New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 26: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

Sunday was a chance for the Patriots to retake the AFC East crown after just a year off the thrown. Instead, it saw the Patriots drop from the top spot in the division back into a crowded AFC Wild Card race.

After a second straight disappointing performance, what are the Patriots thinking with two games to go? Here’s what Bill Belichick and the leaders on the team had to say after the game…

  • Head coach Bill Belichick

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 26: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

    Opening Statement:

    “Well, kind of a little bit like last week. Not a lot to say here. Obviously Buffalo made more plays than we did today, played better than we did, coached better than we did. We just didn’t perform well enough to really have a good chance to win the game. We have to find a way to do better. Again, they made more plays than we did. Give them credit and set to go back to work here for next week.”

    Do you think the struggles defensively today were unique to the abilities of Josh Allen?

    “Buffalo receivers played well, they threw the ball well, they ran after the catch well. They did a good job. Did a better job than we did, that’s for sure.”

    “Is Isaiah McKenzie just a tough cover today for what they were doing?”

    “He made a couple great catches. Hit him on a couple over-routes. Yeah, I mean, they had a lot of production in the passing game.”

    “The penalty that was going to be called on Jerry Hughes, they picked up the flag. Did you get any information on why the referees decided to reverse the call there?”

    “Yeah, talk to them about that.”

    “Football aside, I’m doing a story about New Year’s resolutions. I was wondering if you had any you wanted to share with your fans and our readers?”

    “Yeah, no, not right now. Maybe next week.”

    “It looked like Myles Bryant had Isaiah McKenzie for most of the game in man coverage. Was there any thought to switch that matchup up? What did you see in that matchup that went Isaiah’s way?”

    “We played quite a bit of zone today, too. I mean, we were in man, we were in zone. Need to do a better job in all of it.”

    “What’s the key to just turning this thing around and getting focused for the final two games now?”

    “Yeah, we’ll do what we always do. Come in here, look at the film, make corrections from today and get ready for Jacksonville.”

  • QB Mac Jones

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 26: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots calls a play at the line during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

    “Just to start, how would you describe the emotions throughout this? Ultimately what went wrong for your group?”

    “Yeah, I think we just need to execute better. It really just wasn’t our day. But there’s no excuses and there’s really nothing to talk about. I didn’t play great. I can play better and I can lead a lot better. It starts with me, so we’ll just have to look in the mirror and address what we can and just keep working to get better every day.”

    “How do you guys get off to faster starts?”

    “I think just executing better, just whatever the play call is, go out there and do your job. I didn’t do that early on in the game, I didn’t do it throughout the game. You can’t have successful plays when your quarterback’s not doing the right thing, so I have to play better and get the ball to the people that need to get the ball. There’s no excuses.”

    “One of the notable plays in the game came in the second quarter on their sideline when the Bills defender made some contact with you. Can you take us back to that play and how it unfolded from your view?”

    “Yeah, I mean, it’s football. You’re going to get hit. It’s not our job to figure out what it was, a flag or wasn’t. It’s the refs’ job, that’s why they’re there. It’s just one of those plays. At the end of the day if you get positive yards, then it’s a good play. That’s really all there is to it.”

    “Did you feel like it was unnecessary roughness?”

    “I don’t really know. I just ran and got out-of-bounds. I don’t know what happened from there. Just my knee brace kind of did a little thing there so I was just trying to get it off. There was nothing, I mean, there was nothing more to it.”

    “Your first scoring drive in the game, you went for it twice on fourth down and then Damien Harris scored that touchdown. It just seemed you kind of knew what type of day this was going to be, almost like a boxing match, going for it on fourth down and doing anything you had to do to score, right?”

    “Yeah, I think every divisional game in the NFL, just from listening to the older guys and being a part of some, every one is going to be like that. Like I said, we didn’t execute. I didn’t execute. Some of those plays shouldn’t even have been there. We should have skipped some fourth downs and third downs. First and second downs we could have had bigger plays from me. I think like you’re talking about, those are the plays you want to make and we did a good job making some of them. But we really don’t even want to be in that spot. Every time it puts Josh [McDaniels] in a hard position and it puts a lot of the other players in a hard position, too.”

    “Your accuracy was unusually off today. Being in New England for a full month in the winter, have you found throwing in the cold to be a skill you’re developing?”

