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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 12/3

HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 3, 2017

Opening Statement: Alright, well it's always a tough place to play. Thought that Buffalo, as we expected, played very hard. A very well coached team. It was a tight game at the half, [we] were able to, third quarter there, take advantage of field positon, make some plays in the running game and get the lead that was a very, very competitive game. Again, always challenging to come up here. Sean [McDermott] and his coaching staff really have the team playing very hard [and] very well. The running game was good for us; [we] got a lot of plays on the off tackle and the outside, our backs ran well, we had good blocking on the run plays. Defensively, you hold the team to three points, feel pretty good about that. A couple big stops in the right area. The interception on the first drive was a big play for us. It's just one of those games where you have to grind it out against a tough football team on the road in the division. Thought that our guys did that, all 46 of them. Everybody needs everybody to step in there and pull part of the load, and they did. Coaching staff did a good job. It's a tough place to come up here and play, again, but [I'm] proud of the way our team handled the week and the way we handled the game competitively.  

Q: Bill, at halftime, [Rob] Gronkowski had two catches, and then on that first drive in the third quarter, he had I think three or four targets, one was the OPI [offensive pass interference]. How much was that at all part of the thought process at halftime, maybe to make an adjustment to have him more involved?

BB: I wouldn't say it was an adjustment, it's the way we went into the game. Thought we handled the ball okay the first half; there weren't a lot of possessions. Threw the ball okay, we just weren't able to get it in the red area and settled for three field goals. We were able to get those touchdowns in the third quarter with the running game and some passes too. Rob's a big target, he's a hard guy to defend. 

Q: Bill, in the grand scheme of the things you've accomplished here in New England, where do you rank or assess the importance of just how dominant you've been in the division, you know--winning division titles and how important that's been, really how you've been able to do that?

BB: I appreciate the question, I really do, but everybody's focused on just winning this game and then, like all of the rest of the all the historical stuff really doesn't really matter right now. It's about this season, it's about this game, and now it's about getting ready to get down and play Miami on Monday night. [We can] reflect back on that some other time, but right now it's just our team, recovering off this game and getting back and getting back on the Dolphins and being ready to go down there and play another tough division game on the road. We'll just take it one game at a time, and deal with all that other stuff some other time.

Q: Bill, with no Trey Flowers for the day and an increased workload for Eric Lee, the interception and a couple sacks, some other pressures as well, what is it about Eric's aptitude that's allowed him to come in this stage of the season in two weeks and make such an impact?

BB: Well, first of all, he's worked really hard. From the first day he got here, he came early, stayed late, [and] asked a lot of good questions. He's smart; he picks things up well. I think that his time in Houston was beneficial for him, again. I think a lot of the techniques we teach are similar to what Mike [Vrabel] and the Texans teach. Obviously, there's some different calls and stuff, but a lot of the fundamentals, there's some carry over on that and probably just in general, the overall way that he played down there and he was able to – some of that translated to what we do. He was able to, from a technique standpoint, pick things up. Obviously, some assignments he had were specific to what we do, but again, he's a sharp kid. He works hard and he's got good skills. He's long, and he's got good power and he can run.

Q: Are you concerned about potential additional discipline for Gronkowski based on that penalty late in the game?

BB: Yeah, I didn't really see what happened on the whole play. There was quite a bit of stuff going on in that play. It was something that the officials handled today and it's not really anything we have any control over.

Q: Bill, the CBS broadcast showed early in the game, Tom [Brady] and Josh [McDaniels] going at each other pretty loud after the first series. Is that just heat of the moment type thing, what happens in battle?

BB: Yeah, probably. You'd have to ask Josh about it. I don't know. Just out there trying to win a football game. 

Q: Is it good that for such a day, and I think last week too, you guys have been able to establish the running game? Maybe other aspects of the offense aren't clicking perfectly, but the running game has certainly been able to pick up the slack.

BB: Well, as I've said many times, we try to go out there and score points and run the offense, and win games. So, if we run it, we run it. If we throw it, we throw it. If we drop kick it, we drop kick it. Whatever we can do to move the ball and score points, that's good. I'm not trying to create a bunch of stats, that's not what we are trying to do. We are trying to win. If there are things that we can do to help us win, then that's what we want to try to do. 

Q: With the interception, there was a big play on their first drive. Did you happen to see anything else, like pass rushing in there, did you see if that affected it at all?

