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New England Patriots Postgame Quotes 9/18

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, September 18, 2022.

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 18, 2022

Opening Statement:
Well, that was a good team win for us. You know, really proud of the way the guys competed here. This is a great, you know, football city, football environment.

A lot of energy in this stadium today. And I thought our guys responded to it well. Good plays on all three areas of the game.

You know, Pittsburgh is tough, like they always are. And a battle back and forth with them. But, you know, I thought that our play there in the fourth quarter was, you know, we came up with some big plays, two big three and out stops.

And then held the ball for whatever it was, six minutes of the game. And we were able to run it out and kneel on it. So, some good, good football when we needed it the most.

You know, a lot of guys contributed. I couldn't sit here and write them all off, but, obviously, offense, defense, special teams, we got good contributions on all three areas. And that's good, complementary football.

Q: The way you closed out the game, Coach, at the end, especially the offensive line opening holes, how important was that?

BB: Yeah, it was great to be able to hang on to the ball at the end there. And our backs ran hard, and our line gave them some space to run. We were able to control on, what was it, three first downs or whatever it was. I think it was a little over six minutes when we got the ball.

So, yeah, that's the way you want it, kneeling the ball. That's the best way to win. So, they did a great job.

Coach, can you talk about the -- the Steelers said -- they wanted to open it up, take shots down the field. They weren't able to do that. What do you think your defense was able to do so well against their offense to force them into those check-down passes?

BB: Well, they made some yards on that. You know, Mitch did a great job of taking Najee on some of those check-downs. And they had some gains there. He read the defense well. We were back there, and he dropped it off. So, you'd have to ask them, you know, exactly what they were reading and that kind of thing.

But I thought they took their check-downs and certainly hit us on the perimeter with, you know, Johnson and the touchdown. The check-downs to Harris probably were a little more productive for him than the running game was. But, you know, he's a good back, he a tough matchup. All those guys are tough.

That big play from Mac to Nelson, how significant was that?

BB: Yeah, Nelson did a great job going up there and taking the ball. You know, just good job by, you know, Mac giving the receiver a chance to go get it. And Nelly came down with it. So, yeah, that was a huge play for us.

We had a chance for a, you know, swing there at the half, but we weren't able to get the field goal in the third quarter. But it was the right idea, we just got to do a little better job there finishing the drive at the start of the third quarter.

(Question concerning Nelson Agholor.)

BB: Yeah, he's been good all year. Yeah, I mean, I don't think you want to judge guys on one play or one game. He got a lot of snaps and he's been, really, one of our most consistent players this year.

Q: How about Judon covering that wheel route on the third down to get you guys the ball back and running out the clock?

BB: Yeah, that was a big play. And then the third down stop before that where they threw it to Harris on the flat on the blitz and tackled Harris.

You know, Harris is one of the best backs in the league. I think he led the league last year in broken tackles. He's a tough guy to get on the ground. So, it was big point as far as -- I thought our defensive players, you know, for the most part did a good job of tackling him and wrapping him up and getting multiple players around the ball. But he's definitely a tough guy to tackle.

So that was a big stop for us. And one of the top receivers in the game as a running back. So, it was a great by Judon.

Q: Big play for Mack Wilson on that interception. What kind of progress have you seen from him from the course of offseason to this point?

BB: Yeah, that Mills intercepted it. Yeah, it was a play-action pass, kind of pop pass over the middle. Yeah, made a great reaction to it.

That's a play that -- it's becoming a very popular play in the league. We run it, so I know they've seen it in practice. Miami ran it, Pittsburgh. And he's really an outstanding athlete.

He was able to -- you know, I don't know how many people would have made that play, but just his athleticism and ability to, like you said, get his hands on it and tip if to Mills. That was a big play for us.

Q: Larger role for Kendrick today. How do you feel like he responded?

BB: We'll watch the film. I think everybody responded well. I thought our players played hard. I thought they played tough. It wasn't perfect but we competed well. And did enough good things in all three areas to win. Hopefully we can build on that and try to keep improving next week.

Q: Coach, I know you've got a lot more away games ahead of you. How does it feel or what can you sense from your team after their first win, especially in a hostile environment like this?

BB: I think it was just good to reinforce the things that we're doing. The way we prepared, the way we played was good enough to come in here and win against a good football team. A team that had a big win last week, coming in for their home opener. The Steelers are tough, Coach Tomlin, this organization consistently puts out high-quality football teams. And it's good to come in here and get a win. It's not easy. So, we'll take it.

QUARTERBACK MAC JONES

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 18, 2022

Q: Mac, in a lot of ways, physically, mentally, how much different was today?

