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Bill Belichick responds to remarks from NFL officials about Brandon Meriweather’s play

10.25.10 at 4:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” With his tongue firmly in cheek, Patriots coach Bill Belichick weighed in Monday on the comments from NFL officials praising safety Brandon Meriweather for his ‘€œtenacious’€ hits in Sunday’€™s game against San Diego.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, one week after criticizing Brandon Meriweather for his hit against Ravens tight end Todd Heap, praised the Patriots safety responding to the league’€™s crackdown on hits to the neck and head of defenseless players.

‘€œBrandon Meriweather, specifically, last week we were appropriately calling him out and chastising him,’€ said Anderson. ‘€œYesterday in the Patriots’€™ game at San Diego, Meriweather made two very tenacious, effective and legal hits in similar situations. But you could see it, he lowered the target area, blasted the opponent with his shoulder. He adapted, showing it can be done. It is appropriate to praise him for the tough play.’€

When asked about the idea of a league official complimenting the play of one of his players and whether or not he had ever heard that before, Belichick responded with a small smile.

‘€œI think that would be a first for me,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œThe officials are now evaluating the players and their performance ‘€” that’€™s great. I can’€™t tell you how much that means to me, really.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Meriweather, ray anderson, Todd Heap

Bill Belichick talks about San Diego, fourth-and-1 and the NFL’s decision to praise Brandon Meriweather

10.25.10 at 3:54 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Patriots coach Bill Belichick just wrapped up his Monday afternoon press conference down here at Gillette Stadium. Here are a few highlights from the Q&A with the media:

On whether or not long snapper Jake Ingram’€™s struggles played into the decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 late in the game, and whether or not he’€™s concerned about him:
‘€œNo ‘€¦ well, yeah. We’€™re all concerned about our execution on every play of the game. But no, I felt like we could pick it up and end the game there, if we could pick that up. We came close to putting it away. We just didn’€™t. Obviously, we just didn’€™t get it done. A lot of things could have been better on that play. Coaching, playing, just ‘€¦ they did a good job on it. Give them credit.’€

On the defensive difference for his team from the first three quarters to the fourth quarter:
‘€œAgain, give them credit. They have a lot of good players. They have a good offensive football team. They have a good quarterback, good backs, good tight end, good receivers. And they’€™re well-coached. Norv does a great job. They lead the league in offense. Certainly there are things we thought we could have done better. There’€™s no intention of us trying to give up 20-yard pass completions. That’€™s not part of what we’€™re trying to do. But they hit them. Again, they have good players doing it and we need to defend them better, between pass rush and coverage and disguise and everything else. All the things that go with it. We just need to do a better job in those situations. But they’€™re a good football team. They’€™ve got 20-yard completions on a lot of people this year. Every year.’€

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NFL applauds Brandon Meriweather’s ‘tenacious’ hits

10.25.10 at 3:01 pm ET
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NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, one week after criticizing Brandon Meriweather for his hit against Ravens tight end Todd Heap, praised the Patriots safety responding to the League’s crackdown on hits to the neck and head of defenseless players. Meriweather, who was fined $50,000 last week for his hit on Heap, leveled Chargers wide receiver Patrick Crayton with a hit below the shoulder on Sunday. Anderson lauded Meriweather’s clean, aggressive play.

“We like to think we’re off to a good start in terms of the new emphasis and the recognition that we are going to play aggressively but well within the rules,” Anderson told the Associated Press. “It’s a good start.

“Brandon Meriweather, specifically, last week we were appropriately calling him out and chastising him,” he added. ” Yesterday in the Patriots’ game at San Diego, Meriweather made two very tenacious, effective and legal hits in similar situations. But you could see it, he lowered the target area, blasted the opponent with his shoulder. He adapted, showing it can be done. It is appropriate to praise him for the tough play.”

Anderson also applauded the play of Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who was fined $75,000 last week and briefly threatened retirement in response to the league’s emphasis on enforcing protections of defenseless players.

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Crayton, ray anderson, Todd Heap

Brandon Meriweather on D&H: ‘Love’ aggressive coaching

10.25.10 at 1:06 pm ET
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Patriots cornerback Brandon Meriweather stopped in for his weekly visit with the Dale & Holley show from Gillette Stadium on Patriots Monday. To hear the interview, including Meriweather’s summary of his phone conversation with Rodney Harrison about head hits, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Meriweather said he wasn’t surprised with Bill Belichick‘s decision Sunday to go for it on fourth-and-1 at midfield with two minutes remaining and New England holding a three-point lead over the Chargers. “That’s coach,” Meriweather said. “Coach is an aggressive coach, and that’s what we love about him, the fact that when somebody else won’t do it, he would.”

