By: With Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall
November 04, 2008

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MB: Bill Belichick said,"We came up a couple of plays short, they just did a little more than we did." That's the bottom line, right? Plus we had that penalty at the end (the unnecessary roughness penalty)?

SG: Yeah, that one really hurt.

MB: Everytime these guys meet, there's always pressure. Even this year in the situation we're currently in it could have gone either way going in....

SG: It could have. I thought both teams played a very good football game, and actually if you look at the stats, the Patriots outplayed the Colts in most catagories. I think the big problem for the offense right now is the coaches are so conservative about letting Matt Cassel throw the ball. He's throwing the ball well but they won't take any chances with him. It's starting to drive me crazy a little bit, and then they have to settle for three field goals. Every week it seems like they're settling for field goals instead of trying to get the ball in the end zone and last night that cost them.

MB: When Cassel gets the play called in and let's say I'm going to throw to whoever and that's "my guy", he's going to run the pattern, A couple of times he didn't see some wide open guys and I understand that happens, but I didn't know if it happens due to inexperience?

SG: I really think he's getting better every week and what I'm seeing from him is when he can't find that second guy, you know, when the first guy's covered and he can't find the second guy theres no hesitation, he's putting the ball away and taking off with it, and he has the ability to do that to pick up some positive yards. He's doing that a lot better and I think it helps keep drives alive.

MB: Was it just a media thing as far as the Colts? Yes they were "desperate", but does that help you play better as a team thinking back to when you were playing Steve? When the Patriots are "desperate" does it maybe help them come out and play a better game?

SG: No. You want to win every week, and when you struggle a little bit like the Colts have, you know what you have to do. I don't think you get any more desperate, I think the fact they got to play at home last night was probably the difference in who won and who lost. I think if they had played this game in New England I think the home field advantage would have given the Patriots the win. They were just two good football teams that just battled each other hard all night and unfortunately the Patriots ran out of time to get it done.

MB: Bill Belichick went for the two point conversion in the third quarter. Does that seem a little early to be going for two instead of kicking the extra point?

SG: Yes, I thought he was a little desperate there. I'm not really sure what his reasoning was. I haven't seen the paper on that but I thought it was a little early in the game to get two points.

MB: Was it just me or did they not throw at all to Randy Moss in the first half?

SG: He didn't catch any balls in the first half, and they weren't even looking at him in the first half. I think the Colts were taking that away from them so they didn't even bother with it. In the second half when they started running the ball pretty good it got him in some single coverage out there for Moss and they were able to throw to him.

MB: Everytime I see Cassel play he throws a pretty ball...

SG: He's got good mechanics, he really does. He throws the ball well and again, I just think sometime they have to cut him loose and letting him fling it down the field because he's got the arm to get it down there and they've got guys that can go down the field. He threw a beautiful ball to Gaffney who dropped it. That would have been the difference in the game.

MB: ...and Gaffney owned that. He said, "it just slipped through my fingers..."

SG: There's no question he couldn't have put that in a better spot.

MB: When that play happened, and actually it happened quite a bit around the NFL yesterday, big plays that could have been big long passes that just got dropped by the receivers. Does the quarterback say to the guy, "Hey it's all right, we'll get 'em next time", or does he say "dude what the hell is wrong with you?"

SG: Usually you just say, "Hey it's all right, we'll get 'em next time" because at that point in the game, you don't know how important it's going to be one way or the other. In this case it may be what cost them the game, looking at it after the fact. But when it's going on you want to make sure that receiver keeps his head in the game and can come back from that and maybe make another big catch later.

MG: Getting back to Matt Cassel, you know he's chomping at the bit. How much can he say to Belichick and the coaches to say, "hey guys just let me go let me cut it loose". Can he say that?

SG: He could probably say it, I don't know how much they're going to listen to him. I would think if one of the veteran guys like Randy Moss or Wes Welker said "this kid's doing a heck of a job for us. Let's have him throw the ball down the field some" it would probably resonate better with the coaching staff than having him do it.

MB: It was a close one, an 18-15 loss to the Colts, Well Steve, what have you got?

SG: This is a hard one to grade. They really outplayed the Colts but they didn't win so I'm going with a straight B.

I gave the offense a B-. They did a great job keeping the ball away from Manning and I thought they ran the ball well and controlled the clock. I gave them a lower grade because they can't seem to get the ball in the end zone and kicked three more field goals again this week. I really believe the coaches need to open Cassel up a bit more.

On defense I gave them a B+. They kept Colts in check pretty well and there really isn't much to complain about except for the loss.

As for special teams, I give them a B. I thought the kickers did a good job, and the returns were average. The coverage was good except for 1 kickoff return.

Overall I give them a B. It probably would have been an A if they had won. Good effort all around but hard to earn an A when you don't win.

MB: Steve have you heard anything throught the grapevine, any word on when Brady might be coming back just to the sidelines just to be on the sidelines.

SG: [Laughs] No, I haven't heard anything about that yet. But the minute I find out I'll let you guys know.

MB: Next week, how big is the game against Buffalo?

SG: I think that's a real big game. The next two against the Bills and the Jets, are both division teams. They can kind of seperate themselves in the division by winning both of those games and they're both at home so that's good.

MB: Who has been the bigest surprise in the league so far for you?

SG: I think Tennessee. They're undefeated, and they're playing with their back up QB. To be playing that well and beating people right and left, that surprises me a lot.

Grogan's Grade For Week 8