New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 28: J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

It didn’t always look easy, but the Patriots made the plays they needed to on Sunday on their way to a 36-13 win over the Titans. They’ve now won six straight games for the first time since a 10-game streak that wrapped around from the end of the 2018 season to the beginning of 2019.

This win didn’t come easy. The Patriots were unable to lean on a lot of what led them to the five previous wins. Tennessee ran for 270 yards, and had two rushers go over 100 yards (the first time that’s happened to the Patriots since 1990). On the offensive side of the ball, the Patriots rushing attack was slowed to just 47 yards through three quarters.

Finding a way to win despite those struggles was an excellent display of the mental toughness of this team. It was also a point of emphasis when players and coaches spoke after the game. Here’s what they had to say…

  • Head coach Bill Belichick

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 28: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on from the side line during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    Opening Statement:

    “Good football team, a lot of good competitors, tough guys there. Proud of the way our guys stepped up. We missed some opportunities in the game but again, we’re going up against a good team. It’s going to happen. But in the end we were able to not turn the ball over and take the ball away, made big fourth down – two big fourth down stops there on the goal line, one six minutes to go in the game. I thought our special teams came through for us again and good coverage, and you know, competitive yard in the return game. Gunner [Olszewski] really helped us out at the end of the half and had a couple sparks there and thought we covered well and Nick [Folk] banged them through like he usually does. Good all around effort. Again, left some plays out there. Certainly some things we could have done better. But you know, we’ll take it and move on, finish this game up tomorrow and get ready for Buffalo.”

    On where the team is at heading into the final month of the season:

    “Yeah, I don’t know. Play Buffalo on Monday night. We’ll see. Eight games – look, eight games isn’t enough to clinch anything or win anything. We have a long way to go.”

    What did the Titans do that made it tough to stop the run?

    “They did a better job of coaching it than we did. We have to coach and play better.”

    On Nick Folk:

    “We have talked about it a bunch of times this year. Really consistent. Does a great job in all areas every week. You can really count on him and he’s delivered for us time after time. Really fortunate to have him, his consistency. Not easy kicking out there as we saw on the other side as well. So yeah, Nick is very professional and very consistent.”

    On J.C. Jackson’s forced fumble:

    “Look, there’s great plays defensively to have that awareness and recognize it and use proper technique to get it out. We talk about it but ultimately the players have to make that split-second decision as they are coming out in the ball and coming out on tackle and be able to get that punch and get that pressure on the ball cleanly to get it out. Sometimes it comes out. Sometimes it doesn’t. But if you don’t punch at it, it’s not going to come out as much. Players really worked hard on that starting back in October, really, started putting a bigger emphasis on it for us and to help our offense just going the other way for us there, too. And it’s nice to see that start to come out on the other side here, so hopefully we can keep doing that.”

    On Devin McCourty:

    “He’s been big for us for 13 years or whatever it’s been. Yeah, Devin gives us great leadership, a lot of confidence back there in the secondary. Makes great adjustments and helps get some things straightened out when they give us different looks and formations and splits and so forth. He’s a very aware player and has good understanding of the defenses than any player I’ve ever coached in the secondary. He really knows what everybody’s doing and can make quick decisions on the field. It’s not just knowing what to do but can be decisive and do the right thing. It was a great play. Very similar to the play he had in the Cleveland game where he had tipped it and almost got it on the over-route. Similar-type play but really kept it alive and J.C., you leave any trash laying around, he’s going to pick it up.”

    On Kendrick Bourne:

    “KB has given us a lot of explosive plays through the course of the years. He made a great catch and run here today and I thought Jakobi [Meyers] made a really timely block on the sideline to kind of get KB down there and KB ran well on the sideline, didn’t go out of bounds, fought for the extra yards. Had a nice, stiff arm. Finished the run, so that was it. It was a great play by KB. He’s done that a few times. You know, those explosive plays are just such game-changers and obviously today we didn’t do a great job in the red area. We left a lot of points on the field but when you get a play like that where you can run it in last 40 yards and not have to – not have to run a dozen plays down in the red area makes it a lot easier. Love to see those plays happen. Obviously missed a couple opportunities there earlier in the game. But that was a great play.”

