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New England Patriots Postgame Quotes 12/7

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, December 7, 2023.

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Postgame Press Conference
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Opening Statement:
I thought (it was) a really great job by the players and coaches this week. Obviously a short week. Tough, disappointing game last week. They came in, had a really good week of preparation. I thought the guys played with a lot of effort, energy, toughness, resiliency. The Steelers are what they are. They battle you. They find a way to hang around, make it tough at the end, which they did. Our guys really stepped up. Had a lot of guys really come through with some big plays in the game that we needed. Happy for our team. Happy for the coaches. Like I said, it was a short week. Not much sleep this week. They put a lot into it. It's very satisfying to see the results that we had today.

How nice was it to see the offense come out on the first drive, set the tone for the night?

It's always great to see. Yeah, it's always great to see the offense put it in the end zone. It's great, yeah.

What did you see from that unit tonight, starting with Bailey, all the way through?

We had our moments. We hit some plays. Third down conversion was a big play by JuJu (Smith-Schuster). Hunter (Henry), two big red area catches. I thought we ran the ball competitively against obviously a very good defense. I thought Zeke (Elliott) ran hard. Zeke made a big play on the interception, keep them out of the end zone. Ended up getting a defensive stop on it. That was a huge play. But, yeah, the offensive line, look, they're a good defense, try to neutralize, two guys (T.J.) Watt and (George) Pickens. Both those guys obviously a big problem. Played competitively against them.

What has it been like working with Zeke this year?

Yeah, good. Zeke comes to work every day. We needed him to step up and carry the ball today, and he did. Carried the ball, a lot of plays, a lot of snaps. Short week. Got banged up last week. That was a pro performance today.

What have you learned about him that you couldn't have known from having not coached him on a daily basis since you had him?

Yeah, I don't know. Obviously, I didn't know him at all, so everything has been a new experience. I try not to judge people till I get to work with them, so...

What does that say about him on the football field, the second play on the interception where he saves it?

It was a huge play. Great effort play, yeah. Yeah, played really competitively.

How did you see the initial explosive to JuJu (Smith-Schuster) on the opening drive?

He caught the slant on a blitz zone. Split it, made a good run. Made a couple tough catches in there, third down conversions. Blocked well. Blocked hard. We sent him in there on Fitzpatrick most of the day, so...Took advantage of his opportunities, did a good job.

One of your players said it was more simplified, short week. Do you think that helped Bailey (Zappe) to some degree of not overthinking, playing more freely?

Yeah, I don't know. It's been about the same. I mean, obviously a short week is a little bit less, but it's been about the same. I don't think it was that significant. Yeah, it's probably a little less because we had a little less time.

How did the initial offensive explosion allow you not to only dictate terms but play the game you wanted to through the second half?

Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I don't think until you get to the end of the game you worry too much about the score.

You don't worry about the score?

I mean, you just keep - there's so much time left, you just keep running your offense, whatever it is. I don't think you go into a whole different game plan because you're down by seven or up by seven or down by 10 or up by 10 with 40 minutes to go in the game. That wouldn't really change me. I don't see it that way.

What have you seen from the guys as they've gone through this streak, nice to see them get a victory
tonight?

Yeah, they've come in and worked hard every day. Again, we've tried to improve and correct things that will help us. Some of those paid off tonight. Hopefully they will going forward. Still things we can do better. Made some mistakes out there. Again, Pittsburgh is a good football team. They've got some very good players. You got to take care of those guys and not let them ruin the game. We tried not to do that. It's the way it will be every week. We'll see good players next week and the week after that. So have to take those guys into account when we prepare for the game. Hopefully go out there and play it the way we want to play it, hit our targets.

QUARTERBACK BAILEY ZAPPE

Postgame Press Conference
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Take us through, how good did it feel to get out with a win?

Yeah, I mean, it's awesome. Things haven't really been falling our way,but to go out there and play good team football, we had a great first half, there's things that we need to clean up in the second half that we didn't do very well, personally me. But it was great to win and it's a great feeling.

What was your mindset tonight?

