Locker room Q&A, 12/23

Posted on December 24, 2007 
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Here’s a partial series of Q&A’s that some Patriot players had in the locker room after today’s game:

Rodney Harrison, Safety
(On breaking records as a team)
It’s just records. It’s just something we can talk about when we are older and retired. It has no bearing on what we have to do for preparation for next week and we need to just stay focused.

(On what satisfied him the most in this win)
The guys coming out and playing with emotion and understanding how we needed to play the Dolphins because they are a very dangerous team. Going out there and making plays, goal line stands, red zone stands, were all big for us.

(On the improved Patriot red zone defense)
Just doing our own jobs and executing and not worrying about anyone else. We just need to make sure we communicate and make plays because that’s what it comes down too.

(On if next week’s potential 16th win means any more than the others)
I just want to win a ball game. The media has made a big fuss about it but its business as usual for us. We are going to have a day or two off and then come back here on Wednesday and focus on the Giants and try to win the ball game.

Laurence Maroney, Running Back
(On David Ortiz wearing his jersey)
David is my friend and I noticed it when he first walked in and I gave him a look and he smiled back at me. When I go to a Red Sox game I will definitely be wearing one of his jerseys.

(On his 50+ yard runs)
I can’t take credit for those plays because the O-line and Heath Evans did such a good job blocking that anyone could have run through that. All I had to do is show some speed and make sure not to get caught. I didn’t have to make to many moves or run through anyone because it was that open so all I had to do was run to the end zone.

(On Randy Moss’s downfield blocking)
He was doing an excellent job blocking for me and the defensive back kept backing up so as long as Randy Moss keeps chasing him I’m just going to run behind him. I was hoping he would stay inside so I could go outside and outrun him but he kept turning when I turned which gave the defense time to come up and pursuit.

(On if he knew he was that open downfield)
I didn’t know until I looked up at the jumbotron and realized no one was around me. I then slowed down to save my legs a little bit because this could have been a long game.

(On gaining experience in his second season)
I feel a lot better, having a whole year on me to know what to expect, how to manage my body, how to take care of my body. Coming in last year, I had to deal with a college bowl game, the combine training, the actual combine, then the actual pro day, then your draft, then you’ve got your mini camps then you’ve got your training camp, so it was a long process. I can definitely say my body feels a lot better than it was last year

Wes Welker, Wide Receiver
(On whether he thought the Patriots had a “sloppy” second half)
Yeah, all of a sudden we didn’t play better in the second half. We need to be a second half-type team and make sure we’re putting things together. But [the Dolphins] did a great job out there. You have to give Miami credit. Luckily, we had a good first half and we were able to hold onto the lead.

(On if hitting the century mark in receptions on the season was significant for him)
I think it’s something I can look back at, but right now it’s not a big deal. I’m focused on the next game and ready to go to New York.

(On if it’s indicative of the success the Patriots have had this season that all the criticism is about one bad half)
Yeah. That’s the way it is, though. We realize that half isn’t the type of half we want to play. Anyways, that’s the way it goes.

(On what kind of significance going 16-0 has)
None. It’s the next game and that’s the way we’re going to treat it. That’s the way we’re going to go about it.

(On what he does when people ask him about going undefeated)
I think people know better than to ask me about it. Except you all.

(On if he would like to get Tom Brady the single-season passing touchdown record)
I think it would be something we could look back at. I know it’s nothing that Tom worries about and nothing that we worry about. We’re just out there trying to execute and run our plays and if it happens along the way than great.

(On how important it is to be playing good football going into the playoffs)
There are still opportunities to get better, through practice and through these games. So we need to continue to get better and to grow as a team and make sure we’re ready to go into the playoffs.

Kevin Faulk, Running Back
(On if things slowed down offensively for a reason)
I’m not sure what the reason was, but we’re going to hear about it. There were mistakes we made as an offense and we’re going to hear about them from coach. That’s just what he does as a coach. He doesn’t ignore our mistakes. He doesn’t let them pass by.

(On how much he wants to help Tom Brady set the single-season, passing touchdowns record)
Of course we want to see him get it, but – he knows just like we know – if he focuses on the team all the other stuff will take care of itself.

(On if Miami did anything differently defensively in the second half)
Not really. They did the little things and they play hard. At the same time, we made a lot of mistakes and we didn’t move the ball.

(On if Bill Belichick reminding the team of its mistakes comes with the territory)
Knowing Coach Belichick, that’s what you come to expect. There’s something teaching going on, some coaching going on. That’s just how the organization and the coaching staff is set up. No matter how many wins we get, we’re still going to get our coaching.

Jarvis Green, Defensive End
(On if the team thinks about going undefeated)
Yeah, we think about it here and there, but we know we have to concentrate and get better. There are still things we have to work on. We know it’s going to get harder in these last games. I know we have to prepare for the Giants and stay under control.

Junior Seau, Linebacker
(On how important it was for the defense to set the tone with some hard hits early in the game)
It was nice to start off early. Coming out there, trying to execute everything that we tried to do, we started off good. We tapered off a little at the end. There are some things we need to work on. Trying to finish. Being able to finish. I’m sure there’s more out there than meets the eye, but we’ll look at that another day.

(On the play of Mike Vrabel Sunday)
Mike has been doing that all year. He’s obviously a Pro Bowler. He comes to work every day during the week and prepares himself like no other. We’re happy to have him on our team.

(On Vrabel forcing Cleo Lemon out-of-bounds shy of the end zone)
He took a flat angle. As old as we get, angles are key in this game. He went in there, took a great angle at it, and he got him out for us.

(On the hits by Rodney Harrison and James Sanders early on and if they inspired the defense)
Well, you have to throw our little rookie in there. [Brandon] Meriweather had a good one there, too. Our safeties came up and really set the tone in terms of the hits that they placed and did a great job of really controlling that middle.

