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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 10/14

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE

October 14, 2018

BB: Well, that was a great job by our players and coaching staff tonight, just battling for 60 minutes. We talked about it all week. We really hadn't played a close game this year. We expected it to be that way and it certainly was. Kansas City is a good football team. Andy [Reid] does a great job, as he always does. They were tough to handle, but in the end we were able to just do a little bit more, do enough, and again just really proud of the way we competed tonight all the way through from the opening kickoff to the final kick was just great effort. We had a good week where we really worked hard during the week to prepare for them. Again, they're tough to prepare for but I thought we went out there and played hard, played for 60 minutes. I think we deserved it.

Q: How much game planning and design goes into how to execute the situation at the end, where you take control of the ball with three minutes remaining and needing a score, while also probably not wanting to give the ball back to Kansas City?

BB: Well, we talk about it every week. Again, each situation is a little bit different based on time, timeouts and score and so forth. But this one ended up playing out good for us. We had the final possession. We had the final opportunity and we made it. Josh [McDaniels] called a great game. We had great execution on that drive by a lot of different people. But we work on that stuff every week. Both ways - if they had had it, if we had it, need a touchdown, need a field goal, so forth. We try to be prepared for that.

Q: How much of a challenge was it dealing with their speed on offense with guys like Tyreek Hill, and in particular dealing with Patrick Mahomes' speed in real time?

BB: Yeah, he did that. He made some. We made some. But Hill's such an explosive player. Obviously, we knew that going in and we saw it firsthand.

Q: Tom Brady touched on how critical the third-and-1 conversion by Sony Michel was on that final drive. How important was that play, and for him to get low and be able to convert that as opposed to getting high where he may have been stopped short?

BB: Yeah, Sony runs hard. He's picked up a lot of tough yards for us, so that was a big run. Obviously, Tom's touchdown run was a big run. Not the guy you think you're going to get that from, but he did a great job of getting the ball in the end zone there so we didn't have to kick a field goal there, on third-and-5. There were a lot of good runs in the game, but sometimes your game comes down to a yard, being able to get it or defend it. There was enough space in there and Sony made a good run to pick it up. Last year, that was really one of the big differences in the game. We were 0-4 in short-yardage offensively. We made a big emphasis on that. We were able to get it in from the 1-yard line on the goal line and that third-and-1. Those were key situations. The turnover obviously hurt us, but to not punt in the game was good. 

Q: Can you attribute anything in particular for Kansas City's second-half resurgence offensively?

BB: Yeah, they're an explosive team. They did a good job.

Q: What did they do differently in the second half to get Tyreek Hill more involved?

BB: Not much. I mean he got a lot of it on a scramble play. Look, they've got a lot of good players. There was a lot of production out there, all across the field on both teams.

Q: Can you talk about Duron Harmon's interception late in the first half and how big that was?

BB: Yeah, that was a big play for us. Dont'a [Hightower]'s pick, Duron's pick - those were big stops for us in the red area. Saved us at least six, but maybe 14 points. Those were huge plays. Yeah, I thought our red area defense really saved us there in the first half, saved us a lot of points. We weren't able to do that in the second half as much, but yeah that was a big pick and so was Hightower's to set us up offensively on the 5-yard line, or whatever it was. Those were two big plays for us. I thought we missed a couple of other chances. We had our hands on some other balls. There was a couple of other throws that were pretty well defended, but a great throw and a great catch beat good coverage.

Q: We tend to always be looking for the next big thing and Patrick Mahomes certainly seemed to be that. What do you think of the way he played tonight?

BB: Yeah, well there was a lot of good players on the field tonight. You had two good teams and they both competed very hard. It came down to the final play of the game. There were a lot of good football players out there on both sides of the ball.

Q: Was this a unique game in the sense that there were so many quick changes that changed the management of the game and the clock management and all of the different things that go into managing the last seven or eight minutes?

