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Patriots Postgame Quotes 9/10

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and select players comment on their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, September 10, 2015.


BB: I thought it was a good win for us tonight. I thought our players really competed well. Obviously Pittsburgh is a very good football team, very explosive offensively and I thought we hung in there. We made enough plays that we needed to make. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it was good enough and we'll take that. Certainly a lot we can learn from this game situationally and just the overall execution. We had a lot of young players play - three offensive linemen, a couple of defensive linemen, a receiver, a DB [defensive back] and a long snapper. I thought those linemen looked like we hung in there. I'm not saying it was perfect. We'll look at the tape, and I'm sure there will be a lot of corrections to make, but I thought those guys competed well. It was a battle all the way down to the wire. Pittsburgh is never out of the game with the explosiveness they have offensively. We were able to take advantage of some scoring opportunities, get the ball into the red area and held them to field goals, and missed field goals certainly helped. But our red-area offense was good, and that was in the end probably the difference in the game. Heading into the division now, but it's good to be 1-0.

Q:You had a much changed secondary for this game. How would you assess their play?

BB: That's about the way it's been when we've played Ben [Roethlisberger]. It seems like he always throws for 350, 400 [yards] against us the last three or four times. He's a great quarterback, they have a great offense, a lot of good receivers. There are certainly things we can do better, but I thought we competed well and we made some plays. The interception was a big play - it was a big turnover. Some of our third-down stops in the red area were important. They're good. They're good. There is not much margin for error with him and that offense.

Q:What were your thoughts on Tom Brady's performance? Did you have any concerns that the outside situation would affect him during the game?

BB: Again, the 28 points is good. Were there plays that could have been better? We could have coached better, we could have played better - there are things we could have all done better, so there is certainly a lot of room for improvement. We'll take the production that we had, and it's good to be 1-0, good to score 28 points. We left some plays out there on the field. We just have to do a better job of coaching and playing and keep getting better each week.

Q:There were some reports in the first half of microphone malfunctions on the Steelers sideline. Did that affect you guys at all?

BB: It did, yeah. We had a lot of problems. We had to switch headphones a couple times. The communication system wasn't very good. We deal with that it seems like weekly. Yeah, they told us they were on the verge of shutting it off, but then they I guess they got it working. I don't know, but it was a problem the whole game. We almost had to switch helmets with Brady there at the end - couldn't get the plays into him. It was a problem all night.

Q:Did you ever get an answer on what the problem was?

BB: No, we never get that answer. They just try to fix it, and they tell you it's up or it's down or whatever. I don't know. That's not really a very strong area for me is technology.

Q:How big of a key was the goal-line stop when you were holding on to a 21-11 lead?

BB: Yeah, that was big play for us to get them into third down-and-goal, and then we stemmed into a tight look and it looked like they false started on that, so we were able to make the stop on third-and-six and hold them to a field goal. So, that was a huge. Any time they get the ball down to the one-yard line, if you can just come out of there with three points it's really a four-point play for us. The third-down stop, I think that's when they tried to run the trap, right - tried to run the inside run if I remember right. That was a huge play in the game - huge.

Q:You had a lot of youth up front on the offensive line tonight. How do you think those guys proved themselves?

BB: Yeah, we talked about that earlier. I thought they hung in there - the offensive linemen and defense with Geneo [Grissom] and Malcom [Brown]. I know there were some errors, but I think they competed well. I think they hung in there. Hopefully we can build on that and get better. David [Andrews] pretty much went all the way at center and then Shaq [Mason] and Josh [Kline] and Tre' [Jackson] kind of all three played some guard. Overall I'd say the pass protection was OK. We had some running plays that weren't great, some that were OK. I thought [Dion] Lewis ran the ball well. I don't know if we blocked it as well as we'd like to. We've got a lot of work to do, but I thought they competed well and they hung in there. We had eight rookies play and they all contributed. Hopefully they'll get better.

Q:How difficult is it to game plan for Week 1? Were the substitutions tonight game plan specific, or did you want to try a lot of guys out to see what you have?

BB: No, I wouldn't say we're trying anybody out. We were trying to win. The Steelers had several different matchups. They hadn't really shown much dime defense at all this year. They did some of that last year with [Troy] Polamalu, but they didn't do it at all really in preseason; they stayed pretty much nickel. And then tonight they mixed in dime, nickel and some of their base defense. We had several different personnel groupings out there. They sometimes matched them the same, sometimes they changed it up a little bit. In the second half they changed some matches, so a little bit of that just trying to work it out, just seeing who they're matched up with, what we want to do against one group versus another group. That's kind of what we do - we get everybody involved and use different groupings. That's not really uncommon on our end, but we were dealing with the same thing. They were using [Dri] Archer a little bit at running back. [DeAngelo] Williams obviously ran well. [No.] 46 [Will Johnson] was in there really playing tailback even though he's a tight end, but they used him as a running back in protection situations as well as their 12 and 11 personnel. Just a little bit of that going both ways, just trying to get it matched up, and it's hard at this time of year where you have a lot of guys running on and off. You're trying to play more players than you would normally play just because it's early in the season to try to manage the playing time a little bit. And then on top of that, you've got a lot of substitutions in the kicking game and so forth, so we need to clean that up. But that was definitely a part of the game was just the organizational part of it - getting on and off the field and getting the right guys out there.

