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New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In a season full of close losses, this one hit hard. The Patriots fell to the Dallas Cowboys 35-29 on Sunday in a game that swayed back-and-forth in the final minutes like an old shed in a nor’easter.

While fans may have more questions than answers after the loss, here’s what Patriots players and coaches had to say after the game.

  • Head coach Bill Belichick

    Opening Statement:

    “It was a tough one to lose tonight. Yeah, it was a good football team. Give Dallas credit. They’re a good team. They’re well-coached. I know we just came up a little bit short. Thought that we went toe to toe with them for 60 minutes and we just couldn’t – they just made a few more plays than we did, so give them credit for that. We’ll move on.”

    On the emotions in the final few minutes of the game:

    “I don’t know, it’s like the final few minutes of any close game. Try to make good decisions, try to help your team win.”

    On the play discrepancy

    “They’re a good team, and that’s what you’ve got to do. Got to stop them.”

    On Dak Prescott:

    “Yeah, he did a good job. There was a lot of times where I thought we had him covered pretty well, but he was able to extend some plays and made some great throws. They have very good skill players.”

    On the Patriots’ pass rush:

    ” You know, there’s always room for improvement. Again, the quarterback was a hard guy to get. In the end – they have a good passing game, and they were probably a little better than we were today.”

    On if the strip sack impacted the play calling after that point:

    “I don’t know, there was a lot of other plays in there. I don’t think that play affected the other plays. Shouldn’t have.”

  • Quarterback Mac Jones

    On the emotions of the game:

    “Yeah, I think that’s the ebbs and flows of football. You’ve just got to play the next play and do your job to the best of your ability. I left some plays on the field, but it is what it is. In the NFL it takes maybe three or four bad plays and you lose the game. The margin of error is very slim, and I guess when I have that feeling that something might be going bad, just throw it away, call a time-out or figure it out and just try not to make a bad play worse, so I could have done that tonight better. I think the people around me played really well and we fought really hard, and sometimes you fall short.”

    On if he was impacted by the strip sack:

    MJ: Yeah, I think just you want to try and get in a rhythm. We did that sometimes during the game, but we’ve got to just play complementary football better, and the offense has to complement the defense, and special teams has to be involved in it, as well. I left a lot of plays on the field, but we did fight hard. When you look at the big picture, you never want to say you’re close, and it’s hard to do that, but the games that we’ve lost we’ve been two or three plays away, and I guess it’s just how the NFL works, and I’m learning that the hard way. But we can’t hang our heads, we just have to come back tomorrow, get up early and come back to work.

    On the pick-six:

    “Yeah, I think when I watch the film, I always want to find ways I can do something better, and I’m sure there was something I could do better on a lot of plays, and that play was one of them. You’ve just got to play the next play and you’re only as good as your last play. At the same time, you’ve got to move on and just execute the play that’s called. I could do that better, and I will, and we can’t just hang our heads. We’ve got to keep working, and no one is going to feel sorry for ourselves because that never works. You can get humbled every week, and you’ve just got to move on to the next week, and we’ll be ready to play next week.”

    On the touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne:

    “Yeah, I think you hit the reset button and stick to my rules and stick to what I’ve been taught. You can’t feel sorry for yourself, and sometimes it’s out of your control or sometimes it’s completely your fault. I wish I could have done things differently to where we weren’t even in that position. I just have to watch the tape and learn from it. It’s not the first pick six I’ll throw and it’s not going to be the last, so I have to learn how to bounce back and play the next play.”

    What it felt like after throwing that touchdown:

    “Yeah, I mean, just like I said, next-play mentality. Whatever they call, I execute it and give everybody a chance to execute the play. That’s going to happen a lot more hopefully in my career where you have a bad play and you come back and you make a good one. So it’s not always going to be perfect. You’ve got to dodge the ebbs and flows and just play the next play.”

    Was the strip sack the hardest he’d ever been hit, and what was it like getting up after that play?

