New England Patriots

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 07: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 07, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

When the Patriots were struggling early in the season, the leaders of the team preached they knew the team had what was needed to turn things around. Even after back-to-back wins over the Jets and Chargers, players spoke about not getting complacent with half of the season left to play.

What was the team saying after Sunday’s win over the Panthers, that put their record over .500? Here’s a look at the notable quotes from after the game…

  • Head coach Bill Belichick

    Opening statement:

    “I thought it was a good effort by our team tonight – players and coaches. Thought we did a really good job of rallying after the trip back from California. With the preparations and the way we played out, I just thought they did a good job, came out and played with good energy this afternoon. Kind of hurt ourselves offensively with some penalties and turnovers. We moved the ball. We left some things out on the field. Defensively, we got a real strong effort in the running game, forced them into some passing situations and we were able to convert on a few of those. Tough for Carolina losing two starting linemen in the first quarter. That’s never a good thing. But I thought our guys played hard. Obviously, the pressure on the quarterback, J.C. [Jackson’s] interceptions, the play Jamie [Collins Sr.] made – I don’t know how many players in the league could make that play, not very many, but it was a tremendous play. I thought, overall, we covered well in the kicking game. We’re solid there. Good to come down here and get a win. Good to beat an NFC team and we’ll just keep trying to string these weeks together.”

    How the defense played against the Panthers:

    It was great. I thought the d-line did a good job, linebackers had good pressure on the quarterback. They had a couple runs on us there, they had a couple of wildcat runs, and a bounce out there. They’re a good tough, hard-nose football team and they showed that defensively. Those two guys on the edge are really fast, really explosive. They’re a problem. [Brian] Burns and [Haason] Reddick and [Derrick] Brown inside, those three guys are hard to handle but we kind of stood in there and battled them. But defensively, it was a good effort. We were able to put the quarterback under some pressure. Two of the turnovers we batted a couple of balls but both of J.C. [Jackson’s] interceptions both looked like they came with some pressure on them, just a couple of balls [Sam Darnold] had to throw away. He’s a tough guy to get down, we missed him a couple of times in the pocket, but that’s the way it’s going to be with Sam [Darnold] – he’s a big, strong kid that you’ve got to wrap up back there. But I thought our defense came to play today and played well, helped our offense out and saved some points on the two turnovers – held them to three points on both of those. Those were both good kicks by [Zane] Gonzalez. We pushed them back a little bit but not quite far enough.

    On the importance of Brandon Bolden:

    He has a big role – pass protection, route running, some of the carries that he’s taken – he’s done a good job and he’s still continued to keep his role in the kicking game which has been good as well. We’ve had good depth in the backfield. Some years we’ve had to use it, some years we haven’t, but when we’ve had it, generally those guys have stepped up and done a good job for us – going all the way back to [Cordarrelle Patterson] in 2018, we needed him during a point in the season. But yeah, Brandon has stepped up every week, and Rhamondre, and obviously Damien, and J.J. [Taylor] last week, so hopefully those guys will continue to come through for us.

    What stood out about Jamie Collins’ interception:

    It was just the catch. It was like five yards away from the quarterback who threw it as hard as he could. That’s a pretty tough catch.

    On J.C. Jackson’s performance after being sick and missing two days of practice this week:

    Yeah, I talked to him about that. I hope that’s not a sign of things to come – to think that we don’t have to practice and then go out there and be a star of the game. But J.C. played well and honestly when you miss a couple of days like that, if you’ve had all the other ones that lead up to it then those aren’t as – they’re important but you have a better chance of overcoming it because of all the practices that you’ve bankrolled. But it was a great job by him. He came out there on Friday and he was on things and actually had a good day on Friday. He practiced well and then obviously had a couple big plays today, a couple of which – especially the first one – came with some pressure but he made a great play on a great run. When I saw Robby Anderson chasing him, I wasn’t sure how that was going to come out because I know Robby can go, but J.C. beat him to the goal line so that shows you what he can do too.

    How much Christian Barmore has grown this season:

    Oh, a lot from where he was in the spring. He’s worked extremely hard. I’ve got to give that kid a lot of credit: he comes in early, he stays late; he works on his flexibility, his strength, his technique. He’s really applied himself and he’s just gotten better and better every week in the running game, in the passing game, more discipline, use of hands, recognition of plays. He’s done a good job for us and he’s a big man.