Yeah, I mean, just doing what I'm coached to do. Going through my reads, first read's open, take it. We have great playmakers. One on one with our guys, we take our guys any day. Anybody to try to come town and tackle Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) ... These guys one on one, we like that matchup. So, to be able to give the ball to Zeke and flat like on his touchdown, it's a matchup that we like. We're going to look back at it. Like I said, there's a few things that I missed, like the interception, I have Hunter (Henry) on the cross. Learn from it and get ready for next week.

What was this week like, a short week, 4:30 in the morning getting up on Monday, you worked after practice, take us through the short week.

Yeah,I think it was a lot different. I think I learned some things as far as like preparation. There wasn't a lot of physical reps, so a lot of it was mental. A lot of it was me sitting behind a computer screen and just watching plays and games after games after games. I think that's something I'm going to learn from and carry it over to the next few weeks, try to continue to grow as far as what I do during the week before games.

Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) was talking about the confidence you play with, saying the whole offense can feed off that. Where does that come from?

It comes from those guys. They help me out a lot. They deserved today. To be able to have this moment, have it with these guys, go out there and have the game that we had, was awesome. I think as far as confidence, it just comes from preparation, what you do in the week before. Also having confidence in these guys, that these guys are going to make plays like JuJu (Smith-Schuster), giving these guys a chance. That also gives you confidence when you see them go out and make a play. You're like, All right, I'm going to do it again. That just continues to build with time.

(Off microphone.)

Yeah,100%. We'd love to have those three guys. Those three guys are a big part of the offense. It's kind of a next-man-up mentality. Looking into this game, D.P. (Devante Parker) is not able to go, so Jalen Reagor steps up. Rhamondre (Stevenson) is out, Zeke has to take the load of it all. Those guys had a great game. To be able to do what Zeke did today as far as the run game and pass game just shows that he's still the old time Zeke, he still has a lot left in the tank.

Your emotion on the touchdown with Zeke...

I mean, it's really hard to score touchdowns in the NFL. To be able to score touchdowns, you got to celebrate each one. Kind of a weight off our back once we scored. It kind of just went from there. It's exciting. I'm just glad we won, move on, get ready for next week. For right now we're going to celebrate this one.

Walk us through the 37-yard pass to JuJu (Smith-Schuster)?

We alerted to it. My read was a reading certain somebody. That certain somebody drove the quick out, it was one on one with JuJu (Smith­ Schuster) on the corner. It was underthrown a little bit by me. He was able to go up there and make a 50/50 catch. He's been able to do that throughout his whole career. To be able to throw it up there to him, see him go make that play, especially back where it all started for him, is awesome. For me as a quarterback, just giving these guys chances to go make plays, and that's what we did tonight.

Inner circle here to watch tonight, how special was it?

I had nobody.

Really?

Yeah. They all watched from home. I don't know. No, I don't want to pay for those tickets (smiling). I'm still on a rookie contract. That's expensive.

On the 24-yard touchdown, fake to the outside, what did you see?

Yeah, it's a read that you've really done your whole life. Pump the screen. If the corner drives it, the safety plays over the top, you kind of throw a whole shot. I didn't throw much of a whole shot. I kind of left it a little bit inside. It was high enough to where it got over him. Hunter (Henry) made a great catch. It's the kind of the read, left-to-right read, easy read, read one side, work your way through it. The corner drove it. I ripped itto Hunter (henry), made a heck of a catch.

Drilling those fakes, practicing them, making sure that corner bites...

You try to make everything look the same, whether you're throwing a slip screen, whether you're pumping it. Everything has to look the same. If you barely pump it on a pump-and-go they're going to know it's up. You have to make everything look the same so they can't tell if a slip screen is coming or when a pump-and-go is coming.

Go, Pats.

CENTER DAVID ANDREWS

Postgame Press Conference
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Not transcribed by opposing team.

TIGHT END HUNTER HENRY

Postgame Press Conference
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Not transcribed by opposing team.

WIDE RECEIVER JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER

Postgame Press Conference
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Not transcribed by opposing team.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN DEATRICH WISE JR.

Postgame Press Conference
Thursday, December 7, 2023

Not transcribed by opposing team.

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