    On the special teams performance:

    “Yeah, again, it’s the whole team. So the kickoff team, starts with a kick. You know, coverage, they tried to run some sideline returns, double teams going to slam it up in there and you have to battle through those and then they try to bring it back to the field, and as you start to overplay the sideline rushes and the back side start to squeak down, sometimes there’s an opportunity at the back side like Gunner [Olszewski]hit at the end of the half or like [Chester] Rogers tried to hit there and I think we tackled him inside the 20-yard line. Again it’s everybody doing their job. It only takes one guy to break down, lose his lane, lose his leverage, miss a tackle and in this league, these guys are gone. So a good job by the players on the outside setting the edge. Good job by the guys inside winning their blocks and holding their lanes and their leverage and good job of tackling and got some good kicks. The punting game was pretty solid, too, with Jake [Bailey] and the protection. They tried to rush us, so that leaves it up to Justin [Bethel] and Slate [Matthew Slater] to make the play. When they make the rush, we have to get in there and block them and we have to count on those two guys, if they return, a lot of times those two guys get doubled and you need everybody covering. Those guys play well together. They work well, play off each other good, preparation, good communication. Hopefully we can keep doing that. But there’s no question, putting them on the long field, that’s the best way to play defense.”

    On the block Jakobi Meyers set for Kendrick Bourne:

    “I don’t think it’s that challenging. It’s just a decision that you’ve got to make on those kind of open-field plays whether it’s Jakobi on that play or whether it’s a player blocking on a kickoff or punt return, broken plays that ends up in space like that. You can’t blind side them. You can’t block back towards the goal line. We all know what the rules are. You have to do it in a way that’s legal, which he did, and still effective, which it was. So you know, they have taken away some of those blocks out of the game which are obviously good for the game, good for player safety. But I think that was a good example of showing how you can still do it and – from the league and from a safety standpoint, player safety standpoint where still get what we want but we are still able to effectively screen guys out of the play. I think that’s good for the game.”

  • Quarterback Mac Jones

    Nov 28, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) against the Tennessee Titans in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Did he do anything special to prepare to play in the cold?

    “Not really, we practice in similar conditions and it will continue to get colder. I love that we get to practice outside and then that will happen a lot more and it will be a lot colder, so yeah.”

    On the red zone issues in the first half:

    “Yeah, I think just execution in the red zone. The goal is to score points and the best teams in the league are like 70 percent on touchdowns and we can be better there getting up to that number. But at the end of the day when you have control of the game, the goal is to get points and obviously we want to score touchdowns. That happened later, I guess and it just needs to continue to improve and we’ve put a lot of stress on it so there’s nothing that the coaches aren’t doing or anything. It comes down to us and executing.”

    What led to so many longer plays?

    “First thing is offensive line, playing really well and we feel confident in doing that, and I don’t think I got hit today but maybe one time, and that was a talented defensive front. So props to them just to allow us to open up a little bit but there’s more opportunities to be made, and like I said, it starts with the front and then the guys getting open, they have done a good job of that all year and it’s just getting the ball in tried and throwing it to the right guy. We’ve just got to continue to improve on that.”

    On Kendrick Bourne’s touchdown:

    “Yeah, I think our receivers play with a lot of passion and whether they get the ball or not they are doing their job and they have gotten consistently better at that. I can rely on any of them and we can rely on any of them. You can see them on the run game stuff getting blocks done and not getting them done but finishing people off and that’s really important to the success of the offense. It’s not just, ‘hey, when I have the ball, look at me.’ It’s, ‘when I don’t have the ball, see what I’m doing, too.’ So they do a great job with that.”

    On pointing for a first down when he didn’t pick one up:

    “You talking about the one I ran on and thought I got the first down? (Laughing) I didn’t think I got the first down. I thought they were going to call it. I slid like head first or whatever but it didn’t count. It is what it is. I didn’t know there wasn’t a flag thrown. That was just a rookie – rookie error there.”

    What went wrong on the missed pass to Hunter Henry:

    “Yeah, the Hunter play, yeah, just didn’t throw the right pass. We were on the same page in terms of what he was doing, and I got to get him the ball, could, have punted it to the guy. Just get it there somehow. Wish I could get that back. I had plenty of time in the pocket with the line, doing a great job. So that’s on me. The screen stuff, that’s part of the game of football and passing. You have three different types, like short, intermediate or long and then the screen game so that’s kind of good that we were developing that and we just have to continue to improve in that area.”

