Reaction from Pats on Jets’ loss

Posted on December 28, 2008 
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Game notes from today’s Patriots-Bills game

Posted on December 28, 2008 
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PATRIOTS TIE FIFTH-HIGHEST REGULAR-SEASON VICTORY TOTAL IN FRANCHISE HISTORYThe Patriots finished the 2008 regular season with an 11-5 record, tying the fifth highest regular-season win total in the team’s 49-season history. The Patriots have finished with more than 11 regular-season wins on just four occasions – 2007 (16), 2003 (14), 2004 (14) and 2006 (12). New England also won 11 games in 1976, 1978, 1985, 1986, 1996 and 2001.PATRIOTS RECORD FIRST SHUTOUT SINCE 2006The Patriots shut out the Bills today, recording their first shutout since downing the Green Bay Packers 35-0 on Nov. 19, 2006. Today’s shutout was the sixth for the Patriots since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000. New England had three shutouts in 2003, one in 2005 and one in 2006.2008 PATRIOTS SET NFL RECORD FOR FEWEST PENALTIES IN A 16-GAME SEASONThe 2008 Patriots finished their 16-game regular season with just 57 accepted penalties called against them, setting an NFL record for fewest penalties in a 16-game season. The NFL expanded its season from 14 games to 16 games in 1978. The Patriots broke the previous 16-game season record of 59 penalties, established by the Seattle Seahawks in 2007.NFL RECORD BOOK / FEWEST ACCEPTED PENALTIESSINCE 16-GAME SCHEDULE ESTABLISHED IN 1978Team    Year    Penalties AcceptedNew England Patriots    2008    57Seattle Seahawks        2007    59New Orleans Saints      1992    60Miami Dolphins  1991    62New York Jets   2001    62NOTE: List excludes 1982 strike season (9 games)2008 PATRIOTS HAVE MOST RUSHING YARDAGE FOR FRANCHISE SINCE 1985Sammy Morris’ 6-yard run in the first quarter raised the Patriots’ 2008 team rushing yardage total to 2,135 yards, passing the team’s 2004 total (2,134 yards) as the franchise’s highest rushing total in 23 years (since the 1985 team gained 2,331 rushing yards). The Patriots finished the 2008 season with 2,278 rushing yards, a total that is the highest for a Patriots team since 1985.2008 PATRIOTS HAVE FRANCHISE’S HIGHEST RUSHING TOUCHDOWN TOTAL SINCE 1981LaMont Jordan’s third-quarter touchdown run was the 21st rushing score by the Patriots this season, tying the team’s fourth-best single-season rushing touchdown total (21 in 1974) and standing as the team’s highest rushing score total since having 23 in 1981. The Patriots set a franchise record with 30 rushing touchdowns in 1978. The Patriots finished the 2008 season with 21 rushing touchdowns, a total that is the highest for a Patriots team since 1981.2008 PATRIOTS CLAIM SECOND HIGHEST SINGLE-SEASON FIRST DOWN TOTAL IN TEAM HISTORYMatt Cassel’s 6-yard run for a first down in the third quarter was the Patriots’ 349th first down of the 2008 season, passing the 1994 squad’s 348 first downs to claim the second highest single-season total in team history. The Patriots’ 2008 first-down total trails only the 2007 squad’s team-record 393 first downs, a total that ranks second in NFL history. The Patriots finished the 2008 season with 356 first downs.GOSTKOWSKI HAS FRANCHISE’S HIGHEST SINGLE-SEASON POINT TOTAL SINCE 1970 MERGERWith his 33-yard field goal in the first quarter, Stephen Gostkowski raised his season total to 144 points, setting a new Patriots record for most points in a season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, topping Adam Vinatieri’s 141 points in 2004. He finished the season with 148 points, a total that ranks second in single-season team history, trailing only Gino Cappelletti’s 155 points in 1964 (7 TD, 36 XP, 25 FG, 1 2-pt). Gostkowski’s 2008 point total is the highest in team history by a player who scored all his points as a kicker.MOSS BREAKS 1,000 RECEIVING YARDS FOR NINTH TIME IN CAREEROn a 13-yard reception in the fourth quarter, Randy Moss broke the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season, marking the ninth time in his 11-year career that he has exceeded the 1,000-yard milestone. Moss’s nine 1,000-yard receiving seasons are tied for the second highest total in NFL history, trailing only Jerry Rice’s 14 seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards. In addition to Moss, Tim Brown and Jimmy Smith also reached the 1,000-yard receiving mark nine