Q:Scott Chandler and Rob Gronkowski seemed to work well together for the two touchdowns when they were split out on the left side. How much freedom do they have to adjust depending on the coverage?

BB: Not much. We call a play, we need them to run the route that we tell them to run. We really try to go out there and execute the plays that we have called. We're not really on that program where everybody goes out and does whatever they feel like doing. We try to run the plays that are called and run them with good technique and execution so the quarterback knows where those guys are going to be and we can time it up. Rob did a nice job on that fade route of kind of stemming the defender in at the goal line and creating some separation. On the first touchdown, Rob's slant, the linebacker had to go over the top. It was a close play, but Scott was able to get in the end zone. I thought they were both fairly well executed.

Q: Any update on Dominique Easley?

BB: No. I know you expected one.


Q: How do you keep it all in check on a night like tonight?

TB: Yeah, it was a pretty special night. I was excited. Our whole team was excited. We haven't had one of these games in a long time, so it's always fun being out there and getting the opportunity to go play. And we took advantage of it. Good win. I thought our guys played hard. Obviously, there were a lot of things we could do better, so we're going to get back to work. We've got 10 days before we go up to Buffalo, and that's always a tough place to play. So we've got a lot of studying ahead, and hopefully we'll get a little rest this weekend and get back to work.

Q: How was it lining up with rookie David Andrews at center?

TB: Yeah, we've worked pretty hard getting him up to speed, and he did a tremendous job. I think all three of those rookies that played on the inside did phenomenal. It's a tall task to get them up to speed with all different variations and protections and adjustments that we tend to make, and I thought they really hung in there. They played with a lot of toughness, so it was great to...Dave did a great job at center. Tre' [Jackson] and Shaq [Mason] and the two tackles are phenomenal, so it was great protection all night. It really allowed us to get some guys open down the field.

Q: Is it a relief to have a night where it's just about football after the last eight months?

TB: Yeah, I love being out there with my teammates playing, so yes. I think it was something I really looked forward to. I was excited to go out there and certainly to win and to be 1-0; last year we started 0-1. It's always tough to do, but we got off to a little better start.

Q: Did this feel like a different opening night to you?

TB: Yeah, I was pretty excited. I think the regulars around here always see me pretty excited, especially running out there in pregame. Coach says you have one week, and you put everything you can into it for this – one three-hour performance. And it's just a big buildup. We worked hard. I felt like we had nine different review sessions to go over all the different things – the cover, and obviously, they did a lot of things that we didn't really expect or work on. And we tried to make adjustments, and it's just how the opening week typically goes. You're trying to get to know your players, their players, and make enough good plays to get the ball in the end zone.

Q: Would you describe the first touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski?

TB: Yeah, we went to the line pretty quickly, and it looked like they had some problems getting aligned. And I was trying to call for the ball from the center. I was clapping my hands to let him know because there was a little bit of crowd noise, and I was just trying to get the ball in my hand so I could make the throw – just making sure we were set because I saw that they were misaligned. So anytime they don't cover Gronk, [he] usually gets it, especially in a situation like that – kind of in the red area. I thought we did a good job capitalizing. That was a big play in the game.

Q: How about the second and third touchdowns to Gronkowski?

TB: Yeah, the second one was the...oh yeah, that was a great play. He made a great catch, and that was a good one. And then the fade was good. We lined up in the set before and threw a different pass to [Scott] Chandler, and he made a touchdown. And Gronk got out there and had a mismatch, and he's such a big target out there. He has a great catch radius, so a lot of times, if just put it up there close he comes down with it.

Q: What did you see on the 52-yarder to Gronk?

TB: That was a big play there. Blitzing off my left, and we picked it up. And Gronk was able to run down the seam, and they lost track of him. So he made kind of a great run too – made the guy miss, made the safety miss, made a few other guys miss. That was obviously a huge play in the game.

Q: How hard is it to do what you did tonight with Gronk without having practiced with him in the preseason?

TB: I mean, you don't really forget how to play football, I think, in the seven months, so I think it was nice to be out there. And it's a little different than the preseason, so I know the expectations are always high every time we take the field. And I think it's good to have that. At the same time, I think it's nice to focus on an opponent – work for seven or eight days on a team and try to figure out the things that you do well that they don't do so well, try to get some match-ups. And I think that that's what our team has always done a pretty good job of – identifying the perceived weaknesses in defenses, and then you try to go after those things. So Gronk made a lot of big plays tonight; Jules [Julian Edelman] made a lot of big plays. We've got to keep getting everybody involved – certainly the running game. And getting LG [LeGarrette Blount] back will be good. So we've got a lot of work ahead. It's a long season, but it's good to get off to 1-0.

Q: How much fun do you anticipate it's going to be having Gronkowski and Chandler this season?

