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Andre Carter, Deion Branch on M&M: Tim Tebow wins games, that’s all that matters

12.12.11 at 12:42 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Andre Carter and wide receiver Deion Branch stopped by for their weekly visits with Mut & Merloni at Gillette Stadium Monday. To hear the interviews, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Carter agreed that Sunday’s win over the Redskins was a mixed bag, as the Patriots did not play all that well.

Said Carter: “You put in the time and the effort to prepare for an opponent, and you know or anticipate what they’re trying to do. And then to come out and have the performance you did — like I said, we’re blessed, we’re a talented team, we work our butts off, but it has to carry on in the game. When you give up those big plays, it’s pretty much unnecessary. Not necessary, it’s just disappointing. It’s back to the drawing board again. We’ve got another tough opponent against us in Denver. They’re high and mighty right now, and they’re definitely a threat.”

Asked about the Tom Brady-Bill O’Brien confrontation, Branch said: “That stuff happens. We’re all on the same team. We’re all in it for the same goal. Guys just got a lot of emotions tied up into it. You see how fast it ended. The guys talked about it. I’m sure those two handled it like professionals.”

Carter was called for a penalty in the second quarter for hitting Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman below the knees. The call for roughing the passer negated a Patriots interception. Carter said, “I really don’t know what else to do,” in terms of how to hit a player.

“I went through my head countless times,” he said. “The league has changed so much. I understand, as far as the league trying to protect quarterbacks, or protect players in general. But at the same time, football is football. You’ve got to find a way to make a play that’s legal.”

Carter now needs to focus on hitting Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who likes to run and is tough to bring down.

“He’s very aggressive, and that’s something that we have to keep in mind,” Carter said. “Especially coming into Denver. Everybody knows he loves to scramble. It’s back to the drawing board for this game plan. I’ve got to get my hamstrings ready.”

Branch is impressed with the Denver quarterback’s results.

“Great player, man,” he said. “This is what the game’s about. Everybody harps on what type of quarterback this guy is and what he can’t do. He’s 7-1. He’s 7-1 since he’s been starting, and that’s the only thing that’s important.”

Added Branch: “He deserves [the attention]. Now, we’ve just got to go in there and play our game. We can’t worry about ‘Tebow Week’ and all that other stuff.”

Read More: Andre Carter, Deion Branch, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady

Bears unimpressed with Tim Tebow despite comeback

12.12.11 at 10:12 am ET
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The Bears could not do what Charles Barkley begged them to: “Stop the madness” and prevent Tim Tebow from engineering another miraculous comeback.

Now, it’s up to the Patriots, who play in Denver next Sunday.

If you listen to the Bears defenders, the Patriots shouldn’t worry too much.

“It wasn’t anything special that he did,” defensive end Julius Peppers said after Tebow overcame an unproductive first three quarters and led the Broncos on three scoring drives in the final 11 minutes of a 13-10 overtime victory.

Linebacker Brian Urlacher offered this backhanded compliment: “He’s a good running back, man. He runs the ball well.”

Chicago’s mistake was giving Tebow a chance in the fourth quarter. When the game is close, Tebow is at his best.

Writes Denver Post columnist Mike Kilis: “There is no antidote for, no potion against Tebow Magic.”

Tebow completed 21-of-40 passes for 236 yards and rushed for 49 more. He was just 3-for-16 for 45 yards and an interception through the first three quarters — completing no passes (in nine attempts) in the second and third quarters. (In his defense, there were a handful of passes that could have been caught but were dropped by Broncos receivers.)

Tebow picked it up midway through the fourth quarter. With his team trailing 10-0, he completed 9-of-14 passes, leading the Broncos on a seven-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with less than three minutes remaining. With under two minutes left — after Bears running back Marion Barber failed to stay in bounds on a run and take more time off the clock and Chicago punted the ball away — Tebow took the Broncos 39 yards on eight plays (3-of-6 passing) to set up Matt Prater‘s game-tying 59-yard field goal with eight seconds left.

“I might have thanked the Lord when he did that,” Tebow said of Barber’s mistake. “That was obviously something where you shouldn’t do that. That kept us in it. We probably would have had 10 seconds left if he would have stayed in.”

In overtime, after Barber fumbled away the ball when the Bears were in field goal range, Tebow led his team 33 yards (3-for-4 passing for 28 yards), and Prater ended it with a 51-yarder.

In the fourth quarter and overtime combined, Tebow was 18-of-24 for 191 yards and a touchdown.

“There’s no one else I’d rather have the ball in his hands when it counts,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller said.

Added Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey: “I don’t want to give him all the credit. But at the same time, he comes through at crunch time every week. Every single week it’s like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ It gets to the point where you say, ‘What the frickin’ is happening here?’ ”

Stated Tebow: “If you believe, then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible.”

Read More: Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers, Marion Barber, Tim Tebow

Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I love that [Bill O’Brien] feels that he can coach me’

12.12.11 at 9:20 am ET
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Following Sunday’s 34-27 victory over the Redskins, the Patriots prepare for Tim Tebow and the Broncos next Sunday in Denver. During his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, Tom Brady talked about watching Tebow’s latest heroics in a 13-10 overtime victory over the Bears.

