HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, November 29, 2020
BB: It's good a win for our football team today. We got a lot of contributions in all three phases. Played good complementary football. Took advantage of some opportunities.
Just got to give these guys a lot of credit, how hard they work every day, how well they prepare. Couldn't have started much worse than it did. We just kept battling for 60 minutes. Showed a lot of mental toughness, physical toughness, just determination. Played some decent situational football at times.
Really proud of the way these guys competed. Give them all the credit in the world for the final result. They played hard, competed for 60 minutes, made enough plays at critical times in the game to win.
Leadership we've gotten from captains and some of the other veteran players here in the last few weeks has been awesome. I think that's really helped bring some other players along to prepare better and ultimately perform a little more consistently.
A good way to wrap up the Thanksgiving weekend. We got two big games in L.A. next week. Try and enjoy this one for a little while, then move on to the Chargers.
Q: In the first part of the game, there seemed to be some problems with edge containment on swing passes or runs. Definitely got better as the half and game went on. Was that a matter of adjustment or adjusting to the quickness and speed you were facing?
BB: Yeah, you identified a definite problem that came up early in the game. Kliff does a real good job of that. He does a good job of creating conflicts for the defense, putting the defense in tough spots. He did that.
They got the ball outside, they hurt us with some outside runs, a variety of them. It was a challenge the whole game. But we played them a little better as the game went on. Steve made a couple good calls that put us in the right defense against a couple of those, as well. That was good, too.
But, look, they're fast. I'm not going to say that the speed of the game wasn't an issue. I mean, it's always an issue when they have fast players, which the Cardinals do. I think it was just more that they got us on a couple of scheme plays. They have you thinking about a lot of different things between the passing game, the RPOs, the running game, misdirections and so forth.
It's hard to play real aggressively against them because if you're a step or two late on one thing or another, then you've really got a problem. You try to play it (indiscernible) on it. Sometimes you're a step later on where you're supposed to be.
I thought Chase and John Simon, our safeties, A.P., Dugger, Devin, Anfernee outside as well, those guys did a good job. But it is definitely challenging. This is a good offense, well-coached, they present some different conflicts for the defense.
Q: What kind of explanation were you given on the Anfernee Jennings illegal blindside block? After you went into the locker room with the big goal line stop, to come out in the first series, force the punt, looked like you had a punt return for a touchdown, how big of it was for your team to hang in there, keep fighting the rest of the way?
BB: Well, the stop at the end of the half was a big one. Like the inside zone came, cut it back. I think Bentley made a good, strong tackle. That was obviously a huge, huge play for us.
But in the third quarter we got them into a longer yardage situation, got off the field. The two returns in the game helped us field position-wise. Disappointed that the punt return got called back. We'll just have to (indiscernible) off that a little bit, I guess.
It was a good job on special teams today. I thought we covered well, we returned well, we made our kicks. Nick made a huge kick there at the end of the game, just like against the Jets, so...
I thought our special teams had a good day for us.
Q: What explanation did you get?
BB: Basically a blindside block. That's what they called it, right? Wasn't it a blindside block?
BB: That was the explanation.
Q: You got a big performance from Adam Butler. Can you talk about him a little bit.
BB: Yeah, we missed Adam last week. Adam did a real good job of penetrating the inside part of the pocket. I think that certainly helped our pass defense, not just the sack but some disruptive plays in there. Just made it a little tougher for them to execute the passing game.
He did a nice job. He's good at that. He's good at penetrating the inside part of the pocket. When we have that for him, it makes a big difference for our defense in those passing situations.
Q: DeAndre Hopkins was held to 55 yards. You talked the other day about he has some freedom in the offense, options. Looked like there were some plays, third and six, third and eight, Steph gave him a little bit of a cushion. Are you comfortable with how explosive he can be down the field?
BB: I think you got to mix it up on this offense, this quarterback, certainly on Hopkins. Saw the same thing from him all day. I'm not really sure how good that is.
QUARTERBACK CAM NEWTON
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Q: How did it feel to come away with this win after a string of games this year where you have had a tough time in the fourth quarter in crunch time?
CN: I said in the locker room, I'd rather have an ugly win rather than a pretty loss, if that makes any sense. I don't know if that even exists.
We didn't play our best game offensively, but when we needed it, we got the job done. That's all that counts.
Q: A lot of games this season, the close games, you haven't been able to come out on top. To come out on top, how much confidence can you build in a close game like this?
CN: We got to stack 'em together. That's what it pretty much comes down to. Find ways to win football games. It's better to find ways to win in situational football, got to have the situations, rather than playing the game just to play the game.
