HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Well first of all it's great to win today. I'm really proud of our team. We've kind of been battling along here for a few weeks and I thought we had a real good two weeks of preparation - not that we did very much last week on the field but in our meetings and our walkthroughs, just going over the things we went over I think it helped make us a better team. And then this week of practice was probably one of our best weeks ever in terms of focus and concentration, everybody being alert and on top of it. I thought we played hard today. Kansas City is a good football team. You've got to give Coach [Andy] Reid and his staff and that team a lot of credit. They're tough, they're resilient. They're going to battle you all the way to the last minute, last second, which they did today. And I have all the respect in the world for Andy and the Kansas City Chiefs. I thought we had a good day. We got contributions in all phases of the game. Tom [Brady] was really sharp. Getting the ball in the end zone early was huge. Defensively, our red-area defense was big early in the game, so those were some key stops for us. Danny [Amendola's] punt return set up a field goal, which that ended up being some important points. I thought our offensive line did a good job. That's a good front. Tom really had a pretty clean day back there. He did a good job of getting the ball out, the receivers were open. Defensively I thought we could have obviously played better on third down. We had a lot of chances to get off the field and we just couldn't do it, but at the same time you've got to give credit to Kansas City. They're well coached. They've got a good quarterback. They've got good receivers. They've got a good tight end. So they're not the easiest team to handle there. That's something we would have liked to have done better today. That being said, it's great to move on to the AFC Championship Game. It's always an honor to be a part of that game. We're excited about that. We'll look forward to whoever that opponent is and get to work on them, try to have a good week and go out there and play our best game next Sunday.
Q: What did you think of the play of the offensive line?
BB: Again, I think the offensive line did a great job. The receivers did an excellent job of getting open and getting separation. Tom got the ball out quickly, so all that worked together. In that first drive, they came after us at least three times, maybe four, and we made plays on all those. We had a third-down conversion, hit James White out in the flat for an easy 20 yards. Amendola - that was another probably easy 20 yards or something like that, whatever it was. They came after us and we hit them pretty good on those, and then that really slowed it down for a while. We didn't see a lot of pressures. It was a lot of four-man rush, other than when they were in some of their five-down looks, but those were relatively easy to identify. So we didn't see after that first drive a whole lot of pressure, but I thought again those are good pass rushers on the edge there - [Tamba] Hali and [Dee] Ford, [Justin] Houston when he played, big guys inside, so I thought we held up to them pretty good. A big part of that also was the quarterback and receivers being able to get the ball out on time and make some yards after the catch, which Rob [Gronkowski] did, James White did, Danny, Julian, so it was a good team effort in the passing game. The offensive line had a big challenge. I don't know how many times they threw the ball but it was most all of them, I know that. They pass blocked well.
Q: Can you reflect on how special it is to go to five straight AFC Championship games?
BB: It's a real credit to the players. I think that's number one. Those guys, we demand a lot out of them. This is a hard place to play. It's from the first day of spring OTAs all the way through training camp all the way through meetings. We're over 100 practices now this year. That doesn't count the walkthroughs and the meetings and everything else. Those are just the actual practice practices. You know it's definitely a grind, but they come in here, like this group, and I've said this the last couple of years, too, these guys come in here every day, their pencils are sharpened, they're sitting right there in those seats, they're ready to go, they're attentive, they want to learn, they want to know how to get better, they want to compete and they just do that on a daily basis. That's been week after week and year after year. It's really a great credit to those guys. We have some great competitors on our team - obviously Brady and Edelman and Gronkowski and [Sebastian] Vollmer and [Patrick] Chung and [Devin] McCourty, [Dont'a] Hightower, [Jamie] Collins, Chandler [Jones], those guys on the other side of the ball, too, Stephen Gostkowski. Those guys, you just can't say enough about them. [Rob] Ninkovich, I mean you just go right down the line. The credit goes to them. It's a tough league. It's tough to go out and play good every week, especially when you've got a target. Everybody is trying to knock us off, as they should be, and we've just got to stand up and compete every week. The players do a great job here, they really do. I'm really fortunate to have that group. And the assistant coaches, you can't say enough great things. I thought Josh [McDaniels] and the offensive staff did a tremendous job this week game planning and play calling. Josh was magnificent. I thought he really had everything dialed in. Pretty much everything he called it came out the way we thought it would. As we were breaking the huddle, we could already see we had what we wanted and Tom and the offense executed it perfectly. The staff did a really good job, as they usually do. Look, these guys work hard here. The coaches work hard, the players work hard, and it's very gratifying to see those kinds of results pay off for all the hard work. It's what we do, it's what we're here for is to win.
