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Quotable: New England Patriots


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. --Quotes from Patriot players and coaches after the seasons Week 3 game.

Head Coach Bill Belichick

Opening StatementWell, I'm really proud of our football team today. I thought they did a good job against a good Atlanta team. We've watched those Falcons all week and they're tough; they do a lot of things well. I'm very proud of the way our guys played today. We stepped up and made some plays that we needed to make. Obviously, the running game was a plus for us and that helped the passing game, [we] took care of the ball, [we] played better defense, played better on third down. It was a hard-fought game and they're a good football team. I have a lot of respect for them and what they've done. They're a tough team to play, but I'm happy the way our guys stepped up. We had some critical plays. I thought we left some points out there in the red area. We've got to do a better job down there. We've got to coach it better. We've just got to do a better job, but it's good to win. We've got a quick turnaround here. We have another tough one with the Ravens. It looks like they're playing very well, as they usually are. [We will] just try to keep going, but enjoy this one for a little bit and then turn the page and get onto the Ravens.

Q: Can you talk about the thinking behind going for those short-yardage fourth-down tries?A: Well, the short yardage in our own end … I felt like we could get a yard. There would have been plenty of criticism if we didn't, but then we were able to get that and basically hold onto the ball. If I'm not mistaken, we were able to hang onto the ball for pretty much the rest of the third quarter. And the other fourth down, we were right on the edge of field goal range. It would've been a long field goal, so I felt like we had a pretty reasonable chance to pick that up.

Q: Can you talk about the job the defense did on Tony Gonzalez? He was a big topic of conversation this week.A: Well, he's good. We devoted a lot of coverage to him. We doubled him a lot and he's a guy — game plan-wise — that you've got to account for. You've got to put some coverage on him; he's really hard to handle. Again, I thought our guys stepped up and did a good job on him. We doubled him plenty of times and he still caught the ball. He's tough, but then we held up in some other spots as well. Terrence [Wheatley], Shawn [Springs] and Leigh [Bodden] really did a good job out there. We didn't give them very much help and they stepped up to the challenge on a good group of receivers and did a competitive job.

Q: Can you talk about Fred Taylor?A: Fred's run hard for us all year – in preseason, in all the camps, training camp, and all that. He runs hard and he runs smart. He knows where the holes are, he sets up blockers well and he can carry the load. He did a good job today and I thought our offensive line really did a much better job of coming off the ball than we have the last couple weeks, and gave the backs some room to run, and the backs ran hard. It was much better overall execution in the running game by the entire team, including the receivers doing some blocking than what we had. So that was good on everybody. Fred did a great job.

Q: Did you shift more weight on Fred Taylor when Laurence Maroney went down?A: Well, I think those two were … They were prepared to do what they did and however it gets divided, it gets divided. But both of them were ready to play, both of them were ready to go. If something happens to one guy, then the other guy steps up.

Q: Can you talk about the job Brandon McGowan did today? It looked like he was part of your coverage on Tony Gonzalez.A: Oh, he was. Brandon [McGowan], it seems like he does a good job for us every week in the kicking game and on defense. He's involved in a lot of plays, makes tackles and is a good coverage player and he did. He had a lot of responsibility on Gonzalez today. But we put a lot of coverage on Tony, too, and I'm not taking anything away from the job Brandon did, but we gave him some help. I mean Gonzalez is almost impossible to matchup with.

Q: It looked like you got a little worked up on the challenge with the touchdown. What was your view of that?A: I didn't know what was going on. Nobody said anything to me, so I was just looking for an explanation. Usually, what they do on a challenge is they come over and tell you, 'OK, well if the challenge is upheld, it's going to be this. If the challenge isn't upheld, it's going to be that.' And you're not sure how much time is going to be on the clock — whatever the deal is — because then when the referee announces it, when [Alberto Riveron] announced it, the crowd screams or boos one way or the other, whatever the result is and you really can't hear the whole thing. So I just wanted to make sure that I had the situation. That's one of the things that they usually do, is come over and tell us and they didn't on that play, so I was looking for an explanation.

