HEAD COACH MIKE MCCARTHY
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Q: You are always talking about having to fight through adversity and come through. There certainly was a lot of adversity in fighting through in today's game.
MM: You know, this is an excellent win for us and we knew coming in here and competing against Coach Belichick and his team and just all of the things you need to do to win these kinds of games so this is probably as fine as a complimentary win we have had in my time here. I thought the offense was extremely productive throughout the day, the defense had some great takeaways and special teams obviously had some big plays in the return game and blocked punt. I have always felt that overtime wins are games that you can really build off of. We also talked offensively throughout the week where to play against this defense, your third, fourth, fifth options we were going to have to come up big and I think Dak did a tremendous job distributing the ball today. I think all five receivers, both tight ends, the backs, everybody touched the ball in a passing game and we were able to stay after it in a healthy run game. We knew it was going to be a challenge and we wanted to be aggressive. That was our mindset coming in here. This is an excellent win for us.
Q: Can you talk about Dak a little more specifically, the game he had and managing it after the rough first half?
MM: Every game is different; every stadium is different and I am a big believer on the emphasis perspective of ebb and flow of the game. We had a number of major penalties and I just thought Dak did a tremendous job with pace of operations, really keeping the whole system and kept charging, kept playing. That's a big part of our success, just his approach, his efficiency. Can't say enough about Dak Prescott, just the way that ball was being distributed and the calmness and the confidence he had in the pocket. I thought our pass protection was excellent. We knew this was going to be a dog fight, a huge challenge coming in here, and we really do need these kinds of wins during the course of the season. I think this one could definitely pay forward for us.
Q: Brady, through that whole game, to wipe out a touchdown, got the strip sack. (Regarding Trevon touchdown.) You guys get the ball back. Timely defense. What stood out in that respect today?
MM: I think you touched on it. The big plays, and I think the energy never dropped off. We had swings of momentum. They made big plays. We knew they were going to be tough, physical, disciplined, going to challenge us schematically, and we saw all that. Tremendous respect for the whole operation. What they've done the last two decades is unprecedented. That's kind of the way you got to approach any game, but especially coming up here.
Q: You've been around quarterbacks. Obviously Dak, what kind of trait does it take to be that kind of quarterback, late, being clutch, making those throws, third and 25?
MM: I just think the biggest thing is he taps into his confidence. Never wavered. His process was the same throughout. We had some substitutions there. Obviously, we were on a high total play number. More substitution there at the end and he handled all that with some formation adjustments and things like that, but he's on top of his game right now. I just think he just stayed steady and was strong and confident, very precise.
Q: Mike, you preached all this season about how last season didn't matter. Completely different; moving on. For you guys to start the way you have now, 5-1, here comes the bye week, how crucial was it for you and for this group and the morale, the confidence, to know that last year was in the rear-view mirror, to play as well as you have here the first month and a half?
MM: I can't speak for the whole locker room, but I think I would be correct saying we don't even talk about last year. We don't think about last year. Last year was more for the off-season. You look at our roster, we've had tremendous amount of change. So, last year was a learning experience. I talked about knowledge and experiences that you encounter throughout this game. Our guys, we've had a very productive start to the season. Most important thing is not wavering. These guys have really prepared the right way, and also handling success. We just took another step with another win and the way we won, and where we won, and we need to handle that. This is my first time going through with this team, and that's really what my focus is and clearly their focus.
Q: What have you thought about Cedrick Wilson's play for Dak to go to him?
MM: I think it's a little bit of what I was talking about. We talked all week. Just the few times I've had a chance to go against the Patriots, you know, you have to have more than one or two good players if you think you're going to have a productive day. We went in here clearly with the mindset of it didn't matter who was at X, F, who was Z. Didn't matter. They challenged us schematically. Try and defeat their leverage and go play. Knowingly, to have success, third, fourth, fifth, those receivers, those guys needed to make plays today. That was a big part of it. And frankly, that's the way we want to play quarterback. We don't want to worry about where the ball goes. We want to lineup, play to our time clock, play to our rhythm, and I think this is the result of it.
Q: What's the challenge in preparing for this Patriots defense?
MM: The challenge, so fundamentally strong. You know, he [Bill Belichick] really takes it back to the basics. He's going to really challenge the run plan, so you have to have a multiple run plan. Clearly, you've got to make adjustments throughout the whole game. Really, I think he does an outstanding job recognizing concepts also within a game and trying to tilt the coverage to you. They did a really good job winning the leverage battles is the way I look at the Patriot's defense, so it's always a challenge.
