HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
"Well, first of all I am real proud of our team this week. It was a tough week. I thought we competed hard all week, in terms of preparation, on the practice field, we practiced in pads and worked on a lot of fundamental things and those guys had a great attitude about it. We played a solid game here tonight in all three phases. I thought we got some good plays out of each group. We competed for 60 minutes and did what we needed to do. It was good and I look forward to getting back and getting on to Tennessee next week. It was good to come down here and come out with a win this week. They are a good football team, they have a lot of good players and they play hard, so it's good to come down here and win. I felt that we had a lot of guys step up here though and that's what we need for our team, everybody needs to contribute."
Talk about the job the front seven did on defense.
"Yeah, those guys did a good job. We played a lot of different people, that's what we have been doing along the front. Our linebackers did a good job they had good coverage, they gave up three big plays, but on a down in down out basis I thought we competed well, tackled well, we were able to get off the field on third down, had a couple of stops when they got it down there to hold them to field goals and then a fourth down stop there in the third quarter. Our red to high red area defense, third down defense, those are some big keys for us."
What do you think about CB Leonard Johnson performance after being with them for only a few days?
"He's a pretty experienced player in the league. He's come around a little bit and has played that position so, but he worked hard. He worked really hard this week and so did his teammates, Logan (Ryan), Devin (McCourty), Malcom (Butler), Duron (Harmon), Pat (Patrick Chung) in terms of their communication and I thought that the play made on the fourth day play in the third quarter where they had their receivers try to run down underneath, we made combination call on that and he did a good job of taking away the inside route now there and broke it up. It was a long week, it was a lot of extra work, lot of extra meetings, some good competitive time on the practice field so hopefully that'll pay off. Got to give him a lot of credit, he came in and learned and his teammates embraced it and we got some good plays out of both he and Justin (Coleman)."
Can you talk about what you guys were able to do against WR Deandre Hopkins tonight?
"I mean he made a great play down the sideline. He's a good receiver. It's tough, we obviously played a lot of double coverage on him, but we did a good job battling. We left Malcom (Butler) on in some situations and that was competitive. You've got to double Hopkins, big receiver, got strong hands, he's kind of always open because of his size, his length and his catching radius. We got good pass rush and thought we did a good job of battling, making him work to get open and make the quarterback hold the ball. Sometimes we got some pass rush there. He got his hands on a couple balls so, that was a good battle."
How about the return of TE Rob Gronkowski coming back?
"Yeah, I mean he missed one game, so."
How was he in the red zone?
"Yeah, it's good to have every player we get back. We want all the players out there."
How big is this win after dropping the last two games?
"Every week is a big week in the NFL. The fewer games there are the more important they are. We have four left. This is one of four. Now we have three left. So it would be one of three. Each one gets bigger."
Could you tell if DE J.J. Watt was slowed by the broken hand?
"Looked pretty active to me. They move him around quite a bit, get him in some off-the-line positions, playing some outside linebacker, moved (Whitney) Mercilus down inside, so they flip him from side to side. He was everywhere. They put him in a lot of different spots, and some of that probably standing up so he probably didn't have to block as much with his hands. He has great quickness and he does a good job of ripping across the guys face and next time taking step like he's coming up across and is quick enough to come behind. I thought we had a couple big play runs that really looked like they were going to gain some yards and then Watt made one and (Jadeveon) Clowney made another one just coming off the back side. We had him blocked too, it wasn't like they were free off the back side there. They used their quickness to get around the back side and still long enough and quick enough to make the play. He's tough, he's tough."
Special teams responded tonight.
"Yeah, we played hard. Look I thought we played hard all the way across the board. LG (LeGarrette Blount) had a couple tough runs early in the game. Brandon (Bolden) had a tough run at the end of the game to get that last first down and a lot in between. We took good care of the ball offensively, didn't turn it over, didn't really have any turnover opportunities that we gave and did a good job of securing the ball so that was good. I thought that we tried to compete against them in the run game. They're a tough team to run against. Vince (Wilfork) is good. (Jared) Crick and (J.J.) Watt are good. (Jadeveon) Clowney and (Whitney) Mercilus are good. They've got good inside linebackers, (Benardrick) McKinney and (Brian) Cushing. There's not a lot of gimme blocks up there."
Can you talk about the big end of the second quarter?
"Yeah, you know I thought that was a good, good complimentary football on our part, something that's really been lacking in the last four weeks. We made a stop on defense. We got the ball back. We got the two-minute warning, got a first down and were able to finish in the end zone with 14 or whatever it was, 15 seconds, 20 seconds whatever it was on the clock. It was a great job by our defense of making the stop. Great job by our special teams of putting us in good field position. Great job by the offense of executing the plays and also using the clock up and we came back in the second half and had the two close plays that were overturned and ended up getting a field goal, so that was a big 10-point swing for us. It's close to being more had we been able to convert those passes that were overturned. That drive at the end of the half was big and then the start of the third quarter to take advantage of that opening possession. I thought that 10-point swing obviously was a big help for us tonight."
WR DANNY AMENDOLA
"We scored more points and I think we played better as a team and all way around, special teams, defense played great and it was cool."
What changed having TE Rob Gronkowski back out there?