BB: Like I said, every game is different. Each game has its own dynamics and the team you're playing and the situations. They're all a little bit different. Sometimes they fall into a general category. Sometimes they fall a little bit outside of that and we just have to try and react to it and do the best you can.

Q: A lot of the players discussed how inspirational it was to meet with the cancer survivors on the field pregame. What do you have to say for the platform the NFL and the Patriots are able to give survivors like this?

BB: Yeah, it's good to be a part of it. So many of our players are great ambassadors of our team and do many things for not only cancer patients, but their families and others as well. That's always been a proud - something that our team and our organization, Robert [Kraft], his family and our team and coaches have all been supportive of and proud of. We're proud to be a part of this too.

Q: On the long completion to Chris Hogan on third-and-1 halfway through the fourth quarter, are you making the decision to throw deep there based on the fact that you may be already planning to go for it on fourth down if needed?

BB: Well, I think that was a good job by Tom. We got a lot of double coverage in the game on Rob [Gronkowski], James White. It was third-and-short. I'm pretty sure it was a three-man rush on that play so they had a lot of coverage underneath and Tom went to where the single coverage was, which was Chris. Chris ran a good route, got on top, made a good throw, good catch even though he was interfered with. I wouldn't say that was the first read on the play but it was the best option on the play and Tom made a great throw and Chris made a great catch.

Q: Could you talk about Rob Gronkowski and his playmaking ability in that fourth quarter?

BB: Yeah, Rob gave us a lot of big plays blocking and receiving. He got the single coverage on the seam on the last play. The other play was kind of off of a play-action, kind of rub play so we got it free and then Rob did a great job running with the ball. He stiff-armed a couple of tacklers, added some extra yards there on his own. Again, we had a lot of great players out there; so did they. They all stepped up. They all made big plays. Really it was just a great team effort.

QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE

October 14, 2018

Q: What did you think of Patrick Mahomes, his ability to throw the ball down the field and make big plays like he did in this football game?

TB: Yeah, he made some big ones. He made a lot of big ones - the one at the end to Tyreek [Hill] was a great throw, and he had some other great throws. So, tough to slow those guys down. They've been scoring a lot of points all year. They're going to be pretty tough to stop, so glad we had our last shot and glad we took advantage of it. 

Q: You had a couple of big passes late in the game to Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski. What did you see that led you to go to Chris, in particular, and then later to Gronkowski?

TB: Well, Chris was running. There were some other things kind of going on in that play, and he stayed alive. I've hit him on that a bunch over the last two-and-a-half years. He's got enough speed to separate down the field, and I threw it up high enough to try to give him a chance to run under it. So, he made a great play. He got the PI [pass interference], too. And, we needed a good fourth quarter and we played well offensively. 

Q: Did you envision this game coming down to a final series? What was the confidence level like in the huddle on that final drive?

TB: Yeah, you know, we had confidence. I think, I'm glad when he was running - Tyreek was running to score - I said, 'Good, score quick.' Because then we had enough time. They had one timeout left, and it gave us a little time to go down and kick the field goal. So, I don't know if we punted tonight. Did we punt? So, no punts. You know, I still think we missed some opportunities out there, but made some situational plays when we needed it, the short-yardages - you know, we really lost the game last year on some short yardages, and I thought we were pretty good in it tonight. So, that was a real positive.

Q: On your 4-yard touchdown run, did you feel like you were getting tackled at the time? You faked a throw and the guy let go of you. Were you surprised you even got to the end zone?

TB: Yeah, I didn't know what happened. They doubled three guys on the play, and I'm just glad. You know, I've got to watch it tomorrow, but I got close to the goal line and figured I'd just try to get it in. We needed it.

Q: How much can this game show that there's mental toughness among the players and the ability to make the clutch plays when you had to make them?

TB: Yeah, I think we have a lot of clutch players. I think we have no problem grinding it out. That's what the football season's all about. I don't think we've seen our best. I think we can all play a lot better, and I think that's what we plan to do.

Q: With a shootout like this, was this the most fun you've had playing football in some time? How exhilarating was it to play in this game?

