BILL BELICHICK, HEAD COACH
BB: Well again, always good to win. Twelve wins, that's on the right track here. We did some good things today. We got contributions from all three units - a couple of big plays in the kicking game, couple big plays on defense, turnovers obviously and a score on defense, and made some plays offensively as well and took good care of the ball there. A lot of positive things, still a lot of football left here, a lot of things we can improve on and we'll keep working on that, but had a lot of guys step up and play and fill roles today that maybe they hadn't done as much of or maybe hadn't done any of in the past. That was good, too, but that's what you need from your team. It's a long season and we need a lot of different guys to contribute.
Q: What did you think of the way the backs contributed, especially without LeGarrette Blount?
BB: Good, glad we've got all of them. All of them helped us - Joey [Iosefa] and Brandon [Bolden] and James [White]. That's what we need - going to need guys to do different things - same thing with the receivers, same thing with the tight ends. We have confidence in all those guys. Sometimes it's different combinations or different roles, but all of them work hard and the backs, they gave us some good plays today.
Q: Tennessee came into the game really tough on third downs. Did you want to make it nice and easy on the offense today, like you did against Houston?
BB: Well I mean, Tennessee, they give you a lot of problems and it was a hard week of preparation based on all the different things that they do on offense and defense - the schemes that they run and the players that they have. I thought we tried to prepare hard for a team we didn't know very well and just go out there and execute. We got off to a good start and then weren't able to sustain it quite as much as the game went along, but in the end it was enough. They do a good job. They give you a lot of different schemes on offense, a lot of different personnel groups, and defensively they have a very proven package of plays and schemes that they do a good job on.
Q: On the long James White play that got called back, what should Keshawn Martin have done differently?
BB: That's a good question. You should talk to the league about that. They're the ones that call it, so let them talk about it.
Q: On the hard-hitting question front, what's on your Christmas wish list this year?
BB: Yeah, I'll kind of leave that stuff on the personal side. I'm trying to get the team ready to go next week against the Jets. We're just trying to get the team ready to go against the Jets, so I'll just leave the personal questions aside right now.
Q: What was it about Joey Iosefa that caught your attention coming out of Hawaii and what did he show you while on the practice squad to deserve the opportunity he got today?
BB: We got Joey back in October, and he's a grinder, hard-working kid. He's gotten in a lot better shape since he's been here, dropped a little weight, worked hard, obviously learned a new system, wasn't here in training camp so he put in a lot of extra time, got in a lot of snaps on the practice field and kind of earned his way to get a chance out there today based on hard work and consistent play in practice and the opportunities that he's had for us. It's a real credit to him hearing that, and obviously unfortunately he got an opportunity because of some of the injuries that we've had, but he can't control that. All he did was work hard and I thought he gave us a solid account of himself today. It wasn't perfect, but he did what we asked him to do and he made some tough yards.
Q: What was the reasoning behind Bryan Stork's availability today?
BB: It was a coaching decision.
Q: Was there any consideration in the fourth quarter of the game of maybe sitting Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski?
BB: Trying to win the game - just trying to win the game.
TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK
Q: How good was it to see Rob Gronkowski get involved early?
TB: He played tough all day. It was great to get him in the end zone there early and get ahead. We talked about playing this game from ahead, playing on our terms, and that was a big play. It was single coverage and [he] got good outside leverage. I just tried to put it on him. He's been through a lot this week. I'm sure he's happy to get the win like we all are.
Q: Did you feel 100 percent today after your illness on Friday?
TB: Yeah, I felt ready to go. I'm glad we won. It's always tough to win. We just keep trying to find ways to get the ball in the end zone. And it wasn't as pretty as we would like, but it's December football so just glad to get the win.
Q: Did you change much in the second half?
