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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri May 14 - 12:00 AM | Sun May 16 - 11:58 PM

Tony Richardson Pre-Game Press Conference 09182002

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Q: Let's start out by taking a look at this Patriot defense. It seems to be quite a challenge for you guys this week.

TR: It's going to be a big challenge for us. We had an opportunity to watch them on film and they kind of do what they do. They don't really adjust to what other offenses do, they just kind of line up and play. Sometimes they have six defensive backs. They're a very good defensive football team. I think the biggest thing about them is that they play so well together. If one guy makes a mistake, someone's always covering his back. It's going to be a tough challenge for us this week.

Q: What do you feel you guys have to do to break that defense? What do you want to establish out there?

TR: From watching the first few weeks that they've played, it's going to be tough. The things we've really got to do are just to try to eliminate penalties. That's what's been kind of hurting us around here. And turnovers, I think if we can take care of the football, and try to get the ball in the playmakers' hands. Obviously we've got to get Priest [Holmes] going and get our running game going. Once we get our running game going, hopefully that will open up the pass. You need to create a mix and a balance, because I think if they can be unpredictable, then they've got you behind the eight-ball. We've got to mix it up and throw the ball to different people and we've got to get Tony Gonzalez a lot more catches. Once we do that, then hopefully we'll have a good chance against them.

Q: Speaking of the running game, Priest Holmes won the rushing title last year and obviously you were an integral part of that success. Do you see a difference between this year and last year, or is he just picking up where he left off?

TR: Oh, definitely. I think a lot of people in the off season kind of questioned him and said that maybe what Priest did last year was a fluke. But then against Cleveland, he went out there and rushed for 120-plus yards and four touchdowns. Last week, he obviously didn't get any touchdowns, but you've got to give a lot of credit to Jacksonville. They did a great job of not necessarily stopping the run, but containing it. We needed to make big plays and we weren't able to do that. But I think Priest is definitely picking up where he left off last year. But he understands that whenever you go out and do something like that, rush for 1,500 yards and lead the league, that there's a bull's eye that's on your chest. So he knows that week in and week out, he has to take what the defense gives him and not get frustrated, because they're not going to let Priest Holmes run down the field like he did last year. He just has to understand, which he does, that the big runs might not come in the first half, but if you keep trying and you keep trying then maybe you'll pop one in there.

Q: With the way the Patriots have been moving the ball offensively, is it critical for you guys to hold on to the ball?

TR: I think that was the most glaring fact that we looked at, was the fact that against the Jets, in terms of time of possession, it was almost two to one. Last week, we did a great job of moving the ball and eating up the clock, but unfortunately we didn't get points in the red zone. So yeah, as an offensive unit, we definitely have to control the ball. Those three-and-outs kill you. The more opportunity that New England has to keep the ball is more of an opportunity for them to score. What we want to do is eat up the clock. We're going to play our style of game and go out there and do what we do, but at the same time, we have to convert third downs and keep their defense on the field and allow Tom Brady and their guys to just watch us play.

Q: When you look at the Patriots secondary, they like to pride themselves on the knockout hits. Do they hit as hard as anyone out there?

TR: Yeah, that's another thing, as backs, the first thing we look at is the linebackers, but then we look at the secondary. There are not a lot of guys in this league who really like to tackle in the secondary. One thing that we definitely highlighted today is that those guys like to tackle. These guys have played a lot of football together. I think Otis [Smith] might have, what, 12, 13 years in the league. Ty [Law]'s been in the league and Victor Green comes in and obviously Tebucky [Jones] and Lawyer [Milloy], those are some big hit guys. They don't miss a lot of tackles and when they do catch you in that funnel, they try to knock you out. I think that they've done a great job of intimidating people and they really bring it. We just have to try to match their intensity.

Q: Over the last few minutes of the Cleveland game, did you see what happened and did it surprise you? How did you feel walking off of that field with those fans being pretty upset?

TR: I guess as the clock was winding down and Trent [Green] just kind of stumbled around. Initially, I thought he was sacked. But he did a great job of getting the ball in John Tait's hands and John was smart enough to keep running and not quit. But once the whistle blew and the ref kind of let us know that there was a penalty flag down and we had an opportunity to kick a field goal, it was just an unbelievable feeling. Coach Vermeil was talking about that, since he came here last year, that you always want to play longer than your opponent. We played for all 60 minutes and unfortunately, Cleveland made a mistake. That's one thing that you have to do, is you have to play smart football. When you play someone and you're equally matched as far as talent and scheme-wise, you can't afford to make mistakes. It helped us, but it hurt Cleveland. The thing that we talk about around here is trying to play smart football and not have silly penalties like that. So it was a very emotional game and as soon as that game was over … A lot of the guys from Cleveland, it shook them as well, so they really didn't shake our hands too much and the Dawg Pound was rowdy and we tried to get out of there as fast as we could.

Q: Was this a game that you guys have had circled on the calendar for a while now as a game where you could establish yourselves as a top flight team?

TR: Obviously now that the week is here, it's a great challenge for us. But when the schedule first came out, we saw it as we're playing New England and we're playing the Rams this year, so those are the teams that you look forward to playing because they're the best. New England is the world champions and they're going to be the world champions until someone knocks them off the hill. As the season started, our first job was to go out and find a way to beat Cleveland. We were successful in doing that. Then the next game was Jacksonville and unfortunately we weren't able to get that one done. As soon as we watched the film and went in and talked about the mistakes we made in the Jacksonville game, then we started talking about New England. You never want to start planning ahead and thinking about other opponents, because the week that you're playing, you're going to get hit in the mouth. Obviously, now, it's a big week for us and it's a great challenge for us. You always want to play the best. We're all professionals. We're the best at what we do and New England's the best team right now. Until someone beats them and someone takes their crown, they're the world champions. So it's a great challenge for us and we're definitely looking forward to it.

Q: The Patriots have gotten a lot of mileage out of the 'No Respect' theme, where they're not favored to win many games and this week they are. Around the league, how do you guys see the Patriots?

TR: This is my ninth year in the NFL and the way I look at the Patriots is one complete team. I think that a lot of people for whatever reason, aren't giving these guys a lot of credit because they don't have six or seven Pro Bowl guys on offense, or six or seven Pro Bowl guys on defense. That's what you strive to have as a team, and I don't know who's not giving them credit, the writers, the media, whoever, but for the players in the league, you always have to respect your opponent. You don't win a world championship by accident. That's not something that you can just muck up into. Those guys earned the right to wear that ring, and as players, that would be un-noble to go into a game and not respect someone. That's when you get hit in the mouth. I think the media creates a lot of that stuff. I don't know who makes the point spreads and that kind of stuff, but when you line up and put your hands in the dirt, you can throw that point spread out the window. That's when you go to war, and if anyone's ever played the game, you'd know that. You can have a 20-point spread, but if you knock the quarterback out of the game or create turnovers or something like that, then that changes. So we definitely respect those guys. You have to respect all of your opponents and when you don't, that's when you get hit in the mouth.

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