Bill Belichick stepped to the podium at Estadio Azteca on Sunday night following his team's 33-8 win over Oakland wearing a royal blue hooded sweatshirt (sleeves cut, of course) and a smirk.
Emblazoned across his chest: Air Force.
After spending last week in Colorado Spring preparing for the Raiders, the Patriots coach wanted to make sure he thanked those who hosted him and his team, including Superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy Lieutenant General Jay Silveria.
"I'll always be a Navy man, all right. Always be a Navy man," Belichick said. "But I just wanted to give a shout out and a big thanks to General Silveria and his great staff at the United States Air Force Academy for his hospitality and the week that we had there.
"This has been a three-leg trip for us: Denver, Colorado Springs and Mexico City. We really asked a lot of the players, asked a lot of our organization, and they all delivered. We had a great nine days. We really got better as a football team. But we met all the challenges that we needed to meet head-on and tried to work through them."
Perhaps when Belichick looks back at the week, one of the memories he'll carry with him will be what he saw from kicker Stephen Gostkowski blasting kicks through the thin air of Colorado Springs.
The Air Force Academy's facilities are close in terms elevation to Mexico City, and Gostkowski's kicks were flying during practice. That meant that his range was better than normal, which in turn allowed the Patriots to push the envelope a bit more at the end of the first half against the Raiders.
After having taken over possession with 33 seconds remaining deep in their own territory, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense got Gostkowski set up for a 62-yard field goal that he drilled easily as time expired in the half. That bested Gostkowski's previous career-long and it sparked a team-wide celebration with the veteran kicker at the center.
"Our players gave a great effort tonight," Belichick said. "They came out and performed well early, throughout the game and played really good situational football. Thought the execution at the end of the half, when we were able to get the field goal, obviously a great kick by Steve, but to put ourselves in that position is very much the way we talked about it and really kind of practiced it this week. That showed up at our Friday practice at Colorado Springs."
It was a case of sound preparation playing out on the field when it mattered. But Belichick acknowledged that to make a three-leg trip like theirs a success, they needed more than good practices.
"Credit to the team and the entire organization, all our support people that did such a great job planning this trip, and making all the accommodations, doing all the work so that the players and the coaches could devote their time and energy to beating Oakland. That's a good Raider football team that we saw. Really appreciate everything that they did. Good to be going home with two wins on this trip."
The win in Mexico moved Belichick one ahead of Hall of Fame Cowboys coach Tom Landry, whom Belichick tied last week against the Broncos with regular-season win No. 270. Belichick now is in sole possession of third place when it comes to career regular-season wins for a head coach.