    “Yeah, I think it just goes back to execution, throwing it to the right guy, regardless of the weather. I’m still learning obviously. I don’t think there’s any excuses. If the guy is open, you’re supposed to throw it to him and he’s supposed to catch the ball. We’re supposed to move the sticks. If I can’t hit him in the hands then he’s not going to be able to catch the ball. The accuracy needs to improve.”

    “You’ve said you take losses hard. How do you keep your head right to move forward when things are starting to spiral a little bit?”

    “Yeah, I think every week’s a new week. All you can do is watch the film and get better from it and see what we can do better next week.”

    “What did you see from the Bills coverage-wise? What stood out in terms of the coverages they played today? Along those lines too, Kendrick Bourne was activated yesterday. To not have the week of practice with him, but then have him come out and be part of this game today, did that have any impact?”

    “I think it was obvious that the Bills were the better team when we went against them. We have to go back and do what we can do really well, fix what we can fix, control what we can control. Yeah, getting KB back was great. He came out here with the right attitude. All the receivers fought hard. But I got to give them the ball, let them run with it and make their plays. It’s hard to make any plays when the ball is not in the frame to catch. That’s on me and we’ll just try to get everyone back next week and continue to work.”

    You talked after the Indianapolis game about how you thought practice went that week leading up to the game. How do you think it went this week?

    “Yeah, I’m not going to really talk about the past. I think what we do on Sundays is what matters. I didn’t perform very well today. All we have is the opportunity to get another week of practice to try and play well on Sunday again, so that’s all there is to it.”

  • C David Andrews

    Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) and center David Andrews (60) warm up before the start of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    On how the game unfolded:

    “Bad start. We did some things well, had some good drives, but not good enough in crucial moments. A bad start put ourselves down in a hole and you don’t want to do that against a good football team.”

    On what message the veterans need to send the younger players after a tough stretch:

    “You can talk and talk, we have to execute, we have to be better. That’s really what it comes down to. It really just comes down to execution and we didn’t do a good enough job of that today.”

    On the slow starts in back to back games:

    “I think we just have to go out there and execute. Really first down, first play, just getting a positive play, getting the drive going. Second-and-10, third-and-10, that’s a hard way to play the game and we played that game a little too much today. Hard to, against a good defense and good football team, play the game in long yardage like that.”

    On falling from the top seed in the AFC to fighting for a Wild Card spot:

    “It’s our own fault. There is no one to blame except for us. That is what it is, can’t change it now, got to get back to work tomorrow.”

    On Damien Harris:

    “Yeah, he’s a great player. We have to do a better job of blocking for him. When you get down, obviously it changes the way you do things. You can’t play the game from behind like we have, put ourselves down like that, it’s just too hard to play catch up. Dame is a great player and we just have to do a better job for him. Got him going there, he made some great reads, but just a little too late.”

    How Mac Jones battled today:

    “That’s an every week question, right? Yeah, he does a great job. He is very tough for us. He does a great job of standing in there. We just have to do better for him and we all have to do better for each other.”

  • RB Damien Harris

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 26: Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots runs the ball during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

    On going for it on multiple fourth downs:

    “This was an important game. We weren’t going to hold anything back. The coaches made the decisions that they made. As players, it’s our job to go out there and execute.”

    What did the Bills defense do to make things tough for the Patriots offense?

    “Ultimately, we didn’t execute. We didn’t do the things we needed to do well enough to have enough positive plays. To move the ball well enough, that way we can come out with a win. At the end of the day, we didn’t execute.”

    What needs to change?

    “Win, lose or draw we have to show up the next day ready to get back to work. Unfortunately, the last two weeks haven’t gone the way we wanted them to. It’s not the end of our season. We’ll show up tomorrow ready to work, ready to improve. We’ll review it, go over the corrections, take the coaching and after that it’s on to the next game.”

    On two-game skid:

    “We’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to have more positive plays. We’ve got to extend plays, play offense all the way through the goal line and try to get more points.”

  • S Devin McCourty

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 26: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills is hit by Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

    What changed after the bye week?

    “Wish I knew. It’s too late in the season to not play your best football. We’ve got to play better. We need to make a play. We are not making those plays. It hasn’t been good. It’s up to us as a team.”

