HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, November 24, 2019
BB: It’s really good to be able to stand up here after a win today. You know, that’s a real good football team we played. The Cowboys are – they’re tough. They’re tough in every way, and they’ve got a lot of good players. They’re well-coached, a smart-situation team. They just – they’re tough. But, I’m really proud of our guys. We had a lot of guys step up today, played well and made enough plays in all three phases of the game. Got plays in the kicking game, offensively, defensively. Really played a complementary game, the way we need to play it against a good football team like this. I was really proud of the way the guys stood up and came through. We were missing a few key players, and we had a couple of guys that were playing, I’m sure, well less than 100%, but really sucked it up, and played hard for the team and gave us a great effort tonight. So, it was certainly a game that was a lot about field position, and we had pretty good field position. Probably the better part of the field position in the game. So, that was important in all areas. So, that was a big key to the game for us, and of course, taking care of the ball was critical. Not turning it over and handling things well. The conditions were challenging out there, but Tom [Brady], the receivers, the backs did a great job, specialists. I mean, they all did a good job and in less-than-ideal conditions. So, I think anytime you get through a game like that and take care of the football, that’s objective number one. So, that was good. Good to win.
Q: How much of an impact does wind, the temperature and precipitation play on the offense, particularly in the passing game with attempts to get the ball downfield?
BB: Yeah, I think anywhere on the field was hard. The ball’s wet, your hand’s wet, the field was a little slick and the wind was a factor. I don’t know that any one of them were just unplayable, but when you add them all up together, it just made it very challenging. The wind kind of came and went. It’d gust a little bit and then it would calm down. Same thing with the rain – at times it was a little steadier and then it seemed like it let up a little bit, but it was just continuous throughout the day. But yeah, I can’t say enough positive things about the way our skill players handled that, and defensively it’s a big challenge tackling, especially against a great back like [Ezekiel] Elliott, or [Dak] Prescott, or guys like that. They’re all wet, you’re all wet, it’s hard to grab ahold of anything and be a good tackling team. I thought we tackled pretty well today. We made some plays where they came up short of the first down because we tackled well. So that was, again, it was challenging, but our guys did a good job.
Q: Can you talk about how the rookie receivers, Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry, stepped up with others out?
BB: Yeah, they stepped up. They had a couple big plays. Again, not perfect, we’ve still got a long way to go. I think they’re learning every time they step on the field, whether it’s practice field, game field, or even walkthrough, but certainly they made plays today that we needed to win. There weren’t a lot of points scored, and they were involved in either the field position, or the actual scoring of it, that N’Keal had. So yeah, they did a nice job.
Q: How big was that blocked punt?
BB: Yeah, probably the difference in the game, really, when you come right down to it. I thought that Joe Judge and Cam [Achord], we had a real aggressive approach in the kicking game today, and we were trying to challenge the ball handling and I thought we did a good job of that. Forced some tough catches with their specialists, and the blocked punt obviously was a huge field-position play. Enabled us to play from ahead, and that was a good thing.
Q: Did the improved pass protection today allow you to feel comfortable emptying the backfield for Tom late in the fourth quarter?
BB: Yeah, well again, we mixed some runs in there. We had some, I would say, some success running the ball, some moderate success. But, I mean, you can’t just line up and pound it away against these guys. They’re too good. So, we mixed the running game and the passing game. They both came through for us in the fourth quarter at various points where we really needed it, and we have obviously a lot of confidence in Tom, and then the receivers we put out there. He made good decisions and we were able to convert some short passes into first downs, and eventually be able to gain enough yardage to kick the field goal to make it a seven-point game. But yeah, we certainly have a lot of confidence in Tom and his ability to handle any conditions.
Q: How did you feel about the way Sony Michel played today?
BB: Sony’s played well all year. I think he’s played well all year.
Q: Is there a timing element with him and the offensive line that was a little bit better today?
BB: I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, look, we had some good plays, they had some plays. They’re a tough defense, they’re hard to run against. We chipped away and hammered out a few runs, but they got us a few times, too. So, a couple big runs at the end. That was obviously key in the final outcome of the game, but they’re tough to run against and certainly they made some plays. But, in the end I think we were able to at least keep them off balance, and I’m sure that helped us a little bit with the rush, where they couldn’t just tee-off all the time because at least we had some plays they had to defend in the running game.
