PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
November 24, 2019
BB: It’s really good to be able to stand up here after a win today. You know, that’s a real good football team we played. The Cowboys are – they’re tough. They’re tough in every way, and they’ve got a lot of good players. They’re well-coached, a smart-situation team. They just – they’re tough. But, I’m really proud of our guys. We had a lot of guys step up today, played well and made enough plays in all three phases of the game. Got plays in the kicking game, offensively, defensively. Really played a complementary game, the way we need to play it against a good football team like this. I was really proud of the way the guys stood up and came through. We were missing a few key players, and we had a couple of guys that were playing, I’m sure, well less than 100%, but really sucked it up, and played hard for the team and gave us a great effort tonight. So, it was certainly a game that was a lot about field position, and we had pretty good field position. Probably the better part of the field position in the game. So, that was important in all areas. So, that was a big key to the game for us, and of course, taking care of the ball was critical. Not turning it over and handling things well. The conditions were challenging out there, but Tom [Brady], the receivers, the backs did a great job, specialists. I mean, they all did a good job and in less-than-ideal conditions. So, I think anytime you get through a game like that and take care of the football, that’s objective number one. So, that was good. Good to win.
Q: How much of an impact does wind, the temperature and precipitation play on the offense, particularly in the passing game with attempts to get the ball downfield?
BB: Yeah, I think anywhere on the field was hard. The ball’s wet, your hand’s wet, the field was a little slick and the wind was a factor. I don’t know that anyone of them were just unplayable, but when you add them all up together, it just made it very challenging. The wind kind of came and went. It’d gust a little bit and then it would calm down. The same thing with the rain – at times it was a little steadier and then it seemed like it let up a little bit, but it was just continuous throughout the day. But yeah, I can’t say enough positive things about the way our skill players handled that, and defensively it’s a big challenge tackling, especially against a great back like [Ezekiel] Elliott, or [Dak] Prescott, or guys like that. They’re all wet, you’re all wet, it’s hard to grab ahold of anything and be a good tackling team. I thought we tackled pretty well today. We made some plays where they came up short of the first down because we tackled well. So that was, again, it was challenging, but our guys did a good job.
Q: Can you talk about how the rookie receivers, Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry, stepped up with others out?
BB: Yeah, they stepped up. They had a couple of big plays. Again, not perfect, we’ve still got a long way to go. I think they’re learning every time they step on the field, whether it’s practice field, game field, or even walkthrough, but certainly, they made plays today that we needed to win. There weren’t a lot of points scored, and they were involved in either the field position or the actual scoring of it, that N’Keal had. So yeah, they did a nice job.
Q: How big was that blocked punt?
BB: Yeah, probably the difference in the game, really, when you come right down to it. I thought that Joe Judge and Cam [Achord], we had a real aggressive approach in the kicking game today, and we were trying to challenge the ball-handling and I thought we did a good job of that. Forced some tough catches with their specialists, and the blocked punt obviously was a huge field-position play. It enabled us to play from ahead, and that was a good thing.
Q: Did the improved pass protection today allow you to feel comfortable emptying the backfield for Tom late in the fourth quarter?
BB: Yeah, well again, we mixed some runs in there. We had some, I would say, some success running the ball, some moderate success. But, I mean, you can’t just line up and pound it away against these guys. They’re too good. So, we mixed the running game and the passing game. They both came through for us in the fourth quarter at various points where we really needed it, and we have obviously a lot of confidence in Tom, and then the receivers we put out there. He made good decisions and we were able to convert some short passes into first downs, and eventually be able to gain enough yardage to kick the field goal to make it a seven-point game. But yeah, we certainly have a lot of confidence in Tom and his ability to handle any conditions.
Q: How did you feel about the way Sony Michel played today?
BB: Sony’s played well all year. I think he’s played well all year.
Q: Is there a timing element with him and the offensive line that was a little bit better today?
BB: I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, look, we had some good plays, they had some plays. They’re a tough defense, they’re hard to run against. We chipped away and hammered out a few runs, but they got us a few times, too. So, a couple of big runs at the end. That was obviously key in the final outcome of the game, but they’re tough to run against and certainly they made some plays. But, in the end I think we were able to at least keep them off balance, and I’m sure that helped us a little bit with the rush, where they couldn’t just tee-off all the time because at least we had some plays they had to defend in the running game.
Q: Can you touch on Stephon Gilmore’s play covering Amari Cooper?
BB: Yeah, this was another great effort by Steph. You know, he just works and prepares so hard for his matchups every week, and takes those as such a personal challenge. Obviously, this is a very good group of receivers, and a great quarterback and a great offensive line. But yeah, Steph’s as professional as they come. He knows the opponents inside-out, and his matchups, and the overall scheme and how to best play based on what our call is and what the situation is and so forth. He does a great job of that, so certainly a good day for him. Our entire secondary, I thought they competed hard against a really good group of receivers, with obviously a great quarterback. I mean, they lead the league in passing, and that’s no accident after 10 games. With a good offensive line, we tried to hit them with some blitzes. They did a pretty good job picking those up, so I’ve got to give them a lot of credit on that. I’ll just say one final thing then in closing that one of the real top efforts today would have to go to Marcus Cannon. Marcus was, three days, just feeling under-the-weather. I honestly didn’t expect him to play today. We talked before the game and he felt like he’d be able to work through it, so we tried to help him out a little bit there at the half. But, I would say overall, it was one of the top efforts I’ve seen. For a guy who just barely had enough strength to put on his uniform, went out there and played against multiple good football players. But certainly with [DeMarcus] Lawrence and [Michael] Bennett playing over there, I thought he played very, very competitively. Played tough, and is the kind of leadership and toughness that we have on this team, so that was a great job by Marcus.