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New England Patriots Postgame Transcripts 9/11

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, September 11, 2016.

Bill Belichick, Head Coach

Opening statement:
"Obviously, I'm really proud of our team here tonight. I thought we got great effort from all three phases, but a good complimentary game. These guys worked really hard during the week. There was a lot of preparation in this game: meetings, walkthroughs. Obviously practice and film study. The Cardinals are a tough team to get ready for and these guys really worked hard and we had a grinding week. But, they came down here and played a tough, physical football game against a good team. We were just able to make a couple more plays than the Cardinals. There's obviously some things we need to clean up and work on. It's good to come down here and win. It's good to go on the road, play well as a team, and get contributions from all three phases. The big point of the game was the kickoff. Making the tackle down there in the fifteen (yard line). Getting the penalty. The position ended up being a real big factor there, I'm sure on the final kick. Really good plays on special teams, defensively. It's a good offensive unit that we competed hard against and they made some plays. We made a few. Offensively, we made the plays we needed to make to win. We turned the ball over too many times. We had too many penalties, but we overcame some of them. We're not going to be able to do that every week. Short week now. Turn the page and on Miami. Back in the division. Just keep grinding it out here."

On the importance of New England's third down conversions:
"The 3rd-and-12, or whatever it was, was a big play. We made it look like we were trying to set up a screen. They kind of played the screen. Fortunately, that took away some of the pass rush. Jimmy's (Garoppolo) able to scramble. As usual, Danny (Amendola) came up big for us. He made a big catch down there and took a hard hit. The slant route to James White was a great throw and a great catch in really tight coverage. Then really in the third down play, we wanted to make sure we had the ball close enough for the field goal. LG (LeGarrette Blount) made a good run. He had some good space in there and it looked like he broke a couple tackles. He was short of the first down and he dropped his pads and got it. So that was a big run. It definitely shortened the field goal for us, which we might have made it from there anyways, but it definitely would've been a tougher kick."

On whether he watered anything down for Garoppolo:
"We ran what we thought we needed to run to win. I don't know what you're talking about. We try to put a game plan together and come down here and win, and that's what we did."

On the team's poise:
"Well, we had one false start. Too many penalties, but look, they competed hard. It's a good defense. They've got some good players. We blocked them and sometimes, we had trouble blocking them, but we competed hard and we made enough plays. We were able to control the ball at times. At other times, not so well. But those guys, they fought them all the way and we fought them all the way in all three phases. I thought we had a great effort from all our players and they played with a lot of toughness. It's a loud stadium, on the road, a good team. A Super Bowl caliber team, at least that's what they're talking about. It was a good effort to come down here and win."

On New England's running game:
"Again, we had our moments. There were some plays that weren't as consistent as we'd like for them to be. But we tried to, like I said, play a tough game."

On why he called a timeout with 41 seconds left in the game:
"I wasn't going to initially call it, but then it looked like they weren't in a big rush. That they were going to bleed it a little bit. So if they would have made it, it would have given us more time on the clock. I mean, a field goal would have won going the other way."

On Garoppolo's poise and play in this game:

On elaborating on Garoppolo's play:
"It's been good. He made some good plays. It's not perfect, but he made a lot of good plays. Like I said, it's a tough place to play and it's a good defense."

On whether calling the timeout with 41 seconds left was a feel or whether he was looking for something specific:
"If they would've run right out and lined up to kick it, then I don't think I would've taken the timeout. Generally, I don't think you want to go out and line up your field goal team, and get it all set, and then make your kicker wait 20 seconds to kick it. I mean you could theoretically, but most kickers don't like that. I don't really think that's the way to go, personally. When they came out there, that's what I thought they were going to do. Run right out and kick because it was fourth down. Then, the holder wasn't even down. The kicker was 10 yards off to the side warming up. It looked like they were going to bleed it down. I thought we could save maybe 20 seconds or so in the 40 second clock. Somewhere in there. I thought we'd be able to save that. Obviously, if the kick was no good, we're kneeling anyways. It wouldn't make any difference. That would have only helped us if the kick had been good."

On Larry Fitzgerald's play at his age:
"Larry's a good player. He made a lot of good plays tonight. Stuff you got to cover."