times.MOSS MOVES INTO NINTH PLACE ON NFL’S ALL-TIME RECEIVING YARD LISTOn a 13-yard reception in the fourth quarter, Randy Moss moved into ninth place on the NFL’s all-time receiving yardage list, passing Andre Reed’s career total of 13,198 receiving yards. Following his 13-yard catch, Moss had 13,201 career receiving yards. Henry Ellard ranks eighth on the league’s all-time receiving yardage list with 13,777 career receiving yards.PATRIOTS RECORD SECOND-FEWEST PASSING ATTEMPTS IN FRANCHISE HISTORYFacing extremely windy conditions, the Patriots recorded just eight passing attempts against the Bills today – the second fewest in any game in franchise history. The only game in which the Patriots attempted fewer passes was the “Snow Plow Game” on Dec. 12, 1982 against the Miami Dolphins. In that contest, played in a driving snowstorm, New England attempted just five passes in a 3-0 win.EVANS SETS CAREER HIGH FOR RECEIVING YARDSHeath Evans caught two passes for 31 yards on a first-quarter Patriots field goal drive, setting a new single-game career high for receiving yards. Prior to today, Evans’ previous single-game career best was 29 receiving yards, achieved on Oct. 21, 2007 at Miami. Heading into today’s game, Evans had one reception this season, catching a 28-yard pass on Dec. 21 against Arizona.JORDAN SCORES FOR THIRD STRAIGHT WEEKLaMont Jordan gave the Patriots a 10-0 third-quarter lead with a 2-yard touchdown run with 4:39 left in the third quarter. The touchdown was Jordan’s fourth of the season and marked his third straight game with a touchdown. Jordan scored his first touchdown of the season on Dec. 14 at Oakland and followed that with a two-touchdown game against Arizona on Dec. 21. Jordan’s touchdown against Buffalo raises his career total to 27 rushing touchdowns.CLUTCH PUNTChris Hanson booted a 46-yard punt into a 30-40 mile per hour wind in the third quarter with the Patriots facing a fourth down on their own 18-yard line. Hanson’s punt went out of bounds at the Bills’ 36-yard line and saved the Patriots from having to defend a short field with a 3-0 lead. On the Bills’ possession following Hanson’s punt, Jarvis Green strip-sacked Trent Edwards and the Patriots got the ball back on the Bills’ 43-yard line, setting up a LaMont Jordan touchdown run that made the score 10-0.GREEN STRIP-SACKJarvis Green sacked Trent Edwards for a 6-yard loss in the third quarter and forced him to fumble on the play. Mike Vrabel recovered the ball at the Bills’ 43-yard line to give possession to the Patriots and set up a touchdown drive that ended in a scoring run by LaMont Jordan. The sack was Green’s first of the season and raised his career total to 26.0 sacks. Last season, Green had one strip-sack and in 2006, he tied Mike Vrabel for the team lead with three strip-sacks. Green’s forced fumble against the Bills was his ninth career forced fumble and his eighth career strip-sack. The Patriots have recovered the fumble following seven of Green’s eight career strip-sacks. Green added a 7-yard sack in the fourth quarter to record his fourth career multiple-sack game and his first since the 2007 regular-season opener on Sept. 9, 2007.LOWEST-SCORING FIRST HALF OF PATRIOTS GAME SINCE 2005The Patriots and Bills combined for three points in the first half, marking the lowest combined point total in the first half of a Patriots game since Oct. 20, 2005. On that day, the Bills led the Patriots 3-0 at halftime of a game the Patriots eventually won, 21-16.CASSEL PUNTS 57 YARDSMatt Cassel recorded a 57-yard punt into the wind on third down in the fourth quarter. The ball was downed at the Bills’ 2-yard line. Cassel became the first Patriots quarterback to record a punt since Tom Brady booted a 36-yard punt that was downed at the 1-yard line against Miami on Dec. 7, 2003.QUICK HITS· The Patriots beat the Bills for the 11th straight time, tying the longest series winning streak in team history. New England has not lost to the Bills since the 2003 regular-season opener. The Patriots also beat Buffalo 11 straight times from 1982-87.· The Patriots won their 12th straight game in the month of December and improved to 24-2 in the month of December since 2003.· The Patriots swept the season series with the Bills for the fifth straight season, tying the franchise record for most consecutive divisional sweeps. New England also swept Buffalo in five straight years from 1983-87.