Coach does a great job with harping on that throughout the week, as well as Josh, all the position coaches. To come to fruition, for us to come out on top is great.
Q: The play James White had on the fourth-and-two, talk about what he brought to your offense today.
CN: He got Rex Burkhead. Usually that's Rex's responsibility and job. White took the job and responsibility, kept (indiscernible) going in that room. I know Rex is somewhere smiling.
Q: Obviously you made the plays to win the game. Your thoughts on the offensive execution as a whole? Did the Cardinals give any looks that you weren't expecting? They made it difficult for you guys.
CN: Just came down to in-game adjustments. I'm pretty sure they had some things that come up. With us getting the report of some guys not being able to play, kind of threw a loop in things early on. That's what it comes down to: in-game adjustments and for us to be able to execute those to the best of our abilities.
Q: How nice was it to get another big contribution from Kicker Guy? Despite the fact that you maybe struggled on offense, for you to come up with the big play on third and 13? What kind of hit did you take from Simmons? Looked like you were down and out.
CN: I told Kicker Guy, he's putting on a performance that is going to put him on Santa Claus' Christmas list. I'm expecting him to stay on Santa's good list moving forward from Boogie's household. You can be expecting something from there.
As far as the last play, the play was called. We just wanted to execute it to the best of our abilities. The hit, that's just protecting myself at all times. Fortunately for us it got us an additional 15 yards.
Q: The interception on the pass to Damiere, would you say that was a wrong decision, one that got away from you? Your run was at the same area of the field. Making up on your mind making it towards the first down marker?
CN: Love the question. It was just a bad throw. It doesn't really matter what I felt on that play. It's just a matter what happened. That's what it comes down to.
For me, I can't jeopardize this team and put the ball up for grabs, so to speak. I just got to get Damiere a better ball so he can compete and contest it.
As far as the run, I wasn't thinking about the previous pass at that time.
Q: As you're watching it, it's the end of the first half, how big and how much energy did you guys go in watching the defense get that goal line stand and stop them?
CN: That was big. That was extremely big. For us to play with complementary football, playing it later on in the season, which we're going to need more of moving forward. Offensively we didn't have our best game, but the defense kind of picked up the slack as well as the special teams. Big returns from Gun Show and 'Crief. Those guys really took heed to coaching this past week. We're just going to need more complementary football wins here moving forward until we got to have the got-to-have-it win situations of the season.
Q: On the run on the last drive, out of bounds, the penalty, we've talked to other guys on the roster about that play today. They said they wanted to rally around you, come to your defense. A direct quote from James White is, No one is going to put a cheap shot on our quarterback. When you hear that from your teammates, what does that mean to you?
CN: It means a lot. It means a lot. Obviously I didn't see all the ruckus kind of take place early on. I was just trying to get back on the field. Didn't know what was going on, to be honest with you.
I was in my right mind. I don't want you guys to say he didn't know whatever. I wasn't concussed. I was trying to alleviate myself from that situation. The time I was down, to see the guys come to your protection, it means a lot. It means a lot. For them to show that, I'm pretty sure they know I'd do the same thing for him.
As we keep moving forward, we're going to need a lot of hands on deck with the wins, no matter how it may come, running game, passing game, defense, special teams. We just need to win.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ADAM BUTLER
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, November 29, 2020
(On how the defense competed)
I feel like we competed the whole time. We gave it everything we had for four quarters, and that's what it takes in this league to win. We had some really good plays on special teams, so shout out to special teams this week. That's good. That's what we needed. The penalty was unfortunate, but you know, we can only control what we can control.
(On his personal impact on the game today)
I'm mean, just going into this game, I felt like it was important to get vertical in the pocket and make him [Kyler Murray] feel uncomfortable. So, my goal the entire game was to affect him. You know, I'm just glad everything worked out.
(On the mindset of a goal line stand)
I mean, the mindset is just to not get moved. Just don't get moved, don't lose ground and fight to the end of the whistle. I mean, the goal is to tackle the guy with the ball, but ultimately, in the trenches it's a man whooping man game. Like I said, the goal is just to not get moved off the line of scrimmage.
KICKER NICK FOLK
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, November 29, 2020
(On the team effort today)
"Yeah, I mean, the defense made a great stand on fourth down right before halftime and then again at the end of the game. If they would have got a first down there, they could have ran the clock out and kicked a field goal, I believe. Defense made a great stand there. Special teams came up big in the return game – big kick return, big punt return. Jake [Bailey] punted the ball really well today. So, I think it was a full team win today, all the way around. It wasn't just me. There's 120 to 140 plays in the whole game that led to that one last play and everyone contributed. I think we're just happy to get that win and keep some good steam rolling forward.