On Garoppolo's rhythm tonight:
"Again, we had our moments. There were times when we moved the ball well and executed crisply. There were times when we didn't. We just need to be more consistent on that. That's everybody. That's the entire offense, the entire defense. It's early in the year. I'm happy to win. Fortunate to win here tonight. We're going to need to play better next week and succeeding weeks, so that's what we're going to go back and work on. It wasn't perfect, but it was a good performance against a good team. We'll take it and move on."

On the importance of New England's special teams execution on kickoffs:
"I thought it was really good. Our kickoff team, we went into the game feeling like we had to make some field position plays in the kicking game. You don't want to put their offense on a short field. If you can pile a few more yards onto the drive, hopefully it works in your favor. I know there was a lot of sentiment to eliminate that play, but those are the kinds of plays that are good strategy plays in football. Certainly, we had an opportunity to kick it out of the end zone on the last kickoff, but with a good field goal kicker, a good offense, good quarterback, we try to put them on as long a field as we could. (Patrick) Chung did a great job and went down there and made a play. (Cyrus) Jones, as he did all night, was a big factor on coverage. I think he was the one that got the holding call. That was a great situational play and we needed it at that time. In the end, those yards showed up on the other end of the field."

On tomorrow's story line being that Garoppolo played great tonight and whether he's minimizing Garoppolo's play:
"I mean, I'm really, really concerned about the story line. Like, there's really nothing higher on my list than the story line tomorrow. We beat a good team on the road. We've got a lot of work to do. That's all of us: coaching, playing, offense, defense, special teams. That's what I saw in the game. But, I can't wait to read it tomorrow."

Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback

On what this experience was like:
"It was really good, coming on the road, tough environment. I think the team, as a whole, played a very good game."

On whether this was how he saw it playing out:
"This was a good way to see it. I didn't know going into the game. We had a nice game plan. Coaches, players, everyone did a great job throughout the week. We had a good week of preparation and it showed out there tonight."

On how he stayed calm throughout the game and on his touchdown to Chris Hogan:
"Just having confidence in your teammates. When they have confidence in you (and) you confidence in them, it's easy to stay poised out there. You're in the huddle, you're all looking at each other and it's a good feeling. The play with Chris, he had a great release and it makes it an easy throw for me."

On what his emotions were like leading into the game:
"Amped up, it really was. I was fired up before the game."

On his nerves before the game:
"I get nervous before every game. Whether it's little league, college, here. I think that's a good thing though. If you don't get nervous, it doesn't mean that much to you."

On his mindset leading the team from behind:
"That goes back to the preparation part. We were put in that situation, and I think the guys around me responded very well. All across the board, the guys up front, skill guys, defense, special teams, whatever it may be, everyone stayed calm and reacted well to it."

On using smelling salts before the game:
"I just always do it before the game. Nothing crazy, it just gets you going."

On connecting with Danny Amendola on third-and-15 late in the game:
"The line did a great job, first of all, giving me that time. Third-and-15, you got to let your guys get down the field and Danny found the opening in the zone. It was a great job by him. He made it a pretty easy throw for me and he made a nice catch too, so it was a good play all the way around."

On the key to converting several third down plays:
"I would say, going back to the preparation, the coaches did a great job giving us the game plan going into it on third down, breaking it down for us, simplifying it. It makes it a lot easier on us when you have good coaches like that."

On whether he used doubts of others as inspiration going into the game:
"I didn't really think about it too much I guess. They are a very talented defense and that's a good group of players out there. They gave us all we could handle tonight. It was a good test for us. Whoever is out there, we have confidence in one another and that's a good thing we have going for us."

On if the defense was showing things he had seen before or if there were new aspects:
"First game of the season, obviously, every team has a couple of new wrinkles here and there, but the line did a great job cleaning the pocket out for me. It was pretty clean for the most part. I took a couple of hits, but that's football. They did a great job cleaning it out for me and it makes my job a lot easier when they're playing like that."

On catching his own pass on a broken play:
"That was a first. That was just a reaction, but it worked out alright I guess, so positive play."

On what was going through his mind when he took a knee to seal the game:
"It was a good feeling, it really was. Only one game right now. We still got a long way to go, moving on to Miami after this flight. It's a good start to the season. It really is."

On if he was aware that not many were picking the Patriots coming into the game:
"Not really. To be honest, I don't really put much into it. We have enough on our plate as it is with travel, game plan, everything in between. There's a lot on our minds. We were focused on Arizona and the result came out our way."

