New England Coach Bill Belichick's postgame comments following Sunday's win over the Saints (courtesy of Patriots media relations staff):
"Sorry if you had to rewrite some of those stories there at the end. What a football game. I feel like that took about five years off my life. (I’m) really proud of our team. Obviously, that’s a good football team, number one. The Saints are a real good football team. It was a great 60-minute battle. They made a lot of plays, we made some plays and in the end, we made a big one, similar to the one they made to put them ahead. You know, I just felt like our team really battled, we played situational football there at the end: holding them to a field goal, getting the ball back, getting down there at the end, being able to get the ball down the field and having a couple chances there at the end to throw one in the end zone. We only needed one but we probably had time for two plays on that. Once again, it’s all about the players; they stepped up and made the plays – (Tom) Brady, (Julian) Edelman, KT (Kenbrell Thompkins), obviously, Austin Collie stepped in there with a big catch, Hooman (Michael Hoomanawanui) and those guys all – there are so many guys that made big plays for us today, you just can’t rattle them all off. It was a good team win. I thought we really prepared hard for this game. Obviously, after we didn’t have a good outing last week in Cincinnati, I thought the players prepared hard, they practiced hard and it’s satisfying to go out there and beat a good team like New Orleans today. You’ll be hearing from them plenty; they’re pretty good.
Q: When you get the ball back as many times as you got the ball back, you talk about complementary football with offense and defense, how hard was it situationally to try to process that?
BB: You just try to do the best you can on that. I thought obviously, Zo (Alfonzo Dennard) had a tough play there in the end zone there on (Kenny) Stills and then came back and made a huge play: the incomplete pass there on second down. That saved us a timeout. It was a great play, he went up and made an excellent play on the ball. Once again, it’s the players making the plays. I think managing the clock, you just do what you do: you have so much time, so many timeouts, you just try to get the most out of it. But it was the players that are out there making the plays. We played good up front, were able to get the ball back and our offensive line, our receivers, obviously our quarterback, did a good job of going down the field after we had not moved the ball very well overall in the second half. That was a huge drive when we needed it the most. All the credit goes to the players; they’re the ones that made the plays.
Q: Although he left the game early, you have to applaud the effort of Aqib Talib, who was basically shadowing
BB: Yeah, I mean, right, there’re two good football players right there. Aqib really competed hard and in the end, I don’t think either one of them were on the field. Both guys ended up being out but it was a great battle and a great matchup. I thought Talib battled him, went toe-to-toe with him the whole way. It was a good matchup.
Q: Can you talk about the decision to put Aqib Talib on Jimmy Graham and also why you played so much of the game with five or six defensive backs?
BB: It’s because they played so much of the game with three receivers – really four receivers because you have to count Graham as a receiver. Even when they’re in there with him in two-tight ends, it’s really one tight end. They got a lot of receivers in the game, luckily we have some depth in the secondary and guys like Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon came in for us and gave us some key plays in the second half. They weren’t in there in the first half and then when Aqib got hurt and we went to some six DB packages, those guys came in and competed really well. But they had a lot of receivers on the field, so we felt like we wanted to get some defensive backs out there to try to match. Then they started running the ball, they hurt us on some runs. Right there at the start of the third quarter, they had some successful running plays and we had to battle that problem too. They can hurt you in so many different ways, not just throwing the ball, they can run it too.
Q: Kyle Arrington also had the interception and a breakup later in the third quarter.
BB: Yeah, all those guys played – Devin (McCourty), who went from safety to corner, Kyle with the interception, a couple big tackles there in the secondary after they hit a couple of those runs. They got through the line, luckily they weren’t 50-yarders, they were only 12, 15 yards, whatever they ended up getting. So tackling in the secondary and just really all those guys, you can’t say enough about, because it was all of them. It wasn’t just one guy; we had to cover all those receivers.
Q: What was your thought process on fourth-and-six on your own 24-yard line? Was it that you wanted to give them a short field?
BB: No, we were trying to pick up the first down. It was fourth-and-six. If it was fourth-and-13 or something like that, we wouldn’t have done that. But it was fourth-and-(six]) we felt like we had a shot at it and I think we did have a shot at it, we just couldn’t make the play. There was 3:29 left, we felt like if we didn’t make it, we’d have to stop them and then we’d need a touchdown.
Q: Can you talk about the confidence you had in Stevan Ridley?
BB: We have confidence in all our backs, so whichever one of them is in there, we have confidence in. We don’t put a player on the field we don’t have confidence in, let’s put it that way. I don’t care what the guy plays or who it is. If they’re out there, we have confidence in them. If we don’t then they’re not on the team, they’re not on the field, they’re not active, one or the other.
Q: How about Austin Collie, who you signed 10 days ago and you had active in case someone went down to have him step up?
BB: Yeah, that was huge. We just felt like on that last drive, we went with the four-receiver group, tried to get a little more speed on the field. When Julian (Edelman) kind of came up, after he made the catch over the middle, Austin stepped in there and made a huge play. Yeah, absolutely. He’s worked hard. Chad O’Shea, our receivers coach, and Austin have worked very hard on the assignments and plays, formations and all that. Those guys spend, it must be like two, two and a half hours a day after everybody else does, just going over stuff, walking through it and it really paid off today. You have to give Austin a lot of credit for coming in here and being ready to go, like you said, really at the most critical time in the game.