Q: 75-yard touchdown. Place is going crazy. Down by three. Do you recall Dak was like on the sideline or going into the huddle?
MM: I tell you, our guys didn't blink. We have spent a tremendous amount of time on fast game scenarios. Coming off last year going into the off-season it's been probably top three. We've needed to be better. I was excited to be in this position. Definitely to do it here, because these are great moments you grow from as a football team. So, you can't practice this. We all practice it, but to go out and do it and to do it -- to be clutch in the way our guys did it, these are experiences we definitely grow from.
Q: What's the philosophy on fourth down entering the games? And when you start off the game with a fourth down conversion that didn't work but continue to have those opportunities, how much does it reinforce the decision?
MM: Well, I think like anything, you have a general idea based off your game plan of the matchups and all the things that go into the game plan. You have a starting point. But at the end of the day I think it's great confidence in our offense, and rightfully so. So, we have some game planning conversations particularly at the end of the week that we will go through particularly when we're thinking we're down territory and when we're not.
Q: Were the early fourth down gambles, whatever you want to call them, was that part of taking an aggressive approach to the game?
MM: Definitely. The distance, too. Like I said, I have great confidence in our offense. I know exactly what it was, and Kellen had a clean play. Frankly on review, we just felt the ball meet his body part that was down first, so that's football.
Q: As much football as you've coached, and you mentioned your response to the long touchdown, but can you remember a two-play swing like that where the pick six to that long touchdown back to back like that?
MM: Obviously I can, I just can't give you an example right now. I think that's the beauty of the NFL. It's unbelievable. You go through every week and we cut all the game situations up and show them to the guys on Saturdays or Fridays, and it's just amazing the big plays that occur weekly in this game. That's why it's the greatest game on earth.
Q: Talking about the Trevon Diggs interception and then what you saw what the breakdown was defensively when they came right back?
MM: I think we misjudged the ball. I haven't really had time to ask what happened because everything was that going on in the game, but looked like our guys misjudged the ball there.
Q: Do you count on a Trevon Diggs interception each week?
MM: It's awesome, especially when he puts it in the end zone.
Q: It seems as if he's [Trevon Diggs] is doing this every week.
MM: I mean, the facts are what they are. He's playing at an extremely high level and picking the ball off. He's done it since he arrived here in Dallas. I love the way he plays. He fought through a couple injuries in the last two weeks. He's doing everything he can to get on the field, and goes out and produces tonight for us. Just like I said, he's an awesome young man and he's got a bright future. He's playing lights out right now.
Q. What does it say about your team that you can have these penalties and facing third and 25, the red zone where you don't get in three times. The resolve they have, where does that come from?
MM: I think they believe. I just feel they have such a strong confidence. Like I said, we have -- a number of our veterans that have a lot of individual success, and even with an extremely young group that's just learning and figuring out. So, I just think that the chemistry and the combination of youth and the veterans is excellent. We got a great vibe. They just believe the way we're going about it. We practice these end of game situations, and it's great. It's like anything in this game. It's great to be able to work on certain things, and when you get the opportunity in the game and get the results, that's gratifying. This is a big win. This is a confidence win for us. We needed this. This is definitely a nice step in the right direction.
Q: With all the situations you practice, are there rhymes and reasons to it or historical markers behind why you say 24-20, 1:12 to go, you're at the 35.
MM: Yeah, like everything, just when you think you've seen it all you get a couple more situations you haven't seen. Frankly we really work on critical situations.
Q: In those situations, the team being able to be undaunted in those situation, is that Dak Prescott?
MM: I think it's all of them. Dak, don't get me wrong, is a tremendous leader and the confidence, it just oozes out of his ears. But he's like that all the time. So just a tremendous leader. But our guys believe in what they're doing, how we're doing it. You can see it the way they practice, and I think the competitive periods we're doing on Wednesdays and Thursdays have been huge in keeping it going. Because our guys are putting it in in the week and playing free on Sundays, and that's the way it has to be.
Q: Not to focus on how you finished, but the significance of only being down by four points at the half with all of the mistakes you had and everything you did to yourself, only being down four at the half, was that pretty significant?
MM: I just want to credit that to our neutral thinking. We weren't getting caught up in the negatives. Just to let you in our mental conditioning program. But you just keep playing. In the locker room, like I said, you would've never known it. It was a challenge. That is part of the game. So, I thought our guys did a great job. They just kept playing.
