How Did The New England Patriots React To Advancing To The AFC Championship?

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Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on from the sidelines during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after the New England Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens to advance to the AFC Championship game, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and a few other players spoke with the media about the game.

Here is the official transcript:

Bill Belichick

BB: Well that was a great football game today. First of all, I thought that the Ravens played really well; it’s a good football team. Coach [John] Harbaugh does a good job and his staff. They’re tough to play against in all three phases of the game and obviously took it right down to the final play. [It’s] good to win, good to be moving to the AFC Championship Game. I thought our guys really hung in there down by 14 to start the game, down by 14 in the third quarter. You know, we just battled back. They hung in there. We made a couple big plays. Obviously the turnovers were big. But we just got a lot of plays from a lot of different people and played good situational football there at the end. We were able to bleed out the clock and make the play on the Hail Mary there at the end. Hats off to our team. They worked hard this week. It certainly wasn’t our best game. we’re going to need to play better next week whoever we play, but it was good to win, really good to win.

Q: How big was Danny Amendola’s performance today? It seems like his confidence is there.

BB: Yeah, he played great today. He’s a guy that’s been a real good player for us all year; really competitive. Nobody works harder in practice. He’s made some huge plays for us. The touchdowns today, [he] made a great play there on third down to fight for the yardage and get the first down. He’s given us plays in the return game. Yeah, can’t say enough about Danny. [He] works hard, really works hard, tough. He’s had some big plays for us this year. He had some big ones today.

Q: The double pass, how did they come to be?

BB: The double pass? We passed it to [Julian] Edelman and Edelman passed it to Amendola. It’s really the same play we ran against Indianapolis back in ’01 with [David] Patten to Troy Brown, if I remember correctly; same kind of play. We were lucky they were in a sub-blitz, so they blitzed off the slot. That certainly helped the play out, gave us a little more time. [Rashaan] Melvin came up, the corner came up, Rob [Gronkowski] was able to block it and give Julian a little bit more time to throw the ball. Danny made the catch and outran the safety. It was well executed and I think we caught the right defense.

Q: The four offensive linemen, is that something you’ve seen in the past or that’s come up previously?

BB: It’s a play that we thought would work. We ran it three times, a couple different looks. We had six eligible receivers on the field, but only five were eligible. The one who was ineligible reported that he was ineligible. No different than on the punt team or a situation like that.

Q: Can you talk about Duron Harmon’s interception at the end?

BB: Duron is really good in the deep part of the field, as is Devin [McCourty]. We try to use them both in there in some sub situations. Duron played the ball well, went up and high-pointed it. We worked really hard this week on defending the long balls. Obviously that’s a great strength of the Ravens and [Joe] Flacco. It was really, again, something we worked hard on during the week. Devin made a good interception on it and Duron went up and high-pointed the ball and made the play. Obviously we probably wouldn’t have won without those two plays so they were big for us.

Q: You lost Bryan Stork and Tom Brady was under a lot of pressure early in the game, but the line held up and was able to make all us his throws. Can you talk about Josh Kline and how significant the line was after Stork went out?

BB: Of course Ryan [Wendell] has played a lot of center for us in the past. He’s always prepared, stepped in there and did a great job. Josh played against them last year when Logan [Mankins] went out to tackle and Josh went in and played left guard in the game last year in Baltimore. We have confidence in all our players we put in there. Obviously the Ravens have a good pass rush. I thought our guys stood up to them. They got us some, but we scored 35 points so you can’t be unhappy with that. But at the same time, they’re a tough defense and they’ve got a good pass rush.

Q: How big was Jamie Collins for you defensively?

BB: I think defensively we got some big plays today overall. I don’t think this was one of all our all-time best games. We gave up a lot of yardage, a lot of points, three fourth-down conversions. We have to coach better, we have to play better. We made some big plays and we made enough to win. What’d they get 10 points in the second half? Their first touchdown and then the field goal. After that first touchdown drive, if I got that right, in the third quarter when they went up by two touchdowns 28-14, is that right? Yeah, we held them to a field goal after that, so that last 20-whatever minutes of the game, but still, we have to play better, we have to coach better.

Q: That’s probably one of the great playoff games that you’ll ever see. You sound a little disappointed.

BB: No, I’m not disappointed. Are you kidding me?

Q: Happy with the win, but disappointed with the way it came out?

BB: We have to play better. Look, down by 14 points twice, I don’t think that’s a formula to win a lot of playoff games. I’m sure there’s a lot more playoff games that have been lost by teams down by 14 points in the middle of the first quarter or middle of the third quarter than won them. But again, [I’ve] got to give our players a lot of credit. They’re resilient; they’re mentally and physically tough. They hang in there. We’ve had other games like this. We had a game like this last year against Denver, behind at halftime, or behind against Miami or whatever it is and [we] keep playing and keep fighting and find a way. I’m happy about that and that’s what I like about this team. They’re a tough group and they never give up, no matter what the situation is. We were able to make enough plays to win today. But we’re going to have to play better next week no matter who we play. We have to do that.

Q: Can you talk about your Rutgers kids? You drafted Devin McCourty in the first round and he’s taken Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan under his wing.

BB: They’ve played well for us, they really have. Of course they were in a great program there with Coach [Greg] Schiano and they were well coached at Rutgers. They’ve worked really hard here. Nobody’s worked hard than Duron and Logan have in the last two years they’ve been here. Literally when the season was over last year, these guys were in a couple days after the season starting on this year back in, it was still January. Devin’s obviously one of our hardest workers and has great leadership and character. I’m proud of all those guys and I’m sure Coach Schiano and the Rutgers program is too. They stepped up today [and] made some big plays for us.

Q: It was your 20th playoff win. Is this one of the craziest one you’ve had?

BB: Yeah, probably. Well, I don’t know. We’ve had some – but yeah, it was, look, that means I’ve been doing this a long, long time. But there’s nothing like a playoff game. There’s nothing like a playoff win. The regular season is great, but when you play these games it’s single-elimination and the urgency and what’s at stake for you and your team and what you’ve worked five-plus months for to get to this point all comes down to one game or in some cases, one play or one series or whatever it is. That just heightens everything. After this weekend we’ll be one of four teams still playing. It will be an honor to be in the AFC Championship Game this year, but yeah, it was a wild game. But I’m just thankful that our players hung in there and made the plays they needed to make to get us a victory. Hopefully we can build on that and coach better next week and play better next week.

Q: What are your thoughts on Tom Brady becoming the all-time leader in touchdown passes in the postseason history?

BB: He deserves it. Tom’s a great, clutch player with tremendous poise, vision, accuracy. So, he’s done it with a lot of different receivers, a lot of different situations against a lot of different defenses. I think that speaks to his greatness and his ability to perform consistently under pressure. No quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady.

Q: This is the ninth AFC Championship Game you and your quarterback are going into. What does that mean?

BB: Well, again, that’s what you play for. You play to win your division, you play to be in the postseason and then you play to be in the AFC Championship Game and see what happens after that. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what you work all year for, is to get to this point. Thankfully we’ll be playing next week. We’ve had Tom through all those that I’ve been here. Again, it’s great to have him and his ability and his poise and presence as our quarterback and obviously he’s done a tremendous job today and through all those years.