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Patriots Postgame Quotes - 1/20/2008

New England Patriots players comment on their win over the San Diego Chargers and moving on to Super Bowl XLII.

Kyle Brady, Tight End
*(On overcoming turnovers)
*Turnovers hurt us, one of them down in the redzone, and if we score there we got twenty-eight points [as] opposed to twenty-one at the end. That's what being a team is, overcoming errors over the course of the year. The great thing about this team is its resiliency, its determination, its ability to battle those adversities that come up during the course of the game, like turnovers. It's been one of those things that set us apart.

*(On the passing conditions)
*The wind was gusting, and I mean it was cold too, but I think most guys were keeping themselves warm on the sideline, so I don't think it was too much of a problem."

*(On making adjustments for the Patriots defense)
*We watch them pretty intently and they did a great job. I mean they had the "bend but don't break" type night, where they let them down there then shut the door. I think there was an emphasis on redzone defense earlier this season. Coach Belichick was really on the guys about playing tougher in the redzone, and they really stepped up tonight.

*(On playing with Randy Moss this year)
*It's been a great experience. He's been a good teammate. I've heard before that he's a good teammate from people who have played with him in other places, so he's been all about winning, and competing to win so I had heard that about him, and that's pretty much the way we've seen him.

*(On tight formations in the second half)
*Well we had all those things in our package coming in, in our game plan, and (the Chargers) weren't necessarily going all cover 2. There was a lot of times when we were in there, where they were rotating safeties down to try to prevent things we wanted to do in the running game. So in the second half, I think we just committed to it a little more and got a good feeling when a few of the plays went well. That always makes it a little easier for an offensive coordinator to continue with certain personnel and play calls. I think we did that and really started to kind of roll.

*(On what was going on his mind when the game was over)
*I mean some of the guys around here, it's great for them that they've had such a great run, so many opportunities to go to this game, but some of the younger guys I can imagine are a little spoiled not realizing how tough it is to get to this point. I've been playing thirteen years and this is my first time getting into this game, so it's a little surreal.

Benjamin Watson, Tight End
(On jumping up and down during the last drive)
*When you know you have to make one or two first downs in order to move on to the next game we've all been trying to get too. It's an exciting time; so making those blocks and seeing Laurence [Maroney] run through those holes, it was exciting for us.

*(On the running game stepping up)
*Well I mean its always been there, but, you know, we've just been going another route for most of the year, and now as time starts to get colder and its harder and harder to throw the ball, so we're starting to run it. And Laurence does a great job, Heath, all our backs, Kevin, do a great job of hitting that hole and making plays.

Ellis Hobbs III, Cornerback
(On the play of the defense)
*As a defense, what we've been saying all year – and the media [and] fans saw it today, we've got a pretty good defense out there. We stepped up when we needed to and like I've said all year, it's a team effort. When the offense is down somebody else has to step up, defense and special teams. When the defense is down [the] offense has stepped up, special teams has stepped up. It's a check and balance all the time and we just did a great job.

*(On making it to the Super Bowl after falling a game short last year)
*All we kept stressing to one another is not this year. Not this year. Especially for me. My college years weren't the best. I've been a loser for a long time on a lot of losing teams. Just to be a part of this, and a significant part, and with all the things that have gone on this season, on the field, off the field or whatever. This is just a culmination of all of it and it just feels great.

*(On red zone defense)
*Big, big. You talk about time after time how offense puts people in the seats, but defense wins championships. Tonight you saw that how time and time again those guys got into the red zone and time and time again we kept saying no, no not today. We were making them score field goals. Eventually the offense started clicking and we just got rolling, like I said it was a team effort.

*(On his interception)
*We knew it was going to be difficult to throw the ball down field. We knew they wanted to throw inside routes and that they wanted to throw the deep ball my way. Once I saw the wind take it a little bit I just had to make a play on the ball. Unfortunately I fumbled it, but James Sanders got on the ball so it was a good play all around.

Laurence Maroney, Running Back
(On how it felt to play a big part in the win)
*It felt good. You had a lot of critics talking about our running game and the productivity of the running game early on in the season. It felt good to go out there and run the clock out with the running game.