Q: (Regarding Randy Gregory.) What do you think it says about him, the way that he was able to change the game so dramatically in the middle and with his rushes and such a variety of ways?
MM: Randy is on a roll, too. He's put four games together that are outstanding. You'll be seeing more and more chips and things like that. We worked on it and expected it this week. Did a bunch of it. I think the guys, Dan, Kellen, everybody has done a great job. This is the way you want to go into a bye week.
QUARTERBACK DAK PRESCOTT
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Q: Can you talk about all the adversity this group overcame today going in and you making the plays in that moment to win?
DP: Yeah, I think today just showed our resiliency time and time again. Defense making plays – obviously they came out their first two series and got some touchdowns and for them to dig in, really step up and make plays – For the defense to get an interception return in a moment where you need it, for the offense to bite itself in the butt all game long, my turnovers down in the red zone, missing out on points, but just to have the chance to tie the game, to have the chance to win the game, and we were able to do that, I think it just speaks to the resiliency of this bunch and this that team and the bond we've created. We're not going to give up, and all we need is a chance, and I think that that showed tonight.
Q: That doesn't look like a Jordan shoe on your right foot.
DP: I mean, something we'll figure out. I figured when we weren't playing for a week, I would give you guys something to talk about and speculate on this time, so there you go.
Q: Did it happen on the throw? Could you tell?
DP: Yeah the last throw, just came down funny. That's what it was. It will be checked out, I'll be fine, I can promise you that. Great time to be going into the bye week. As I said, you all can have fun with it this week.
Q: So just talk about the emotions of that play. You hit the game winner and you're celebrating, and then you got pain in your leg?
DP: Yeah, it's like, "no way." Life keeps throwing punches and I'm going to keep throwing them back. Yeah, it's part of it. It's a physical game we play. As I said, I'll be fine. I've got a lot of confidence in myself and the medical team, and as I said I feel good. This is a precaution. But, yeah, just more so thinking about the touchdown. Didn't hurt as bad obviously when you score and win the game. All that is a plus. Credit to CeeDee [Lamb] right there and just the play call just for us to get in that moment and to be able to go score and capitalize on that, great call by Kellen [Moore].
Q: What does a win like this mean for you all?
DP: It's huge. Going into the bye week being what, 5-1? Yeah, it's huge. Five straight now. Obviously started this thing with the road win and then going three at home, being able to come here, a place like this with so much success, great atmosphere, great coach on the other side. For us to just stay resilient, I think it speaks on what McCarthy talks about, just our culture and building the right culture, building the winning culture, and knowing that it takes winning these games. We found a way to keep swinging and come out with a win. Take this confidence go into the bye week, get better, work on ourselves, and come out of this thing with this momentum.
Q: If you hadn't scored a walk-off touchdown would you have been able to take any more snaps?
DP: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it was a little pain, but, no, for sure I would've been able to keep going. Obviously the adrenaline would've been up and may not have even felt it at the time. I think the time you relax you're like, oh, there it is.
Q: Any kind of pop you felt?
DP: Not necessarily. Just came down funny. Didn't like what I felt. But as I said, it was something we'll check out and I could have kept playing if I had to and I'll be fine.
Q: Is it something that given that it's right calf, right ankle you have to be more concerned with?
DP: I don't know if I have to be more concerned about it on the right leg than the left leg, but we'll take or precautions, look at it tomorrow, and we'll know from there.
Q: Do you think this is a really significant game because of what's been accomplished here by the Patriots, what Bill Belichick represents? This is a significant moment for you guys to try to win a game in this scenario.
DP: I mean every game in the NFL is tough. When you come up to a place like this with so much success, knowing what they're going against and how desperate you can say they are trying to get a win and get things rolling on their end. Yeah, it was very important for us to come in and lock in knowing we're going on a bye week. We needed to focus in on this week and not what next week meant. Obviously coming off the three-game sweep we couldn't put our head down and think that we done something. As I say, shows the resiliency all night long in all those different moments, and to be able to have a chance at the end to win it and us to go do it speaks volumes.
Q: Going off that, (indiscernible) for more yards today against the a Bill Belichick defense than any quarterback has ever done. With all he's accomplished, what does that mean to you?