BB: No, I mean, I don't know who we ended up pulling out on that three man rush. Some of the passing lanes on the goal line there was a crossing pattern, so it may have been that. We'll take a look tomorrow. 

Q: You mentioned in your opening that the ability to score before and after halftime. Is that just something you enjoy as much as anything, or know when it's valuable?

BB: Yeah, I thought we had a good drive there. We got the ball with about three and a half minutes or something like that. We drove it down, Rex [Rex Burkhead] had a long run. We weren't able to get the ball in the end zone, Buffalo stopped us there and held us to a field goal. We were able to be better in the second half on the opening drive. Driving it down, it ended up being ten point swing there, it went from 6-3 to 16-3. They never really had the ball ahead – they had a couple plays before half. It was a well-executed drive. Offensively, we had a couple of good runs in there. Again, unfortunately for us we weren't able to get more in the end zone but Buffalo's a good red area team. We had to settle for three but we were able to do that in the third quarter and that was a big swing for us.

QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 3, 2017

Q: As you guys went into the second half it seemed like you went more to [Rob Gronkowski]. What did you see in matchups that made him kind of just not able to be covered?

TB: I thought he played great. I don't think it was anything in particular - just more of an awareness of where the open guys were and Gronk came down with a bunch of great plays. He's been a great player for us since he got to our team, obviously he played great today. It was a great win for our team. 

Q: It looked like you and Josh McDaniels had some words there the second quarter I think it was. Could you shed any light on the exchange?

TB: Just football. We've been around each other a lot so I love Josh. 

Q: You guys have to adjust to play in this league. Today, how much did you have to adjust because of the wind to playing too close to the right sideline?

TB: It's a little tricky out there but the guys made a bunch of good plays, a bunch of good catches. You know, I think as you get into the month of December, it's a little colder, a little windier, it's just what it is. It effects both teams and whoever handles it best usually wins. Good day to come up here and get a win in a tough place. 

Q: By the red zone offense in the first half, what were they taking away from 0 to 2?

TB: Yeah we got down there three times, we kicked 3 field goals. Good question. I'm not sure, you know I have to kind of look at it. One was right before the half and we were moving the ball but just couldn't quite get it in. Did a better job of that last week and going in the second half a couple times. So it's always the big point of emphasis for us to try and get it in. They played pretty good. 

Q: Not specifically but in general, when you are competing and working with someone that has a little explosion, is that kind of test to scale off and then go over and sit down and iron it out? Is that just kind of how things go in terms of things bubble up and then you move on?

TB: Yeah I mean it's nothing, it's just football. Just football. Bring two competitive people and it's just the way it goes. 

Q: Were you frustrated today?

TB: I wish we scored every time we touched the ball. You know, scored touchdowns every possession. I thought they played pretty good on defense and they did a good job. It's a new defense, a new scheme, new players and you just have to learn and adjust and try and get the win. Any time you win on the road against division opponents, it's a good win. So we have to keep it going. 

Q: What about the running game today? How cool is that for the offense?

TB: It was great. You know those guys have been really running great all season. It's been a huge thing for our offense. I don't think you can just count us dropping back 50-60 times and throw the ball, I think you really have to defend the running game. Our play actions come off of that and we have a bunch of big plays off of play action today. You have to be able to do both and we were able to do both today. 

Q: That 3rd and 10 pass to James White, you hit him for three or four [yards] then pick up the first down there?

TB: Yeah in the second half. That was a big play and they were kind of sitting back there a little bit soft and kind of tempting us to throw some of those underneath ones. I got James and James maybe made a miss and just barely made the first down. It was a big play, we needed that. 

Q: With the three field goals in the first half then, how would you guys describe the satisfaction of the first drive of the second half and maybe how important that one was for you guys?

TB: It was good, it was really good. I think any time we can anchor a field goal, touchdown, a 10 point swing at the half without them touching the ball is great. I wish it had been 14 points, seven and seven, but we did kind of take care of business there like we're capable of and we just have to keep trying to do the right thing.

Q: How important has James Develin been to this running game? It seems as if after he comes in, things just start coming in chunks.

TB: Yeah, it's really a selfless position, fullback. It's all dirty work and there's no real glory and he's not really getting the ball on carries. I definitely throw it to him, but being a lead blocker really sets the tone for an offense. I think James really embraces that role and those guys love running behind him. I think the line really appreciates a guy that takes that to heart, he really wants to do a great job on every play and James has been a great player for us.

