HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Postgame Press Conference
Saturday, January 4, 2020
BB: This is a game where we came up a little bit short, had our opportunities. Obviously a close game but just couldn't make enough plays tonight. It's always disappointing to end like this but it's the National Football League, we've just got to play a little bit better and we couldn't do it.
Q: What's your assessment of what your defense accomplished in the second half of the game allowing no points after half time and in the 2019 season in general?
BB: We gave up 14 points tonight but in this game, it was too much. Weren't able to get the ball back at the end. There were a lot of good things, but just not quite good enough tonight and that's what it was. I have a ton of respect for this football team, these guys competed all year, everybody, all three units. We played hard and just came up a little bit short tonight.
Q: There was a series of events mid-way through the fourth quarter when about two minutes came off the clock before the punt, what did you see there?
BB: We've talked about this before, it's the same thing we've talked about before, there's no change.
Q: You said before that there might be a loophole the NFL could close, any further thoughts on that?
Q: Do you anticipate the Patriots will bring back Tom Brady for the 2020 season?
BB: Right now we just finished the game, so we're focused on this game.
Q: What was the message to the players after the game?
BB: I'll keep that between me and the players like I always do.
Q: Offensively, what went wrong today?
BB: We just didn't make enough plays. We had some opportunities and just weren't able to score enough points. Thirteen wasn't enough.
Q: What did you change schematically in the second half to limit Tennessee's rushing game?
BB: The players did a good job. The players played well, played blocks well, we tackled a little better. Those players did a good job, it wasn't anything that dramatic.
Q: Your fans have stuck with you and the team through thick and thin, do you have any message for those fans?
BB: We appreciate our fans. I wouldn't say it's been all that thin around here, personally. Maybe you feel differently, but I haven't heard too many fans say that. Of course we appreciate our fans. We have a great relationship with them, they're here for us and we always try to perform our best so they can be proud of the way we perform.
Q: What were your thoughts on Derrick Henry's performance? What made him a tough matchup to go against?
BB: He ran hard.
Q: It looked like you played a lot of base defense early, is that the push-and-pull of defending them if you devote more to the box with him?
BB: No. They do a good job on the running game, they've got a good offensive line, he's a good back. You've got to defeat blocks and tackle them, that's what the game is against them.
Q: Did the Tennessee defense do anything surprising or that caught you off guard or do you think it was just a lack of execution on offense that couldn't put up more points today?
BB: They made some key plays in critical situations, in the red area, on third down. All those plays were probably the difference in the game.
Q: On the final punt of the game, there was nobody back there to catch it. What was the decision to leave that empty and not having someone possibly return it?
BB: I don't think there would have been a lot of big yardage on that, they were punting from the 50-yard line.
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
Postgame Press Conference
Saturday, January 4, 2020
Q: What are your thoughts on the game and your season coming to a close?
TB: Yeah. Just give them a lot of credit. They played good and kind of stopped us when they needed to a different points in the first half and the second half. Just weren't able to get the job done.
Q: I know you just game off the field, but what is your thought process on what you do next?
TB: Yeah, I just came off the field. You're right.
Q: In the first half, you had first-and-goal and ended up using two timeouts. What did you see as that series progressed and they got the stop?
TB: Yeah, we were just trying to get to our best play and I just give them credit. It was good job of executing by them on defense. Yeah, I wish we could have scored there, but they made the plays when they needed to.
Q: From your perspective, what have the factors been that have led to the offense not consistently performing and making plays when they have to?
TB: Well, I think anytime you lose games and don't produce the way you want, there's probably a lot of things. We all wish we could do a lot better. I certainly wish that I could do some things better, but we didn't. It's a results business, and it's about winning and losing and the more things you do right and well, the better chance you have to win. We just didn't do enough things right.
Q: Would you say tonight was a microcosm of the difficulties the offense had on third down and in the red zone throughout the regular season?
TB: I definitely think – in regards to tonight – third down and red area were a problem for us. I don't think those were particularly great areas – you're right – over the course of the season. So, yeah. It was just a tough way to end it tonight, and again, I give them a lot of credit. They made more plays than we did. If we want to win those games, we're going to have to do a better job.
