PATRIOTS QB TOM BRADY
Q: Can you talk about that final touchdown pass to Chris Hogan and what you saw on that play?
TB: Yeah, he made a great play. It was off a run fake. Hogs [Chris Hogan] and I – he was just kind of, not really the primary receiver on that play, but he saw what I saw and kind of adjusted his route and I just tried to put it out there for him. It was a big play. We needed it.
Q: After the Ravens' last field goal, you got the ball back with 2:01 remaining on the clock with the next play being the two-minute warning. Can you talk about the sequence of the decision to pass it there and set it up so that you could run out the clock?
TB: Yeah, Coach [Bill Belichick] made the decision to try to gain some yards throwing there and I thought Jules [Julian Edelman] made a great catch to get it to second-and-2, so it was a great play by Jules. Those guys played really hard tonight. It was a tough defense, the first-ranked defense in the league. We kind of had some self-inflicted errors out there, there were plenty of those, but I'm glad we found a way to win.
Q: After starting 3-of-8, you had a big play to James White and seemed to have the offense rolling after that.
TB: Yeah, we weren't really clicking early, but that happens in football, so I'm glad we found a way to make some plays. A lot of guys contributed – the backs, tight ends. The offensive line played great, they've been playing great all season. LG [LeGarrette Blount] ran his ass off, so it was a big win for us.
Q: How important was it to establish the running game tonight in addition to executing play-action passes like the one to Chris Hogan as Baltimore entered the game the first-ranked running defense in the league?
TB: Yeah, it was good to do both. You can't just give up on the run. We've got a great back and we've got a lot of great backs, so it's just trying to find space for those guys to run and making sure we don't come out one-dimensional.
Q: How is Malcolm Mitchell growing throughout the season?
TB: He's done a great job for us. It says a lot for a rookie to be playing his best in December. It speaks to what he's all about, his mindset, his character, his determination. He's worked his butt off since he got here and he's put himself in a great position. With Danny [Amendola] getting hurt he's gotten more opportunity, and we're going to need it.
Q: Your level of intensity seemed pretty high today. Also, how good did it feel to pick up the fourth-and-1 at the end of the game?
TB: Yeah, it was a big game for us. We played at home in December on Monday night against a great defense. It was important for us to come out and play well. We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game. They're a tough defense. Like I said, I think there were some plays I wish we all would have had back, but they're a competitive team, they force you into some errors, and it was great to finish the game with the ball in our hands. We always love doing that.
PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
BB: Well, that was kind of about the way we expected the game to go, I would say, having to play 60 minutes against the Ravens. It came down to key plays there in the fourth quarter, especially in the last couple of minutes; some good situational football. I thought our guys really hung in there. It wasn't perfect. We had three turnovers, obviously hurt us. But we kept battling and made some big plays in all three areas of the game there at the end when we had to make them. That's the important thing, is to come out of here with a win against a good football team. Like I said, it was about the game I thought we would get in terms of 60 minutes, coming down to the wire, situational plays, needing everybody, and we did. It's good to have this one. A quick turnaround, short week, trip to Denver so we'll have to turn the page here in a hurry and get on the Broncos, but it feels good to win tonight.
Q: How big of a play was Rob Ninkovich's third-down sack in the fourth quarter that got your team the ball back and led to the Chris Hogan touchdown?
BB: Yeah, huge; huge. That was a big third-down stop. We played – I'd say probably both teams played quite a bit of zone defense tonight. We were able to make [Joe] Flacco hold the ball just a little bit and get to him. On the touchdown pass it looked like play-action. It looked like it kind of held [Eric] Weddle a little bit over on the weak side. [Matt] Elam, it looked like he was rotated down to our right. We had thrown the pass to Julian [Edelman] a little bit earlier in the game so it looked like they just kind of got stretched on that with the safeties. Chris [Hogan] split it so obviously that was a huge play for us in the game, but our play-action game overall was pretty productive. We hit Marty [Martellus Bennett]. We hit Chris. We hit Julian. We got some big plays on those play-action passes which of course always comes off of a productive running game. They're tough to run against but I thought we hung with it. We had some patience and we hit some solid runs and that was a key for us in the game, just to be able to punch out some yards in the running game.
Q: Can you talk about the athletic ability of Shea McClellin to be able to jump over the line like that and block a kick?
BB: Shea [McClellin]'s pretty athletic. He timed it up perfectly and made a good, clean jump and a good, clean block. Joe Judge did a great job of designing the play. We worked on it all week and just felt like we could take advantage of that and Shea really executed it perfectly, as did the guys up front. Malcom [Brown] and Alan [Branch] were charging in a way to kind of keep the pad level down for the field goal team so we could get through there.
