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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 1/13

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
January 13, 2019

BB: A great job by our team today. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort from the coaching staff, players. Had a really good week. Obviously, ready to go. Played a good game today against a good football team. The Chargers are really, as I said all week, very impressive in everything they do. I thought our team played well and made plays in every area and played with a lot of energy, a lot of effort. It's good to be playing this time of year, good to be able to move on. Give the players credit – they really competed well today and that's what you need this time of year.

Q: Despite only having one reception, how big of an impact did Rob Gronkowski have in this game with his blocking ability?

BB: Again, we got good performances from every area. I'd have to go back and look at the film, but obviously we did a lot of good things in all three phases and all of the guys that contributed out there were a part of it.

Q: Can you talk about the lift that Sony Michel gave you?

BB: Yeah, again, we got plays from everybody. Everybody did a good job. We threw the ball, we ran it, we played well in the kicking game, played well on defense. We could list all of the guys that played. We got contributions from all of them. It's good when you have guys – everybody stepping up and playing really a very competitive and productive game against a great team like the Chargers today.

Q: How pleased were you with the offense scoring 31 unanswered points following the Chargers first score?

BB: Yeah, again, we were able to have good balance in the offense. We ran it, we threw it. The red zone production was good. Defensively, we were able to get some stops, turn the ball over in the kicking game so good complementary football. Again, that’s what you need to do at this time of year.

Q: What kind of view did you have on Albert McClellan's fumble recovery on the muffed punt?

BB: It was kind of right in front of us. It was a close play but it looked like he had possession before he went out of bounds. It was a very close play. I thought it was a big enough play to take a shot at. Luckily we got the call on that one.

Q: Can you speak to the sustained challenges it takes to get eight consecutive teams to the AFC Championship game?

BB: Yeah, I mean, honestly I don’t really care about that right now. I’m worried about this team and what this team has done. This team has worked hard all year to put itself in position to compete for the AFC Championship, obviously, against a great team in Kansas City. That's really what we're focused on. Whatever happened last year or some other year, whatever it is, it is. It’s all in the books. This team has a lot in front of it and that's really what we're going to focus on is what this team can do.

Q: Did you have a good feeling coming into the game that they would continue to utilize six and seven defensive backs in the secondary?

BB: They've been doing it all year. They did it against us last year.

Q: Were you prepared for them to put more linebackers on the field at some point if you guys kept running the ball successfully?

BB: Yeah, that’s what they do.

Q: Can you talk about the pass rush today?

BB: Yeah, again, [Philip] Rivers does a real good job of getting the ball out of there. I thought we got good pressure on him but he still was able to step up and somehow avoid it and get the ball out. I thought our players rushed – our defense, we had a lot of guys – linebackers, d-linemen, in a couple cases DBs – but I thought we put constant pressure on him. I thought he handled it well like he always does but we just kept battling. We got him a few times and he stepped up there and made some great throws under pressure. That's what you've got to try and do. You've got to keep slugging it out with him in the pass rush and try to get the timing off a little bit. It's hard but that's what you've got to try and do.

Q: What have you noticed from Sony Michel in terms of his maturity and ability to come through in big moments?

BB: Yeah, we've talked about him all year. I mean, he's done a good job. As I said, we got great contributions from everyone today. It's hard to single anyone out. It was a good team win in all three phases and from a lot of people in each of the phases of those respective units. Yeah, everybody stepped up today.

Q: What are your initial thoughts on the challenge of playing the Chiefs?

BB: Yeah, well, they're the number one seed in the AFC so they deserved it. They’re the best team. We'll see how it goes. Well-coached, they have a lot of explosive players. We had a tremendous game with them here earlier. That was a long time ago. We'll see where we are now, see where they are.

Q: How much do you balance continuing to be aggressive when you have a large lead versus trying to milk as much of the clock as you can?

BB: Yeah, well we're trying to score until I thought the game got to the point where they didn't really have enough possessions to catch us. Look, we've seen Peyton Manning come down from 21 points in four minutes and win so it's not over until it's over in this league. I know I’m in the minority on that but until it's over, you're trying to score. You're trying to find a way to win. There's no lead – 28-point lead, 24-point lead, 21-point lead – I don’t think that’s ever really safe in this league. I've seen them evaporate and certainly we had a game like that this year. Yeah, we're still trying to score and at some point when there's not enough possessions then it's about the clock but that got pretty deep into the fourth quarter before that was really the case. 