*(On if the team ran the ball more because of Tom Brady's struggles)
*Well, you never know what to expect. We come into the game and we try to be balanced. Hopefully, the pass will work. If the pass doesn't work, hopefully the run will work. I really didn't know what to expect or how many carries I was going to get. I just know that whenever they did call my name I was going to be ready.

*(On how things changed in the second half)
*They played tough the first half, they played tough the second half but it seemed like they started giving ground in the second half. We just kept pounding them and kept pounding them and eventually those little two-yard runs started breaking into eight and ten yard runs.

Dan Koppen, Center
(On developing an offensive rhythm)
*I think we just need to get the first downs and get some consistency. You know, we really, you know, stopped ourselves a couple times and they played great today. So it was one of those things where we had to stay on the field and, you know, just get the feel of the game.

*(On controlling the ball)
*I think, especially in the second half, we were able to get a feel for it. Guys really took it to heart that we needed to control the ball and get first downs, move the chains, and keep our offense out on that field. You know, the guys really buckled down and we were able to do that. Especially with that last drive.

*(On the different formations that were used by the offense)
*I just run what's called. You know, I don't know how many tight ends are in the game or not. You know, we've got assignments to do and we've got a job to do no matter who's in the game. We've just got to go out there and block the guys.

*(On his beard)
*It is [an 18-game growth]. It's been growing since July and I'm not going to cut it now.

*(On Laurence Maroney)
*Laurence has been running hard for us all year. When we've called on him, he's been right there to step in and run hard. He's seeing the holes really good right now and running hard, putting his head down. He's just a great runner.

*(On if the Patriots' final drive was gratifying to him and the rest of the offensive line)
*It was great. You always want to end the game with the ball. To put together a drive like that in the biggest game of the year, I couldn't have pictured it any differently.

*(On the impressive performances of Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney on Sunday)
*Whenever we need them, everybody steps up. We have a lot of guys on this offense who can make plays. Laurence and Kevin, they've been doing it when we asked them to all year. Tonight was no different.

Heath Evans, Running back
(On the offensive line's ability to establish the line of scrimmage)
*Amazing. And we expect that from them. They consistently do it. Those guys have played together for a long time. They're coached extremely well by [offensive line coach] Dante [Scarnecchia] and praise goes to them tonight. Laurence would tell you the same thing.

*(On other guys stepping up when Brady has an "off day")
*It's great. According to you guys he's the best player in pro football this year because of the awards he's won. And he had an off day, but his team still beat a great San Diego Chargers team. It says we're a well coached team. It says we execute when push comes to shove, and it says that Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli have done a heck of a job putting together a heck of a family here.

*(On new plays and the offensive line's ability to make them work)
*You know, we had those plays in all week. Obviously Josh [McDaniels] saw to put them in for a reason. I wish I could tell you more about why. You know, we depend on that O-Line every week. They do a great job. They keep Tommy on his feet and they keep giving us big holes [to run through] as running backs. The praise for this performance tonight definitely goes to those five guys up front and the tight ends as well.

*(On big gains in short yardage situations and being split out as a wide receiver)
*You know, it's role play. And you guys know about the Patriot Way and that's one of the aspects of it. And tonight, I was fortunate to have some big holes on those two short yardage carries and Tommy saw a guy playing soft coverage and, you know what, gave me an opportunity to make a play out there.

Stephen Neal, Guard
(On when he felt the Patriots could dominate)
*I don't think you ever feel like you can dominate someone. It's a whole team effort. Everyone has to go out there and do their job and hopefully you can do it well and the running back will hit the holes hard and you can have a good performance.

Asante Samuel, Cornerback
(On the Patriots red zone defense)
*We did a good job today. I'm not trying to toot our horn or anything but we did a good job. We held them to a lot of field goals and that was a big reason why we won the game.

*(On Norv Turner calling his interception the play of the game and giving the offense a short field)
*I think it was one of the big plays of the game. Also the offense was struggling a little bit so for them to get the ball in scoring territory and to get the touchdown was good. It was a momentum changer and we won.