Q: Can you touch on Stephon Gilmore’s play covering Amari Cooper?
BB: Yeah, this was another great effort by Steph. You know, he just works and prepares so hard for his matchups every week, and takes those as such a personal challenge. Obviously, this is a very good group of receivers, and a great quarterback and a great offensive line. But yeah, Steph’s as professional as they come. He knows the opponents inside-out, and his matchups, and the overall scheme and how to best play based on what our call is and what the situation is and so forth. He does a great job of that, so certainly a good day for him. Our entire secondary, I thought they competed hard against a really good group of receivers, with obviously a great quarterback. I mean, they lead the league in passing, and that’s no accident after 10 games. With a good offensive line, we tried to hit them with some blitzes. They did a pretty good job picking those up, so I’ve got to give them a lot of credit on that. I’ll just say one final thing then in closing that one of the real top efforts today would have to go to Marcus Cannon. Marcus was, three days, just feeling under-the-weather. I honestly didn’t expect him to play today. We talked before the game and he felt like he’d be able to work through it, so we tried to help him out a little bit there at the half. But, I would say overall, it was one of the top efforts I’ve seen. For a guy who just barely had enough strength to put on his uniform, went out there and played against multiple good football players. But certainly with [DeMarcus] Lawrence and [Michael] Bennett playing over there, I thought he played very, very competitively. Played tough, and is the kind of leadership and toughness that we have on this team, so that was a great job by Marcus.
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Q: What did you think of what Marcus Cannon did tonight, playing through illness?
TB: Yeah, he did a great job. Yeah, we weren’t quite sure how he was going to feel there late in the week, and he really toughed it out. So, proud of him; proud of the effort the guys gave. It was a hard-fought win.
Q: What does it say when somebody is willing to do what he did?
TB: Yeah, we’ve got a great group of men, and they work really hard to compete. It was great to see it come through with a win.
Q: If I said that we learned today just how gritty and resilient the Patriots are, would you say you already knew that? Or are you kind of learning along the way with the rest of us?
TB: I think every team develops at different times and so forth. I think we just take the challenges as they come and try to do the best we can. It was a great win. They’re a good football team, and happy we came away with more points than them.
Q: On the final play, what did referee Scott Novak tell you as to why there was a second left on the clock?
TB: I don’t know. I don’t know. I couldn’t figure it out. I’ve never seen that before.
Q: There was a seven-second hang time on that throw.
TB: It was still up in the air when they stopped the clock, so I don’t know. Everyone says a Patriot gets advantages – I don’t know about that.
Q: Can you talk about how the young receivers, Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry, stepped up in a big game today.
TB: Yeah, they played a lot of plays and proud of those two. They put a lot of effort in this week and they’re making improvements, and it was great to see. They both came through with some big plays for us – we needed it – and did a great job.
Q: There were a couple plays where you were in trouble and had to duck and dodge and throw the ball away. Do you remember one play in particular where you tried to throw it away and the ball died in the wind?
TB: Yeah, we had a couple that I was trying to avoid the loss, and probably risky on a couple of them. But, kind of got away with it in sloppy conditions. But yeah, tried to throw it away.
Q: How much did it mean to have the touchdown play where it was a sort of a jump ball and N’Keal came down with the ball in what was your only touchdown of the day?
TB: He made a great catch. That was a great play. That was awesome. That’s what we need.
SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Q: When your defense is playing as well as it is and the conditions are like this, do you like your chances heading into the game?
DM: I think for us as a team, the whole week in practice as we're going through things and you can hear Bill [Belichick] saying to us, “Hey, we're on it,” like we're on and I think that comes from just executing our game plan in practice, sitting in the meeting room going over these plays, understanding what they like to do. So, I think everyone felt good going into the game and any time we play in any type of weather game, we don't budge. Because when we come in here on a Wednesday, a Thursday, a Friday and Bill stands up here and he says whatever the weather is, “Get your stuff and put it on because we're in it.” So, we've practiced in all of this. We've had rain, rain days, had really cold days. So when we get dressed we get ready to go out there, our mentality doesn't change. We're out there to play football and try to dominate and I think everyone has that mentality as a group. So, I think it enables us to go out there and execute and try to play at a high level.
