Now that it's in the books, Bill Belichick and his Patriots are actually willing to acknowledge the team's historic accomplishment as the first squad in NFL annals to complete the 16-0 regular season. Things weren't nearly as easy as some expected in last Sunday's 38-35 comeback victory over the Giants, but as has been the case so often in recent weeks New England made the plays it had to in order to keep the zero in the loss column even if it wasn't all that pretty.
"That was some way to finish the season," Belichick said in his postgame press conference, addressing the media after a lengthy celebration with his historic team in the visitor's locker room at Giants Stadium. "It's really exciting to be a part of this football team and what these guys did today. All the credit goes to the players. They stepped up and made a lot of outstanding plays at critical times in the game, especially in the second half and in the fourth quarter. They came through like they have all year."
Like so many of the teams wins over the last month-plus of the 16-0 march -- including field goal victories over the Eagles and Ravens -- the win over the Giants showed the Patriots are still as capable of pulling out the nail bitter wins as they are the early season blowouts.
"I think what you saw was Patriots football," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "It's what I'm used to. I've never been used to those 52-14s or anything like that. That's new to me. This is what I'm used to. There are the games I'm used to winning."
New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, left, chats with quarterback Tom Brady before the start of their NFL football game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
They are also the types of games the team may have to win in January come Divisional Weekend and beyond. The Patriots head into the first-round playoff bye both celebrating the achievement of becoming the first 16-0 team in NFL history, but also looking to turn the page from the regular season to postseason.
"Now's the time to take a day or two to appreciate what this team has done," Belichick admitted. "But at the same time looking forward we have our biggest game of the year coming up."
According to the veteran Bruschi, a guy who's been through winning seasons and Super Bowl runs as often as any Patriot, the team can use the bye to make sure the hype and hoopla of the regular season doesn't seep into the postseason.
"I think this is the most advantageous bye week we've ever had because it's an extra week for us to forget what we accomplished," Bruschi said. "As good as we are about suppressing success, this one is tough."
But the coach and his veteran players will look to suppress the history because the team clearly has plenty left to accomplish this season and all will go for not if the campaign doesn't end with New England's fourth ring in seven seasons.
"We've got to move on because we realize we have bigger goals to accomplish," Bruschi said while admitting the team will enjoy the 16-0 feat for at least a couple days. "The tournament starts now."
--RT Nick Kaczur missed his first game of the year with a foot injury suffered in practice in the week leading up to the finale. Kaczur had started the first 15 weeks at right tackle. In his absence second-year backup Ryan O'Callaghan got the start against New York.
--WR Troy Brown was inactive for what could be his final regular season game in a New England uniform just a week after playing in his only game of the season against the Dolphins.
--RG Stephen Neal (shoulder) was once again inactive against New York, missing his third straight week and eighth game overall to the injury.
--CB Antwain Spann was signed from the practice squad to the active roster for the season finale win over the Giants. Spann filled the roster spot left when veteran LB Chad Brown was released last week.
--QB Tom Brady established a new single season record for touchdown passes with his 50th of the season against the Giants, a 65 yarder to Randy Moss in the fourth quarter.
--WR Randy Moss broke Jerry Rice's single season touchdown reception mark with the 65-yard touchdown against New York, his 23rd touchdown catch of the season.
Official Game Thread: Patriots vs Giants (Pats site)