Bill Belichick was in a good mood after the Patriots’ 28-18 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Watch video of his postgame news conference above, read the transcript below. Video by Steve Silva.
“I really feel good about that win,” Belichick said. “I’m really proud of our football team. Those guys did a great job. Offensively, we had some big drives there after their first [drive]. Minnesota went up 7-0. Then we answered that with a long drive. Then at the end of the game when they came back to make it 21-18, we went the length of the field again to get points on the board and use up a lot of clock. We made a few plays on defense when we had to. It was just one of those games where Minnesota is a good football team. They certainly gave us a lot of problems, but fortunately we were able to hang in there and come out at half time in decent shape and then make a few plays there in the second half to win. It’s a great job by our players. They really had a great week of preparation. They worked hard this week and the things that we wanted to do, for the most part in the second half we did. I felt like that was a big factor in us winning the game: players being able to execute the plays we needed at the right time.”
Click the button below to view the remaining transcript of Belichick’s postgame comments, as provided by the Patriots’ media relations staff.
Q: Have you been impressed with your team’s mental toughness this year?
BB: At times I think we’ve done a lot of good things. At other times, not as good as we’d like to do – not as consistent. We need to still work on everything, but we’ve done enough to win a few games so that’s good. But we’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
Q: Can you talk about the adjustments in the second half to help the running game?
BB: I think you’ve got to give the coaches – the offensive coaches – a lot of credit. They made some adjustments there. Players blocked and our runners ran and broke some tackles. They just did a good job. There’s no magic wand.
Q: There wasn’t anything specific that you picked up that they were doing?
BB: Yeah, I mean we tried to make some adjustments, but in the end it just comes down to blocking and tackling and running. They’ve got 11 guys out there and we’ve got 11 guys out there. Either we block them and break tackles and gain yards, or we don’t block them well enough and don’t break tackles and don’t gain any yards. Just don’t make it too complicated.
Q: It seemed the entire NFL was focused on Minnesota this week with Brett Favre and Randy Moss’s return. You guys said you didn’t care about all of that. Did how they played show how they handled all of those distractions?
BB: I mean, with all due respect to Minnesota, we don’t really care about Minnesota. We’re just trying to get ready to play a game. We can’t worry about what they’re doing or not doing; we’ve just got to worry about what we’re doing and try to make sure that we go out there and do what we can do and control what we can control. That’s the way we approached this week, the week before, next week. They’re really all the same for us. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do and get ready to play and be ready for all the players that could potentially play and be ready to defend all of them and just worry about getting ourselves ready. We can’t worry about what everybody else is doing.
Q: On Brandon Tate’s touchdown catch, is he taught to come back when a play breaks down like that or is that instinct?
BB: The play broke down. The receiver that [Tom Brady] was looking for wasn’t open, so he got flushed out of the pocket, scrambled and the receivers look to uncover off the defenders and Tom looks to find a receiver that uncovers. That’s a pretty basic scramble situation. Obviously, [it was] well done by Tate and then he made a nice move there on – I looked like – [Madieu] Williams, and got the last 20 or 30 yards and turned it into a touchdown instead of just a long gain. It was really not a very well-run play, but [he] made the best of a bad situation, scrambled and got open and caught the ball, improvised and made it into a touchdown. Sometimes those happen if you just follow your rules and you’re able to keep the play alive long enough.
Q: It seemed like you guys threw a few different looks at Randy Moss. Was the idea to keep him from getting comfortable?
BB: We were trying to stop the whole Minnesota offense. They’ve got a lot of great players there. Moss is one of them. [Percy] Harvin is another one. [Visanthe] Shiancoe is certainly one. [Adrian] Peterson is a heck of a back – as good of a back as we’ll see all year. There’re a lot of guys you have to stop: [Jim] Kleinsasser, a big offensive line. We tried to defend all of them, but they are a very talented group. They’ve got a lot of really good players and their offensive line is really good. Those guys came out and did a good job on us on their first – on their touchdown drive. They ran the ball pretty effectively. Peterson ran the ball well. They’ve got a lot of good football players now on that team. They’ve got a lot of them, so it’s no one-man band. You’ve got to deal with everybody. You can’t just deal with one guy. But Randy is certainly an important part of their offense and we certainly had to keep a close eye on him, but they’ve got a lot of great players now.
Q: Can you talk about the goal line defensive stands as well as the mental toughness of BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the second half after struggling for yards in the first half?
BB: We felt like in the running game that if we could just kind of get it started then we could make some yards. Our backs ran well and broke some tackles. They got some extra yards on their own and that’s what good backs do. On the goal line, we thought we had them on the first goal-line play, the one that we challenged when Peterson went over the top. That looked like a really close play and then…I mean, there’re a lot of bodies in there. I’m not sure exactly, but he got some penetration and made the play. Again, it was a great effort by our defense. It’s team defense. One guy makes the tackle or two guys make the tackle, but you’ve got a lot of guys penetrating and clogging up gaps so that the runner can’t run in their gaps. So it was a good job all the way across the board. It’s something we’ve worked hard on this year. I’m really happy for the players that we had some success with it today, because we work on our goal-line every week. We take a lot of pride in it on defense. I know we felt like we stopped them on the one that they gave them the touchdown on, but it was nice to get that stop before the half. That was a big play.
Q: What are your thoughts on Devin McCourty’s play this season and today specifically?
BB: Devin has done a great job for us. Once again, he came up with big plays today – several of them. He helps us in the kicking game. He helps us on defense. He is a good, solid player. He’s smart. He learns well. He really can execute the defensive system very consistently. He’s been good in man and zone coverage. He tackles well. He’s a smart kid and I’m glad we have him.
Q: Is 6-1 about where you thought you’d be at this point in the season?
BB: We don’t really care about that. We’re just getting ready for Cleveland now. I don’t think six games is going to win anything in this league. [It will] take a lot more than that.
Q: Are you impressed with the contributions you’re getting from so many young guys like McCourty, Brandon Tate, and Jerod Mayo?
BB: Well, I mean that’s a lot of the team. You list a lot of guys that are under 25, under 26, whatever the cutoff is – experience, age, you name it. We’ve got a lot of young players, but I don’t really care about all that. What I care about is how the team functions as a unit. And they come in on a daily basis and they work hard. They try to get better. They take the corrections; they try to improve on it. It’s not always perfect out there. We make a lot of mistakes, but they keep working harder to get better. They turn the page and they move from one team to the next team and they start all over again each week and go through the whole preparation process. I’ve been impressed with that. I think they play hard on Sundays. It’s not always great; it’s not always perfect, but there’s a lot of effort there. There’s good competitive toughness. So hopefully we can just – if we do a little better job of coaching and put them in a little better position and they keep working hard at it, we can be competitive.
Q: Randy Moss seemed to go out of his way to pay his respects after the game. How was that?
BB: Yeah, we just talked after the game. You know how I feel about Randy. I’ve talked about him many times. He’s a Hall of Fame receiver and he made a lot of great contributions here. I’m glad I had the opportunity to coach him. He was a special player to coach. But today he was the competition. That’s the way it is in this league. We see that every week. Next week it’s Ben Watson. It’s somebody every week.
Q: Is there a sense of relief that this game is behind you and he only had the one catch?
BB: We’re happy to win. We’re happy to win. It’s good to beat Minnesota. It’s on to Cleveland.
(On that last drive)
BB: We talk about that situation and clock management and how we want to handle the time and all that. Without getting into a long discussion about it, we’re trying to do, in the total picture, what’s best in that situation in the game.