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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 12/18

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK 

On the team's performance today
"That was a real strong effort by our team today. I'm really proud of these guys. It was a short week, tough game with the Monday night game and coming out here and playing a great organization in the Broncos. It was a great challenge for us. Our players did a great job. They prepared well. They came off, playing a physical game and a tough game against a tough team. I thought we deserved to win. The men played to win in all three phases of the game. We took advantage of our scoring opportunities, turned the ball over on special teams and turned it over on defense. The run ball control gained a little bit of field position on the offense. 16 points was enough. It was a good solid team win. This team did a good job this week." 

*On the importance of recovering fumbles *
"The turnover was a big one. That was a big turnover. It took points off the board for them in the scoring area and put us back on the field. It was a good play for us, all the turnovers for us. You have to take advantage. We had some big, strong games in the passing game. Moving some 20 or 30 yard chunks there that helped us score or get into field goal range on each of those drives. It's a tough team to move the ball against. It's tough to convert on every down. We converted on a few and eventually they'll get you." 

*On the balance of the offense *
"We hung with them. It's tough. They have a good run defense. They're well coached. We just tried to hang on. That's what we needed today, get some tough yards. [RB] D.J. [Foster], 'LG' [RB LeGarrette Blount] and those guys up front. We didn't have a lot of negative plays in the running game, we didn't have a lot of negative plays period. It was a lot different than the last time we played them. At least we got to run forward instead of backward."

*On the offensive line's performance *
"We ran the ball enough to be able to keep them. So it's different than other games." 

*On RB Dion Lewis' skill set *
"We have confidence in all of our guys." 

*On winning the AFC East *
"It's a huge accomplishment. It's a lot of hard work going all the way back to offseason program, OTAs and training camp. A lot of tough games. We've won a lot of games on the road, which is always hard to do. This is another one. We still have more we can accomplish. Our goals can now be reset, that was the first one, to win the division. It's something to be proud of, we accomplished it. But it's time to reset and accomplish more this year." 

*On generating pressure on defense *
"These guys have a really explosive team. They can score from anywhere and gain a lot of yards and get first downs. It comes down to the team defense, good rush and good preparation. Hitting the receivers, making them hold the ball a little bit. Giving them less chance to get there. I thought our team defense was pretty good. We played well on third down, which was important. We got them in a third down which was awesome. The thing is with good defense, it's the rush, it's the coverage, jamming the receivers, it's stopping the run. It's getting off the field on the third downs, stopping in the red area. The defense did a good job." 

*On the matchup situation with WR Emmanuel Sanders *
"The defense did a good job not leaving him open. We mixed a few defensive things up a little bit." 

On the struggles of the punt return game
"Our specials did a really good job. Our snapper, holder, kicker and punter, we got plays on all of them. We just didn't get our return game started like we had hoped to on kickoff. Some missed punt returns. Just played a little short, either someone missed a guy or didn't play in open space. Hopefully we can put work on it but we're close."

*On winning on the road *
"Well it starts with the turnovers. Turning the ball over is a good place to start. We got a few turnovers defensively and when you get that kind of turnover margin, it's hard to win. It's a team game and we're not really interested in stats, we're interested in guys playing well."

QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY

*On RB Dion Lewis playing his best game of the season *
"It was great to see him make the moves that we're used to seeing him make. That's the way it goes when you come back from some pretty tough injuries. It just takes some time to get acclimated. He has done a great job for us."

*On winning a game when the offense is struggling *
"That's ultimately the most important thing. You're going to always find different ways to try to move the ball down the field and I thought we did a decent job with it. At times there were some self-inflicted errors that caused some problems with an offense, but I think it was good with turnovers and field position. It makes it tough on the other team. We've been on the other side of that, too. That's the way it goes."

*On whether drops from the wide receivers are frustrating  *
"I'm not sure. I think if people drop balls, they drop balls, but that never gets me too frustrated. I think those are just physical errors and those come up. The mental errors, those get me frustrated. I felt like we wanted to just stay patient and execute and ultimately we scored enough points to win the game. We could always be better. We certainly could have been better today, but I'm happy we won."

On the play of the offensive line
"They played great. We ran the ball so well both [RB] LeGarrette [Blount] and [RB] Dion [Lewis]. The pass protection was great. They did a great job. They've been doing a great job all season, so we have to keep it up."

SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY

On holding the Broncos to three points
"It means we played well on defense. We go out there during the week, on Wednesday, Thursday and execute in practice but this week was different, a short week, so we had to execute in the locker room. You could just tell guys were talking and communicating. We're trying to get to offenses the best we can, so when we go out here on Sundays we can just fly around. That's what you saw today. They made a couple of plays and then we make a big play. We have to continue to work hard during the week so we can play fast on Sunday."

On getting the win tonight after last season's loss in Denver
"It's definitely a good feeling. Me being here seven years, we've been here in Denver a lot. There have been a lot of big games and we fell short in some of them. We came out with a win tonight. This team is different. It's a good team and we found a way to win. That's the best part of it, we were successful on all sides of the ball. If the offense got stopped, the punt team would punt the ball deep and then we would get the offense back on the field. That's a good executing game. We have to try to make that happen no matter how it plays out and how we have to play. We need to compliment on each side of the ball."

On CB Logan Ryan's interception
"That was huge especially coming off of last Monday night when we had some sudden changes and ended up in bad areas and gave up two touchdowns. They're driving down the field and enter the red zone and Logan makes that pick, that was huge for us defensively and for the offense to get back on the field after a big play. That's the type of plays that win big games down the stretch. Guys step up and make big moments. We really had that all night. Obviously the two turnovers with the fumble at the end and even the stops, three and outs right after another, kept the momentum and allowed us to play well all night."

On what the win means for the team's veterans
"It's always a good feeling when you come in and see guys who have played in this league a lot and are really good and just haven't won division championships and things like that. To see their excitement coming in is great. [TE] Martellus [Bennett] came running in yelling, 'where's my hat?'. It's a great feeling. I think with just me and [TE Rob] Gronkowski left from the 2010 team, I guess we are the X-Factor."

On his hit on Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas late in the fourth quarter
"It was big. We were playing well all game and still had the lead but for them, a score right there would have been huge to change the game a little bit and get some momentum back. I think to get a stop on third down for a defense usually means you're off the field. But once the offense comes back and is trying to go for it on a fourth down, getting off the field really hurts them and gets you energized. I'm happy I got there in time to knock the ball out and got us off the field."

On DL Malcolm Brown's toughness
"He's a tough player. I think with him and a lot of guys, he's a team guy. His stomach is hurting and he's not feeling well, but he goes back into the locker room and gets an IV because he wants to help the team. He knew once he went down we had two defensive tackles out there so he wanted to come back in. He fought through and came back out. I asked him how he was and he said 'I'm good.' He came back and played really well and we needed that. It was tough up here playing in Denver. It's tough to catch your breath and the more guys we have out there, that's key. He continued to play well for us since last year and this year."

On Denver's hurry up offense
"We talked about it. It was something we talked about all week and we we4re ready for it. The thing is that in practice, [Patriots Head] Coach [Bill] Belichick makes it harder for us even than a game with the offense coming right back on the ball at practice and with us having to get back to the ball and get ready to go. Obviously it's tough once you get into the game but it's something we expected and were ready for. Once we got to the sideline we talked about it and everyone was keyed in. We got a stop and everyone was trying to get back to the ball, get the call and get ready to go. That was key for us. It helps the coaches who are calling the plays. If everyone gets back into the huddle quickly, they can call it one time and we can load up the play."

On his pass breakup on Thomas in the fourth quarter
"I was just trying to get there as quickly as possible. I'm not the biggest guy out there so I was just trying to use my speed as power. Luckily I was able to knock the ball out and we were able to get off the field. Whenever we get off of the field, especially once you get into the fourth quarter in a game that was still kind of close score wise, [stops are critical]. We've watched Denver make a living of keeping it close out there and playing well in the fourth quarter. Coach Belichick hit that. They've led the league in fourth quarter scoring and that's something we knew coming in and we just had to keep playing."

On preparing for the Jets
"It is good to be able to stay at home and play but nothing is more important to us than going out there and playing well. We have two more games and we want to go out there and just keep it going. When we go out there and don't play well, but still win, it's just not a good feeling. I think the key for us is to stick to the blue print. We come back and it's another short week. We know what we have to do for short weeks. We have to come in and have great walkthroughs and practices and get going and get ready to play the Jets because every time we play those guys it's tough. We know it's going to be tough so we have to move past this game and get zeroed in on them right away."

TIGHT END MARTELLUS BENNETT

*On building off today's win *
"I just go to work every single day. I've never been to the playoffs once in my career, so it's just exciting to be a part of this team. We're going to continue to build on everything we've been doing and get ready for next week. Christmas is coming up, so I might be able to spend a little bit more money on my wife this year, but other than that I'm just excited right now. I just want to enjoy it with my teammates on the plane and on the bus and have a good time."