*(On the offense grinding out first down after first down at the end of the game)
*It's a team effort and we played good as a defense. We won, so ultimately we're happy about it. We made it to Arizona.

*(On the prospect of going 19-0)
*One more game man, one more game.

*(On returning to the Patriots this year)
*Coach and I talked about that, it's wonderful that I came back. It's wonderful that we worked out an agreement for me to be here. We're all happy about it. I feel like I'm going to keep part of the defense. Hopefully we can have many more seasons like this around here after this season is over.

Logan Mankins, Guard
(On the difference in the second half)
*We made our adjustments, but I think we just got after them better and we were making better blocks, and Laurence, he continued to run hard and we finally started to open it up for him.

*(On the offense being the identity of the team)
*Oh the defense played great. Anytime you hold a team to just 12 points, and every time they get in the red zone you make them kick a field goal that's big.

*(On how the team felt at halftime)
*We felt that we were right where we wanted to be, we just needed to make a couple more plays. We didn't make too many in the first half and the second half we came out and scored one touchdown and the defense played great again and we got the win.

*(On Maroney stepping up the last two games)
*He's been playing great. He had a good year and the last two games he's played really well. You see how hard he's running, it's taking more than one guy to bring him down most of the time, so that's all we ask of him and he's playing really well.

Brandon Meriweather, Safety
(On all the coverage of the game)
*That has surprised me, I mean even Tory Holt is here.

*(On going to the Super Bowl)
*I'm excited to be going. You know, to get the chance to live out a dream. Everybody who plays football dreams of making it to the Super Bowl.

*(On what veterans told him to expect)
*Coach told me it's a step-up from the regular season. You take your game from B to A. There aren't any plays where you can take a B. You've got to have an A on every play. That's probably what's the biggest difference from the regular season.

*(On learning from Rodney Harrison and others)
*I've learned a whole lot. Hopefully I continue to learn, and continue to get better, and help the team out even more.

Rodney Harrison, Safety
(On enjoying the victory)
*The next three or four days I'm going to enjoy it and I'm thankful for this opportunity— to go through what I've gone through the beginning of the season and, last year, being hurt — to get another chance. As an old man, I feel pretty good.

*(On whether this is the most complete team he's played on)
*It's not complete unless we win. Right now, at this point, it's a great team. We've worked extremely hard. We believe in one another. It's a tremendous ride that we're on right now and we're trying to not take anything for granted the next week. We're just enjoying it. I can't really explain it. I'm just happy.

*(On the Patriots' red zone defense)
*It was guys doing their own job: guys not stepping outside their job and making plays and trusting in your fellow teammate. We'd watch film and we'd see four guys doing their job and one guy doing their own thing. You can't have that when you play the type of defense that we play where everything is assignment oriented. You have to really make sure that you're doing your assignment and not trying to do someone else's job, and Junior made a great play down there. A couple other guys made great plays. Our philosophy was, with a great offense like that, if you can hold them to three points, that's a victory and that's what we did.

*(On how the defense stepped up)
*That's why it's called a team. Tom [Brady] can't go out there and throw for 400 yards each and every week, but they've been a tremendous asset for us. Our special teams stepped up. For our defense to get the red zone finally corrected for once, it felt pretty good because that's a point of emphasis that's so important. It's a difference every time they're down there if they kick a field goal or score; it's four points. That was huge for us and, like I said before, it's not bad for a bunch of old men that can't play anymore.

*(On if he's happier for himself or for Junior Seau)
*Oh, definitely for Junior…The way he's worked, how hard he's worked, the sacrifices he's made, going through injuries and different circumstances; I'm just so happy and so proud of Junior Seau.

*(On how this AFC Championship compares to his previous ones)
*I think, the older that you get, the more you appreciate the opportunities that you get. When you get older, those opportunities start winding down because you can't play football forever. It's pretty special to be a part of this team: 18-0 and just to have the opportunity to go to Arizona after all the distractions and everything that was said and everything that was done with this team. To keep that focus, I'm just proud of it.