    What he saw on Jakobi Meyers’ deep ball catch:

    “Yeah, I mean, we talked about it, actually, like Josh [McDaniels] and I talked about it, and yeah, it was just exactly what we were looking for, and a lot of times in practice, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten the ball but that time he did and he made a really good catch. That was one of the better catches I’ve seen. He couldn’t really see the ball and he just turned back and caught it and had plenty of time with the lines that. Was a great play. And hopefully we can continue to that more.”

    Did the elements bother him?

    “No. I think like I said, the practice helps and that was not as bad as it’s going to be obviously and it’s a mindset thing and Coach Belichick always tells us to get what you need on and be prepared and then don’t complain about it because it is what it is. It’s just a mindset. Obviously it will get worse and we’ll continue to figure it out and work through it.”

    Has he been noticing more pressure from the second level?

    “Yeah, I think teams do what they do and that’s definitely a way to hurry up a quarterback, especially a younger quarterback, so I’m sure that’s something people watch and make sure we have it corrected. But they are going to blitz, a lot of teams do that, so you just have to be ready to go and stick to your rules and they did a good job for the most part obviously picking it up and we just need to continue to get better at that, too.”

    What does it mean for the offense when the defense forces so many turnovers?

    “That was awesome. I think they played great and they are always getting takeaways. It’s just a matter of time. Once that happens it changes the momentum of the game and they have done that all year. The goal is to not turn the ball over on offense and do what they did today and get the four takeaways. You can see how much they play together and celebrate, and it’s exciting. We have to capitalize on that and make points for them and not turn the ball over as well. It’s kind of an ebb and flow type thing. They have done a great job and we have a great defense, and it’s a lot of fun to have those guys with us.”

    On the issues running the ball”

    “I think they tried to take it away or whatever but we have run the ball well and we need to be able to do both at all times. Throwing, running, screens, whatever we need to do. Josh has a great game plan every week and it goes down to executing it, and you have to be able to do both. It’s not – you can’t just pick one.”

  • Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 28: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the New England Patriots runs after the catch for a third quarter touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 28: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the New England Patriots runs after the catch for a third quarter touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    On his 41-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter:

    “I definitely thought I was going to get hit. Shoutout to Jakobi [Meyers] with the great block. That was what made the whole play. He’s been doing that his whole career, blocking really well, and he caught a really good block right there. Giving that extra effort he gave really spurred me, so shoutout to him, but just a good play overall by the whole group.”

    How he has improved as a ball carrier:

    “I’m totally different. When I first came in, I was swinging the ball everywhere, kind of playing my style of play, and he [Bill Belichick] corrected it fast. He taught me to keep the ball high and tight at all times and eventually my body just started adjusting to keeping the ball right here. It’s just about securing the ball, having ball security. We emphasize no turnovers, so it’s just a blessing that I can improve in different ways and be versatile for this team. It’s just dope how they’re developing me.”

    On his 4-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter:

    “Just a great play call by Josh [McDaniels]. Mac [Jones], he has the decision to go either side, we got the look we wanted, and just kind of ran a good route. He threw a good ball. I always say it was a really good ball. It’s just a good play by me. Getting my feet down was the biggest thing. I don’t know how I did it, but shoutout to the team for making it happen.”

    On the Patriots’ ceiling:

    “I don’t think there is a ceiling at all. We try to emphasize that. [Matthew] Slater just talked to us after about not getting overzealous about ourselves. Nothing like that. Just being in the moment and playing each game, each week, and thinking about that game. We’re onto Buffalo now and that’s the focus. That’ll be good for us to just certify ourselves.”

  • Center David Andrews

    On the team’s 20-0 run to close the game:

    “We talk a lot about complementary football. We were able to move the ball, we just didn’t finish some drives there early on and we started to put it together a little there at the end. But they’re a good team, obviously they have good coaches and good players and had a good scheme. There were some things we just had to finish better and we were able to do that in the second half.

