Bill Belichick, Head Coach
BB: I thought that was a good win for our team today. We obviously had to grind it out and had a lot of guys step up maybe that hadn't played as much that had to step in and play, played well and did a good job of being ready to go. We made plays again in all three phases of the game. That was good. Washington is good at what they're really good at - taking the ball away, red-area defense - we knew that would be a problem and they did a good job there. I thought we had a good drive early, had an opportunity to get on top and play from ahead. That was definitely helpful. Left some things on the field that we could have executed a little bit better, but overall I thought it was a good job by everybody being ready to go. As I said, we had to call on a lot of people, some who haven't played a lot for us or haven't played in some of the positions that they ended up playing today and did a good job. Good to win and we're staying in the NFC East.
Q: When someone comes into your program, is it part of the normal process to get them acclimated to playing a variety of positions?
BB: Possibly. Not everybody plays a lot of different positions. Some guys do, some guys don't, some guys just play one position, but somewhere along the line you have to have some people that have some versatility. If you take seven linemen to the game or today we took six, or four corners and you're playing three, you've got to have people that can back up more than one spot. That rolls over into the kicking game where you have really 66 positions you have to cover there. When you lose a guy, someone like Jamie [Collins] doesn't play and then that rolls into that defensive rotation and that rolls into the special teams rotation. You've only got so many guys, somebody's got to double or triple up. That's the NFL. That's football.
Q: With more injuries on the offensive line, how good was it to get the running game going?
BB: It's always good to move the ball and score points, whether we run it or throw it. I thought LG [LeGarrette Blount] ran well. We had some good holes to run through. I thought he made some good yardage on his own. I thought our receivers ran well with the ball after the catch, making some extra yards on their own. It's always good to run the ball. It's always good to throw the ball. It's always good to score points.
Q: Did injuries on the offensive line force you to limit some of the protections?
BB: Yeah we definitely had to make some adjustments. I thought Josh [McDaniels] and Googe [Dave DeGuglielmo] and the offensive coaches did a good job of that. We obviously practiced those situations, but as far as game planning and the way that the game unfolded, there were some things we felt like we didn't need at that point and so we focused on the things that we were going to use and call, and that's what we did, and those guys did a good job on that.
Q: What did you think of Cameron Fleming and Bryan Stork's play at the offensive tackle position?
BB: Well we'll have to go back and look at the film. I'm sure there are some good things and I'm sure some things that weren't perfect. They competed hard. We were able to move the ball and get some first downs and score there in the second half. You've got to give them credit for that. They did a good job competing. They were ready to go. I'm sure it wasn't perfect, I'm not going to sit here and say that, but they certainly hung in there and enabled everybody else to be able to run the ball, throw the ball, move the ball.
Q: Was there anything you saw that made you think the onside kick would be successful early on?
BB: We thought we'd get a play out of it. We were kind of fortunate that it was a little mishandled. Jonathan [Freeny] made a good play. Nate [Ebner] kind of reacted quickly to it and Jonathan got on it. [Ryan] Grant actually played it pretty well. He was in position to play it, but the ball, those are always tough balls to handle, as we've seen being on the other side of those. Good that it worked out, we got another play in the kicking game, so hopefully we can just try to make a couple each week.
Q: What sense do you have as to the severity of Dion Lewis' injury?
BB: The game is just over, so ...
Q: You guys called timeout prior to the Brandon Bolden touchdown. How was that drawn up?
BB: That was one of those situations where we're ahead and we have our timeouts, it's the fourth quarter, the play we had called wasn't a great look for that play, we ended up kind of talking about that and making an adjustment there. Again, that's one of the advantages of being in that situation. We never want to run bad plays, but we thought we could run one better the one we had called based on the look that we got. I think Tom made a good decision there to not do what we were probably going to do based on the look they gave us. We got a good look on the next play and good execution more importantly by Tom and Brandon.
Q: How important was Brandon Bolden today stepping up and producing once Dion Lewis went down?