Q: How important was it to strike first on your opening drive but to also take seven minutes off of the clock?

BB: Yeah, well the most important thing is to score so however much time we use or don’t use, whatever it is, it is. The offense's job is to go out there and score points. The defense's is to take the ball away and keep them off the scoreboard. It's not really about time at that point. It’s about, I would say, getting points or preventing them and getting control of the game.

QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
January 13, 2019

Q: What do you appreciate about Julian Edelman and playing in these big games and having big moments with him?

TB: Yeah, he's such a great player and just a great teammate, competitor and had a great game today. He came up big. We needed it and we'll need it next week too.

Q: Do you think this was the best complementary football game the team has played all year? It seemed like you ran and threw the ball well today.

TB: Yeah, that was good. I thought both phases were important. You can't get one dimensional in these type of games. It's too tough against too many good teams. You get to this point and there's very little margin of error and you're going to have to be good in all phases. Running it, throwing it, kicking it, playing defense, everything. We'll have to do it again.

Q: A lot of talking heads have proclaimed that the dynasty here was ending and that you were going to fall off a cliff. Is it still satisfying to be able to prove all of those people wrong time and time again?

TB: I just like winning. I just like winning.

Q: You've talked about feeling like you had the answers to the test in the past. Was this one of those days where you felt like you had a good handle on what they were doing scheme wise?

TB: They're a good defense and I think they do a lot of things well and I thought we just did a good job executing. Again, blocking great and running the ball well and guys made some great catches, converted early on third downs. It was really important. It was good to get ahead of that team. They have a lot of good skill players, a very good offense. They battle to the end. They're a great football team. It's good to win.

Q: What did you think of Sony Michel's performance today behind the offensive line who had a nice day clearing holes for him?

TB: Yeah, absolutely. He did have a great game. He's just had a great year. He's just battled and fought hard and I really love Sony as a person and his commitment to the team. He's just been a lot of fun to be out there with. He's making a lot of hard yards and he had a great game today. Great to see.

Q: What are your descriptions of Rob Gronkowski as a blocker and then also how would you describe him as a runner with the ball after the catch?

TB: Yeah, he's a great blocker. I think that's something that goes maybe a little under the radar with his skill set, but he's one of the most dominant blocking tight ends in the league. Again, he's a threat when he catches it. Just did such a great job there to start the third quarter. He's a threat any time he's out there.

Q: How valuable was his blocking today?

TB: It was great. Yeah, it was great and we need everybody. We need all of our best players. There's four teams left, or five right now, four soon. It's going to take our best.

Q: Your last trip to Kansas City was the blowout loss on Monday Night football back in 2014. Is it satisfying to have won two Super Bowls since and be returning to that stadium next week with a chance to earn another Super Bowl berth?

TB: That was a pretty crappy loss that night. We've had some other ones. I think we showed a lot of perseverance, a lot of toughness. This team is showing it. We've had some tough losses this year too but you just keep fighting. That's what football is all about. It's a season. It's not one game or four games or eight games. It's 16 games and you get a chance to be in this position. We played good today. That's why we won and Kansas City's had a hell of a year. They gave us everything we could handle in – what was that? October or November? – I don't remember but I'm sure it'll be the same. It'll be a tough game. They're well-coached. They've got a good offense. They played well defensively against the Colts. It's going to be a lot of fun to go back there and play in a championship game and try to advance.

TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
January 13, 2019

Q: You only had one catch today but were very active in the run game. Was that still a fun game for you, even though you had less of a visible impact on the stat sheet?

RG: Yeah, that was a real fun game out there, just the way we were executing. Whatever coaches call, whatever plays we call, we practice all week. Blocking, receiving, no matter what is, whatever play is called, just got to go out there and do your job. We had a lot of run action, running plays and just got to do your best job at it. It was a great overall offensive unit that we went out there and just put plays together and put up points.

Q: Today the Chargers put together a lot of six and seven defensive back packages. For you, what’s your approach in the run blocking game trying to clear a way for the runners against that particular alignment?

