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New England Patriots Postgame Quotes 10/17

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Mac Jones and select players comment on their 29-35 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, October 17, 2021.


October 17, 2021

BB: It was a tough one to lose tonight. Yeah, it was a good football team. Give Dallas credit. They're a good team. They're well-coached. I know we just came up a little bit short. Thought that we went toe to toe with them for 60 minutes and we just couldn't – they just made a few more plays than we did, so give them credit for that. We'll move on.

Q: If you could describe a little bit of those emotional swings from Mac Jones, the 75-yard touchdown pass. What was that like to be in those final few minutes?

BB: I don't know, it's like the final few minutes of any close game. Try to make good decisions, try to help your team win.

Q: The Cowboys ran 82 plays on offense tonight through overtime. How physically taxing against an offense like Dallas is it to defend that many plays and then go into overtime for a defense to go through?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. They're a good team, and that's what you've got to do. Got to stop them.

Q: I know you're not much for moral victories. What do you say to the guys after a tough loss like that?

BB: Yeah, like we do – every week is the same. Play the game, correct the mistakes, turn the page and move on.

Q: I think 0-4 for the first time since 1993, not winning at home, how tough is that for you guys?

BB: I just answered that question.

Q: All year long your defense has been touted at your strength. What did the Cowboys do exactly to put up the most points you've let up all season?

BB: Yeah, well, they got six of them in overtime, so they're a good offense. They're one of the top two offenses in the league.

Q: What did Rhamondre Stevenson show you the last couple weeks to have him be a little bit more involved in the offense?

BB: Yeah, all the backs are involved. We had three backs today and they were all involved.

Q: How much of a difference was Dak Prescott in this game, just his ability to kind of stretch plays out?

BB: Yeah, he did a good job. There was a lot of times where I thought we had him covered pretty well, but he was able to extend some plays and made some great throws. They have very good skill players.

Q: What went into the decision before the half to kneel the clock out there?

BB: Because we were getting the ball the start of the second half.

Q: What did you think of the pass rush tonight as a whole?

BB: You know, there's always room for improvement. Again, the quarterback was a hard guy to get. In the end – they have a good passing game, and they were probably a little better than we were today.

Q: What did you see break down on that blocked punt in the first half?

BB: We missed an assignment.

Q: On that final play in overtime, what did you see? How did CeeDee Lamb end it there?

BB: Yeah, I mean, I was kind of on the other side of the field, so I'll wait until I see it on film. We covered a flat receiver and then he just on the over route with another extended play. Obviously didn't play it well enough, didn't coach it well enough.

Q: How did momentum switch for the Cowboys following that Randy Gregory strip sack? Seemed like your group was moving the ball pretty efficiently up until that point.

BB: How did what?

Q: Following the strip sack, the offense punted the next five straight series. How did that play, and did that play – impact the play calling?

BB: I don't know, there was a lot of other plays in there. I don't think that play affected the other plays. Shouldn't have.


October 17, 2021

Q: Can you just talk about the emotional night, especially late in that game, throwing the pick, then coming back, the 75-yard touchdown, what it was like for you, the highs and lows?

MJ: Yeah, I think that's the ebbs and flows of football. You've just got to play the next play and do your job to the best of your ability. I left some plays on the field, but it is what it is.

In the NFL it takes maybe three or four bad plays and you lose the game. The margin of error is very slim, and I guess when I have that feeling that something might be going bad, just throw it away, call a time-out or figure it out and just try not to make a bad play worse, so I could have done that tonight better. I think the people around me played really well and we fought really hard, and sometimes you fall short.

Q: Do you feel like you were affected by the strip sack at all? Looked like you guys were moving the ball pretty well before that moment, and not being able to get it going until late in the game.

MJ: Yeah, I think just you want to try and get in a rhythm. We did that sometimes during the game, but we've got to just play complementary football better, and the offense has to complement the defense, and special teams has to be involved in it, as well. I left a lot of plays on the field, but we did fight hard. When you look at the big picture, you never want to say you're close, and it's hard to do that, but the games that we've lost we've been two or three plays away, and I guess it's just how the NFL works, and I'm learning that the hard way.

But we can't hang our heads, we just have to come back tomorrow, get up early and come back to work.

Q: You throw the pick six, then the next play you come out and hit Kendrick Bourne for the touchdown. Kendrick said you have the ability to forget. How tough is it to forget and go forward after a play like that?

MJ: Yeah, I think when I watch the film, I always want to find ways I can do something better, and I'm sure there was something I could do better on a lot of plays, and that play was one of them. You've just got to play the next play and you're only as good as your last play.