After the Patriots were stopped the defense had to take the field, Meriweather said there was no disappointment. “We were saying, ‘Man, it’s time to play.’ We were happy about it. We were like, ‘All right, now we get to show everybody how good our defense really is.’ And I think we did that.”

Meriweather said he made the necessary adjustments to avoid getting himself in trouble with the league following last week’s helmet-to-helmet hit. “I just lowered my target zone. That’s all I did,” he said. “I took some much-needed advice from some people that I trust. Big V [Vince Wilfork] is one of them. I took some advice from him and [his wife] Bianca. I talked to Mr. Kraft and Bill [Belichick]. Everybody just told me, ‘Continue playing, just lower your target zone.’ ”

Meriweather said he is trying to stay disciplined and do his part within the team’s game plan. “Just do what my coaches ask me, and when I get a chance, make the play,” he said. “Because the difference between Pro Bowlers and people who never make it is that the Pro Bowlers make the plays when given the opportunity and the people that don’t make it don’t.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Meriweather, Rodney Harrison, Vince Wilfork

Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘We take stuff in stride’

10.25.10 at 12:45 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork called in to the Dale & Holley show for his weekly appearance on Patriots Monday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Wilfork said he’s happy to leave San Diego with a win, no matter how ugly Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the Chargers was.

“A lot of people look into it deeper than others,” he said. “I’m one of the guys that just basically [says], ‘A win is a win.’ You take from that win things that happened in that game. In this game, we probably had a chance to close the door early, but we didn’t. We allowed them to stay in the game. But at the end of the day, we got the ‘W.’ We made the plays that counted.”

Added Wilfork: “It really wasn’t a smart play by those guys jumping offsides on the field goal to push it back 5 more extra yards, to turn it into a 50-yard field goal. Who knows? That 5 extra yards could have made the difference for them. We cover situations in practice a lot, and that’s one of the situations that we cover. We know the field goal range of most kickers in this league. And we knew with a 5-yard penalty, that was going to put them back. The odds were in our favor at that time.”

Wilfork reiterated that this year’s edition of the Patriots does not get rattled as easily as last year. “This team does a real good job of just taking stuff in stride,” he said. “That’s one thing better about this team this year. We take stuff in stride and keep our head down and we keep fighting, and get better each week. We’ll continue to do that for the remainder of the season, and hopefully we’ll be where we need to be.”

Wilfork also talked about the new rule about hits to the head and its affect on the team. “Brandon Meriweather changed his style a little bit, but at the same time, he knocked the hell out of that dude [Patrick Crayton], too,” Wilfork noted.

“The game has changed,” he added. “We’ve got to figure out a different way to make plays. I think this week we did that.”

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Vince Wilfork,

Live chat with WEEI.com’s Christopher Price

10.25.10 at 11:58 am ET
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Christopher Price’s Pats Chat

Boomer Esiason on D&C: ‘Never think that you would win a game like that’

10.25.10 at 10:28 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning. When asked whether he thought New England won or San Diego lost in the Patriots’ 23-20 victory on Sunday, Esiason believed it was a combination. “There’s probably a little bit of both,” Esiason said. “When you take a look at the total yards for New England, 175, you would never think that you would win a game like that.

“San Diego’s a team ‘€” and I think that they’re a really good team, especially their defense, and they can move the ball obviously up and down the field with anybody. But the comedy of errors, especially when it comes to special teams, was the way that they lost the game yesterday and the way they’ve lost a lot of their games this year.”

Esiason continued highlighting the difference between the two teams, with the greatest being New England’s ability to avoid mistakes in the game’s most crucial moments. “It’s kind of like a rope-a-dope mentality. You just don’t make those mistakes that kill yourself, which the Patriots almost did there at the end of the game,” Esiason said.

“Now all of a sudden you have a chance to win, and that’s exactly what happened. You saw a team that was much better prepared, a team that didn’t make the crucial errors, and you saw a team that has a wealth of talent that just continually makes the dopiest errors that I’ve  seen in a long time. Two fumbles yesterday that were just absolutely unexplainable from the San Diego standpoint. There’s a reason why the Patriots won.”

Following are more highlights, including Esiason’s thoughts on how much blame the head coach shoulders in these situations, Bill Belichick‘s fourth-and-1 call, and what underachieving team is the most likely to turn it around. To listen to the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Is it possible Sunday’s tough-it-out kind of win better serves the Patriots in the long run than a blowout, 20-3 laugher would have?

I don’t necessarily know that they had a chance for a laugher yesterday. I know they got out to a big lead, and there’s something to be said about losing the lead at the end there. I think that’s one of the reasons why obviously Bill Belichick goes for it on fourth-and-1 and which is something that I wouldn’t have done. I would have punted and said, “Hey defense, go earn your money.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, boomer esiason, Brett Favre, Norv Turner
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