RG: Yeah, I mean, when you do get that, when you get a lot of defensive backs out there, you’ve got to run the ball. You’ve got to put your hand down and make yards the old way, the old-fashioned way, and that’s by running the ball. We did a lot of that. We also had a great job executing in the pass game. It opened up a lot of play-actions, a lot of stuff like that, so just being able to run the ball, have four touchdowns – I think Sony had three. He did a great job. Everyone, the offensive line, we all did a great job overall together.

Q: Obviously the first drive was very impressive, but it seemed like the most important drive of the game was the response drive to the Chargers tying the game at 7-7. In the first half, it seemed like you guys set an offensive tempo. What was it about the tempo you were able to establish?

RG: Yeah, we went out there and we were just driving the ball from the very beginning. I mean, that first drive we had, it’s always good to put up points. I mean, however many plays it was, it wasn’t no gimmes. It was just working hard, grinding, getting the yards we can get, taking them and just moving forward. And Julian [Edelman] doing a great job on third downs, catching the ball, breaking a couple tackles, getting the first down. I mean, that couldn’t be anymore huge of a play by him. And just overall, we just kept executing, we just kept grinding, we kept pounding the ball and we had to do what we had to do, and that’s what you want to do every time you touch the ball. You want to score.

Q: When you were on the field, there seemed to be a discernable increase in volume in the crowd. Did you feel the love from the crowd today?

RG: I always feel the love from the crowd. I mean, haven’t been having all the reception stuff, but I had one today and you could tell – just definitely great to get the love from them, even on just the one catch, which is super neat. 

Q: It’s possible that this is your last game in Gillette Stadium. Could you speak to the possibility of that? Did you take a look around during the game?

RG: I was focused on LA the whole game, and it’s going to be the same thing this week. I’m all-in right now. We’ve got the Kansas City Chiefs now. It’s going to be another week of preparation, and I haven’t thought about anything like that, so just got to go all-in, keep our focus and keep on doing what we’ve got to do, and I’ve got to keep on doing what I’ve got to do to help this team out to win next week.

Q: So, the game is over and you haven’t started preparing for next week yet. What are your thoughts right now?

RG: My thoughts about right now – that I’m going to have to enjoy the win. That’s what we do. You get one night to enjoy the win, actually, around here. You do, you get one night. And then when you wake up tomorrow morning, then it’s on to Kansas City. So, you get a couple hours, so I’ll be doing that and then I’ll be thinking about next week.

Q: What does it say about you that you get as much satisfaction from clearing a path for one of your teammates as you do from catching the ball yourself? Can you describe what it’s like when there’s players hanging off you and you still don’t go down?

RG: I mean, the run game is huge. I mean, I believe it’s a huge asset of the game and it helps open the pass game and it helps open the receivers in the pass game, the running backs in the pass game. Just to be able to run the ball, to be able to block, I mean, I’ve never taken it for granted. I’ve always loved run blocking. I love to do the balance of both, but whatever I get asked to do, whatever coaches want me to do, teammates, if it’s run blocking, pass blocking, whatever, going up for a pass, I’m down to do.

Q: As a tight end, did you have any thoughts about sharing the field today with Antonio Gates?

RG: Yeah, I mean, Gates is a monster. I’ve been watching him since high school. Just to share the field with him again is definitely an honor. Just always looking up to him, ever since he’s been in the league. So, got to see him after, say what’s up to him and wish him best of luck from whatever he does from here on out, but he’s a great player and a great role model for the league.

Q: The Patriots slogan is to ignore the noise, but after the game, Tom Brady said that people have doubted your team. What part of ‘ignore the noise’ are you able to realistically take, what kind of noise gets through and how do you use that for motivation?

RG: I mean, you’ve got to ignore the noise throughout the week. I mean, you can’t really get too amped up about it because you’ve got to focus, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. But, you do hear things like that, but you’ve got to ignore it in a way where it doesn’t ruin your preparation, ruin what you’re trying to do, ruin what you’re trying to accomplish that week. So, if you take it in, if you take it for motivation, that’s great. But other than that, you can’t let it get you down. You’ve just got to keep on preparing how you’ve prepared every week. But, we’ve been hearing things like that forever now for a few years. So, we just laugh at it, whatever they say, and we just keep moving forward.