Q: What have you discovered about Jonathan Jones in his rookie season and how has he performed as a gunner on the punt unit?
BB: Well Jonathan did a good job for us in those roles in training camp, which really is probably what got him on the team, the way that he performed in the practices against Chicago and New Orleans. Then in the preseason games, really the Carolina game if I remember right, and then the Giants game as well. He kind of showed us that he could do those things. He's been a solid guy for us defensively. He's played inside and outside but he runs well, he's tough, he tackles well. You're right – he gave us some big plays today on punt coverage and in the kicking game but also defensively. He gave us a couple of good tackles and made a play on the toss play there. He's done a good job for us. He's got a lot of staying power. He comes in ready to work every day, really consistent, very professional. He carries himself like a guy that has a lot more experience than what he does.
Q: Does a win like this over another playoff contender and a top defense tell you more about your team than some of the previous few weeks have?
BB: Every game is tough to win in this league. Each week we kind of go through the same process. Build through preparation, go out and play as hard as we can and then empty the tank out there and leave it all on the field then come back and start it all over again. We'll do the same thing this week. The Ravens are a good team. They're tough. They do a lot of things well. We just did a few things a little bit better tonight but we'll take it.
Q: How do you balance showing a guy like Cyrus Jones confidence by putting him back out there after a fumble but also needing to do what is best for the team?
BB: Well, we turned the ball over three times tonight. Three situations that all I would say are pretty preventable. We've just got to do a better job of taking care of the ball than we did tonight, and that's everybody that handles it so we'll work on those things. We'll work on it with everybody. It's everybody's responsibility to protect the ball who handles it and we've just got to do a better job of it. We've got to coach it better. We've got to handle it better.
Q: What are your thoughts on LeGarrette Blount hitting the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season and what has he meant to this offense?
BB: He's been really consistent for us all year. He's been there every day. A lot of his yards are tough yards but he's also had some explosive plays through the course of the year, gained some yards for us in the passing game as well, which those aren't runs but they're kind of the same as runs if you will. He's been very durable, very dependable. Ball security has been great so we have a lot of confidence giving him the ball. He's done a good job for us.
PATRIOTS DB DEVIN MCCOURTY
Q: Let's start off with your interception.
DM: I didn't really expect it. I was trying not to get a pass interference just knowing Mike Wallace, the speed he has. Being in just that two-high look, running back there and getting into the double coverage with [Patrick] Chung, [I was] able to make a play. I wish they didn't take my returning yards away though.
Q: How pleased were you with the energy with which you guys came out and started both halves?
DM: That's big. We talked about getting off to an early start, playing well early, and that's big when we can do that. Just giving the ball back to the offense, getting three-and-outs – we let up a big play early in the game but just getting back, holding them, making them kick a field goal, that's big for us. Actually, blocking a field goal with Shea [McClellin], we've just got to keep doing that. As we get later into the season, we're going to be in tough games, guys have got to make plays. We've got to just continue to be resilient.
Q: When it comes to giving up yards, no defense is better than Baltimore but when it comes to giving up points, no defense is better than the Patriots. Which is more important?
DM: Well, points win the game. But it's a part of playing defense. You get in games like this, you can throw away all those stats. They don't matter. You've got two tough teams – teams that are used to playing in big games, two teams that are used to playing each other in those big games. We know them well, they know us well, it's just a battle of who makes a play in different key situations. You saw tonight, we got off to a great start, took an early lead, [then] they were able to make some plays, score, I think it was 17 straight points to get back in the game and make it tough. It's just a battle, so the stats don't really matter when you get in games like this.
Q: Is it a big step for the defense that besides the two short-field touchdowns, you held them to just three field goals?
DM: Yeah, we've got to keep doing that. We've talked about improving all year and we're into December now. Obviously, we've still got some things to work on. Like you said, the short field, if we could just get them to kick field goals in those situations, that's big for us in the red area. But we're just coming together and I think it all starts on the practice field each week. Guys are putting in a ton of work. We have guys understanding their role. We're getting to play together week after week now and there's no letting up right now. We've just got to keep getting better, keep pushing forward at the little things and at this time of year, it comes down to probably one or two plays in these big games and we've just got to try to make those.
Q: Does it lead to more confidence for the defense that you played well against a team with a winning record rather than the teams with losing records you had also played well against in recent weeks?