Q: How do you guys regroup after giving up big plays?
DM: I think as a defense you've got to defend every yard on that field. So, we always know as a group just get a guy down, like Kyle's [Van Noy] big play and you see me hustling, J. [Jonathan] Jones hustling, J.C. [Jackson] just knowing if we get them down and give ourselves a chance to play some red-area defense, we can hold them to three points. And I think that's what it came down [to] today. I think they got in the red area three or four times and just making them kick field goals gave us a chance to win. The last couple of games we've played it has come down to one touchdown. One touchdowns kind of separate – it's been a bunch of field goals. As a defense we know if we just keep holding teams out of the end zone, we have faith our offense can go out there and get us a touchdown or give us a big drive to really be the difference in winning the game and that's what it came down to tonight.
Q: When you have a guy like Stephon Gilmore that can lock down Amari Cooper, how much of an advantage does it give the rest of the defense to be able to do other things?
DM: Yeah, we put a lot on him to go out there and play, but I think ultimately it still comes down to just team defense. You know, everybody understanding what they have to do and guys stepping up, I thought J.C. stepping up today without J-Mac [Jason McCourty] out there, playing really every snap, and J. Jones being able to play different roles. I think we put a lot on our corners in general to go out there and compete against some of the better receivers in this league and it's no secret it starts with Steph [Stephon Gilmore]. He goes out there, competes his butt off. Every time someone makes a catch on him it's going to be highly contested. They're going to have to make a great play. We count on him to do that and I think a lot of it goes into his film study, understanding the defense, understanding when he has help, when he doesn't have help. And then all of us executing as 11 guys on the field gives each guy a chance to go out there and play good individually.
Q: Is there something that gives you extra confidence playing red-zone defense against them or anybody else?
DM: Just knowing exactly what we have to do. I would say a lot of that confidence comes from practice, competing against our offense, competing against the look team when we go out there. Early in the season we didn't get a lot of red-area opportunities, but my whole time here we've put a lot of focus on third down and red area. So when we get in the red area, we've talked about it a lot and guys understand what the team wants to do. We know we've got to play our best football, usually for three downs. If we can get them on a fourth-down situation and make them have to make a decision to either go for it or kick the field goal, for us once again in that area, that's a win. So, Bill always talks about those four-point plays and we did a good job executing on those plays.
Q: How good of a player is Jonathan Jones becoming?
DM: He's so versatile. He plays inside and, like I said, today he stepped up and played some outside corner. But he started it off. You know, we get our first third down, we talked about getting out there and starting fast. He breaks up the pass at [Randall] Cobb, another big third down, they throw it in the flat try and to pick him, he tackles him for either no gain or 1 yard. I think his consistency really helps us as a defense. When you watch him in our defense, he's played safety, he's played inside corner, outside corner, he's blitzed, he's covered, he's played in the deep-half and deep-middle, he's played obviously a lot of man-to-man. When you've got guys that can do that, it helps you out so much on defense. Like you talked about Steph being able to do what he does, covering guys, J. Jones being able to be really a plug-and-fit guy along with [Patrick] Chung and all those different guys allows us to play so many different fronts, different defenses, different personnel groups because we've got guys that can just move in and out of different roles. J. Jones, I've loved it because he came in here undrafted free agent and he's really worked his butt off – one of our better special teams players and – doesn't play as much special teams because we need him to play a lot of defense. I think he's been an example for all the guys that come in here, no matter how you get here, hard work and getting better at your craft allows you to have a big role for this team.
Q: With the offense struggling, did you guys realize that it was your game to win defensively, especially late in the game?
