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New England Patriots

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) celebrates after a touchdown pass with center David Andrews (60) and offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) against the Atlanta Falcons in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the week leading up to Thursday night’s game against the Falcons, Patriots players talked about the challenge of having to prepare for an unfamiliar opponent in such a limited window. Since last facing Atlanta in 2017, the team had undergone a coaching change and overhauled the majority of its roster.

Yet the team rose to the challenge, shutting out the Falcons 25-0 on their way to a fifth straight win and 7-4 record. They’re also now 5-0 on the road.

Was the team impressed with its own accomplishments Thursday night? Here’s what Bill Belichick and some of his players had to say after the game…

  • Head coach Bill Belichick

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks with the referees in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    Opening statement:

    “Good effort by everyone. Coaches, staff, players, obviously on a short week. Falcons play hard. Dean did a good job on us defensively and they were ready to go. Got to give them a lot of credit. Falcons really played very competitively tonight, and good to come away with a win. ​​We got some big plays defensively. Nick made some kicks and we did enough offensively to score enough points to get ahead and win. Hopefully, we can just play a little bit more consistently. We had obviously way too many penalties. Kill us in the return game, killed us offensively. We got to do a better job there. But it’s good to get to come down here and get a win and get a couple of days here this weekend to kind of catch our breath and then be ready to go. Short week but good week.”

    On defense in the past three games and the improvement on that side of the ball:

    “These guys play well together. We use a lot of different personnel groupings. They communicate well together. Played with good communication and anticipation.”

    On the physicality of the game:

    “Thought it was a physical game. I thought both teams tried to play physical. We had our moments running the ball. I thought we generally played the run pretty well. We had some trouble with a couple of power plays there in the second quarter, but overall I thought we played the run game fairly well. But we had holding penalties offensively and that put us in some long area situations, and I think we had a couple of good runs called back on that too. So let the players compete hard, I thought we play physical. Like I just said too many long-yardage penalties and too many long-yardage situations, mostly due to penalties. Then Dean got us on a couple of blitzes that put us in small area situations too. So it was kind of stories, some good plays and then a play that really kind of knocked us out of the drive several times penalties or in a negative play.”

    On how they were able to limit Kyle Pitts:

    “He’s a beast, he’s a big challenge. I thought our players did a good job that good awareness. They hit a lot try to throw a bunch of play-action passes. And I thought Bentley and Hightower, Phillips and Kyle Duggar. Those guys had some good awareness on some of the over routes. Kyle made a good play there one of the third down plays early in the game where they’re trying to go to him but he’s, a tough guy to handle. He’s got a really good skill set. He’s a great player and got a quarterback that can get him the ball. I’m glad we don’t have to play him every week.”

    On Mac Jones handling himself against Dean Pees:

    “We had plenty of good plays, but we didn’t get enough points because we had too many drive-stopping plays. ​​You got to avoid those plays in order to score in this league. We just didn’t do a good enough job tonight…I don’t think there was a lot of bad plays out there. We just had too many negative plays that kill drives.”

    On Jakob Johnson’s blocking ability and his physicality:

    “[He] brings a real physical style to the game. Obviously, a contact player. Does a good job on the lead blocks and that helps sell some of the play-actions. When he leads up in there, create some space behind the linebackers in the defense too. So we had a few of those. He gives us a good physical presence back there. That’s what we got him for and he delivers.”

    On the importance of having depth on defense:

    “Yeah, we’ve been fortunate. We lost Henry early in the year but, we got those five guys and they’ve really been able to play pretty consistently for us, and playtime is fairly evenly spread out there. Then you go to the outside linebacker position with Kyle and Matt and, Hightower gets some snaps out there, and then Josh or Chase, those guys have played some snaps as well really part of the front. They’ve worked well together with a lot of different combinations in there and they’ve done a good job making them work.”

    On Kyle Van Noy’s interception:

    “The interception was a good play. We have several plays there where we were up in the line of scrimmage and he was helping on Pitts some, he was rushing some and, so he mix it up in there. We had some different combination looks. I thought he did a really good job of selling those and hoping to create some you one on one rushes, far more inside as well. Kyle is a smart player, he does a lot of things for us. Plays on all downs and plays inside, plays outside, rushes, plays linebacker. He does a lot of things for us.”

    On how he feels about the team after two wins within a week:

    “Just take it one day at a time here and try to keep making the most out every day. Times good if we can use it. So try to use it to prep with.”

    On whether the physicality of the linebackers rubs off on the rest of the team:

    “I think we did a good job. I think our fronts played quite physically. Philips and Dugger have a pretty physical presence at safety.”

    On whether there’s any nostalgia of playing great defense in Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

    “This is a completely different game. The outcome is great. Proud of the way our guys played on defense. Coaching staff did a good job. I thought the defensive coaches really worked hard this week in a short week of preparation. Arthur always given us trouble, a lot of trouble within Tennessee. ​​So he gave us some problems tonight, but fortunately, we were able to get out of some way or another. But just got to get the players in coach a lot of credit, they did a good job.”

  • Quarterback Mac Jones

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 18: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots reacts during the game against the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    On getting a shutout win:

    “Yeah, it was a good team win and the defense stepped up and played really well. The goal is to score one more point than the other team. We were lucky enough to do that. It’s really hard to win in the NFL and you can’t take anything for granted. You just have to watch the film and get better but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is scoring one more point than the other team.”