Q: At this stage of your career and life, is it tougher to see your season end like this in the playoffs because you're running out of chances to win championships?
TB: I think we're all running out of time and chances every year that goes by. So, I don't think I'm the only one in that category in this room, or probably in any of these rooms.
Q: Do you have any message for the fans tonight?
TB: We and I personally appreciate everything that they've contributed over the course of not just this year, but a lot of years. Just very grateful for the experience of playing this year for this team, this organization, and over the course of my career, too. So, I appreciate it. I hope – I've always tried to do the right thing out there. Who knows what the future holds, so we'll leave it at that.
Q: Do you have a sense of if you'll be back with the Patriots in 2020, and do you want to be back with the Patriots in 2020?
TB: I love the Patriots. I mean, they obviously – this is the greatest organization, and playing for Mr. [Robert] Kraft all these years and for coach [Bill] Belichick – there's nobody that's had a better career, I would say, than me, just being with them. So, I'm very blessed and I don't know what the future looks like and I'm not going to predict it. So, I wish we would have won tonight and wish we would have done a lot of things better over the course of the season, but we just didn't get the job done.
Q: Is there any possibility you would retire after this offseason?
TB: I would say it's pretty unlikely, but – yeah, hopefully unlikely.
Q: What are you feeling emotionally at the moment? As a competitor, you were asked about retirement and your last throw was a pick-six, how did that one stick?
TB: That happens when you throw the ball. Wish it would have been a 99-yard touchdown. That would have been pretty cool, but it wasn't.
Q: What are you feeling in general?
TB: It's probably a lot of emotions, and again, I wish we would have won. Yeah, just disappointed that we didn't win.
Q: Even though tonight didn't go your way, you did win your 11th straight division title. As you're sorting through things in the offseason, will that be something that stays with you? Is that a reason to stay?
TB: Again, I don't want to get too much into the future and stuff. I mean, this team has fought hard. We battled every day, we tried to get better, we worked hard to improve and I was proud to be a part of this team. Not only this year, but every year. Again, I just don't know what's going to happen and I'm not going to predict it. No one needs to make choices at this point. I love playing football, I love playing for this team. I've loved playing for this team for two decades and winning a lot of games. And again, I don't know what it looks like moving forward, so we'll just take it day-by-day.
SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY
Postgame Press Conference
Saturday, January 4, 2020
Q: What do you have to say about what the Patriots defense accomplished throughout the season and the second half of this game, even though the season didn't exactly end the way you wanted it to?
DM: I think we'll look back, and there were some good things. Obviously, we did some good things. My 10th year – it's hard to look past the last game when you don't finish how you want. This was a season we did some things well, we played well in the second half, we didn't give up any points or whatever, but we needed to make a few more plays tonight and we didn't. So, I'm sure in a couple weeks and probably years to come understand how special the team, the defense, was, but I always say, teams aren't special unless you win the last game of the year. And if you don't, it's cool memories – the bonds will always be there. I love these guys in this locker room. I've been here 10 years, I've seen guys grow, I've grown as a man being here and it's been an honor to be a Patriot and play with these guys, but we just fell short today, and it's a sour taste right now.
Q: Have you given any thought to your future beyond tonight?
DM: We'll see. It will work itself out. I definitely see me playing football next year. I've had a lot of fun this year with this group of guys. Each year, we get young guys in here, get to stay in the locker room, mold this guys, tell them stories of my past 10 years and how much fun I've had. So, I can't see it happening me not playing football next year. So, I think over time, I'll take some time away from football and I think the rest will kind of work itself out. We'll see how that goes, but I definitely plan to be playing.
Q: Given the fact that your situation is uncertain and Tom Brady's situation is uncertain, what was the mood like? Did you guys rally around each other after the game for one final time?
DM: It's always the same. It's like a crash landing, man. You've got all your hopes you're playing and you know it's one game at a time, but everybody that makes the playoffs, you want to play well, you want to advance, and that's what you see. How you view everything – you view everything with playing well and winning and advancing, and when you don't, it's just over just like that. We've been very fortunate here to make it far in these playoffs, but we've had this feeling before, and this feeling is no different. It sucks. Like, there's no way to explain or tell it to you. Whether you're under contract in the future, if you're not under contract – like, I don't care about any of that in this moment. It just sucks.