*On establishing the run *
"We knew it was go g to be a grind, but we know we had to run the ball. I thought the offensive line, [FB James] Develin did a great job at fullback. [TE] Matt [Lengel] came in and a lot of guys came in and made a lot of different plays, whether it was the receivers banging the safeties, it was just a group effort today. Everyone bought in and everyone just stuck to it. No one was worried about getting the ball, where the ball was going, not that we ever do, but we just wanted to do whatever it took to win."

*On helping defend OLB Von Miller *
"I had to pass protect a couple of times against him. I was trying to frustrate him a little bit. Every time someone gets a tight end, they get excited so I thought I handled that pretty well up front. I had some one-on-one pass protections against him today and he had some good moves. He did some stuff that most pass rushers don't do so it's just battling every single play."

*On what it means to be a member of the Patriots *
"Like I said a long time ago, ever since the first day I came here I felt like I belonged, whether it was my teammates who accepted me, or from upper management down to the coaches, not only did I buy into the program but the whole Patriots organization bought into me. It's pretty exciting when you have that type of group of people around you that believe in you, not only as a player buy as a person. That's been super exciting and has made it a lot easier for me out here. I just try to give them everything. I'm invested in this team, like I told my guys before the game, I've been invested in not only putting in the work that I need to but invested in my teammates and right now were trying to get out ROI. [Reporter asks, 'what's that?'] Come on man, return on investment! You got to get your stocks up baby let's go."

WIDE RECEIVER JULIAN EDELMAN

*On executing against the Broncos' defense *
"It was tough. They're a good defense, but we made plays when we had to. We played complimentary football. The defense played a hell of a game, special teams did well, so it was a good complimentary win. You know when you come here, you're on the road, this is a hostile environment, they have a good set of fans here, so you know it's going to go down to the wire. We haven't won much here, so it was just good to come in here and get a 'W'."

On the satisfaction of winning another AFC East title
"It feels good because we got a hat and t-shirt out of it. What happens in the past, happens in the past, of course there's things you wish could have been changed, but those are different circumstances and it's a completely new team and new year. It was just good to come in here and get a win on the road against an AFC opponent."

*On winning another division title *
"It's very nice. I've won a division title here every year I've been here so you can't take that for granted. That's what all the hard work in March, April, May, OTAs, coming back from injuries from multiple guys, this is all the hard work and this is one of the steps you want to of through and this doesn't come easy. Our team works very hard and we continually try to improve and coach is always on us and it's tough but that's what gets wins. It's an honor to get to play here and experience eight of them."

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN TREY FLOWERS

*On feeling fresh in the fourth quarter *
"I wouldn't say fresh, but we just know that any one of the defensive guys can make plays and it's just really good to have." 

*On increasing his sack total *
"Each week is different. Different offensive lineman, different sets, different schemes as far as defense, you just got to get to them when you can. Obviously I'm not the one looking at sack numbers it's more about pressuring the quarterback. It's having him looking at the rush instead of looking down field. Anytime we can flush the quarterback and get his line rattled a bit, is big." 

*On the sacks helping his confidence *
"Yeah I always have confidence and just being able to go out there and accomplish it and execute calls, execute rushes and things like that." 

*On keeping the Broncos to three points *
"It's big. This was a pretty good team, so just be able to keep them to three points is big."

*On winning the AFC East Championship *
"It is what it is. Obviously we worked hard for it and we earned it. But we still got a job to do so we'll continue to work for our ultimate goal."

WIDE RECEIVER CHRIS HOGAN

*On the success of the run game *
"I think all those guys played really well. Dion, [RB] LeGarrette [Blount], [RB] James [White] all played well. They're such a valuable part of this offense because they can do so many things with the ball in their hands. Hats off to our offensive line. They blocked really well. We had a lot of positive plays today and not a lot going backwards. That's really due to them blocking."

On wearing an AFC East Champions hat
"The hat feels pretty awesome. It's pretty amazing to be a part of this team right now. "

*On winning the AFC East division title *
"I'm trying to let it sink in. This will be my first hat, so I probably won't take it off for a while."

On how it feels to win eight straight games
"We're taking nothing for granted. I've been in this league and I've played against these guys the last for years and it's nice to be a part of this team. We've got a great group of guys here that just fight every single game. We're going to try to keep doing it."

On whether there is room to take the next step
"Absolutely. This is just one step here. This feels great, but we've still got a couple games left and hopefully some more after that. We've got to feel good about this but get back to work next week."

