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Brandon Meriweather on D&H: Secondary takes pride in physical play

12.27.10 at 11:55 am ET
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Defensive back Brandon Meriweather joined the Dale & Holley show Monday morning, with guest hosts Mike Mutnansky and Chris Price, for his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Patriots Monday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The secondary had a couple of big hits on Bills receivers Sunday and helped force seven Buffalo turnovers in the Patriots’ 34-3 victory. “We try to do that every game,” Meriweather said. “That’s one of our goals, to go into the game and be physical. We like to say that we’re the most physical secondary in the NFL. [Jerod] Mayo’s been a part of that, and the linebackers have been a part of that secondary, too, I think. Every week we go into a game, that’s what we’re aiming for, to be the most physical secondary on the field.”

Added Meriweather: “We just want to punish you. Whenever you come across the middle, or you catch a pass anywhere downfield, we want to make you feel it. Anytime you can make somebody feel it and you can establish they’re coming across the middle, then people stop throwing across the middle. Once you can eliminate places where you know people aren’t going to throw, then that’s when all the picks start coming.”

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Boomer Esiason on D&C: ‘Tom Brady is going to be MVP’

12.27.10 at 9:03 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday with guest hosts Bob Ryan and Troy Brown. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had another stellar outing Sunday in a 34-3 rout of the Bills. Said Esiason: “Tom Brady is going to be MVP of the NFL, I don’t care what Michael Vick says. ‘€¦ To do what Tom’s doing and to do it the way the he has been doing it over the last few weeks ‘€” as a competitive player, watching him, I don’t necessarily know that I’ve ever seen him this demonstrative, this competitive, and certainly now this streak is taking him to new levels.”

Analyzing the teams with the best chance to knock off the Patriots in the playoffs, Esiason said: “Baltimore is going to be a formidable foe. That defense is good enough always to show up, and they can run the ball. Pittsburgh’s going to be a tough out. When they get Troy Polamalu back, they’re a completely different team. ‘€¦ Kansas City is a team I don’t really worry about too much, because I don’t think that they can come into New England and [Matt] Cassel‘s going to go toe to toe with Tom Brady. I think Tom Brady would have a huge game against the Kansas City defense.”

As for the Jets, Esiason said: “I don’t think they’re very good defensively now, all of a sudden. The last couple of weeks, they’ve really been exposed. ‘€¦ They have no pass rush. They’re kind of like New England in a  sense. There’s no pass rush from New England. The difference is that Rex Ryan can’t help himself ‘€” he wants to blitz, he wants to play man coverage. And he only really has two guys that can play man coverage, and that’s Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis. And you’re asking these other guys to do that, and that’s where they become exposed. If they get to Kansas City, I think they can beat Kansas City, but after that, I think they’re done.”

Added Esiason: “The biggest different out of all of this is the fact that Tom Brady and his offense are methodical. They’re going to score 30 points a game. They’re just going to do that. And the defense knows that. So, the defense can make some plays, get a turnover. ‘€¦ That’s one thing the Jets don’t do. Even though they did score 30 points yesterday, that’s not the norm for them. They struggle, they grind it out. They’re lucky if they score 22-24 points. The big different to me is just how efficient the Patriot offense is. They don’t turn the ball over at all. And when they get into the red zone, they don’t settle for field goals, they score touchdowns.”

Despite a series of embarrassments involving Jets players and coaches this year, Esiason said he thinks Rex Ryan’s job is safe, at least for now. “I think they’re going to give him a pass this year,” Esiason said. “And as long as they continue to win, he’ll continued to have his job.”

Meanwhile, with New York’s NFC team continuing to struggle, Esiason was asked if Tom Coughlin is in jeopardy of losing his job as Giants coach. Said Esiason: “I think he is now, and the reason I say that is because this is the third year in a row now that they’ve kind of collapsed at the end. ‘€¦ I love Tom Coughlin. I’m a big fan of his. I love the fact that he’s an old-school coach. But I just don’t know whether or not he’ll be able to withstand the outpouring of angst and embarrassment that he’ll be feeling this morning after his team yesterday melted down.”

Read More: boomer esiason, Michael Vick, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady

Postgame Notes: Patriots 34, Bills 3

12.27.10 at 12:29 am ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are a few notes from Sunday’s Patriots-Bills contest:

PATRIOTS EARN SECOND STRAIGHT AFC EAST TITLE
The Patriots won the AFC East Championship with the victory today and earned homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. New England clinched a playoff berth with the win at Chicago on Dec. 12. The Patriots have qualified for the playoffs 18 times in its 51-year history. The Patriots have earned 12 playoff berths in the 17 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a dramatic contrast to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence. New England has won 13 division crowns and has qualified as a Wild Card team on four occasions (1998, 1994, 1985 and 1976). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players’€™ strike. It is the third time that the Patriots have earned homefield advantage (2007 and 2003).

