Bill Belichick once said during one of his Friday press conferences ahead of a typical Sunday game that the "hay was in the barn" and there much left to do other than play the game. But that doesn't mean even the most experienced and respected coach in the game doesn't still experience some nerves.
The Patriots will head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs on Sunday for the AFC title game, and the coach was asked if he still gets nervous in advance of a game with such huge implications.
It may have come as a surprise to some, but Belichick, even in his 44th season coaching in the NFL, admitted he did – but not due to the stakes.
"Every week," he answered.
Is that heightened at all in a game of this magnitude?
"They all count in this league. Just let me know the next game that doesn't matter so I can take that into account."
When pressed further, Belichick talked about the reasons for some of the anxiety that exists for all involved in the National Football League.
"You want to go out there and do well. There's an anxiety," he said. "We all have things in the game that we have to do. You want to perform them well and not let your team down. Everybody's counting on you to do your job. You're counting on everybody else to do theirs. You don't worry about everybody else; you just worry about doing what you can do and making sure you don't screw up what you're supposed to do and are responsible for because no one else can do that. That's your job. We all have jobs to do and we all want to do them well."
Few have done that better than Belichick, certainly not over the past 20 years. But one scenario that hasn't been kind to the Patriots during that time is playing on the road in the postseason, particularly in the AFC Championship Game. After winning the first two tries in 2001 and 2004 in Pittsburgh, Belichick and the Patriots have lost their last three conference title games away from Foxborough – losing in Indianapolis in 2006, and Denver in 2013 and 2015.
The Patriots hope to snap that streak with a victory over the Chiefs on Sunday.