“All of us were watching the game last night on the airplane,” Brady said. “Just as we were taking off was when they came back and won the game. It was an exciting game. They obviously have a very good team. They play for 60 minutes. They’ve obviously closed a lot of games and finished very well. We’ve got a huge test. We’ll all be excited and hopefully have a good week of preparation and be ready to go on Sunday.”

Added Brady: “They’re winning a ton of games and he’s playing very well. Everyone says he struggles throwing the ball. What I saw last night, he had no problems throwing the ball. He threw the ball extremely well when I was watching. Hopefully, we can force him into some bad throws and turnovers. But they’ve got a good defense, I know that. That’s what I’ll be preparing for all week.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation, starting with Brady’s explanation of his sideline argument with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.

Who was madder, you or Billy?


Here’s my take: You were mad early on, and then he got mad late.

When things don’t go so well — we’re both very emotional people, believe me — when things don’t go so well, everyone gets frustrated. There’s different ways that we express our frustration. When I make a play like that at the end of the game, it’s not what he expects or any player/coach expects.

That’s just part of the game. He and I have a great relationship. Actually, I love that he feels that he can coach me. I think that’s something as a veteran player you maybe don’t get a lot from coaches. Because you’re a veteran, you don’t think, “Aw man, I can’t be yelled at.” But yeah, you can. And you should. We’re all held accountable. I’m glad our defense really made the play to win the game at the end, because I’d have been feeling pretty crappy if we’d somehow not pulled that game out with that interception there at the end.

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Read More: Bill O'Brien, Rob Gronkowski, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady

Jerod Mayo knows Sunday’s performance ‘won’t be good enough any other week’

12.11.11 at 7:50 pm ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — In a game that saw the Patriots give up big play after big play to Rex Grossman, it was Jerod Mayo to the rescue with 20 seconds remaining to preserve the Patriots’ 34-27 win over the Redskins Sunday at FedExField.

He intercepted a bobble by Santana Moss on a throw from Grossman with the Redskins threatening inside the Patriots’ 10.

“Tracy [Tracy White] made a great play on the ball and kind of separated the man from the ball, and it just popped up and fell into my hands,” Mayo said.

Moss was upset following the game when asked about the offensive pass interference penalty the play before that negated the game-tying touchdown. Replays showed Mayo getting screened off on a corner route by Moss, who appeared to get his hands extended, with the side judge throwing the flag.

“I’ve been playing this game for a long time and I still find it hard to believe that it’s all right for somebody to mug us at five yards but we can’t get the guy off us, so they called pass interference on us,” Moss said. “How can I get open if a guy is going to put his hands on me, and if I put my hands back on him? You feel me? It’s just stuff that has been going on for years but we’re wrong if we do it, but if they do it, it’s OK.”

Back to the Patriots, was Mayo’s pick enough to erase what happened in the first 59 minutes, 40 seconds, when the Patriots couldn’t come up with a big defensive stop?

“A little bit, but at the same time we still want to put together a full game and, it was good enough today, but it probably won’t be good enough any other week,” Mayo said.

No one on the Patriots defense was targeted more than Devin McCourty in the first three quarters. And after giving up a 51-yard completion to Donte Stallworth in the first quarter, he knew the Redskins would be coming back his way all game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andre Carter, Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots

NFL Sunday roundup: Tim Tebow engineers another miraculous comeback

12.11.11 at 7:23 pm ET
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Tim Tebow proved Sunday he can still work his magic in the NFL with more late heroics in the Broncos latest win, a 13-10 overtime victory over the Bears. (And, in case you forgot, the Patriots have to deal with that magic next Sunday.)

Tebow and the Broncos ran a string of fourth quarter comebacks to four games in the win Sunday when, despite trailing the Bears 10-0 with under three minutes remaining in the game, Tebow and kicker Matt Prater led the Broncos to another incredible comeback. The quarter was topped off by Prater’s 59-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining to force overtime. The Bears had possession of the ball after the two-minute warning, but Chicago running back Marion Barber went out of bounds on second-and-10 with 1:59 remaining and went out of bounds, stopping the clock and allowing the Broncos to have more time to come back.

“I just believe we’re a team that keeps the faith and believes in each other, and that’s special,” Tebow told FoxSports after the win.

In overtime, the Bears made it into field goal position but fumbled on the Denver 33-yard line. Bronco Wesley Woodyard recovered the fumble to give the Broncos a chance to win the game. Prater completed the comeback with a 51-yard field goal in overtime.

– In the Dolphins‘ 26-10 loss to the Eagles Sunday, Miami (4-8) also lost quarterback Matt Moore, who left the game with a head injury at the end of the third quarter. Moore was 11-for-19 in the game and threw for a touchdown and an interception. He was replaced by veteran J.P. Losman, who struggled in Moore’s place. Losman completed six of 10 passes for 60 yards, fumbled on a fourth-down conversion attempt and was sacked for a safety in just over a quarter of play.