Q: Can you talk about that touchdown play and what it means to Kenbrell Thompkins, who has been under some fire?
BB: KT has played good for us since we started the OTAs. He’s made plays and catches like that in practice. We have a lot of confidence in him. Obviously Tom (Brady) did because he went to him. He gave him a good, high ball and KT has good timing. He was able to go up and get the ball and come down with the play. I think those of us that are around KT on a daily basis aren’t surprised to see him make a play like that, because he’s made plenty of them. We’re going to have to keep making more. We still have to – obviously there are things we can do better in the passing game: protection, passing, throwing, route-running and so forth. I don’t think we’re where we need to be, but we were on that play. That was really as good situational football by Tom: he got the ball out of there early and had that been incomplete, we still at least had another play, another chance at throwing to the end zone, a chance to win, just try to give the receiver a chance and he made it.
Q: What is it about Tom Brady that he can throw that interception and then come back?
BB: I think the whole team is like that. But Tom is great competitor. Everybody has to – you have a short memory in this game. Same thing with Zo (Alfonzo Dennard) on the long pass and then the breakup on the go-route on our sideline. You have to have a short memory. You have to come back and play the next play. Look, we all have bad plays out there, every one of us: missed blocks, missed tackles, bad calls, bad throws, drops, whatever it is. But competitors come back and keep competing and come back and get it the next time. Nobody is going to play a perfect game, we know that. But you just have to keep competing and try to eliminate, make as few of those mistakes as possible.
Q: How much trouble did you feel like the no-huddle gave the Saints?
BB: I don’t know, you’d have to ask them that. We just felt like it gave us the tempo that we were looking for. We worked on it all week. we felt like it gave us the tempo that we were looking for. I don’t know, you’d have to ask them what they thought about it. It wasn’t as much about them as it was about us: playing fast, getting to the line, being confident in what we were doing and getting it up tempo and just feeling like we wanted to go out there and be more aggressive. That’s why we did it.
Q: Can you talk about the kicking game and Steve Gostkowski? He made big plays in the kicking game, including a 54-yard kick.
BB: Huge, yeah, that was a great kick. Yeah, Steve kicked the ball well, kicked off well and Ryan [Allen] punted well too. Our specialists did a good job. (Darren) Sproles is obviously a hard guy to handle; he’s one of the best returners in the league. We covered well and we kicked well. It was a good job by all those guys.
Q: What makes Tom Brady so clutch?
BB: He’s obviously one of the best players in the league. He’s good in all four quarters.
Q: After you had the Kyle Arrington interception, you had several runs in a row. What was that?
BB: We were running plays that we felt like were good plays. We ended up early in the game, as you know, down there, they dropped everybody off into coverage and we stood there and held the ball for about 10 seconds and everybody was doubled. We felt like we had some good opportunities in the running game and we did. We had some good plays. We ended up first-and-10, then we were first-and-goal on the nine and we gained one yard, then we were down to the three and we thought we had a good play there on third down and the end stunted inside and we got off-track. But we had trouble throwing the ball down there too, with all their three-man rush coverages so we mixed it in there.
Q: With a team win like this, did you learn something you didn’t know?
BB: Look, it was a great effort today. I thought everybody competed right to the end. But we have to do it every week. we can’t have one of these weeks and then go out and not have one the next week. We just have to be consistent. As great as today was, we have to turn the page. We have to get ready to go down to New York against the Jets. We know what kind of battle that’s going to be. We’ll start to see what kind of team we have, how consistent we can be. We have two big division games in a row here. Going down to New York, on the road, we know it’s always tough. We’ll find out. We’ll start putting these games together. We have some guys banged up, we have to be able to count on everybody and fight through some bumps and bruises and all that. We’ll see where we’re at. We’ll get tested here. We have a lot of good games, tough games coming up and we’ll have to answer the bell.
Q: You built your offense around two tight ends and a slot receiver and now you don’t have any of those players in the same spot. How much of a challenge has that been for your offense and for Tom Brady?
BB: I think every year you’re in somewhat of a transition offensively or defensively, however you want to call it. We’ve been there before and I’m sure we’ll be there again. I don’t think anybody returns all 11 starters very often in this league. Sooner or later, you either lose guys or somebody gets hurt or something happens. It’s a transition league. You have to find a way to win every year and every week. That’s what we’re trying to do, is just trying to find a way to win. We’re not trying to replicate anything from some other year or team or whatever it is. We’re trying to find a way for the 2013 team to win. Whatever that is – offense, defense, special teams – whatever those 45 guys can do, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to be anything other than that.
Q: Is there anything that Tom Brady pulls out of his hat that still surprises you?
BB: No. He made a couple good throws. It looked like we had a shot at the seam pass there on the one, on the in-cut. We had good protection, that’s number one. He did a good job reading the coverages and threw the ball very accurately and gave the receivers a chance to make the play and we made enough of them. That’s what he does. That’s what he gets paid for. That’s why he’s so good. He does a good job of throwing the ball accurately and making good decisions and he made several of them on that drive.