Celtics

Belichick: Taking turnovers 'to the house' always a focus

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Belichick: Taking turnovers 'to the house' always a focus

FOXBORO -- Turnovers are important. Nobody questions that. But if you don't do anything with them, they don't really change a football game.

The Patriots forced turnovers on Thursday night in New York, and they turned them into points, which is an aspect of the Patriots' game that coach Bill Belichick said is stressed each and every week, on each and every play.

"I think those plays always energize you a little bit," said Belichick in a conference call on Friday, a day after New England's 49-19 win over the Jets. "But we really try to go out there and do that on every play, believe it or not. When we go out there on the kickoff team, we're always thinking about making a big play, tackling inside the 20, knocking the ball loose. We go out on the punt return, kickoff return team, we're always thinking about taking it to the house, trying to execute the play properly. Whether it's blocking a punt or returning a kick, whatever it happens to be, we're trying to get that in the end zone."

The Patriots forced five turnovers on Thursday night, with Steve Gregory and Julian Edelman turning two of those turnovers into immediate touchdowns.

Belichick praised his team's preparation, but also the players' capitalization following those turnovers, to quickly put the game out of reach.

"Well I think last night is Exhibit A on how quickly the game can change," said Belichick. "Turnovers are a huge part of the game. And other than points, they're probably, statistically, the highest correlation to winning. We had a lot of turnovers earlier in the year, and we didn't get enough point production out of those turnovers. Even though we had a turnover differential advantage, that didn't really translate into a big point advantage with those turnovers. And in the past few weeks, those numbers have changed, more in our favor, where the turnovers have been converted into points.

"The score was tied, and both teams are battling back and forth, and then all of a sudden there's 35 points up there. But that's how it happens . . . When you get all those yards in one play, whether it's on a big play or a turnover, that's what defines explosive plays. It certainly changes the whole dynamic of the game. Even though a 14-play, 80-yard drive that takes seven-and-a-half minutes gets you the same amount of points, at the end of it, it just takes longer and doesn't change the game as quickly, obviously. So being able to take advantage of those opportunities and turn them into points . . . when it happens that fast, it really can swing the game in a hurry."

Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

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Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on it’s own feel, it’s own flavor and - eventually - it’s own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”