Bill Belichick Q&A, 12/22

Posted on December 22, 2008 
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Here’s the Q&A from Bill Belichick today at Gillette Stadium, courtesy of the Patriots’ PR staff:

BB: Quick turnaround here. That was a real good performance by our specialists, all the guys that handled the ball, starting with our special teams guys: Chris [Hanson] on the punts, holding them to field goals, Steve [Gostkowski] kicking in those conditions, Wes [Welker] on the returns, and all of our skill players on offense from Dan [Koppen] on the snaps to Matt [Cassel] and the receivers and backs. I thought it was real impressive the way they handled the ball and played with their feet under them. They made a lot of positive plays, gained some extra yards after contact and stuff like that. Our team, as I said yesterday, came out ready to play early. We got a couple of breaks early in the game we were able to take advantage of, take advantage of the field position, score, get ahead and play from ahead. That’s a good way to play on a day like that. It’s certainly a lot easier to play from ahead than to play from behind in those kinds of conditions. It’s good to win. Like I said, [we have a] quick turnaround here. We are going to practice tomorrow and Wednesday and take Thursday off for Christmas. We have to get on Buffalo quick. I wasn’t at all surprised by the way they played yesterday against Denver with another good performance. They we were close to beating the Jets and several other games recently. We know it’s always tough against Buffalo and tough in this division. I am sure it will be tough up there in Buffalo playing Sunday in December. As I said, we have a lot of work to do here. We have to turn things around quick. We have to get off the Arizona game and get onto Buffalo. It’s good to win. We are looking forward to going up there on Sunday.

Q: Matthew Slater and Russ Hochstein played in more positions than they normally do. Can you address their contributions?
BB: I thought Russ did a great job for us. It was an outstanding performance, stepping in and playing some spots at tight end and fullback. We put in several of those plays on Friday and then Saturday as the forecast deteriorated at the end of the week. We thought we would be in some bigger personnel groupings and Russ really did an outstanding job for us. We ran several of those plays behind him, again, playing at the end of the line, playing in the backfield, plays where he normally doesn’t get a lot of playing time. I thought he made those adjustments nicely. We were productive in our two or three tight end sets. Slater, this was a week where he worked in all three phases of the game: his normal duties at special teams, his snaps at receiver and at safety. He got a lot of snaps this week at safety. Once the score got to where it was, we felt like it would be good to get him in there and give him some experience playing in that position and he had a lot of practice time there. I thought that it was a good learning experience for him. He did some things well and obviously there are some other things that we need to talk about and correct a little bit. But, for the most part, he was in the right spot.

Q: On the play Brandon Meriweather got the strip-sack was Matthew Slater the decoy?
BB: The way they blocked it, their five linemen took our five linemen and the one back in the backfield took one safety. He ended up taking the safety to his side, which was Slater, and Meriweather was free on the other side. I think if the safeties would have been reversed he would have still blocked the guy to his side.

