We’ve got some postgame quotes of note from the Patriots and Chargers locker rooms and podium after today’s 23-20 win over the Chargers.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s opening remarks after the win in San Diego:
BB: Nice to come out here and win. Tough game, just like it always is with the Chargers. A real good football team. You got ’em down but you just can’t relax against these guys. You’ve got too many talented players. Norv [Turner] does a good job. Give them a lot of credit for battling back. They had an opportunity to win there on the last play but I got to give our guys a lot of credit, they really hung in there, fought hard, made some plays when we had to and that’s the kind of game it was. We’ve been in some close games with the Chargers, we’re just fortunate to come out on top here today.
Belichick on the couple of unusual plays in the first half, Chargers leaving the ball on the ground:
BB: You have to play them out. Whistle does not mean anything. Playing to whistle doesn’t mean anything anymore. When the ball is loose, you’ve got to play it out. We teach our guys to do that, play it out and ask questions later and forget about the whistle.
Belichick on his thought process on going for it on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter:
BB: If we wold have made it, we could have pretty much ended the game right there. They made a good play. Give them credit. They’ve got a good defense.
Patriots QB Tom Brady after the win over the Chargers today:
TB: What offense? We had a hard time moving it at all. We couldn’t get into a rhythm out there, and the second half was better, I don’t think it was great by any stretch. It feels good to win, see the defense play the way they did, get those turnovers. We certainly can play a lot better offensively, but it’s good to win a game when you don’t play great. And I’d say that, too. You got to win these games when you get the opportunity,
Brady on going for it on the fourth-and-one play in the fourth quarter:
TB: If we get the first down, the game’s pretty much over. You punt it back to them, and they have three timeouts with two minutes left, they only got to go 60 yards, and if you get the yard, it’s going to be tough for them to win the game, they’d have to use all their timeouts and you got a minute left in the game, so… we tried it, didn’t execute it very well, we didn’t execute a lot of things very well. It never should have come down to a fourth and 1. It was second-and-1, and we lost a yard there, then third-and-1, we didn’t gain any yards there… we have to do a better job when it counts.
We’re still working at it. We’re not in playoff form or anything like that, but we’re 5-1, and we played some pretty tough teams, tough defenses and tough offenses, and we’re just trying to improve. Just keep fighting, I think that’s one thing we’ve shown, we’re going to keep fighting till the end.
Brady on the team seldom making mental mistakes:
TB: [It’s] coaching. From the time we walk in the door, [Belichick] talks about eliminating bad football. That’s stuff Foxboro High School can complete; wide-open throws, snap count violations or dropping the ball when you haven’t been touched. Those type of things coach is tough on us. The day we started training camp we run laps around the field for stupid plays like that. You’re right, we try to do the best we can to eliminate those [mistakes] and not beat ourselves.
Patriots safety James Sanders on making the stop to force fourth down for the Chargers:
JS: Yes, the game was on the defense at that point. The offense worked for it and we’re a team. Sometimes they bail us out and sometimes we have to bail them out. That’s the beauty of being a team, we have each other’s back no matter what the circumstance is. Our back was against the wall after they didn’t make the fourth down but we stood up and made a stop.
Sanders on the Chargers’ Richard Goodman throwing the ball down after his catch:
JS: No. 15 [Goodman] made a good catch but he’s a young player and I guess he thought he was in college and left the ball on the ground. Coach Belichick always tells us to play smart football and whether he was touched or not, my job is to get on the ball and let the refs make a decision.
Patriots DT Vince Wilfork on if things felt like they might be getting out of control in the fourth quarter:
VW: That’s the one thing this team does is they keep their poise. They play to the whistle. At times, when we don’t do that, we have problems. For the most part, we always play, keep our poise and stay positive out there on the field if anything happens. Just looking at these guys on film, the situations that came up, we knew when they were down what they were going to do. We just had to do a better job on defense at defending those types of situations. Overall, we came out and played well. We played how we wanted to play. We were physical. We were aggressive. We caused turnovers, created turnovers, and kept our offense in good field position for the most part. This was another team win. We’ll just chalk this one up and go back and prepare for Minnesota this week.
Wilfork on how big the four turnovers were in the first half and the missed kick at the end of the game:
VW: We started the game how we want to start a game. We know playing a team like San Diego at home, if we get off to a slow start, they’ll make us pay, which they’ve done in the past. That was very important for us to get off to a fast start and for the most part, we did. The second half, we came out and it was a different ballgame, putting the ball up in the air and everything. We knew what they were going to do. Like I said, we just have to do a better job as a defense to make the plays when it counts. But, at the end of the game 23-20 lining up for a field goal, they false-started, pushed them back five more yards so who knows what those five yards would have been. That was a big play on our part of keeping our composure and letting them jump, getting the yardage, and then come back with a field goal pressure that they missed. The situation played out the way we wanted it to play out, but the game should not have even been that close to be honest with you, but it was. We came to San Diego, like I said, we didn’t look at their record. It seems like they always start slow and all of a sudden turn it around. One thing we said we didn’t want them to turn it around while we were out here.
Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on the team win:
AH: We just knew we had to come together as a team and start playing as a unit. The defense played great and held us in the game, so the offense had to get together in the second half.
Hernandez on the Patriots success in the passing game:
AH: Everyone just stepped up. We came out a little sloppy and flat on offense, and then we came in at halftime, we just said that everyone needs to step up and people made plays.
Hernandez on having more rhythm in the second half:
AH: We just knew we had to get it going on offense, so we came out firing the ball. We were trying to take control of the game at our tempo, and it worked out pretty well.
Hernandez on if there was ever a doubt about going for it on fourth down?:
AH: I really don’t know. I was hoping we would go for it. The Chargers just came up and made a big play.
Hernandez on his emotions in the last three minutes:
AH: I have faith in our defense and I know they have our back and we have their back. I knew the defense would step up and they did. They made them kick a field goal and put the pressure on the Chargers.
Chargers head coach Norv Turner’s postgame opening statement:
NT: I just don’t think we gave ourselves a chance in this football game. You do the things we did in the first half with the football and you’re playing a real good football team, you’re playing any team in this league it’s tough, and you’re not going to win making those mistakes. Defensively, they held [the Patriots] under in the first half. Certainly they held them to very few yards and gave us a chance, They kept us in it, but you’re playing a good football team and you do those things and built a big enough hole, it’s going to be tough. I can’t say enough about the way our team fought back and the things that a number of guys did in the second half, but you can’t do the things we did in the first half and win a football game in this league.
Turner on whether his guys can do a better job of getting to the ball when it’s on the ground:
NT: We obviously had the Kris Wilson fumble. He had four guys over there. He’s got to take care of the ball and not fumble it. Goody [Richard Goodman], I think that’s the first catch of his career. He thought he was touched down, I’m assuming tha’s what he said. Obviously, you hand the ball to the ref; that’s what we teach from day one. When he caught the ball, I thought he was going to run for another 20 yards. I didn’t think they would get the ball there. Obviously, Jacob [Hester] assumed it was a forward pass and you can’t do that.
Turner on why the mistakes are still happening in Week 7:
NT: We’re working as hard as I’ve ever been around on taking care of the bal. Now, the three guys that had mishaps today have not before. In fact, Goodman has barely been in a game. It’s been spread around.
Chargers kicker Kris Brown on if the five yard penalty for a false start made a difference on his kick at the end of the game:
KB: Absolutely not. I went out there, hit it, and it came off my foot pretty good. It just stayed right down the hash mark and hit the upright.
Brown on if was planning for the ball to hook:
KB: No. I pointed it right at my target. It just stayed right down the hash mark and, unfortunately, sometimes that’s just the way it goes.
Chargers wide receiver Richard Goodman on at what point he realized that the ball was still alive:
RG: When the guy from the other side of the field came diving for the ball. Like I said, after making the catch, we were kind of in a hurry up offense type mode. We were trying to catch them off, start getting a rhythm, to get things going. So, after making the catch, I was looking forward to getting back into the huddle. After getting up and looking back toward the sidelines, I just saw guys flying around the ball and I just tried to make an attempt for the ball. Like I said, I’ll be the first one to admit it was my fault. I have to learn from my mistakes. After making that catch, I need to give it back to the ref.
Chargers running back Jacob Hester on the play that was ruled a backwards pass and fumble recovery.
JH: Well, I had a protection and I was late getting out. It was in front of me and I reached for it, I thought it was obviously a forward pass. I didn’t think there was any chance it was a backwards pass. I was kind of confused and by the time I noticed, the guy [Ninkovich] pick up the ball. When a play like that happens, you just have to pick up the ball whether it’s a forward pass or backwards pass, just to make sure.
Chargers linebacker Kevin Burnett on the frustration his team is experiencing:
KB: We play this game to win. It’s a lose-lose game and this lose-lose thing is frustrating. We have to learn to take advantage of opportunities. Whatever it is we have to get them off the field on third downs; we have to get field position on special teams; we have to tackle better on defense and we have to stop turning the ball over on offense. It’s a collective team effort and we have not put together a complete team game. We have to find a way to win in a hurry… Mistakes are mistakes, no matter how you slice it or how you want to put it. Mistakes are mistakes and they are going to happen but it’s how you recover from them.