Q: How important was getting the turnover early in the second half and turning it into points?
BB: Huge, yeah huge play. Getting the ball out there, probably would have been a first down or short yardage, either one, but it looked like it would have been a first down, ball came out, it was a big turnover for us and like you said to be able to convert that, because if they score there it makes it a one [score] or a tie game, if they go for two, two, one, whatever it is. That's a big swing there. Even if they get a field goal it's down to a one-score game. It's a big play. We really thought we'd have some opportunities to get the ball out and we didn't get as many as we thought we'd be able to get, but that was a big one for us. And as you said, being able to convert it, I thought our complementary football was good today. We got the big punt return from Danny and that set up a field goal. The turnover turned that into a touchdown. So that was good team complementary football there in all three units.
Q: What does Julian Edelman add to this offense when he's out there?
BB: Julian is a good player. He's a good route runner and he's good after the catch. He's a strong runner after the catch, can make yards on his own. The more of those guys you have out there the harder it is to defend. We got plays out of James White, Danny, Julian, Rob, [Brandon] LaFell, Keshawn [Martin]. They all made big plays for us. The more play makers you've got out there on the field, and Tom knows what to do with them, he can find those matchups, that's what we need to do and have that in sync with our line, our communication and making sure we're in the right play when they give us a different look or being able to handle the pressure like we did on the first drive. I thought that was obviously a big drive for us for a lot of reasons. Number one, it gave us a lead, we had points, but number two, we handled those pressure situations and that certainly toned that down for quite a while after that. It's great to have Julian back. It's great to have a lot of guys back that we had back today. Hopefully they'll all be out there again Sunday.
Q: How difficult is it to get the offense to perform at a high level when they haven't had a lot of game reps together recently?
BB: Well I mean I don't know. It is what it is. It's the National football League. Every team has an injury report. Kansas City had theirs. I'm sure some of their guys battled through it to be out there. We had guys battling through it to be out there, to be out there and practice. It's the National Football League. We have a lot of tough guys in this room, on this team. Again, they come to work every day. Sometimes they're not able to practice or perform, but they're in there getting treatment, they're in there doing everything they can to get back out there as soon as they can. I think the guys that played today it's a real credit to them and our training staff that they were even back out there. I'm sure we'll have some of those guys in the same boat this week, and I know they'll battle hard to be out there and give us everything they've got.
Q: What are your thoughts on the passing of Ted Marchibroda?
BB: Yeah, appreciate [the question]. It's with a real heavy heart that I stand here. I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Ted Marchibroda. He gave me a great opportunity. I learned so much from him - a lot of X's and O's, but it really wasn't the X's and O's. It was a lot more about just being a football coach, being a professional coach - preparation, work ethic, dependability, what goes into having a good football team. Every time I heard about the Kansas City Chiefs - which they had a tremendous this year I'm not taking anything away from them - they start off 1-5 and then won 11 straight or whatever. That was us in 1975. That was my first year in the NFL and we were 1-4 and won our next nine straight, whatever it was, and then lost to Pittsburgh in probably a game similar to this - driving down to take the lead and gave up an interception that was run back 95 yards for a touchdown, so the game kind of got away from us. But it was the same kind of team. It was a young team that got off to a slow start, but we gained our confidence, and that taught me a great lesson in football of just keep working, keep fighting, just one day at a time. Don't worry about the record at the end of the year. Just have a good day, have another good day, win this week and then move on to next week. That's what we did in 1975. Ted gave that team great leadership. They were like 2-14 the year before we got there or something like that - 2-12 - however many games there were. They were terrible. But he gave the team great confidence, great leadership. Ted is one of the most positive people I've ever been around. He was always confident, even when it was fourth-and-17, he was always sure we were going to make the play or do what we need to do. He was such a great person for me. I lived with Ted. We stayed in the same hotel, drove him to work every day, drove him home every day. We had our staff meetings in the car. We ate breakfast together. He was such a mentor, and I just can't say enough about Ted. I know everybody that's coached and worked with him probably has the same exact feelings. They'll all tell you the same story because that's what Ted was. My sympathies to Ted's family and his two kids, his grandchildren. He's got a great family. He's a great father and great grandfather. It's a sad day - just a sad day.