    “No, it wasn’t, and I’ve just got to get up and jog off the field. That’s part of the game. I could have got the ball out quicker, and that’s on me. I’ll watch the film and figure out ways I can, A, get the ball out quicker or figure out ways to get it out or change the play or whatever. I’ll talk about that with the offense and find ways to where if I know it’s a look that we don’t want how we can change it or whatever, but it’s part of the game, and I don’t think that hit — of course it hurts, but you’ve just got to get up and play the next play. It’s part of football, and that’s the fun part.”

  • Center David Andrews

    On the emotions of the loss:

    “That’s football. That’s playing a good football team. That’s what games are like. It sucks. It sucks. I thought we battled and did some things really well and had some good drives and responded well to some things and showed some mental toughness and then, a few plays here or there, but that’s how it goes in this league. There’s not a big margin for error.”

    What Mac Jones’ touchdown to Kendrick Bourne showed:

    “Guts. He’s got some guts. He’s got some gusto. Talk about mental toughness. Toughness. How do you respond any better than what he just did? We needed a play and we got one from him.”

    On dealing with constant turnover on the offensive line:

    “Yeah, I think we did some things well. Obviously, the turnover drive that cost us. Thought Big Mike [Onwenu] showed some toughness getting out there after not being out there and going through what he had to go through. We just got it going a little bit. Got the run game going. Kind of played how we want to play. As an offensive lineman, running the football and doing some things like that, you really feel like you can impact the game there. We’ve just got to keep improving and that’s what we’ll do this week. That’s the only thing. I know to do it, to hold my guys accountable for and myself and come in and put it behind us and go back to work. That’s really all I’ve ever known. That’s what we’ll try to do.”

    Is the loss a building block for the team?

    “I think you can learn a lot from things. We’ve just got to keep moving forward. There was some good in the game. There’s obviously not enough good to win the game so we’ve just got to move on and go back to work.”

  • Linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley

    On forcing the fumble on the goal line:

    “Really kind of an instinctual thing. Defense did a good job on the goal line on previous plays. It was time to make a play. That was the opportunity. It came up so we had to make one.”

    On the end of the game:

    “The game went down to the wire. Great team, give them all the credit. They made some big time plays in clutch moments.”

    How do they make sure this loss doesn’t linger:

    “Come back to work tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then Sunday will be here before you know it. That’s all you can do regardless of win or loss. You have to come back in here and work. That’s our approach, that’s been our approach and that’s going to continue to be our approach. We’ve got to fill the tank back up and get ready to go.”

  • Defensive back Justin Bethel

    On Kyle Dugger’s interception:

    “Well at first I thought I was going to be able to pick it and then I was like, ‘Nah. Let’s just break it up.’ I saw it go in the air and I was just trying to make sure the receiver didn’t get it and I turned back, and I saw him catch it and start running out and I’m like ‘Okay. Well, he made a play. Let’s try and go block.’ Told him I was just trying to get down there and try to help him block”

    On his role on the team:

    “For me, personally, I always try to prepare during the week that something could happen that I might be the next guy up. So, I try to take each week like if something happens, be ready for whatever that role might be. It just happened that I had to come in this week when [Jonathan] Jones was down and had to do what I’ve been working for all week.”

    Are close games the sign of a good team?

    “I think we are a good team. I think we’re a good team with a bad record right now. There haven’t been games where we’re not in the running. We’re always one play here, one play there. We’ve just got to keep working, go back to work this week, and find a way to win those close games.”

  • Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne

    On the emotions at the end of the game:

    “Just trying to keep my head in the game. It was a crazy play, crazy sequence. I was just trying to keep my head in the game and not point fingers. I blame myself [for the interception]. I looked at it as what I could have done better? We still had plenty of time for another chance and I’m just grateful we had another chance.”

    What was Bill Belichick’s message to the team after the game?

    “The last few weeks we’ve been having close games and we are still trying to find ourselves. He said it was a tough loss, we fought hard and fought to the end. It’s just all about our mindset. Are we going to come in here tomorrow with a positive attitude for the future or are we going to come in here and fold? We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror and see what we have to do to fix it. We had a good start and just didn’t finish well. It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.”

    On his touchdown catch:

    “We actually hit that in practice. It was a good play and [Mac Jones]threw a good ball. I don’t know what happened at the line, but I saw the ball in the air and I made the play, but it just wasn’t enough.”