RUNNING BACK SONY MICHEL

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
January 13, 2019

SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
January 13, 2019

Q: How hard is it to get to eight straight conference championship games?

DM: Oh, it’s hard. I kind of said that to the DBs before the game, just to be grateful for the opportunity we had today. I think sometimes from the outside looking in, you go to eight straight AFC Championship games, you’re in the playoffs 10 years in a row, you kind of get in a mode like it’ll keep happening, it’ll be there. But this is a special group, and I think we’re starting to realize that we have one opportunity to try to take advantage of everything that’s in front of us. I thought the team from the past two weeks – the bye week, this week – just a great mindset of putting everything we got out there on the field, practice, meetings, and just have an opportunity to try to work again next weekend. It’s a blessing. You talk about the playoffs, to go into a game and not know if you’ll be at work next week, to go to zero-zero on the clock and know, ‘Alright guys, I’ll see you again tomorrow and we’ll get to review the film and move on and go to KC.’ So, enjoy this for a couple of hours and then get ready to go for next week. 

Q: Does playing Kansas City earlier this year help with preparation at all for next week?

DM: Yeah, I think both teams will know each other. Not even just playing in that game – there’s a whole week that goes into preparing, watching games from last year, watching their games before they played us. So, you get to know the personnel, and then now, you just try to refresh. You’re trying to get back on it, you’re trying to see what’s new, what’s different, what’s similar. But it’s a tough week. I think you’re preparing from a lot of games, there’s going to be wrinkles in the game. I mean, this is to go to the Super Bowl, so yes that helps, but we’ve got a lot of work in front of us if we want to go beat that team at home.

Q: After that Keenan Allen touchdown tied that game at 7-7, what was the temperament on the sideline and how good were you guys at putting that play behind you and moving on?

DM: Yeah, we were good. I thought it was a great play as far as just setting things up, Keenan Allen ran a double move, good job. We knew we were going against a good quarterback, a really good receiver, a good offense on the whole. We put that behind us and I thought we did a good job of sticking to the game plan today. Of everything we practiced, we talked about that throughout the year of taking what we do in practice and pulling it all the way over on Sunday, just every aspect of that, and I thought we did a good job of that today. So, we’ve got to just continue that next week.

Q: How hard was it today to stop their wide receivers, and what are your thoughts on how their wide receivers did today?

DM: Yeah, they have a ton of skill players out there and I thought we did a good job of just being aggressive. Guys being aggressive in coverage to front, being aggressive in the rush, and when you get that, there were some coverage sacks, there were some just straight-up sacks where we might have been a step or two behind but they got there. It’s just a great mesh with all of us in there and then we’ve just got to do a better job when the game gets like that in the fourth quarter of – the game kind of flips, your game plan flips and it’s all pass, it’s kind of all two-minute. But it feels great to be able to play next week.

Q: You guys really took Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler out of the game today. Was that the number one goal on defense?

DM: Yeah, we talked about that. Coming in and stopping the run and not letting them get really whatever they want. I think you go against quarterbacks like that and they know if they can get the ball going in the run game, they’ll run and run and then now you’ve got to deal with hard play-action. Just everything opens up. The guys up front did a great job of not letting the run game get going and then it allowed us to do all of the different things we do in the passing game on the front and in the back end.

Q: How effective was the pass rush today?

DM: Yeah, and it was great. I think a lot of it ended up in four-man rushes and different things like that. Those guys just do a good job of studying, knowing what we want to do in different instances and executing at a high level. One thing that definitely helped us as a whole on defense was the crowd today. I don’t know if they all watched yesterday and saw that Kansas City won and kind of realized this was the last game here at Gillette, but they were rocking from the first third down all the way throughout the game. We love that as a defense. We’re trying to make it tough on [Philip] Rivers. The play-clock is dwindling, they’re screaming. That’s tough to go against. That definitely helped out today too. 

Q: What did you say to your brother about his first playoff victory?

DM: Not much, man. I’m one of those guys; we’ve been in this situation. You just want to keep winning. I let the guys know each time that when we do get a win, realize this is a blessing. We get to come to work next week. No matter how the game goes, in the playoffs a win is a win and we’ll take it and that’s what I told them and I’ll see you again tomorrow. I won’t just see him at his house or anything. We’ll be at work so I’ll take that.