"We just did our base stuff and just having him out there. He's such a great football player. He makes a good mismatch on linebackers and he's really a good football player. Having him out there is great."
Is it emotional to have him out there, to the kind of attitude that he brings?
"Absolutely, he's a great player and every time he is on the field he makes plays and we are happy to have him."
How did you hold J.J. Watt in check tonight?
"I haven't seen the film, but he is a great player and every time he is on the field you gotta account for him. I saw him out there with that club, so yeah."
QB TOM BRADY
What did you think about how the Patriots responded tonight?
"It was a good team win. A lot of guys contributed. We fought hard, I think our defense played incredibly. Offensively we did enough. I think we took advantage of some opportunities and didn't make any really big mistakes so that was pretty important. I got the ball in the end zone when we had the chance, so just keep plugging along."
How big of a boost was it to see how well the defense was playing?
"Yeah absolutely. I think it is part of complementary football, you have to play to your strengths and certainly the defense the last four of five weeks has been incredible. So it's good when they are on the field. Usually, you don't think about that, our defense has done such a great job in the short field and the muffed punt and the fourth down stops, so they just did a great job."
Did you get a little extra excited when you learned Gronkowski was going to be playing this game?
"Yes, he made great plays during the game too. He is just a huge influence on what we do offensively and he really toughed it out so I am proud of him. He had a big touchdown catch. He is obviously a big part of what we do. It is good having him out there."
Does having TE Rob Gronkowski out there calm you down, especially in the red zone?
"Well offensive football is always trust and anticipation and it is certainly that way with Gronk. He is just a great player, a great teammate, blocking, pass protecting obviously passing game – short, intermediate and deep. He takes advantage of a good matchup. He is a great player."
When did Gronkowski come into your vision and how did the play develop?
"We were trying to get him back there so I rolled right further than normal, I don't know what happened on the play, but I kind of got flushed, I knew where he was heading and he had a linebacker on him so I thought I'd give him a chance and usually he comes down with those. That was a great play."
TE ROB GRONKOWSKI
When did you know you were going to play in the game tonight?
"I mean, I don't know. Never really thought about it. Just was going through the process throughout the week, seeing how practice went, seeing how I was feeling after practice and all, I mean just basically all the way up to the game just making sure I was planning on playing and making sure everything checked out throughout the week and everything did. It went well, feeling good and it's great to be back out there with the team."
How does your knee feel?
"It's good. Good to go."
How did it feel to test the knee run blocking?
"It just felt good to be back out on the field. Putting pads on for the first time in a few weeks, getting back in to it. Just felt good to be back out there playing football again. Being out there with the teammates, just having a great team win overall."
Was scoring a touchdown in your first game back icing on the cake?
"It's always good to make a play, get a touchdown. The icing on the cake is that win."
What happened on that touchdown play?
"Just had to make a little move, the DB played good defense and Tom (Brady) just put it up there where I just had to go up, go make a play and I did, so it was just good execution overall."
How did you break open on the 45 yard catch in the first quarter?
"Oh yeah, I mean, I was running that route and it was taking a while and I couldn't even see Tom, I had no clue where he was. Next thing you know I just see the ball go flying in the air coming to me and then I couldn't see the ball anymore in that stadium. It went right in to the lights for like half the way and I'm like 'I know it's coming to me,' and then like, when it was like 20 feet coming down I saw it like 'there it is,' and just had to make that catch and it was just a good pass overall."
Was there urgency to get back as soon as possible after losing two games in a row?
"There was urgency and there wasn't urgency. Obviously I want to be back out there with my teammates, be back out there playing football. When you miss a game it's just hard to watch, you want to be out there playing football making plays and at the same time you just have to be smart about it, which we were. The organization, myself, just rehabbing really hard and everything checked out, everything felt good, so I was good to go."
How hard is it to be smart about when you come back to play?
"It was easy to be smart. Just had to work hard. If you worked hard and you gave everything you gave to get back, and it wasn't checking out right, well then you know you gave it all you had. That's how you can be smart about it. Just checked out well. Rehabbed hard all week for the last two weeks. It turned out good, and it was great to be back out there.
Was there a point in practice this week when things changed?
"Let's just talk about the game. I played. Just worked hard to get back out there. Just missed my teammates and all. Just want to talk about the game."
Was there a point in game against Denver that you didn't think you would come back this season?
"We're in Houston now. Let's just talk about this game."
How much do you pay attention to guys when they are going low when they tackle you?
"I'm just running the ball. Sometimes I don't even know notice how I get tackled. It's just how quick the game is, how quick a move is, how quick a tackle is. You don't see someone tackling you. You don't really know how you got tackled. Definitely watch out for that and try to avoid it as much as possible."
How satisfying was it to get a playoff berth tonight?
"It was just satisfying to come out here and get that win. That's all that mattered to the team. That's all we wanted to do. Come back out and get on the winning track again, and we did that. It is cool that we clinched a playoff spot and all, but we've still got Tennessee next week. We've got a couple more games left in the season. That's all we're focused upon is on our opponent next week."
What are your thoughts on being back on top of the AFC after falling to number three in the AFC last week?
"You've just got to take one week at a time and not worry about what you can't control on the outside and just worry about what you can control and that's getting better. Practicing hard. Focusing on your opponent that week and making sure you come out prepared for that game that week."