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Bits from Bill Belichick

12.27.10 at 4:31 pm ET
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Here are a few quick notes from Bill Belichick’s conference call with the media from earlier Monday afternoon:

On Alge Crumpler and his contributions this year: “He’s made a great contribution to this team all year and I think the fact that he’s one of our captains, with this being his first year on the team, really is a testament to the amount of respect that he has from his peers and his teammates. He’s a hard working guy. He’s really smart. He understands the game. He knows what’s important. And he’s very team oriented. Totally focused on winning and not looking at his personal statistics or achievements. Just whatever he can do and whatever we need to do as a team to win. He’s right at the front of the line in doing those things. I think his personal rewards come in the final score and in the team record, and he contributes in a lot of ways from Monday to Saturday, and then on game day, it’s whatever his role is, whether it’s blocking or pass protection or the opportunity to handle the ball. He just does a lot of things for us. He’s a very important part of the team and the offense.”

Tom Brady broke Bernie Kosar‘s record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception on Sunday. Belichick coached both players ‘€” Kosar was with him in Cleveland when he set the old record of 308, and is Brady’s coach now that the Patriots’ quarterback has extended the new record to 319. He talked about coaching both quarterbacks, and the similarities between the two:

“I think probably more the other way around, I think I’m fortunate to have been the coach during those two periods where my starting quarterback didn’t turn the ball over. I think a lot more of that is a reflection and a compliment to the player throwing the ball instead of the coach. They’re the ones who have to make the decisions, see the defenses and make the throws and take the hits from the pass rush and all that, so … certainly Bernie and Tom deserve credit for those streaks, not the coach. But the way I remember it about Bernie, Bernie, like Tom, was very diligent in his preparation. He studied everything ‘€” the schemes, the players, the individual tendencies as well as the overall teams schemes and tendencies. I’d say both players are very well prepared and neither one make a lost of mistakes in terms of misreading something or not knowing who was going to run a certain route or who was hot or getting fooled by different defensive looks. Things like that. So Bernie’s preparation was excellent, and he was a good decision-maker ‘€” very careful about where he threw the ball in terms of not turning it over and making throws like that and making good decisions and knowing when he was pressured, not taking a sack and turning it into an interception and things like that. Trying to make plays that were impossible. I think Tom’s kind of the same way. He reads things. Even when plays break down for one reason or another, a receiver gets jammed or there’s a breakdown in protection, or sees a good coverage that matches up particularly well against a pattern you have called, that’s when a quarterback really has to be his most sharp and most alert and not let that become a turnover or a worse play than what’s already not a good play. I’d say Bernie and Tom throughout their careers, do a good job of that ‘€” better than a lot of quarterbacks do. It’s not only taking the plays that are there, it’s taking the plays that aren’t going to work out well, and keep them from being bad plays or turnovers.”
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Read More: Alge Crumpler, Bernie Kosar, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady

Tom Brady on D&C: Logan Mankins ‘wants to maul people’

12.27.10 at 1:02 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined guest hosts Bob Ryan and Troy Brown on Monday morning’s Dennis & Callahan show for his weekly Patriots Monday appearance.

Brady was speaking from Rochester, N.Y., where the Patriots were snowed in following Sunday’s 34-3 rout of the Bills in nearby Buffalo. He spoke about the victory that clinched the top seed in the AFC and reminisced about his favorite memories of playing with Brown.

Following are highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, check the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On his NFL-record streak of 319 consecutive passes without an interception:

As much as everyone points to me for that, so much of that goes into what we’re doing offensively. With the protection that I get from the offensive line, I’m really never forced into rushing throws. Also, we’ve been ahead a lot of these games, so you really don’t need to jam the ball into those tight areas that you would if you were really desperate in the second half, trying to get back. The receivers have done a great job of securing the catches. There’s a lot that goes into it.

It’s been pretty great ‘€” we were talking about it this morning ‘€” for the last, I think, seven games or something like that, we’ve gotten the ball 22 times off turnovers and haven’t given it up once. I think that’s a pretty impressive stat just from an overall team basis. All the guys work pretty hard at it. As you know, Troy, that’s something that’s preached every day, is turnovers and securing the ball. I think that’s really why we’ve been winning these games. So, that’s going to need to continue.

On what Bill Belichick’s approach will be for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins:

I’m not sure, obviously, but I’ll tell you this: It’s not going to surprise me one bit for us to go out there and to do everything we can to win this game. I think that’s just the way [Belichick] has been approaching things all year. I would really expect nothing different from that.

On him wanting to play every minute of every game:

Of course. That’s the best part of the week, to be out there playing. To have a game where we don’t play this week or the following week ‘€” you really won’t play a meaningful game for three weeks. I don’t think Bill thinks that’s good.

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Read More: Danny Woodhead, Deion Branch, Logan Mankins, Randy Moss

Vince Wilfork on D&H: Sick Patriots wouldn’t let down teammates

12.27.10 at 12:11 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork made his weekly Patriots Monday appearance on the Dale & Holley show Monday morning with guest hosts Mike Mutnansky and Chris Price. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Wilfork acknowledged that the flu had left him and some other Patriots in bad shape for Sunday’s 34-3 win over the Bills. “It had a couple of us pretty messed up,” Wilfork said, adding: “We fought through it. We knew how important this game was to us. The last thing we wanted to do was let down some of our teammates. I think we gave what we had to give.”

Wilfork was asked how he will prepare the young players for their first postseason, now that the Patriots have clinched the top seed in the AFC. “Every game is like a championship game,” he said. “Whatever you can think about from Little League to college, whatever it may be when you played championship football, this is what it’s going to be about. The games are getting tougher, the opponents are a lot tougher. This is where you have to put 60 minutes of football in. Most of the time you won’t see blowouts in games like that.

“It’s just everybody focusing and doing what we’ve been doing the past couple of weeks ‘€” just playing focused, focusing for 60 minutes and playing good football. And we’ll be all right.”

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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:

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).

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 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 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.

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
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