FOXBORO -- Turnovers are important. Nobody questions that. But if you don't do anything with them, they don't really change a football game.
The Patriots forced turnovers on Thursday night in New York, and they turned them into points, which is an aspect of the Patriots' game that coach Bill Belichick said is stressed each and every week, on each and every play.
"I think those plays always energize you a little bit," said Belichick in a conference call on Friday, a day after New England's 49-19 win over the Jets. "But we really try to go out there and do that on every play, believe it or not. When we go out there on the kickoff team, we're always thinking about making a big play, tackling inside the 20, knocking the ball loose. We go out on the punt return, kickoff return team, we're always thinking about taking it to the house, trying to execute the play properly. Whether it's blocking a punt or returning a kick, whatever it happens to be, we're trying to get that in the end zone."
The Patriots forced five turnovers on Thursday night, with Steve Gregory and Julian Edelman turning two of those turnovers into immediate touchdowns.
Belichick praised his team's preparation, but also the players' capitalization following those turnovers, to quickly put the game out of reach.
"Well I think last night is Exhibit A on how quickly the game can change," said Belichick. "Turnovers are a huge part of the game. And other than points, they're probably, statistically, the highest correlation to winning. We had a lot of turnovers earlier in the year, and we didn't get enough point production out of those turnovers. Even though we had a turnover differential advantage, that didn't really translate into a big point advantage with those turnovers. And in the past few weeks, those numbers have changed, more in our favor, where the turnovers have been converted into points.
"The score was tied, and both teams are battling back and forth, and then all of a sudden there's 35 points up there. But that's how it happens . . . When you get all those yards in one play, whether it's on a big play or a turnover, that's what defines explosive plays. It certainly changes the whole dynamic of the game. Even though a 14-play, 80-yard drive that takes seven-and-a-half minutes gets you the same amount of points, at the end of it, it just takes longer and doesn't change the game as quickly, obviously. So being able to take advantage of those opportunities and turn them into points . . . when it happens that fast, it really can swing the game in a hurry."