Jabar Gaffney, Wide Receiver
(On improvement to the receiving corps)
*We took a lot of the slack for whatever reason, I'm still here making plays, so I take pride in that.

*(On his number being called)
*Yeah, I mean that's the great thing about being here is that you know that at some point your number is going to get called and its going to be up to you to make that play. Laurence stepped up, was brilliant tonight. He ran the ball and they came to it and I was able to get in the endzone and get a little spark.

*(On his touchdown and how big of a moment it was for the game)
*I had a little under route up under the defense and they dropped back in the zone and I got wide open. Tom made a great pass and I was able to get in. It helped us out a lot; we didn't have much going on in the game at 7-6 so it gave us a little cushion.

*(On the importance of the touchdown after the Asante Samuel interception)
*The defense was playing great; they were playing great all night and we had to give them a little cushion out there. It's our job to go out there and score points and it's there job to play great defense and keep them out of the end zone and they did their part.

*(On the team stepping up for a less than normal statistic night for Brady)
*This is a total team and that's what we have to do. Coach preaches this all the time, if one phase isn't working during the game then the other phase has to step up and the defense stepped up tremendously. The special teams played great and we got enough offense to get the W.

Donte Stallworth, Wide Receiver
(On how does it feel to be going to your first Super Bowl)
*It doesn't seem real right now. I've told guys all week that I've played in the Super Bowl before, I've played in the AFC Championship Game before – it's no big deal. It was on John Madden, on video games. I've played in many Super Bowls and many championships and I've won them all on Madden. This is huge. It's hard to put it in to words. We've got one more, it was good to get that one. San Diego played great, but we are going to the show. This is what everybody plays for right here.

*(On Laurence Maroney)
*Yes, he is a beast. There is a reason why he was drafted in the first round, he played well. He carried the offense on his back and he did a really good job of making sure he got the extra yards after contact. I don't know how many he got, but when he got the ball, when he got to the line of scrimmage he had to make some guys miss.

Kelley Washington, Wide Receiver
(On kickoffs)
*It is, there's guys coming from all over trying to block you, on those types of plays you just try and get down there and find the ball and make a play, and I was able to do that. And that's just how it ended up, it was a big play but it was a great play first and foremost by Chris [Hanson].

*(On touchdown dance)
*I try and celebrate because plays like that are game changing plays, I'm just glad and excited I was able to make a play like that.

*(On seeing the game unfold)
*It's gratifying for me just when I see when you change to a position and come off with interception and the head coach says good job. So that's just jubilation to me but again that was a big play by the whole special team and the whole punt team.

Matt Light, Tackle
(On the impact of Faulk and Maroney on the game)
*Those are two guys that work hard. They do everything they can to prepare themselves to go out there and play a great game and they showed up in a big way today. I'll tell you its great to be able to run the ball like that and its great to have guys like that in your back field and we're all pretty fortunate.

*(On the drive with 9:13 left to play and whether there was a state of euphoria in the huddle)
*No I think at that point it's just one play at a time. One double team at a time, one combo block here and there at a time, just every guy doing his job. Doing his job and just trying to get 3-4 yards, eat up the clock and move on to the next play.

*(On feeling the moment after a Maroney first down run on the final drive)
*I think we all felt the moment, you can't take that away. It's something to do what we have done this season and we haven't done it the same way every week. We've had to find ways to close it out and tonight was no different.

*(On how special the game was after falling short last year, with controversy earlier in the year and the undefeated season)
*I've said this before tonight and I'll say it again, there are three reasons why I feel so humbled and in awe of what has happened this season and I think the first one is every guy in this locker room. I have a lot of respect for every one of these guys and they have respect for me and that's a family and that's the type of attitude we have each day. The other thing is that our fans have been unbelievable. Our fans are always respectable when were out in the community which is probably not the same case everywhere you go so I want to thank them for everything they have done for us as a team this year. And our families, our families have stood by us and let us come in here and do this type of work and preparation that has got us here so thanks to all of you.

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