- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick held his regularly scheduled conference call with reporters Sunday after it was learned the team would host the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday in the divisional round of the playoffs.
“Obviously, it was an exciting game yesterday, watching the Colts and Kansas City. It was a tremendous performance coming back in the second half,” Belichick said of the Colts. “They did a really good job in all three areas of the game. It’s a team that is well-coached and had a real good season – beat two of the best teams in the league in both the AFC [Denver] and the NFC [Seattle and San Francisco]. We have gotten a little work done on them, but obviously have a lot more to do. We have a short week and have to gear it up and play our best football of the year to try to be competitive.”
Of the Colts’ comeback win over the Chiefs, Belichick said: “It’s about as good as it gets, to be that far behind in the third quarter, it didn’t look too good for them. All of a sudden, you could feel them coming back. At least I felt like they could … I think they’re a very explosive team.”
Patriots coaches will continue their work on the Colts Monday, with the first practice of the week scheduled for Tuesday.
Here were a few of the other notable soundbites from the conference call:
1. Asked how he might define the Colts’ offensive approach, Belichick touched on how they’re playing for a no-huddle, up-tempo type of game. Belichick cited the Colts’ explosiveness, pointing to the second half of Saturday’s wild-card win, and also how they’re generally a mistake-free team (fewest penalties in the NFL; plus-13 turnover differential with 27 takeaways and 14 giveaways).
2. Asked how he might define the Colts’ defensive approach, Belichick explained it’s Ravens-like “with a mix of coverages and pressures” that does a good job keeping offenses off balance. Colts coach Chuck Pagano, now in his second season, was Ravens defensive coordinator prior to coming to Indianapolis.
3. Belichick was asked about Colts defensive end Robert Mathis and how he's utilized and he said one key is finding him because he moves to various spots (linebacker, flips sides as a rusher, stunts at times). "He ends up on a lot of different guys," Belichick said, also adding that he's used in coverage and is a "very good run player" with explosiveness and quickness. Overall, Belichick said the Colts' ability to create negative plays on early downs sets up their pressure packages in passing situations.
4. Asked about Andrew Luck's development and if he's surprised, Belichick said there was no reason to be surprised based on Luck's "great college career" and being the No. 1 overall pick. "He's obviously a smart guy, he works hard, he's tough, he has good leadership skills, he's athletic," Belichick said, before adding more superlatives.
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