At the same time, you've got to move on and just execute the play that's called. I could do that better, and I will, and we can't just hang our heads. We've got to keep working, and no one is going to feel sorry for ourselves because that never works. You can get humbled every week, and you've just got to move on to the next week, and we'll be ready to play next week.

Q: You mentioned earlier it's good to get in a rhythm. It looked like early on you guys had some bigger people on the field, it looked like you guys were in a pretty good rhythm offensively. How comfortable did you feel in those situations, and would you like to maybe even use those packages a little bit more over the course of the game?

MJ: Yeah, I think that's just Josh [McDaniels] doing a great job scheming them up. He's a great play caller and he puts us in good positions where our numbers are in our favor. We've just got to execute the game plan, whether it's whatever personnel we put out there, just do a good job of executing, and I think it just goes to show that it's one or two plays or maybe a little bit more than that that if you slip up, whatever the situation is, then you'll lose, and I think we're learning that the hard way, but we can't hang our head. We've just got to keep playing and stay positive and try not to focus on results and just learn from every experience we have and not feeling sorry for ourselves.

Q: Can you take us through that third down play in overtime, the ball on the outside? What did you see on that play?

MJ: Yeah, I mean, they overloaded. They tried to bring a little overload look. I've just got to stick to my rules and read out the coverage. When I look at the tape, I'll really digest it and see what happened, but at that point you just try and make a smart play and give whoever has the one-on-one a chance when it's a little bit of a funky look. In the moment maybe call a time-out or whatever the situation may be, just figure out how to make a positive play, and we'll look at it and watch it and make an adjustment there.

Q: It looked like the defender got a facemask on Nelson. Were you expecting a penalty to be called on the play?

MJ: Yeah, it's football, it's bang-bang, but when it's one-on-one, things happen, and it's not my job to throw the flag. You know, you've just got to stick to my rules and stick to my keys, and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't. You can't blame everything on the refs or anything. They call their game, and we have to execute our game plan. It's an it-is-what-it-is situation and we just have to move on and find ways to not be in that position where we can be ahead and we don't have to be in that position.

Q: You said earlier you just have to -- you execute the play that's called. When Josh called that play after the pick six, were you excited when you got the play call? Did it show you something that here's the ball, go for it right away? Walk me through a little bit if you can what that was like.

MJ: Yeah, I think you hit the reset button and stick to my rules and stick to what I've been taught. You can't feel sorry for yourself, and sometimes it's out of your control or sometimes it's completely your fault. I wish I could have done things differently to where we weren't even in that position. I just have to watch the tape and learn from it. It's not the first pick six I'll throw and it's not going to be the last, so I have to learn how to bounce back and play the next play.

Q: But you did that; were you excited? You had to at least in that moment feel pretty good about doing that.

MJ: Yeah, I mean, just like I said, next-play mentality. Whatever they call, I execute it and give everybody a chance to execute the play. That's going to happen a lot more hopefully in my career where you have a bad play and you come back and you make a good one. So it's not always going to be perfect. You've got to dodge the ebbs and flows and just play the next play.

Q: On the strip sack, was that the hardest you've ever been hit in your career? What was it like trying to get up and compose yourself after that?

MJ: No, it wasn't, and I've just got to get up and jog off the field. That's part of the game. I could have got the ball out quicker, and that's on me. I'll watch the film and figure out ways I can, A, get the ball out quicker or figure out ways to get it out or change the play or whatever. I'll talk about that with the offense and find ways to where if I know it's a look that we don't want how we can change it or whatever, but it's part of the game, and I don't think that hit -- of course it hurts, but you've just got to get up and play the next play. It's part of football, and that's the fun part.


October 17, 2021

(On the loss)

"That's football. That's playing a good football team. That's what games are like. It sucks. It sucks. I thought we battled and did some things really well and had some good drives and responded well to some things and showed some mental toughness and then, a few plays here or there, but that's how it goes in this league. There's not a big margin for error."

(On how hard it is to not have a win at home yet)

"Yes. It does not feel good to not have a win at home. It doesn't feel good to lose anywhere though."

(On Mac Jones' 75-yard touchdown pass)

"Guts. He's got some guts. He's got some gusto. Talk about mental toughness. Toughness. How do you respond any better than what he just did? We needed a play and we got one from him."