BB: Yeah, absolutely. Brandon did a good job for us, and as I said, multiple guys fall into that category at linebacker, on the offensive line. But yeah, Brandon has got a lot of experience on this team in a number of different roles and he's been through it all - running game, passing game, blitz pickup, special teams - multiple roles in that. He's a smart guy. You can always count on him. He's come through for us many times before like he did today, so that's why he's a valuable member of this team. We needed him and he stepped up for us.
Tom Brady, Quarterback
Q: When you see a guy like Dion Lewis go down, what are your initial thoughts?
TB: It's such a physical game and tough to lose such a special player. I hope he's OK. I don't know exactly what it is, but we're all hoping for the best.
Q: What caused you to call a timeout just before the touchdown to Brandon Bolden? What did you see originally?
TB: We had a particular play called in, and I wasn't sure. Sometimes I have a decent idea before the play kind of what the degree of difficulty is on the play. So had we run the play, it could've worked. But I thought with the lead and the timeouts that we could think about it a little bit more. And then we changed the situation, and Brandon made a great play. We work on that a lot, and it was great to see him in there and make a big play for us. He's a great player. I love Brandon and everything he brings to our team. He's been here for a while. He has great leadership, just a great player, great friend, and it was great to see him with the ball in his hands at the end of a play like that.
Q: Was it a deliberate part of the game plan to get the running game going?
TB: It was great. We possessed the ball quite a bit during the first quarter and had some great drives there, and the run game was a real big factor. The more balanced we are, the better it is for the quarterback, so it was great. He made some big runs, especially when there wasn't a lot there. But [the way] he runs, it's running through guys. He had a great kind of run where he spun out of a bunch of tackles and ran for I don't know, 15, 17 yards or something like that there in the third quarter on a big touchdown drive. It was great to see it. Hopefully we can do more of it.
Q: Are you a little worried that the injuries on the offensive line will start piling up?
TB: Those guys, they play so hard. I mean, we went into the game with six offensive linemen. So you just hope for the best, and then obviously with Seabass [Sebastian Vollmer] going down, it puts a lot of strain on those guys. And a lot of guys scrambled to figure out exactly what we're going to do. And they played really hard, so I'm proud of them. I mean, for Bryan [Stork] to play right tackle, he hadn't played center this year and he goes in and plays right tackle. It's like unbelievable, and then Flem [Cameron Fleming] to go to left tackle, which ... I don't know when we thought about doing that, but that's what happens when you're a little bit under pressure.
Q: Do you start to simplify to some extent when you start having to make changes on the fly like that?
TB: That's a good question. It's always a little bit challenging when you kind of put multiple variables into play. And obviously without those guys practicing at all at those positions, it's not like you want to run a bunch of things that ... I mean, I guess we've never practiced anything with those guys in there, so anything we call would be new. But there are a lot of game plan things that are nuances to the plays that you just don't get opportunities. So that's why I thought we did a good job. We stayed really balance, took advantage of some third downs there in the second half, which was great, which allowed us to continue to run the ball. And then that big touchdown drive that we finished with that touchdown to Brandon was just a great drive by all those guys up front. So that was pretty critical, and it was great to kind of finish the game strong.
ROB NINKOVICH, DEFENSIVE END
Q: What's been the reason for the improvement on defense for the last four games?
RN: I think every week we're trying to improve and get better, and the communication gets better amongst everybody. It's not just one thing, so collectively as a unit we want to continue to get better as these weeks roll on. It's young guys getting experience. That's huge. A lot of the younger guys, early in the season, they were getting their play time early, and they're learning why you're out on the game field. So as a unit, we're getting better and just keeping the work throughout the season, getting better every week.
Q: How do you continue to roll on while you're watching so many guys get injured?
RN: It's unfortunate to have injuries in the NFL. It's just a part of the business. And from experience, I've had injuries before. You just have to focus on what you can do, and again, I think that's just a part of the business you have to deal with. As the season progresses, there are going to be things that come up that are out of your control, so you just have to do your best to adjust on the fly and continue to push forward.
Q: Does this team have a particularly strong mindset in terms of not allowing injuries to be an excuse?
RN: Well again, I think that the team is very mentally tough, and that starts back in our offseason workouts, mini-camp, training camp – that's where you put in all that hard work and create that mentally tough attitude. So again, I think that it's unfortunate that we've had some injuries, but you just have to look forward and continue to push and have that next-man-up mentality.
