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Patriots DT Alan Branch on win: 'We weren't giving up'

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HOUSTON -- They're joked about as automatons.

These Patriots players, religiously issuing mechanical and emotionless words to describe a game so many other NFL teams can't seem to master.

Do your job. Trust the process. One play at a time.

Here's the problem for all the haters, though: These words are real. Tangible. Something these players buy into. Code they willingly live by -- and the results speak for themselves.

In the afterglow of Super Bowl LI -- a game for the ages that saw New England roar back to life for an unforgettable 34-28 overtime win against the stunned Falcons -- Patriots players spoke in unison about erasing a 25-point deficit en route to glory.

"Honestly, we just started finally executing," defensive tackle Alan Branch said after the game. "We were on the field and we knew what we had to do, but we weren't getting it done in the first half. When we came into halftime, we talked to each other. We weren't down, we didn't give up. We weren't talking about rolling over or anything. We just started talking about being on our job, being more positive, having fun out there."

Did coach Bill Belichick lose his cool at the break after watching the Falcons slice through New England for long runs and a handful of clutch throws by quarterback Matt Ryan?

"He just told us to stick to the game plan. He didn't go crazy or anything," Branch said. "He just told us to go out there and we were able to definitely come back from that score deficit, so he said: 'If everybody does their job, we have a great chance of coming back to win the game.'"

Said Branch: "I think once everybody looked around in the locker room, and realized we weren't giving up, that it kind of changed the whole mindset of everybody and we went out there firing off on all cylinders."

After opening the second half with a punt, Ryan lit up the Patriots on the following series with a pristine, eight-play, 85-yard march capped by his 6-yard touchdown strike to running back Tevin Coleman to capture a 28-3 lead.

Inside NRG Stadium, the shouts of Patriots fans were replaced by a Falcons-loving mob that began celebrating their first world title in earnest. That roar began to fade in the fourth quarter -- awkwardly, slowly and painfully -- when New England's Dont'a Hightower generated a game-changing strip sack of Ryan. That turnover set the table for a quick Patriots touchdown that tightened the score to 28-20.

One series later, Ryan and the Falcons were forced to punt after six plays, giving Tom Brady the ball back with 3:30 left on the clock. The Patriots passer authored magic from there, but this defense -- down the stretch -- deserves credit for its adjustments.

"People doubted us," said safety Patrick Chung. "You know: 'Their offense is going to run all over us, throw all over us.' It is what it is ... just play better. Take it play by play, man."

Cornerback Logan Ryan dismissed the unit's slow start, focusing only on the finished product: His second Super Bowl title with the Patriots in three seasons.

"The thing is that makes a champion: It's not about shutting everybody out, making everything easy," Ryan said. "It's about getting knocked down and getting back up and how you respond. That's what this team did all year. We kept getting knocked down, we kept responding, we kept coming to work and no one in that locker room -- not one person -- lost faith in the play-calling and how we were playing. We all knew we were going to win ... we never lost faith. We kept it going."

It can all sound the same coming from these Patriots. The catch phrases, the drama-free redundancy of the message, the boiling down of 31 unanswered points on the game's biggest stage to this: Do. Your. Job.

While it's popular fodder for critique and disdain by onlookers, here's the problem: It works. It works to the tune of five world titles with Belichick and Brady at the wheel.

A slow start by the defense? All of that fades away in the reality of what New England has accomplished since 2001. And what the Patriots likely will accomplish again next year unless someone can figure out how to outfox the greatest organization in professional sports.

Don't hold your breath.

Don't miss: Live coverage of the Patriots' Super Bowl LI victory parade starts at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday on NFL Network.

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