(On how the offensive line has responded to constant turnover)

"Yeah, I think we did some things well. Obviously, the turnover drive that cost us. Thought Big Mike [Onwenu] showed some toughness getting out there after not being out there and going through what he had to go through. We just got it going a little bit. Got the run game going. Kind of played how we want to play. As an offensive lineman, running the football and doing some things like that, you really feel like you can impact the game there. We've just got to keep improving and that's what we'll do this week. That's the only thing. I know to do it, to hold my guys accountable for and myself and come in and put it behind us and go back to work. That's really all I've ever known. That's what we'll try to do."

(On message to Mac Jones following the sack by Randy Gregory)

"We just have to go make another play. Go back out there and do our job. It happens. Got to do better, can't allow that to happen. Great play by him, but we have to be better. That happens in football. There's ups and downs. They obviously had turnovers. We had turnovers, just have to respond. Got to be better, can't allow that to happen."

(On what caused their overtime drive to stall)

"I have to go back and watch the film. Obviously, didn't execute enough. Maybe ask me this week. I can go back and watch the film and give you a better answer."

(On if he sees this loss as a building block for the team)

"I think you can learn a lot from things. We've just got to keep moving forward. There was some good in the game. There's obviously not enough good to win the game so we've just got to move on and go back to work."


October 17, 2021

(On forcing the fumble on the goal line)

"Really kind of an instinctual thing. Defense did a good job on the goal line on previous plays. It was time to make a play. That was the opportunity. It came up so we had to make one."

(On last four minutes of regulation and overtime)

"The game went down to the wire. Great team, give them all the credit. They made some big time plays in clutch moments."

(On how to make sure this loss doesn't turn into more than it is)

"Come back to work tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then Sunday will be here before you know it. That's all you can do regardless of win or loss. You have to come back in here and work. That's our approach, that's been our approach and that's going to continue to be our approach. We've got to fill the tank back up and get ready to go."

(On the mood in the locker room and Coach Belichick's message after the game)

"We all are processing it. But obviously we all are professionals, and we have to move on to the next game. We've got to change our mindset and get ready to go."

(On trying to pressure Dak Prescott)

"The offensive line did pretty good. He was able to keep himself moving around a bit. He made plays when he had the opportunity to. Kudos to him for making plays in those moments."


October 17, 2021

(On roller coaster of emotions between Trevon Diggs' interception return touchdown and his 75-yard touchdown catch)

"Just trying to keep my head in the game. It was a crazy play, crazy sequence. I was just trying to keep my head in the game and not point fingers. I blame myself [for the interception]. I looked at it as what I could have done better? We still had plenty of time for another chance and I'm just grateful we had another chance."

(On Coach Belichick's message to the team after the game)

"The last few weeks we've been having close games and we are still trying to find ourselves. He said it was a tough loss, we fought hard and fought to the end. It's just all about our mindset. Are we going to come in here tomorrow with a positive attitude for the future or are we going to come in here and fold? We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror and see what we have to do to fix it. We had a good start and just didn't finish well. It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish."

(On his touchdown catch)

"We actually hit that in practice. It was a good play and [Mac Jones]threw a good ball. I don't know what happened at the line, but I saw the ball in the air and I made the play, but it just wasn't enough."


October 17, 2021

(On how he's feeling following tonight's game)

"I am feeling fine physically, but obviously we didn't win the game which is most important, so I'm a little down about that. The good thing is that I know we have a good team, great players, great coaches, staff and a great organization, so if we keep coming in every single day and continue to work hard, we will be able to turn this thing around."

(On how emotional the game felt)

"It was an emotional rollercoaster and that is just the way it goes sometimes. Ultimately, they ended up making a couple more plays than we did which is a tough feeling, but like I said, I have a lot of confidence in our team and the people in this organization. We are going to let this be behind us and when we come in, we are going to focus on moving forward for the rest of the season."

(On the strong sense of confidence he has in his teammates)

"First of all, I don't think there is any other way to do it. If you come in here negative, don't believe in yourself and the guys that you are going to battle with every day, you don't really have a good recipe for success anyways. Especially with this team and organization, we have a team of hardworking guys who just put their heads down and grind which is what this organization is built on. We have guys who just come in and do the right thing all of the time, play hard, work hard and that is really the way it is around here. The coaches coach us hard and give it everything they have because in the same way, they have a job to do, the players have a job to do. I know that everyone comes in and does their best, so if we keep doing that, keep being us and keep moving forward, we are all confident that we can turn this thing around."


