Belichick favors workmanlike approach

Updated: January 18, 2004, 9:18 PM ET
Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Bill Belichick stood on the sideline, his arms stuck in the pockets of his drenched sweat shirt and his expression serious.

Sure, the New England Patriots were seconds away from advancing to the Super Bowl. But they haven't won it yet and the public perception of a team without big names doesn't concern him.

"I don't really know what the rest of the country thinks," he said after the Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-14 on Sunday in the AFC championship game.

If they win the Super Bowl, he would be 6-0 in the playoffs since he became coach of the Patriots on Jan. 27, 2000. And in his last three seasons as Patriots coach, he would be 40-14, including playoff games.

The Colts entered Sunday's game after outscoring Denver and Kansas City, 79-41 in their first two playoff games. But against Belichick's defense, which allowed just 36 points in the previous seven home games, they managed just two touchdowns.

And the defense was much better than it was in the Patriots 38-34 regular-season win in Indianapolis.

"We put in a few things this week that were kind of new and that maybe were a little but untested," Belichick said. "But I think the players really responded well to them."

Belichick has built the Patriots on his image -- businesslike, team-oriented and very hardworking. Only eight players remain from the team he took over.

And while his first stint as a head coach, in Cleveland from 1991 through 1995, was nothing special, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was eager to get him when Pete Carroll was fired as New England's coach after the 1999 season.

"Bill is great and you know how I felt about him when no one else felt that way," Kraft said. "Bill has helped develop a (coaching) staff that hopefully isn't just good this year but good for years to come."

He's doing the same for his players.

He helped develop Richard Seymour into one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL. His fourth-round draft choice in 2002, defensive tackle Jarvis Green, had three sacks Sunday.

"He doesn't get a lot of praise," linebacker Ted Johnson said of Green. "He is a very humble and a very tough player and a great guy."

Belichick's defensive players believe in his intricate game plans, but he allows them to make changes.

"If we see something we don't like, he's open to it," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "It's just a revolving door of communication and adjustments."

Typically, Belichick downplayed his role in forcing Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning into throwing four interceptions.

"All the credit goes to the players," Belichick said. "We've got a good football team and I'm fortunate to be coaching a lot of great players."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press