    On Kendrick Bourne’s emergence and their inefficiency scoring touchdowns in the Red Zone:

    “KB is like the energizer bunny, man. I think he’s like a Labrador. Golden Retriever-like. I’ve had those dogs before. They’re just always happy, you know? Even when you kind of correct them or get onto them, they’re just like, ‘Alright. Yeah. Yeah. I’ll get it done.’ KB’s been awesome. Love having to work with him. Been a lot of fun to play with. I think we just need to finish a little better in the Red Zone, obviously. I think they did a really good job in the first half stopping the run. We’ve got to do a better job of that, but overall, just good complementary football. Defense is playing well. Got some points there. Got some big swings. We’ve got to finish better. We’ll take a look at that, see what it was, and what we can do better here tomorrow.”

    If there were miscommunications pre-snap that allowed for ‘a few’ unblocked pass rushers:

    “I don’t know if it was on a few. Maybe one or two. It was a good blitz scheme, obviously. Lot of little moving parts. I think the one really unimpeded was [Kevin] Byard there coming from outside edge. Look at it tomorrow, really figure it out, correct it, see what we have to do better. It’s hard to sit here and give a full analysis of what we need to do better. We were pretty excited to beat a good football team today. We’ll go through that tomorrow, fix that, do what we’ve got to do. Like I said, they’ve got a good scheme, really good coaches. They’re going to make plays too at times.”

  • Safety Devin McCourty

    On the defensive performance:

    “It was just a gritty win. I think Tennessee is very similar to us. They don’t care who isn’t playing for them. They have a style of play, they’re tough, they’re going to fight you for everything. I think obviously with Mike Vrabel being there it is just a very similar team as how we’re built and I think that’s how the game played out. Just a battle. Obviously every play defensively wasn’t what we wanted, and obviously before the half defensively we’ve got to play that better. It was just a grind it out game, getting a stop on the goal line, all of those things. It was just that kind of game. I think our offense battled, we battled, we came away with a victory, and we know it’s going to keep getting harder for the rest of the season. We just have to keep getting better and try to play our best ball.”

    On the touchdown run before the half and the overturned replay touchdown:

    “Just two plays that we’ve got to play better. Kind of recognition, two minute at the end of the half, but that situation third and three, we just got to play the run a little bit better. And then the goal line play was a good play call by them. It looked like a run pass option and they had three on three on the outside. It’s a tough play when it’s man to man, it’s three on three and a guy sneaks behind.”

    On the confidence level of the defense:

    “I always say that confidence builds each week. You play in this league and you try to carry confidence because of the way you played last week. It’s not going to turn out the way you want the next week. You have to build up that confidence up through the week. Studying your opponent, coming out practicing well. Going over the game plan, preparation, I think that’s where confidence comes from. Beating Atlanta and then beating Tennessee, that doesn’t give us confidence to go in and play Buffalo next week. It’s going to be what we do this week leading up to the Buffalo game that gives us confidence. We know that and we have to practice and play to that.”

    On J.C. Jackson:

    “J.C. is Johnny on the spot all the time. I said it after the game. It’s about guys flying to the ball. It’s about guys defending every yard that we can on the field and I think you saw that obviously on the goal line. Four straight plays just attacking the ball in the run game and the passing game.”

  • Linebacker Matthew Judon

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 28: Matthew Judon #9 of the New England Patriots sacks Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    On how much fun he is having on and off the field in New England:

    “I always have fun. I always try to keep it light and cheery but I think that is just who I am. Right now, I am just producing and my teammates and coaches hype me up. It is easier to be around people like that and it is all love here. As far as the fun that I am having, I couldn’t imagine a better year with any better teammates, they are great.”

    On his first sack coming on the first drive of the game:

    “My sack was a coverage sack. If you go back and watch the play, everyone was covered up so kudos to our linebackers, our safeties and our defensive backs. Right there, we came and got a three and out. Three plays off the field and set up our offense in a short field and they took advantage of that. That’s just how you like to start the game and it didn’t matter if it was my sack or Wise [Deatrich Wise Jr.], or High [Don’t’a Hightower], or Chase [Winovich], it didn’t matter, I just got the credit.”

    On his confidence level coming off of six consecutive wins:

    “It is the same confidence. We didn’t change, we won’t waver and it is the same confidence we had when we were 2-4. It doesn’t matter if it is a tight game or a blowout, our confidence won’t change and we won’t waver as a team, as a unit and as players. We come in this building to work every day and we are only going to continue to get better.”