    What the defense did to fluster Sam Darnold:

    Credit goes to the players. They’re the ones that are out there making the plays. I didn’t do anything – I didn’t touch any passes or cover anybody. We don’t want that.

    Is he concerned about the number of pre-snap penalties?

    Yeah, that’s not what we’re trying to do.

  • Quarterback Mac Jones

    On getting a win:

    I think just talking with the older guys on the team and the coaches. Obviously, getting a win on the road in the NFL is really hard to do and we have done a good job of that this year. I am just proud of everybody and how they played. The defense played lights out. Definitely feel like I could do better. I just have to look at myself in the mirror and figure out what I can do better. But, I don’t think we quit and we just tried to play the full 60-minutes to the best of our ability. I think it’s just a great example of a good team win. The defense did expectational, so hats off to them. I am super happy for those guys, so hopefully we can just continue to play well.

    What has Brandon Bolden meant to him:

    He is a great dude. Brandon, that is my guy. He is just a great team player and he has obviously been in the NFL for a long time. Just like James has. He has seen a lot of football and he just helps the team win in any way he can. He makes plays. You saw the over the shoulder catch was an exceptional catch and we needed that play. He stepped up and did a good job of running the ball. He is fast and strong, and he is a great teammate too which is really important. He always has my back and has other people’s back on our offense and keeps it positive. That is what makes is really fun to play with him.

    The biggest difference over the past three games:

    I think just when you look back on it, there is just reoccurring themes in terms of communication and I can do a better job with that. Part of it is just the inexperience, but there is no excuse for that. I have been here for quite a while now and I can figure out the looks that I am not used to seeing, and just go from there. But, we have made progress every game I feel like. The big thing for us is don’t turn the ball over and I had two turnovers today so that is not good enough. I will look at it and see what I can do better.

    Thoughts on Rhamandre Stevenson’s performance today:

    I think Rhamandre showed great toughness and effort. It was just fun to watch him make plays because he is an exciting player. He just makes the right cut. Most the time he is just trying to learn how to do it in this offense and it is starting to click. I think that is important. Rhamandre has done a great job along with all the other backs. He is the young guy in the room. But, those guys, there is no clashing heads. They are all together and they are all trying to get as many yards as they can, and support each other. It seems like we can have whatever back in there at any time and there is no drop off. Everyone is held to a high standard and that is really important.

    Thoughts on seeing Stephon Gilmore:

    I mean I threw the ball right to the guy. A lot of people could catch that. So, I just have to look at the film and see where I could have thrown it better. But, he is a great player and they are good on defense. They have a good pass defense and respect to those guys. I can do better with my reads and all that stuff. I just have to look in the mirror and see what I can do better.

  • Linebacker Matthew Judon

    On the defensive performance:

    It was a good performance by the defense. We had some drives, they got some yards, and then J.C. Jackson happened. Then when they had short fields we kept them out of the end zone. That is what you want to see from the defense. If your turns over the ball or however it happens, you want your defense to go out there and get a stop. That is what we did.

    Does J.C. Jackson has a nose for the ball?

    Yeah, Jackson come up with the ball. He come up with the ball and you don’t know how it happened. I was kind of talking to him on that second pick and he was like, ‘man, we got to get off the field this drive has got to be over.’ I was like, ‘bro, last time they drove the ball, pick six. Go in and end the drive.’ He ended the drive. Shoot man, he can come up with the ball though.

    Does he feel the team has turned a corner?

    One game at a time. I think if you ask anybody on this team, that is how we have been taking it. We had some tough games and we had some tough losses, but right now it is one game at a time. We have to continue to stack the wins and not get too far ahead of ourselves. We have good opponents in the next coming weeks and we have got a short week coming up. So, we have to make sure we stack these wins. It is one week at a time.

  • Linebacker Jamie Collins

    On his interception:

    I was rushing. Yeah, I was rushing. He was a scrambler. He is a scrambler. He was getting out of the pocket so i was really just trying to keep my eye on him, trying to occupy the center and it so happened to come my way.

    Was it quick?

    Yeah, it was quick. But as Bill [Belichick] says, practice execution becomes game reality and I always do it in practice. Like how I said, it’s something I always do in practice. I don’t know. It’s just something about it. I always do it in practice. It just so happened to come together in the game.

