Following the New England Patriots’ 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Bill Belichick won over Gillette Stadium with four words.
“We’re on to Seattle,” Belichick told CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz, upon advancing to his six Super Bowl as Patriots head coach and first against the Seattle Seahawks.
Belichick’s tone was far different four months ago, when the Kansas City Chiefs delievered the Patriots a 27-point Monday night loss at Arrowhead Stadium. But the words he used in the aftermath of the Sept. 29 blowout loss remained the same as they did in the Jan. 18 blowout win.
Except for the final one. That has changed each week. From Cincinnati to New York to Buffalo, all the way down to opponent No. 19.
“It probably wouldn’t have been as big a deal if I didn’t say it 12 times, or however many it was,” Belichick said during his Monday afternoon radio appearance on WEEI’s Dale & Holley. “I couldn’t think of anything else to say and it was the same questions that I didn’t want to answer.”
The 14th-year Patriots head coach did not know the significance behind those words at that time.
“I didn’t realize at all, of course not,” Belichick said. “I was just trying to move on to really what was important to us at that point, and it was Cincinnati, not Kansas City, and what everybody thought was wrong.”
But Belichick did know there was significance behind the 41-14 defeat in Week 4. It started when the Patriots were down by a score of 17-0.
“I kind of thought that the halftime of the Kansas City game was a little bit of a turning point for us in the season, in that we were behind and we certainly didn’t come back and make a game of it, but I thought that we really competed hard,” Belichick reflected. “And I thought that was a good sign, because we went down there and we had a lot of good expectations. It was a Monday night game, everybody was ready to go out there and play well against a really good football team.
Those expectations did not translate to primetime, as a 2-1 Patriots team was in the process of becoming 2-2.
“We were down at the half, we were on the road, the place was rocking. But I thought that really tried to compete, play hard, for all 60 minutes even at the very end,” Belichick said. “We had no chance to win, and that was a good sign from our team. We did that, not that we played well, but we played hard. I think at that point we all kind of realized that if we can just play well, and combine that with our physical and mental toughness, we can be OK.”
New England has gone 12-2 since then.