Q: Did some of the outside criticism and people picking the Chargers, even though they were underdogs, get into the locker room? Does it really have an effect at this point with you guys having played so many playoff games?

DM: No, I mean, I think for us, we were going to prepare and be ready to go, whether you pick us or you don’t pick us. But, we see it. We see our quarterback’s too old, we’re not good enough on defense, the skill players aren’t good. We see it, but it doesn’t affect how we prepare. We love practicing and we love playing with each other, preparing. We’re going to take advantage of that and come out ready to go no matter what. So, like I said earlier, we have a team of great character, a lot of guys in there with really good character that are going to keep fighting and have already been counted out multiple times, so that never affects us. 

Q: When your offense scores two touchdowns in the first two drives, what does that do for the defense?

DM: The only thing we’re thinking is get on the field and get back off the field. We play defense. We know how hard it is if an offense has a long drive, like we had that first drive, and if we can go and get stops and get them right back out there, it’s tough as a defense for one to get the adjustments that are happening, to catch your breath – like, you just feel like you’re out there, you’re out there. So, I thought we did a good job of that in the first half of going three-and-out or having five plays and out – just doing those things to get off the field, and when we do that for our offense, they get going. It’s tough to stop them.

RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
January 13, 2019

Q: When you see a defense with six or seven defensive backs on the field, how do you try to attack a defense like that when catching the ball out of the backfield?

JW: I mean, there's different ways. Coach [Josh] McDaniels does a great job of designing good game plans for whatever type of defense we're facing. Their defense – they play a lot of zone so as running backs we have a lot of opportunities to catch the football so you just want to catch the ball, get vertical, get as many yards as possible and protect the football.

Q: How important is it for guys like you, and the rest of the running back unit, to accept their role week to week and know that it's not always going to be the same? Also, how good was the offensive line today?

JW: Yeah, each week is different. We attack each defense a different way. Coach McDaniels does a great job of designing good game plans. The offensive line has been doing a great job for us all year long. Them, James Develin, Rob [Gronkowski], Dwayne [Allen], receivers – they've been opening up that running game for us. Sony [Michel] did a great job running, Rex [Burkhead] too. We just have a great offense and guys don't care who gets the credit. Each week is different. It could be that somebody has a big week one week. The next week you may get two targets. So what? You just go out there and play and hope you get a win.

Q: What is it about you that you seem to save your best games for the biggest moments?

JW: You've got to play your best football at this time of year. I just try and put my best foot forward, have no regrets, study my opponent as best as possible and just try to put my best performance out there every time I step out there. For us, we just enjoy the opportunity, don't take it for granted and just play in the moment.

Q: What was the difference today in the red zone that led to more success running the ball in those close-yardage situations?

JW: It's always a plus when you can run the ball in in the red zone. The last time we played them, last year, didn't do a great job in the red zone. We knew we had to be better today and I think we just did a great job executing the play calls and I think it was just a great team performance.

Q: How do you anticipate and prepare for the safeties and defensive backs coming down on you so aggressively when you catch the ball out of the backfield?

JW: Yeah, just catch the ball. Get vertical, kind of scan the defense before I turn my eyes back to the quarterback and just do what I can to try and make defenders miss. Protect the football. Obviously, they know it's coming with what type of defense they play and it happens to them every single week, so they're prepared. You've just got to do your best when you get the ball in your hands.

Q: You could make the argument that two of the team's best games have been the last two games. But that hasn't been the case on the road. What do you guys have to do going forward that you haven't done really consistently on the road this year?

JW: Just execute for four quarters, start fast, just play Patriot football. It doesn't matter what we did during the regular season. This is going to be a battle of what we do on next Sunday. We've just got to put our best foot forward and play Patriot football. That's all we have to do.

PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM

David Andrews, C

(On slowing down the Chargers defensive line today) 

“I thought our tackles played unreal, they played lights out. We needed them to and they did. They did a great job. Those are two very good edge guys and they did a great job and deserve everything they got.”

(On hearing people doubt the Patriots being able to play their best football right now) 

“We just came in and just kept working each week. This isn’t just a magical process that happened this week. It’s a combination of all the hard work all year and we were able to just put it together.”

