MIKE MULARKEY, HEAD COACH
Q: What is the status on Marcus Mariota? Do you think it is significant?
MM: I don't think it's serious, no. Actually we tempted to maybe put a brace on him and discussed even putting him back in, but we thought that in the best interest for him and our team and where we're at right now - the best thing is to hold him.
Q: How close was the decision to put him back in as opposed to sitting him?
MM: It was discussed. We went back and forth and we thought we would err on the side of caution.
Q: How did it happen? Did it get twisted up underneath him on the sack?
Q: Do you think erring on the side of caution was the better way to go, especially at this point in the season?
MM: I did. We all did. We talked about it with Todd Toriscelli and the coaches and just thought that we wanted to be smart about it.
Q: Is it the opposite knee?
Q: Was Marcus OK with the decision?
MM: No. He's never OK not playing. He wants to play. He'll play on one leg if you'll let the guy. I know how he feels. I know he wanted to play, but it was our decision.
Q: Can you tell at this point what the injury is?
MM: No. Again, we're going to go back and have him evaluated and see where he's at with it, and we'll know more hopefully tomorrow.
Q: Is this another case of digging yourself too big of a hole and you couldn't catch up?
MM: It's evident. Its two weeks in a row we - and again, the opponents we are playing, you've really got to play error-free. You've got to be playing at a high level - everybody - I don't care if you're a rookie or you're a 10-year vet. Everybody has got to play at a high level. You can't make mistakes like we've made, some very unacceptable against anybody. Again, I'll say it again, but against good teams, defending Super Bowl champs, you're really not giving yourself a fair chance to compete in the game. We settled down for some reason in the second half. It's my job to get [players] to come out in the first half and play like they've played the last two second halves and I'll find a way to do that these last two games.
Q: Were the Patriots better than you expected in any part of their game?
MM: We got just about what we expected. It wasn't like we had to make any huge adjustment. We kind of had an idea of what was coming in all directions on all phases, and it was just a matter of us not executing and them executing very well. So, no surprises.
Q: How much of the second halves could be in part that the game is largely in the hands of the other team and that the chances or expectations of getting back are low?
MM: You always look at that, but when you see they're still throwing double moves, they're still calling the same plays they called in the first half - we look at that as are they going into a slow-down mode to try to eat the clock up? I didn't feel that way at all. If you look at it, they're trying to hit [Rob Gronkowski] down there. There were the same routes that you saw in the first half. They were trying to hit us just like they were in the first half defensively. There was no letup from their defense. Not for anything, they were still coming after us and still playing us the same way they were in the first half.
Q: Can you talk us through Delanie Walker's individual effort on the long touchdown?
MM: Actually, from what we saw upstairs I think there was a little miscommunication on their part. They rolled their coverage and it was just a great individual effort, run after catch to make that kind of play is really indicative of what he's done since he's been here, and this year is no different. He's made plays every chance he's had a possibility to do that. We knew we needed three scores at the time. We talked about possession-time, we're running out of time, we have three possessions based on what was left on the clock and we needed to score quickly. You ask for something and this guy typically delivers. We got back into it exactly how we hoped we would with that play and those are the kind of plays that you need to get sparked and we were.
Q: Zach Mettenberger takes some chances and makes some big plays, but there is also a risk of turnovers, too…
MM: The inexperience of playing at this level, again, it's nothing but good for what's going to happen to him every chance that he gets. We had a discussion; he's got to learn on some of these things to take what the defense gives you. There was a good example today - the guy across the hallway [Tom Brady] does it all day for four quarters. It's not a matter of the arm strength; it's a matter of what the defense gives you and it was a tough lesson learned again today, but hopefully he will learn from it.
Q: Is Harry Douglas in position there to try to do something…
MM: The worst thing is an incompletion on the ball and I didn't have a good vantage. It looked like the throw was late, it was covered, obviously, and I'd like to see Harry come back and make an effort. Where he was all the way down there - I'd be shocked if he wasn't trying.
Q: This was Dorial Green-Beckham's second game with over 100 yards. What did you see from his progression? It seemed like he came out and had another big week.
MM: He had a big week. He's still … Again he's a work in progress. He's flashing signs here and there. He made some plays, some contested plays which was good - you haven't seen a lot of those plays where he's been going one-on-one with tight coverage and made plays, and he did that today, so that's good to see. You're seeing a lot of young, inexperienced guys playing and when you see guys progress like that it's a good sign. It's a really good sign.
Q: Are you happy with the effort? The guys could have given up and they didn't.