Q: How do you adjust when you find out at the last minute that a guy like Jamie Collins isn't going to be able to play?
RN: Again, with his situation, again, that's just one of those situations that you have no control over. So you have to just do your best to move on with the guys who are going to be out there, and have that communication level just as good from when Jamie is there and when he's not. So again, it's stuff that you can't control, and I think that [Jonathan] Freeny did a great job stepping up. [Jerod] Mayo was out there doing a great job. So the guys that are stepping in have experience, and they're good football players. And we all have confidence in each other to play together and play well.
Q: How much do the interior linemen help you and Chandler Jones when it comes to rushing the passer?
RN: The more push you can have, the better. Again, I think across our whole front we have guys who are very disruptive, and they do a great job. So it's a great collective bunch of guys who are playing fast and playing hard and playing for each other.
Q: How patient did you have to be as a defense in this game and especially on the fumble recovery?
RN: Well again, it's the bend-but-don't-break mentality, knowing that you don't want to have some of those long drives, but I think that they had a good game plan as far as getting the ball out of the quarterback's hand quickly and not holding it very long back there. So again, you've got to give them credit for some of the things that they were able to do on those drives, but Alan Branch made a great play to force that ball out and I was able to jump on it. At the end of the game you don't want to have that touchdown scored on you, but again, just having a mentality of let's give our offense as many opportunities as possible, knowing that they're great and let them do what they do best and move the ball down the field. So us, as a defense, yeah there are things that we want to work on, get better at, and we still have eight more to go.
Q: How much confidence do you have in the coaching staff when players get hurt and they have to use their contingency plans?
RN: Yeah, we have great confidence in everyone that's on the football field. Again, I think it goes back to the things that we work on in training camp and mini-camp. A lot of guys, the more positions they can play, the more it's going to help our team, so if you have guys who can move around and have had experience at different positions, speaking for myself as a defensive end or a linebacker, that's going to help the team out. So the more guys you have that can move around, it's going to help the team. So again, we have a lot of guys who are flexible in the things that they can do.
LeGarrette Blount, Running Back
(On the work of the offensive line)
"They're doing an amazing job. They've' done everything you usually do to make sure the offense is still working properly and making sure everything goes well. Making sure that we're able to stay balanced and do everything to win the game. We've had some guys go down. We've had some guys step up. That's part of how we prepare."
(On the injury to Dion Lewis and the play of Brandon Bolden)
"It's unfortunate. Dion is probably one of my closest friends on the team. Obviously he's one of my guys. You just hope for the best. Brandon is a great athlete. He can run it. He can catch it. He does all our [special] team stuff and he steps in whenever it's his time."
(On stepping up for the team)
"Whenever my number is called, I just have to go out there and perform. Do what I have to do. I prepare well every day. I make sure I'm ready whenever they need me to go out there and do what I have to do. It's just the nature of this organization. We have to have guys step up every day. Every week. We have guys in their playbooks, making sure that when their number is called, they're going to be able to go out there and execute. We've got Dion that went down and then we have Brandon [Bolden] step up. We've had offensive linemen go down and we've had [Bryan] Stork step up. We've had a lot of guys shuffling in and out of the gameplan, but like you said, we didn't miss a beat because that's how we prepare around here."
Brandon Bolden, Running Back
(On his touchdown catch)
"It was pretty good coverage at the beginning. Just 'see ball, get ball,' and ended up in the back of the endzone. It was a great throw by Tom [Brady] and just had to have some concentration and try and catch it. I wasn't going to let anyone else catch it. It was just a ball in the air, and if he does try and make a play, I just have to turn into the defender, if he does then I have to come down with it. That was the only option."
(On stepping up for the team)
"You put us anywhere, in any situation, we'll figure out a way to come out. And it starts from the top with Bill [Belichick]. Bill prepares everybody for any and everything. I want to say, that's what you saw out there today. Anything can happen. A lot of stuff happened out there, but everybody was ready. Everybody was waiting, and if your name got called, you had to step up and do what you had to do. Proud of everyone doing what they had to do."
