In the afterglow of winning their fourth Super Bowl, both New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady reflected on the turning point of their championship season.
The 41-14 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 29.
From that point on, the Patriots, then 2-2, rampaged through the rest of the season, winning 13 of 15 games, including their 28-24 victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday night in Glendale, Ariz.
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“The turning point for me in the season was halftime of the Kansas City game,” coach Bill Belichick said at the Monday morning Super Bowl news conference. “That was the game and situation that didn’t go well. We weren’t in any position to win the game, but in the second half, the fourth quarter, our team played as hard as they could play.
“We didn’t play well, we weren’t coached well, but we competed hard. That was a good sign. We got some other things straightened out and improved and had better results such as the next week in a win at Cincinnati and the succeeding weeks after that.
“As much as that was a tough night for us … I challenged the team at halftime, they responded, and in the end, a key moment for our football team.”
Brady, who was pulled from the Chiefs game in the fourth quarter after safety Husain Abdullah returned an interception for a touchdown, looked back at that game as a building block for what it took to overcome a 10-point deficit against Seattle on Sunday night, the largest second-half comeback in Super Bowl history.
“After that particular game,” Brady said of the Chiefs’ loss, “you don’t think that far in advance. We focused on the process of building our team. So much of what has made our team special, the discipline, the hard work, the situational football …
“Coach grinds us hard every day. The expectations are high every day. You just can’t go out there and run around and break a sweat and think you’re doing anything. You’ve got to get the work done the right way.
“We didn’t start the year great, but 2-2 is not bad, all things considered. I thought we had a lot of belief in one another. We went into those games thinking we could win. It didn’t turn out that way, but that’s life. You have to fight through it. There’s nobody that could have changed what we were doing but the guys in our locker room. We believed in one another. And here we are.”
The Patriots came into Super Bowl XLIX under the glare of Deflategate, in which they were accused of illegally under-inflating the footballs in their AFC Championship Game victory over Indianapolis.
Brady who completed a Super Bowl-record 37 passes, including four touchdowns to four different receivers in earning his record-tying third Super Bowl MVP award, did not believe his team made any kind of statement after being under siege all week.
“I haven’t had much thought into that,” he said. “I’m sure that stuff will take care of itself. This was a great accomplishment by our team. We get to go to a parade and celebrate. We haven’t had one of those in a long time.”
Belichick, who has said he had no role in the underinflating of the footballs, was terse in his response.
“I don’t have any other comment,” said Belichick, who tied the late Chuck Noll of Pittsburgh as the only coaches to win four Super Bowls. “Twice, I went into great detail about everything I knew. I tried to be totally transparent and gave everyone as much information I have, and that’s all I have to give.