Today, just 24 hours after beating the Tennessee Titans 34-13 down in Nashville, we heard from a couple of players who had significant roles in the win: rookies Chandler Jones and Tavon Wilson.
Neither spoke immediately after the game, so, today was our first chance to get their reaction to their regular season NFL debuts. Jones, of course, had a monster day capped by his strip-sack of Titans QB Jake Locker, which resulted in a scoop-and-score TD by fellow rookie Dont'a Hightower.
"I actually didn't even know it was a strip-sack. I thought it was just a normal sack," Jones revealed. "I got up, and Dont'a was in the end zone. So, that was good.
"Actually, it's funny that that happened," he added, "because every time someone mentions me on Twitter, I read it. One of the fans mentioned, 'I'm playing Madden and you got a strip-sack and Hightower picked it up for a touchdown.' And that was right before the game. For it to happen in real life… I thought it was a dream come true that that guy predicted it."
Wilson had a big play of his own, diving for an interception after a deep pass by Locker bounced off the helmet of cornerback Kyle Arrington.
"It just happened to be an interception – right place at the right time, I guess," was Wilson's demure response. "It was a good play. Something that just happened."
He's going to keep the ball, though, right?
"Oh, for sure," he replied with a grin and a chuckle.
The youngsters, though, seemed keen to stress that it was just one game.
"Still have a lot of work to do. We'll see what happens against Arizona," Jones pointed out.
"I think it went well," Wilson remarked about his debut. "It was great that we got the win. That's the most important thing. Now we're on the Arizona."
That theme was echoed by veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd, who made his first appearance as a Patriot in regular season action.
"We played well in all phases. Our offense and defense complemented one another, and both of those complemented our special teams. We still have another opportunity this week to improve against Arizona. That's how we're looking at it."
Fellow wideout Wes Welker, though limited to just three catches (he was subbed for quite a bit against Tennessee), insisted his numbers didn't matter to him as much as the final score.
"At the end of the day, it's about winning ball games. So, however we need to do that, that's what we're going to do. That's the ultimate goal every Sunday. However I can contribute – a big day in stats or not, or blocking – that's what it's going to be."
Welker's three grabs did help him set a milestone, however, tying Troy Brown for most ever in franchise history. Brown will be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame this weekend.
"Obviously, Troy's going to go down as the best receiver ever to play with the Patriots," declared Welker. "When I first came here, all I did was watch film with Troy and how he played the Z position here… Him going into the [Patriots] Hall of Fame is well deserved."
Finally, Welker was asked about the bloody, beaten up nose of quarterback Tom Brady. It happened on a third-down sack early in the second quarter, when Brady took a leg to the face as he was taken to the ground by Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbley. Brady didn't miss a snap, however, after getting bandaged up on the sideline.
"Anytime you see a leader taking hits like that, you ask him if it's broken, he doesn't know. He doesn't care. He loves football, loves playing. He does a great job," said Welker.
But the quote of the day was delivered when a reporter asked if Welker still thought Brady was attractive, even with a band-aid over his nose.
Welker laughed the question off at first, then good-naturedly played along, responding, "Yeah, he's such a good-looking guy… he's probably the toughest metrosexual I've come across."