EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Walking to his post-game news conference following his team's win over the Jets, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had a smile that was hard to miss.
"It's really great to come down here and win," said Belichick, giving the interview room a mood not resembling a funeral for the first time in four weeks.
Belichick was clearly proud of his players on this Sunday night, offering high-fives to many as the final seconds ticked off the clock to wrap up the Patriots' 37-16 victory. He also gave players Monday and Tuesday off.
"Really, everybody that dressed tonight played a huge role in the victory," Belichick said. "All the credit needs to go to the players. ... They were the better team tonight."
With injuries leaving the defense shorthanded, Belichick assembled a rag-tag secondary that included rookie Sterling Moore making his first career start, and later featured wide receiver Julian Edelman as a slot cornerback.
"We're running out of guys there," Belichick said of Edelman's latest role in the secondary. "We got a lot of plays out of a lot of guys. They really played hard tonight and played well."
True to form, Belichick added some perspective, offering a reminder that Thanksgiving has yet to even arrive, and that there's a "lot of football left in the season." But Sunday night's win, defying many predictions, undoubtedly inspired confidence for Belichick in his troops.
"Who knows who will be playing where, but I know one thing. These guys are tough, mentally and physically," Belichick said of his players. "They'll stand up to the challenge and give their best. That counts for a lot. The game's not too big for them."