Q: How do you think your defense responded to losing some key players during the game?
BB: It was a battle. Yeah, it was a battle. We were shuffling them in there. We had some guys, but you know what though that's the way it is in the playoffs - not uncommon. We've talked about that with our team. We had guys playing that honestly hadn't played a whole lot all year or maybe they played a little bit but then their role in this game changed for whatever the circumstances were. We'll look at the film but I think we definitely got some plays. I think Dekoda [Watson] gave us some plays rushing the passer and it looked like he was in part of that sack, maybe [Alex] Smith tripped over [Eric] Fisher or whatever it was. Darius Fleming came in there and was calling signals at linebacker. We were just rotating guys through - [Sealver] Siliga has had a tough couple weeks. He came back and gave us quite a few snaps in there as well. Yeah, but that's what it is. Guys have got to step up at this time of year and maybe their roles change in the kicking game or on offense or defense or whatever it happens to be but having everybody ready to go, bringing a guy up off the practice squad for a game at this time of year, whether it be at the end of the season or in the playoffs, again that's not uncommon. We've had a lot of guys from the Sterling Moores to the Malcolm Butlers to Ray Ventrone in the Super Bowl - going down there and being active for two games all year and making a big tackle in the Super Bowl. So, I think everybody on the team has heard that message and we just all got to be ready and I think they all were today. I think everybody was ready to go. I'm not saying we played perfect, we didn't, didn't coach great either, but we found enough to get it done against a good team, so we're proud of that.
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
Q: How satisfying was this win for you guys?
TB: It was a great win. Took everything we've got, so a lot of guys played hard, a lot of guys have been fighting through some stuff. So it's pretty special to get back to another AFC Championship Game.
Q: How nice was it to have Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman back out there? It seemed like the offense gelled more.
TB: I thought we did a better job today than what we've been doing, but I think we can still do a lot better.
Q: Did you have a feeling of uncertainty coming into the game, or were you pretty confident?
TB: I thought we had a good plan. I thought we worked hard, studied this team, watched a lot of film, so I think the preparation was good. We had a good week of practice. I think we had plenty of plays out there that we left on the field, things that we can definitely do better, and I think we can be sharper next week. So that's what we're going to try to be. We're going to need it. Whoever we play, they're going to be a great team.
Q: How did you think Edelman played in this game?
TB: I think he's worked his tail off. He's always been one of the hardest workers, one of the hardest workers I've ever played with, one of the most determined young men that's on this team. And he's got as much heart as anybody. It's a serious injury to come back from, and to play the way that he did today was great. And all the receivers played great. Gronk played great. The backs played good. So it was a great team win.
Q: How does Gonkowski benefit your offense when you use him in space?
TB: I mean he's a tough matchup for everybody. He's got size and speed, so he's a tough match-up. He definitely made some big plays today. The touchdowns were big. It was a good defense. They were giving up 11 points a game in the last however many weeks, so we knew it was a challenge. They had a lot of good players, and I thought we just made a few more plays than they did.
Q: How important was it to set the tempo on the first drive?
TB: It was good to get off to a fast start. We talked about that, and you don't want to play this team from behind. And they hung in there. They're a very mentally tough team. They certainly don't quit out there. They play hard right to the end, and it took a lot to beat them. So like I said, it was a great win for our team.
Q: It's hard to win a single game in this league. What's it like to make it to the AFC Championship for the fifth-straight season?
TB: It's pretty cool. It's hard to do. You've got to grind throughout the entire year. There are only four teams playing next week, and we're one of them. And that game means a lot, so we've got to try to get as healthy as we can and see if we can put together our best game of the year.
Q: What were you thinking when you tried to get the ball to Gronkowski and then ran on the 2nd-and-goal from the 11-yard line?
TB: Yeah, it's a slow takeoff. They were kind of, you know, they had some coverage back there that was pretty focused on the receivers. Julian and Gronk were on the same side, and I thought I could try to make it. And we were close. Not close enough, but I was glad to get it in on the next play.
Q: You got pretty good hits from both of those guys, right?
TB: Yeah, but it's football season, so you're used to it. There are bumps and bruises, but you've just got to keep fighting through it.
