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New England Patriots

Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) waves to fans after the last play during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row, the Patriots played a game that came down to a field goal attempt in the final seconds. This time, they were on the right side of things as Nick Folk hit a 21-yard field goal with 17 seconds to play to clinch the 25-22 win over the Houston Texans.

As poorly as they played at times, the Patriots showed mental toughness to erase a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter. Here’s what the players and coaches had to say about that approach – and more – after the game.

  • Head coach Bill Belichick

    Belichick’s opening statement:

    “It was good to come down here and win. We haven’t done that in a couple years. I thought that it certainly wasn’t perfect, but we battled and played better situational football than we have than some of the other games. That was a plus. Got to give a lot of credit to Josh (McDaniels), offensive coaches, offensive line. Those guys did a good job of hanging in there. I thought they really went about the challenge this week of replacing some good players in that group, and I thought they played hard, and we got some runs there to balance off the game a little bit. Defensively, we didn’t have a very good first half but made a big stop there at the end of the half, so those ended up being important points. I thought the blocked punt was a key play in the game for us, even though we only got a field goal out of it, which ended up being a three-point game. I thought that was a big momentum play and thought our kicking and special teams played well. (Andre) Roberts is a tough guy, and I thought we covered well on him both on punts and kickoffs, especially kickoffs. They are good in the kicking game. They covered well against us, too. But the blocked punt really was a big play and of course Nick Folk’s field goals were obviously very important in the outcome. Yeah, just keep grinding here. Just keep trying to keep doing things better and stack good days together in our practice and preparation and continue to grind and improve here through each week of the season.”

    Has he ever played a game down four offensive linemen before?

    “I was thinking about that, and I don’t think I have other than the replacement games and all that back in the – What was that ’87? But you can’t count that. Ted [Karras] and James [Ferentz] gave us a lot of experience and stability inside with David [Andrews], and Justin [Herron]’s been playing tackle for us and put him over on the left side for Isaiah [Wynn] and Yodny [Cajuste] played on the right side. I’m not saying it was perfect, but I thought they battled. For the most part, Mac [Jones] had some time to throw, and we made some yards in the running game to stay balanced. They would run the ball in on the goal line so that was a good thing there, too.”

    On Mac Jones:

    “I mean, Mac gave it to us all day. I thought we moved the ball. I thought he made a lot of good decisions. There were some checks that he had to make that he made throughout the day, but really the last drive was a third down conversion to Hunter and then we had a couple good runs in there. But yeah, Mac’s been good for us all year in terms of his leadership, his resilience, and kind of always counting on him to do the right thing, and you know, he really does it at a high level, so it’s been impressive.”

    What he saw on the ‘blocked’ punt:

    “It looked like they were in some kind of gadget punt formation, trying to I think probably get us to check into a safe look and prepare for the fake. That strategy, it takes you out of return, right. So, if you think they are going to fake it and you’re just going to stand there and wait for them to run a fake and then they don’t, then you just don’t get any return setup. But we were able to get the call and pressure that, and we had some big guys in there so that if they did fake it, we felt like we were covered but at the same time we felt like we could pressure as well. I’m not sure exactly what happened there, but I know we had guys coming, whether it was a fake or not, and like I said, obviously they missed it there and Lawrence Guy made a great play.”

    On what the defense did differently in the second half:

    “The biggest thing was third down conversions. They converted almost every third down in the first half. Penalties, we had a couple – well, one penalty on third down conversion, hit a couple slants, short yardage plays, scramble play. It was just a – not a good – not very good on third down. We got them in third down. Just didn’t win on third down. That changed in the second half. So, you know, I thought the running game, that settled down, but it was really the third down conversions that ended up being a big difference for us defensively. They did not get the time of possession, and they weren’t able to sustain the drives like they did in the first half…As a defense, I don’t think we played well very well in the first half, period, so we have to do a lot better than that. To give up two 20-play drives, giving up 80-yard touchdown, that’s not very good.”

  • Quarterback Mac Jones

    How he felt after his first come-from-behind victory:

    “It felt really good. I think the offensive line did a great job and I think it all starts with them. They were doubted all week and there was this and that, and all the noise around that and they came out and they played really hard and they played together. I think I only got hit one time the whole game. So just shoutout to those guys and they are a big reason why it happened, and it was just – we just out-competed. I don’t know if we out-played the other team but we definitely out-competed and that’s all we can ask ourselves to do. There’s a lot of stuff that I’m going to watch on film and wish I had back, but sometimes it’s just – you’ve just got to find a way to win and it feels better to not play as well and win but learn at the same time than play okay and end up losing. So, the win feels good.”

    What he saw on the Hunter Henry touchdown:

    “He did a good job getting open and sometimes the ball didn’t always go to him on that play, but he ran a good route and I just saw it and he made a really good catch and I had plenty of time. The offensive line gave me time back there. All those things add up and I think there’s plays we left out there on the field but at the same time, we needed to just put together scoring drives, kicks or touchdowns. I think if you take away our turnovers, which one of them was obviously my fault and then Damien [Harris], it was just a bang-bang play. I think we put a lot of emphasis on that and we didn’t do a good job of that. But we still fought through that and just tried to put points on the board.”

    What he saw on his interception:

    “I just didn’t throw the ball very well. Protection was fine. It was just a bad throw and I didn’t step into it like I know how to do. I wish I had it back, but I’ve run that play a thousand times and completed it a lot, so I’ll watch it on film and figure out what I could have done better. But the timing was good. The route was fine. It was just me making a bad throw.”