MM: No, they're not going to. You know, and again, the effort. It's not about the effort. It's not like the first half they are not and the second half they are. They are playing with the same amount of effort and physical play. They are. It's just a matter of making enough mistakes that get you so far behind against opponents like this. We just can't catch up.
Q: Mike, you've gone against the Patriots before, Belichick-coached teams, it seems like the blue print is get up by a couple scores, control the game, and this fits the blue print. They've done this almost all year. In fact the two losses, they were up 14-0 and the teams came back on them. How do you combat that and not let them get control of the game early, specifically?
MM: Play your best football, every guy that you have. Play at the highest level that you have, from the first play on. I mean, that's the only thing you can do. Again, that was the message and we didn't do it. We didn't do it.
Q: How would you rate the offensive line today with two weeks in a row, five sacks?
MM: It was misaligned, and we had some mistakes with the backs, too. I mean, the one he got injured on, it should have never have happened based on our protections. But again, some inexperience, we had a breakdown and it should have never happened. Again, I thought the O-line, the second half was better than they were the first half.
Q: Are you making an example of the running backs on that particular play?
MM: On that particular play.
Q: Was it Antonio [Andrews]?
Q: [Joe] Looney played a lot in the second half, was [Andy] Gallik just hurt?
MM: No, we just made a decision, they have multiple personnel groupings. We were getting some late calls on who individuals were and we wanted Joe to go in there more - again, a guy who's played more snaps than Andy [Gallik] and at least make sure we were identifying who was in the game correctly and loud. And I think that helped putting him in there.
Q: What kind of positives can you take out of this game?
MM: You know, they could have easily said, you know 'it's over,' but they haven't done that. I don't care what the score is - they came out the second half and believed they had a chance. All the way to that interception, I think we believed we had a chance to come back and win this game in this stadium, against that team. And that's all you want, that's all you want from these guys. That was the mindset at halftime. That was the mindset on that sideline, and easily could have been the other way. I've been on many of teams like that and it's not been the case here.
Q: Moving forward on Marcus, I know you guys are going to discuss this, but any input from ownership? Do they have anything to do with him playing the rest of the season depending on how severe the injury is?
MM: I haven't even thought about it, gone that far with it. I mean, I don't know. We need to find out where he is with his injury and that's something I can answer later.
Q: Any other injuries?
MM: No, I don't think so. We had a couple guys limping, but I saw most of them coming off the field and I felt like we were relatively healthy, with the exception of Marcus.
Q: How good is this Patriots team?
MM: They are always very, very disciplined, very sound. Don't make a lot of mistakes, so you're always good if you do that.
Antonio Andrews, Running Back
(On what happened on the play that Marcus Mariota got hurt on)
"Just miscommunication. I heard one play called and it was another. It is what it is."
(On his performance)
"It was alright. We did what we needed to do and we've got to keep moving forward."
(On what it shows about the character of the team that they competed all game)
"We are a team that is always going to fight to the end. We've got a great group of guys and no matter the outcome of the season, we are always going to give it our all."
Byron Bell, Guard/Tackle
(On the game)
"We had a couple of drives stopped that were going to get us back. It hurts us, and you just can't do that in professional football. The team that plays the cleanest game is going to win. At the end of the day, no one in life is perfect. We are always chasing perfection that is all we are doing. We have a good team and we just have to stay the course. Offensively, we have to be one and work as a machine and defensively, we have to make plays and stops and tackle the football and with special teams, we need to get good field position and that's all there is. We just continue to keep fighting and we will be fine. We have two more games left and we just need to continue to stick together and be a team, be a family."
(On Marcus Mariota going out of the game)
"That hurts us. He can't be taking shots like that. I'll be the first one to speak up and take my shots and due diligence. He got hit a couple times last week and we just can't do that. He is going to be a great player in this league for a long time. He is going to bring a lot of excitement, but when he is not on the field that hurts us as a football team. We have to keep him clean and when he is healthy and moving around, he is a good quarterback. He is going to be a great one for a long time."
David Cobb, Running Back
(On the running game)
"It is really about everything we didn't do. You have to give them [the Patriots] credit because they had a great game. But, as backs, if they make a hole up front we have to hit it and if it is not there we have to make it. We really have to get everybody on the same page. I thought we had some good runs. Antonio [Andrews] made a couple good plays. We just have to move forward from here. It is everything together. We have to start faster. That is what it is, start faster."
(On the Marcus Mariota injury)
"It's tough but Mett [Zach Mettenberger] came in and did a great job. He made some great throws but, again, you have got to protect him. No matter who is back there we have got to protect them."
