|01.03.11 at 9:09 am ET|
The Patriots closed out the regular season Sunday with a 38-7 win over the Dolphins, allowing several backups to get playing time in the rout. “I think we got what we wanted out of it,” Brady said. “A bunch of guys got opportunities to play. … It was really a great win.”
Brady noted the play of quarterback Brian Hoyer and receiver Taylor Price, who made big plays in the first games of the season, as well as receiver/punt returner Julian Edelman. “That’s what this team is made of,” Brady said. “It’s a bunch of guys who are trying to go out there and give everything they’ve got. And I think that’s what we’ve done, that’s what worked, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Brady said he’s confident Hoyer could step in at any time for him. “He’s everything you’re looking for in a player,” Brady said. “He’s a perfect Patriot. He works his tail off, loves the game, is a student of the game. And he really performed well when he gets the opportunity, since the day that he’s gotten here. And I think he’s earned it. He’s going to be a great player in this league.”
Brady got his chance due to an injury to Drew Bledsoe, and Brady’s injury in 2008 opened the door for Matt Cassel to make a name for himself. This is not lost on Brady and Hoyer. “[Hoyer] could be the quarterback in the first quarter two weeks from now. You just never know,” Brady said. “And knock on wood as I say that, but that’s the way this game is. You never know when you’re going to get your opportunity. I certainly didn’t know when I was going to get my opportunity. And neither does Brian. But I know that I know that he’s prepared. And when he gets it, he’s going to do a great job with it.”
Responding to a joke about his car accident earlier this season, Brady said: “I still haven’t been through that intersection. I haven’t gone through. I’m avoiding it. Never again.”
Brady went on to discuss in more detail how players such as Edelman and Hoyer have been great students this season. “Both Julian and Brian, there’s a reason why they can go out like they did yesterday and play so well, because they’re prepared for the opportunity,” he said. “They practice so hard and they play hard and they work hard and they make a huge commitment to the team.
“I love the fact that I can be a mentor, I’ll you that. Because I learned from Drew, I learned from John Friesz. I learned from Jim Miller. I learned from Vinny Testaverde and Doug Flutie and Damon Huard and Matt Cassel. All those guys that I learned from, things that they do well and reasons why they’re successful, I take from all those guys. And I’m glad that Brian can look at me and say, ‘Man, these are some of the things that I want to do to be successful.’ Because that’s how you learn. You look around and you say, ‘Yup, these are the examples, and these are good examples and these are bad exempts.’ Julian’s got a great one to look up to in Wes Welker. Wes is such a great leader for that team.”
|01.03.11 at 9:01 am ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Patriots and the NFL. To hear the interview, including Esiason’s thoughts on Brett Favre and his embarrassing final season, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Following the Patriots’ rout of the Dolphins on Sunday, Esiason said Tom Brady will get his vote for MVP. “I do believe he’s playing his best football of his career,” Esiason said. “Even the years that he won the Super Bowl and even the year they went 19-0 and went to the Super Bowl. To me, this was by far his best season, especially in the last six games. … Brady has been on another level since the Cleveland game.”
Added Esiason: “I would not be surprised if he wins the award going away, probably 95 to 5 percent of the votes [for Michael Vick].”
However, for Coach of the Year, Esiason said he’s likely to pass over Bill Belichick in favor of the coach of the Buccaneers. Said Esiason: “Raheem Morris, 10-6, they’re not in the playoffs, I’m leaning to him because they have the youngest team in football. They also have the lowest-paid team in football. They have a goofy ownership down there. I don’t know how he did it with Josh Freeman. It’s really been a remarkable season.
“Now, if you say NFL Executive fo the year, I don’t know if Bill Belichick qualifies for that. But I would think he would have to, given all the moves and all the decisions that he has made.”
Looking at the playoffs, Esiason pointed to a Patriots-Steelers rematch as the most appealing matchup. “That’s the one team I would worry about right now if I were the Patriots,” he said.
Asked his opinion of the Seahawks reaching the NFC playoffs despite a losing record, Esiason said: “I hate it.” Esiason said he would prefer to see two divisions (instead of four) in each conference and the playoffs expanded to eight teams, eliminating the first-round bye for the top two seeds.
|01.03.11 at 12:28 am ET|
With the Raiders capping their regular season with a 31-10 victory over the Chiefs in Kansas City, they became one of two teams to finish the season at 8-8. Their record means the Patriots, who received Oakland’s first-rounder in the Richard Seymour deal, will choose 17th overall.