Q: On the [play before the] rushing touchdown it looked like you exchanged some words with Josh McDaniels on the sideline. What went into that?
TB: It's just football, so there are a lot of emotions, especially in this game. He's done the best job. He's an incredible coach, and I'm lucky to have him. It was great to get it in there, and we laughed about it about three minutes later.
Q: How much are you rooting for Pittsburgh tomorrow so you can get the home-field advantage?
TB: I won't root. You're not rooting too hard. I think whatever happens, happens. Whether we play here or whether we play there, you're going to have to play really well. I think that's what it comes down to. So they're two great football teams. We've played them both this year already, and I know it's going to take our best effort to beat them whoever it is.
Q: What exactly was the exchange between you and McDaniels on the sideline?
TB: I don't remember exactly. I wanted us to challenge it because we were going to call a timeout, so even if we challenge it we still get the time out. He said, ‘Well that's what we were doing.’ I said, ‘Why didn't you let me know?’ So it was just a little miscommunication.
DEFENSIVE END ROB NINKOVICH
Q: Can you touch on the drive in the second quarter when they got the ball on your 36-yard line and weren't able to get anything out of it, and you guys responded with a 98-yard offensive drive? How key was that drive?
RN: Well, I think every drive is pretty important, so I think we did a great job play together, playing in all three phases. That's what you have to do in the playoffs. You have to play complementary, and I think that our offense did a great job moving the ball. Again, you've got to give them credit. They have a heck of a team, and definitely a very good football team that we were about to get a win on.
Q: What does it mean to be able to get to five AFC Championships in a row?
RN: I really think it just goes back to starting all over again every year. Every year is a new year, and really just turning the page on anything that happened last year and building for a new push, new run. So again, it's an honor because there are obviously a lot of guys who would love to be in that position and play in a lot of playoff games. And I've been blessed with that honor.
Q: Every time Travis Kelce left the line, there was somebody hitting him. Was he one of many focuses tonight for you defensively?
RN: Well, he's a tremendous player. His body of work kind of speaks for itself, so again, anytime you're going against a guy like that, you have to account for where he's at on the field and understand that he's one of the go-to guys for [Alex] Smith. I think that we go against a pretty good tight end every day, and it's a great look for us.
Q: Considering Kansas City hasn't turned the ball over much this year, what did it mean for you guys to take the ball away from them on that fumble?
RN: It was a huge play. Again, I just threw my body in there, and I think Chan [Chandler Jones] maybe got it. I'm not sure. I have to watch it on tape, but just running to the football. When the D-line can turn and run and make plays, you know, it was a huge turnover preventing them from scoring points and definitely a huge play.
Q: On the Chiefs final touchdown drive, they took a lot of time off the clock. Was that a small victory there?
RN: Well, you always want to keep them out of the end zone and not put yourself in a position where you have to put your hands team out there. But again, I think that it was a small dink and dunk type drive to where we were able to tackle, get the guys down for maybe five, six-yard gains on some of those plays, and in the red zone really they had to work to get in there. So that took a lot of time off the clock. So again, I think you always want to have the mentality as a defensive player to hold them to three points and not let them get the touchdown, not score, but again, I think that we played tough, had some guys coming in and out. So that's just the way it is. You have to deal with that.
Q: On the other side of the ball, what kind of spark did you see in the offense with Julian Edelman back?
RN: Yeah, that guy has got the heart of a lion. He's just never going to give up on a play. I've been with him for a very long time now, and I respect the way that he plays and how much he gives this team. So again, tons of respect for number 11, and I'm happy that he was able to be out there doing his thing.
Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver
(On the win)
"It feels good. We played a good football team. The Chiefs play hard; good defensive players. Hats off to them. We played well enough to win the game and we're excited about that."
(On getting into a rhythm as an offense)
"We tried to establish a rhythm early. It was good that we got points out of that first drive and kind of go from there. I felt like we played well, made some big plays, defense played well and special teams, too."
(On the offense getting Amendola, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski back on the field together)
"It was fun. We're all glad to be back and be running around together and making plays."
(On whether the continuity of Amendola, Edelman and Gronkowski was there from the start of the game)
"We played well. Well enough to win, but there's still definitely room for improvement, too. We'll just go back to work this week and try to get better for next week."
SAFETY, DEVIN MCCOURTY
Q: What does going back to the AFC Championship for the fifth straight time say about your team?
