Sunday, October 26, 2008

Asked and answered: Matt Cassel, Patriots quarterback

Matt Cassel earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after the Patriots' Monday night win against the Denver Broncos -- and he played even better today. He threw for 267 yards and a touchdown, and while he was charged with two interceptions, neither were his fault. (One was a pass that hit Randy Moss in the hands; Wes Welker fell down on the other.)

How big a part of your game is confidence, and were you able to build on that today?
"I think for any QB, if you play with confidence you play well because you’re confident in what you’re doing; you’re confident in where you’re going with the ball. It’s a big part of my game and I played with a lot of confidence today. I felt good about the game plan and it showed out there."

Can you talk about the touchdown pass to Kevin Faulk in the fourth quarter?
"It was a great catch by him. He made a great move on the linebacker. He was in one-on-one coverage and I just tried to put it out there and give him an opportunity to make the catch. He did a great job. He did what Kevin Faulk does best."

How good of a job did the offensive line do today?
"They did an impeccable job. I had great protection all day. I was able to step up, go through my reads—go through one, two, even get to three at times. They did a great job."

Bill Belichick said that you have been playing well all season. Do you agree with that or do you feel like it has been more up and down?
"I feel like I’ve been playing pretty consistent throughout the year. Sometimes the score doesn’t reflect that, but we’re constantly working, we’re constantly trying to get better. I continue to mature, I believe, each and every week. Today was a good performance and something we can go forward and build on."

Did it register with you that you were behind in the fourth quarter and it was up to you and the offense?
"It did. And this was a big game for us because it was one where we’re behind in the fourth quarter and it’s up to us to come back and, in the face of a little adversity, to fight and we did that as an offensive unit. Everybody stepped up and I thought that was a big thing for this offense to prove that we can do that in those tight games because I’m sure there’re going to be a lot of those down the road."

Did you calm yourself down a little bit on the last drive? You seemed pretty sure of yourself.
"As you get going in the game you just kind of go along and you play the game. I really wasn’t worried about the situation other than the fact that I knew we had to score. I wasn’t trying to press; I was just trying to go out there and execute the offense like we always try to do and we were successful at it."

Did it seem like you had more time in the pocket this week and that it was there for longer?
"It did. The offensive line did a great job today. They gave me a great amount of time in the pocket. I was able to go through my reads. I was able to step up when I needed to and I think that was huge for our passing game."

Is the number of sacks you’ve taken a case where you are cautious because you don’t want to make a mistake, so instead of throwing a bad ball you’re conservative in order to get the ball back in the next series?
"There are definitely times when taking a sack is a better play than doing something else and trying to make a play when something is not there. Then there are also times when I’m trying to run around and make a play and I’m sure a lot of those sacks aren’t even on the offensive line. They’ve been doing a great job all year. Sometimes I feel like I can make a play outside the pocket and I’ll try to scamper and I’ll run and it will be a one-yard loss and it ends up being a sack because we were throwing the ball on that play. That happens."

Does Bill Belichick try to discourage you from running, in part because you’ve got to stay healthy?
"No, he doesn’t. We go out there, and the one thing we try to do each and every week is go out there and don’t play scared. If that’s part of my game and something where I need to pick up a first down on third down because I don’t see anybody down the field then I’m going to run and do it."

There was a sequence where Randy Moss had a tipped ball interception, Wes Welker fell down and the ball was intercepted, and then Randy Moss dropped a ball in the end zone. Was it tough not to get frustrated there?
"It’s just one of those things where you go out there and you keep fighting. Those things are going to happen, where a guy falls down, a tipped ball happens. The main thing I thought was great for the offense was that we didn’t get discouraged. We knew the plays were there; we just didn’t make them. Then we came back and made the play when it counted at the end."

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