October 17, 2021

(On what the defense can do to close games out when the opportunity presents itself)

"Just that. We have got to close it out. Our offense went back out there and scored. They put us back up and gave us the lead and we've got to do our job. We've got to watch the film and we've got to execute and then practice those situations. We already practice those situations, so we just have to take practice into the game and get that big stop for our team."

(On what his mindset is when they need to make a stop on the goal line)

"My mindset is to defend every blade of grass. Just because the guy is on the goal line doesn't mean that they score here. We know on the goal line that players get a little loose with the ball, especially when they are trying to get over. They try to extend, and we just try to punch it out. Ja'Whaun Bentley made one heck of a play and when you defend every blade of grass, it's a game of inches. That's what you have to do, you have to defend every blade of grass."

(On what he thinks he can do to this week to help the team move forward in a positive way)

"I'm going to come and be myself. As I said earlier, I am myself every day. I want to be even-keeled and be myself. I want to laugh, joke and come out here and have fun, but we have to execute. I'm going to still be me, but we have to make sure we execute."


October 17, 2021

(On the ups and downs of the game and his message to the team after the loss)

"Just got to keep fighting. There's nothing to say tonight, it's disappointing. We played our heart out there, guys fought. To fall on the other side, to lose the game is just tough. I think everybody needs to just go, get away tonight and when we come back in here, have a mindset ready to go. There's nothing we can do about it but tonight hurt, tonight's disappointing. A back-and-forth game, we wanted to win that and we played well enough, we just didn't make enough plays at the end to win it. That's just disappointing."

(On the last touchdown play to CeeDee Lamb)

"We were in a tough call for the route they ran. They dialed up a good play for what we tried to do, kind of situational football. What they like to do, we tried to take it away. Dak [Prescott] was able to hold it for another second. We kind of took the first two reads, the two tight ends to the flat on our left side, but an extended play, he got to kind of get back to the middle. That's where we were kind of light at and that was it."

(On the fact that the team hasn't won a game at home this year after being so good at home in the past)

"It is what it is. I say it all the time, everything in the past has nothing to do with this year. I don't think anybody thinks about the 2004 team and says, "Man, it was tough in '04 we have got to go there now in '21." It just is what it is. We are the 2021 Patriots who haven't won at home. The past doesn't matter, what those guys did in the past won't help us. We just had to make a few plays at the end. It's not like we're coming in here at home and have no shot to win. All of these games, even the Saints game, it came down to a couple of plays that we're not finishing and we're falling short."

(On what he saw on the 24-yard pass on third and 25 to set up the game-tying field goal)

"We'll watch it, but we're banged up, it's tough. You would want more DBs in but you guys could see, it was tough. [Jonathan] Jones was in and out, [Adrian Phillips] went down for a second, [Justin Bethel] went down for a second, it was just tough. A play we try to practice just wasn't executed well enough. That play was tough though."

(On the defense being on the field for nearly 40 minutes and if fatigue was a factor)

"I think we'll probably see it better when we watch the film, but we were out there a lot. I mean 40 minutes, but we condition a lot, we run a lot in practice. I think when we watch the film we'll see if that was a factor. That's what's tough, we don't know how these games are going to go on Sunday. That's why we train the way we train – to be able to be in these games and finish them. Like I said, a little bit better on that play changes the game. Just a little bit better where we don't give up 24 yards on third and 25. I think we have just got to be ready to go next week. Focus on the things we did well and fix some of those small things and that will be the difference in winning these close, tough games."


(On Kyle Dugger's interception)

"Well at first I thought I was going to be able to pick it and then I was like, "Nah. Let's just break it up." I saw it go in the air and I was just trying to make sure the receiver didn't get it and I turned back, and I saw him catch it and start running out and I'm like "Okay. Well, he made a play. Let's try and go block." Told him I was just trying to get down there and try to help him block"

(On the mindset he has about his role)

"For me, personally, I always try to prepare during the week that something could happen that I might be the next guy up. So, I try to take each week like if something happens, be ready for whatever that role might be. It just happened that I had to come in this week when [Jonathan] Jones was down and had to do what I've been working for all week."

(On if close games are a sign that they are a good team)

"I think we are a good team. I think we're a good team with a bad record right now. There haven't been games where we're not in the running. We're always one play here, one play there. We've just got to keep working, go back to work this week, and find a way to win those close games."

(On how he keeps himself ready for playing opportunities)

"Just during the week, working on scout team, working on plays, just doing what I can to make sure that if something comes in, I'm ready for it."

(On what the issue was on blocked punt)

"I have no clue. As a gunner, I'm just trying to get the returner down."

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