FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick had the benefit of a few hours to digest what went wrong in the New England Patriots’ AFC Championship Game loss to the Denver Broncos.
But the Patriots head coach declined to throw a particularly underwhelming unit under the bus.
New England’s offensive line struggled mightily against Denver’s ferocious pass rush, allowing the Broncos to sack quarterback Tom Brady four times and hit him a total of 20 times, the most any NFL quarterback had been hit in a game since 2006.
In his season-ending press conference Monday, though, Belichick said the Patriots’ offensive issues extended across the board.
“It was a combination of things,” Belichick said. “Denver did a good job defensively. It’s all connected between receivers, the quarterback, the offensive line, timing and execution, balance with the running game, longer-yardage situations — it’s all part of it. And in the end, it wasn’t as good as what it needed to be (Sunday), period — in any area.
“I wouldn’t put it on any one guy, any one situation, one position or anything like that. In the end, we came up short.”
Among the Denver defenders who stood especially tall Sunday was outside linebacker Von Miller, who sacked Brady 2 1/2 times and also intercepted him. Yet rather than highlight individual players, Belichick chose instead to praise the Broncos’ system, heaping praise on Denver defensive coordinator and NFL coaching veteran Wade Phillips, whose scheme limited the Patriots to just 18 points.
“Wade does a good job. Wade’s an excellent coach,” Belichick said. “He’s got a good scheme, does an excellent job of defending the team that he plays against. He’s done that throughout the course of his career.”
Belichick didn’t exactly go overboard, however.
“I wouldn’t say it was anything that was revolutionary to football. It was well-executed, well-designed, well-coached,” he said. “They did a good job.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images