MJ: Yeah, it feels good. I think, obviously, we wanted to improve a lot of things. And we had a chance to do that throughout the week, really. That's where it all started. And just a great team win. It just wasn't one phase of the game. Offensive line played amazing. Didn't even really get hit. So, hats off to them. Run game, pass game, they made it work. So that was something I was really proud of. And we just got to keep doing that.

Q: Mac, can you touch on Nelson Agholor? Do you know you had him when you had him?

MJ: Yeah, I think it was kind of one of those plays moving the ball and running our two-minute offense and I have good comfortability with that. And, you know, when it's -- we've worked on that play through the offseason and 50/50 balls.

And he's one of those guys that I put in the throw it up to him category. And he's going to have make the play. So if it's one-on-one, I'll give him a shot. Obviously, had time with the offensive line and I think all our receivers can do that, if they're one-on-one, I'm going to give them a chance. Different philosophy, but that's what we need to do.

Q:(Inaudible)

MJ: Yeah, I think the coaching staff did a great job with preparing us throughout the week. And, obviously, like you said, they put really good stuff on film. It's a really good defense and we just went out there and executed as best we can.

We, obviously, wish we had plays we wish we had back. But they're just good players all around. But I think we competed really hard and like I said, hat's off to the offensive line and the backs running hard and the receivers making plays.

Q: How significate can that last drive be? You guys get it with 6:33, end up running the clock.

MJ: Yeah, I completed a few passes and then run the ball. That's every team's goal. The teams that win in the NFL do that. You try to watch the weekly NFL and see what teams did that well. If you can close out a game and if you do that and you don't have to score, you just got to move in and get first downs and the time just runs out. That's usually how it goes.

So NFL games come down to the wire almost every week. And I learned that, obviously, last year and this year. So, great job Damien [Harris] and Rhamondre [Stevenson] running the ball and the offensive line for opening the holes.

Q: And how significant can that be for you guys? Obviously, you're not where you want to be.

MJ: Yeah, of course. I think we did some good stuff in the run game. And we have to build on it and do that all the time and throw the ball whenever we want, pass the ball -- you know, run the ball. It doesn't really matter, just to be able to do it whenever however we want to do it. So definitely stuff to build on. But it's just one game and got to continue to do it every week.

Q: (Question concerning indiscernible offensive lineman's name.)

MJ: Yeah, he's very -- like, very stoic. But very competitive in his own way. And he's always hustling to that ball. And he's doing a great job learning the offense. He's really done a great job. It's hard coming in as a rookie and starting. And he's done a great job. And he's just got to continue to grow and improve what he wants to improve on. That's what I'll tell him.

If it's a few things on your footwork, Hey, I'm a little slow on this, let's fix it. So, he's done a good job, and we just got to continue to grow and let those guys mold with the five guys.

Q: Mac, how do you feel in the shotgun? It looks like that was a big plan.

MJ: I like the shotgun. I like under center, too. I think they're both interchangeable. You can run the same plays out of either one. But, yeah, I think it was a good idea and we can do either one. It's just the difference of a word.

You're either under center or in the gun. So we can do whatever we want. And every time has both. So that's important as an offense, to be able to do both.

Q: Do you feel like you guys are finding what you're good at? I know it's still early in the season here. But have you streamlined things to the point you're forming an identity?

MJ: Yeah, I think the coaching staff has done a good job laying out our rules for us and what we want to follow. And, hey, on this play do this, that play, do that. So really done a good job there cleaning everything up. And we just got to execute better and we'll get -- have even more points and it won't be as close of a game. So that's the big thing, just put more points on the board and continue to grow.

Q: When you get that turnover, how important was it to answer the second, not settle for a three there, maybe give them a little bit of life? How important was it to punch it into the end zone then?

MJ: Yeah, I think any time we get a turnover, points are good. Moving the ball is good. But you, obviously, want points, three or seven. And great job by the defense and we just got to, you know, do that. It's complementary football.

And when they do something good, we got to respond and do something good, too, and vice versa. So they played really well and they just got to -- you know, like us, work on the things they want to work on to get better. But they looked pretty good out there and we got to grow together.

Q: Mac, last week you didn't run the ball that much. Do you feel more comfortable in an offense where there's people to run the ball?

MJ: I don't really care. I just want to score points and I think we need to be able to do both. And that's important; run, pass, RPO, play action, whatever you want to do. We have a really good offensive line and we need to have the ability to do that whenever we want. Like I said, every offense does that. Really good offenses do that, they run when they want, play action, pass, et cetera. So it all plays into each other.

Q: Minkah Fitzpatrick said today that they played a lot of two-high safeties. Were you surprised by that? I remember a coach last year for you guys saying, "We don't really see two-high safeties that much." I think it was a reference to the fact that you guys run the ball well, generally. So was that a surprise to you that they showed that sort of defense?

MJ: There's a spin and dial on defense. So they run a bunch of different coverages. And, yeah, they definitely played a lot of that. But they have good, good players. So they know how to run, you know, different things, different ways. So that was good.

