How Did The New England Patriots React To Clinching The AFC East?

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Dec 14, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick (R) after clinching the AFC East title with a 41-13 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after the New England Patriots beat the Dolphins to clinch the division yesterday, a few Patriots met with the media to discuss the win.

Here is the official transcript:

Bill Belichick

BB: It’s always good to be able to walk up here after we’ve won an AFC championship – the AFC East championship – so, good feeling today. I think our guys really finished the game strong – 27-0 in the second half. [We] didn’t play very well in the first half obviously, but they did a good job in the second half. We were able to get some points on the board, get a little momentum, get some turnovers. Danny [Amendola] had a good play on a punt return; set us up in good field position. [We] were able to hit some bigger plays. It was a good second half; played 30 minutes of good football offensively and had our moments on defense and special teams in the first half. It’s good; good to be in this position and hopefully we can play our best football going forward. That will be our goal.

Q: Was it a tough call what to do at the end of the first half with 40 seconds left?

BB: No. It wasn’t a hard call.

Q: You got Chandler Jones back today. What did you think of his performance?

BB: It was good to have him back. He’s practiced a little bit, kind of sparingly the last couple weeks. Then this week he was able to take a lot of reps and certainly looked like he was ready to go from a practice standpoint, a conditioning standpoint. I’d say this week he kind of looked like Sealver [Siliga] looked last week, relative to being ready. Different play styles, I’m not saying that… It was good to get him back out there.

Q: Can you speak to the defense today situationally? Third-down and red zone in the first half kept you in the game.

BB: Some good, some not so good. We were up and down, we were up and down. [We] made some plays in the second half, able to keep them out of the end zone, but we gave up a lot of yardage in the first half, played a lot of plays. [We] didn’t really do much to help our offense, other than the interception. We just didn’t play well in the first half offensively. Obviously we weren’t coached very well either. It just wasn’t very good.

Q: What are your thoughts on Tom Brady’s 17-yard run? It seemed like that lit a fire under the offense.

BB: I thought it was a good run. It was a third-and-long, third-and-nine, third-and-10, whatever it was. [He] did a good job of seeing that in the pass rush. It’s something we’ve talked about this week. He made a big play on that last year against them, like on a fourth-and-five or fourth-and-four, something like that. We had a scramble play in that situation. Alert play on his part and it was a key first down for us. We were able to punch it in after that. That point in the game, it was a big third-down conversion, one that you usually don’t expect to get that way, but a heads up play on his part. He ran well.

Q: They scored before halftime so it was a potentially momentum-changing play. Was there anything you might have said or adjusted going into the second half?

BB: There were a lot of things we had to adjust in the second half. We didn’t really do much of anything the way we wanted to do it in the first half, other than we made a couple big plays. But other than that, I just didn’t think we played the way we needed to play. We did a much better job in the second half of blocking, tackling, throwing, catching, defending, covering [and] returning. Just about everything [in] the second half was executed better than it was in the first half.

Q: Can you talk about Jamie Collins?

BB: Jamie continues to make big plays for us on the defensive side of the ball and in the kicking game. He’s got real good length for a linebacker: tall with long arms, great jumping ability. His ability to knock down passes and reach into passing lanes, or block a kick in this case – very obviously athletic, we all know that. He just keeps playing faster and faster each week it seems like. He gets a key and he’s able to make plays, whether it be in the kicking game or running through, making tackles for loss in the running game or tackles in the open field on receivers and backs. He’s playing well and [he’s] strung together quite a few weeks of good football for us.

Q: With Chandler Jones back, how do you like how the pass rush has come together the final month of the season?

BB: We’ll see. It was certainly good opportunity for us to rush in the game where we were ahead in the second half. That wasn’t the case in the first half and we didn’t generate that same kind of pressure, so I think the score had a lot to do with it. And we rushed well when we had the opportunity. It was kind of the reverse of the game down there when they got ahead and put pressure on us. Today we got ahead and they had a hard time blocking our pass rush. I think the score and situation has a lot to do with that. But of course it’s good to have him back out there. It was good to get Siliga back last week; it was good to get Chandler back this week. Hopefully that will just make us stronger going forward.

Q: Can you talk about the play that Kyle Arrington made on the scoop-and-score?

BB: It was a good – that’s kind of what the outside guys are looking for. They’re looking for a block to put themselves in a position, which he did, to be able to attack the ball. That’s the kind of situation where there really aren’t too many guys on the other side of the ball that can tackle or are very good tacklers. If you can just get it up and get going – a bunch of offensive linemen, a couple specialists. Kyle is a fast guy. Once he got a little bit of space, I don’t think there are too many guys who can run him down. But it was a good – he did his job. He was in position and took advantage of the opportunity and turned it into points. It was a heads up play.

Q: You’ve had two great kickers your whole tenure here. We all know about Adam Vinatieri and todayStephen Gostkowski broke the all-time scoring record for the Patriots –

BB: You’re keeping [Shayne] Graham out of there?

Q: Can you talk a little bit about Stephen? He may be underrated, but one of the most consistent players you have.

BB: Yeah, Steve has done a great job for us. We all know that this area of the country and this division is certainly not the easiest to kick in. He does a very good job of handling the conditions, [he’s] got a good leg. He has good range on kickoffs and long field goals; gets good height on the ball. [He’s] a good team player, he’s always there to support his teammates. Everyone in the locker room likes him; he has a good rapport with everybody. You’re right, I’ve been really lucky: Adam, Steve and Shayne came in here and didn’t miss a kick the half a year that he kicked, or whatever it was. Steve, those guys, since I’ve been here they’ve all done a great job. But Steve, those are big shoes to follow there with Adam, but he’s never blinked. He’s always kicked with a lot of confidence, a lot of poise, a lot of focus. He’s kicked with a lot of different holders, different snappers, not the easiest conditions, but he does his job. He’s very focused and he’s been a really dependable player for us. I love having him on the team. He’s a great asset to this football team, both on and off the field, [in] the locker room and productive when we need him, of course.

Q: What does it mean to be in the same sentence with Curly Lambeau with 229 career victories, combined regular season and postseason, which is tied for fourth all-time?

BB: Thanks. I mean, it’s flattering, very flattering. Curly was one of the great founders really of the National Football League. [He] spent the year at Notre Dame, brought the Notre Dame offense into the NFL, ran the box, had championships in Green Bay. [He] really kind of started the passing game with [Don] Hutson and Cecil [Isbell]. He was certainly one of the, not only one of the founding fathers of the league, but really one of the innovators in the league in his time. [It’s] very flattering to be put in his category, in any sentence really.

Q: People so often talk about what happens at the end of the half. They get it to 14-13 and are probably feeling good about themselves going into halftime, but then you get the ball and have the most efficient drive that you had in the game. From a fan and media perspective, we wonder what goes into that, how the switch gets flipped. What happens?

BB: I mean, what happened was we didn’t play very well in the first half and then we didn’t play very well in the last 40 seconds or minute, however much it was. We just took some not very good football and made it worse. Then we were able to do things a lot better in the second half. But I think that whole sequence was just symptomatic of the whole rest of the half. What was the difference?