Bill Belichick on the lessons from playing the Colts, preparing for the Bills, and the NFL’s COVID-19 procedures

Belichick gave the Patriots credit for fighting back in Indianapolis, but said "it's not good enough and I don't think anybody's satisfied with that."

Bill Belichick Colts
Bill Belichick walks off the field after the Patriots' loss to the Colts. Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Reflecting on the Patriots’ 27-17 loss to the Colts on Saturday, Bill Belichick was asked what went wrong in the team’s preparation during practices prior to the game.

“Just execution, concentration, things that we just didn’t do well enough,” Belichick said during his interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Monday. “I mean it wasn’t one thing or one person, it was just a general level of execution in practice.”

The defeat ended New England’s seven-game winning streak, handing the Chiefs the top spot in the ongoing race to get a first-round bye in the playoffs.

One potential silver lining for the Patriots, even in a loss, was the team’s ability to fight back in the second half. After trailing the Colts 20-0 through three quarters, New England scored 17 unanswered points to briefly close within a single score.


Does Belichick take anything away from the team’s fourth quarter comeback effort?

“Sure, I mean I give our team credit for that, of course,” said Belichick. “But it’s not good enough and I don’t think anybody’s satisfied with that, and that’s what I would hope we would do anyway, regardless of what the score was.”

Here are a few other takeaways from the interview:

How the flow of the game changed the Patriots’ approach

Unlike some of the games the Patriots had been able to win over the last few weeks, New England got off to a bad start against the Colts. Indianapolis amassed a two-score lead by the end of the first quarter.

“Being down 14-0, I think at that point you just realize that defensively, especially in a game like that, a lot of your third down passing game calls would be minimized until the score of the game shifted,” Belichick explained.

“We knew we we’re going to have to face more of those type of plays, more runs, more possession-type passes,” he added. “We knew we were going to have to face those [plays] anyway, it’s just the volume was going to increase versus a situation where the score had been reversed like it was in Cleveland and it became more of a passing game.


As for rookie quarterback Mac Jones and the Patriots’ offense, Belichick cited the consistent string of mistakes—whether turnovers or penalties—that proved costly.

“Offensively we continued to try to stay out of long yardage and make positive plays and not turn the ball over. We just weren’t able to consistently do that, and that hurt us,” said Belichick. “We moved the ball, but it hurt us in the red area.

“That came up multiple times,” Belichick continued. “It’s hard to score in the red area as it is, and then you go backwards with pre-snap penalties and things like that.”

Preparing for the Bills

New England will host Buffalo on Dec. 26 in the rematch of a divisional game the Patriots won on the road earlier in the month. The stakes are enormous, as both teams are still fighting to try and win the AFC East.

For Belichick, trying to prepare for the Bills by learning from the team’s mistakes against the Colts follows familiar lines.

“Well I mean it’s the usual things,” said Belichick. “I don’t think it’s anything we haven’t talked about all year. It’s not turning the ball over, it’s not giving up big plays on defense, it’s ball-handling, field position, and the kicking game, it’s going forward on offense.


“We had a negative play on every drive offensively except for one,” Belichick noted of the Patriots’ performance in Indianapolis. “So I don’t think it’s anything we don’t talk about every week, we just didn’t do a very good job of it. Hopefully we can improve on that and fix those things.”

On Josh Allen, Belichick sees a versatile challenge.

“He can attack you in a lot of different ways,” Belichick said of Allen. “He’s very difficult to defend. Hard guy to tackle even if you have it played right or sort of have him contained on a quarterback scramble or on a quarterback running situation, still getting him on the ground, that’s a problem too. He’s a tough guy to handle.”

The ongoing threat of COVID-19

Following a week in which close to 100 NFL players tested positive for COVID-19 and multiple Week 16 games were rescheduled as a result, Belichick noted that the threat of the pandemic remains a concern for his team.

“I think that the team has done a good job of making good decisions and trying to stay healthy in that challenge that we’re all facing. But it’s really a problem that’s not going away, and so whatever we did last month, or last week, or yesterday can all get washed away pretty quickly,” said Belichick.

“With some of the league protocols and so forth,” Belichick said in reference to the NFL’s recently updated procedures, “that’s really changed dramatically since Thursday to Friday to Saturday, and here we are [on] Monday and we don’t really know whether at this point this is all supposed to end after today. Exactly what it’s going to go to, I don’t think we know, or it may get extended. Testing rules have been changed and so forth.”


In addition, Belichick noted that whatever measures the Patriots take, the fact remains that the NFL season is not being played in a bubble.

“Then of course all of us are around other people outside the building. Families, kids, whatever the family dynamics are,” he explained. “And then those people are all out in the world in their lives, and then it all comes together at some point. So there’s a lot of potential for interaction and transmission. We all have to just be as diligent as we can and it’s challenging. It’s the same for 31 other teams, so we’re trying to do the best that we can, but it’s very much an ongoing situation.”


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