TB: Yeah, they're tough match-ups down there because obviously their size and their ability to get open in one-on-one coverage, so if you want to play zone, we have a lot of options. And when it's one-on-one, you've got such big targets. And four of those plays were that type of...confusion on the first one, mismatch on the one to Chandler, mismatch on the one to Gronk, and then we took advantage of another one on the little pop-pass I threw right over top of everybody. So those guys are big. They're big. They're tough. They're physical. Hopefully we can keep going; 4-of-4 in the red area is a good place to start.

Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver

*(On what it's like to watch tight end Rob Gronkowski score all these touchdowns) *
"He's such a great player and he creates mismatches for a lot of guys and we're lucky to have him on our team."

(On what the team can improve on)
"We can improve on everything. We got a chance to play in the rain, which is something we haven't been able to do just yet, so it was good to get out there and get some experience in bad weather."

*(On how it felt to start the regular season) *
"It was great. It was great to get out there and play a team other than ourselves and hit somebody other than ourselves. It was a lot of fun."

David Andrews, Center

*(On getting his first career start) *
"It was great. Now I'm just ready to make the corrections, learn from it and move on to Buffalo."

(On whether he was nervous tonight)
"No. No, it's just playing football at the end of the day."

*(On what the biggest surprise was for him tonight) *
"I don't think there were any real surprises. We were very well prepared and we were able to just go out there and do what we did and control what we control."

*(On tempo being a big part of the game plan early on) *
"I just do what I'm told. If they want to go, we're going to go."

Scott Chandler, Tight End

*(On teaming up with Rob Gronkowski) *
"I think it makes it tough on defense at times to know where to go. You get a great matchup on a guy like Gronk and we were able to make it work out well."

(On his touchdown)
"I had a pretty good idea that if we got that coverage it was going to come to me, so Tom did a great job."

*(On lining up on the same side as Gronkowski) *
"I think it's tough to matchup with Gronk no matter who you got. I think we can do some things to make it tough on teams trying to do some things to make it tough on us and we were able to capitalize on those situations."

Rob Gronkowski, Tight End

*(On seeing the banner raised) *
"The banner is pretty awesome. We had a great team last year, but now it's a new year, it's a new focus and what's so sweet was getting that win tonight. It wouldn't have been that great of a night [with a loss]. Nothing makes it better than having a win when you play football in the NFL."

(On getting back on the field)
"It felt great to get out there, no doubt. It's great to play the game of football. After not playing all preseason, it was the first game of the year and I'm not going to say I was in top-notch shape. It's different when you go out there and play for real versus other opponents that are very good. I'm definitely a little rusty at some spots and can get better. Just got to keep working hard and keep improving."

*(On his first touchdown catch) *
"Our offense was doing a great job getting to the line. We were hustling and getting set throughout the whole offense. Tom [Brady] just saw it, made the quick throw and I just had to make the play. It was good execution overall by the offense."

Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver

*(On what he's seen from Tom Brady leading up to this game) *
"I worked out with [Tom Brady] a lot this off-season and he's the same old guy. It just shows you how mentally tough he really is to be dealing with what he's dealt with in the past and to be able to come out here and lead us. He's always a firecracker. There's one thing about him: Tom never has a down day. It's good to have a leader like that. When you come into work and you're not feeling the greatest, but you see '12' over there - he's been here 30 years pretty much - coming out here, practicing his tail off, preparing, watching film, all those things. That's why he's so good."

(On if Tom Brady has been the same this year as he's been in the past)
"Yeah. I've actually seen [Tom Brady] do a little more band work. He's been working on his mobility. But other than that, he's the same old Tom."

(On the Patriots use of a four tight end formation)
"Gronk's [Rob Gronkowski] a beast. Chan [Scott Chandler], it's great to have him on the team doing what he's doing. All that's going to do is help us. I don't know the red area stats, but what were we, four for four? It comes down to third down, red area and turnovers. We did well in the red area, we did pretty decent on third down and we didn't turn the ball over. You've got to do that to beat a team like [the Steelers]."

(On the pregame ceremony)
"I didn't even really get to see it. We didn't even get to see it. We saw 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and everything, but it was more about the Steelers."

Dion Lewis, Running Back

*(On his role in tonight's game) *
"I try to do whatever they ask me to do to the best that I can, so if that's what they want me to do – I'm going to try and do whatever they ask me to do, the best I can."

(On lining up wide on the sidelines)
"Since OTAs I've been asked to do that, so I've worked real hard over the summer when we had a little break and I was going to be prepared for whatever the coaches asked me to do."

*(On his development and role going forward with the team) *
"It's a process, you know. It feels good to be playing again, and we won, so that's good, but at the same time, you still got to look at the negatives in the game and try to get better, so I can help my team win when it counts."

Devin McCourty, Defensive Back

*(On preventing touchdowns in the red zone) *
"We're just trying to get off the field. We always talk about points being the biggest factor and the way our offense was putting up points today, it was important for us to make them kick three – get three points and then miss a field goal. It was just big trying not to give up touchdowns."

*(On if he felt the defense gave up too many big plays) *
"I mean, obviously. You don't want to give up any big plays, so if you give up one, it's too many, but we also got to think about the team you're playing. I'm sure they came in today and didn't want to give up a big play to Gronk [Rob Gronkowski]. Teams make play and you just got to keep winning."

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