when you throw 52 passes and only have one sack it is a pretty good job from a protection standpoint

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