FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Practice may not make perfect in the eyes of demanding Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but it sure helped New England top the New York Jets, 30-21, Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
And for a coach who generally is taciturn and rarely hands outs bouquets to his players, Belichick was (for him) downright effusive in his praise for the team after the victory.
“It’s good to win and I’m really proud of our team,” said Belichick. “They had a good week of practice. They worked hard, pushed through a lot of bumps and bruises. (They were) banged up and a long trip back from Oakland (site of last week’s game) and all of that, but they hung in there and I thought they did a really good job this week.
“It was one of our good weeks of practice, so hopefully that was reinforced by what we did in the game,” said Belichick.
The offense featured a nice balance of passing and rushing. Quarterback Tom Brady completed 24 of 33 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown, and Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis racked up 136 of the Pats’ 152 rushing yards as New England took advantage of New York’s defensive scheme, which featured extra defensive backs.
“I think everything helped,” said Belichick in addressing the offensive balance. “Our line did a good job. Our tight ends did a good job. Tom checked some plays and got us into some more favorable runs than maybe were called. Benny ran well, of course, like he always does. He runs hard and gets a lot of (yards) after contact. The receivers blocked. So, everybody did their job.”
Defensively, meanwhile, the Pats generally withstood the Jets’ ground-and-pound challenge even without injured linebacker Jerod Mayo.
“I think it’s going better. It’s not perfect but we’re making progress and definitely getting better,” said Belichick, singling out linebackers Gary Guyton, Brandon Spikes and Ron Ninkovich as well as safeties Patrick Chung and James Ihedigbo as players who have been showing improvement.
So in general, it was a solid win for the Pats in a divisional game against a bitter rival.
“It’s always physical against the Jets. They’re physical. We try to be physical. They ran the ball, they came in aggressively. Their front is physical. Our offensive line stood in there and battled with them. Our backs ran hard. Defensively we slugged it out with them. So it was a hard-fought game and that’s the way it usually is (against the Jets),” said Belichick.