On how much confidence it gives him now that he's started his first game:
"I think it's good for the whole team, especially the first game of the season coming into a tough environment like this. It's good to see how everyone responded. We had a couple of young guys playing, especially up front, making their first starts and I think everyone responded pretty well to it. The crowd was rocking at times and they didn't flinch at all. It was a good thing."

On if he felt a difference in speed of the game between the regular season and preseason:
"Nothing crazy. Once you get into it, after the first play or so, it's just football. You're just out there reacting to it I guess. We were confident going into the game and it showed."

Chris Hogan, Wide Receiver

On what he saw on his touchdown:
"It was man to man coverage, press coverage on the outside, I knew that the safety was in the middle of the field so there was a good chance it would come to me. I just made sure to run the route and get open."

On if that was the play call or he made an adjustment:
"That was the play call."

On what it meant to get off to a quick start:
"This is awesome. I don't even have words to express what this probably means to the whole team. Coming out here, playing on the road in a tough environment against a really good team. We were able to really execute out there and just battle the entire four quarters. I am just happy for everyone in here, and Jimmy (Garoppolo). This is huge."

On how the team stayed in focus with all of the players that were out today:
"You look on the field and it didn't seem like we really hesitated that much. Guys stepped up and that is what you have to do in this league. Injuries are part of the game and people have to step up and I think a lot of guys did. There were a lot of guys that went out and made plays today and we were able to come out here and get a win."

Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver

On his 32-yard pick up:
"I believe it was a hot pass, fake screen and I think Jimmy (Garoppolo) scrambled around and made a play."

On what he thought of Jimmy Garoppolo's play:
"He is a good football player and I'm sure he's happy we won."

On how important the quick start was:
"We want to start fast. We work on that in practice and we were excited to get on the board first."

On what he thought of Jimmy Garoppolo's poise and command:
"He's a good player. He works really hard and he had a good week of preparation. He's a good football player."

On what this win says about the team:
"We played well tonight, well enough to win the game. We played a good team tonight too, they played hard and we are just excited to come out on top."

On what it meant to make a handful of key plays:
"Everybody has a job to do and I'm no different. Jimmy made some good plays with his feet and found the open guy."

On how Jimmy Garoppolo played overall:
"Played well enough to win the game."

On how he thought he played tonight:
"I felt good. It took me a play or two to get the speed down but it was fun. We had a lot of fun tonight and we are happy right now."

On the offensive play calling:
"We had a good week of practice and Josh (McDaniels) and Jimmy work well together and they called some good plays. We got open and made some good plays."

On the mix of plays that were called:
"We try to keep balanced. Whatever the situation calls for."

On the importance of getting off to a quick start like this:
"You want to start fast in each game, you want to start fast in each season and take it a week at a time. First week we got one win and obviously we are excited."

Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver

On what Jimmy Garoppolo's message was to the team leading up to the 4th quarter drive:
"I don't even remember. I think we were all just focused on going in there and doing something."

On how important third down conversions were:
"The game comes down to third down, red area and turnovers. We lost the turnover battle which kept the game closer than we wanted to, gave them a little more opportunity. But we were able to go in there and do well on third down, I don't know what the stat is, I haven't seen it. And the red area, we didn't really get in there too much. It would have been good to get some more touchdowns but third downs were a big help."

On what it means to the team to win while they are undermanned and underdogs:
"That is all on you guys. You are the ones that think we are undermanned and underdogs but we are just worried about what we can control and that is going out there and having a good week of practice and try to do that in the game. It was good to see guys come up and do that and see it transition from the practice field to the game. That is why you work so hard."

On what he liked about Jimmy Garoppolo:
"He did his job. He went out there and took command of the huddle and made plays when he had to. We didn't turn the ball over necessarily with him, maybe on that sack but, we were able to control the game so that was good."

Chris Long, Defensive End

On the defensive game plan:
"First and foremost, we had to stop the run. Maybe we didn't do that all the time, but we were able to come through and make some big plays when it counted. They're a really good football team, an explosive football team. We expected it to be tough and it was."

On how this win sets the tempo for the team:
"It means we're 1-0. That's a big hump to get over. Winning on the road is never easy and the first game of the year is really important, so it's good to get off on a good start, but we're 1-0 and that's it."