RUNNING BACK DION LEWIS

On what it says for him to be peaking right now after the injuries he's been through
"Just have to keep pushing. It was a great team win. I'm just happy I could help my team come out on top with a win."

On if he thought he would get as much work as he did
"No, but every week I prepare as though I'm going to be the guy no matter what the situation is, I'm always going to be ready. It just happened to be my day."

On if he's feeling better each week
"I'm still feeling better every week. I just have to keep working, keep pushing and taking care of my body and hopefully I can keep building every week."

On how it feels to be AFC East champs and have locked up a first-round bye in the playoffs
"It feels great just to be able to be part of a winning team. It's a great group of guys. I love these guys. Everybody worked hard and played hard today. It's great."

On how good it feels to be on the field at this point
"I would take five plays if I could. I just want to play. That's what I love to do: play football, so just playing is a blessing for me."

On how it felt knowing the rushing workload would be heavy and they were able to answer the call
"That's just being competitive. Us running backs, we're a close group. We all want to do well when we're out there. We all cheer for each other. It's a tight family in that running back room. Today, it just happened to be me. The other two guys, they did a great job and came up huge as well."

On the difference in the offense the past couple of weeks since tight end Rob Gronkowski went down with an injury
"It's a lot. You've got to pick up the slack with a great player like Gronk out. Everybody has to pick it up, not just running backs. Everybody as a team on offense has to pick it up, so whatever I can do to help the team, I'm more than happy to."

On if he considers himself fresh after the time he missed due to injuries
"I feel good. I feel fine. Just taking care of my body. That's a big part for me, just making sure I'm taking care of my body and doing the right things. If I continue to do that, I should be OK."

DEFENSIVE END CHRIS LONG

On how important it is that the defense is playing its best football in December
"It's a good time to play your best football, for sure. You can kind of feel it building up and we'll just continue to improve and keep trying to get turnovers and keep trying to disrupt the quarterback. Guys are playing really unselfish and doing whatever they're asked to do, and that's what this defense is about."

On what the difference in the defense's play has been
"I think we were close a lot. Sometimes these things are just tiny, little things that turn our way. It can be a little bit of luck or a little bit of good preparation, everything combined. It culminates in us being able to make more plays."

On winning the division being the first step
"It means a lot. To me, it's just a big team win here on the road in December against a really good team in a tough place to play. That's what this means to me. The (AFC East division champions) hat is cool and everything, but this was a great team win, and we've got more work to do."

On how much defensive lineman Trey Flowers has meant to the defense
"Trey has been outstanding. He has been one of our best players. I think he has about seven sacks and he's done it all pretty much rushing inside, which is even more impressive. There are very few inside rushers in our game that have put up numbers like him, so as far as that's concerned, that's something that a lot of people don't think about and that would make him a pretty elite rusher from in there."

CORNERBACK LOGAN RYAN

*On getting his first interception of the season *
"It was a long time coming and I was the last one of the group. It didn't even make sense, I was questioning life as to why I was the las tone to get it but now everything makes sense and they know that I'm back in the race."

*On what he saw during his interception  *
"He threw an out rout to me and he threw a similar rout to me earlier and I just felt like it was third down and I just wanted to play the sticks a little bit. I went with my gut and it paid off."

*On the play of the defense *
"We're having fun. We're getting after the quarterback, we're playing great defense, guys are feeding off of each other, we're joking a lot and guys are just having fun playing ball right now so it's working. Plus, we were doubted all year. You all said we sucked and we heard about their [the Broncos] secondary and their defense so we wanted to come out here and prove something."

OFFENSIVE TACKLE NATE SOLDER

On the effort of the whole team
"The defense played good and the special teams played good. We were able to convert on some third downs and hold on to the ball. I thought those were some of the biggest plays of the game."

On the offense letting the defense rest despite not scoring
"We let them rest a little bit. They were playing so good. We kept getting the ball and we had enough points that we could hold onto the lead. That wasn't the goal, but we were able to do that with the lead we had."

On the importance of beating Denver due to the history between the two teams
"Every year you never know how good your group is and you've got to beat put through the fire. To come here to Denver and beat a good team, I think that's a good step on our way."

On the weather, altitude and short week playing a factor
"We don't make any excuses because if we would have come in here and not won, everyone would have given us a million reasons why should have won. We did because of the way we prepare and the way we go about our business."

On play of RB Dion Lewis
"He's been through a lot. It's a testament to how hard he works and the kind of person that he is. He's a good teammate."

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