BRADY EXTENDS NFL RECORD WITH AT LEAST TWO TOUCHDOWNS AND NO INTERCEPTIONS IN EIGHT STRAIGHT GAME
Quarterback Tom Brady extended his NFL record by throwing at least two touchdowns without an interception in each of his past eight games. Brady passed Don Meredith’€™s previous record of six straight games with two or more touchdowns and no interceptions (1965-66) last week vs. Green Bay.

BRADY HAS THROWN AT LEAST ONE TOUCHDOWN PASS IN ALL 15 GAMES
Brady has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 15 games of the 2010 season after finishing with three touchdown tosses against the Bills. Brady has started the season with at least one touchdown in the first 15 games for the first time in his career. Brady started the 2007 season with at least one touchdown in the first 13 games. Since the NFL went to a 16-game season in 1978, only five quarterbacks have thrown for at least one touchdown in each game.

BRADY HAS 11TH GAME WITH TWO OR MORE TOUCHDOWNS IN 2010
Brady had his 11th game with two or more touchdowns in 2010. He has had four 3-touchdown games and two 4-toucdown games. The Patriots are 69-12 when he throws for two or more touchdowns in a game.

BRADY SETS NFL RECORD FOR MOST CONSECUTIVE ATTEMPTS WITHOUT AN INTERCEPTION IN A SINGLE SEASON
Tom Brady extended his interception-free streak to 319 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, setting an NFL record for the most consecutive pass attempts without an interception. Brady eclipsed his old record of 183 consecutive pass attempts without an interception (set in 2009) on Thanksgiving at Detroit. Brady’€™s 319 pass attempts without an interception stretches from the overtime period vs. Baltimore (10/17) through today’€™s win over Buffalo. Brady’€™s last interception was on the last play of regulation vs. Baltimore (10/17). Brady has had previous streaks with 183, 175 and 173 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.
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Read More: Bills, nfl, Patriots,

Tom Brady shows some big love to the big-time rooks

12.26.10 at 6:14 pm ET
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Sure, Tom Brady is in the midst of an MVP-worthy season.

But what really had Brady talking after Sunday’s 34-3 rout of the Bills was the work this season of rookies Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Devin McCourty.

This rookie trio has been one huge reason that a regular season that began with the Jets as AFC East favorites in some camps ended with the Patriots as No. 1 in the AFC. They’ve made big play after big play. It continued again Sunday in a romp that clinched the AFC East and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming AFC playoffs.

“There’s quite a bit of rookies but the rookies don’t know anything,” Brady said. “Really, what you tell them is what they believe. They don’t look two weeks ahead. They’re not smart enough – or experienced enough – to do that. They’re like, ‘This is what you do,’ and that’s what they do and that’s been the great part of having those guys like Aaron and Rob and Devin. They just think this is the way it is. They’ve really listened to the veterans, listened to the guys at their position, listened to our coach.”

Now while Hernandez – with six TD catches himself – didn’t play Sunday because of a sore hip and McCourty had another effective day at cornerback, it was Gronkowski who stood out. In his homecoming to Western New York – where he went to high school in Amherst, NY – “The Gronk” had two TD receptions give him nine on the season, tied with Ben Coates for the most by any Patriots tight end in history. Coates set his mark in the Super Bowl season of 1996.

“Mad excited,” Gronkowski said of his homecoming. “Being home, kind of like a homecoming in front of the family, just great going home and scoring twice in front of them. It’s a dream come true. I never thought this was going to happen back in high school and college. Just amazing.”

“He had a great day today,” Brady said of Gronkowski, who finished with a team-leading four catches and 54 yards to go along with the two TDs. “He’s had great days all season. He’s been a great player for us. I just think when I was a rookie and how hard it was for me and then to see Rob and what he’s accomplished and what Aaron’s accomplished.”

Gronkowski even took time to appreciate the fact that Brady found veteran Alge Crumpler for a TD in the second quarter. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Alge Crumpler, Ben Coates, Devin McCourty

Snowbound Patriots forced to fly back Monday

12.26.10 at 4:25 pm ET
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Only the first major blizzard of the season in the Northeast could stop the Patriots Sunday – literally.

The major snow storm that has slammed the east coast will force the Patriots to celebrate their eighth AFC East title in 10 seasons in Western New York.

Moments after their 34-3 win over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium, coach Bill Belichick said the team would be unable to fly back to Boston or New England. Asked what he and the Patriots planned to do with an extended stay on the road, Belichick quipped, “rest.”

The Patriots will bus east on the New York Thruway and stay the night in the Rochester area before flying back home Monday.

“We’re not even stuck in Buffalo, we’re stuck in Rochester,” Tom Brady joked afterward. “We saw that coming down the pipeline earlier today.”

The Patriots announced that – as part of their contingency plans – the team would fly back Monday due to blizzard that already forced the postponement of Sunday night’s Vikings-Eagles game in Philadelphia. That game will be played on Tuesday night.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, nfl

Snap judgments: Patriots 34, Bills 3

12.26.10 at 4:02 pm ET
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The Patriots have clinched the AFC East title and home-field advantage for the entire AFC playoffs with a 34-3 win over the Bills in Buffalo. Tom Brady – the no-doubt MVP of the 2010 season– threw three TD passes — two to Rob Gronkowski — and broke Bernie Kosar’s NFL record for most pass attempts without an interception. The defense also stepped up, creating six turnovers (which the Patriots converted into 21 points).