    His assessment of the offense:

    “I think we’ll just have to watch it and see what happened. I think they emptied the clip on what they were going to try and bring against us. They did a good job on the defensive side. We can do better on offense, so we’ll do that and it all just starts with watching the film. It’s a short week but there’s no excuses. We can play better, and we will.”

    Whether he had family from Jacksonville in the stands:

    “Yeah, I think a few people. It’s close but my family, my immediate family is always at the games and that’s always important to me. That’s the people that mean a lot to me and I thank anybody that came down the road to watch us. I wish we could have played better but we got the win, so it was great.”

    On the camaraderie of the offense:

    “It’s great. I think we have a great group of guys and early on, you’re just trying to figure your way out with me in there and I’m trying to learn as best I can. But these guys have all played tons of football and I trust everybody on our offense. I feel like I can play better to you know, help them too. They’ve done a great job all year staying positive, and we all believe in each other and that’s the most important part. It’s the best team sport there is and I think our offensive unit really has that family feel to it and we love each other and we play together and we play for each other so we just have to keep doing that.”

    On whether the Falcons did things defensively he hadn’t seen before:

    “No, I mean they had 11 guys out there and we just read it out and tried to stick to what we do and they’re going to bring different stuff just because it’s a short week and they did a good job of that, but you always just take what the defense gives. If they give you the completion, take it, if they don’t, throw it away or do whatever you have to do to not make a bad play and I could do better at that but always take what the defense gives.”

    On his third quarter interception:

    “Yeah, it’s first down and you never want to throw an interception on first down in the high red zone, so I’ll have to watch it and see what happened but, the guy made a good play, and the line gave me enough time. It was just a bad throw and a poor read.”

    On the offensive line setting a physical tone:

    “They looked great out there. I mean, they know who they’re blocking and it’s cool to see them work together. It’s just a lot of double teams and stuff like that or whatever and they have a lot of chemistry and a lot of snaps together with the guys up front so they’ve gelled really well so I feel comfortable in the pocket with what they’re doing. Some of those sacks tonight had nothing to do with them that was me and issues that I can fix through communication. They’ve done a great job and I just got to hold up my end of the bargain and help them out doing the tough things right. The best thing about those guys is just how they play together as a group. Not only as an offensive line, but into the whole offense when you add the skill players so we’re all in this together and I think we’re making progress, but we’ll watch it and see what we can do better.”

    On the Patriots defense:

    “That’s something you always have in the back of your mind. Just as a quarterback, you know you have a really good defense. You can kind of get a feel for the game, based on how they’re playing too. You understand they’re making a lot of stops and eventually those guys will get a turnover like they always do, and we just have to play together, and they played great. We have a lot of veteran guys on that defense, and I’ve gone against them a ton in practice and they’re not a easy defense to go against. They do a great job and I hope they can continue to play like that, and we can step it up for them so we can get more points on the board.”

    On how he plans to spend his first Sunday off:

    “Just get home and watch the film and relax with my family and just keep watching film.”

    On what he learned from the short week:

    “I think, just it happens fast and you kind of just have to go out there and play and stick to what you know and stick to what you’ve been doing since you were a little kid. All the older guys told me that. We’re a big preparation team and I think it’s cut short but there’s no excuses and looking forward on it you know we just got to be ready to go the next time it happens and it’s a once-a-year thing or whatever so it’s definitely a learning experience. It’s not going to be perfect but like I said, we’re just trying to win and we got a chance to do that tonight so it was great.”

  • Center David Andrews

    Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) celebrates after a touchdown pass with center David Andrews (60) and offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) against the Atlanta Falcons in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    On the fan support on the road:

    “I appreciate all the support. It is a joy to be able to play in front of the fan base. Our fans have always traveled really well.”

    On the defense’s performance:

    “It’s a great place to be in having a well-rounded defense. They made great plays all night, they really dominated. I have to compete with those guys every day. So I just have a lot of respect for what they do.”

    On how it helps him to practice against a good defense:

    “It’s a big challenge competing one-on-one with those guys every day. It just helps us get going and it’s always good competing against someone with that energy.”

     

  • Cornerback J.C. Jackson

    Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) celebrates after an interception against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    On the shutout by the defense:

    “I feel like we played great defensively. We allowed no touchdowns and no points allowed. I mean you can’t get any better than that.”

    On how he would define the defense:

    “I don’t want to brag too much but I feel like we have one of the best defenses in the league. We got a good pass rush and guys up front that are doing good this season. The second has always been pretty good and we are starting to build chemistry.”

    On how the defense has been able to get turnovers the last couple of games:

    “Playing team defense and communicating. Guys are where they are supposed to be playing their keys. Also when you got smart guys who can play you are always going to make plays like that.”

    On whether this is a statement game for the Patriots:

    “This is a big game and defense played outstanding I can even the feeling, we just have to keep it up. It is about to get scary out there for teams.”

  • Linebacker Matthew Judon

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 18: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons is sacked by Matt Judon #9 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    On how good it feels to win:

    “It was a great team win. The defense played very well, we are going to go back and watch and go over some things and get set for the next game.”

    On setting a career high in sacks:

    “My teammates put me in position. They were pushing the pocket and making it hard for the quarterback to step up and making it easy for me to run the edge. They just put me in a really good position to make those plays. When my number is called I have to go out there and make it, just like J.C. and Mac. When their number is called they go there and do it. I am just one of the eleven of the defense.”