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Read More: J.P. Losman, Jim Leonhard, Marion Barber, matt moore

Tom Brady stands up for Tiquan Underwood and Bill O’Brien

12.11.11 at 6:41 pm ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — If you thought Tom Brady was not going to stand up on the podium and take full responsibility for his critical red zone interception in the fourth quarter – a pick that nearly let Rex Grossman and the Redskins tie the game and led to a heated confrontation with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien – you haven’t been paying close attention to Brady for the last decade.

“I threw a bad interception, so he wasn’t happy about it,” Brady said of the argument. “There was probably a long line of coaches and players who were pretty pissed at me after that, but Billy got to me first. He let me have it. I deserved it.”

It was the first of five questions in his postgame press conference about “The Argument”.

With 6:37 remaining in the game and the Patriots leading, 34-27, the Patriot offense was at the 4-yard line on third-and-4 when Brady attempted to throw the ball to wide receiver Tiquan Underwood at the back of the end zone. Instead, Redskin cornerback Josh Wilson stepped in front of Underwood to make the interception.

“I made a terrible play,” Brady continued, “so, he just let me know I made a terrible play. It’s football, man. It’s a game of emotion. It’s athletics. I was looking there adn then I was trying to throw to Tiquan in the back [of the end zone] and was trying to get it over Gronk and there were two other guys on him, and I put too much air on it. I have the DB a chance to make a play, so not the ideal time to throw an interception with a seven-point lead.”

What ensued was a sign of a highly competitive and frustrated quarterback and an angry offensive coordinator.

The two had to be physically separated by several coaches and head coach Bill Belichick.

“I think this was a real competitive game and we have a lot of competitive players on this team,” is all Belichick would say in describing what he saw transpire.

Rob Gronkowski – whom Brady looked to at first before seeing he was double-teamed and throwing to Underwood – was on the sidelines but said he didn’t know the two got into a verbal tussle.

“I didn’t see it. I’ve got to go watch the tape,” Gronkowski said with a good-natured laugh.

Brady and O’Brien spent the next five minutes calming down while talking to each other side-by-side on the Patriots bench while the Redskins drove down the field.

The Redskins almost tied the game with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game following the interception, but Jerod Mayo intercepted Grossman at the New England 5-yard line to end the game.

Although the Patriots win Sunday did not seem satisfying for Brady, he admitted that winning ugly and making mistakes is simply part of the game.

“There’s nothing perfect in football – unless you’re the Packers,” Brady said.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Josh Wilson, New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski shows ‘love’ for Pats fans and no respect to Redskins

12.11.11 at 5:54 pm ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — Before his NFL record-breaking 14th touchdown catch as a tight end, Rob Gronkowski ran into franchise lore with a catch, run and rumble that goes down as one of the most memorable in Patriots history.

One play before, Gronkowski caught a crossing route pass from Tom Brady and fell to the ground untouchded. He got up and ran to the sideline, shaking off two would-be tacklers, including DeJon Gomes, whom Gronkowski routinely flung off like a rag doll at the Redskins 40. Gronkowski then rumbled down another 20 yards before being tripped up. He kept his balance long enough to get to the Redskins 11.

“Tom just made a great throw,” Gronkowski said. “The defender was right there. He put it where no one could get it besides me. I just made the catch and I just noticed the guy didn’t touch me at all. So, I got up, started running, just happened to spin off a couple of guys and got down to the [11] so it was a good play, big play. It was a good pass so, that’s where it started, was the pass.”

Did he think he was out of bounds after flinging Jones to the side?

“I don’t even know,” Gronkowski said. “There were no whistles or nothing so I was just running. When I don’t hear whistles, I just keep running.”

On the next play, Gronkowski ran a seam route into the end zone and caught the ball for his 14th receiving touchdown, the most by a tight end in any one season in NFL history. Antonio Gates (2004) and Vernon Davis (2009) had the previous record at 13.

He spiked the the ball and then looked up in the air to see where it was before retrieving it and getting to one of the Patriots equipment managers.

“I got the ball back and everything,” Gronkowski said. “It’s cool to get a record and everything but that really doesn’t matter. We got the team victory, we got the ‘W’ and that’s all that matters when coming out. The defense played well at the end of the game, they got that interception, which was huge. It can’t be any better coming out with a victory.”

In the third quarter, he broke free after being jammed at the line of scrimmage and hauled in a pass that resulted in a 37-yard TD reception, his 15th. He celebrated that by leaping into the stands and getting some love taps from a Patriots fan in a white jersey.

“I just do things on the spot,” Gronkowski said. “I never thought of that before. I just saw the guy with the New England jersey in the first row so got to give him some props, gotta give him some love because he’s got first row at an away game with the New England jersey on.”

There were thousands of Patriots fans inside FedExField Sunday that made it sound like “half the stadium” was behind them, according to Gronkowski.

Patriots fans everywhere will remember Sunday as the day Rob Gronkowski – with 160 yards and two TDs on six catches – further cemented his place in franchise lore in just his second season.

His 160 yards fell just one yard shy of the franchise record set by Ben Coates against the Dolphins on Sept. 4, 1994 at Miami.

Read More: Ben Coates, DeJon Gomes, Gronk, New England Patriots



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