(On thoughts about playing Kansas City next week) 

“It’s going to be a big challenge. This is a good football team, they’re playing good football and they’ve got a good defense. They can get after the passer. I never played there, but I know it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s a good football team.”

(On the team’s level of execution and how they came out in the first quarter)

“It’s nothing magical; it’s just a lot of hard work throughout the week. I thought we had two really good weeks going from the bye week to this week. Have those good weeks and you start building that foundation, good building blocks. I thought guys played hard today, played well, and played the way we wanted to. Ran the ball well and played ahead on down in distance. It was a good team win.”

Trent Brown, OL

(On his high school postseason game) 

“We made it all the way to the state championship and lost, so I want that win this time.”

(On the last time he played the Chiefs) 

“We made a lot of plays and it was definitely a shootout. It was two good teams and I think they were undefeated when we played them. It has been a long time but definitely two great teams who scored a lot of points and it will probably be something similar next week.”

(On why the team has gotten steadily better throughout the season)

“We have a great coach, the best.” 

Rex Burkhead, RB

(On controlling the line of scrimmage) 

“The offensive line did a tremendous job; just playing physical from the get-go. They have a great front and give them a lot of credit, that’s a great team. Our offensive line definitely helped set the tone early.”

(On deciding to receive the ball after the opening coin toss) 

“As an offense you get excited about that when the coach puts the ball in your hand. You feel like you have to go out there and execute. It gives you a little extra energy when usually the preferred call is to defer. So we just wanted to come out and start fast.”

(On getting to go back to another AFC Championship Game) 

“Excited for the challenge. The Chiefs are a great team and we know that. We know it’s a tough place to play at and we’re going to have to have a great week and really put our best foot forward. They’re talented across the board; offensively, defensively, and special teams wise. Always one of the best so we’re going to have to be ready.”

Adam Butler, DL

(On having an identify and sticking with that throughout the season) 

“Yes but no at the same time, because we’re constantly trying to get better which means we’re constantly changing. Yes, we have a standard. So a standard could be our identity. Every week we’re just trying to be better than our last.”

Marcus Cannon, OL

(On blocking Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III)

“I guess I did my job. Trent [Brown] did his job. The whole O-line, you know we’re all working together. From the offensive line to the tight ends, we’re all connected. We’re going to have to look at the film to see but it sounds like we did a pretty good job. We’re just going to keep working and come back next week and try to do the same.” 

(On if it felt like the offensive line had their most complete game of the year)

“I really can’t say that until I see the film. I’ve got to see what we did good and what we did bad. You know we won, so we did something good. We’ll find the little things that were bad and we’ll fix them.” 

(On what it says when the tight ends are willing to run block the way they did)

“That’s just how the team is. Everybody is willing. Everybody puts themselves second and puts the team first. Everybody is ready to pick up their lunch pail and go to work and do what we’ve got to do.”

Phillip Dorsett, WR

(On the win) 

“Yeah it was a really good win, it felt good. A playoff win we all know is extra important. We’re still here, we’re still going. We know it’s going to be a challenge next week so we have got to get in and have the same focus we had this week on the game plan and all the details.” 

(On if there were any doubts the team would play their best football in the playoffs) 

“No, no doubts. It’s playoff football, you have to play your best game to win. That’s how it is. We knew it was going to be tough. We had to go out there and execute the game plan that was in front of us. We did, and that was a great game we played.”

(On his thoughts about Kansas City) 

“They’re going to make it tough. We played them of course and it was a shootout. I don’t know what to expect this time. The only thing I know I can expect is that they’re going to bring it to us, and we’ve just got to be able to bring it back.”

Julian Edelman, WR

(On moving to second all-time in postseason receptions behind Jerry Rice) 

“It’s pretty cool. I grew up in the Bay Area. I grew up close to that family and he’s the [Greatest of All-Time]. Anytime you’re in the same sentence with him, you pinch yourself. It’s pretty cool but it doesn’t mean anything unless you win though.”

(On what it means to play with Tom Brady) 

“It’s unbelievable. I grew up in the same area as him. Then you get to go out and play a bunch of games with him. It’s been very awesome and it’s been a blessing. It’s been a contagious relationship, being around the best quarterback of all time, the best competitor of all time. For a receiver it’s been a dream.”

