Patriots coach Bill Belichick held a teleconference with reporters today and discussed several topics, most notably New England’s upcoming rematch with the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.
It will mark yet another crucial rematch for the Giants, who won critical regular-season rubber matches against the Dallas Cowboys in the regular-season finale to finish with a 9-7 record, and against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round and the San Francisco 49ers in last Sunday’s NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park.
The Giants handed the Patriots their last loss, 24-20, Nov. 6 at Gillette Stadium, which snapped New England’s 20-game home winning streak. The Pats’ have since won 10 consecutive games.
Of course, the last time these two teams met in a Super Bowl, it was in Super Bowl XLII Feb. 3, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz., where the Giants pulled off a stunning 17-14 victory ro ruin the Patriots’ bid for an undefeated season.
“Well, I think a lot of the games you mentioned — like a lot of other games in this league — there very competitive games that come down to a play or two,” said Belichick, who gave his team off today and Wednesday before beginning Super Bowl preparations on Thursday.
“That’s what this league is; it’s being able to make key plays in key situations and they’ve done a great job of that,” Belichick said, lauding the Giants. “It’s the third time we’ve played them now this season [including an 18-17 loss in a Sept. 1 preseason game at Gillette Stadium].
“We have a familiarity with them from that [preseason] game, the regular-season game and now we’re working on them again. So I think this is a team we have some background with, relative to most of the other NFC teams that we’ve played through the years.
“We know how good they are,” Belichick said. “They’re well-coached; great ownership from John Mara and his family; they’ve done a great job of acquiring personnel and players; Tom [Coughlin] and his staff have done a great job of pulling those schemes together, putting their players in productive positions where they can excel, and they’ve done that on both sides of the ball.
“They’ve performed well under pressure in critical games and played some of their best football when they’ve had to and it’s counted the most,” Belichick said. “That’s what you’ve got to do this time of year.
“If you don’t, you’re on the outside looking in,” the Patriots coach said. “But they’ve done that and it’s a great credit to their coaching staff, organization and their team.”
For more Q&A with Belichick, click the Full Entry button.
Other topics Belichick discussed:
On giving the team time off to recuperate: “The health of the team is always important. It’s what a team is; all the healthy players you can put on the field, so that’s always something we try to be mindful of and we do everything we can to get us at the highest level and so we can start on our opponent and understand what they do and what we need to do against them. It’s all those things.”
Belichick on his relationship with Giants coach Tom Coughlin, both of whom worked as assistants under then Giants head coach Bill Parcells: “I have a lot of respect for Tom. I definitely think he’s stood the test of time with a couple of organizations with Jacksonville and the Giants and, of course, at BC. But at the NFL he’s stood the test of time. He’s tough, his teams are disciplined, they play with great competitiveness, they’re smart and they’re a good situational football team. They have a lot of experience. He’s an intense coach and it’s reflected in the way his teams play.”
On the presence of Josh McDaniels on the coaching staff to help the team prepare as Bill O’Brien juggles his Patriot and Penn State obligations: “It’s good to have Josh here. He was here for a long time and he obviously made a lot of contributions to our team and our success and he and I had a great working relationship and it’s great having him back.
“But, that being said, Billy has continued to do in the last few weeks, since he’s been named the head coach at Penn State, he’s done everything that he’s done this year and last year on a weekly basis. He’s had the same responsibilities and he’s worked very hard to manage the two situations, but, by far and away, the majority of his time and energy and effort has been put into the New England Patriots. He’s done his full-time job here well and very diligently — just like he always has. There hasn’t been any difference.
“It’s good to have Josh here. Josh has a lot of experience, he knows our players, he knows our system. Billy and Josh work together, Josh and I work together, Dante [Scarnecchia], Ivan [Fears], so there’s a lot of background and history there that has pretty quickly come together and come up to speed. Everybody has their roles that they’ve had and Josh has added a little bit more to that by his presence, but it hasn’t taken anything away from what anybody else has been doing. It’s just added to it.”
On Vince Wilfork’s impact on the Patriots’ defense: “Vince, he’s really the elder statesman on the defense … He’s got a great work ethic, He’s done whatever we’ve asked him to do, as far as playing different positions. He knows, obviously, [how to play] on the guards, outside on the tackles, gap schemes, two-gap techniques, stunts. Whatever it is, he’s a very smart football player, very instinctive, works very hard and is very unselfish. He does a great job with the younger players in terms of helping them improve and things to work on and make them more aware of his experience and impart that on them…He’s given us a lot on a lot of levels — on the field and off the field as a defensive captain in individual meetings and group settings.
“I think the most important thing is just the way he goes about it. He doesn’t talk as much as he demonstrates how to work, how to practice, how to do your job, how to be alert, how to communicate different line calls. That’s really the best way for a player to lead; by doing your job very well so that others can see how to emulate that.”
On if he looked back on his 12 years with the Giants with any affection: “Yeah, absolutely. I was there for 12 years and those were 12 great years of my life. I loved every one of them with the Giants; the people that I worked with; where I lived, our community; two of our kids were born there; so there’s a lot of fond memories there, absolutely.”