On how the Patriots defense got the Cardinals offense out of rhythm:
"They're a great team and even when they're off rhythm, they're in rhythm. They have so many weapons. You just have to stay on them and hope to make them kick field goals. They have a ton of weapons. It was a team win. Everybody did their part."

On the defense setting up good offensive field position:
"It was just a team win. Jimmy (Garoppolo) made some really gutsy plays. We answered the bell at times. That's what a team is about: picking each other up. When somebody makes a mistake, we just pick each other up. That's what a team is about. That was real team football and a win."

On how Jimmy Garoppolo's quick start helped boost his confidence:
"He's a confident guy. He's got quiet confidence. Everybody on this team is confident in him. We knew that if we stuck to our game plan we were going to have a chance to win it in the end and he made some really gutsy plays to help us win."

Stephen Gostkowski, Kicker

On how he felt kicking field goals tonight:
"I felt good today. I was very focused. Glad that the points mattered and it was a fun game. We had a blast out here tonight and to come home with a win, I'm happy. Can't ask for anything else."

On responding on the road without Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski:
"There are still a lot of really good players on this team. We play aggressive and we're going to go out there and do our part on special teams. We felt good all week. The vibe felt positive. It's good to come out with a win."

On how it feels to come out with a win:
"It's great to win, especially on the road the first game against a really, really good team. It's exciting. It was a long preseason. It's nice to come out and get a real game under our belt and get a win. It's the first five hour flight I'm excited to go on."

On if he had any uncertainties coming in:
"Every year you don't know what to expect. I've been around here a lot. I expect us to play confident and aggressive, and the guys to go out there and do the best they can to help the team win. It was a true team effort tonight. Every aspect of the game was helped. The defense played good. The offense played good. The special teams played pretty good. It's exciting when we can all contribute and win."

Devin McCourty, Safety

On the job Jimmy Garoppolo did tonight:
"He's incredible. All game he went out there and made the plays he was supposed to make. We knew as a team, we believed in him. There was no doubt in this locker room that Jimmy could go out there and play. I'm happy he went out there, did it, and everyone can shut up now and watch the guy get better and grow and us keep improving as a team in the early part of the season. I believe in everybody on this team. You watch us from April until now, we put a lot of work in. We do things that sometimes we hate as players and the coaches tell us to believe in it and it'll work out. We have a team of 53 guys plus the practice squad doing that every day. You have no reason not to believe in every one of your teammates. Today was a great team win. Everybody stepped up and played well and made plays."

On the last drive defensively:
"We knew that they used all of their timeouts, so it was about trying to get a stop. There were a couple plays we felt we could of ended it earlier. The holding penalty was huge to knock them out of field goal range. Once you get to that point, every yard matters. Bill (Belichick) always tells us the percentage of how far kickers are kicking. At the end of the day, all of the kickers in the NFL are pretty good. You never know what's going to happen. We just try to put as much pressure as possible on him and hope he misses at the end. At the end of the game, you either win or lose with one kick."

On what tonight's national anthem meant:
"It was huge. On a day like 9/11, being from New York, I remember being in high school when that happened. Parents and friends, friends' parents working there. Not knowing what was really going on. It was big. I think everybody realizes 9/11 and what it means to this country. Always try to remember all of those who died in that terrible incident and the people that went in there and tried to help. As players, we respect the anthem. A lot of guys have friends and family members that serve and believe in what people go out there and fight for, but you also see guys that believe in using our platform and trying to be leaders and help change in the country. We love this country, but it doesn't mean we can't improve it. As national football players, we have a platform. Just like many of us have different charities and do different things in the community, this is a part of it. I'm proud to be a part of the NFL."

On holding up his fist with Martellus Bennett:
"Around the NFL, a lot of guys are doing different things. It's all for the same cause: different social injustices. We've talked as players throughout the league trying to make change in our communities one by one using our platform, not just doing it on Sundays and game days. We've talked about different things we're going to try to do to help the country and help our communities out. Today I wore socks with the American flag. I believe in this country. I love this country. My father was in the Army. My older brother was in the Army. Those men and women go out there and put their life on the line. I respect that. That's the reason why I didn't do anything during the national anthem because I respect it. You talk to people about how much respect they have for the flag. That's why they believe. That's why they go fight. Nothing but respect for that."

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