     

  • Running back Damien Harris

    How he’s feeling after the game:

    “I am feeling fine physically, but obviously we didn’t win the game which is most important, so I’m a little down about that. The good thing is that I know we have a good team, great players, great coaches, staff and a great organization, so if we keep coming in every single day and continue to work hard, we will be able to turn this thing around.”

    On the emotions of the game:

    “It was an emotional rollercoaster and that is just the way it goes sometimes. Ultimately, they ended up making a couple more plays than we did which is a tough feeling, but like I said, I have a lot of confidence in our team and the people in this organization. We are going to let this be behind us and when we come in, we are going to focus on moving forward for the rest of the season.”

    On the confidence in the locker room:

    “First of all, I don’t think there is any other way to do it. If you come in here negative, don’t believe in yourself and the guys that you are going to battle with every day, you don’t really have a good recipe for success anyways. Especially with this team and organization, we have a team of hardworking guys who just put their heads down and grind which is what this organization is built on. We have guys who just come in and do the right thing all of the time, play hard, work hard and that is really the way it is around here. The coaches coach us hard and give it everything they have because in the same way, they have a job to do, the players have a job to do. I know that everyone comes in and does their best, so if we keep doing that, keep being us and keep moving forward, we are all confident that we can turn this thing around.”

  • Linebacker Matt Judon

    What does the defense need to do to close out games?

    “Just that. We have got to close it out. Our offense went back out there and scored. They put us back up and gave us the lead and we’ve got to do our job. We’ve got to watch the film and we’ve got to execute and then practice those situations. We already practice those situations, so we just have to take practice into the game and get that big stop for our team.”

    What mindset is needed when making a goal line stop?

    “My mindset is to defend every blade of grass. Just because the guy is on the goal line doesn’t mean that they score here. We know on the goal line that players get a little loose with the ball, especially when they are trying to get over. They try to extend, and we just try to punch it out. Ja’Whaun Bentley made one heck of a play and when you defend every blade of grass, it’s a game of inches. That’s what you have to do, you have to defend every blade of grass.”

    What he can do to help the team move past this loss:

    “I’m going to come and be myself. As I said earlier, I am myself every day. I want to be even-keeled and be myself. I want to laugh, joke and come out here and have fun, but we have to execute. I’m going to still be me, but we have to make sure we execute.”

  • Safety Devin McCourty

    His message to the team after the game:

    “Just got to keep fighting. There’s nothing to say tonight, it’s disappointing. We played our heart out there, guys fought. To fall on the other side, to lose the game is just tough. I think everybody needs to just go, get away tonight and when we come back in here, have a mindset ready to go. There’s nothing we can do about it but tonight hurt, tonight’s disappointing. A back-and-forth game, we wanted to win that and we played well enough, we just didn’t make enough plays at the end to win it. That’s just disappointing.”

    On the final play of the game:

    “We were in a tough call for the route they ran. They dialed up a good play for what we tried to do, kind of situational football. What they like to do, we tried to take it away. Dak [Prescott] was able to hold it for another second. We kind of took the first two reads, the two tight ends to the flat on our left side, but an extended play, he got to kind of get back to the middle. That’s where we were kind of light at and that was it.”

    On not winning a game game this year:

    “It is what it is. I say it all the time, everything in the past has nothing to do with this year. I don’t think anybody thinks about the 2004 team and says, “Man, it was tough in ’04 we have got to go there now in ‘21.” It just is what it is. We are the 2021 Patriots who haven’t won at home. The past doesn’t matter, what those guys did in the past won’t help us. We just had to make a few plays at the end. It’s not like we’re coming in here at home and have no shot to win. All of these games, even the Saints game, it came down to a couple of plays that we’re not finishing and we’re falling short.”

    On the 24-yard gain on 3rd & 25:

    “We’ll watch it, but we’re banged up, it’s tough. You would want more DBs in but you guys could see, it was tough. [Jonathan] Jones was in and out, [Adrian Phillips] went down for a second, [Justin Bethel] went down for a second, it was just tough. A play we try to practice just wasn’t executed well enough. That play was tough though.”