TB: It was pretty good. You know, we had control and then we let them back in the game with some - you know, the fumble was a bad play. But, they were making plays on offense. We were making plays. And, we talked about competing for 60 minutes, and that's what it took. It took us right down to the last three seconds.

Q: You had several plays to Josh Gordon, but there were also times when it seemed like you two weren't quite on the same page. Where would you say you are with your relationship with him now and your comfort level with him and his understanding of the playbook?

TB: Yeah, we're working at it. I mean, I think he's only been here for four weeks, something like that, three weeks. So, I actually think it's pretty impressive what he's done - to come out and play as much as he's played. Our offense is certainly not easy. So, we're just building on it. We're going to work at it every day, try to get better, and I have no doubt we'll be on the same page as the season goes.

Q: You got the ball back with 3:03 on that last drive, and you killed the clock and got the game-winning field goal. How good was it to not give them any time left?

TB: That was great. I was happy we made the third-and-1. You know, that gave us a great opportunity, and then we hit some other plays. James [White] made some great catch-and-runs, then the big play to Gronk - he got a matchup and made a big play. He's been making a lot of those in his career. I'll keep throwing to him in the biggest moments.

Q: How big is Josh McDaniels when it comes down to crunch time and his ability to open up the offense for you?

TB: Yeah, he's good every time - crunch time, mid-time, start. Our execution can be even better, I think. You know, those coaches work hard into the night, long hours, trying to come up with schemes to help us win, and it's frustrating because I think we're all perfectionists in one way or another. And, he put together a great plan and we executed it well enough, but I still think we can do a better job.

WIDE RECEIVER JOSH GORDON

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE

October 14, 2018

Q: That was a pretty exciting game offensively. How did you enjoy that game?

JG: I mean, it was a spectacle, that's for sure. I mean, I think a lot of us have been expecting that all week knowing that's a high-powered offense. We have one of our own. So, we were expecting to take it the full length of the game.  

Q: This is the first time you've been with the Patriots in the situation where Tom Brady has the ball with a chance to win the game. What is it like being in the huddle with Tom in that situation?

JG: His poise - I think it's overall just he has a certain calmness to him in a high-pressure situation. Not everybody has that. I think when he displays that, other guys feel better about what they're supposed to do knowing that we're in good hands. And, he's consistent and he does his job. 

Q: You caught five passes today, which is promising, but it seemed like you and Tom weren't on the same page at times. How familiar and comfortable are you with the playbook right now?

JG: Pretty familiar with the playbook. You know, still some growing pains and stuff like that you've got to work out at practice. And, through the course of just being here just under a month, you know, I'm trying to make it work as fast as I can. So, we'll get it all figured out here pretty soon.

Q: You played 18 snaps in each of the two games prior to this. Tonight was a much more significant workload. What is your reaction to getting that much more work tonight?

JG: It was fun, honestly. I think we were preparing for that all week at practice. I was expecting a little heavy of a workload, so I was just glad to have the opportunity to go out there and play. I had fun. I enjoyed it. I appreciate Coach [Bill Belichick] giving me the opportunity.

PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM

Stephon Gilmore, CB

(On his impression of Chiefs' QB Patrick Mahomes tonight) 

"He's a great quarterback. He made some big throws. He got it to everybody on the field and he's a great quarterback."

(On the effort it took from the team to get the win) 

"We knew it was going to be a 60-minute football game. We knew it was going to come down to the wire. They've got a good football team."

(On the speed of Chiefs' WR Tyreek Hill) 

"Fast. I've never seen anyone that fast before. Fast, fastest guy I've ever covered."

(On if he thinks the Patriots could see the Chiefs again this season) 

"Yeah, for sure, but it's still early in the season. It's only Week 6. We've got a lot of football left, so we're prepared for them in the future if we see them."

(On if Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense lived up to the hype) 

"They've got a good offense. They've got a lot of playmakers over there at running back, tight end and receiver. We knew that coming into this game."