And I think we responded well. The one interception wasn't good by me. But I'll get that cleaned up and make sure we see it all the way through. What we wanted to do that with that play. It's all good. That was one of those split safety ones, but, you know, every play is different. It could be post-high when you go to the middle or split safety. It doesn't really matter for us.

Q: (Question concerning man coverage.)

MJ: Yeah, I think, like you said a lot of different coverages today. Spin the dial. And we just got a good offense that everyone can get the ball whenever. So it's not like we're scheming for one specific thing. We can go out there and just get the completions.

And like today, offensive line gave me plenty of time to go through my reads. So that's the important part and got to keep doing it. Every defense is different and every defense runs different coverages. So, we have to be ready for everything.

WIDE RECEIVER NELSON AGHOLOR

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 18, 2022

Transcription not available.

RUNNING BACK DAMIEN HARRIS

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 18, 2022

Transcription not available.

LINEBACKER MATTHEW JUDON

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 18, 2022

Transcription not available.

SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 18, 2022

Q: Different result from last week?

DM: That is what we talked about last week after the game, and I said that to you guys. It is about finding a way to win. I would not say this was the best game we have ever played. There were times when we were very complimentary of each other. We let up a touchdown drive and then the offense had a long drive. Nelly [Nelson Aglolor] was just talking about ending the game. Games are perfect by how you take advantage of the situation and make winning plays; I thought we did that today and the result is a win. It is always better correcting the film with a win, and we will get to do that tomorrow.

Q: Two weeks in a row limiting big plays?

DM: That is hard in this league, you can ask the guys on offense for us. There are going to be games that we cannot allow that we are going to have to make plays, because you are going to play some of these offenses who can consistently drive down the field and put points on the board. That is what it is in this league. Do not give it up in one play, make a team play after play, make something happen. Then it is important to try to play good defense in the right area. I think we all will hate the touchdown we gave up in the red area. Sometimes they are going to make a good play; a good throw or catch but we have to make it tough. I thought we did a good job of that today throughout the game consistently.

Q: How were you guys successful forcing them into those short passes?

DM: They had some things set up, but I thought we did a great job taking it away even some of the checkdowns to Najee Harris. They had some positive plays checking it down to Harris and him making plays. There were a couple plays where they had [Diontae] Johnson trying to go split the safeties, but we did a good job marrying up pass coverage. They had a shot call that is going to take more time and our guys did a good job trying to get to the quarterback. I think that with every team we play, there is going to be an element of dangerous players. We got to do a better job of that in the back end and I think our front has to make them pay for trying to buy time to create an opportunity to throw the ball downfield.

PATRIOTS PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM

WR Kendrick Bourne

Did you come into this feeling like you might have something to prove?

No. Like I said, I'm a team player. I'm not trying to get the limelight; I'm not trying to have you all in my face. It's just how I work sometimes, and it's all about growing with the team and everybody finding their role. It's a new system, so it's just growing as we go through the weeks.

What did it mean to you to be a part of the third-down passing-game package at the end of the game?

I'm just honored. I appreciate it. I'm just playing my role, really, and excelling in my role. That's just doing whatever I've got to do. I'm that kind of player. I appreciate what I've got to do and appreciate being on the team. That's the biggest thing, I'm just glad to be here. Whatever I've got to do is literally what I'm going to do. I was more involved this week, so it was good and I'm glad I can make the plays I can.

How much better does it feel for you guys to put all this work and to have it pay off, have some positive reinforcement and have a positive result?

Coming out here to Pittsburgh, it's not an easy place to win. It's a crazy environment. But it feels good to get the first win on Robert Kraft's 500 games. We got a win for him. And just to boost our confidence; we definitely felt we could have won it last week too, but there were just certain plays that we let get away from us. But even last week, we had to control the game, and we had to control the game today, but we finished better today. So, it gives us that confidence.

C David Andrews

How did it feel to end the game the way you did?

This offensive line man. We got to third-and-three at the end of the game right there; you are going back to the huddle thinking "oh man I hope they call a run here." Then we went back to it and finished it. As an offensive line it felt really good to finish the game that way and come out of here with a W [win].

Re: Power gap runs today

Everything in football is schemed up. Its game plans, and pulling guards are part of football. They have been for a hundred years. We did some things, some good things today. They had to make a lot of ingame adjustments, obviously they did some different things. It was a good job by everyone getting it figured out and pretty good communication for the most part, nothing really alarming. Obviously, there is a lot we can get better at, and we will start that on the flight home and tomorrow morning.

Re: Pre snap communication today

It was pretty good. Definitely, on the road and in an environment like this, it is a little harder. I thought we did a good job. We cleaned some things up, did some things to help ourselves. I thought it was a good day.

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