    On David Andrews helping with communication with the other four starting linemen out:

    “Yeah, I think just whoever in there, I know it was tough not to have all the guys we had previously but the guy who stepped up and played really hard all played together and it starts with me and David. David has a lot of experience under his belt. He knows pretty much everything about the offense, like the back of his hand. I think just not having that gap in the communication there’s going to be some of that with a young quarterback like me, so he’s always doing what he’s supposed to do. The other guys did a good job protecting and listening to calls during crunch time it. Just shows that you must be ready, and they stepped up to the opportunity. I told them that after the game that they all did a good job stepping up and just taking advantage of their opportunities. They played great.”

    On the defense making the comeback possible:

    “I think we definitely wouldn’t have, they just played really well. Like I said we turned the ball over, so we put them in tough positions sometimes. You know, they played well all year, and it’s our job to put more points up on the board so the games are not as close as they are. We have a great defense, veteran group. I have all the confidence in the world, even if something happened, that they would have gotten a stop or whatever would have happened. They just played hard and they played together, and they are a lot of fun to go against in practice. They are going to keep getting better and we need to raise our offensive bar to what they are doing on defense.”

    How he felt after the game, and if he was bleeding as he walked off the field:

    “I’m good. I just got bumped and was bleeding. It’s part of the game. Nothing’s hurt so I feel great.”

  • Tight end Hunter Henry

    On his touchdown:

    “First off, it’s good to talk to you guys after a win. I feel like I’ve been talking to you last couple weeks after some tough ones. So, it’s good be to on the other side of it. Yeah, it was, you know, I felt like in the first half, we played really well offensively. We moved the ball up and down the field, the fumble was very costly obviously. And then we came out the second half, stalled, threw the pick, not good. Three-and-out. But other than those two drives and the fumble, we were consistently moving the ball. I felt like really good balance today. Mac (Jones) stood back there and stood in the pocket really strong. So, was proud of him and proud of the offensive lineman that had to step up in big roles.”

    On Mac Jones:

    “Yeah, he’s tough. He stands in there. It says a lot to the older guys, guys that have been around, to be that young and stand in there and fire the ball, it gives a lot of confidence to the receivers, tight ends and to the offensive lineman, too. He’s doing a tremendous job.”

  • Linebacker Matt Judon

    On getting the win:

    “It felt great, man, to just kind of comeback tough. It was a tough week. We were down linemen, down Jalen Mills. It was a tough loss Sunday night, and to go do something like that. We never got down on ourselves. I got a little down. I was a little frustrated and I think we all felt it. But we all just gelled together, came together as a team. I think Lawrence Guy’s block on special teams sprung us, and we got three out of that and we got three-and-out, and offense scored. It was just freaking juiced up, man. We juiced up and it felt good to get that win. It felt good to get that win, especially when you feel like you have been playing some good ball, and just some things weren’t going your way. Just to fight back like that, that’s a good team, alright. They are missing some guys, a little banged up, but that’s a good team. It’s hard to get wins on Sundays in this league, and you cherish every one that you can get. I was really happy about it and everybody in the locker room was.”

    Did he feel like his two sacks in the red zone were a turning point?

    “No. It was [Lawrence Guy’s] block. They still got points out of that drive. Then I believe we came out at halftime, we turned the ball over and they got points out of that drive. We finally stopped them on third down, third-and-short and Lawrence Guy just blocks the punt. It was [Lawrence Guy], correct, he got it? So, he blocks the punt and that’s what turned it around. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. I wish it was, but it was definitely [Lawrence Guy], and congrats to that guy. Congrats.”

    On defending trick plays:

    “It’s a trick play. It’s one of those kinds of things, I can’t believe they got us on that. But that’s what trick plays do. Usually if ran properly, which they ran it properly, got good protection, the wide receiver did a good stop block and didn’t release, and it was a trick play and they only had 40 yards to go. Trick plays usually hit between 30 and 50. So that was a good call by them. They executed well, but like I said, we just came back and we didn’t hang our heads. Just kept the defense in the game. Kept ourselves in the game and then the offense just started putting up points.”

    On playing with Jamie Collins:

    “Jamie [Collins] is way more athletic than me. He plays every spot. He plays every spot on the defense. He can do any and everything. He is kind of like a [Dont’a] Hightower. Just to have him out there, him rush the A-gap and get a sack, I think he was only out there for like two defensive snaps, and then he got a sack. I wish I could do that. But I’m on the edge, and when he’s in the middle going for it, we are going to have 100 percent confidence in what Jamie can do and when Jamie is out on the field.”

    On what this win says about this team:

    “I said this earlier in the week, but we are not here to hang our heads. We are not here to feel down. We are not here to feel sorry for ourselves. We are all here to win games. Regardless of the score, our record, we are a really good football team. We’re going to make that clear here in the upcoming weeks, but we have to just continue to grind. We have to continue to come into work, ready to work, and willing to work, and understand the stuff that we did bad and then understand the stuff that we did good, and we’ve got to correct it.”

    Was there concern with this defensive performance given how good they looked last week?

    “We didn’t come out flat. The defense came out flat, we were giving up yards, but they were hitting us on screens and stuff like that. But kudos to our offense. Our offense was kind of picking us up. Our offense was going and moving the ball. They were really moving the ball. Just unfortunate, that one turnover. But in the first half, they scored and took up the whole first quarter. Our offense scored I think on the second play of the second quarter, we are right back in it. If it wasn’t for that fumble on the goal line, it would have been 12-12 or 12-13. We didn’t come out flat, I don’t think so. We just have to put it together. We have to put it like the second half, like we played in the second half, we have to put that in the first half. Like I said we just have to go back to work, continue to grind, continue to execute, and then just make sure when we come out on Sundays, we put it all together first, second half.”