Bill Belichick took some familiar plays out of his extensive post-game interview playbook Sunday after the Patriots outlasted the Texans, 27-20, to open the season.
The Patriots head coach summed up the afternoon by saying that the Patriots did some things well and have other areas to improve on going forward.
He also offered some insight into the contributions of particular players and how they affected the game.
He’s not surprised by Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s production.
Belichick has seen this show before. Brady finished 26 for 39 with 277 yards and three touchdowns, while Gronkowski racked up seven catches for 123 yards and a score.
Though Brady threw an interception and Gronkowski fumbled, they ultimately helped guide the Patriots to victory. He said the duo doesn’t need a lot of room to complete passes.
“We see it quite a bit every day,” Belichick told reporters. “Two great players.”
He believes the Patriots made progress against Deshaun Watson.
After torching the Patriots for over 300 yards passing and two touchdowns in a 36-33 loss a season ago, the Texans quarterback – who played his first game since suffering a season-ending knee injury last year – finished 17 for 34 with 176 yards, one touchdown, and one pick Sunday.
Watson wasn’t pleased with how he played, calling his own performance “terrible.” Part of the credit should be given to the Patriots, though, who finished with 12 quarterback hits and three sacks.
“We certainly played him better than we did last year,” Belichick said. “That wouldn’t take much. No one guy can stop Watson. It’s got to be team defense.”
Ryan Allen’s punt and Jonathan Jones’s hustle caught his eye.
Nursing a 27-20 lead with 51 seconds left in the game, the Patriots had to punt from their own 45.
It wasn’t an ideal situation for a team that once led 24-6, but New England got a huge boost from the punter Allen. His booming kick bounced near the 2-yard line and popped up to the 1, where Jonathan Jones snagged it in mid-air.
“It made a big difference in this game,” Belichick said. “They were out of timeouts.”
He said the ball was far enough away from the end zone that Watson couldn’t get it there. Jones, who is working his way back from an ankle injury that hampered him at the end of last year, made one of the game’s most pivotal plays.
Jones added four tackles, including two solo tackles, on defense, and Belichick appreciated what he brought to the game Sunday.
“He does a great job in the kicking game as well, as he always has,” Belichick said. “That’s where he made his mark and got started, and that’s led to a lot more opportunities for defensive playing time, and he’s taken advantage of those.