DM: It's why we play. It's not guaranteed. We come in every year, same goals. We work our butts off to try to get into the playoffs to give ourselves a chance, and you guys saw tonight. It wasn't pretty. It's not easy, so to me, it means everything. You put all this work in to get to the playoffs and try to get to the AFC Championship, and we're there now. Now it's about executing and trying to move forward.
Q: What are your thoughts when you listen to Bill Belichick talk about the day-in, day-out commitment of the players and then kind of the lesson he learned about day-in, day-out professionalism from his old coach?
DM: Yeah, we hear it every day. The same message that he just told you guys, he tells us all the time. One of his favorite phrases is, "There's no magical pill that you can take," and I think that says it all for us about coming in each day, putting in the work. And I think the exciting thing about the playoffs is when you're on a team that's a hard-working team with a coach like Bill who puts in a lot of work and demands a lot of us, it's cool to see the playoffs where everybody amps it up a little bit more. Guys are in here extra early, staying late, and I think you go all throughout the whole regular season thinking it's not possible, and then you watch guys put in more and more work because we know how tough it is to win in the playoffs. It's not easy. You've got two very good football teams fighting our butts off just to come to work next weekend. I think when you see tough games like this, you see that hard work paying off.
Q: What can you say about the toughness Patrick Chung brings to the field after holding Travis Kelce in check tonight?
DM: I don't know many strong safeties, if any, better than him and playing better football than him right now. I think he doesn't get the respect and the praise he deserves. You go throughout the season going against some of the best tight ends in the NFL and then battling Gronk every day. Chung goes out there and battles his butt off and usually doesn't give up many catches and yards to opposing tight ends. And I think you sum all that up and then talk about how much it helps us in the run game. He's a big part of this defense and the reasons why we win. He loves it though. He loves when we come in and Bill stands up here and tells us how good an opposing tight end is and what he did to us last year, Houston the week before and throughout the season. He takes that challenge and plays with a chip on his shoulder, and you saw that tonight. But for him, it's been week-in and week-out just going out there and trying to dominate a matchup. And he played well tonight all over the field like usual making plays.
Q: What's it like when this team is healthy?
DM: It feels good. I think it's a testament to everybody. This whole team comes in and puts in a lot of work – injured guys, healthy guys, guys, like Bill said, guys on the practice squad who are called up, guys who haven't played much. So obviously the end of the season didn't go the way we wanted, but I think it helped us overall getting some guys who didn't have a lot of experience out there making plays and stepping up. And we fell short a couple of times, but that paid off. And when you get in the playoffs, now the regular season doesn't matter. It's all about how well you play on that night that you have to play out there against another good playoff team. So I think this season different things we went through have helped us, and we've just got to use it and keep pushing forward.
Q: Can you quantify how significant it was to turn that fumble you guys forced into a touchdown knowing the Chiefs probably weren't going to make offensive mistakes like that again?
DM: Yeah, it was huge. We talk every week about trying to get takeaways on defense, and like you said, we have two good defensive teams and you have two offenses that understand the value of taking care of the football. We know if we can get a takeaway and get the ball back to our offense it's usually going to get points on the board. And like usual, they did what they did – drove down the field and scored a touchdown. And that was really a big swing in the game, especially because defensively, those long drives were eating at us a little bit. So Chan [Chandler Jones] or Rob [Ninkovich], whoever got the ball out, great job just hustling and getting to the ball. And I thought that was a big turning point for us.
Q: Would you rather have a home game next week or do you want another shot at Denver?
DM: I'm just happy to be playing next week. Whoever we play, like Bill says, it'll be another good football team who has either won one playoff game or two playoff games now. They'll be hungry, they'll be excited, and they'll be just like us - trying to move forward. So home, away, I mean, you guys saw the first round of the playoffs. All away teams won, so it doesn't matter. It's all about executing and going out there and playing good football.
Malcolm Butler, Cornerback
(On if the team was playing as one big family this week)
"That's the case every week. We know we were going to need [to win] this playoff game, so we came together as a team in all three phases, went out there and handled our business."
(On avoiding outside distractions)
"Nobody outside of this locker room can help us win. They can help us lose, but they can't help us win, so we ignored the noise. The only thing that matters is your coaches and your teammates, so we just rolled like that."