Q: You said plenty of times that your game plan changes week to week and you said that you implemented those plays for Hochstein on Friday and Saturday.
BB: Maybe I said that, but let me rephrase it. At the end of the week, we put in plays that were more oriented to the type of day we actually have out there on Sunday. When we started to put the game plan in on Tuesday or Wednesday, we weren’t as committed to playing in the snow, precipitation, that kind of a game where we felt like the close formations might give us some advantages. We gravitated to that by the end of the week by Friday, even the Saturday walkthroughs and Sunday morning with a little bit more emphasis on that. But some of those plays were plays that we didn’t put in until Friday or Saturday. I don’t know if I said that but that’s what I meant to say.

Q: So with those two players, or any player in particular who has more than one position to prepare for does his preparation change week to week based on a new set of plays?
BB: Sure, that is true for a lot of players. Sometimes there’s more emphasis at X , Z, strong safety, free safety, right corner, or left corner. It depends on how the other team plays their formations. You might be covering the Z more than you are covering the X, or vice versa. That is fairly common that one thing is more of an emphasis than something else. We try to identify that for the players. You are going to be playing a little more at the nickel. Somebody else is going to be playing a little bit more in our regular situations, but we have to be willing to do both because your each other’s depth and you don’t know which formation they are going to use more of. That kind of thing, but that is pretty common.

Q: Did you expect Arizona to run the ball as much as they did?
BB: It didn’t surprise me that they tried to run the ball some early in the game. I think, the conditions being what they were, that would be natural. We did that, too. I think there is a little bit of a misnomer with the number of runs Arizona runs. People say they don’t run the ball. I don’t think that is really true. I think they have plays where they check against what the defense is doing and, when the defense has a lot of guys up close to the line of scrimmage, they throw it. Minnesota is the type of team that plays a lot of guys close to the line of scrimmage. When we played them a couple years ago, we had the same numbers against that type of defense. Sometimes they have runs called and the quarterback — Warner —will rise up and throw it to a receiver. If the corners are backed off, those are running plays, but the defense is so light on the receivers that they take a pass on it. I just think those numbers are a little bit deceptive. I know what the stats are. I don’t really see it quite that way. We played our corners up on their receivers quite a bit and that really wasn’t an option for them. The quarterback couldn’t rise up and throw out there with the guy standing right on top of the receiver. Some of those plays that would have been runs in other situations and might have been runs against Minnesota that ended up being passes were runs against us. I think that was a little bit of a function of what we did on defense — not so much that they wouldn’t call them. I don’t mean to get over technical, but the way the numbers are I just don’t see the numbers that way. Again, Arizona is a team that uses their backs a lot in the passing game. [Tim] Hightower, [J.J.] Arrington and [Edgerrin] James are all good receivers. They throw those guys the ball a lot. Some of those are just extensions of their running game. They threw some screens yesterday. Those are plays that we worked hard on because that is an extension of their running game. They are passes, but when you are getting the ball back behind the line of scrimmage it is a little different than throwing the ball down the field in the passing game.

Q: Were the wind conditions not quite as difficult as you anticipated going into the game?
BB: I don’t think the wind was a factor at all in the game. In fact, we talked about it before the game and I didn’t really have much of a preference as to which goal to defend. We ended up making a choice on that, but sometimes it is pretty obvious on what you need to do. The wind conditions that were forecast, they were a lot less of a factor in the game then what I thought they were going to be, or what the forecast was. But I would say that’s not uncommon. The forecast usually isn’t exactly what it is anyway. Sometimes it’s close, but sometimes it really isn’t.

Q: I know you practiced all week in the snow, but did you expect Matt Cassel to play as well as he did being his first game in the snow?
BB: We do. That’s our job. We want to play well and we expect to play well. But we have been in inclement weather the last three weeks. We had three rain games in a row. In a lot of respects I think rain is harder for a quarterback to play in than snow is. I think Matt handled it very well in Seattle and in Oakland. We’ve had some flurries, rain and bad weather in practice. I think that we have dealt with it. Whatever it is, we have to play in it. I think that we’ve executed and Matt’s shown that he can execute in any conditions and how to use those conditions to the best of our advantage. I think we did a little bit of that yesterday. We threw some screens and some underneath routes that were a lower degree of difficulty. On the deep balls, I thought he hit those comebacks to [Jabar] Gaffney. He hit a couple in-cuts to Gaffney. I thought he put the ball right on the money on the post pattern to Moss. I thought he threw the ball well in all situations short, medium and long.