    On the Bills not punting:

    “It didn’t feel like we did anything well enough. We only seem to get stops in the red area. We didn’t get any stops to give the offense field position. It was just overall not good enough.”

    Is there anything they can take from bouncing back from a 2-4 start to turn things around now?

    “It’s down to two games left. Starting with Jacksonville, preparing, doing everything we have to. Putting everything into it and winning that game. I don’t know how. I don’t know what it will look like but it’s that time of year to find a way to win.”

    On Isaiah Mckenzie’s performance:

    “I’ll have to watch the film. Josh Allen made some good throws to him. They used him well, game plan wise. We didn’t adjust and I felt like I could’ve made some adjustments on the field that would’ve helped us. We just didn’t get it done.”

  • WR Jakobi Meyers

    Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) runs the ball against Buffalo Bills cornerback Dane Jackson (30) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    How can the Patriots get their rhythm back?

    “We’ve got to keep our head down and keep working. That’s football. There are going to be some dog days. There are going to be some bad plays, bad possessions, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to come in, come into work, and do the best that you can with every opportunity that you have, so we’re going to keep our head down and we’re going to keep working.”

    On how to keep these losses from snowballing:

    “We grow and we’re professionals. We all know what we’ve got to do. We all know what we’ve got to bring to the table at the end of the day. It’s on each man to contribute to this family, come in, put your best foot forward, and that’s what we’ve got to do. Everybody is doing their best job. I believe in our locker room. I believe we’ve got a lot of talented players. As long as everybody comes in and is their best self, I think we’ll be alright.”

    On Coach Belichick’s post-game message and if he feels like they let an opportunity slip away:

    “We knew what we were playing for, but at the end of the day, his message was we didn’t do well enough. We didn’t start fast enough. There were a lot of plays we left out on the field. That’s a bad feeling for any athlete, any professional. We’ve just got to go watch the tape, learn from it, and try to be better from the next game moving forward.”

    On what has been different for the team since the bye week:

    “Execution. Kind of like Dave [Andrews] said. We just haven’t been executing to the best of our ability. That’s the NFL. They’re going to execute or we are. Either one. Whoever does is going to win. Whoever doesn’t is going to lose. We haven’t been doing it to the best of our ability. If we want to win, we’ve got to go into the locker room, look each other in the eyes, and say, ’We’ve got to do it right. Do the hard things right’.”

  • LB Kyle Van Noy

    Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws the ball past New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    On things the Patriots can use now from improving after a slow start to the season:

    “Yeah, I mean, it’s disappointing to lose right? Especially when the standard is really high and you have high expectations for yourself and your teammates, so it’s disappointing when you lose, but we can’t point the finger. We’ve got to get together as a team, we got to come closer and we’ve just got to do the right things. We’ve just got to practice a little bit better, I’m not saying practice was bad, we’ve just got to watch a little extra film here and there and tweak some things and just play better. You know, I can sit up here and talk all day about yadda yadda yadda, but at the end of the day we just got to go produce, you know, talk less and play more.”

    On what made Josh Allen tough to contain:

    “I think he just does a really good job of watching the rush lanes. He has a good feel in the pocket, he did a pretty good job tonight, extended some plays. We just got to do a better job of matching that same energy he had and if not, bring a little bit more. He did a really good job tonight, props to him. They won the game. We’ve just got to come out here next week and fight better, practice and fix that.”

    Was forcing Josh Allen to be patient part of the game plan?

    “I think anytime we play, we’re confident in our defense to be able to guard everything and just let a couple yards in that. We stopped them a couple times and they switched it up a bit, kudos to them, they won today. You got to give them props. [Sean] McDermott had them ready to play and they won, good for them.”

    On the difficulty in getting the Bills’ offense off the field:

    “You know, you answered your own question, it was difficult today getting them off the field and we just got to do a better job of limiting those play after play after play, them staying on track. We got to get them off track and they did a good job of staying on track and executing a couple third and shorts and fourth and shorts to keep drives alive and would make a play here. There’s a couple fifty-fifty balls that we need to come up with. I know J.C.’s kicking himself for that pick, but we’ve got to have those, especially this time of year with the season on the line. We’ve got to come together and do a little bit more. I think we should be able to do that.”

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