FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick held his final news conference Friday morning leading into the AFC Championship Game and two areas that stood out were remarks on the team’s mentality and his comparison of special teams captain Matthew Slater and longtime special teams ace Larry Izzo.
“It’s been good. It’s been a good week,” he said. “I think we’re kind of back on a normal week, playing Sunday to Sunday. I think the players have done a good job this week. They’ve worked hard to get the scouting report and the new information on the Ravens. Practiced well. I think we’ve had good energy. I think the team is excited to play. If you can’t get excited for the AFC Championship Game, I don’t know what you can get excited for. This is what we worked all year for, this opportunity. I know that everybody wants to make the most of it. I think the attitude is good and we’re looking forward to playing a great football team and knowing we need to play our best to beat them. That’s the way it should be.”
Belichick raved about Slater, the two-time Pro Bowl player now in his fifth NFL season.
“Matt has done a great job for us. He’s taken that role. In my time here, I’ve been fortunate to have two outstanding, I mean exemplary players at leadership positions at special teams with Larry Izzo and Matt Slater,” he said. “I thought when we had Larry that was so rare. Matt is different than Larry but in his own way equally effective.
“Matt is tremendous -- his attitude, his work ethic, the example he sets, the way he interacts with his teammates in a really good way. I don’t know that a player could do any more than what he’s done for us in that role after his second year. He’s embraced his role on the team, he’s very good at it, and he makes other players around him better. I think that’s a great compliment to him. He’s smart. He’s well prepared. He works hard. He’s got good skill, talent. He’s tough. He’s a good playmaker for us. I could go on about him all day. We’re lucky to have him on this football team.”