Dorial Green-Beckham, Wide Receiver
(On his performance)
"I'm just getting opportunities thrown my way and taking advantage of those. Guys look at me as a guy who is going to help this offense and today that is one thing I went out there and did."
(On Delanie Walker's touchdown)
"He broke out of a tackle and it's stuff like that that gets us going."
(On if they can build on the game)
"Yeah, we just have to stay focused. We have to let this game go it's over with and just focus on what we need to do now to beat Houston."
Michael Griffin, Safety
(On making a good play against Rob Gronkowski)
"We are still losing, it doesn't matter. It does not matter. We are still losing. As long as you are losing, even if you make a play even on Gronk [Gronkowski] it doesn't matter. He still scored a touchdown and was five [catches] for 54 [yards]. We still lost by more than double digits. So at the end of the day, we just need to go back and see."
(On any positives from the game)
"We try and look at the positives. I feel like we did better than we did the last two weeks on the defensive side of the ball, but in the end we still lost. We just need to keep trying to find positives each week and not make excuses. All we can do is stick together and try and get better each and every week. "
Karl Klug, Defensive Line
(On the Patriots offense)
"The goal coming into the game was to put pressure on [Tom] Brady as much as we could. We would have liked to gotten back there a little bit more, but he was getting rid of the ball real quick. We knew we were going to have to get back there quicker than normal. We wanted to flush him out of the pocket, because he is at his best when he's in the pocket. So we were trying to get him off his spot, move his feet a little bit, but he was successful today."
(On the success of the defense in the second half)
"We were just executing. It wasn't anything special, we just honed in on the details, and just forces them into some bad situations."
(On defensive effort today)
"Yeah, in the second half, but the first half when we gave up 24 points it was kind of tough. We just need to come out in the first half like we did in the second half. We need to put together a full game and we haven't done that yet."
Marcus Mariota, Quarterback
(On what happened on the play that he was injured)
"I felt pressure and I tried my best to get away from it and I just got twisted up kind of awkwardly. It is what it is."
(On whether he wanted to go back in to the game)
"I wanted to go back in right away. I wanted to go out there and play with the guys, but Zach [Mettenberger] is more than capable of taking over the team. Me not playing at 100% would have hurt us and I think Zach gave us a better chance."
(On the significance of the strip sack and touchdown)
"It really gave them all of the momentum. It's one of those plays that are unfortunate. Right when I went to release the football, he [Chandler Jones] was able to hit my arm. It happens, it's part of the game, we just have to go out there and continue to battle."
Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback
(On coming into the game cold after Mariota got injured)
"That's the preparation backups have every week. It's unfortunate to be thrust into that situation due to injury, but you have to be ready. I felt like I did a lot of good today, but at the same time, I made too many mistakes."
(On his performance)
"You have to take what the defense gives you. You have to be smart with the ball. I've played this game enough that I have to do better and keep us in good situations so that we can move the chains."
(On getting the ball downfield and moving the team)
"Yeah, I'd like to have those two interceptions back. Especially that first one, it's a situation that would have put us in the game there and possibly have a chance to get to overtime. I threw it deep into coverage instead of taking the man underneath and that's something that is a mistake on my part. I'm a little too trusting in my arm at times and I need to fix that."
Cody Riggs, Cornerback
(On his fumble recovery)
"When I was running down the field I saw him [Danny Amendola] try to get to the wide side of the field so I cut him off. I knew I had help inside and then [Phillip Supernaw] came in and knocked the ball out and I was able to jump on it before everybody got to it. Right place, right time. I was doing my job. You always have to be ready because you never know what can happen. It worked out on that play for us."
Delanie Walker, Tight End
(On his touchdown)
"I ran a 6-yard pivot route, Zach [Mettenberger] made a great throw to make me turn outside where he knew I could make something happen. I just lowered my shoulder and knocked one guy off, then broke another tackle. The receivers had great blocks and my tight end had a great block down the field. There you have it."
(On his tipped ball that led to Jamie Collins' interception)
"They went into cover 2 and I just went and tried to sit in the zone. Me and Zach tried to make a play. I just got my hand on it but wasn't able to jump back and get the ball. I tipped it and their defender made a great play, catching the ball and running down the sidelines."
(On the Marcus Mariota injury)
"It's very hard when you get all your reps with your starting quarterback then he goes down. Zach Mettenberger though, I thought he came in and did a great job. Without doing much with the starters [in practice] then coming in and facing a great defense like the Patriots, I thought he did a good job. It is very hard. You never think that's going to happen but this is the NFL and he is our second string quarterback. He has to come in and perform and he did but it's always hard when you lose your starting quarterback."