BUFFALO BILLS HEAD COACH DOUG MARRONE
DM: Obviously one of our goals coming in was for them to not force a turnover on us, which I thought would have been one of the keys for us to being successful, along with the rush. When you look at ways to win the game, I thought at times, you know they were able to make plays, we were able to battle back at times during that game. But then we really needed to step up and make a play, and you know, we couldn't do it. And give credit to New England. They were able to make those plays. You know, the kickoff returns, whether it was a run or a pass, or anything like that. I thought our offense answered pretty well. You know, at times, we had some drops that could have extended it. You know, both teams were about 30 percent on third down, in the low 30s. You know, we could have extended a little more at that. So, again, obviously it is disappointing to come in here and not turn the ball over and really not make a play when you need to. And I think that's how I feel about that game without going back and really looking at it in more detail.
Q: Two kickoff returns, after you had done good things on offense. What do you think went wrong?
DM: Well, you know, the mis-tackles is what happened. I think when you put the film on, you know, you'll see going down [the field] there. One time, on one of them, we got collapsed; we missed a tackle in the hole. There were a couple problems on that one. You know, obviously, you get knocked out of your lane. The second one, there were three missed tackles. You know, they were in position to make it and you have to make that play. And we weren't able to make it. Their kid had an outstanding game, you know, running the football and kickoff returns. He had, not even sure, probably 300 yards of offense. My hats off to him, that's difficult to do in this league.
Q: I know you are going to go back and look at it, but from our perspective, special teams have been a problem all year, you've had some horrendous games: the Cleveland game and now this one. And here and there, there are just spots where you are broken down. Is that a key issue moving forward for you?
DM: I think, honestly, going into it, trying to establish a core of special teams players has been difficult. So, I would look at it this way: I think you could take things – offense, defense and special teams – and say there were things that we haven't done well enough. 'Spotty play'. I don't disagree with that; neither would Coach [Danny] Crossman disagree with you. But I think going forward, one of the things we have to do, when you see the teams that have these special teams – I think when we have good specialists, [returners] back there returning, but you have to have a core. That's one of the things we need to improve on. That's one of the things we will address in the offseason.
Q: You had to discipline [Marcell] Dareus again. What went on there? Why didn't you just not play him at all today?
DM: Well, I think for me, I have a schedule in my mind in how I handle players, you know, with team violations. Obviously, it was a team violation that was broken. I sat down with him again and we talked about it. We are both going to continue to work through it and move forward.
Q: Does it hurt to not have him out there?
DM: I think it would be naïve for me to stand up here and say no. I mean, obviously we know what type of player Marcell [Dareus] is and the more we can have him out there and playing, the better we are.
Q: You mentioned mis-tackles on special teams, was that a big part of the problem in the first half in terms of the run perspective?
DM: We had some mis-tackles, but a lot of it was cutting back. You know, they had some space and found a hole and were able to get the ball back on us. Overrunning the play on that one…
Q: You have tried to change the culture on this team, but is Marcell a guy who has to get with the program here? And understand that the rules are the rules?
DM: I think, I mean, to answer your question, does he have to get with the program? I mean, obviously, he made a mistake and there are consequences. You do it and you move on from it. You know, we all make mistakes and we have to push for each other and pull for each other.
Q: How shocked were you a day after he sat, he's late again.
DM: I never said what the violation was, but again, it is something that we are working through. I can't explain it as anything else. It's a situation that if he wants to talk about it, he can. It is a private situation; I always have felt that way when it comes down to that. I can tell you, there is not a conflict as far as what we are trying to accomplish. I think it is very clear. He's obviously clear on it. And we are working together to move forward so it doesn't happen in the future.
Q: You know, the offside on the field goal too, that was Marcell. I mean, what can you say about that?
