NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: (Jump to Dolphins)
Head coach Bill Belichick:
"This is on of those great games that went back and forth several times. We knew they would stack the line, Tom (Brady) made a ret throw to (Ben) Watson and we just held on during the last drive. I was really proud of our team. It's tough down here. Miami is a good football team. They're well coached, they're physical and they gave us all we wanted. I'm proud of the guys for hanging in there. We played more competitively on defense. We still had trouble with the, but fortunately, they had trouble with us."
Did you expect to get such a big contribution from Heath Evans?
"He's looked good in practice and got an opportunity based upon what has taken place at that position. He ran well, made some nice cuts and picked up the blitz. He had a big performance for us. Heath stepped up and did a great job."
Did you think this game would break open in the fourth quarter?
"We've been in those games before. There are a lot of points scored then none, or no points scored then a lot. You've got to keep playing the situation and as it goes. It became a track meet in the fourth quarter."
Can you talk about the play of your defense?
"We had our hands on several interceptions, but didn't come up with them. I thought we played competitively in the running game. We tackled fairly well. Their running backs and receivers are tough to bring down. We were more competitive. They are a challenge to get on the ground."
Did Tom Brady do anything differently in the second half?
"No, Tom made a couple of throws he wished he had back. The Dolphins did a good job mixing their coverage's and blitzes up. He hung in there and made some big plays when it counted. He made some good throws to (Ben) Watson, hit Tim (Dwight) on the throw that set up the touchdown and made some nice passes on 3 and 5 to pick up the first down. As usual, Tom played his best football when it counted."
Head Coach Nick Saban:
I'm very proud of the way our team fought back in this game. It's also a game where, if we had taken advantage of some opportunities in the first half, maybe we would have been in a little better position relative to a missed field goal, a fumble in the red area which was certainly points…I don't care who you are playing, you have to take advantage of your opportunities. I think in the third quarter we went a little flat. We didn't do much. I think we had one first down or something like that in the third quarter. They kept getting the ball back, we kept playing defense, [and] they kept driving it…[they] ended up scoring a couple of field goals and a touchdown. We had a chance to stop them at the end of the game and they bang us with a big play right off the bat. Those things are disappointing. I was very proud though of the way our players fought back in the game. To get the ball down to first and six on the sixth, odds are we should be able to get it in there. We didn't really give ourselves the kind of chances that I would hope we would. It is what it is. I am very proud of our team. I think this team needs to break the threshold in a game like that where they come back and understand when you play a team that has won as much as these guys, they know how to come back and you need to be resilient and you have to play the next play. We need to break that threshold to get that confidence so we can finish the game the way we need to. The competitive spirit on that field today was nothing but something to be proud of relative to the way our players fought in the game and played hard. I am very proud of that fact, in terms of how they competed in the game. On the touchdown, sometimes things go well, but Gus [Frerotte, QB] wasn't ready for the ball. I didn't get an explanation of why we snapped it early, but it worked out in our advantage. Sometimes that happens.
(on the play calling at the end of the day, throwing into the sun)
The receivers didn't say anything about that, I didn't ask them about it, but that was the plan and that's what we tried to do.
(on two plays in particular after a New England score)
Reggie [Howard, LCB] had a chance to make a play on the ball. He actually touched the ball, got his hands on the ball, tried to intercept the ball, and certainly could have knocked the ball down. [The] Judgment and decision you always have to make, whether you strip it, intercept it, or tackle the guy. And in trying to intercept it, I think he put himself in a bad position than to tackle the guy. It turned out it would be a big play either way, but it turned out to be a much bigger play.
(on the promotion of Reggie Howard to his new position)
We didn't get the execution that we wanted at that position last week. That's a position we've gone full circle on throughout the course of the year. I thought Reggie practiced better and we gave him the opportunity to play. I thought he really did a decent job today, except for that play. He had a chance to make the play, and those are the kinds of plays you have to make to win games like this.
(on the touchdown pass to New England tight end Benjamin Watson - the second pass)
We were in a blitz and they ran empty. We really thought they would run the ball. That's why we called time out, so they wouldn't take the clock in the game. I thought they would run the ball there and we thought they would run the ball there and kick a field goal and milk as much time off the clock as they can. Maybe they took the shot because we did call time out and they figured that we weren't going to let them milk the game and make them play 60 minutes. We wound up matching up on the coverage and there was a mix-up.
(on the second touchdown pass to Watson)
We should have been playing zone on that side and we should have had a zone player in the deep part of the field.
(on the play of NE FB Heath Evans)
I was not surprised. Heath was not a bad ball carrier when he was here. That's how they used him today, because of injuries to the backs, and I think he did a good job today. He's a big, physical guy to run the ball, and they didn't have any backs, so they used him. That's not a role that we would use him in here, however. Who would you want to put on the bench?
(on the Randy McMichael fumble and the shift in momentum)
I really felt good about the way we left the locker room to go out into the second half. We just didn't play very well to start the third quarter. [The] First series on offense we're three and out, or maybe we got one first down, I don't know, but we never really got the field position changed around. They were nickel/diming us and the field goal, then the touchdown…we just didn't do a very good job in the third quarter. That was, to me, when we did not have momentum in the game. As soon as we went no huddle at the end of the game, I felt like we had the momentum of the game back. We had the opportunity to stop them on defense. That would have been a great accomplishment and something that is not that easy to do, but something that we would hope that we could get done more often than not. With respect to their quarterback, that's the only reason I say that, because he's a very good player.
(on how the team can pass the "threshold")
I can't sit here and say that our players aren't as good as their players. How many yards did we have today? How many plays did we make? I'm not going to criticize or demean our players in any way, shape, or form. I'm proud of the way that they played against a very good team. I feel terribly that we didn't get the result that we wanted in the game. I can tell you that we will have tremendous resolve to try to continue to improve as a team so we can get those results in the future.
(on the performance of Gus Frerotte and the dropped passes effecting his rhythm)
I think it contributed to us stopping ourselves a couple of times, especially in the third quarter. I think that's when we had a couple. Our focus is, every play in this game is an opportunity, so let's take advantage of the opportunity on that particular play and go to the next play. I thought our guys presented a pretty positive attitude in the way they tried to approach things when things didn't go well. I think that's why we were able to come back in the game. I think that's a very positive thing. I didn't see it affect Gus. I thought he did a pretty good job. I thought he did a nice job in the game. I didn't look at the stats.