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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 10/23

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, October 23, 2016.


Opening Statement:
First of all, this is a tough place to play. I have a lot of respect for the Steelers and Coach Tomlin. That entire football team is tough. They compete very hard. They have a lot of good players. They're fast. I have to give our players a lot of credit. They hung in there and battled for four quarters. It certainly wasn't easy. Fortunately we made a few more plays than Pittsburgh did today. Our red area defense kept them off the board when they had a couple situations where they had good field position. When we did get down there, that was a big plus for us. We were able to put the ball in the end zone three times. Then we were able to hit Rob Gronkowski on the middle read for a big play from a little further out. The big point is a lot of guys stepped up. Obviously Malcom Butler's interception was a big play for us at the start of the game to keep them from getting ahead. Then we were able to take the lead and play from ahead. That was good. It was a good team win. It's tough to play here. It's a tough place to win. We'll take it. The Steelers are a good football team. I have a lot of respect for that organization and for Mike [Tomlin], the players, and the job they do. They're tough. 

On Malcom Brown covering Antonio Brown...
He was on him a lot the way we set it up. They've got great players. They're tough to cover. They hit us on a couple over routes. They kind of ran away from the coverage we had. Their plays were well designed. It was a good scheme. There were good throws and good routes by Brown. They got us on a couple, but I thought we competed hard. We battled them all the way. We battled them on third down. We battled them in the red area. They made some plays. We made some plays. They're good. They have good players. 

On how hard was it to keep Le'Veon Bell in check...
Tough. He's an excellent receiver. He's got great, short-space quickness. He breaks a lot of tackles and makes a lot of people miss where they really can't get their hands on him to tackle him. It seems like you hit him and you have him stopped, but it's four or five yards later until he's on the ground. He's one of the best backs in the league. To be able to play against players not in our division is good. He's a really good player. Between him and Brown, we tried to do as much as we could on those two all day. They still were productive, but we put as much coverage and as much defense on them as we could. They're hard to stop.

On whether he was worried about them keeping Gronkowski in check...
I don't think you know that. You hope that. It doesn't really matter who makes the plays just as long as we make them. So if they take somebody away or do something to neutralize one player, that's why we have other players on the team. It's not about featuring one guy. It's about the team winning. 

Are you worried about Stephen Gostkowski being too hard on himself?
Nobody works harder than Steve. Steve's a very talented player. He's mentally tough. He's a good football player. We'll work through it. Again, this is a tough place to kick. I'm not making any excuses. The kicker on the other side of the field had trouble too, but we have to hit them. 

Did LeGarrette Blount help settle the team down?
Absolutely. They tried to play some nickel defense against Rob and Martellus Bennett and we were able to get some good runs going with Blount. That kind of offset some of the defense they were playing there. I thought our receivers made some good blocks in those situations too, to be able to get the force guys. Blount ran hard. He had good ball security and good pad level. He made some tough yards. He made some big play, explosive runs for 12 to 15 yards. He had one long one for 25 yards. He gave us some explosive plays. We needed that particularly when they cut it to a four-point game. He gave us a couple big runs there to settle things down where it just wasn't a pass-rush game for them all day. They had some good pressure early in the third quarter and got us in some long-yardage situations with holding penalties and having the quarterback force the ball out quickly. His runs were able to settle us down. I thought our offensive line along with the receivers and the tight ends had some good blocks. We ran behind Bennett and Rob a lot. 


Re: First half:
We went out and scrambled on the one. I got one in the second half. It was decent. I wish our execution – when it was good, we made a lot of good plays. I think there were self-inflicted wounds that really hurt us. It's still really good to come in here and get the win. It's a great place to play. They have a great team, they always have. It's good to get the win. 