TB: Yeah, I think the true confidence comes from how we prepare. Obviously, you still have to go do it on game night, but we've just got to keep preparing the way we've been preparing. We know right now what the key is to win games and we've got to keep doing that defensively and really as a team. I think as you battle through the season, you're finding yourself and when you do, you understand we're a blue-collar defense. We've got to come to work, we've got to study the film, we've got to watch during the week together. We've got to be able to communicate on the field, talk about everything. Guys playing multiple positions, multiple roles, doing different things, we've got to keep doing that. The more we understand our opponent going in to the game, the better we play. I think we've been working at it all year and it's just continuous work. Like I said earlier, we can't let our foot off the gas right now just because we've had a couple of good games. It's not going to get easier throughout the season.
Q: As a captain what can you do to keep Cyrus Jones' head up as he struggles here in the punt return aspect?
DM: Just keep on him, keep telling him, keep on coming out here playing. I'm not new to struggles. I've had struggles throughout my career here and you've just got to keep playing. It's football. We have a tough football team. We have a lot of guys in that locker room that care about each other, great leadership. That's what helped me through was just keep playing when I had some struggles throughout my career. He's a very talented player. He's young. He's a rookie. You're going to have some bad plays out there. You've just got to keep playing. We'll continue to count on him, keep on making sure his confidence stays high. I have no doubt that he's going to rebound and keep playing for us and keep playing well for us.
Q: Is it a confidence booster for the defense when they score the first points of the game?
DM: Yeah, I mean it's big just to get some points on the board. It's weird, we haven't scored a touchdown on defense but we have three safeties which I don't think happens too often in a season. We've just got to keep doing that. I think with our offense anytime we put points on the board as a defense that's just an added bonus because we know what they can do offensively and we can chime in there and help out a little bit. I'm sure they'll take the points and keep trying to add on to it.
Q: Did tonight feel like a playoff game in your mind?
DM: Definitely that type of atmosphere. I mean we went out there on the first possession that we went out on defensively the stadium was rocking. It was loud. We were screaming to try and make checks. I feel like I lost my voice. You love that though. It's that time of year where every game matters. Everybody's playing for something. We've just got to try to keep it rolling. Whether you want to call it a playoff game, must-wins, any of that stuff, once you get into December and towards the end of December and every games really important. It's not as much rebounding and trying to fix things. You want to try and play your best ball each time you go out there and play.
Q: Do you feel like you had a special crowd tonight that provided the type of energy that you guys can feed off of?
DM: Yeah, I mean we loved that. We know it's tough. Our crowd's tough on us at times when we don't do well but I think anytime we get that type of energy in the stadium and the opponents have to deal with that offensively and we can start off the game playing well on defense. It just seems like it builds. The momentum builds. The team plays well. The crowd is into the game so that's an advantage you want playing at home. When we get that on a night like tonight, Monday night, it's huge for us. We really appreciate it. We love when the fans come out. They've got work tomorrow so coming out here and staying all night was big.
Martellus Bennett, Tight End
(On whether or not he had possession of the ball on his contested touchdown catch)
"I had it. Sometimes there's one slice of pizza left and there's two hands that reach into the box. I'm always going to eat mine. I'm always going to get the last slice."
(On how the team reacted to Baltimore's successful third quarter)
"The whole week we knew it was going to be a 60-minute game. They're a really good team and we knew they were never going to give up. They are mentally and physically tough so we knew that we were going to have to battle throughout the whole game. We didn't know how it was going to go, we just knew it was going to take 60 minutes to win and it really came down to the last few seconds to get that victory."
(On why they were so successful with their running game against the strong Baltimore defense)
"I mean LeGarrette Blount is really good and our offensive line is doing a great job. David Andrews, Nate [Solder], Marcus Cannon have been playing well as well as Shaq [Mason]. Then we have [Cameron Fleming] coming in at the extra tight end and he's been doing an excellent job blocking and [James] Develin has been doing a great job at fullback. It's a little bit of everybody. We have good backs, but it takes everyone to get a yard so everyone is competing and everyone is fighting no matter what."
Patrick Chung, Safety
(On the team's mental toughness)
"It's mental toughness first. You're going to be put in some situations where it's not going to be appealing to you. You just got to go out there and play some ball and do the best that you can."
(On Cyrus Jones)
We'll go out here and just keep building. We have three more games and then we just got to go try and get these last three and play with the guys we got and just try and get a W in all of them."
Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver
(On what it means to get a win against a team of Baltimore's caliber)
"It's always good to get a win against Baltimore. It's a tough team. You know you're going to be playing a 60-minute game. This time of the year the games get harder because there's more to play for so that's kind of what we expected."
(On what the feeling on the sideline was like after the two special teams miscues)
"We were just trying to stay mentally prepared for when we were going to have to get back on [the field.] That's just how the game rolls sometimes and I've been in that situation. Those guys work hard on a weekly basis. Sometimes that just happens so it's unfortunate and we have to get better and have to learn from it. But, it was good to get hit in the face and go out and still get a win."
(On how he feels about the short break before the game against Denver)
"We have to start preparing immediately. We know what they're about. They have a really good defense. They have guys that can get after the ball. They have guys that can cover the ball. They have guys that can cover receivers. It's going to be an ultimate preparation week so we're going to have to start that soon."
Chris Hogan, Wide Receiver
(On the touchdown catch)
"Me and Tom [Brady] are on the same page. It was something where I had the option of going to the corner or the middle of the field and we saw the same thing. Tom made a great throw and I think it was the time and the point in the game where we needed someone to step up and make a big play. I was just happy I was able to do that for this team."
(On being on the same page as Tom Brady)
"It's something we work on week in and week out. That just goes back to our practicing and watching film. We were able to be on the same page at that particular moment, which was great, because we needed it."
(On the feeling after the Ravens swung the momentum)
"I think we just needed a play. We had kind of gone back and forth with that team. We knew it was going to be a battle for 60 minutes. We were able to come up big, make a play, and the defense stepped up. All in all it was a good team win."
Chris Long, Defensive End
(On the game)
"Overall, we did enough to win. It was a team win; the offense came back and responded, we blocked a field goal on special teams. We did good things in all three phases and if we just eliminate a couple of the bad things we'll be better."
(On the team's defensive aggressiveness)
"Listen, Matt [Patricia] just does a great job of mixing things up. A lot of times we're just going to be rushing three or sitting back and then we'll mix in aggressive stuff. Matt does a great job with that and obviously we were able to get to them some tonight but Joe [Flacco] did a good job at getting the ball out most of the game."
(On the team's defensive performance)
"If we can put that [first] half together twice. We still did a pretty good job in the second half but we just need to shut the door on those two opportunities. If you want to be a great defense, you have to be great when there's a little adversity and that's the next step. It was a team win and we did a great job in the first half. We could've done a few things better in the second half but we'll get there."
Shea McClellin, Linebacker
(On the field goal block)
"It just comes from practicing the last couple of weeks and watching film with the special teams coordinator Joe Judge and Bubba [Ray Ventrone], so it just comes from that – preparation and film study."
(On the key to executing the field goal block)
"Just time it up right. That's all you've got to do, time it up right. Fortunately I did, but it's not all me though. The big guys up front [Alan] Branch and Malcom [Brown] did a great job of keeping those guys [on the Ravens] down."
(On ever pulling off a play like that before)
"No, never. I never have, but like I said, it wasn't all me. It was the guys up front [who helped] as well.
Malcolm Mitchell, Wide Receiver
(On overcoming adversity)
"I think what was most important tonight was that we played as a team, even when we dealt with adversity. We still stuck together, stayed focused, and did enough to win the game."
(On Tom Brady's extra fire tonight)
"He's usually always that way. Of course, when we want to do better, he is the leader of the team, so he has to do what he has to do to pick us up."
(On the touchdown pass to Chris Hogan)
"Man, I was telling Tom [Brady] after the game that during games, especially when we are playing, I stay pretty even-keeled. But that was a great play. I think everybody from the stands, probably [the] people watching TV, felt the energy of that play. [It was] my favorite part of the night."
James White, Running Back
(On closing out the game successfully)
"It's a big deal for our offense. You definitely want to end the game. There are four minutes, then two minutes left on the clock, and you want to end the game with the ball, so it's great to do that. Convert for the first down, the offensive line did a great job, [LeGarrette Blount] found the hole, and we just found a way."
(On his long gain)
"Third down is a big down in this league. It's a big play to get us into scoring position, so I just try and do whatever I can to help this team."
(On third down conversions)
"Third down is an important down, each and every week. It's always going to be a punt or we're going to convert, so we're just trying to convert as many times as possible to keep the drives going."
(On LeGarrette Blount's rushing records)
"It's a huge accomplishment. I think the last person to do it was [Stevan] Ridley a couple years ago, so it's a huge accomplishment. He's been running hard and I'm really happy for him."