Q: That kind of toughness, you don't see from a lot of teams anymore.

TB: Yeah, we kind of went away from a fullback for a while and then everyone else kind of went away from that and we got a fullback, and we'll see ... It's a very valuable position and anyone that can create holes and that physical style toughness in the run game is very important. 

Q: At halftime, do you go in the locker room frustrated about the red zone situation in the first half or do you go in the locker room saying, "move the ball, move your feet, we just got to finish?"

TB: I think you try to evaluate on a play-by-play basis. It's very easy to get stopped in the red zone and when they get a play, it usually stops the drive. So continuing to move forward, again, we just ... it just wasn't as good as it was capable as being, but it was good enough today. Good win.

SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY

Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 3, 2017

Q: Early on, (the Bills) were in a position where they were trying to extend their drives, throw the ball, and convert on third downs. Was Tyrod (Taylor) a challenge early on?

DM: Yeah, he always is a challenge. We know his ability to be able to escape and obviously still throw the ball down the field. I thought overall we did a pretty good job today. Anytime you play offenses that opening drive, that strip is always tough. I thought we did a good job of just continuing to play. They had some big plays like a third down scramble, but he (Taylor) was able to move around a little bit and throw another one. But Eric (Lee) dropped it out, and I think that look was a little different for him. It looked like his first read was taken and he was trying to make a play, and I thought that was key for us. Just continuing to play, then you get a turnover down near the red area. It gave us a lot of momentum. After that first drive, the game kind of settles down, we figure out what they're trying to do. We can make simple adjustments and then go quiet, but I thought we did a good job after that. 

Q: Is it possible to describe from the inside what it's like to dominate your division the way you guys have through your entire time here?

DM: I think for us it's more of understanding what kind of game it is. Obviously we've won a lot, but you work for the game. This wasn't a game where you just come out and it's an easy, dominant game where you're hanging out in the third quarter, you know? It was a good game. They always play tough, coming here is a hard place to play. Our division always plays us tough and we know that, so I don't even think we look at it like that. We just know how prepared we have to be when we play within this division.

Q: Can you describe the approach defensively, and challenges if you're going to man up against a quarterback like that?

DM: It's tough. I think some of these guys have got a good balance and mixture in there. When I just might have gone in there for the run, it's like they don't understand. These guys can also read defense, and they know what they're looking at so I was trying to mix it up, give them different looks, and give them different rushers. Even in there, we had guys that were able to mix up plays and rush them off the edge. I thought we did a good job with the D-line, making it tough. Obviously when a guy goes backwards ten yards, able to run around the edge, that's tough to stop. That's just God-given ability, but we did a good job of trying to make it tough. And then what we did on the secondary, getting on the receivers and plastering all over the zone.

Q: Did you think it was extra special for Steph (Stephon Gilmore) to come back here and have this kind of day?

DM: I guess so, I don't know. I didn't ask him. Obviously he played somewhere for a couple of years, and then when we got out there and got booed early in the game, you want to play well. It kind of seemed like they wanted to score a touchdown on him. A lot of balls in the end zone, and he came up probably about four or five PBU's today, so he's been great for us. He's been pretty steady, going out there and playing guys tough with man-to-man coverage. We needed that today.

Q: You've had to cover Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) in practice. Is he uncoverable one-on-one?

DM: No, it's easy in practice, it's just hard in the game. No, he's a great player. It's not easy in practice, it's not easy in the spring or in the summer. You've got to come ready to go against him. The cool thing for us is that we get used to him, so we start trying to grab and pull. There's no refs in practice. I'm sure Tom (Brady) will tell you we hold him all the time. 

PATRIOTS LOCKER ROOM

RUNNING BACK REX BURKHEAD

Q: Can you talk about what today meant for you?

RB: It was a big win for the team. We knew coming in here it was going to be a challenge. We didn't start off fast and we made plays that kind of ended our drives early. The second half we got it going and the offensive line did its job up front all day. They opened up some holes and just gave us some opportunities. 

Q: Two straight weeks you guys are coming close to 200 yards by the half. What has allowed you and Dion [Dion Lewis] to be so productive these last couple weeks?

RB: The offensive line. They've done a great job and James [James White] has been productive as well. Anytime that they're battling up front, being visible, and opening up holes in the run game, it helps out other plays as well, even in the passing game. It all starts with them. 