DM: I think you just can't do that. You think about it, Lee Smith jumped offside – unforced errors. It's happened to us during the year, from multiple players, and I think that one of the things when we talk about structure and discipline, we have to do a better job. One of the things, I am big on is…you know, I can understand you grab someone as a double move. Things happen out there. But unforced errors – jumping offside – are a big thing for me. That's the one thing we look at, because that is something you can control. You know, pre-snap.
Q: With the two back-to-back unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, talk about that.
DM: Disappointing. I mean, obviously I always take that as a reflection on me. You know, and the discipline of the team. We showed a lack of discipline there and that's my fault. I take full blame for that.
Q: How disappointed are you when you wanted to lay a foundation late in the year, to have it end this way: no EJ [Manuel] and to have your defense getting run over. That's not what you had in mind, is it?
DM: No, I actually had in mind coming in here and winning the game. I really did. I felt really good about coming in and winning this football game. I really did. I felt that we had good plans. I felt that we had a good formula for what we needed to do to win. I think it was explained well during the week. I think all the players understood it. You know, we went out there and didn't execute. To say, how we ended this season? I think obviously I think it would have been much different if we ended on a three-game winning streak. I think this game kind of burst that bubble – you know what I am saying – or balloon. But I also know, moving forward, that I am going to use this as a feeling of what it is like. And I told that to the players afterwards – what it's like and how hard it is to win, doing all the things the right way. You know, really for me, the players are going to have some time to get away. Tomorrow we will get started, but I promise you, as soon as Tuesday starts, we are already working ahead on 2014. We'll look back in a long process of things we have to get done. Yes, I am disappointed in our record. We had an opportunity to accomplish some things today; win in Gillette Stadium, which we haven't done, in in the division, which I thought was important, and I really meant that when I talked about it during the week. And there was a lot on the line. And we left it out there.
Q: Doug, you have said and we know the Patriots have been the standard in this division for more than a decade now. Do you feel, after your one yea], that you are any closer to them than when you started the year? Do you feel, team-wise, any closer to them?
DM: I don't know probably because I have been out for four years. Meaning, I think the teams in this division, defensively, are very good football teams. You know, I look at that side more, even though I look at all three phases. You know, we're where we are and if I get up here and start talking about closer and this and that... You've got to go out there and do it at the end of the day and we haven't done that. I am part of this and I have to get this thing corrected. To say that you are closer or anything like that, you know, until you win, you really don't have a leg to stand on. I know that we split with New York and Miami twice, we lost twice to New England in games that were close and that's how it is. I don't know if I can answer that question from the past. Do I feel that, you know, we can beat them? Yes, I do. But today we didn't. And the first time we played them, we didn't.
Q: You are the same spot [record] as last season, are there things you can point and say we have made progress?
DM: Yes, but right now I am pissed. You know, at the game, not at the people in this room. You know, I am upset. So yeah, I'll be able to talk about those things when we have that, you know, [meeting] at the end. Does that make sense? I mean, I am mad. I have to smile because that's what I have to do. That media training…
Q: What can you tell us about Jairus Byrd's injury?
DM: I know it was an ankle.
BUFFALO BILLS QB THAD LEWIS
Q: You got some intermediate to long throws in there early. Was that something that you felt you could go to despite the weather today? Did you feel good about that?
TL: It was just a part of the game plan and we stuck to it no matter what the weather was and we felt like we played last week in the rain a little bit and [felt like] we could catch in the rain, so it was some of the calls that [Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett] dialed up and we made the best of them.
Q: You got a field goal drive on the opening drive then things kind of sputtered from there. What changed? Was it something they were doing defensively? What happened there?
TL: We tried to get the running game going a little bit and sometimes we didn't quite convert on third down and that was the big difference. We converted on third down on that first field goal drive and that's one thing that we kind of got corrected in the second half.
Q: In the second half your run game got some traction. Maybe just talk about being able to climb back into it a couple times there on a couple of the touchdowns.