DM: Yeah, we always talk about situations, and I thought that’s what today came down to. Obviously, our offense wants to score a lot of points, and they’ve done that for a while. But I think the thing – I said it last week – everyone keeps talking about our offense struggling and all of that. To me, we’re going out there and we’re complementing each other. We get a fourth-down stop and the game is not necessarily over. But then our offense goes out there in a four-minute situation and gets a first down. Then we get the air ball situation where Tom [Brady] throws it up – maybe it looks like it should have hit zero, and that would have been the game. But, I think that’s what it comes down to when you talk about winning football games. When you look at it, I think everyone wants to see 30 points on the board and we hold a team to nine. But, when you talk about winning football games, it’s those situations and understanding how to take advantage of those. You know, defense goes and gets a stop, offense doesn’t go out there and just run three plays and then have to either go for it on fourth down or kick a field goal. You know what I mean? They took all of that out of the scenario by just getting a first down, and that’s winning football. I think we’ve just got to continue to do those things.
Q: Jerry Jones called this game a measuring stick for his team. Does that kind of label even remotely get discussed in the Patriots locker room? Or is your focus purely the next game on the schedule?
DM: It’s the next game. But, I mean, it’s no secret we get every team’s best shot. We know that. That’s not the first time we’ve heard that. When we’ve played somebody, they’ve talked about it being a measuring stick or a big game for them. I think we realized, especially this time of year, every game is a big game. It’s no secret we came out here today, they’re one of the best teams in the NFC, top offense in the league, so it was a big game for us and we knew that. But, it doesn’t change how we prepare and how we have to execute to win. I was excited about how we came out here and started fast and gave ourselves a chance to win. We’ve just got to continue to do that. It will be a tough one on the road next week against Houston.
Q: How important was Patrick Chung today basically playing linebacker and sticking his nose in there against Ezekiel Elliott?
DM: Yeah, man. I’m going to give him a big hug, because if he wasn’t here, I would have had to fill that linebacker role, and that’s more Pat’s thing than my thing. For years, Pat’s been that guy. Whether it’s linebacker, strong safety, whether he had to play deep in the deep half or deep middle – you can’t really teach or find many guys that can do what Pat does. Luckily, this year, we found T. Brooks [Terrence Brooks] who’s filled in and been able to do those roles. But, it’s no secret – having Pat back in our defense gives us a lot of different options and it makes us a lot better defense. He’s been a big role for us for the last couple years, and he’s my running mate. We’ve been playing together for most of our careers, minus one year – 10 years being out there and playing together. So, I love having him back. We have so much nonverbal communication and really things that we should mess up, but because we’ve been playing so long, we kind of know what the other guy is going to do. Having him back out there, I think, was a big reason why we were able to get the win today.
PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM
Adam Butler, DL
(On how big it was keeping the Cowboys out of the end zone)
"It's huge, especially against the number one offense in the NFL. They lead the league in a lot of categories. So I'm definitely proud of that and I know everybody else in the building is."
(On if they were looking forward to the challenge of facing the top offense)
"Yeah, every week though. Definitely this was a bigger challenge, but every week we come in looking forward to the same results that we got tonight."
(On if preparing for Ezekiel Elliot was different than preparing for other running backs)
"Yeah, he's his own beast. Just like every other back is their own beast. Of course we had to make a few adjustments, but he is who he is."
Marcus Cannon, OL
(On how he mentally got prepared for the game while not feeling well)
"Just like any of my teammates would. I know they would do it for me so I did it for them. I just went out there and knew everyone was working together. I had Shaq [Mason] next to me making sure I was all good and tight ends chipping in, so there was a lot of help."
Julian Edelman, WR
(On the win)
"Yeah, it goes into that category of playing someone you don't know. A really good football team that came in here and played us tough. We both had to play against the elements. It was good to go out there and get a win. Get back to the drawing board, get back to work this week and get ready for the next one."
(On Jakobi Meyers and N'Keal Harry stepping up)
"It was great. Jakobi made some really great plays, which he does in practice. N'Keal made that same play in practice. It was good to see them go out and translate practice into the game and get some confidence. That's not easy for a young group like that. With no one behind them, to go out and compete against a really good team in a rainstorm and have them go out and make plays. It was awesome to have them make plays. We've got to keep it going, roll it over, and have a great week of practice and get ready for Houston."