DP: Yeah, I mean, credit those guys outside in the offensive line for protecting. I didn't know that until Zeke [Ezekiel Elliot] told me until the locker room. I think the receivers that I had, we were able to get them the ball, and they do things we saw after the catch. Offensive line held up. Couple times had to get out the pocket and those guys went and made – got open on the scramble. It's not about me, it's about the whole team. It's about the practice we put into it. It's about the way we go about our practices, the way we built our team, and just a product of I guess the stats. But at the same time, it's the unselfishness. It starts up front with communication and how we are protected and those guys getting open, and they make my job easy.
Q: How emotional was CeeDee Lamb after that game? He said he loved you a couple of times.
DP: Yeah, I mean, I didn't think it was more than normal. Now that I know that, I might go give him another one. Yeah, he was excited. It was a big game for him. Caught the fade ball in the end zone for the first touchdown and being able to finish that one off. Went to him a bunch tonight and he made some great plays, and that's what we expect out of him.
Q: When you come up for the drive in overtime or even the end of regulation, are you just thinking, this is what we do on Wednesdays and Thursdays in practice?
DP: Yeah, I mean, that's what we talked about, this is the position we want to be in. We have a chance to go finish this game. Obviously we didn't get the touchdown end of regulation, but we were able to put ourselves in a position for Greg [Zuerlein to go out there and make another clutch kick. For the defense to come up big and give us the ball back in overtime at that moment, we knew the game was ours. Just had to concentrate one play at time, and we did. It was a beauty.
Q: How big was that play by Cedrick Wilson on fourth down?
DP: Oh, yeah, huge. Great play call. Great play call that I'm very comfortable in, very comfortable with. The moment he came in, obviously I started my reads and knowing that he was coming open right there, great catch by him. Great job to get his feet down. Without that, we're not up here talking about the win.
Q: Not just today, you had so many penalties that you were able to work through and still be productive offensively. Kind of been that way most of the season. Is that like the neutral thinking you guys talk about?
DP: Yeah, for sure. Credit to Chad Weldon. (Phonetic) definitely talk about the neutral thinking and how much we go over that and how important it is for us to stay in that moment. I think when these penalties comes up it's almost a challenge that the guys embrace more than – I shouldn't say more than normal, but they know that with the self-inflicted wounds we've got to overcome that, and now it's on us or we're just going to keep pushing ourselves back. Guys time and time again make the plays that we need to get us back in third and manageable or go and get the first down. As I said, I think it just speaks to the resiliency of that team and just never give up. As long as you give us a chance, we're going to take the best shot.
Q: How have you seen Randy Gregory grow as a player on and off the field?
DP: Yeah, Randy is a special player, very fortunate to have, very fortunate that we're not going against him on Sundays. He gives us headaches all week long. Two-minute drills on Thursdays. We know how special he is just from practice. He's a guy that iron sharpens iron – our tackles get better every time they go against him. On Sundays he's making plays and making plays that make a difference in the game. He's grown so much in every aspect of his life. As I said, just proud of him and having him on this team.
Q: The strip sack, Trevon Diggs interception, overtime defense. How just timely were some of the defensive stops today from your vantage point?
DP: They were huge. Touchdowns in overtime, I mean, that's a difference maker. Gets the whole thing rolling. The wave of emotions and turn of events right there at the end starts right with that interception return.
It's special. Those guys are special. Those guys are a special group the way they communicate, they way that they play. As I said, they gave me headaches all week long, so it's great to see them come out on Sundays and see them do the same to the opposing quarterback. Yeah, glad they're on my side.
Q: On that goal line stop, did you think you got in on third down?
DP: I thought I did. Yeah, once again, I thought I did. I've got to squeeze the ball tighter on the fourth. I thought I initially had crossed and maybe that's why I pulled it back. Yeah, the guy got it out. Yeah, I thought I did, so, I mean, we'll have to figure something out about those.
Q: Game like that, is it fun or it is nerve wracking for you?
DP: Oh, it's fun. As long as you have a chance it's fun. Those are the moments we ask for. What's I kept echoing to the offense every time we had a chance to go back out there on the field was this is what we practice, this is what we preach, just having a chance to go win the game when our backs are against the wall. We're a resilient team. We're going to keep fighting. All we need is a chance, and it showed on a few drives at the end.
Just being pushed back right there on that third and long and CeeDee making a big catch and the offensive line protecting the play call, yeah, we believe in each other. It's a very unselfish group. When you have a group like this, you believe in yourselves no matter what. No matter what's against you. All you're going to ask for is a chance, and proved to tonight.
Q: The unselfishness, CeeDee was saying that, "Yeah, I had the game winning touchdown, but Cedrick Wilson made a bigger play." How did you think you all created that culture?