TL: [It was] just making adjustments at halftime and knowing what they were presenting and coming out and executing. We just challenged all the playmakers in this room [and said], 'Hey, this game isn't over. Let's try [to] make plays,' and guys went out and made plays.
Q: Your run game at the end of the day was pretty productive: 4.8 yards per carry; C.J. Spiller goes over 100; Fred Jackson with a heck-of-a five-yard run there. Maybe the collective effort of those two guys trying to keep things moving for you –
TL: Always when you have two great backs it kind of opens up everything for you and that's how we got the passing game going a little bit in the second half, but you've got to take your hat off to those guys. They are tough, hardnosed players. There's no quit in them and that's all you can ask.
Q: What about Fred's five-yard run? Making a jump-cut like that on a wet field.
TL: Yeah, it just shows his tenacity. That guy there is unbelievable. One of his favorite guys is The Incredible Hulk, so we kind of call him that. As you can see he broke a couple tackles and then made a strong run for the end zone. That's what he does and you can't take [anything] away from him.
Q: How deflating was it though? You had two touchdown drives and were back in the game and they get these long returns both times after you score those touchdowns.
TL: It's something you can't control, so it's something you can't worry about. You just have to get ready for the next opportunity you can as an offense to get out there on the field and that's all you can do.
Q: Can you talk about the touchdown to T.J. Graham, extending the play before making the throw?
TL: It was just getting out of the pocket and seeing the guys basically collectively come to me and I just pointed it to them like, 'Hey, there is nobody behind you,' and he saw it. It was just two guys making a play and sometimes that's what you have to do out there.
Q: What did you feel about being able to cut the deficits and then not being able able to finish it off – especially on that last one where you had to settle for the field goal and only cut it to seven points at the time?
TL: Things like that are tough and it just shows you how close you are, but you're not there yet. If we can get to being close and being able to convert and finish drives and finish games then I know our record would be a whole lot different than what it is now. Everything is a learning experience and this is something to build on and I'm pretty sure we will do that.
Q: Coach Doug Marrone said after the game that you guys are going to use this as a kind of 'When you do all the right things and then lose it's disappointing' feeling. What are you going to take away from this game going into your next season?
TL: Just going into the offseason there are a lot of positives especially when I had the opportunity to play and seeing how close we were especially in the Cincinnati game when we lost in overtime. We beat the Dolphins twice in our division and we beat the Jets. We're just close on a few things and a few plays – just don't forget that in the back of your mind. Maybe when you're working out and trying to do that extra sprint or something and you're tired just remember in the back of your mind you were close, but you didn't get over the hump. It's something to use for motivation.
Kiko Alonso, Linebacker
(On the season)
"Obviously it is disappointing because we didn't finish where we wanted to be. That's it on that. We have to work on our game this offseason."
(On the run defense today)
"I don't know, we just need to do a better job against the run obviously. You can't give up that many yards. They got a few running backs but we prepare every week and we have to play a lot better against the run."
(On the weather)
"When you are out there playing the game, it doesn't matter what the temperature is or what kind of weather. You just have got to play."
Alan Branch, Defensive Line
(On whether the amount of rushing yards given up by the Bills' defense made the season finale more disappointing)
"Yeah, we are definitely disappointed. We go into every game expecting to do well, especially myself, I like to stop the run and make that an emphasis for myself, so when teams get out and run the ball like they did it kind of sucks but we have to learn from our mistakes and go out and get better next year."
(On what in particular was the breakdown on defense)
"We will have to go back and look at the film to tell you all of those. I have no clue because my hand is in dirt and I don't really get to see the whole play."
(On how the team can fix its inconsistency for next season)
"It's a young team and plus, a lot of these guys haven't been in this type of defense before. This is my first year in this defense as well and there's so many moving parts that the longer you are in it the easier it will be to learn the things you can do. It's a new playbook, young players, so I feel like next year we will be able to go out there and be able to show everybody we are a consistent defense."
Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle
(On missing the first half of Sunday's game due to coach's decision)
"It's tough. I hate putting my team in a position like that. As a player I'm going to get better. Coach and I talked about it and I'm going to grow as a player in the offseason and continue to work and do the best I can. I hate putting my team in that position. I want the team to grow and continue to get better."
(On the severity of the punishment for being late to a team meeting)
"Football is football. It's a team rule and I've got to respect it and do better next year."
(On whether he addressed the team after being late to the team meeting)
"I apologized to my guys, regardless of the situation, and let them know that I'm so sorry for what happened and I'm sorry about the game today and of course last week. They know I'm sorry for what happened. We will continue to roll as a team unit."
(On whether he is worried this behavior will impact his future with the team)
"Honestly, I'm not really worried. I'm just trying to get better. I'm going to spend the offseason getting better. If I'm going to get to the next level to where I'm supposed to be as an elite player in the league, I just need to continue get better and be on time and have no excuses no matter what the outcome of the situation is."
(On whether he is worried this behavior will impact his future with the team)
"Honestly, I'm not really worried. I'm just trying to get better."
(On drawing an offsides penalty in the second half after sitting out the first half)
"I was so mad. I already felt like I put my team in the worst possible position by not being out there in the first half. In the second half I wanted to give everything and be able to show my team that I am here for them and I have their back. That offsides penalty really killed me. It hit me in the gut because I want to win and I want to do the best for my team. It tore me up."
(On whether the Bills' culture is changing under head coach Doug Marrone)
"We are trying to change the culture of the Buffalo Bills. Being late, there is no excuse for it. This is the culture we are trying to do in Buffalo and I'm on board and all with it and I'm going to give the best I can."
T.J. Graham, Wide Receiver
(On the offensive struggle early in the game)
"It was raining pretty hard, so coming out here and throwing the ball around, the passing offense did a very good job today. They [Patriots] got away with one today. We did a good job throwing the ball in the rain and adapting to the weather. For us to come out and execute a passing game and have a really good run game, it was a good day for us. We just needed to make more plays and pull out a win."
(On the catch to set up the touchdown)
"I was just running deep. We've got fast guys and anytime we get a chance to throw down the field, it opens up everything else in the passing game and the running game. Thad Lewis threw a very good ball. I caught the ball deep and that was that."
(On the touchdown catch)
"Well, mostly I was trying to block for him [Thad Lewis] at first. He kept running to keep the play alive and I just pulled back and he threw the ball right in my chest."
Jerry Hughes, Linebacker
(On the run defense)
"I just think it was us not tackling. I give credit to [LaGarrette] Blount because he ran the ball hard today and I can't take that away from him because he definitely me out there and did that but for us to be the defense we want to be we had too many missed tackles. We have to do a lot better job. We have to do our job. The offense scored points but we have got to help them out. Hopefully we can use that as motivation for next year."
(On the personal foul)
"Someone just told me that it was on me. I don't know what I possibly could have done. We were in the huddle. Being with those guys [the Patriots] they go fast and they go no huddle. We were trying to get situated so they don't get a cheap play on us. I don't even know what I did."
(On the rain)
"It affected both teams equally. Missed tackles, that is what it came down to. We knew [LaGarrette Blount] was a big fella, we just have to do a better job tackling."
Fred Jackson, Running Back
(On the running game)
"We were able to do some things well. Our offensive line did a good job blocking up front for us. We ran the ball pretty effectively we just didn't do enough to get the win. That's tough and it's something that we will remember for the rest of the off-season."
(On the loss)
"That's definitely something that is hard to overcome, but we have to be able to do that. We have to give those guys [Patriots] credit; they made a play both times they needed to in the return game. You just got to tip your hat to them and that is something we have to work on."
