By: Ian Logue
Following Sunday’s last second loss to the Giants on at Gillette Stadium, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seemed more upbeat than you would have expected.
Belichick seemed moderately upbeat after Sunday’s win. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Maybe it’s because he watched his defense hold the Giants to 4-of-14 on third down, which was a major improvement from last week’s debacle against Pittsburgh where the Steelers converted 10-of-16.
Or maybe it’s because he watched his defense hold Eli Manning and the Giants offense to just 250 total NET yards passing.
Or maybe it’s because he saw his defense come up with a big play down in the red area, after watching Kyle Arrington pick off a pass in the endzone as the Giants were closing in for a touchdown for what would have been a 17-3 edge for New York had they scored.
Whatever it is, Belichick seemed to treat Sunday’s game as though the Patriots made some steps forward against a very good football team. Unlike last week’s game he watched them play fairly well and come up short, and that seemed to be what had him a little more positive than how he sounded after last week’s loss down in Pittsburgh.
“We had our chances, we just came up a little bit short,” said Belichick. “We just have to keep working here and see if we can play a little better. The Giants are a good football team, they did a good job, we’ve just got to do a little better than we did.”
Overall, he watched his defense pitch a first half shutout, holding New York to 1-of-7 on third down during that span. That’s a big improvement from last week, where the Steelers were 6-of-8 on third down and outgained New England 261-83.
They were also better about getting pressure on Eli Manning, forcing some errant throws and while they didn’t register a sack, they did a good job of bringing people from different directions and making him force some throws he shouldn’t have thrown. That’s exactly what happened on that key pick to Arrington, with Andre Carter blitzing hard from the outside, and it eventually lead to New England’s game tying touchdown to Aaron Hernandez to knot the score at 10-10 early in the fourth quarter.
So despite how much Sunday’s loss stings, Belichick knows there were plenty of reasons to be encouraged by what he saw. This time around against New York, they didn’t lose the Super Bowl. They lost a week eight match-up against what will likely be an NFC playoff team.
Considering the fact he’s already experienced the other side of winning during the regular season and losing during the playoffs, he clearly has the perspective of realizing it’s better to lose in November than in January.
One of the areas that Belichick was clearly frustrated were the two pass interference calls during both of New York’s final two drives. On the first one Arrington was called for a 35 yard penalty that eventually lead to a touchdown for New York, while Sergio Brown was also called for a 20-yard penalty on the Giants next possession that set up first and goal from the one yard line and helped set up their game winning score.
After the game Belichick didn’t sound like he agreed with either, although he downplayed both when asked about them.
“I don’t know, you’d have to ask them about it, they called it,” said Belichick of the officials. “Yeah, the last two calls were tough.”
In the end the thing he seemed to be the most happy about was the fact he saw his team make quite a few plays down the stretch on Sunday, even through they were still a couple of plays shy of walking away with the win. The fact they played well seemed to be the biggest thing he continued reiterating during his press conference, and hopefully that carries over into next weekend.
“I mean again, it was a hard fought game,” said Belichick. “It came down to the last few seconds, we just came up a play or two short, that’s all – across the board.”