    On catching field goals in practice:

    I don’t know. Like I said, it’s just something about me that just always is going after the ball. Like I said, I don’t know if it’s because i used to play quarterback. I don’t touch the ball a lot but it’s just something that I always do. I just do stuff. I just do it.

  • Cornerback J.C. Jackson

    On his interception return for a touchdown:

    I mean, you could watch the whole play on the internet. Watch it back on the internet. I mean, I made a good read in zone coverage. I had my eyes on the quarterback and the ball and that’s what I do.

    How good a feeling it was to see his teammates celebrate behind you?

    That was a hell of a feeling because that was my first career touchdown in the NFL. That was an amazing feeling and I need to get more of those.

    On how the defense has been able to have success against Sam Darnold:

    Our defense disguises pretty good when we play Darnold every year. He has a hard time against us.

    On seeing Robby Anderson chasing behind him during the interception for a touchdown:

    I was like oh s—, I hope I don’t get caught. I got gassed at the 30 and the 20 and my legs got tight. I’m looking back and I’m running in a zig zag so that he doesn’t catch me. He was pretty close.

    On staying fresh because of the defensive rotation:

    I felt great especially with the rotations keeping me fresh…taking me out on early downs and putting me back in critical third down situations. That’s how I stayed fresh because I missed practice but I love that rotation.

  • Linebacker Dont'a Hightower

    On how the defense performed against the run:

    Yeah, I think that was something that they made aware they wanted to do. Carolina is a really good running football team. Obviously, with CMC. [Chuba] Hubbard has done a really good job this year for them. We knew that’s what they wanted to do was to come in and run the ball. Whether we stopped it or not, they were going to continue to run the ball. It was something that they wanted to do. I feel like we came out and did a pretty good job today in the run game.

    On the Patriots’ success defending Sam Darnold over the years:

    I couldn’t even try to compare the last couple of times we’ve played each other because I feel like the two teams are totally different. I can say the last two times that we’ve played, as far as the gameplan, I feel like we executed it from the front tier, to the second tier, to the back end. Today, we made it tough for them. Wasn’t able to run the ball really well and put them in situations that they maybe weren’t used to.

    On Jamie Collins’ interception:

    To me, I’m not really surprised it’s almost expected when you see a dude who’s catching field goals out of the air and stuff. It’s great to have him back. A lot of the guys being back, they would always hear stories about ‘Tweet’ or Jamie. To have him here and to show the work ethic and stuff, and come in and make huge plays the way he did. I think he made like all three plays on that series. I love to have him, I’m glad he’s here.

  • Center David Andrews

    His overall thoughts on the win:

    We did some things to hurt ourselves early but really played hard and we had a couple of big drives to get some points. Obviously, the defense played great. It feels good to come down here and get a win against an NFC team and now we go back and get ready for a big one this week.

    On the early struggles getting the running game going:

    We have a great group of backs and we just have to get them going. We put ourselves in some not advantageous positions early on with long yardage and that kind of distorts some things. I really thought when we put the drives together and did what we wanted to stay ahead on down and distance obviously, we had good results and positive plays. That’s got to be our formula.

    On the team’s three-game winning streak:

    We’ve been working really hard and we have to continue that this week. It was a great team win. I thought we did some things really well and there’s always some things that we can clean up. We’ll learn from that and we did some things to hurt ourselves like I said and so we have to fix that and correct that. When we executed, we had success so that’s got to be our formula every week.

    On what Rhamondre Stevenson brings to the team:

    Rhamondre has been great to have and we’ll figure out why I’m laughing after the season. He’s been great to have and he does a lot of good things well. He’s a tough fast, physical kid and you can see when he gets in space, he can do a lot of things well like he did this week. He’s done great contributing to this football team and we’ll see where it goes this week.

  • Defensive lineman Christian Barmore

    How good of a day was it for the defense?

    It was a real good day, you know what I’m saying? We’re just going to keep getting better every day, go to practice and get even better.

    On facing Sam Darnold:

    It’s my first time playing him. He’s a good quarterback. It’s just that we came in with the mentality to dominate. Everybody from the D-line to the DBs so we all came in locked in.

    Holding Carolina to field goals after turnovers:

    If you want to score on us, you have to come with the pressure. You’re going to have a hard time. We aren’t going to give up the six easily. So we’re going to come at you with the best defense that we got.

    On playing next to Matthew Judon:

    It’s a blessing really. He’s a hell of a player. All the guys on the d-line. Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower. It’s a blessing.