Q: How big was the impact of losing Patrick Chung early in the game?
DM: Yeah, I mean, he's one of our key players. We were already playing without J-Mac [Jason McCourty], and then losing Pat, Pat's always an integral part of our defensive plan. We lose him and guys just have to rotate and fill the different roles he has. So, we've had to play without him a couple times this year, so guys were able to do it. But, Pat's a great player, and whenever you don't have good players out there, it's always tougher. But this team, we battled, we fought, no excuses. But, I've been out there with Pat for most of my career. So, being able to play with him out there, whether I was a corner or a safety, it's just been a lot of fun playing with him. So, losing him tonight in a big game, it always sucks.
Q: You guys have won so many of these close games. Even when things aren't going well or it feels like things are slipping away, do you still expect to win? Is it an odd feeling when you don't win a game like this?
DM: Yeah, but I think everyone does. I know since we've won a lot, I think the outside looking in, I think everyone feels like we expect to win and other teams don't. But, I think everyone expects to win. Especially, you talk about throughout the game, it was 14-13. I'm sure they expected to win, just like we do. We're talking about a one-point game. And, when it came down to it, they made the key plays to win the game and we didn't. That's what it is in the playoffs. You know, all these games – tomorrow, next week – they'll all be the same. It will be whatever team makes a few key plays to win the game, and that's how it will go because all these teams are good right now and everyone's fighting to survive.
Q: You start the season 8-0 as defending Super Bowl Champions, and then you went 4-5 over the last nine games. In your mind, what happened from part one to part two of the season?
DM: We've had that happen before, and it's not a good way to finish the season. We just didn't get it done. I think each game kind of played different but kind of played the same when you looked at our performance. No matter what the teams did against us, it felt like our performance and the way we played was very similar. And I'm sure when we look at this game, it will be kind of similar – not complementing each other, us getting a stop and our offense not being able to convert, or our offense having a big drive and us being able to go three-and-out or get a turnover to kind of get things rolling for us. And when you look at all the games, at times in the game, we had a chance. You talk about Baltimore – we get a key turnover, they score, it kind of made the game out. But at that point, it was a close game. Houston – it was back-and-forth, they make a couple deep throws, it kind of ends that. With Kansas City, we're back-and-forth. They convert a drive, we don't, and then the game's over. Miami – they score on the last play with 30-something seconds. So, I think you take from that that we're always in the game, but we've got to find a way. Years we've won, we've been in similar type of games, but we found ways to win. We were able to do it Saturday against Buffalo. That was a game that was very similar to a lot of the games, but we made the plays to win, and when you don't, it's just a sour taste. I think that's what happened for us the back half of the year. We just didn't make the plays to win the game. In the early half of the year, we didn't have that. We had a lot of blowouts, we had games that weren't as close, but we know the whole year – Bill [Belichick] talks about it all the time – big games come down to two-minute drives, offense or defense, either having to score or having to get a stop. We didn't do that enough this year.
Q: Obviously, the Titans came into this game with a well-balanced offense. It looked like you guys made some changes in the second half to slow down their running game, but was your focus in the early portion of the game to keep that passing offense sort of in check?
DM: No, we always have different ways to attack, but I would say every game we go into, we try to make the game one-dimensional; we try to shut down the run. We just had different ways of trying to get there. We knew their play-action was key, so even sometimes it looked like two-high [safeties], we were dropping down in it. We knew they were a team – [Ryan] Tannehill's a smart guy, they've played against us, we didn't want to just line up in things and make it easy, but we knew we had to stop the run. Even when we got stops, we didn't do it enough. Some drives, when we were able to get them in third-and-5-plus, we were able to play well. But when we didn't, they were able to make some plays and that created long drives, which we couldn't get off the field.
Q: Looking back, what have you guys been able to do to be so consistent at an elite level for so long?