(On the plan to limit Chiefs QB Alex Smith)
"Just contain him as much as we can. He's a great athlete. To be honest, I didn't know he could run like that, but the guy can move. So we had to stay with our receivers throughout the scramble plays. He hit a couple of those, but we tried to limit him as much as we could. It was all about going out there making plays. That's all it was about."
Sebastian Vollmer, Tackle
(On how it felt to prepare for this game)
"Hopefully you always practice well and you have a good week. You always go into the game with a lot of confidence and you want to execute your game plan. If it works, great. If it doesn't, then you have problems. I think the feeling is the same."
(On the week of practice)
"It's a whole week. It's a lot of days. It's the playoffs. Everything kind of steps up a little bit. I think we did too."
(On the injuries)
"Everyone is out there that can [play]. Again, it's the playoffs. It's a lot of months of football and no one feels 100 percent, but it's part of the game."
(On the Kansas City defensive line)
"They're a good defensive line. They have been [all season]. Things like doing your job, blocking. I don't think there's a secret sauce for it. Just doing what you can and what you're asked to do."
Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver
(On his return)
"It felt good. Any time you go out with your teammates and get a win in the Divisional Round against a really good football team, it feels good, so it's one of those things that we've got a lot of work to do. Next game is going to be the toughest game of the year and you've got to get ready for it."
(On how it feels to get hit, give hits, and go through that process again)
"It's the same. You know you get bumps and bruises and it's part of the game, so it was good to get out there."
(On if he got more comfortable as the game progressed)
"Yeah, a little bit. I dropped some balls that I shouldn't of - trying to do stuff, trying to make a move before I caught it, but I just had to slow down and get back to the fundamentals and I'll be working those out this week."
(On if the dropped balls were due to lack of play or finding a rhythm)
"That was just me trying to be too fast."
(On his confidence to physically perform going forward)
"Very confident. We played a good complementary game as a team. We got a lot of work to do. We got a lot of situations that we could have done better on, but it was definitely good to go out there and get a win."
(On the performance of Rob Gronkowski)
(On getting thrown the ball during the first possession)
"It was good. We had a good week of practice and practice execution became game reality and it was good to get out there and get a catch on that first drive."
(On if he felt any satisfaction going through the rehab to return to this game)
"No because I dropped some balls that I shouldn't have. You can always play better and to go out and play good in the next game, you can't win ball games doing those kinds of things, so, I'm personally going to have to get back and do a lot more."
Jonathan Freeny, Linebacker
(On the improved third-down defense in the fourth quarter)
"Yeah, that was very important. Every third-down is important but especially late in the game when you need it, when the game is getting closer and closer. Just for us to step up and get off the field, that was big and try to get the ball back into our offense's hands."
(On his feelings seeing Chandler Jones leave with an injury late in the game)
"Any time one of your guys goes down your heart goes out to them because you know these guys that you have blood, sweat, and tears with all year since training camp, OTAs, all of those things. You've been working with these guys so any time one of them goes down and they have an injury your heart goes out to them."
(On if forcing the third quarter turnover was a big moment)
"Yeah, that was definitely a big momentum change. We got the ball back on the fumble and our offense went down and scored. I think it might have put us up by two touchdowns – I'm not sure exactly how much – but yeah that was a big swing in the game. If it wasn't for that then there's no telling how that game would've ended there at the end so that was big for us."
Rob Gronkowski, Tight End
(On if he felt prepared when he got out there after missing time this week)
"Yeah, definitely. Just being around the guys all the time, being with the coaching staff, we prepare well together as a team, as a unit. It felt like we were all ready to go and on the same page."
(On how important it was to get into a rhythm early)
"You always want to get a fast start, especially being together with everyone, Julian [Edelman], Danny [Amendola], everyone back out there on the field. We were all just clicking on that drive and it was great to get a touchdown [on the] first drive. That's how you always want to start."
(On Julian Edelman's return)
"Yeah, he's a great player. I'm super proud of him, the way he worked to get back, the way he worked to get ready for a playoff game. Obviously I've been through some injuries and I'm telling you it's just not easy to come back right in midseason and just have a performance like that. You've got to give him credit for all the hard work he put in to be ready and help this team."
Duron Harmon, Defensive Back
(On how important is was to hold Kansas City to field goals early on)
"It was very important, just look at the score. If we didn't hold them to field goals, we could have possibly lost that game. The game was a lot different toward the end, so holding them to field goals really helped us. Any time you can hold a team to a field goal in the red zone, it's a four-point swing, so we can say we took eight points off the board from them and we won by seven. If we didn't, it could have been a whole different game."