(On if there was any sentiment that there was something missing in the Patriots’ performance in the second half)
When you look at it, it was 28-0 in the first half. When you get back in the second half, you have to finish it. I know we’re saying that to each other, that we can do a better job of finishing. It’s going to be something that we’re obviously going to tell each other and try to learn from. It’s definitely a point of emphasis.

(On if the team is ready for a week of “16-0” questions)
We’re going to enjoy this. It was something that was a gift to each other, being one of the first [teams] to be 15-0 at this point of the season. It was something that was very important to us. So we’re going to go on from there.

Tedy Bruschi, Linebacker
(On breaking NFL records )
Records come along, individual recognition comes along, team recognition comes along. We’ve done that consistently this year and when you can win consistently like we have it’s going to happen. We aren’t shooting for anything. We’ve got to just focus on who we have in front of us. We’re not going to worry about what records we’re going to break because that’s how you have success.

(On the defense appreciating the offense’s improved running game)
In terms of being a member of the defense and the hard-nosed type of guys we are, we appreciate good running. We know it’s the ultimate sort of insult when someone can run it down your throat. That’s happened to us this year – so to see our offense do it – we recognize what they’re doing in there. A lot has to happen. Those offensive linemen have to open up holes and our running backs have to hit those. [Laurence] Maroney had two big runs and that’s just as enjoyable if not more enjoyable than a Randy Moss bomb.

(On the improved red zone defense)
We’ve just been emphasizing it every week, talking about how we were at the bottom of the league in some statistical categories. There are a lot of prideful guys in this locker room and when you tell us we’re doing terrible at something, we want to fix it.

Adalius Thomas, Linebacker
(On the red zone defense)
It’s big. That wins games for you. Definitely I think over the past couple of weeks stepping up big in the red zone has helped us. It’s a momentum shifter, especially when you go for it on fourth down, you go down there deep and don’t get any points, that’s a big momentum shift for our offense and our team.

(On striving to go 16-0)
It doesn’t matter. This game doesn’t change anything, the ramifications of it don’t change anything. You just have to focus on your job, that’s how you really have to look at it. The goal is to go out and perform week in and week out. Of course you don’t want to lose at this point and that’s the ultimate goal, so you just want to go out there and prepare week-to-week. The goal is to go out there and beat the Giants and move from that point on.

(On big hits by Rodney Harrison and James Sanders)
It sends a message that it’s going to be a physical day. They were sweet. They left a bitter taste in your mouth. It makes guys go over the middle and when they go to look for the ball maybe make them take a double take. I think it just shows you the physicality of the secondary, that guys went out and hit people.

Jabar Gaffney, Wide receiver
(On the touchdown pass that Schulters tried to intercept.)
I really don’t know. I know that I saw him coming and I tried to shield away from him a little bit and Tom [Brady] made a great throw and the ball got there before he did and I was able to grab it and keep going.

(On how much concentration did it take to keep the defender out of your eyesight to make the catch)
We work on that all the time in practice, we have to make that catch. If Tom [Brady] makes it and gets the ball to us we have to pull it down no matter who’s around us. My hat’s off to our receivers coach [Nick Caserio] for putting us through a lot of hand and eye coordination drills and distraction drills.

(On Tom Brady potentially setting the touchdown pass record)
Yes, we definitely want to get it for him, we will go out there next week and fight hard and hopefully it will happen.

Asante Samuel, Cornerback
(On the defense)
We are not worried about that. Whatever the media wants to talk about is what they will talk about. We just want to win and go out and play hard defense like we always do and make plays and it’s a team effort. The offense scores and they do a lot of good things over there and we try to do our job on the defensive side.

Ellis Hobbs III, Cornerback
(On the possibility of going 16-0)
It’ll be just like the other wins. You have to take it in stride and understand and then continue to move because 16-0 is great, but that wasn’t our goal starting this year off. Getting to the final game and winning – that’s our goal. But how do we get there? Step by step, enjoy the victories and then move on.

(On whether he was disappointed by the team’s second-half performance)
It’s just something that… I don’t know what comes over us. We had some great red zone stops. We gave up the one touchdown, but you can’t be disappointed. It was 28-7. My hats off to the Dolphins, they played a hard game.

Troy Brown, Wide Receiver
(On how emotional the game was for him)
It’s up there with the others. Actually, it’s a great gift being around so long and having the chance to come back here and be a part of win and actually be able to contribute in a good way. It was definitely pleasing. It was definitely a great feeling, just the roar I got from the crowd the first time I went out there.

(On the ovation he received from the crowd)
It was great. It was special. I’ve been here my whole career and get a welcome back like that in your home stadium was a pretty touching moment for me and I appreciate it.

(On whether the second half was disappointing for the offense)
Obviously, you want to score some points. We didn’t do that. We turned the ball over a few times in the second half and that’s not the way you want to finish the game. But the first half was great, got out to a big score and put some points on the board real fast. Obviously, you want to finish the game better than we did. We didn’t put up any points at all in the second half so that was a little bit disappointing, but in the end we did get the win.

(On whether he would have the opportunity to play)
I don’t know about that. I don’t have any control over that. I just go out there and put my best effort out there every day and leave the rest up to the coaching staff to decide who’s going to play. I’m always getting ready because my team deserves that I’m ready if they need me to go out there and play so I need to be ready to go.

(On his final punt return of the game)
I wish I would have taken it to the house, but you can’t be greedy and I can live with that. You have to enjoy the good times; you can be down about the bad times, but don’t be too much of either. You can’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself. You’ve got to get back out there and do it again. That’s what you’ve got to do in this league and that’s kind of what I did today. Dust myself off and get the rest of them. Like I said, I had the home crowd behind me.

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