DM: Just hard work. I look across in that locker room, we've got a lot of guys that I feel are like myself, just humble, hard-working guys. Coming out of high school – I've said it plenty of times – one offer. I think we have so many guys with chips on their shoulder that come into this league, starting with our best player – Brady, sixth rounder – and so many guys that just want to grind and get better and try to be the best we can be. I look over my 10 years, that's what it was, coming here as a rookie and having great success then not as well the second year, but just continuing to fight and try to get better. This is a close-knit group of guys in that locker room. You guys know, we get written about all the time, good or bad. It's always something about the Patriots. This group is close, we've always stuck together, we've always had each other's back. I think that's given us a chance to have success. We worry about the guys inside this meeting room when we come in here each and every morning. That's what we worry about. We worry about going and winning, sacrificing for our family, and that's just the way it is here. No matter who's here, that won't stop. Incredible leadership from Mr. [Robert] Kraft to Coach [Bill] Belichick, just all the way down. It's been an honor to be here and to suit up for 10 years and do that. And then to be a leader, I've never thought myself to be that way, and now, looking back 10 years of being a leader and trying to lead a group of men – it's been tough but it's been an incredible honor.
Q: What have your interactions with Tom Brady been like this year? Do you see a man who's going to continue to play football, and do you think that it would be here?
DM: I just was in here when he was talking. I don't know his future. That's really on him, but I will say, from my second year being able to be a captain and sitting in those meetings and just hearing how he looks at the game, not just from a quarterback position but overall the game and hearing his input each week when we got ready to go on Friday mornings taught me a lot as a leader. [It] taught me a lot from just understanding the game of football and how he looked at the game and the dedication and the preparation he put in. I got to learn that from Friday mornings at 7 a.m. for nine years straight, I got to do that. Just the conversations I've had with him throughout the years has made me a better player. It's hard to imagine Tom not playing football; it's hard to imagine him not playing here. But, like you just said, the business of football is what it is, but no matter what, in my 10 years here to be able to learn from him and go against him, and from time to time intercept him at practice, has made me a way better player. I've appreciated everything he's done for me and trying to help me out along the way.
Q: Last year you celebrated your third title with your brother Jason [McCourty]. How disappointing was it, personally, with the injury problems that he has had this season and not being able to be on the field today?
DM: It's tough. He's been doing everything possible to try to get out there. He's done a lot of things that aren't the easiest things to do, to go through pain to try to get back out there. He went out there against Kansas City and then tried to take a week off and do some things and then get back out there against Buffalo, and it just didn't go his way this year. I could see the frustration on his face as he stayed in it, supporting each one of us, being really a coach on the sideline, how much he wanted to be out there tonight. He said it to me, it's just frustrating. I've learned a lot from him, even though I'm the older brother, just how much he puts into it throughout his career of just hard work and playing on some teams that didn't do well. I know it sucks for him. He's been a huge impact on this team from last year and this year, so not having him out there, it hurt. Especially personally, for me, how much fun we've had the last two years. Like we talked about earlier, you can't take that away from us. It's been an incredible journey. Two guys who went into high school 120 pounds, being able to play 10-plus years in this league has been a lot of fun.
Q: As a captain, do you get a sense that this year there are more question marks or that there is potential for more turnover as you head into the new season than there was in the past?
DM: Yeah, probably because a lot of the guys are older now. A lot of guys that have been here for a while. We've been here for a while – Slate [Matthew Slater] 12 years, Tom [Brady] 20, myself 10, [Dont'a] Hightower eight, Jules [Julian Edelman] 11, [Patrick] Chung 11. We've had guys that have been here, which you usually don't see on teams, but we've had a lot of guys stay here for years. Nate Ebner's been here for eight years, Duron Harmon seven years. We've had a lot of guys stay and play here for a lot of years. [Marcus] Cannon, another guy – nine years. I think, as you have a core group of guys that are now 30-plus, that always has question marks. Are we going to be as good? Are we going to retire? All of those questions continuously come up and I think it's important to just take some time away, be with our families and figure out the situation going forward, just like I know all the Patriots will do the same thing. It's been fun. We've got a good group of guys. Slate said it the best after the game. This doesn't define us. We've had a good group, we've had some very good runs, great runs, and we've just got to hold our heads up and get ready for whatever the future holds.
PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM
Phillip Dorsett II, WR
(On if he thought they were going to come away with a win at the end of the game)
"You always got to be confident. You got to be confident. We've been through so much in my three years here. Tom [Brady] has seen it all and this offense has seen it all. We stayed confident, but we didn't get it done."
