Patriots Notes: How Bill Belichick Prepared Pats For Historically Cold Jets Game

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

Photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 26-6 win over the New York Jets on Sunday at Gillette Stadium:

— The Patriots have a fully functional practice bubble behind their home stadium, but it went unused this week, with the team instead practicing outdoors in single-digit temperatures.

Did the players enjoy this? Not a chance. They couldn’t stand being subjected to that brutal, bone-chilling cold for hours each day. But they knew it was the smart thing to do.

“As much as I’d hate to admit it, practicing outside during the week definitely helped,” safety Devin McCourty said after finishing up the coldest regular-season home game in Patriots history. “We hated every part of being out there and practicing, but I think everybody came out there (Sunday) and was all, ‘This isn’t as bad as Thursday practice.’ Mentally I think that already gives you a nod when you go into the game like, ‘It is what it is.’ It was worse Thursday.”

Official kickoff temperature Sunday was a balmy 13 degrees. The wind chill? Negative-2.

“I would say our team does a good job of making sure we’re prepared for the cold,” safety Duron Harmon said. “We practiced in the cold all week. And then the heaters, the heated benches — everything that we have to our use to make sure that we’re warm and ready to go — our team does a great job.

“And it’s so crazy — I really didn’t feel like it was that cold. We felt really good. Everybody was like, ‘This is a lot better than what we dealt with on Thursday.’ ”

— The entire Patriots offense (with the exception of quarterbacks Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer) opted to wear short sleeves in the game. The defense was a bit more conservative, with some front-seven players going bare arms but most — including the entire secondary — sporting long sleeves.

“I think it’s stupidity, but I mean, to each his own,” McCourty said. “I’m putting my sleeves on.”

No one had it worse than backup offensive linemen Ted Karras and LaAdrian Waddle, who hardly played in the game but still went sleeveless and even eschewed the massive overcoats most players wore on the sideline.

— Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who played sparingly in his return from a calf injury, offered a brief postgame recap on Twitter:

— Punter Ryan Allen and special teams ace Matthew Slater were unsung heroes for the Patriots.

The Jets started their final three drives at their own 4-, 4-, and 3-yard lines thanks to textbook coffin-corner punts by Allen, with Slater providing assists on two of them.

“Ryan was just killing the ball and doing a great job,” Slater told reporters after the game. “Usually, the ball dies (in the cold), and I think that we saw that especially kicking towards the lighthouse. There were some tough kicks and some tough ball-handling situations. They had a tough field goal that they weren’t able to hit. That’s part of it. When you play here during this time of the year, that’s what you have to deal with.”

It was somewhat surprising to see Slater earn his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl selection after playing in just seven of New England’s first 14 games, but he proved Sunday why he still is regarded as the NFL’s premier special teamer. His second downed punt set up a safety by Patriots defensive end Eric Lee that closed out the scoring.

“He’s a special person to be around, and he’s a leader at the end of the day,” Allen told reporters. “To have him out there and to have him healthy, he’s someone we look up to and someone we follow. It’s great to have him.”

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