DP: It's just a brotherhood. Just the way that we interact with each other throughout the building, off the field, and then it all just shows on the field. For CeeDee to say that, he's right. That's huge. Without Ced's catch we're not talking CeeDee's touchdown or overtime pretty much. So, yeah, it's huge. It's a special group and a group that I'm so privileged to be a part of.
Q: Taking your right hand away, seemed like they tried to take the running game away early. Is that...
DP: Yeah, I think we still had some success in the run game. Coaches did a great job. Kellen changing up, make some halftime adjustments. Had a package there for us in the second half. We were able to get some yards on the run game. Yeah, when we needed to make plays it was the passing game. As I told you all, our fast ball is our unselfishness, and as long as we do that, it's going to be tough for somebody.
Q: 5-1, going into the bye week, is that a massage to the rest of the league, we're for real, we're Super Bowl contenders?
DP: We know we're for real. I don't think we're out here trying to send a message to anybody, more so than we're showing it to ourselves. Just holding each other accountable to our standards and expectations. That's what we're going to continue to do as a team, offensive as a unit, defense as a unit, special teams as a unit. All together coaches down to the players, we have high expectations and understanding that we live by, practice by, and play by. That's all it's about, is coming out here every day and proving it to one another.
Q: Other side of the ball, what did you see from Mac Jones today?
DP: Yeah, Mac, I don't watch the offense and their plays and what the other quarterback is doing, to be honest. I'm watching – I look at my iPad, looking up at certain situations. I just credit my defense to getting after them.
Q: You'll get an MRI tomorrow, an evaluation?
DP: Yeah, an evaluation.
Randy Gregory, DE
(On playing his best football when he's mad)
"I usually do. I know there's a fine line and sometimes I have to be warned, from the coaches and on the field from the referees, I just can't take it too far, I feel like when I get pissed off and talk a little bit, I tend to play a little bit better, and the last few games, I have been trying to do that. It helps me lock in."
(On the play of Mac Jones)
"I mean look, he is a good young quarterback and I think they had a good game plan as far as trying to protect him. At the end of the day, we need to do a better job of getting to the quarterback and developing a better rush, including mid-game. I think a lot of times we had a good plan and we just didn't go out there and execute it the right way. He was able to pick us apart a few times out there. Just like any other quarterback in the league, you get in front of them and knock them off their spot and hit them and rush them – whatever you want to call it, their accuracy tends to go down."
(On his power)
"Look I have four sacks on the year, and two of those came on bull rushes. I think I throw people off sometimes when I do that. I really feel I need to be better as far as edge rushing. I think I rely too much on my power now, speed and power, I need to be better as far as early on give them power, and then transition to edge rushes throughout the course of the game. Obviously it was hard because they were chipping almost every play, but we have to work past that."
(On the locker room after the game)
"Very emotional, and I think we were emotional during the game. We speak about staying neutral a lot, and that is big. I think a couple times we got out of place with that aspect and we were able to dial back in a little bit and kind of lock back in. I think that's why we were able to fight through to the end"
(On Coach McCarty's message in the locker room)
"The way we finish, and it felt good, and he loves the fight. That was really it – finishing the fight and staying strong. We were going on two or three weeks where we were blew teams out, and we kind of talked about it being a real tough game and them being kind of bullies and their play style, and that we just need to go out there and put it to them. He was happy with the way we finished, and happy with the way we played throughout the game. Obviously he's happy we have a chance to go out the way we did."
CeeDee Lamb, WR
(On the overtime touchdown)
"It was an unbelievable feeling. I was expecting somebody to come up behind me, I turned around to my left and he was like three steps behind me. I was really surprised and then I just walked in."
(On if he has ever scored a walk-off touchdown)
"Yeah, I scored one in high school, but other than that, this is my first one in the NFL."
(On the confidence Dak Prescott had with him on that drive)
"It was kind of a mutual understanding. The preparation the coaches have given us week-in and week-out just preparing us for moments like this. The team understood the situation and the assignment. We all came together, and our backs were against the wall. All we had were each other."
(On the third-and-25 play)
"It was an all or nothing type deal understanding that we were behind. We were down by three at the time, and Coach Kellen [Moore] called my number on that route. It was kind of a redemption on myself. I had a lot of confidence in the play call"
(On Trevon Diggs)
"He's ball hog and he will do anything to get the ball into his hands and you saw it again. What is it, Week Six? And he has seven picks. So that speaks for itself."