When it was the third quarter, 14-13, and you had that drive, what do you remember from that drive that helped you re-establish control?
It was just good execution. I thought we ran the ball great on that drive. We really got the hat on hat and gave LeGarrette Blount the space to run. He's just so deceptive with his quickness and he's a big back, but he's got great agility. He makes yards after contact and gets guys in space. He does a great job attacking the creases there. He had a great day today. Then finally it got to that third down with Gronkowski and he just ran through the middle of the defense. Looks like they lost track of him for a little bit. He made a great catch. It was a big score for us. Then we had another on the next drive, which was good. Our execution could definitely be better. If it was, we could have scored more points. 

On Rob Gronkowski:
They were certainly aware of him and Martellus Bennett. Julian Edelman got a lot of opportunities today. He hasn't gotten a ton the last few weeks but he had a lot of opportunities with the ball. Running the ball was good and possessing the passes. We had some third downs we should have made there in the first half. Our execution just wasn't great on those. We have to keep putting pressure on the defense. If you do that, eventually you'll make some plays or they will over adjust something. We got Gronkowski going down the middle then Gronkowski going the opposite way. Blount punched in. It was good to score like that and good to make plays in the second half that we needed too. They certainly made it tough for us.   


The touchdown seemed to come at a very important time in the game. They had it close. I think 14-13 at the time. What do you remember just about how that play developed?
It was just a play where there was a split safety and I just had a little bender to go right up the middle. A little seam route that bended between the split safety, and I just had a good look. And Tom threw the ball perfectly, right on the money for me to make the play and I just had to run, give a little move and run full speed. Just good execution overall. 

What was there in the fourth quarter that wasn't there earlier in the game for you specifically?
Every game is different. Every coverage is different every single game. And every game plan is different. We were running the ball. We were throwing a lot of under routes from the coverage, so it's just overall a team game. That's what makes this game so great. It's a team game and everyone has to work together to come together and win games. So just overall, I thought it was a solid performance with everyone doing their job on offense, and our defense played great too to help us win. 

What did Blount mean to the offense today? And what is it like to see him get that push from the offensive line and start running downhill?
It's great when we get the run game going. It just helps out overall with everything. Just the balance of the offense running the ball, passing the ball, it's huge. And to see him come in, run the ball super hard downhill, it's just awesome. They have a great defense, the Steelers. It's a great football atmosphere here and to see him come ready to play. The way he was rushing was awesome. 

WR Chris Hogan

Re: Tough atmosphere:
When you come into it, it's a loud environment a very tough place to play because they play very well at home. I'm proud of this team and the way we played today. 

Re: Momentum swing:
We knew what we had to do going out there. I thought LeGarrette Blount and the offensive line were able to run the ball very well today. We certainly stressed that throughout the week and we were able to do that very well throughout the game. They are a good defense, we give them credit too, and they were able to make stops out there. At the end of the day I think we did what we needed to do to come in here and get a win in a tough place against a good team.

Re: Your fumble:
That's on me. I have to understand that there is going to be people coming from behind looking to strip. I was a little careless with it and I had to move on after that, but obviously, I'll be working on ball security drills throughout the week. 

DL Jabaal Sheard

Re: Third-down success today:
Something that we looked to improve on. Everyone was doing their job and trying to get off the field on third down.

Any momentum from a third-down stop?
I think third down stops are big, forcing a team to punt the ball gives our offense more chances to go down and score. We just went out there and played football. We played four quarters and gave it our all. That's what football is.

Re: Opinion of Le'Veon Bell:
He's a hell of a back with a great offensive line. They do a good job of mixing in the run and pass. He certainly played well. He did a great job out there. A few times we felt that we had him stopped and somehow he managed to get out of it. We will have to look at the film to see how, but yeah he's a Pro Bowl back.

CB Malcolm Butler

What was the emphasis this week on third-down defense?
Third down is the biggest key in the game. It's just about that play. I guess we did a great job today.

Where would you put Antonio Brown among the WR's you've faced?
He's one of the best, if not the best. He's one or two. He has no flaws.

Re: Assessing defensive play today:
We do some great things. Of course we do things that we want to do better. We are just going out there and trying to be the best team that we can be. It's not going to be perfect, we aren't going to stop everything, and stats only take you so far. It's about winning the game.

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