(On the range you needed to make the final kick)
If we needed it, we could have pushed it a little bit more. I want to say probably – what were we at? The 32? By the 35-yard line would have been my normal ball, which is what I just hit there. I could have probably stretched it out and try to, if you want to put in golf terms, hit a little bit of a driver-three wood ball if I needed to. But, got it down there in the range and I just hit a normal football, so that's what I did.
(On the locker room after making a game winning kick)
I mean, everyone's excited. To get a win in this league is tough to come by. So, everyone's excited all the way top down. But, I've said it before, I just put the cherry on top. The guys do a bunch of stuff from play one until the last play of the game to put us in that situation. So, it was an all-around team win today. Exciting part, but I just happen to have the last touch of it. But, everyone played their part today and we had a great day
(On the mindset of the game winning kick)
Mentally I try to tell myself I've done it a million times. It's one more kick. It's the same thing over and over and over. That's kind of the position we're in. So, go through my routine from stuff into the net, talking with Jake [Bailey] and Joe [Cardona] on yard line and stuff like that, making sure that's getting communicated. And then my little routine to make sure I'm ready to roll and go out there, have a good tempo, have good communication with everyone. And so I try to use that to my advantage, any of that pressure or whatever you want to call it. I want to use it. I don't want to like kind of shun it away. I enjoy that. It was fun. So, I'm just happy we got a win. It was a good team win all around.
RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, November 29, 2020
(On what it says about the team's character to win this type of game)
"Guys are going to keep fighting whether we're up or down, if we have a couple of bad plays, couple of good plays. We're just going to keep fighting and try to find a way to win a football game. Obviously it wasn't pretty, had a couple of bonehead plays out there myself. So just have to make the corrections, try to start faster. It's good to see that everybody just keeps competing no matter what the situation is."
(On what it felt like to score his first touchdown of the season)
"It's been a while for sure so it did feel good to get in there. Try to make some plays for my team. Obviously it wasn't a high-scoring game, so any time you can score in these types of games, it's very important."
(On the play of the Patriots defense)
"It was huge. The defense played great today. That's an explosive offense that they have there on the other side, so they did a great job. The first set of points that they got, that was on me. I messed up a blitz pickup and gave them a short field. The defense played great all night long and for us as an offense, we want to try to string drives together. They have a good defense, I think we made enough plays to win the football game and that's what is most important."
(On how good it felt to score for the first time this season in a team win)
"It was awesome. Like I said, it was a low-scoring game and any time you can score points it is very important. It felt good to score, celebrate with my teammates, and to be able to score again was pretty cool. But just happy we came out with the win. It was a hard-fought game; it wasn't perfect. Their defense threw some different things at us, but guys tried to be on the same page, communicate it out and find ways to win the football game. Cam [Newton] made a huge play at the end of that game that got us in field-goal position, so it was huge."
(On what it was like on the field during Cam Newton's run on the last series)
"It was a huge play. Like I said, they were blitzing the house on that one, and it was kind of the perfect call right there. He got enough yards and the penalty gave us even more yards, so it was a huge play in the game. Like I said, it gave us the boost to win it."
(On what the feeling was like when the offense took the field at the end of the game with a chance to win)
"Just got to find a way to win the football game. Get in field-goal range, give Nick [Folk] an opportunity to make the kick. He's been making big kicks for us all year long. So for us, it was just getting it into field goal position and we made enough plays to do it."
(On what it was like to win this game)
"Yeah, it was a hard-fought game. Like I said, it wasn't perfect on offense and the defense came up with some huge stops, turnovers. Special teams had some huge returns for us and gave us good field position. So, we played that complementary football at the right times. It wasn't pretty, but we were able to fight and compete for four quarters and that's all you can ask for."
(On how he watched the defense's goal-line stand at the end of the first half)
"Standing up watching for sure. The defense made that huge stop, it was very important. They got the ball back after halftime, so that stop was everything for us."
(On Donte Moncrief's kick return to give the offense good field position)
"It was huge. All year, we haven't had too much in the return game and we've been talking about that we need to get some plays from the return game – get better blocking, get better returns, all that stuff. Everybody took it to heart and went out there and executed. Hopefully we keep it going. Moncrief had a huge return, got us in good field position. Gunner [Olszewski] had the return that put us in good field position as well. It's always a bonus having good returns and starting on the other side of the 50 is huge for the offense."