Q: Standings wise, you got some help last night but your approach really doesn’t change.
BB: Yeah. Our major focus is just to get ready to play in Buffalo. Again, based on what Buffalo did yesterday on the road in Denver, I think that right there tells you how they’re going to play. They are a good football team. We have a lot of respect for them. We are always happy to see teams in our division lose. I was really happy for Mike Holmgren. Mike’s had a tremendous career. He is one of the real greats in our profession. I have a lot of respect for Mike so I was happy that it worked out for him in his last home game. I think, rather than being a fan here and a cheerleader, the best thing we can do is go out there and play good football on Sunday in Buffalo. Without that, nothing else will matter.

Game Notes

Posted on December 21, 2008 
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Josh McDaniels Q&A, 12/21

Posted on December 21, 2008 
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  • Q: How important was it to get an early lead with this type of weather?
  • JM: Any time that the weather is an issue you want to try to get out in front as quick as you can. We talked a lot about that during the week. I thought we played a complimentary game with the defense getting off the field, good punt returns and field position. I felt like we were in their end…had to be the whole first half. We didn’t really have to drive the ball a long way until the end when we had the two-minute drive. Getting ahead is important in that kind of condition because a 7-point lead seems like a 10-point lead or a 14-point lead seems like 21 points. Getting ahead of them was important. 
  • Q: On Randy Moss’ touchdown catch, what did you see in the first half to make you call that play to start the second half?
  • JM: We had been in that personnel grouping and formation quite a bit in the first half and they were kind of starting to overplay some things. We felt like we could take advantage of their aggressiveness on the back side and it worked exactly how we had hoped it would. The lineman got out there and had some good blocks. Anytime he [Randy Moss] is in the open field with a bunch of people chasing him, I am not sure that they are going to catch him. It worked well.”
  • Q: Can you talk about playing Russ Hochstein at fullback?
  • JM: Russ [Hochstein] is like what we talk about with all our players, ‘the more you can do, the more you can do to help us.’ Russ’ versatility has been important for us in the past. Certainly it showed up today by playing fullback and tight end. He has played up front on the line at multiple positions. Anytime, you play in a weather game like that you want to be able to grind out yards and get bigger, which is what we did in that grouping. Russ did a great job and was very effective in his role today.
  • Q: You guys were able to throw it deep a couple of times even with this weather…
  • JM: Yeah, Matt [Cassel] talked about it in the pregame that his grip on the ball was fine. The balls weren’t all that wet, even though it was snowing and all that. As long as the wind is not a significant issue, we don’t really see in changing the passing game all that much. We kind of call the game the way we wanted to call it.
  • Q: Have the last two weeks reminded you how successful the offense was last year?
  • JM: I don’t think it reminds you of last year. Each game is different. I think this team is progressing. We keep the pressure on them and try to improve every week. I think the offense has shown some signs of getting better in different areas. We still can’t punch it in quite as many times as we would like in the red zone. We are getting better and making strides every week. Hopefully we can continue that this week.
  • Q: Did you guys like the match up Jabar Gaffney was getting?
  • JM: Yeah, Jabar [Gaffney] had some one-on-one coverage. I don’t know if it was as much of a match up thing as it was about those comeback routes and curl routes on the snow are tough to defend as long as you can keep your feet as a route runner. Jab did a great job of keeping his feet underneath him. I don’t think we had a lot of guys on ground period today which is a credit to our receivers, tight ends and running backs. Jab was running good routes and they had to give him a cushion. 
  • Q: How frustrating is that you guys could go 11-5 and not make the playoffs?
  • JM: To me, we can control what we can control. That is really all we can do at this point. There is no frustration with what other people are doing. We can only try to win one more game against Buffalo. If they tell us that we are playing the next week that would be great. We are going to prepare hard this week just like we have all year.
  • Q: Has there been any frustration at any point this season with how you guys have played?
  • JM: No, I think every year is different. This year has been a challenge just like the rest of the years have been. You work through any adversities. We have lost games along the way but the team is improving and our offense is getting better. We are trying to play our best football at the end of the year which is always the goal when you start the year.