(On why the Patriots are so good in the clutch)
"That's who we strive to be is a mentally and physically tough team. Our coaches do a great job of preparing us. That's part of them doing what they do. Bringing in guys that can play. I think it also comes from practice. When we have good weeks of practice good things happen, it usually translates. It doesn't translate necessarily as much as you want it to, but you see little things here and little things there. As long as we continue to just go out and practice hard and gain confidence and gain those types of experiences together. I think that's when you start getting things going. We've just got to stay on it."
(On if today was the best they have run the ball all year)
"I've got to watch the film, but I do know that we made plays when we had to in the run game in crucial situations. That's something you need to be able to do. When they know we're going to run it, when we know we're going to run it and be able to go out there and execute. You've got to tip your hat to the o-line and Sony [Michel] making the right reads. You've just got to continue to do that and continue working on it in practice."
Nick Folk, K
(On his field goal in the fourth quarter)
"It was good to get out there and put us up, at the time, seven, so that was a big kick there. It made it a little more difficult at the end for them when they needed a touchdown instead of just a field goal."
(On kicking in today's weather conditions)
"You just try to hit a good clean ball and I felt like I did all day. The two that I missed, I hit them really pretty clean. There wasn't much movement on the ball itself. I was expecting a little more [movement], I didn't think the wind would cut through that much. It was a little bit trickier on that end today than I've ever had here."
(On his mentality after missing a field goal attempt)
"You just have to put it behind you and worry about the next kick. You have to focus on the next one and that's kind of been my mentality since I've been here and my whole career. The next one is the most important one. We'll go back and learn from the ones I missed today, tomorrow. In the game, you just got to put it behind you, go and be confident out there, and hit a good kick. Luckily in the fourth quarter, I hit a pretty big one to put us up seven."
Stephon Gilmore, CB
(On covering Amari Cooper)
"It was fun. I was just trying to get my hands on him every snap. The defensive line put good pressure on Dak [Prescott] and we stopped the run. The times he did throw it, I tried to make plays."
(On playing in today's weather conditions)
"It was tough, but we practice in it every day, so we're used to it. I don't think that they practice in it that type of stuff, so I think that we had the advantage."
(On his interception)
"He ran a crossing route, I was able to undercut it at the last second, and make a play on the ball. Dak kind of put it in a position where the both of us could have got it and I was able to make a play.
(On his breakup in the end zone)
"I was on Cooper and I saw Dak looking at the tight end and I came up on my guy and tried to make a play. It was a tough catch, but I should've made that catch too."
(On the team's red zone stops)
"It's big. That's our goal. Coach [Bill Belichick] tells us to make them drive it through the red zone. We played tight coverage, we stopped the run and that makes it harder in the red zone. The goal is to score points and I think that we did a good job with not letting them score points."
Duron Harmon, DB
(On holding the Cowboys to 2-of-13 on third-down conversions)
"We were giving them different looks and continuing to disguise on what they were doing. Just making it tough on them and doing things a little bit different. We had great coverage on the back end and we had a good rush. We talk about it all the time, just being complementary between the pass rush and the pass coverage. Everybody did a good job at covering today and we did a good job at rushing."
(On the team's defensive performance)
"When we play the way that we're supposed to, we're a good defense and we can make it make it hard on the players on offense. We just have to continue to find ways each and every week because every offense is different. We have to find their weaknesses and just try to expose them down after down."
(On Stephon Gilmore shutting down Amari Cooper)
"Steph is the best corner in the league. He consistently proves it week after week. We put him on whoever and he goes out there and plays well. We knew he was going to play well today and he's a big reason why we won the game."
(On the key to shutting down the Cowboys offense)
"Just continuing to make it hard for them. We knew that Ezekiel Elliot is one of the best running backs in the game and that he was going to get yards. They have a great offensive line, but we couldn't let them score. I think them not scoring and being good on third downs is what allowed us to get a good win."
N'Keal Harry, WR
(On his first touchdown)
"It was a great feeling. It was a great throw. Just happy I could come up and make the play."
(On the weather)
"Obviously those are tough conditions to play in. I feel like I could have handled it better. I'm definitely not satisfied, and anybody that knows me knows I'm about to turn it up a notch. I'm about to really hit the grindstone and really get back to work."