Alan Branch, Defensive Lineman
(On the play of the defense)
"I think we had a good showing. They kind of started moving the ball a little bit at the end. At end of the first half and at the end of the game. Other than that, we did pretty well holding them down to not that many yards. Especially in the running game, we did really well."
(On the strength of the defense all season)
"We've stressed that from day one. We just haven't been able to get the productivity of our hard work during practice, but the last four games we've been doing pretty well."
(On if giving up the late touchdown was a huge problem)
"Yeah, but no. You know, you don't want them to get it, but we won. It's hard to not have any team score a touchdown in the league in any game, however you play. We know that to keep a team from scoring is pretty impressive."
Malcolm Butler, Cornerback
(On improvement since training camp)
"I'm just being patient and letting the game come to me. Instead of going into panic mode, I'm going out there and playing calm. I'm playing my technique and trying to play great football."
(On Logan Ryan's interception)
"That was a big play, because that got the ball back to our offense. We go over that [tip-drill] play in practice. Logan was able to get there and made a big-time play. Logan is a great player. He always takes advantages of opportunities, just like he did today."
(On getting the win despite missing linebacker Jamie Collins)
"We're all a team. One person doesn't make this team, but Jamie is most definitely a big player. I hope he gets back soon, but other guys have to step up and play well and I think they did that today."
(On the injury to Dion Lewis)
"You never want to see a guy go down, especially nobody that's in your position group. To see Dion go down was very tough. Me and LeGarrette [Blount] looked at each other, and we were the first two on the field when we saw it, so it's a hard thing. I've had my own knee injuries, so you never want to see anyone go down that way."
Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver
(On getting a win despite some mistakes)
"It's always good to get a win in this league. Our mission is just to try and improve each week. We can't turn the ball over, we turned it over twice. Thankfully, we got the onside kick and the defense got a turnover, so we ended up squashing the turnover ratio. There's going to be a lot of stuff to work on so we have to change gears and get ready for the [New York] Giants."
(On the Dion Lewis injury)
"It's terrible to see anyone go down, especially Dion. We don't know necessarily what it is. Dion has been having a great year. He's a great asset to the team."
(On guys stepping in for injured players)
"Every team deals with [injuries], but we've got guys that can play everywhere. Brandon [Bolden] had a big third down [play] and a big touchdown, but we've got a lot to tighten up and great for to prepare for New York."
Cameron Fleming, Offensive Lineman
*(On having to shift to left tackle during the game) *
"When you're called on you've just got to be prepared. I was prepared for it."
(On the last time he played left tackle in a game)
*(On whether he has played left tackle in practice) *
"I've practiced it. We worked on rotating just in case something happened. We were definitely prepared."
*(On the position he played in high school) *
*(On the offensive line's ability to overcome injuries) *
"It means a lot. We're all prepared to play. We're all ready to contribute to the team and it means a lot that we were able to keep Tom [Brady] clean because that's the name of the game."
*(On losing Sebastian Vollmer during the game) *
"I just hope he gets better and hope he comes back soon."
*(On playing on Tom Brady's blindside for the first time in his career) *
"It's a little bit exciting. I've never been over there before, so it's cool. I liked it."
*(On the offensive line's communication during the game) *
"We all practice, we all know the plays. As long as we practice it right, I think we will be able to bring it to the game."
*(On the difference between playing right tackle and left tackle) *
"I had to switch my legs. It's the same position, it's just on a different side. You have to kind of flip everything in your head."
Rob Gronkowski, Tight End
*(On the offense's execution) *
"We won the game. Our defense played well, our offense was clicking at some points. A win is a win. They are a good team. We just had to go out there and we did what we had to do and now it's time to move on."
(On the mood on the sideline when Dion Lewis went down with injury)
"You never want to see anyone go down on either side of the ball, but it's a physical game, it's football, it's the NFL, stuff happens like that. I wish him the best. I don't know what happened, but hopefully he's good to go and he's right back on his feet."
*(On how proud he is of the offensive line) *
"Our offensive line is doing a great job. We have so many young guys. Guys playing all over the place. You have got to give them huge credit to be able to have that run game and protect Brady – you have to give them all credit."