TB: It's hard to say. I know our execution wasn't great. I'd say that. I think it always starts with us. I think whether they rush three, four, five, I think it always comes down to us picking guys up and throwing the ball well and catching it well and making good decisions. We can always do a better job of that. Hopefully we can kind of see the things that we didn't do so well, and it's turn around and on Christmas we can go to the Jets – always a tough place to play – and try to get a tough win there.
Q: What would you say is the big difference in the offense between the first and second halves in the last two games?
TB: I think I'm always pretty frustrated at some point in this sport, so I think I just play with the level of frustration. I think everybody is frustrated when we don't get the ball in the end zone. I just think it ebbs and flows. We're learning as we go, and we've got new players coming in every week. Guys are going out, guys are coming in, and you're just doing the best you can to be productive and eliminate critical mistakes and take advantage of scoring opportunities. That's what we tried to do today.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the progression of James White?
TB: Yeah, he's gained a lot of trust from everybody just based on his performance, his consistency. He had that long run that got called back, but that was a great play. So he's just been making plays for us. And the touchdown run on the screen, I mean, from what I saw there wasn't much there, and then he was so patient to see things open up and then took advantage when the hole finally did open, accelerated through there and got in the end zone. So he's been really productive in that role and has just been a ... Really great tribute to his hard work and commitment. He was here last year and learned a lot and then got his opportunity when Dion [Lewis] went out, and he's just done a great job with it.
Q: How much emotion could you feel with the team late in the week with so many players out?
TB: People are always dealing with some stuff. It's a long season, so I think over the course of the season, you're always dealing with some type of adversities I would say. I think mental toughness is important in this sport to try to put whatever is going on on the side when you go out and play football for those three hours a week because you only have three hours to kind of put your performance out there and do the best you can do. So all the guys are pretty mentally tough, but I'd say to be 12-2 is a good record. I know it's not perfect. There are certainly a lot of things we could do better, but it's good to be 12-2.
Q: You started the game really well going 7-for-7 and spreading all the guys. Would you like to see that going forward with all the guys in there?
TB: Yeah, I think we've got to be efficient and find different ways to get everybody the ball who's out there. I think when you get one-dimensional it gets pretty tough. And we, you know, just dealing with some guys went in today, some guys went out. So I think we're just trying to, like I said, figure out ways to move the ball down the field and score points and take advantage whenever we can get the ball in the end zone.
Q: How much does this offense miss Julian Edelman?
TB: He's been one of our best players, most dependable and consistent players, for as long as he's had the opportunity to be in there and play that role. So the more of those guys you can have out there, the better you're going to be. He's obviously a very versatile player, so it'll be great to have him back whenever that happens. I know he's working pretty hard to get back. The more good players you can have out there on a consistent, dependable basis, the more dependable and consistent your offense can be. So he's certainly one of those guys who's been very dependable for us over the years.
Alan Branch, Defensive Lineman
(On the defensive effort today)
"I thought we did pretty well as a defense in the first half. I feel like if we want to go to the place that we need to go to later on in the year, then we've got to definitely start playing better, finishing the game all 60 minutes. Defensively, we didn't let them in the game but we gave up some plays that we typically stop on a normal basis. We've just got to go out there and put all 60 minutes together and that'll help us going forward."
(On your first impression of Joey Iosefa during practice)
"He definitely has a good impression. He has good feet and honestly we don't thump on the running backs, so I didn't know that he had a truck-stick ability like he does, but he definitely showed everybody out there."
(On the excitement of seeing Akiem Hicks score a touchdown)
"We were dying laughing. The funny thing is when a big guy gets a touchdown, no matter what, it's going to be funny because it doesn't look normal and it isn't regular. It doesn't happen on a regular basis. The big fella got in there and he had to double-catch it for a touchdown, but we got the seven points and I was proud of the big fella."
Malcolm Butler, Cornerback
(On the win)
"We could have played a whole lot better. It wasn't perfect, but it's the NFL and a win is a win, but we most definitely want to take advantage of more opportunities."