The Raiders, along with the 8-8 Jaguars, are tied for the 17th-worst record. Luckily for the Patriots, one of the teams with a worse record than the Raiders, the 7-9 Seahawks, made the playoffs and will therefore choose no higher than 21st overall. Strength of schedule is the first tiebreaker for teams with identical records, and as a result, the Jaguars, whose opponents combined for a .453 winning percentage, qualify for the higher pick due to the .468 winning percentage of the Raiders’ opponents.
The Patriots also hold their own first round pick, as well as the Panthers’ second-round pick, which is No. 33 overall. The Pats flipped the 89th overall pick (Armanti Edwards) to Carolina in the 2010 draft for the aforementioned second-rounder. The Panthers, of course, finished with the worst record in the league at 2-14.
Given the trades of Randy Moss, Laurence Maroney and David Thomas (Thomas was traded to the Saints in September of 2009), as well as the trades for Deion Branch and Quinn Ojinnaka, the Patriots have two picks in each of the first three rounds, and one pick in rounds four through six.
|01.02.11 at 9:35 pm ET|
The NFL has announced that the Patriots first playoff game will be played Sunday, Jan. 16, at 4:30 p.m. The Patriots, who have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, will play the lowest seeded remaining team from wild-card weekend. Third-seeded Indianapolis will host the sixth-seeded Jets this Saturday at 8 p.m., while fourth-seeded Kansas City will host fifth-seeded Baltimore at 1 p.m. Sunday.
|01.02.11 at 8:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the last Patriots player to take the podium in the press room following Sunday’s 38-7 season-ending laugher over the Miami Dolphins. And that’s completely alright with the 25-year-old running back out of Ole Miss (via Indiana University).
As a matter of fact, it was entirely appropriate since the unheralded, soft-spoken running back never seeks attention in the Patriots locker room.
But what he sought all season was a 1,000-yard season. That quest was not for himself, mind you, but for the guys who made his breakout season possible: His offensive line.
“[None] of this would be possible without the offensive line, tight ends and everyone blocking and working hard in practice,” Green-Ellis said.
Coming into Sunday, Green-Ellis needed 72 yards to become the first Patriots runner since Corey Dillon in 2004 to hit 1,000 yards. s it turned out, about the only drama left entering the fourth quarter was when Green-Ellis was going to get his number.
Entering the final 15 minutes, he still needed four yards. He picked up two yards to the Dolphins’ 19. Now, two yards away, he took a hand-off from Brian Hoyer and ran off right guard for 10 yards to the Miami 9 and he had his first big career milestone.
“It’s not really an individual accomplishment,” Green-Ellis said. “For one person to say that they [got] 1,000 yards by themselves they would be lying to you. Everyone worked hard, like I said. Everyone comes to practice and works hard in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and you know, it’s paying off for us.”
While Green-Ellis tried to deflect the credit for the accomplishment, his teammates were happy to thrust it back in his direction.
‘Yeah, we were aware, and that was something we wanted to get for Benny because he’s done a tremendous job and he got it on that last play,” Hoyer said. “I thought maybe he was going to score actually. They were all dropped back into coverage, and we handed it off to him, and he definitely got it, so we were just happy for him.’
With 1,008 yards for the season, he was immediately taken out of the game by Bill Belichick. His teammates all patted him on the helmet to congratulate him. But there was one more person who wanted his time with Green-Ellis, the coach himself. Belichick gave him a hearty hug.
After the game, Belichick praised Green-Ellis as someone whose performance helped the team win 14 games. Read the rest of this entry »
|01.02.11 at 6:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — This time there was no dirty laundry to clean up.
Julian Edelman returned Brandon Fields‘ second-quarter punt 94 yards for a score, setting a new record for the longest punt return for a touchdown in Patriots history. The score put his team up, 24-0, before halftime and the Patriots went on to roll the Dolphins, 38-7, Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Just four weeks earlier at snowy Soldier field, Edelman thought he had a TD on a 71-yard punt return and raced through the end zone in jubilation – only to realize that rookie Dane Fletcher had been flagged for holding, nullifying the return.
“I’m not going to lie,” Edelman smiled and admitted. “I was actually thinking about that. l was thinking I’m going to look like an idiot going up into the stands if there’s a flag out there. We didn’t fortunately and we got the touchdown finally.”
This time, the return set up perfectly with the Patriots holding their blocks legally after Fields booted a booming 61-yard punt to the Patriots’ 29.
“It was late in the half and we had a “middle” return called,” Edelman said. “The kicker, we knew we were going to get some chances this week with this punter because he was prone to out-kick his coverage. He gave us a shot.