Now at 13-2 on the season, the Patriots will host the Dolphins in the regular-season finale. It’ll be interesting to see how much Brady and the rest of the starters play in what will be a meaningless game from a postseason perspective.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Green-Ellis and Woodhead: The Patriots ran for a then season-best 200 yards on the ground in a Week 3 win over the Bills, and they were clearly committed to continuing that dominance over Buffalo on Sunday. The undrafted wonder duo of Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis combined for 197 yards on 32 carries (138 of the yards coming in the first half, which was really the only 30 minutes that counted in this rout). Woodhead had a 29-yard TD rush in the first quarter (with terrific blocking from Gronkowski and Matt Light) Green-Ellis finished with 78 yards on 13 carries. The O-Line was outstanding throughout the contest, with Logan Mankins as a standout (kudos to Alge Crumpler for some devastating blocks as well as his first TD catch of the season). In total, 220 yards rushing for the Patriots, a new season best.

Rob Gronkowski: A return home to remember for the rookie tight end, as Gronkowski caught a pair of TD passes. He now has nine on the season, which matches the great Ben Coates for single-season honors for the position. Gronkowski also made a superb block to spring Woodhead on his TD run and a nice back-shoulder catch on a third-and-six on New England’s second TD drive.

Creating (and avoiding) turnovers: At one point in the middle of the third quarter both teams were tied with 286 total yards. But the Patriots had a 31-3 lead in large part due to a +5 turnover edge. The first turnover came thanks to the work of three linebackers, as Rob Ninkovich forced pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick, forcing him out of the pocket. Gary Guyton came in and delivered a hit on Fitzpatrick to cause the fumble, and Jerod Mayo (who was all over the field in both run and pass coverage) recovered the ball. Patrick Chung and Jarrad Page each recorded an interception (both were converted into TDs) and Mayo and Kyle Arrington combined to force a fumble of C.J. Spiller in the third quarter, which was recovered by Dane Fletcher. Eric Moore also recovered a fumble from Fitzpatrick, but the Pats were unable to turn that into points. Fletcher also had a garbage-time pick for the Patriots, who are now a remarkable +27 for the season on turnovers, easily the best total in the NFL (seven games in a row without a turnover).

WHAT WENT WRONG

Run Defense: Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise of Fred Jackson in the week leading up to the game, and Jackson showed why early on, rushing for 50 yards on the Bills’ opening drive. Chan Gailey (never to be confused with a guy you would ever want as your team’s head coach) made the curious (at best) decision to abandon the running game after that drive, putting the game in the hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick in lousy conditions. Jackson only carried the ball 13 times in the game, but finished with 81 yards.

Wes Welker: Three more drops for Welker on Sunday, which gives him a total of 13 on the season. He had back-to-back drops in the red zone at the end of the first half that stalled a promising drive (the Pats were forced to settle for a field goal).

Kevin Harlan: Wow. Just wow. I’ll never complain about Jim Nantz or Joe Buck again. OK, maybe Buck. But Harlan was brutal, confusing Woodhead and Welker numerous times (it happens), referring to Page as “Victor Page” (this isn’t UConn-Georgetown in 1996, Kev) and calling for a flag on every hard hit from a player from either team (if you lead with your shoulder and hit a guy in the back it’s hard to throw a flag. Just a hint.) Also he kept mentioning that a win meant an AFC East title (true) but failed to recognize that it also meant home-field (which is only, oh, about 600 times more important). Throw in a blown call on the Dane Fletcher pick in the end zone (“did he or didn’t he … let’s wait and see) and we now know why Harlan is buried on the CBS depth chart.

Another NFL first for Tom Brady

12.26.10 at 3:13 pm ET
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Tom Brady set a new NFL mark for passes without an interception and then found Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown on the next pass as the Patriots quarterback continued his remarkable season Sunday in Buffalo.

Brady threw his 309th pass without being intercepted on an incompletion to Gronkowski at the Bills goal line on the Patriots’ second drive of the second half, breaking the previous record held by Cleveland’s Bernie Kosar, spanning the 1990-91 seasons.

Brady has now thrown 24 TD passes since last being picked off by Baltimore on Oct. 17. One pass after setting the record, Gronkowski caught his second eight-yard TD catch. Brady also hit Alge Crumpler from four yards for a TD in the second-quarter.

“What’s my reaction? I’m glad I’m not throwing interceptions,” Brady said. “I think our team’s done a really good job of not turning the ball over this year, in general. All of the guys who’ve handled it this year are doing a good job of taking care of it. I’m very fortunate, believe me, to have plenty of plays that definitely could’ve gone to [opponent]. It’s a good trend for us to be on. Hopefully, it continues.”

Brady finished 15-of-27 for 140 yards and three touchdowns and ran his streak to 319 passes without throwing an interception, 11 better than Kosar’s old mark.

Read More: Bernie Kosar, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, nfl
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