(On re-adjusting from Marcus Mariota to Zach Mettenberger)
"We just continued to play the game. He [Mettenberger] can move too, but we didn't really change too much. He's less mobile, but we stuck to the game plan."
(On the team's injuries)
"It's next man up and whoever steps into that role, you've got to have confidence in them. I don't think you'd be out there if the staff and the organization and the teammates didn't have trust in each other. We're just going to roll with what we've got."
Rob Gronkowski, Tight End
(On dedicating today's game to his friend that recently passed)
"My good friend [Dana Parenteau] loved the game of football, [he] loved being at all my games, always had my back. I definitely dedicate that touchdown to him. I pointed up. I know he was up there watching. [I] just definitely made that score for him and I know he was going crazy knowing that it was dedicated to him."
(On whether it was difficult to prepare for the game this week in light of his friend's passing)
"I know he would want me to go out there and whoop some booty, which we did as a team. He's pumping me up before the games and loves seeing me go out there and ball. That's what we did today and I know he's up there and he's proud."
(On the contributions from some of the lesser known members of the team today)
"It was great just to see the rotation. Whenever a guy comes in, they just come in and play hard. Everyone works hard at practice no matter who it is so that when they get called into the game they're ready to play, they know the situation, and they're ready to play hard."
Duron Harmon, Defensive Back
(On Joey Iosefa today)
"Me and Joey, we've done some tackling drills out there in practice for the last four to five weeks. He's really been a player that has helped me work on my open field tackling. It was really exciting to see him go out there today, run the ball a little bit, and run hard. I was really cheering for him. He's a load, man. He runs through people and he's really, really strong."
(On playing without Devin McCourty)
"It's different, but you have to find your own. I wasn't out there with him to lean on so communication had to come a little bit more from me today, me and [Patrick] Chung. I thought we did a good job at that, so just keep going. Get better from here."
(On how the team responds to injuries)
"It talks about the depth. You've got to look at Coach [Bill] Belichick. He creates this team, and the depth that he's created has put us in positions where guys go down and other people step up."
Akiem Hicks, Defensive Lineman
(On his fumble recovery)
"I lost one in Denver and [Matt Patricia] gave me a talking to about losing those and just diving for them. Chandler [Jones] had that great play and I was just trying to finish it for us. You're watching that ball spin around and you're a bigger guy like, 'OK, I've got to make sure I'm with it.' And then you jump on it and grab it. You never know where the ball is going to spin too, but that's just a testament to our defense and how we've been trying to bring pressure all year. This has gone by quick for me. I came here Week 3 and I'm just happy to be here with these guys and I love my teammates."
(On the success and camaraderie of the defense)
"[Chandler Jones] is a great outside rusher. Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard. Even the interior guys are bringing pressure. You've got [Malcom] Brown, [Alan] Branch, Sealver [Siliga] as a unit, and then those things don't happen unless you have a great secondary. Logan [Ryan] covering all day. Malcolm Butler covering all day. Jamie [Collins], [Dont'a] Hightower. It's a great team and I'm honored to be here."
(On his progression with the team)
"Just like with anything, the more reps you get at it, the better you get acclimated and you start to learn more. It starts to work better for you."
Joey Iosefa, Running Back
(On how it felt to run over a defender)
"I was just trying to make a play. That's all I was trying to do. When I have the ball in my hand, I try to make the best out of it."
(On playing in cold weather)
"I've played in cold weather before, even when I played in Hawaii. We traveled to the east coast, so I'm used to it and know what to expect."
(On getting the ball 10-12 times)
"I was just doing whatever the coaches asked me to do, just doing my job."
Chandler Jones, Defensive End
(On the strip sack)
"It was a great play for our team. It helped contribute to the win, so any time you can contribute, that's good. It was a bit of déjà vu because my first game [as a rookie in 2012 against Tennessee], I had a sack-fumble and [Dont'a] Hightower picked it up for a touchdown. And in this game, I had a sack-fumble and Akiem [Hicks] picked it up for a touchdown, so it was a bit of déjà vu and it was coincidental that it happened to be against the Titans."