  • Q: Is it kind of amazing that you guys could finish 11-5 and still not make the playoffs?
  • JM: We just want to try and get 11 wins and see if it is good enough. I don’t even know all the scenarios yet but the best we can do in the regular season right now is 11 victories. We are going to work our butt off to try and get that.
  • Q: When you woke up this morning and saw the weather did you think 47 points would be a possibility today?
  • JM: What you do tell the players in these types of conditions is that there are quite a few big plays to be had on a field like this. You can take a short gain and make a huge play out of it. We had a couple of those today. We talked to them about catching run plays on this kind of a surface. Our guys did a good job of keeping their feet and doing something with the ball after they had it. We only go out there for one reason and that is to score touchdowns. They guys did a good job today.
  • Q: How much of a factor is snow in the passing game?
  • JM: Snow is not really a huge factor in that to tell you the truth. It is more about the wind and whether or not the ball is significantly wet. Neither of those things were a factor today. The wind really never picked up very much. As long as it is snowy, you feel like the offense has an advantage because of the footing because we know what we are doing and they have to react to us. We don’t really change our game plan that much unless the wind or rain would tell us to do that.
  • Q: When you have that much success, do you sense this kind of performance might happen during the week leading up to the game?
  • JM: I think you feel confident going into the game if you have a good week of practice. We have strung together quite a few weeks here where we feel good about what we have done on Monday through Friday. I think the players are feeling strongly about how that is paying off on Sunday. We talked about is as soon as we came in here that we are getting ready to go again on Tuesday, Wednesday and Christmas. [We want] three good days of practice again because we realize how important it has been to us this week.
  • Q: How is it being in unfamiliar territory by not controlling your own destiny?
  • JM: We can only control what we can control. I know that is kind of cliché but it what somebody else does I know will impact us in a positive or negative way at some point but for us it is win in Buffalo, beat Buffalo and prepare well to beat Buffalo or nothing else really matters. It is a one-game deal for us and hopefully after Sunday we can say we got 11 wins.
  • Q: Can you talk about the versatility of guys like Matthew Slater and Russ Hochstein?
  • JM: Versatility is one of the things that we really stress on our team. Offensively, you saw some guys play some different roles for us today. Russ [Hochstein] was our tight end and in the backfield. [Matthew] Slater, [Sam] Aiken and those guys were all out there. The more that those guys can help us offensively and play on the special teams is a credit to them that they are able to contribute in more than one phase of the game. That always helps us. At this point in the year, you are dealing with injuries and guys that aren’t active so to have more of those guys is better for us.
  • Q: For the most part you guys have performed pretty well on offense the past two months. Do you feel like you guys are peaking?
  • JM: I think we are improving. With the players, it goes back to practice. The players are seeing the dividends that good weeks and days of practice are having. It is a credit to the way they are working. They come in on Wednesday morning and we are working hard Wednesday through Saturday evening. The more of those we can string together in practice, the better our performances have been. Our players see that. Hopefully we are building right now to our best performances of the year. We feel like we are playing good football and we still have room to improve.
  • Q: How much variety and flexibility is in the game plan compared to this point last year?
  • JM: Every week for us is ‘what do we need to do to beat that team.’ That hasn’t changed. Our philosophy is the same. If we need to spread them out, tighten down a formation, change personnel groupings, go empty, get in the shotgun or whatever it is we are doing it. There is nothing that we are going to hold back. We are going to try and do everything we can to. That is what we have done in the past and that is what we are going to do next week. 
  • Q: How can you explain what Matt Cassel has been able to since he first became starter?
  • JM: It is a tribute to him. The kid has worked extremely hard since he has been here. I have been with him all four years that he has been here. He never complained. He never did anything other than come to work and prepare hard even though he knew he wasn’t going to play while Tommy [Brady] was starting. He is ready every week. What a tribute to him that it has paid off. He has been able to progress and the thing that he never really had before was the game experience. Now he is getting an opportunity to show what that means to him as a player. Some of the things that he made mistakes on earlier in the year, he has fixed and corrected. Now he is going out there and playing really good football.