Q: How's Vince Wilfork and what do you think about the job the guys did in stepping up in his place?A: We'll see how these guys are after the game. I'm sure everybody's got some bumps and bruises after this one, it was a physical game. Atlanta's got a real physical offensive and defensive line and [Michael] Turner runs hard. I'm sure everybody has got some bumps and bruises. I thought we hung in there and competed well with them. They had some good runs. We had some decent plays. It was kind of a slug fest in there with a team that can run the ball and we tried to stand in there and go toe to toe with them. It was a pretty good matchup.

Q: Tom Brady had three completions for 10 yards inside the red zone. It seemed like he had pretty good protection today, was there anything you saw that might have caused some of the breakdowns?A:I think we've just got to do a better job all the way around. Like I said, we've got to coach it better in the red area. We've got to do a better job of executing the plays – throwing them, running the routes, designing them, everything. We just didn't do a good enough job collectively, and we've got to do better, and I know we can do better, and I think we will do better. And give Atlanta credit, they're a good red area defense, but we've got to do a better job than what we did today.

Q: Are you putting Vince Wilfork in a bumps and bruises category?A: I haven't seen him. I came right in here so I could talk with you guys. I haven't really had a chance to see him.

Q: Was Jonathan Wilhite a healthy scratch?A: He was inactive today. Did we announce that? Yeah, he had an injury this morning.

Q: Can you discuss Randy Moss's role today?A: He got a lot of single coverage and he did a good job. He ran a lot of different routes. We threw deep, we threw inside, we threw outside, we threw some quick passes to him. I think he did a good job attacking the coverage, the corners and even some of the split safety coverage, working on the safeties. We hit some, we didn't hit some. He's a tough guy to cover. We try to design and create situations where he has an opportunity and a little bit of space to work. He sure made a lot of plays today.

Q: Were there changes defensively in the second half?A: No, not really. It was basically the same game plan we went into the game with. The calls matchup differently like they always do. Certainly, a big part of this game was to deal with Gonzalez, which I am not coming in here talking about him being seven [catches] for 110 [yards] with two touchdowns.

Q: Tom Brady looked frustrated. Do you think he is still working through some things, maybe rust?A: No, I think collectively we all need to do a better job. I think it's frustrating for any team to be down in the red area and come out without a touchdown, and come out kicking field goals. That's frustrating for any good offensive football team and coaching staff. You want to go down there, and put the ball in the end zone, and we didn't do it several times, and none of us are happy about that: the linemen, the receivers, the coaches. Nobody's happy about that. We want to go down there and get seven points. We've got to do a better job. We've all got to do a better job.

Quarterback Tom Brady

Q: You were heated today.A: Yeah, all day.

Q: You were walking off the field heated – frustrated.A: Well, I don't know about that. I think I was just really into it and trying to keep everyone focused. It's a great win for us and we'll take it and still understand that there're a lot of things we need to do better. Anytime you beat a good football team like that – and we made some real critical plays: a few fourth downs, some short yardage ones, fourth and one on our own 25 yard line – whatever that was – and made that. That was big for us.

Q: What do you feel like you personally need to execute better?A: Some things were better today and some things we've still got work to do on. Football is a team game and it's about everybody being on the same page. We're working on it and some things were better, but it's obvious we still have work to do.

Q: How big was Randy Moss for you today?A: He played great. He played great. He made some big catches for us. He ran a lot of routes, so I'm sure he's going to be tired tonight. He's a great player and we've got to get him involved in the game, more so even than last week. I think we made a concerted effort to get him the ball and he always comes up big for us.

Q: When Bill Belichick tells you you're going to go for it on fourth down on your side of the field, what are you thinking and what does that do for you as an offense?A: Yeah, I think it was a big play for us in the game. We had a six-point lead and if we just stopped, they were already in scoring territory, so he always had a lot of confidence that we could get it. We were running the ball very well all day today, and we did get it. We had a few third and ones this season – fourth and one against Buffalo that we missed, a third and one against the Jets we missed, and he's been really on us pretty good about getting those short yardage situations, which I'm happy we got.