(On Nick Folk's game-winning kick)
"It's not an easy kick. He's been making huge kicks for us all year long. I have extreme confidence in him. All we have to do is just get in field-goal position and give him the opportunity."
(On what Cam Newton's play at the end of the game meant to the team and to Cam Newton)
"It meant a lot for the team and I'm sure it was huge for him as well. It's not always going to be pretty out there, none of us are going to play perfect out there including myself. Like I said, I had some terrible plays out there too. So it was huge, just got to make the plays when they matter the most. In that situation right there – we always talk about situational football. It was third-and-long and to be able to make that run and covert for us was probably the biggest play of the game."
ADDITIONAL PATRIOTS PLAYERS
Jermaine Eluemunor, OL
(On how offense prepared for this week)
"I feel like we prepared a lot during the week for everything. We had some errors in the Texas game and I know I had one for sure, so this week made a real big emphasis on how and when they were going to pressure us, so we had to be prepared as a unit to handle the pressure. We strive to communicate more out there, so having David [Andrews], Shaq [Mason] and Joe [Thuney] out there is always a big help because they are the smartest in the game. We made some good adjustments and having those three is really nice too."
(On lining up pre-snap according to the defense)
"You definitely have to know where they are at, at all times. You really have to see where Budda [Baker] and Isaiah [Simmons] was at all times because they are really good at getting pressures in and disguising their blitz."
(On what Cam Newton said in the huddle with a minute left after the Cardinals missed the field goal)
"Well you couldn't really ask for a better situation and with a guy like that, you just want to go out there and play as hard as you can to be in the position to kick a field goal or score a touchdown. Being all business is going to be what wins the game."
(On starting as left tackle)
"It was pretty dope. I always like to be prepared to play both positions and I know I started the season as right tackle, but I started as left tackle my second year against the Steelers, so I am familiar with that side. I like to play all four positions and play where I am needed so today, I was left tackle and wanted to make sure I went out there with my best effort to help this team win."
(On how he feels about playing so much tackle this season)
"I love it, I love tackle. If you would have asked me coming out of college what position I want to play, I would have said tackle right away. I played that at Texas A&M and I just love being out there on an island and knowing it's you and that guy in front of you. You have to lock it down or they're going to get sacks or pressures. I love playing tackle, it doesn't matter which side I'm on."
Stephon Gilmore, CB
(On the goal-line stand at the end of the first half and what it did for the team)
"It was a big stop. That's one thing Coach [Belichick] harped on us this week, is finishing and having better-end of-the-half play, so I think we made a big stop there to help our team out."
(On if DeAndre Hopkins is one of the toughest receivers he plays against)
"For sure. I mean, you put the ball anywhere near him, he's able to catch the ball. So he's a great receiver. Two great players competing against each other. We both like to play physical and that's why you play the game, to play against the best. I enjoy those moments."
(On why the Patriots were able to have success against Kyler Murray)
"Yeah, it was a team effort. Coach [Belichick] had a great game plan, the guys up front played well in containing him and we tried to play tight coverage on the back end and play smart. All 11 guys doing their job and that's what it takes to slow down an offense like that."
(On what it was like to win a close game and the confidence it gives the team)
"It was big. Like you said, we've had a lot of close games that could have gone both ways but we have to finish those games. That's the National Football League – a lot of games are going to come down to the wire, so situational football and we have to close out those games, that's the National Football League."
(On the matchup with DeAndre Hopkins and the respect he has for him)
"I respect every receiver, but in between those lines, I don't really have any friends. I just try to compete. It's like a boxing match out there. That's how I look at it, it's competing. I enjoy those moments, I enjoy covering the best guy, whether he's in the slot or outside. I love it because that's where the team is trying to go with the football, so it drives me."
Donte Moncrief, WR
(On his 53-yard kick return)
Oh yeah, man. Yeah, we had the right return on and Jak [Jakob Johnson] and Gunner [Olszewski] made two great blocks. So, I just followed them and I saw the hole. I hit the crease. I remember coach telling me early on in a week, he was like, 'There's going be a hole, you've just got to hit it.' I just put my trust in what he told me, and when I did it, it worked.
(On past NFL kick return experience)
What's crazy is I did it my rookie year with the Colts, and I haven't done it since then. The special teams coach asked me, 'How do you feel about doing returns?' I'm like, 'If you need me to do it, I'll do it. I'll do whatever to help this team.' He gave me a chance during the week and he liked what he saw, so he stuck with it.
(On what it's been like coming to the Patriots)
It's been fun coming over here. It's totally different from anywhere else I've been in the NFL. Just coming over here, getting the flow of things and learning how they do things here. Just getting the playbook, that's the main thing, and doing whatever they ask me to do. You've got to be a team player here and I'm all in for it. So, whatever they need, I'm going to do it.