(On being a part of the Patriots)
"It's been an amazing ride in my three years here. It's definitely been a blessing. I've met some people that I'm going to have relationships with for a lifetime. I got a chance to play for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. I got a chance to just be a part of it, part of the mystique, everything here, to be a Patriot. It's been amazing, but who knows what the future holds."
(On if there was anything specific that made this year feel different compared to past years)
"I can't point out certain times. We were still a 12-4 football team. We were still a pretty good football team. We've won some good games and we lost some bad games. At the end of the day, we fought, we played hard and we never gave up. That's what I'm most proud of."
(On what it is like to play with Tom Brady)
"It's meant everything. It's been amazing. It's been a long ride and an amazing ride. It's a blessing. A lot of people can't sit here and say that they've caught touchdown passes from Tom Brady. I'm one of them. There's a lot of people that come through this league and I know there's a lot of people that would love to have chance to play with him. I was one of them, so it's been a blessing."
Stephon Gilmore, CB
(On the game)
"We gave it all we got. They were the better team today, they made more plays then we did. We fought to the end. They just came out on top."
(On his emotion after the game)
"Disappointment. We came into this game trying to win. So we came up short, but we fought. I'm proud of my teammates and proud of the way we fought."
(On the defense's performance this season)
"It was good. We played good at times. I think we were one of the top defenses, but that doesn't matter. We came up short as a team and that's the only thing that matters."
(On Derrick Henry)
"We knew he is a great back. He has good vision. He is tough to bring down. He had a big day. We had opportunities we just didn't take advantage of it."
(On Tom Brady's future and one thing he'll remember about him)
"I don't know. That is his decision to make. One thing I'll remember is his work ethic. Him coming to work every day and pushing himself no matter how great he is, he'll still push himself. It rubs off on everybody, it rubs off on me. So I'm just happy to be a part of it."
Jonathan Jones, DB
(On changes to the roster next season)
"Change is inevitable. But we keep going, we fight. Whatever the team looks like next year, that will be the team. Every year is different. This year is different, last year was different; every team has been different. So we just have to continue and move forward to next year."
(On Tom Brady's future)
"I don't know. It's his free agency, his choice, his decision. He'll do what is best for him."
(On second-half adjustments)
"We did a good job of disguising. I think we kept them off balance. I just think as a team we didn't get it done."
(On Derrick Henry)
"He is a good back. He's big, physical, agile for a big guy. We weren't able to get it done, we weren't able to tackle him."
Ted Karras, OL
(On some calling this the end of an era)
"People can say what they want, but I know for one thing that this team and these guys in here are always going to work hard. We have such great leadership and such great men that I don't think a year is going to change that. People can speculate all they want and it was a tough way to end 2019 and the start of 2020, but it is what it is."
(On Tom Brady being a free agent)
"Yes, I am also a free agent for the first time so I can only speak for myself. There are a lot of unknowns as this is a business, but I am so thankful for these last four years that have been incredible and the absolute pleasure of a lifetime to be looking back and give thanks. Whatever happens, happens. It is a big business, so we will see in March."
(On how he feels with the way the season ended)
"I have given it my all and it is a tough way to leave this year, but I have so much admiration and respect for this team. I love a lot of these men dearly with all my heart."
Matthew Slater, WR
(On some calling this the end of an era)
"You know, there are two ways to approach that. I am of the belief that you can spend your entire life trying to seek the approval of man and no matter what you do it is never going to be good enough. No matter what you accomplish, there is always going to be someone there who is doubting you, questioning you or saying you are not good enough. So if you spend your life seeking the approval of man, it is going to be a long tough life for you, but if you spend your life standing on your own two feet, believing in things that you believe in, not worrying about things that you can't control and not seeking the approval of man, but hoping to serve your family, the ones you love, investing in relationships, love those that love you and even love those that don't love you, then you'll be a lot better off. I encourage all of these guys to ignore that because we don't need the approval of anyone else outside of this room. I think that we have already proven ourselves as men and ultimately that is all that is going to matter. It is great to go out and compete on the football field and give it everything that we have, but I do believe that the things that we stand for in light of eternity are much bigger than the game of football."