(On the quick start of the defense tonight) 

"It was key because we knew the games that they won, they jumped up on people so we wanted to come out and start fast. We were able to do that and make some plays at the end and we were able to make more plays than they did."

(On what it was like to be a defender in 43-40 game that went back-and-forth most of the night) 

"That's two good football teams playing against each other. It ain't always going to be easy and gravy. We were prepared and we had to fight through it."

Stephen Gostkowski, K

(On feeling comfortable kicking field goals) 

"I definitely felt in a groove on field goals tonight. Games like this when you get a lot of opportunities, you feel very involved in the game. To me it makes the job easier. Sometimes the hardest games are when you're sitting around and you don't know when you're going to go out there. I'm used to it because we score a lot of points, we have a great offense. You hit the first one and it goes right where you aimed, it's easy to get on a roll when stuff like that happens."

(On the NFL using their platform to support Crucial Catch) 

"It's awesome. It's really cool when the NFL does stuff that's for the positive. Cancer survivors are very encouraging and they give you a lot of hope. So it's really cool that we do that and the stuff that we do for the community. It's awesome."

(On the squib kick in the first half) 

"It was a bad kick. It was not very well-executed and I'll put that one on me."

Duron Harmon, DB

(On letting up big plays in the second half) 

"We had spots in the second half where we played well. Right before we went up seven and kicked that field goal, we had a quick three-and-out. We just have to find a way to be consistent. What let them back into the game was them hitting big plays. We can't play like that, so we have a lot of work to do. The good thing is we get to look at this game from a win. That's a really good football team with a lot of talented players, talented quarterback, and talented receiver group. We'll just assess it tomorrow; look over it, and then move on to the Bears."

(On Tyreek Hill's touchdown at the end of the game) 

"He's by far the fastest person that I've ever came in contact with. That's what he is. He's a great athlete and he's fast. If he gets anybody in that position, more than likely he's going to be gone. I still have to find a way to do something, to try and get him down, to force him to the sideline. I've got to give my defense a chance to live to see another play, and I wasn't able to do that right there."

(On having good stretches on defense, but also giving up 40 points) 

"It's bittersweet. Bitter because obviously as a defense you don't want to give up 40 points, you don't want to give up as many big plays as we did. But we won and that's what it's all about. We knew that was an explosive offense, we knew they were going to be able to make a few plays, and obviously we wanted to play better. But the main goal of today was to get a win, and we were able to do that."

Chris Hogan, WR

(On his offensive opportunities) 

"That's just football. You can't do everything on the field. I just have to make sure that for 60 minutes, I'm going out there and doing my job, running routes the best that I can and trying to get open. When opportunities come my way, I'm going to try to make the play."

(On the team's performance in last-possession situations) 

"I think it's a confidence thing. We practice these things and we're in these situations sometimes in games. When we're in those situations, our poise is good. Tommy [Brady] being in the huddle really commands us, our attention, our detail and tests [us]. He has to go up in those situations. We have to execute. We knew it was going to be a four-quarter game or 60 minutes and it came down to the last play of the game."

(On the long completion to Rob Gronkowski on the last drive of the game) 

"I was right on the outside and it was a really good throw. I knew that with Rob [Gronkowski] being there, he had a really good chance at getting the ball. He ran a great route and set the offense up for a game-winning field goal. [Brady] does such a great job of knowing when he wants to throw it and reading the leverage of the corner or whoever is guarding [the player]. He always puts it in a good spot for us to try to make the play."

Devin McCourty, DB

(On Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill as players) 

"He is a good player. We just have to do a better job on getting on guys; especially surrounding Tyreek Hill, he is unbelievably fast. It was tough at times when we had leverage on him then he just ran full speed the other way. Those plays are when we want to run down, tackle and make a play but Hill is a tough guy to run down."

(On getting the game off to a good start) 

"That is always huge. I thought we did a good job of mixing things up in disguise but we knew it would be a 60-minute game where no matter how well we played early or late we really had to show up at the end."