(On how important it was to come out the way they did offensively) 

“It’s always important to start fast. Especially a 1 o’clock game in the playoffs. I mean that’s your goal. The ability to execute early and get things going sets a lot of things up. It shows that we had a good week of practice, executed well in practice and it carried over and went into the game.”  

Trey Flowers, DL

(On if he could sense during practice that the offense was clicking) 

“You got Tom Brady on your side, so obviously there are guys that are able to make a play. The offensive line did a great job, the running game, the receivers and all those guys were able to make plays. We know type of guys that we got in this locker room and we knew they were going to go out and be productive.”

(On the defense creating pressure on the quarterback) 

“We understood that we had to get [Philip Rivers] off the spot, not allow him to be comfortable in the pocket and not allow him to step up. He’s a great quarterback, so we had to pressure him and get him off the spot. I think we executed that well today.”

(On jumping out to a big lead) 

“It’s any given Sunday. Obviously it’s a great team, but it’s just about coming in on Sunday and executing. What you did during the season or the week before, it really doesn’t matter. It’s about coming out and executing on one day. I think we out-executed them today. Obviously it’s a great team and we had to bring our ‘A’ game. I think we did.”

(On advancing to the AFC Championship)

“It’s definitely a great feeling. I’ve been fortunate to go to it for my fourth year. It’s my fourth year in the league and it’s my fourth time going, so obviously I’m very fortunate. We just want to take advantage of it and get ready throughout practice to prepare well for it.”

Stephon Gilmore, CB

(On his interception) 

“I just kind of felt it and knew it was coming. I was able to go up and grab the ball.”

(On the team’s success during the game) 

“We started fast, especially the offense. We just kept plugging plays on plays and forgot about the bad plays and we just made more plays than the Chargers did.”

(On how it feels to advance to the AFC Championship Game) 

“It is a blessing and a great opportunity. It does not happen too often and it is hard to get here so we have to really take advantage of the opportunity.”

(On how he feels about the Patriots advancing to the AFC Championship eight years in a row and being part of two straight games)

“Yes you know it is hard to be in this position so it is a lot of hard work and it does not just happen overnight. You really have to earn everything in this league and I think we did that and we have a great team coming up next week.”

(On specific keys to playing well)

“Just to play as a team, play well together as a defense, trusting each other and playing aggressive. That is what the coaches preached to us all week so that is what we had to do to come out and play today.”

Duron Harmon, DB

(On advancing to the AFC Championship) 

“It’s amazing and it’s history. It’s a testament to what coach Belichick and Mr. Kraft have built over the last two decades. It shows how [Belichick] has a standard of excellence and no matter who plays here, no matter who’s on defense or who’s coordinating, he’s going to make sure that he gets the best out of his players each and every day.”

(On the team’s consistent playoff success) 

“I think that just goes with the type of players that we have in this locker room. We have unselfish players who buy into the team. We have no guys who are ‘me guys’ that just worry about themselves or worry about stats. You see those guys throughout the league each and every week, but we have guys who are just committed to one thing and that’s winning. Putting the team first, doing whatever you can to make sure that at the end of the day on Sundays that we’re victorious and we have the win.”

(On the defensive performance) 

“We’re just trying to step up to the challenge. The coaches did a great job in coming up with a good game plan to kind of force them to play left handed, take away the running game and turn them into a pass team. Obviously it always helps when our offense is scoring the way they scored today. We know if we can continue to get the ball back to them, they’re going to put points on the board and we’ll be able to play from ahead. When we play from ahead, we’re a hard team to stop.”

Chris Hogan, WR

(On the team getting off to a good start) 

“Everyone was ready to go. It was a fast start with a one o’clock [game] and everyone got up and showed up ready to play. Once we got drives going, we had positive plays. Julian [Edelman], the running backs, offensive line, Tom [Brady], everyone was playing well today. I think the positive plays really helped us move the ball all day.”

(On the national media counting the Patriots out) 

“Any motivation that you can use when it’s playoff time. It’s fine, people can count us out. The guys in this locker room, we believe in each other, we believe in ourselves and our abilities. We’re just going to continue to work hard every single week. It’s still a one-game season, so we got to get back to work on Kansas City [Chiefs]. We’re going to work real hard all throughout the week so that we can go out there and play good football.”