(On getting tackled in the kick return)
I was so mad. I knew I was going, I saw nothing but green grass, my eyes lit up and then I just felt somebody come behind me and I'm like 'gosh.'
Adrian Phillips, DB
(On what it was like playing in such a back-and-forth game)
"Yeah like you said, it was a whole bunch of back-and-forth. You start off the game early and you blink and they're up 7-0. Then you get the big goal-line stop at halftime, you come out and you take the momentum. And then the next thing you know, it's tied up and they have the ball with a chance to win the game and they miss the kick. And then our offense was on the field. So, it was a lot of emotions. These types of games are the games you really have to hone in on your emotions and make sure you're focused on what you need to do because any little mistake that you have could be game-ending. It could give you the loss. So just being able to focus and stay in-tune with the game plan and just make your play when it's time to make your play and don't try to go off the rails and do somebody else's job – it was big. We did that and we came out with the win."
(On how the defense was able to limit Kyler Murray)
"Pressure, you know? Any time you pressure a quarterback whether it's somebody that's mobile, or somebody that's a pocket-passer, if you pressure him and just continue to mix up the looks, it gives guys a lot of problems. So, we were able to do that. If you look back to the earlier parts of the season and even last week, when we pressured, we weren't doing it under control. We were letting them get outside the pocket and letting them scramble or whatever it may be, find an open receiver downfield. But today we really made sure that no matter what, we're going to pressure this guy, we're going to bring it after him, but we're not just going to let him run around. It ended up working. When we execute the game plan like that, it's going to be tough to beat us."
(On the role the goal-line stand at the end of the first half played in winning the game)
"It was crucial. It was crucial. They had the ball with however many seconds left, and it's fourth-and-1 on the goal-line. If they score, then on top of that they get the ball back [to start the second half]. It was a big swing of momentum, and a big swing in points. It was huge for us to be able to go out there and get the goal-line stand. You go in to halftime, now everybody's amped up. That's exactly what we needed for our team. That was a confidence builder and we knew we could do it. We just haven't been doing it in the past and we finally got it done today. It just boosted our confidence even more."
(On what it was like to watch the winning field goal go through)
"You see the kick go in, you know that Nick [Folk] – he's a great kicker so you've got all the faith in the world in him that if you just give him a shot, it's probably going to go in. As soon as you see it go in – well, you know it's good before it even actually goes through the uprights just because you can see the flight of the ball. So everybody's all excited and then you get into the locker room and it's the same thing, just because that's a hard-fought battle against and a great team. They've got a great offense and great defense and being able to just go out there and beat them, it's a great feeling. Any time you play a tough, hard game like that down to the end, it just feels like a big weight is lifted off your back."
(On how much the defense needed a strong performance)
"Yeah, we definitely needed that. Our mentality since the season has started is it's always on us. We want that type of pressure and we want to be able to dictate the outcomes of the game. Like I said, we didn't do that last week and there's been other times this year where we haven't been able to do it consistently. We've shown it, but we haven't been able to do it consistently. Today we did it consistently. Just being able to control the game like that defensively – and they made their plays too, don't get me wrong. But being able to control the game defensively against a high-powered offense, just to hold those guys to 17 points, that's a tough task. When you step up to the plate and handle business like that, it shows your guys that we can do this."
(On his interception)
"It's crazy because the play happened so fast. You go out there, you get your reads and when the ball gets tipped in the air like that, everything feels like it slows down. It feels like it's going in slow motion – well the ball feels like it's going in slow motion and the other players, they're going full speed. It just required a good amount of concentration and I was able to have that."
Akeem Spence, DL
(On the process of getting ready to play in his first Patriots game)
"I feel like I performed well and really just want to grind and go out there and learn everything that I can learn to take it out into the games and execute more so than anything, which I feel like I did to a good level. I still have things to learn to help the team win."
(On his play during the goal-line stand at the end of the first half)
"Yes, so pretty much it was on the goal line and just 'mano y mano', just wanting to make the play and keep points off the board, which was really helpful going into halftime. It just so happened that the ball chose my gap and being a defensive tackle, you take pride in your gap. So the ball showed up and I had that play and took it into the half. Keeping points off the board heading into halftime is big and helps us win in the end so I am really just doing my job."
(On how the defensive line performed in this game)
"I feel like we performed well in terms of hitting the quarterback, guys getting sacked and getting in Kyler Murray's face while also containing him. Also, everyone just doing their job and executing, honestly."