With Patriots players being given the day off on Tuesday, you’re left with a media teleconference with head coach Bill Belichick to satisfy your playoff interest.
It’s a juicy matchup with the Ravens on Sunday, a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. Same teams, same stadium. The only thing different, at least before kickoff, is the time the game starts: the ball will be booted at 6:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium, the second game on Sunday’s championship schedule. The 49ers and Falcons play at 3 p.m.
Belichick was asked quite a bit about the Ravens, a team that beat the Patriots, 31-30, this season in Week 3, on a last-second field goal by rookie kicker Justin Tucker. Among other topics, Belichick spoke about linebacker Ray Lewis, and whether the Ravens have changed defensively with him back on the field after an injury earlier in the season.
“Schematically they’re pretty similar. Ray’s an instinctive player, very good in the running game, play action, screen passes, things like that. He can certainly control the defense, he adds a lot, I’m sure they’re glad to have him back for a variety of reasons,” Belichick said.
Belichick wasn’t sure if he agreed with Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who called the Ravens a “complete team” after Sunday’s playoff win.
“I’m not really sure, you’d have to ask Vince what he meant by that. They’re a good football team, well coached, good players, strong in all three phases of the game,” Belichick said. “They’ve won games on the road, in different fashions, high scoring, low scoring. They’ve done a good job all the way around. They have a good program, really solid organization, one of the top organizations in the National Football League from top to bottom, all the way down to their practice squad players.”
Baltimore has shown the ability to score points in late-game situations, similar to what Houston was able to do in Sunday’s Patriots win. Belichick was asked if that will be a point of emphasis this week.
“Yeah, absolutely. It’s a point of emphasis every week. We always think at the end of the half it can get a lot different situationally, teams change their attack, what they’re doing, how they’re doing it. I’m sure it will be important in this game. We did some things that were good, others weren’t as good as they needed to be, and Houston was good enough to take advantage. Hopefully it will be better this week.”