Q: Your running game seemed to improve this week. Can you talk about Fred Taylor's performance?A: He ran great. He ran great. He's really shifty, so even when there's not a lot of room in there, he makes yards whenever we give him the ball. He's a really good player for us and we've got to get him the ball. The run game was great; really set up the play action that we had. It was really good execution on the offensive line and the running backs' parts.

Q: It seemed like you were overthrowing a few passes towards the lighthouse. Was it maybe that the wind was swirling down there?A: No, it was a beautiful day out there. It was beautiful. (laughter) We just missed them. When you throw it 50 yards, you wish you could throw it perfectly every time, but you just try to give those guys a chance, and I missed a couple of them. Hopefully I hit them next week.

Q: On the Chris Baker touchdown, a guy had you in his grasp, but you were able to get away from the defense and deliver the ball well.A: Yeah it was great protection. It wasn't how we drew that play up. It was pretty much on the sideline, Coach Belichick said, 'Well, what do you think about this?' The guys that ran the play didn't run it all week in practice and they made an adjustment. Chris [Baker] has been really dependable for us since the day he got here, and he made a great catch and run. He's a threat out there for us, so getting him more involved like we did today and Fred [Taylor] and Sammy [Morris] – those were some nice positives for us.

Q: You were three of 10 for 10 yards in the red zone, which must have been frustrating. What was the problem?A: It's just execution. It's everybody being on the same page and making the reads and throws and something we'll evaluate and look at. We can't keep kicking field goals, I know that. We've got to be better than that. Just figure out what the problems are and try to figure them out.

Q: Last week you said you weren't hitting on all cylinders as an offense. Do you feel like this week was a step forward?A: There were more positives than there were negatives than last week. Last week was tough for everybody. We played a good football team that has a real good pass rush, some good skill players, a very good offense, and we played much better. When you win the game, everyone feels a lot better, although nothing is perfect. We're going to go out and see what we can do better and hopefully improve against an excellent team next week.

Q: You said Bill Belichick drew up the Chris Baker touchdown play on the sideline. Was he more involved in the offensive communication with you and the play calling this week?A: He's always involved. He's involved in every play that's called. That one, like I said, we just kind of drew it up there on the sidelines and made it work.

Q: What are your feelings on the games like this where you have longer, more sustained drives?A: It was a more balanced day for us. We ran it great and we had some good play actions. It was wet out there. We didn't have any turnovers, which was key. We haven't been turning it over much, which was a positive for us, and we got one from them. It was a good day. It was a good day. There were a lot of positives to take from it and I think we're learning a little bit each time we play and hopefully we keep it going.

Running Back Fred Taylor

Q: Coming into today, did you know that you were going to get as many touches as you did?A: Didn't have to. We did say we would like to try to establish the run. Coach challenged all of us, the offensive line, the backs, and we were fortunate enough to go out there and make it happen.

Q: Can you ever recall going for a fourth down that deep in your own territory?A: I can't recall, I can't recall a moment like that. I do recall coach standing here saying, there will come a point in the season where we're going to have to go for it and we're going to have to get it and I'm glad we got it.

Q: Was that a little bit of a gut-check time because you guys have missed some short yardage situations early in the year?A: Yeah we missed some, we missed a few. I think that the ones we missed, it's just small things. We missed assignments, not only missed assignments, but for each particular play everyone executed their particular assignment and we were able to pick up the one yard. I think that if we continue to stay on the same page, each guy individually, we'll be a lot better offensively.

Q: How much confidence does it give you as an offense when you go for it twice in the same drive like that?A: Just trying to do whatever it takes to win the game and as an offensive guy you want to establish that momentum and look over across the ball and see the frustration in the defensive guys, in their face, their eyes. It just fires you up to keep going.

Q: After two weeks of pass-heavy, is it nice to be able to balance this week?A: I think we always get asked that question. The main objective is to score points, whether it's run or pass. You want to be balanced going into each game, but sometimes certain situations don't allow for it. I think Tom [Brady] might feel a little better that we were able to run the ball a little bit but the bottom line is to put points on the board and try to win the game, whether it's 1,000 passes or 1,000 rushes, we just want to win the game.