(On getting to the quarterback on the strip sack)
"I beat the guy with a bull rush. He was a little bit light and I beat him with a bull rush. I actually didn't see the quarterback. I was just reaching and happened to tip the ball. It was a great play for us and we capitalized off it."
(On the differences between Marcus Mariota and Zach Mettenberger)
"Mariota is obviously a run threat; he's very fast. Mettenberger is a guy who has a strong arm, but he doesn't run as much. We practiced for both quarterbacks and did a good job of executing against both of them."
Jabaal Sheard, Defensive Lineman
(On how effective the pass rush was today)
"[We were] just doing our job. Everybody out there executed doing their job and when you have a nice secondary it gives you time to get there."
(On how he stays motivated each week)
"It's football. Every game we play to compete. Every game you want to win. You just focus in on that one team. I think Coach [Bill Belichick] does a good job of getting us mentally prepared for each and every game and getting us focused for each and every team, just like the [New York] Jets this week. It's a conference game and we've just got to focus in on them."
(On if reading the offensive line allows him to excel at reaching the quarterback)
"I think it's just the whole defense playing well together. Obviously we've got to stop the run and get them to third-and-long. Once you stop the run and force them to pass it's a lot easier to rush. Our secondary can play pass and we can rush."
Matthew Slater, Wide Receiver
(On Keshawn Martin's return)
"It was a big play for us and we've put a lot into that this year. It's nice to reap some of the benefits of your hard work. Keshawn hit it like you have to hit it, Nate [Ebner] and those guys had some great blocks inside and it was a big play for us in the game."
(On the fumbled punt)
"I think we could have responded a couple different ways. We could have started yelling, screaming, and pointing fingers. Danny Amendola is one of the best punt returners in the NFL, so I'd put him back there 100 times out of 100. That's fine by me. Those things happen and we just continue to play through it. There was no panic and I think overall, we played well today so I was happy with it."
(On how the injuries will affect the team further)
"Only God knows. We giggle about it but it's obviously tough. We always think, 'Oh the injuries, how are they going to affect the Patriots? How is that going to affect them moving forward?' Well I'm more concerned with the guy, the individual. That plays with your head when you get hurt and it's tough because you put so much work into it. We're more concerned about the individuals and their well being. Trying to take it one day at a time. We still have to play and there are games still on the schedule. We just have to go out there and compete because no one is going to look and be like, 'Oh the Patriots are hurt. Poor them.' So, we have to move forward as a team and try to be the best that we can, but at the same time, we feel for those guys on a personal level."
James White, Running Back
(On gaining confidence with each game he plays)
"The more you get out there, the more confident you can play, so I'm just trying to play with confidence every week and do whatever I can to help the team."
(On how disappointed he was to have a big catch-and-run play called back due to penalty)
"The refs are going to make their calls. It would have been a big play for us. It's just unfortunate it got called back."
(On the importance of gaining Tom Brady's trust and getting more reps with the offense)
"You go out there during practice and you just try to work on it during practice and then execute out there in the game. That's what I try to do and if I get the ball in my hands, I just try to make a play for my team and keep the ball secure."
(On his 30-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the second quarter)
"It was a screen. I caught the ball and just tried to be patient and let the offensive line get their blocks. They got them and I just found room. Joe [Iosefa] had a great block down the field and that's how we scored."
(On his ability to make defenders miss)
"When you get one-on-one in the open field, as a skill player, you have to make that guy miss and that's what I try to do every time I catch it."
(On if he's getting more comfortable when the ball is coming his way)
"I just try to play with confidence. If I get the ball in my hands I'm going to be confident with it and protect it."
(On Joey Iosefa's running today)
"Joey's a great player. The guy is going to run hard as you can see. I was happy for him that he was able to get out there."