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Matt Cassel Postgame Presser - 12/21/2008

New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, December 21, 2008.

Q:How important was your fast start today?

MC:It was very important. It was very important. We knew that they were an explosive team and that they could score a lot of points. For us to get out ahead early was important for us and important for the offense to set the tone for the day.

Q:Have you ever played in these conditions before?

MC:I've never played in snow before, so it was a first for me, but it actually was a lot of fun.

Q:What adjustments did you have to make to deal with that?

MC:For the most part we really didn't make too many adjustments. We were going to see how the weather was going to affect how we threw the ball and we really went in with the same game plan that we had been going through the entire week. We practiced outside all week, which I think was a tremendous help and we just went in and executed the game plan.

Q:Can you talk about that throw back to Randy Moss that turned into the long touchdown? You looked one way and then went the other way. Was that the plan all along?

MC:It was the plan all along. It was probably the best throw of my career so far. I think I threw it one yard behind the line of scrimmage and he took it 77 yards, so any time those guys can do that it's a good day at the office for me.

Q:When you go out there and it's freezing cold, do you complete a pass or two and start to say 'ok, this is good'?

MC:I think when you start to build a little momentum and you start to get ahead by a few touchdowns and start to know that you've got control of the game, that's when it starts to become fun. But until that point, you've got to keep pressing forward.

Q:Can you talk about Jabar Gaffney? This seems to be his time of year.

MC:Jabar is a great player. He's a phenomenal receiver. He continues to get open and anything you ask of him, he's there. He's a great team player and he shows up around this time every year and he's played well throughout the entire season. He's a guy that I rely on and we rely on as an offense and if they want to take away, at times, Wes [Welker] and Randy [Moss], Jabar Gaffney is just as good an option as any of those guys, so he's a great player.

Q:Did you watch the Baltimore-Dallas game last night, and also were people on the sidelines asking how the Dolphins were doing today?

MC:Not really. I think that they showed the score a little bit throughout the game, but we were concentrated on taking care of our end of it. Then we've just got to continue to put together wins from outside and let the chips fall where they may.

Q:Why do you think you guys were able to handle the elements and they couldn't?

MC:I don't know. We're a New England team, so we practiced in it all week and the last three games that we've played have been in bad weather, and so maybe we've had just a little bit more practice than they have.

Q:What was it like to throw the ball in the snow and what did you have to do differently?

MC:Nothing particular from a mechanics standpoint or a motion standpoint. You just have to make sure to make an accurate throw so the receivers can catch the ball and put it in a good position for them to catch the ball and then keep your footing.

Q:Do you find that yards after the catch tend to multiply on a day like this since the offensive player knows what he's going to do and the defensive player doesn't?

MC:There's no doubt. We had an emphasis all week about run after catch because we knew the elements would be as such that we know what we're doing, they don't, so we have the advantage.

Q:Can you talk about your 300-pound fullback Russ Hochstein?

MC:300-pound fullback. He's a beast: Russ Hochstein. We've got to keep putting him out there and pounding the rock, so he looks good. I think he said he wanted to lose a few pounds and really grow into that role.

Q:Obviously you guys can't control what happens from here on other than beating Buffalo next week, but wouldn't it be a shame to miss the playoffs the way your offense is playing?

MC:We hope so. We'll see what happens next week and we'll see what goes on with the other teams, but we've just got to continue to go out there, work hard and get ready and hopefully we'll be in one of those playoff spots and have an opportunity to move on into the postseason.

Q:How big a factor was it that today you were continuously able to get good field position to start drives?

MC:It's huge. It's part of situational football, which I talked about last week. Any time you can get a short field, it's a lot easier on us as an offense. The defense did a great job today of stopping their offense and giving us great field position.

Q:How did the weather affect the ball?

MC:It really didn't have a huge affect on it. The wind wasn't as bad as we initially thought it was going to be. I'd much rather play in snow versus rain, now that I've done both, because the ball is just not as wet and you can have a little bit better handle on it.

Q:Is your confidence in throwing the deep ball up compared to when you first started?

MC:I've always had confidence in throwing the deep ball. That's one of the most difficult passes for any quarterback to complete because the margin of error is so limited, especially when you're throwing the ball downfield 40 yards. The accuracy is not like a curl route where you can just put it on them; you're throwing the ball downfield. We just continue to try to work on it and continue to try to get better.

Q:Do you ever wonder how Matt Leinart beat you out for the starting spot at USC?

MC:No. I think Matt Leinart is a great player and he'll be a great player in the NFL. He did a great job at USC. We won two national championships with him as a starting quarterback at USC, so they obviously made the right decision.

Q:Do you talk to him at all?

MC:I do. I talked to him this week. He's a friend of mine and I wish nothing but great things for him.

Q:How much fun was today's game?

MC:Any time you can go out there and put together a good performance and the elements were what they were and playing in the snow, it's a lot of fun. It kind of takes you back to your childhood days.

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