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Bill Belichick on another slow start: ‘We’re not playing well enough’

12.01.13 at 6:33 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't like what he saw early on in Houston. (AP)

Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t like what he saw early on in Houston. (AP)

One week after getting blanked 24-0 in the first half against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, Bill Belichick trotted off the Reliant Stadium field Sunday staring up at the scoreboard that had the 2-9 Texans leading his 8-3 Patriots 17-7.

The Patriots were letting Ben Tate run all over their defense while Andre Johnson looked like the Andre Johnson of old.

What was the problem?

“We’re not playing well enough,” Belichick conceded after his team came from behind for the second straight week and beat Houston, 34-31. “We’re not coaching well enough. We’re not playing well enough. We’re not doing a good enough job, in any area. From opening kickoff, from the defense, to the offense, you know, just, none of it’s good enough. Got to do a better job of coaching, got to do a better job of preparing, got to do a better job of executing.”

How much of this comeback had to do with halftime adjustments against Tate, Johnson and Houston quarterback Case Keenum and how much of it was just execution?

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Belichick said. “Just came down to a couple plays and once again, I’m proud of our guys for making the plays they needed to make. We got good contributions from all three units. Obviously the offense put a lot of points on the board and that was important. We got the stops that we needed at the end defensively and a couple big kicks from Steve [Gostkowski], Ryan [Allen], and those units the punt unit, the field goal unit, coming through in key situations there so that we could execute those plays.

Of course, two of those plays on special teams came from the right foot of Stephen Gostkowski, a pair of 53-yard field goals in the fourth quarter, turning a 31-28 hole into a 34-31 win for the second straight week.

“Again, certainly a lot of things we need to work on, need to do better. But overall, proud of the team for the way they hung in there and made the plays they needed to make at the end. Hopefully we can just build on that, do a better job earlier in the game…just keep digging ourselves in a hole here. We’ve got to try to do a better job here when we get started instead of leaving it all in the second half. But it was a good offensive performance against a good defense to put up, whatever it was, 27 points in the second half.”

How much concern does Belichick have over the slow starts in the last two weeks?

“Yeah, that’s not the way we want to play,” Belichick said. “Hopefully I can find a way to coach better than what I’ve done and see if we can find a way to get ahead.”

After starting the season being unable to get it done in the third quarter, what has been the key to the third quarter resurgence of late?

“Just doing a better job,” Belichick said. “I mean, we haven’t like, re-invented the game. We’ve just basically done the same thing in the second half we’ve done in the first half, we’ve just done it better. We had some good match-ups in the second half that Josh [McDaniels] did a good job of matching our personnel groups and formations up. We had some good match-ups and Tom and our receivers were able to take advantage of them and we were able to keep them honest somewhat with the running game. Those guys did a good job, I mean, again, that’s a good defensive unit. Real good.”

Here is the rest of Belichick postgame press conference from Houston:

On if he made any significant adjustments at halftime:

“Yeah, we always make adjustments. Sure, every game. We always make adjustments. Sure. You prepare for a game, and then you see how it unfolds and then you make adjustments during the game, make adjustments after the first series.”

On the special teams units with Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen and the field goals made and the fact they weren’t easy kicks:

“No, they sure weren’t. Yeah, and the first one was what, 56, 57 whatever it was. That was a good operation by those guys. They’ve been consistent all year and our field goal team has been consistent protection-wise. They’ve done a good job. Haven’t had a lot of close calls on the rushes. But they’re timing and execution was on, and it needed to be because those were, like you said, those were hard kicks.”

On the fact he showed confidence in Gostkowski by letting him attempt those kicks:

“Yeah, well, we have confidence in Steve, we have confidence in that whole unit. We tried one in the first half from 50, whatever it was, 57, 58. That was probably a bad decision on my part, we would have been better off punting that ball. Just on the distance, it was a tough kick. But he hit it good, he gave it a shot, but we have confidence when we send him out there and he’s come through, really all year for us.”

On his thoughts on Keenum:

“They played well. They were well balanced. They ran the ball, they threw it. He’s an athletic guy back there, made some good throws. Scored 31 points, I mean they obviously gave us trouble, in the red area especially. Knocked all those in for touchdowns, except for one. But they did a good job. They did a good job running the ball, did a good job throwing it.”

On if the Texans played that much better after how they played against Jacksonville:

“They’re a good football team. I don’t care what their record is. They’ve got good players, they’re well-coached, they’ve got a good football team. I’ve said that all week. It’s basically the same team we saw last year. They had a great record last year. They’ve added some guys, obviously like Hopkins, Swearinger, the inside linebackers and all that. But they’ve got a good football team. They’ve been in…I mean every game’s been close. The last six, seven games have all come down, kind of like this one did, right to the end.”

On the reason why Stevan Ridley was inactive:

“Was there any reason why? Because there was 46 other players active ahead of him.”

On if he’s starting to feel the impact of Rob Gronkowski with the offense:

“When we get a good match-up with him, then Tom has a lot of confidence in going to him. If it’s not, then we go to other guys. We’ve been having good production from everybody offensively. Our receivers, our tight ends, and our backs, we’ve got to continue to do that.”

On ending their two-game road losing streak and how big a plus it is:

“It’s a big plus. It’s a big plus. We’ve got to find a way to win on the road. Fortunately this week, we did it. The last three, we were kind of in a similar situation to this and didn’t do it. Like I said, we got a couple big stops defensively, got a couple of big drives offensively when we needed them at the end, and we got a couple big kicks. Those were good.”

Particularly with a veteran quarterback, why he thinks they’ve struggled on the road:

“I don’t know.”

On if there was any thought about going for it on 4th-and-2, or if they just had that much confidence in their kicker:

“Yeah, I mean, those points gave us the lead. I don’t think you want to pass up an opportunity to take a lead in a tie game like that and Steve made it look like a good decision.”

On James Develin carrying the football:

“Yeah, ran hard. James is a tough kid. He’s been dependable for us all year in the roles that we’ve asked him to perform. I mean, obviously he’s not out there on every play, but whether it’s been in the kicking game or offensively, he does a lot of the dirty work blocking, has some tough blocks, tough assignments, he gets his hands dirty, but he does a good job with that. He’s a tough, competitive guy that’s got good playing strength, and he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. You need a few guys like that.”

On if there’s any concern about giving up a lot of yards on the ground:

“I don’t think we played the way we needed to play in any area of the team. There’s plenty of room for improvement, no doubt about that. From kickoff coverage, to defensively giving up long drives, not playing well in the red area, offensively not being able to do much in the first half. Just plenty of things we need to work on. We’ll go back to work on those this week.”

On what he thought of the way Keenum played today:

“I thought their whole team played well. He was very competitive, made some good throws, was elusive in the pocket, we had trouble getting to him a few times, managed the game well. I thought he did a good job. I mean, the interception was on a…he got hit as he threw it, right? It wasn’t an inaccurate throw, he just got hit. As he’s usually done since he’s been in there he hasn’t given the defense many opportunities to get their hands on the ball and he’s managed the team well. They’ve got some good receivers. Hopkins, obviously Johnson, Martin, it’s a good group.”

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