Matt Cassel Q&A, 12/21

Posted on December 21, 2008 
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Bill Belichick postgame Q&A, 12/21

Posted on December 21, 2008 
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Patriots locker room Q&A

Posted on December 21, 2008 
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  • Junior Seau, Linebacker
  • (On getting out to a quick lead in such bad weather)
  • “The weather wasn’t going to win us the game and we weren’t going to take that. When we had the offense, defense, and special teams clicking, we knew we had a chance. We went out there and performed well.”
  • (On coming out of retirement and playing in poor conditions)
  • “I didn’t come out here to play in the snow. I came out here to help this team win and hopefully get somewhere else and we all know what we are shooting for.”
  • (On if the Cardinals were playing at the highest level they could)
  • “We are all professionals and I am not going to disrespect what they do. All we control is what we do in this locker room. We went out there with a game plan, and we executed. We can look at the board and the game film and correct the things we didn’t do and continue on.”
  • (On if the Ravens winning last night put more pressure on them to win tonight)
  • “We don’t control any of that. The only thing that was a guarantee was that we have one more game next week. We have seven days to be together and that’s going to be important for us. We aren’t going to take any teams for granted and we aren’t going to be complacent. We are going to finish off what was guaranteed to us, which was one more game.”
  • Stephen Gostkowski, Kicker
  • (On what he focuses on during the game)
  • “Most of the time with 30 to 40-yarders, its just finding a way to make it go straight every time. Consistency is what I strive for and what I’m worried about.”
  • (On following in the footsteps of Adam Vinatieri)
  • “A lot of it is about opportunities and how many opportunities you get and Adam [Vinatieri] is one of the kickers that’s taken advantage of almost every opportunity he’s gotten and playing the same position, you try to do the same thing. You can only capitalize on the opportunities that you get and we’ve been fortunate to do it enough so far. Hopefully we’ll get a couple of opportunities next week and be successful and hopefully get a chance to make it into the playoffs.”
  • (On the hardest part of kicking in the snowy conditions)
  • “The hardest part was at the beginning when the snow clumped up, getting a good plant when the snow got bunched up on my cleats and just shaking it off, because I attack the ball pretty hard most of the time. The accumulation of the snow is probably the hardest part of it. It didn’t feel that cold out there to me.”
  • Mike Wright, Defensive Tackle
  • (On his ability to get to the quarterback)
  • “It felt really good because it’s so hard to get the quarterback and actually get him on the ground when he still has the ball, especially with [Kurt] Warner, he gets the ball off whether you hit him or not.”
  • (On other teams controlling the Patriots’ playoff hopes)
  • “It’s really on us, we can’t just sit there and watch them, we have to worry about ourselves and try to play our way in.”
  • Wes Welker, Wide Receiver
  • (On if the snow angel was planned)
  • “No.  I think I just got a little bit too excited there, getting into the end zone.  It wasn’t anything that was planned.  I do remember a game growing up when Dallas played and there was a punt return, I think by Kevin Williams, and I remember seeing him do a snow angel, so I think that was the same type of thing. I really didn’t think that would be a penalty.  I wouldn’t have done it if that was the case.”
  • (On the outcome of the game)
  • “We talk about it all the time.  The defense gets a stop, followed by a punt return, getting in good field position and the offense takes over.  We started off the game like that and we were really able to make that happen.  It was a big part of the game plan.”
  • (On the effect of the weather)
  • “It really wasn’t too bad.  It’s just really focusing in and making sure that I’m securing the ball and getting up field from there.”
  • Kevin Faulk, Running Back
  • (On getting off to a good start)
  • “Every week is the same thing. You want to start off fast as a team and try to get momentum going into the game, starting the game off and you just want to continue on going.”
