Matthew Slater had delivered some poignant words last week, imploring the Patriots to “make a stand, and put up a fight” after their two-game losing streak.
And in wake of the Patriots’ 50-10 bounce-back win Sunday against the Jaguars, wide receiver Jakobi Meyers pointed to the team having a “look-in-the-mirror” moment that helped get them back on track.
Asked about Meyers’ comment on his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised the team, and its leadership, for righting the ship.
“This was our best week in a little while here,” he said. “Not really sure why that was, but maybe that was part of it, what Jakobi said, we reached the point where we kind of had to face the music here.
“Our captains and some of our veteran leaders on our team, I thought, did a real good job this week of setting an example and really challenging themselves, challenging the team. We got a great response (Sunday), so try and keep that going.”
With the win, the Patriots earned a spot in the playoffs, but where they officially stand in the pecking order is still to be determined.
They have an outside shot at winning the AFC East with a win in Miami and a Buffalo loss at home to the Jets.
Should they remain as the fifth seed, the Pats would travel to Buffalo and play the Bills on Wild Card weekend.
“I’m just happy for the team, happy for the way our players responded to the challenge,” Belichick said. “A couple of disappointing weeks there, but it’s good to know we’re going to be playing in the postseason. Now’s the time to prepare and play our best football. That’s what we’re all going to try to do.”
— Boston Herald
McCourty: More left to accomplishDevin McCourty was searching for the right balance in his answer.
Yes, the Patriots’ veteran captain was glad to be back in the playoffs after missing them for the first time in his career last year. But he didn’t want to get too enthusiastic about a step when there were still things left to accomplish.
“Last year wasn’t what we wanted. It’s the reality in this league. I said last year, I was spoiled. I came into the NFL and was in the playoffs every year, as if that’s easy to do,” he said. “Missing it last year and having an opportunity to be back is a great accomplishment.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t already a goal and an expectation to be playing in the playoffs. Not to say it was going to be easy. It wasn’t easy at all, but for this team, it was something we set out to do and we expected to do it with the guys we had here and the talent we had and the work ethic we had.
“You don’t want to be so happy about getting there that you go home right away.”
That hasn’t happened to McCourty’s teams very often. In McCourty’s 10 prior trips to the playoffs, the Patriots have played 23 postseason games. They’ve not only made it every year, but were almost never quickly eliminated. In fact, McCourty had more Super Bowl appearances (five) and Super Bowl wins (three) than first-round exits (two, 2010 and 2019).
McCourty said he’s proud of this current journey but was more focused on continuing than celebrating it.
“You want to be able to respond as a team. Adversity is going to hit and it hit us a couple different times during the season,” he said. “But I think for us as a team, as individuals, as men, football is life, in a lot of senses. Getting a group of men to come together with a common goal to go through the ups and the downs and to be here at the end of the season going into the last week, knowing we’ll have an opportunity to compete in the playoffs and get to 11 wins. All of that to me is the journey.
“This team has been on an incredible journey. It’s been a lot of fun. We just have to stay so locked in on what’s in front of us,” McCourty continued. “Take February, March and April, those are the times to look back and enjoy the journey. That’s when you can look back and really enjoy it. When you can do all those things you set out to do.”