Patriots

Bill Belichick paid a special compliment to Devin McCourty after Patriots’ win vs. Titans

Belichick also praised J.C. Jackson.

Belichick
Bill Belichick during the Patriots' win over the Titans. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

After the Patriots’ latest dominant display at Gillette Stadium — a 36-13 win over the AFC-leading Titans on Sunday — Bill Belichick began his postgame press conference by praising the opposition.

“It’s good to beat Tennessee,” said Belichick. “Obviously they’re a good football team. They’ve got a lot of good competitors, a lot of tough guys there, but proud of the way our guys stepped up.”

Though he noted New England had some “missed opportunities,” Belichick was happy with the fundamentals of a sixth win in a row for the Patriots.

“In the end we were able to not turn the ball over, take the ball away, made two big fourth down stops,” said Belichick, adding that he was happy with the special teams’ performance as well.

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Still, despite the team’s current momentum following a 2-4 start to the season, Belichick made it clear he’s not satisfied with the Patriots’ position.

“Look, eight games ain’t enough to win anything or clinch anything, so we’ve got a long way to go,” he explained.

One of the decisive categories in the win was in the turnover margin. New England managed four takeaways, avoiding any giveaways of their own.

In a pivotal moment in the fourth quarter, as the Patriots held a 26-13 lead, New England cornerback J.C. Jackson intercepted a deflected pass from Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the end zone to end a potential scoring threat. The deflection was made by veteran Patriots safety Devin McCourty.

Asked how important the 34-year-old McCourty has been for New England during the recent winning streak, the Patriots’ coach took a longer view.

“He’s been big for us for [12 years],” Belichick pointed out. “Devin gives us great leadership and a lot of confidence back there in the secondary, making great adjustments and helps get somethings straightened out when they give us different formations and looks and splits and so forth.

“He’s a very aware player, has as good an understanding of the defense as any player I’ve ever coached in the secondary,” Belichick added. “He really knows what everybody’s doing and can make quick decisions on the field. It’s not just knowing what to do, but can be decisive and do the right thing.

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And of Jackson’s contribution to the play, Belichick had simple explanation.

“JC, you leave any trash lying around, he’s going to pick it up.”

On an earlier turnover in the game — when Jackson punched out the ball from Titans’ running back D’Onta Foreman — Belichick said the aggressive technique has been a point of recent emphasis.

“There are great players defensively that have that awareness and recognize it and use proper technique to get [the ball] out,” he said. “I mean we talk about it, but ultimately it’s the players that [have] to make that split-second decision as they’re coming in on the ball, coming in on a tackle and be able to get that punch and get that pressure on the ball cleanly to get it out.

“Players have really worked hard on that, starting back in October, really,” Belichick said of the team’s practices. “Started putting a bigger emphasis on it for us and to help our offense. Going the other way for us, too. It’s nice to see that starting to come out on the other side here so hopefully we can keep doing that.”

New England’s next game will be an anticipated showdown against the AFC East rival Bills in Buffalo on Dec. 6, a fact that Belichick is already focusing on.

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“We’ll take it,” he said of Sunday’s win, “move on from this game tomorrow, and get ready for Buffalo.”

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