The Patriots were back at practice Tuesday as the team has moved on from Buffalo and continues to prepare for their week 17 match-up against the Buffalo Bills. While the Patriots did clinch the number one seed by virtue of the Broncos' loss to the Bengals, they were not prepared to look past Buffalo, as you could probably guess. Here are three notable quotes from the day:
Safety Devin McCourty on what clinching the number one seed means to the team:
"Not much for a Buffalo game. I don't think Buffalo cares much that we clinched the No. 1 seed. Right now I think it's good for us that our focus is on Buffalo. We realize this is a game we're playing and we want to go out there and win. We talked about after Thanksgiving is when football starts, and it's important for us to get better each time we step on the field. I think getting the No. 1 seed doesn't change that. We still want to go out there and play good football every time we go out there."
Quarterback Tom Brady on the importance of winning the season's final game:
"It's important. They're all important. I think they all take on different meanings, and this is a big game for us in that it gives us an opportunity to try to improve certainly on last week's performance and with the week off, you realize we're going to have a little time to rest up. We just want to go out and play well and see if we can string together as many good plays as possible. This defense will challenge you. They've got a good front, one of the best defenses in the league, one of the best defenses we've faced all year. They're tops in the league in almost every category. We've played a lot of good defenses this year. This one doesn't really take a backseat to anybody. We'll have to, on a Christmas week, deal with a little bit of a different schedule like we are today and have enough mental toughness to go out there and try to be at our best."
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on what impresses him about the Bills defense:
Really everything. I think they're strong all the way through. I think Coach [Jim] Schwartz has done a great job with that unit. They're hard to run against. They're hard to throw against. They haven't given up many big plays. [They] lead the league in third down, they've got good coverage people. [Corey] Graham has come in and done a good job for them. He's done a good job for them all year; he played safety against us when [Aaron] Williams was out. Then he's gone out, done a good job there when [Leodis] McKelvin was out. [Stephon] Gilmore has had a real good year. I think he's improved a lot over the course of the season. They've gotten very productive play from the safeties, especially more recently even having to use [Bacarri] Rambo in there in the Green Bay game. He had a couple big plays for them. They have been very good at the linebacker position. [Nigel] Bradham and [Preston] Brown have been really productive for them. They've really been impressive. Bradham is a good blitzer, strong tackler, good coverage player. He and Brown have both given them good speed behind the line. They're obviously in nickel defense a lot. Their front is a hard front to block. They've gotten production from their outside players, their inside players. They don't blitz a lot, but again, when they do, those guys do a good job. I mean, Bradham has been disruptive, [Brandon] Spikes has been disruptive. [Nickell] Robey has given them good plays in their nickel as the slot defender. When they've used Williams in there as kind of the other linebacker in some of their dime defenses, he's played well in terms of being a blitzer and playing closer to the line of scrimmage. [He's an] impact player, he's caused a couple fumbles. Good hitter, as is [Da'Norris] Searcy. They've got a physical element to their defense. They're fast. Those defensive linemen can really run. They make a lot of plays from the backside chasing plays down, screen plays or when the ball gets thrown downfield. You think that the guy is going to gain some yards and all the sudden it's Kyle [Williams] or Mario [Williams] or [Jerry] Hughes or [Marcell] Dareus, one of those guys running him down, just about the time you think he's going to break into some space. I think overall their ability to not give up big plays, to be a good third down team and get off the field, to cause negative plays, both in the running game and in the passing game, create long-yardage situations, all those things they're very good at, as good as anybody we've played. They're right at the top of the league in all those categories and you see it week after week after week.