(On playing with Tom Brady)
"It has been the experience of a lifetime. He does things the right way and has all the success in the world, but still remains himself. I think that says a lot about who he is as a man and, like I said, ultimately I care more about that than him being a six-time champion. I am proud to call him a friend and thankful for everything he has taught me as a football player, but also as a man."
(On how he feels about the way the season ended)
"Certainly when the season doesn't end the way that you want it to, it is like a crash landing. It is very emotional. You put a lot into this, spend a lot of time away from your family, spend a lot of time in pain, you spend a lot of time in this locker room investing in relationships and really you never want to see it end. But the reality is that it is going to end like this for all but one team and unfortunately this year we aren't that team."
(On what his football future holds)
"You know, I have to pray about that. I am not going to do anything that I don't feel like God is calling me to do, but I would certainly still love to play and enjoy the competition and comradery. I am just going to be praying about it and we will take it from there."
Kyle Van Noy, LB
(On his teammates)
"What a blessing it is to come to work with a group of guys that check their egos at the door. Not many places have that. With how much success some of the guys in the locker room have had, from Tom [Brady], to [Matthew] Slater, to [Dont'a] Hightower, you know multi Super Bowl winners, to check that ego each and every day, it's a humbling experience to be able to work with guys like that. I love them all and they know that."
(On what makes it different playing for the Patriots compared to other teams)
"A lot of other places, they care about stats, who gets the ball, who's winning plays and all of that. We're just focused on one goal and unfortunately we came up short to that goal tonight."
(On if there was one specific factor that led to the team falling short this season)
"Tonight, it was 14-13. Just little things and it's disappointing. Credit to the Titans, they had a good game plan and they executed it just enough to win."
Ben Watson, TE
(On not being the last team standing when you're usually expected to be)
"You're right. Every team, all 32, start off with one goal in mind. There are 31 teams that don't make it. Only one team will hoist the trophy, unfortunately we won't be. We played a really good football team today and they beat us. They deserved to win, and that is all you can say. That's why we play the game. We line up against our opponent, we play as well as we can. They were the better team."
(On how much he appreciated being able to return to the team he started with)
"It was special. It definitely was special. Obviously you have a storybook ending in your mind of course, so that is hard. Reconnecting with some of those guys and really seeing how everybody has grown so much. Matthew [Slater] was young, he was a rookie, and now he is one of the leaders on the team. He is inspiring guys to not only be great football players, but to be great husbands and fathers and men. He is challenging guys to be men. He's setting a tremendous example for the team. It is really cool to see his maturation over the decade that I have been gone. It's a testament to him. Obviously he is still playing at a very high level but he's investing in men and I'm so proud of him for that especially."
(On what the future holds for him going forward)
"You know, it's difficult. I love playing this game, but there is a time when you definitely have to move on. Definitely won't be back here next year probably and probably won't be playing at all. It's something I tried doing before and it didn't work. There is only so much your body can take and so much you can put your family through before you want to settle down and figure out what the next chapter of your life is going to be. We're going to talk about it of course and make family decisions. It's been a great run and it has been really special to be back here and special to have the opportunity to play the game."
James White, RB
(On their inability to score from the 1-yard line on three straight tries and how it changed the game's momentum)
"I mean, we have just got to find a way to get in the end zone as an offense. We still had plenty of time to make plays after that drive. We just didn't do enough. Credit to the Titans, they are a great football team."
(On how it feels to not be the last team standing)
"It's not a good feeling obviously. We all wanted more out of this season. We fell short of our goals and whatnot. We can't hang our head. It was a good football team and a lot of good memories from this year."
(On losing four out of six games down the stretch and what changed over the last six weeks of the season)
"I don't know. It's not just one thing. We weren't playing our best football and we all know that is kind of the time when we are supposed to. We didn't play our best football and it came back to bite us."
(On being a team that is known for making comebacks and if they thought they were going to pull it off tonight)
"We always have confidence in whatever situation we are in. Whether we're up 10, down 10, up 40 or down 40. Whatever it is, everybody has complete confidence in trying to go out there and win the football game. I think everybody still had belief in us."