Belichick: Players have 'put up with me'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Bill Belichick is a taskmaster as coach of the New England Patriots. No one has to tell him that.

And after demolishing the Denver Broncos, 45-10, Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, advancing to the AFC title game next Sunday, Belichick acknowledged that he isn’t the easiest of people to get along with in his pursuit of perfection on the field.

“We’ll enjoy this one for a little while and then we’ll find out who we have in the AFC Championship,” said Belichick, whose Patriots will play the winner of Sunday’s Baltimore-Houston matchup.

“But it’s an honor to be in that game. It’s been a lot of hard work this year, but I’m really happy for the players. I’m really excited for them. They deserved it. They worked hard. They’ve put up with me, so they deserve this,” said Belichick after New England had snapped a three-game postseason losing streak.

The effort that overwhelmed the Broncos featured contributions from every phase of the game.

“I just can’t say enough about the players today,” said Belichick. “They obviously did a great job. We had a good week (of work) in the bye week (leading up to the Denver game). We got a lot of things done. And once we found out who we were playing, I think these guys really did a good job of focusing on the target and they were obviously ready to go today. They stepped up and they made a lot of big plays throughout the game for 60 minutes. It was a good, solid team effort.”

Belichick said the losses in the team’s last three playoff games had no bearing on Saturday’s night performance.

“That’s all we care about is this game,” said Belichick. “There’s nothing we can do about (the past). Look, we’ve won games around here and we’ve lost them, but all of that is in the books. There’s nothing we can do about any of those. All we can focus on is this week. I think the team went out there and practiced well, prepared well and played well and that’s all we can do.

“And that’s all we can do next week -- just go out there and get started on whoever we play . . . have a good week of preparation, practice, film study and so forth and be ready to play our best game in the AFC Championship. We’re going to be playing another great football team, whoever it is, and we’re going to have to play well. We really don’t care about what happened in the past. There’s nothing you can do about it,” he said.