Q:What did you see out of Donté Stallworth in terms of preparation last week? I'm sure it was fairly seamless given his experience in the system. Can you also talk about the touchdown reception? That play looked to be similar to one he scored on against Dallas in 2007.
JM:No, not at all. We'll start with Donté in general. Donté has always been a guy that works hard. He came in here last week and did the same thing and really dove into what the game plan was. He is familiar with our terminology and our system so that does help but I don't want to understate how hard it is to come in off the street and get acclimated to not only what the game plan is but who the opponent is, how they play. And then, go out there and have to perform on short notice. Credit to him for putting himself in position to be able to go out there and do that. I don't know. I don't remember the play you're talking about. The other one, I think that was a play-action. This one was actually a third down play. He did a good job of getting past his defender who was in man coverage and Tom [Brady] saw that there was nobody back there in the deep part of the field. He made a good throw and Donté made a good catch. It's always been hard to bring him to the ground and he finished the run with a score.
Q:The stage last night – Monday, a lot of hype around the game. Are you ever concerned that your guys might be too amped up in a setting like that? What needs to happen in that situation for the offense to be efficient and execute?
JM:We have a team that has a lot of good, veteran leadership. Bill [Belichick] does a great job of understanding the team in general, how we need to go through our week to be prepared our best for the game, which, I think it starts there. I think the players understand that each game is important, none really more important than the last or the next if you take them one at a time. I think our veteran players do a great job of showing consistency in our preparation and that includes the day of the game, then night of the game, pre-game. You come out and go through your normal procedure, your normal warm-up. You get ready for the game the same way you do any other week and you just try to go out there with great focus and concentration and go out and do your job. That certainly starts with our leaders on the team and certainly Bill does a great job of instilling the message to our players throughout the week in terms of how we need to play the game and I think that's where our focus lies.
Q:Was getting off to a fast start in a game like that against a team that good a point of emphasis in last week's preparation leading up to the game?
JM:I think it's always something you'd like to do, is get off to a good start and get ahead in the game. You always try to run the best plays you can or put the groupings out there that you think can give you the most success or try to put the players in the best positions to be successful as many times as you can and that starts with the beginning of the game. I don't think that changes based on who you're playing. You always try to get out there and play well early. And against a really good team as we played yesterday, to go out there and put some points on the board in the first quarter, credit goes to the players. They did a great job of executing some of those things and really made some adjustments there and made some critical plays under pressure that helped us get off to a good start yesterday and play from ahead.
Q:The game is always about much more than one player. We in the media spent a lot of time building up J.J. Watt, who most mostly neutralized. Can you assess the offensive line's job on J.J. Watt and some of the things you tried to do to protect against him?
JM:He's a great player and I don't think we felt like we were going to be able to just [keep] him from making any plays, hopefully you can contain him from making any impact plays, where he tips the ball up in the air and get an interception, which has happened multiple times this year or sack the quarterback, strip-sack the quarterback – all those kinds of plays that he's making throughout the course of the season that have changed the course of games or the outcome even. That's what we're trying to prevent. When you can get help on a special player like that, you can try to, but there's so many ways to avoid that as the defensive play caller, too. Coach [Wade] Phillips is so good at using his personnel and when he pressures and blitzes the way that he does, that really forces a lot of one-on-one protection across the front. So, even though you might want to get help on somebody, you can't always do that based on how they play their defense also. Our guys I thought battled them. Certainly he made some plays and really got some pressure on us and we could have done some things better but I thought there were a number of linemen that ended up blocking him throughout the course of the game because he wasn't always just on the right. He was on the left some, on the right, inside, outside. So, we had a number of different players that had to step in and stand up and block him and I thought they all gave great effort, were competitive and really, that's the plan. They have a good player; we have to stand up and we have to play against him. We have to play hard and I thought the guys tried to do a really good job of keeping him out of the middle of the pocket. But again, he's a great player and certainly found a way to have some production last night as well.
Q:There was a lot of hype on how good the Texans were coming in. Is that something you have to warn your players about after a big win, that San Francisco may use that as their statement game to beat the Patriots?
JM:We can't control what other people are saying or what's being said outside of the building, obviously. The thing we can do is come to work every day. I've seen a number of players already in today getting film and treatment and all those things and just prepare and go through our normal process of preparation. I know that's the best way to focus on our next opponent and control the things that we can control and I think that our guys are really intent on having another good week of preparation as we did last week and just trying to put the best performance we can out there on Sunday night against a really, really talented defense. I mean, this is as good as we're going to face. We certainly have a great deal of respect for the way they're coached, the way they way, the style of defense they have. They have great players at all three levels of their defense, Pro-Bowl caliber players. This will be a tremendous challenge for us. Really, we're going to have our hands full with just the preparation and getting ourselves ready to play against a really, really special defense.
Q:But you don't necessarily call attention to the fact that the other team may be gunning for you?
JM:We're just getting ready to play them. I'm sure they're going to come in here and play hard, just like they always do and that's what we're going to do, too. Extra this or that, I'm not sure that anybody needs it this time of the year. We're all fighting to win each and every game that we can and I'm sure they're going to come in here and play hard and hopefully we can have a great week of preparation and put our best performance out there on Sunday night.
Q:The offense stagnated a bit halfway through the second quarter and into the third. You and Tom Brady were animated on the sideline. How important is it to deliver the message that you cannot let the other team dictate what your effort is going to be like and make sure the players power through to the end of the game?
JM:You know, you're right. We started off and played some really good football and did some really good things. We did have a few three-and-outs right there in a row consecutively which we never like to do because it puts the defense back out there quickly. All credit goes to them. They did a lot of good things. They pressured us, they came after us and that was really a big plan in the game. They made some plays in that stretch there that forced us off the field. I don't think it's anything I was doing or saying. It has more to do with the things we can control and I thought we had some unforced errors that we can prevent. When you're playing a good team, they're going to make some plays and hopefully you're going to make some plays. But, the ones you need to prevent are the ones that they have nothing to do with something that they did, whether that be, we had a couple balls on the ground last night. We had a couple drops. We had a couple missed assignments in protection. For us to be able to go out there and execute against a good team, sustain that execution at a high level, you have to first start with doing your job right. That was really all I was saying and trying to get us to finish the game there and do everything we could to start out with before we even started dealing with scheme and blitzes and all the rest of it. 'Let's just take care of our assignment and have that be the starting point for our offense.' And when we do that, you'll always give yourself a chance and it will all come down to making plays and that lies with our players and they did a good enough job of that, certainly last night in certain stretches. Whenever you hit a wall it's always good to come back and do your job right and I think that's what the message was when I was talking to them.