Q: You were on the field for almost forty minutes, you're on the field and Matt Ryan isn't.A: Yeah, that's true. You want to maintain, sustain a couple of drives and keep a high-powered offense like that [off the field]. They got a great running back, the quarterback is awesome, their receivers get the job done. Fortunately we were able to keep them off the field and minimize their opportunity. It worked in our favor, definitely.

Q: Can you take us through those four plays, starting at the 41-yard line? You ran four straight and got into the end zone.A: I wish I had offensive linemen in here. They did most of the work. They did most of that, I mean the majority of that. They handled the down linemen. The linebackers, they didn't maintain their discipline in their gap assignment. My job was just to run straight. I didn't do much, I didn't do much. On the touchdown run, you see, I walked into the end zone so the offensive line – they blocked it up like it was supposed to be.

Q: You broke a couple of tackles there. It looked like an old Fred Taylor highlight video.A: It felt good, it always feels good when you can run a few guys over and create some momentum for the offense. I'd be lying if I said it different. I just want to do my job, whatever I can to help our team, that's what I'm here for.

Q: After all those years in Jacksonville, how quickly did it take you to adjust to the way they do things here?A: I've never been one of those guys who was hard to coach. I just try and listen, ask a lot of questions and just fall in line. From that standpoint, it wasn't a whole lot difficult. [It was] just a matter of getting comfortable in the terminology and the way the quarterback makes the call and how detailed they want each and every play to be, and then once you hit that mark, you play a little faster and I think I'm finally getting comfortable in my role.

Q: With four running backs what is your role?A: Just whatever they ask me to do, nothing specific I should say. Just be ready to play, be ready to go at game time.

Q: How does it differ from Jacksonville where you were the main guy?A: Well, if you compare it to the past couple years, I was more so, I was the starter, but I was the compliment to Maurice [Jones-Drew]. It's the same thing here. Just be ready to play. In this day and age everybody wants a two-headed monster, two running backs that have change of pace capabilities. But each guy has to be ready. If you're not out there getting in the groove touching the ball you can turn into a block of ice on the sidelines and then you're not ready when it's your turn. You've got to stay in the game, you've got to ask questions as this guy runs off the field – hey what'd you see, what'd you think – this is what I saw from the sideline. You have to always work together. I think in the long-run, I think it will all help us out.

Q: How do you feel right now? Are you sore?A: I'm waiting for the Aleve and the Tylenol to wear off, and then maybe tomorrow you can ask that question.

Q: You were able to cash in that touchdown early on, but you guys are still struggling a little bit in the red zone through the first three games. Is there one thing that's doing that or is that a combination of things or is it something you guys aren't doing?A: Just got to keep working, you definitely got to give a defensive team, our opponents, credit. They're playing well down there and I think we have to do a little bit more to execute our offense. It's coming. We're going to keep pounding away at it. I don't want to sit here and B.S. you and search for an answer, but I really do believe it's coming.

Q: Fred, you could tell Tom Brady was frustrated, how demanding is he in that huddle, especially at halftime in that locker-room?A: That's why he's great. If he was the type of guy that didn't demand that type of perfection, we'd just get another guy. But he's Tom Brady and he hasn't won all those championships for nothing. As a player, you get in line, you listen, I'm an older guy but I pay attention. He's the leader, he calls the shots, you got to do what he says. That makes the offense go.

Q: Did he speak to the team at halftime?A: Of course, he's always speaking to us. He motivates us, he's a competitor, and he makes sure that we're not going to fall into complacency. He's a great person, great player, thank God I'm on his team.

Q: Fred, a couple of the offensive linemen said when you go for two extra yards and not just go down, that inspires them to block for you even harder. What's your response to that?A: Just doing my job. Just run as hard as I possibly can. Try not to make the wrong cut and give them all the credit in the world so they can keep on being inspired and [so that] they want to do more. That's about it.

Q: After a tough loss last week, how nice is it to rebound here at home and get back on the winning track?A: Last week was last week. It's always good to get a win at any moment. The Falcons was the opponent today, we went out there and did our job, what we had to do, got the W and now it's on to the Ravens, so this is over.

Q: Could you get used to this, getting 19-20 carries a game – 100 yards?A: Of course, why not? We'll see. Whatever it takes to win the game; that's all that matters.


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