Q: Obviously we know you guys can throw the ball with Tom Brady, but how important has it been to establish the running game these past couple weeks?

RB: Oh, it's huge, because we know that's what's going to carry us later on in the season and in the next few games. You never know what the weather could be, especially this month and moving forward. It's big for us, it helps our offense, and like you said, any time we can establish that it's going to help us out.

CORNERBACK STEPHON GILMORE

Q: Were you at all surprised at the reaction that Buffalo fans gave you, I heard a lot of boos when you were making plays out there?

SG: Yeah I'm not surprised. You know how it is. They are fans, and they feel some type of way that I am on the Patriots, so it's all good.

Q: You had a really nice goal line stand there at the end of the game. Did you feel like they were trying to score the touchdown on you, or that they were targeting you pretty heavily down there?

SG: I mean they threw it my way three or four times in the red zone. I'm like, "They really trying to score a touchdown on me no matter how much they are down." They've got a good football team, they played us tough, and they have a lot of great athletes out there so it was fun.

Q: Does this win mean anymore to you given it came against where you got your start here?

SG: It was a big win for us knowing that they are in our division and in the AFC. It was a big win, 10-2 feels good. 

Q: Is there some personal satisfaction though in that it came against the team that you were with last year and a front office that maybe decided that they were ready to move on from you?

SG: You know that's part of how it is and how its run. It is what it is. I know what type of player I am. They've got handle whatever they've got going and I am happy over here where I'm at.   

TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI

Q: On hit on Tre'Davious White...

RG: First of all, I definitely want to apologize to #27. I'm not in the business of that, I mean, it was a lot of frustration and I was just really frustrated at that moment. It just happened naturally through emotions and frustration. Just want to apologize to Tre'Davious White. I don't really believe in type of shots like that but, just due to frustration process and the game of football, emotions, that's what happened. 

Q: What are you frustrated by though?

RG: At the top of the route. It felt like it was a big hole at the top, and then the throw was definitely... I mean, I felt like he kind of pushed me a little bit and made the play and I just don't understand why there wasn't a flag. It was a couple times in the game, and they're calling me for the craziest stuff ever...and it's crazy, like, what am I supposed to do? And then they don't call that. It was just frustration, and that's what happened.

Q: Would you say this is just a culmination over the past couple of games?

RG: Over the past couple - seven years.

Q: Two sets of rules, Gronk? One for you and one for everybody else?

RG: I don't know. I just got to keep playing and keep playing hard.

Q: At the end of the day though, do you feel, ultimately, you can't lose your cool like that?

RG: Yeah, I can't. That definitely could hurt the team. Obviously, it didn't hurt the team there, but it definitely can in the future and definitely got to keep your cool.

Q: Did it put a damper on otherwise a big day for you?

RG: Yeah, it was a great day, it was a great team win overall. I wouldn't say it put a damper on it, we just got a good win. They're a solid team, it's always tough to play in Buffalo and we had a good team win. The defense played awesome, we ran the ball great, we did what we had to do in the throwing game and we got the win, it's huge.

RUNNING BACK DION LEWIS

Q: So Dion, is there a trick to scoring in the red zone, because in the first half you guys were in there and just couldn't punch it in and the second half you seemed to get that down?

DL: I am just going to execute a little bit better, work a little harder. Their defense is a good defense and they just force you to have a restraint in plays alone. Just have to stay patient, not frustrated. 

Q: What did you guys say to each other at half time to kind of get it going on that offense? Because you were moving the ball, you just weren't kind of getting the results on the movement.

DL: Stay patient. Don't get frustrated. We don't get 30 yards every play and just stay the course. Keep giving a great effort and execute when we get down there. 

Q: How much of a mismatch is it when you guys get going with the running game a little stronger and [Rob Gronkowski] can do what he has to do?

DL: It was great. Great complimentary football. Line up the ball but it definitely helps to pass. We have to get that going and Rex [Burkhead] did a good job today. 

Q: How do you feel your work load's been growing every week? How do you feel?

DL: Same way I look. I feel good. I just have to keep taking care of my body. Just keep being patient, keep working hard every day in practice to try and get better. 

Q: How conscious do you guys feel as a group, at this stage, that you are running the ball consistently as you have been over the last couple of weeks?

DL: We feel good. We still know we have a long way to go. There are still a lot of errors we can improve and be better as a team so definitely we're not a finished product by any means, so we have to get grinding week in and week out and get better. 

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