How Patriots reacted to making eighth straight AFC championship game

Ryan Hannable
January 14, 2019 - 8:07 am
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FOXBORO -- Another year, another AFC championship game for the Patriots.

Following their 41-28 win over the Chargers, the Patriots will now take on the Chiefs in the AFC title game. It is their eighth straight appearance in the game, which extends their NFL record. The previous record was five set by the Raiders in the 1970s.

Even more impressive is this is Tom Brady's 13th appearance, which means in the years he's been the full-time starter of the team, he's played in the AFC title game 76 percent of the time.

Speaking after the game, the Patriots reacted to reaching another AFC championship, with some having different responses than others.

Here's a sampling.

Matthew Slater: “It’s special. We’ve been extremely blessed over the last eight years to be a competitive football team. I think there are a lot of reasons for that, but I don’t know, the good Lord keeps giving us some good opportunities and we try to take advantage of them. We’re humbled to be in this situation. Love this group of guys, love this locker room. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Devin McCourty: "Oh, it’s hard. I kind of said that to the DBs before the game, just to be grateful for the opportunity we had today. I think sometimes from the outside looking in, you go to eight straight AFC Championship games, you’re in the playoffs 10 years in a row, you kind of get in a mode like it’ll keep happening, it’ll be there. But this is a special group, and I think we’re starting to realize that we have one opportunity to try to take advantage of everything that’s in front of us. I thought the team from the past two weeks – the bye week, this week – just a great mindset of putting everything we got out there on the field, practice, meetings, and just have an opportunity to try to work again next weekend. It’s a blessing. You talk about the playoffs, to go into a game and not know if you’ll be at work next week, to go to zero-zero on the clock and know, ‘Alright guys, I’ll see you again tomorrow and we’ll get to review the film and move on and go to KC.’ So, enjoy this for a couple of hours and then get ready to go for next week." 

Bill Belichick: "I mean, honestly I don’t really care about that right now. I’m worried about this team and what this team has done. This team has worked hard all year to put itself in position to compete for the AFC Championship, obviously, against a great team in Kansas City. That's really what we're focused on. Whatever happened last year or some other year, whatever it is, it is. It’s all in the books. This team has a lot in front of it and that's really what we're going to focus on is what this team can do."

Stephon Gilmore: “Yes you know it is hard to be in this position so it is a lot of hard work and it does not just happen overnight. You really have to earn everything in this league and I think we did that and we have a great team coming up next week.”

Duron Harmon: “It’s amazing and it’s history. It’s a testament to what coach Belichick and Mr. Kraft have built over the last two decades. It shows how [Belichick] has a standard of excellence and no matter who plays here, no matter who’s on defense or who’s coordinating, he’s going to make sure that he gets the best out of his players each and every day.”

Rex Burkhead: “Excited for the challenge. The Chiefs are a great team and we know that. We know it’s a tough place to play at and we’re going to have to have a great week and really put our best foot forward. They’re talented across the board; offensively, defensively, and special teams wise. Always one of the best so we’re going to have to be ready.”

Trey Flowers: “It’s definitely a great feeling. I’ve been fortunate to go to it for my fourth year. It’s my fourth year in the league and it’s my fourth time going, so obviously I’m very fortunate. We just want to take advantage of it and get ready throughout practice to prepare well for it.”

Related: What Bill Belichick told Patriots in locker room after win over Chargers