(On the fumble recovery)
"That was huge. It was huge because they were driving the ball a little bit. I want to say they were in the plus-territory, so that was a huge momentum swing. I believe we got points off of that so it just helped our team in general."
(On Kansas City QB Alex Smith)
"Like I was saying earlier this week, he had 500 rushing yards [this season], 30 first downs and averaged around six yards per carry, so we knew that's what he wanted to do. That's how he makes plays, he makes plays not only with his arm but with his feet so we knew we had to try to contain him as best as we could. We did a good job."
(On how it feels to make the AFC Championship game three years in a row)
"It's crazy. Three years in a row, we're going to the conference championship. It's a testament to this organization and coach [Bill] Belichick – what he's done here and how he prepares us. I'm just excited to be a part of it."
Akiem Hicks, Defensive Lineman
(On if it feels better to have a nice win after the way the team finished down the stretch)
"Playoff time, you really try to put every other game during the regular season [behind you]; it's almost a new season. You try to put all that stuff behind you and move on, so now it's another set of one-game seasons. That's how we approached it."
(On if he was impressed with how close Kansas City kept it)
"Like I said earlier, all respect to Kansas City. A great team and we knew that coming in here. Great offensive line, great quarterback, great skill positions, special teams, just a great team, and you saw it went down to the end, fought all the way through."
(On his first playoff game as a member of the Patriots)
"You can't take those for granted. I was in New Orleans for three years and went to the playoffs one year. We came up and beat Philadelphia then went down and lost to Seattle the year they won the Super Bowl, so you just can't take these moments for granted and you've got to always be prepared."
Josh Kline, Offensive Line
(On the multiple changes on the offensive line throughout the season)
"It's a challenge, but we prepare for it and guys have stepped up in different roles and different positions and played well and have done their job, so I'm proud of the guys."
(On the play of rookie offensive lineman Shaq Mason this season)
"He's a battler. He's very athletic and he's a good kid and he works hard and tries to take the coaching from Googe [Dave DeGuglielmo] and tries to take the coaching from us [the offensive line]. He played well tonight."
(On if he prefers an up-tempo offensive play style)
"It helps us out against the pass rush, but I mean, we're tired too."
Keshawn Martin, Wide Receiver
(On the impact Julian Edelman had)
"When you get 11 back it makes things out there easier; not just for a couple players, but for everybody. You've got to worry about so many different players out there and it was a good job by everybody today."
(On the offense passing on 14 straight plays to open the game)
"Well, we prepared all week. We knew what they were going to do and I felt like we did a good job coming out and executing today."
(On how comfortable he is playing with the Patriots)
"I definitely feel comfortable out there just with all the guys. The offense is running smooth. I just want to make as many plays as I can when I'm out there and we were able to get the win today and do that."
(On signing his two-year contract extension with the Patriots)
"It feels good knowing those guys here believe in me and they want me for a couple more years, so I'm happy."
Jabaal Sheard, Defensive End
(On the Kansas City Chiefs)
"They're a good team. They're smart, they take their shots, but we did a good job of controlling them."
(On the fumble forced by Chandler Jones)
"The fumble was a huge play, big-play Chan. He's always making plays for us. It was a smart play by him, definitely."
(On losing Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo)
"We've got to keep playing. We've got to just go out there and do your job."
Matthew Slater, Wide Receiver
(On the keys to the team's continued success)
"I can give you two big reasons: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Obviously I think Mr. [Robert] Kraft plays a big part of that as well, but from there, there are probably a thousand other reasons with those three guys. They're a big reason why."
(On getting Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski back)
"It changes everything. Julian Edelman is a very unique player in this league and the things that he's able to do, inside and outside route running-wise, poses a lot problems. You're maybe looking at the tight end of, definitely his generation, but maybe the best tight end that's ever laced them up. Obviously that says a lot in itself."
(On what they expected from Kansas City)
"It's tough to say because this team was playing so well. A lot of credit to them for what they did this season; for battling back from 1-5. We knew it was going to be tough. We didn't know how the game was going to go. Obviously we've had some interesting injury situations and you never know how those are going to go. I think we were very fortunate today with the way everything went."