FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots once again are a playoff team, but they still have business to take care of in Week 18.
New England dismantled the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, finishing its regular season home schedule with a 50-10 win at Gillette Stadium. Thanks to the Tennessee Titans’ win over the Dolphins, the Patriots clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2019.
During his postgame press conference, Bill Belichick did what you’d expect him to do: keep everything in perspective, including the postseason berth.
“It was obviously a good win for us today,” Belichick said. “I thought the players really did a good job, came out, a lot of focus. High level of execution. It was an unusual kind of week with guys going out at the beginning of the week and then kind of trickling back as the week went on. I know those guys worked really hard just staying involved in the Zoom calls and stuff like that, but to be able to get these guys back and then go out there and play well, I thought that we played well in all three phases of the game.
“It was good. It’s what we needed to do, and hopefully, we can build on this and play well next week and going forward. Good solid team win all the way around. Excited to be back in the playoffs but big game coming up this week, take care of that. But feel like we made some progress today, but we’ve still got a long way to go here.”
New England can’t overlook the Dolphins, whom it will visit this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. The Patriots still could have something to play for, including the AFC East and the conference’s top seed. Yes, the Dolphins were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday, but they still are a team who beat New England in Week 1 and know how to face a Belichick-coached team.
“We’ll just do what we always do, come in tomorrow and go through the game, go through the corrections, talk about this game and move on and prepare for Miami,” Belichick said. “Obviously, they’re a good team. We lost to them the first game. It was a long time ago, but they?re a good football team. They won, whatever it was, seven, eight, nine games in a row. I can’t remember whatever it was, but they won a bunch of them. They’re a good football team. Got a lot of respect for them.”
Belichick also took time to praise players who had strong performances, including rookie quarterback Mac Jones and undrafted receivers Kristian Wilkerson and Jakobi Meyers.
On Jones: “He’s just a really great person to coach because he’s so responsive to trying to do everything the way that you want to do it. Josh (McDaniels) has done a fantastic job with him, and Mac has really, I think, embraced the wisdom that Josh has transmitted to him, and he played extremely well today.”
On Wilkerson: “It was nice to see him get the opportunity today and take advantage of it, cash in and play well.”
On Meyers: “It’s a great example for all of our guys to look at. Undrafted player that’s come in and established a role for himself, and he’s created a lot of value because he can do a lot of things, and he’s worked hard to do it.”
Belichick spoke a bit more about punching a playoff ticket during his Monday morning Zoom conference.
“When you start the year, you want to be in the postseason,” the Patriots head coach said. “The fact that we’re one of the playoff teams is, obviously, part of the goal. Long way to go.
“We’ll see what happens, but you certainly want to be playing in the postseason. That’s the idea.”