  • (On the weather conditions)
  • “No matter how tough it was you still have to be able to do your job in those conditions. At the same time [you] have to be smart and not try to do too much.”
  • (On his touchdown)
  • “It was great blocking play by the guys. Coming off the line and blocking their guys, I just had to make a left cut and a right cut and there it is.”
  • (On how the team feels about their play down the stretch)
  • “The only thing we can do is control us. That’s the main thing that coach stressed to us was don’t worry about everything else because the only thing we control is us. Nothing else matters.
  • Ellis Hobbs, Cornerback
  • (On getting off to a fast start)
  • “We definitely wanted to come out and lay it down on them real quick. [We were] thinking about the 2006 game, even though it was a preseason game, how we came out in that game. We watched that this week and just the emotion and intensity and we were physical with them. Anytime you have big guys like that, the receivers and things like that, you want to disrupt the timing especially with the weather conditions. We did a good job of that.”
  • (On how frustrating it is to have to rely on other teams to get into the playoffs)
  • “You just try not to worry about it as much as possible. That’s why you play 16 games in the regular season, so situations like this won’t happen. Unfortunately we weren’t taking care of business in the beginning, or taking care of business enough. That’s just how it is but as long as we’re out there doing our jobs, as long as I’m out there doing mine individually we can’t argue with ourselves.”
  • (On playing their best football in December)
  • “Most definitely – we’re rolling the dice each weekend and we just keep hitting them. Now we need some other guys to crap out. November and December are always when you have to play your best ball. You think about when the season starts and how there are so many front runners and you think about all those teams that started out so well in the beginning and have fallen off at the end. You just have to take it for what it is and just keep playing ball and just hope for the best.”
  • (On how the weather factored in)
  • “I always say when we go to other cities, you can always simulate heat but it’s hard to simulate that cold. Ball conditions, weather conditions, stuff hitting you in the face, it’s hard so we definitely use that to our advantage. ”
  • Logan Mankins, Guard
  • (On Patriots’ success in the snow)
  • “I know that we’re used to the weather. It’s usually cold and we have to practice in it. It works well for what we did today: run the ball and throw short passes. You can do that in the snow.”
  • (On taking over on offense with a short field frequently)
  • “That’s nice. The first possession, we’ve started inside the 50-yard line, I think for the last two weeks. If you don’t score a touchdown on those, you’re in trouble.”
  • Sammy Morris, Running Back
  • (On whether the Patriots receive enough credit as a rushing team)
  • “I don’t think we’re really focused on what we’re getting credit for. We’re trying to focus on winning the games. They can say whatever they want to say.”
  • (On playing December football)
  • “In December, especially out here with the weather, you expect that there’s going to be inclement weather. It’s probably going to be the same thing in Buffalo, again. So the running game, for the most part, is going to be more of a factor. Matt [Cassel] still threw a lot of passes today. Again, as an offense, we do what we have to do to execute.”
  • (On whether it’s frustrating not being to control their playoff fate)
  • “I mean, to a certain degree. We understand that we kind of made our own bed and we have to lie in it now. Again, at the same time, we’re not out of it. That’s all we can do. We have to focus on what we have to do.”
  • (On the outcome of the game)
  • “I think when you jump out on a team early, it limits what they can do, and really opens up what we can do.  So jumping out early was good for us.”

Kevin O’Connell update

Posted on December 21, 2008 
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With 14:01 left in the game, Kevin O’Connell has replaced Matt Cassel.

Cardinals update

Posted on December 21, 2008 
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Matt Leinart is now in the game at quarterback for the Cardinals, replacing Kurt Warner.

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