“The middle of the field, our guys held them up real well and as a punt returner, you’re supposed to make at least one guy miss and we were fortunate enough to do that and guys held on their blocks and we executed the play. It was a good play.”
The return broke the record previously held by Mike Haynes when he returned a punt 89 yards for a TD in his rookie season of 1976.
“I knew once when I was pressing back and I was going to put my foot on the ground and cut back I knew we were going to hit the house right there,” Edelman said.
|01.02.11 at 6:10 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In Sunday’s regular-season finale at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, the Patriots made their final statement before entering the 2011 postseason by dismantling the Dolphins, 38-7. The Dolphins, a team that many thought would make a serious postseason push after adding star wide receiver Brandon Marshall in the offseason, fell to a subpar 7-9 regular season finish.
The Patriots head into their first-round bye week on a high note, receiving production from all over the roster. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer connected with Brandon Tate on a 42-yard touchdown in the third quarter that served as Hoyer’s first career NFL touchdown.
After the game, Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, whose job may fall in jeopardy after the disappointing season, sang New England’s praises, commending them as the benchmark for the rest of the league.
‘These guys do a great job spreading you out and Tom does a great job of getting them the right play,’ Sparano said. ‘They’re a good football team; well coached, and as long as that guy’s behind center, they’re a very good football team.’
He added that the thing about New England he’s been the most impressed with while watching tape this season is their cornerbacks. Sparano said that they have made great improvements and that they compete at a high level.
‘I have seen great growth since the last time we played,’ Sparano said.
Marshall’s first season in Miami ended well short of spectacular, as the former fourth round draft pick finished off the 2010 campaign with just three touchdown catches. It was clear of his frustration in the first quarter against the Patriots, when quarterback Chad Henne threw the ball well behind Marshall on a sideline rout, and the receiver stormed off the field, not returning for the next play. When asked about the relationship between Henne and himself, and if the two could coexist on the same field next season, Marshall declined to comment.
The Patriots defense once again built up its reputation as a clutch unit, stepping up to the challenge of shutting down playmakers such as Marshall, and holding a typically potent Dolphins running game to under 100 total yards.
Running back Ronnie Brown said after the game that the defense his team faced was an up-tempo, fast-paced unit.
‘Against a team like this, obviously you have to capitalize on the opportunities,’ Brown said. ‘You got to be clicking on all cylinders. They are just fundamentally fast and they don’t make a lot of mistakes, and they have guys in the right places. They can make plays when they need to.’
The game was essentially meaningless for the Patriots, who clinched a first round bye and home field advantage all in previous weeks. But the game meant much more than just the final regular season home matchup, and a great start to the new year. Tom Brady‘s regular season home winning streak was on the line, since Brady was named the team’s starter in week 17. His understudy Hoyer made sure the game was sealed when he entered the game for good in the second half.
Highlighting another offensive achievement for the Patriots was running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who became the first 1,000-yard rusher in a Patriots uniform since Corey Dillon did so back in the 2004 season. Green-Ellis’ 10-yard carry at the start of the fourth quarter put him over the century mark, making him just the second running back in the NFL this season to go over 1,000 yards with at least 175 carries while not fumbling the football.
The Patriots forced the Dolphins, who have had inconsistency all season long at the quarterback position, to switch who was behind center three times on Sunday. Henne started the game, but was replaced by Tyler Thigpen in the first half after the Dolphins were already in a hole points wise. Henne reentered the game in the third, but suffered a head injury that left him sidelined for the duration. Thigpen said after the game that he was prepared to see maybe a series or two, but didn’t expect to get the time that he actually saw.
‘Coach had said be ready to go in,’ Thigpen said. ‘I didn’t know I would get that extensive amount, but being the backup, you’ve always got to be prepared. I went in there for one play, I think in the second series, and then they made a decision right after that; I think it was two series later or something they decided to go with me.’
The Patriots head into their bye week on a high note, maintaining their prolific offensive status by continuing a streak of at least 31 points scored in each of their last eight games, and will be closely watching the first round of the AFC playoffs one week from now.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- How Big of an Impact Will Easley Make for Pats?
- Patriots' Top Offseason Moves
- Assessing Every Patriots UDFA's Chances of Making the Roster
- Projecting Patriots' Roster Battles This Offseason
- Ranking Pats' Remaining Offseason Priorities
- Early Projections for Patriots' Final 53-Man Roster
- In-Depth Look at Each Pats Draft Pick