*(On the offensive line opening running lanes for LeGarrette Blount) *
"You've got to give credit to the offensive line. The passing game we have to protect Tom and the run game that we had, LB [Blount] ran really nice, too. We were clicking there in the run game."
(On whether he is surprised that the offensive line is able to protect Brady with all the shuffling going on)
"They [the offensive line] work hard during the week. We have a great offensive line coach in Googe [Dave DeGuglielmo], he does a great job getting our team prepared, our offense, so when situations like that come, he's ready to go. They do a great job. They all listen, they all hustle and they're great to work with."
Chandler Jones, Defensive End
(On the most positive thing the defense accomplished today)
"We did exactly what our coaches preached the whole week and it showed on the scoreboard. Coach [Bill] Belichick and coach [Matt] Patricia pounded our game plan this week and guys did a good job of going out there and executing it.
(On if it's possible to get into rhythm defensively)
"I can't use the word rhythm honestly, because each and every week it's a different team we have to prepare for. As good as you think our defense is, we have to adjust each and every week to other teams, so I wouldn't use the word rhythm, but I feel like guys are starting to get comfortable with each other and starting to gel together."
(On if he's deserving of more attention because he's the NFL's sack leader)
"I leave all of that to the critics honestly. Whether people talk about me or not, at the end of the day I'm playing for my team. I'm playing for the Patriots logo on my chest, my teammates, the coaches, and I'm also trying to get my Madden rating up [laughs]."
Josh Kline, Offensive Lineman
*(On Bryan Stork moving to tackle) *
"You got to be ready for anything and when someone goes down, you just got to – everyone has to step up and step in and I think he played well."
(On how difficult it is to switch positions on the offensive line)
"It's difficult technique-wise and call-wise just to remember you're on the opposite side if you're switching sides. It's just different technique-wise, but everyone needs to be prepared to step up and play any position at any time when your number is called."
*(On if rotating the offensive linemen throughout the course of the season has helped) *
"Yeah, I think it's beneficial. You got to be ready to go. We only dressed six [offensive linemen], so if someone goes down, we only got five left."
(On if Michael Williams could play tackle in the future)
"I'm sure he could. He's a big dude."
Brandon LaFell, Wide Receiver
(On his overall game)
"I actually felt good today. My foot felt pretty good during warm-ups. It wasn't giving me a lot of pain like it usually does. [Tom] Brady came and found me early and often and I got into a good little rhythm today. Just played well today."
(On his deep catch)
"Man, it felt like I was catching a punt. In those situations, it's hard if you have to take your eye off the ball to see where the [defensive back] is, but I was like, 'ball, ball.' I was just talking to myself, 'ball, ball, ball.' But it was just taking forever to come down."
(On sharing the load)
"I think it's very important for every guy on this team. We've got so many guys that can make plays, so the sooner we get the ball in these guys' hands, they can start getting their confidence rolling and get into the rhythm of the game. Get hit, get up, and juts keep rolling. I feel like we played better, especially when we spread the ball early."
Shaq Mason, Offensive Lineman
*(On communication on the offensive line) *
"Communication is definitely key on the offensive line, especially when a guy goes down. We all just keep that same communication and next guy up, you know, does his job and it works out."
(On Bryan Stork playing tackle)
"It was very impressive for him to step in, especially on his first game back since last season, so, definitely impressive to do the job he did."
Logan Ryan, Cornerback
*(On the confident play of the defense) *
"It's our job. That's what our coaches trust us to do, so they put us out there to win our battles and that's what we're trying to do. We're working hard every week and just trying to improve. I think we're better now than we were Week 1."
(On his interception)
"That's just my team. We were able to get a good pass rush and filled up those zones a little bit, and be able to call luck to be able to get a good tip."
*(On his pass defense on the fourth down play) *
"I knew I had Devin's [McCourty] help, so I was able to play a little more aggressive. A good defensive play call and a good pass rush."
(On overall thoughts on the defense)
"We did a good job. I haven't watched the film yet, but [we] don't want to give up that six points at the end, but, overall, I'm sure it's good, but I'm sure there's stuff to improve on."