Yes, the New England Patriots played some sloppy football in Chicago on Sunday. Yes, they almost gave up a game-tying Hail Mary on the final play.
But if you make plays in the kicking game, you’re going to make Bill Belichick happy.
The Patriots did just that, scoring two touchdowns on special teams — a 95-yard Cordarrelle Patterson kick return and a 29-yard Kyle Van Noy scoop-and-score on a Dont’a Hightower blocked punt — to eke out a 38-31 win over the Bears at Soldier Field.
So, when Belichick addressed the team in the locker room after the victory, he made sure to acknowledge the often-overlooked third phase.
“Good to get 14 points in the kicking game. That’s the way to step it up,” Belichick said before initiating a round of applause.
Belichick’s affinity for special teams is well-documented, so it’s no surprise Sunday’s two big plays made him happy. That mindset has permeated the locker room, too: Van Noy got congratulations from both team owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft upon walking into the locker room, while Patterson — who bounced back after an early-game fumble — hugged it out with special teams coordinator Joe Judge.
At the risk of getting too giddy, though, Belichick made sure to turn the Patriots’ attention toward a Week 8 Monday night matchup with the Buffalo Bills. No days off, folks — well, except for Tuesday.
Thumbnail photo via Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports Images