(On his growth with Tom Brady)
"It's been good. Every day you get to connect more, feel each other out more. Everything will just come with time."
(On if he felt like they were in control of the game)
"A little bit, but not really. We knew we had to keep moving the ball. Keep getting first downs. The game was never over for us until the clock hit zero.
Jakobi Meyers, WR
(On the feeling of being a rookie that can be counted on during the game)
"It just shows that we have been working hard, you know it isn't easy for rookies to go in there and play. Both me and N'Keal [Harry] always come in here and do extra work to try to make sure we are ready for when they call on us."
(On how hard it has been to gain Tom Brady's trust)
"That has probably been one of the toughest things about being here but I am going to keep working at it, not give up and hopefully I keep chipping away each day."
(On playing in tonight's weather conditions)
"It was definitely wet, slippery and the ball was kind of hard to hold onto but that is New England and what they told me when I first got here so I have to get used to it."
(On what advice Brady gave him during the game)
"Just to keep pushing and you can tell by the competitor in him that it doesn't matter what the score is or what the time is left on the clock, he is always going to keep pushing so I always try to keep that within my game."
(On Harry's touchdown)
"I am so happy for him because he has worked so hard just to get there. I am so proud of him and it actually was a really big moment for him so I am really excited."
Matthew Slater, WR
(On his blocked punt)
"We had a look that we felt good about all week. We really worked hard on that. The way the game turned out, we didn't think we'd have a lot of chances to return the football. So we wanted to keep the pressure on them. I think across the board the execution was great. Shilique [Calhoun] had a good get off inside of me, John [Simon] had a good get off outside of me and it just allowed me to get a one on one matchup, and thankfully we were able to take advantage of it."
(On if this was a grind it out type of game)
"Absolutely, we knew it was going to be a tough ball game. Then you get the weather the way it was. You just knew it was going to be a battle, didn't think it was going to be a high scoring affair. You knew field position was going to be a big part of the game. Gritty effort from our guys, they showed a lot of toughness tonight, and that's a big win for us."
(On Julian Edelman)
"There has never been a guy that I have played with tougher than Julian. He shows that week after week. I really appreciate that guy certainly as you hinted at he is not 100% but he just finds a way to will himself to get out there. Sometimes I don't know how he does it, but I certainly appreciate him and who he is and having a guy like that on your team."
Sony Michel, RB
(On what it is like when the running game is clicking)
"It's always good when we can move the ball on offense, running or passing. It's something that we always work on, something that we'll continue to do. We're going to try our best at it."
(On how it felt to start the game running the ball hard)
"That's the goal, is to start running fast. We want to start every game fast, and we were able to. We have just got to finish a little better."
(On getting the first down at the end of the game)
"That's another one of our goals, playing situational football. We want to try to end the game with the ball in our hands. We tried our best at it, and we did all we could do."
(On what was working for him to be able to shed tackles)
"The offensive line. They were blocking, they were doing their job. The offense was just clicking, everybody was doing their job. The receivers, we have some young guys out there, and they took pride in their jobs too."
Joejuan Williams, CB
(On if the weather helps or hurts defensively)
"It's both. You want to make sure your breaks and your transitions are right, and with the wet grass it's hard for the wide receiver and defensive backs. It's kind of a give and take."
(On the Matthew Slater blocked punt)
"It was really cool. I didn't even know if he blocked it. I was on the field and playing back like a safety. Then I saw the ball in the air. He made a really good play and that's what he does week in and week out. It was definitely dope."
(On Stephon Gilmore)
"Definitely, Steph does his thing week in and week out. I look up to him every day in practice, and I try my best to compete with him."
Isaiah Wynn, OL
(On his frustration with the first half of the season following his injury)
"Injury is just a part of the game so I just took it the best that I could but it gave me the opportunity to learn more about offense so in a way it kind of gave me the upper hand."
(On how the team has helped him to get back into the game)
"They all helped me a lot, just like last year getting the chance to be around all these guys who have been here for a while and do everything right. It has been great having the chance to get under their wing."
(On how much of a challenge it was getting back into the game against the Cowboys)
"It was a big challenge and just like everyone knows their defense line is good so just being able to step up to the challenge felt good."