Arthur Moats, Linebacker
(On the Patriots success on kickoff returns)
"He bounced it, I want to say, on the back side. We squeezed to flat. It was a good play by [LaGarrette Blount]. Initially they hadn't shown any bounces all year with 29 back there. On the second one we had a guy in the hole he has to make the play."
(On the season)
"It is definitely frustrating, especially when you see the potential that we had. You see that we do have games where we are dominant and it is frustrating that we can't be consistent like that. Just last week we were a whole different team."
Da'Norris Searcy, Free Safety
(On the chance to play)
"Every week you have to throw on the pads as if you are a starter because you're always one step away. Unfortunately it happened to Jairus (Byrd), I hope he recovers fully. When my number's called I had to go in and play the best that I could."
(On the weather and the Patriots run game)
"We knew they would run the ball, especially knowing that the ball was going to be slippery. We didn't think they would throw unless they really had to."
(On the run defense)
"You never want to take a step back, you always want to keep progressing. For us to take a step back it was kind of a disappointment because we knew how good we had been last week."
C.J. Spiller, Running Back
(On whether the conditions in Sunday's game slowed down the Bills offense)
"No, we knew it was going to rain and we talked about it. We just tried to go out there and be focused and execute the best way that we can. I thought the first half wasn't terrible but in the second half we did pick it up and the running game got started and was able to move the ball. We just kind of fell short. We had some plays but it just didn't go our way and they made tremendous plays at critical points. You've got to tip your hat off to LeGarrette Blount, he had an awesome game."
(On the importance of making plays in critical moments of games)
"In critical moments we weren't able to [make plays]. We can't point fingers, it was a team effort but they definitely made those crucial plays, especially when we were getting that momentum, their defense was getting tired but LeGarrette Blount stepped up and had two big returns back-to-back that killed the momentum that we did have. We were still able to get some stops and had a chance but we just fell short."
(On what lessons can be taken from this game heading into next season)
"You just look at the film and see what you can correct. We will go back and look at all the body of work that we put in over 17 weeks and see what we can get better on. I think we finished number two in the league in rushing, which is a great sign. That's the highest we've been since I've been here but we want to be number one. I will also see what I can improve on in my game and make my job a lot easier."
Kyle Williams, Defensive Tackle
(On the challenges the Bills run defense faced Sunday)
"The last couple of weeks he's played pretty well. I think in the first half they did some good things that really attacked what we do. Schematically, they did some good things and then we hurt ourselves missing tackles and things like that. We came in at halftime and made some good adjustments until the last drive. I thought in the second half when we got in trouble we missed a couple of tackles but for the most part we kind of shortened up a little bit until the last drive."
(On whether the absence of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus in the first half contributed to the Patriots' success in the running game)
"One guy is not going to make or break anything. There's 11 of us out there that contribute to that."
(On what the Bills need to do in the off-season to establish an identity and culture moving forward)
"I think that coach [Doug] Marrone has had a pretty good finger on the pulse of the team and maybe recognized the kind of guys he wants to keep around and build a team around. I'm sure every team is changing. This team won't be the same. We will have a lot of guys back but there's always going to be pieces that you bring in, whether it's through free agency or the draft, he'll build something that is going to be good. We have a long off-season in front of us. Not the way I wanted to end my eighth year here, but I think moving forward we have some good pieces and some good things that we can build on. For me, I don't have to have surgery this year. I'm excited about that. I'm going to be getting better."
Robert Woods, Wide Receiver
(On the offense)
"We finally got our run game going a little bit later [in the game] and that opened up some things in the air. Of course it was raining and wet but the coaches trust the tight ends and receivers enough to put the ball in the air and to make plays."
(On the rain)
"It is still the same game. It is not difficult at all. Of course the ball is wet but we still have to make plays and catch the ball. It is pretty much the same."
(On the play of Thad Lewis)
"I think he played well. He executed the game plan and made some key throws, especially to Scott [Chandler] on the sideline. And then on the touchdown, he made a play with his feet and set it up for T.J. [Graham]."