    On if he considers this a statement win:

    “I think someone asked me that a couple weeks ago and the statement or whatever you want to call it, is we have to come out here and win every single game. One week at a time so if we don’t give up any points and no yards, that game is a statement and every week we have to strive for a statement win. If you want to call this a statement or if you just want to call it the next game, we just have to take it week by week and go out there. The statement for us is on to the next week.”

  • Defensive lineman Davon Godchaux

    On today’s performance:

    “Of course not happy with 260 rushing yards but we made enough plays on defense, forced fumbles, picks. The offense kind of held time of possession, they were able to run the ball late, and that was pretty good for us. But like I said, any time you give up more than 100 yards rushing that’s not a good day but today I’ll take it, you know 13 points. Like I said yards don’t beat you but points do. We gave up 13 points and we scored 36 so we won the game.”

    On what the Titans did to create some challenges for the defense:

    “They schemed, you know Mike [Vrabel] was here so he knows what Coach Belichick is going to do so they schemed us pretty good. But I mean like I said it’s nothing that we can’t go against and can’t win against, we just have got to keep preparing and keep getting better. Like I said we will look at the film tomorrow, fix it, and we’ll get better from it because we know what they did so another team is going to try to attack us too so we have got to be ready for that.”

    On the long run the Patriots allowed at the end of the first half:

    “We were in a pass rush package and they made a good call on offense. We were rushing the passer and they made a good call and they ran the ball. We had I think one big guy in, Christian Barmore, so they made a good call and we couldn’t stop it and they ended up scoring. But like I said we gave up 13 points and at the end of the day it’s all about teams not scoring points and we also scored 36 so I’ll take that any day. I know I don’t want over 100 rushing yards, but any time we can hold them to under 13 points and we can score 36 that is a good day to me.”

    On batting or tipping the ball and how much time is spent on those technical subtleties:

    “We work on it a lot. We work on it, kind of see once the quarterback wants to come forward with the ball, get your hands up. When the quarterback has his hand on the ball, he’s not ready to throw it yet but as soon as he cocks it back and is going forward that’s when you want to get your hands up. So we kind of work on it a lot at practice and you see it in the game today. I think Kyle Van Noy had one, a couple other guys had one, I think Deatrich Wise, I’m not sure. But we kind of work on that every day in practice so it’s not just like we don’t work on it then come into the game and do it. It’s the kind of stuff we do in practice and we’re going to continue to do it because it’s showing up big for us.”

  • Cornerback J.C. Jackson

    Nov 28, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) reacts after intercepting a pass in the Tennessee Titans end zone in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    On Devin McCourty’s deflection that led to his interception:

    “Dev was in the right position. It was a great call by our defensive coach. He tipped the ball up and I made a play.”

    On D’Onta Foreman’s fumble:

    “See ball get ball. He didn’t have good ball security. As a defense we talk about creating turnovers every day. We practice punching the ball, catching picks. What you do in practice carries over to the games.”

    On his confidence in the defense:

    “I’m very confident. We’ve been creating turnovers every week. We talk about it in practice each week. We prepare for it. When it’s time to play, we execute and get it done.”

    On the team’s confidence:

    “We want to keep getting better. Stay motivated. Ignore the record and the outside noise as a team. We want to stay focused on getting better each week.”

  • Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers

    Nov 28, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) runs with the ball while Tennessee Titans cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) defends during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    On Mac Jones’ first cold weather game:

    “He will put us skill guys in position to make plays. It’s up to us to support him and lift him up when he gives us a chance. It’s all about helping him out because we know he will give us a chance to make plays.”

    On if he expected to see that much zone coverage:

    “Our coaches do a great job of scouting and game planning. We were pretty well prepared. They did some things that caught us by surprise. But that’s football. We had to do our best to adjust to them on the fly.”

    On Kendrick Bourne’s touchdown:

    “If you give KB space, he’ll make a play. I had to help him get past that one defender. I know I can’t hit him too hard because refs will throw a flag. Go in there with a saver block, throw my shoulder but don’t hit him. Get him to the next level and let him do his magic.”

    Does Mac Jones ever surprises him?

    “No surprises. Mac is the type of guy who will come in here to compete, be the best guy he possibly can. The guys around him have to continue to do a better job supporting him and I feel like that is why he’s been playing better.”

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