(On confidence in beating an undefeated team) 

"It is good. It is a game where we will have fun for the next couple of hours but we know defensively we will be back in here tomorrow focusing on a lot of things we need to work on, the main thing being big plays."

(On Duron Harmon's interception)

"It was a great play. I thought we did a great job getting on guys in our coverage and helping where we had help." 

Jason McCourty, CB

(On the feeling after the win) 

"We put a lot of work into winning games and I think that is what makes this fun. Whenever it is a Sunday, Monday or Thursday where you can leave this stadium and on the ride home know you got a victory and accomplished is a good feeling." 

(On Mahomes as a player) 

"He is going to be special. We are looking at a rookie quarterback who goes out in the first half of the game throws two picks, and did not blink at all. He came out and played his game and was able to get on the edge a few times, make big plays and we knew as a defense if we could limit those big plays, that would give us the best chance of not letting the ball go over our head. He was everything we saw in film." 

(On confidence in Tom Brady and the overall team) 

"I think this football team talks about it all the time, we have a lot of faith in one another. Obviously a guy like Tom Brady has been doing it for so long but I think just as an entire team we have faith in our kick-off team. If we have a turnover on offense, the offense has faith that defense will go out there and get a stop. It is just that continual faith we have in one another. Even sitting on the bench, we were already talking about what we were going to have to do when Kansas City got the ball back."

(On the win) 

"Just competing as an NFL player, I love that part of it. Even last year when you do not come out on top, it is just the ability to go out and compete every Sunday for the love of the game. Looking at an opportunity like tonight, Sunday Night Football, against one of the best teams in the league or even in the beginning of the week how if you love football and love to compete, you are in the right place. When you can walk out tonight with a win, it is a good feeling. We can enjoy this for the next couple of hours then come in tomorrow and it is not going to be a fun film session for us on defense, I know that for sure. There are lot of lessons to learn from and a lot of adjustments going forward."

Matthew Slater, WR

(On the game) 

"It was really encouraging. Any time you can come out and win a game like tonight and beat a quality opponent like we did. We just continued to trust our process and go about our business the only way we know how. That's hard work, good preparation, and trying to compete and execute on Sundays. There were some good things here the last few weeks. I definitely think there's some room for improvement, so we have to take a look at the film and see what we can do better."

(On Stephen Gostkowski's game-winning field goal) 

"I think that's a guy that's definitely taken for granted around here. The kicker is a funny position in the league. Nobody really pays attention to you until you start missing kicks. He's been so reliable and so consistent for the last 13 years. We've really been fortunate around here to have, in my opinion, two of the all-time great kickers. There's really no surprise there. He does it in practice, his approach is the same, his mentality never changes and he came up big for us tonight."

(On letting up the 96-yard kick return)

"I don't know what happened. We got to look at that on film. It was bad. I think we're a lot better than what we've played out there, so we better figure it out quick. I think we have to be better fundamentally; we got to get out of the box and use our hands better. We have to play together and trust it. The guy next to us is going to be where he's supposed to be and we have to improve. We put our team in a tough spot tonight giving up that return and they bailed us out."

James White, RB

(On how big of a win this was) 

"Every win is a big win. We played a good football team, we knew it was going to be a 60-minute game, we knew it was going to be tough. I think our guys did a great job of fighting. Obviously things didn't go our way the entire game, but guys stayed together and kept fighting until the end, and we're just happy to come out with a win."

(On last-possession situations) 

"You just try to stay calm no matter what the situation is, whether you are up or down, or it's a last-minute drive or whatever situation. You've just got to stay calm, pretend like it's like the first or second quarter and just go out there and do your job because if you try to make too much of the situation, you might not do the right thing out there." 

(On taking the field after Tyreek Hill's game-tying touchdown) 

"You've got to have confidence. With three minutes left, they have a good offense, so we want to end the game with the ball in our hands. I think we did a great job of executing. [Rob Gronkowski] made a big play right there and we were able to set [Stephen Gostkowski] up and he made a huge kick. He's an awesome kicker."

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