(On if he could sense during practice that the offense was clicking)

“Every single week, we work hard. That’s what is great about this team is that no matter who we’re playing, the work gets put in throughout the week. Our preparation was just awesome this week. I think we knew if we were able to put together positive plays, put together drives and not have penalties or shoot ourselves in the foot, that we could move the ball well. Hats off to everyone, the running backs, offensive line, everyone played well today. It’s great. We have to hit the reset button and get back to work on Kansas City.”

*Albert McClellan, LB *

(On his fumble recovery and having the type of impact that he envisioned when coming to the Patriots)

“I mean you dream of making those plays. You just have to be ready when those opportunities come. For that play that we’re talking about, the opportunity was there. It was either that or pitch the ball back in to [Kyle] Van Noy, and it felt like I was under control enough. I felt like there were more Chargers players around so I really couldn’t tell who to throw it back in to. So I just took the opportunity to go, and it came out the way it came out.”

(On knowing if he had the fumble recovery or if he was out of bounds)

“I knew I had it and I knew I didn’t bobble it going out of bounds. I just didn’t know how for sure it was able to be seen, since the referee already made that judgment. But after the replay you see the whole argument on the sideline and everybody pointing at it, so I mean it was one of those plays.”

Jason McCourty, CB

(On how long he’s been waiting to feel what he did today) 

“Oh man, I guess you could say 10 seasons. This is what you play for, the opportunity to continue to play this time of the year. Personally, team wise, this is a great accomplishment. For me, you just try to take it moment by moment. The opportunity to be out here is a blessing. I’m very, very thankful for the guys in this locker room just to be able to be a part of it.”

(On how this moment felt compared to how he expected it to feel) 

“I want to say right on par. I think once the game starts, it’s a football game. You’re excited about the stakes that are there. Obviously if you don’t win the game you’re packing up your locker room Monday. That’s definitely exciting, but once the game starts it’s just a football game. The same one we’ve been playing for however many weeks now. Just continue to fight, continue to compete.”

(On if he can sense when the opposing quarterback is getting flustered) 

“Not all the time. I think a guy like Philip Rivers is a guy that’s emotional. I said it during the course of the week, I love competing against that guy because you’re going to get his best each and every play. Obviously earlier on in the game when we’re getting stops and the offense is scoring you know a sense of frustration is going to start to set in. For us on the defense you know that guy across from us is a really great player so let’s just continue to focus and continue to stay in it.”

Matthew Slater, WR

(On advancing to an eighth consecutive AFC Championship Game) 

“It’s special. We’ve been extremely blessed over the last eight years to be a competitive football team. I think there are a lot of reasons for that, but I don’t know, the good Lord keeps giving us some good opportunities and we try to take advantage of them. We’re humbled to be in this situation. Love this group of guys, love this locker room. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

(On playing the Kansas City Chiefs next week) 

“It’s the best team in the AFC that we’re getting ready to play. It will be a tough game for us, but we got a lot of guys with a lot of character in this locker room. We have a lot of belief, so we’ll see where that gets us.”

(On Sony Michel’s performance today) 

“Sony’s just been a great addition, obviously to this football team on the field, but to our locker room. He’s a great kid. He carries himself with a great deal of humility and he just keeps his head down and works hard and it’s nice to see that hard work pay off. He’s a big part of what we do as you saw today. Those guys played well; had to score a lot of points against that team. We knew they were going to play to the end of the game and I think we executed at a high level today.”

(On how quickly the page turns from today to the Chiefs and the AFC Championship Game) 

“Look, we are happy to win. It’s hard to win in this league, especially in the playoffs against a team who hasn’t really lost on the road all year long. We’ll enjoy tonight, go hug our wives, girlfriends and kids, and then we’ll be back in the lab again tomorrow.”

Joe Thuney, OL

(On playing Kansas City next week) 

“Every game is different so we will see but now we all just have to get back to work.”

(On scoring five straight red zone touchdowns in the first half) 

“Seven points is always better than three points or none at all and obviously touchdowns are huge so we just have to make sure that we all execute down in that area. It all comes down to execution.”

(On how the run game played a role in the win) 

“You know we always want to run the ball and take pride in it. Everyone did a great job, it was a team game and everyone was working together between offense and special teams.”

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