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Tom Brady: All I want for Christmas is a win the day after

12.24.10 at 3:05 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The best possible Christmas gift for Tom Brady would be a win the day after. That’s what the quarterback said on Friday, two days before the Patriots take on the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY.

With a win in Western New York, the Patriots would not only improve to 13-2 with a 15th straight win over the Bills, they would clinch their second straight AFC East title and eighth in 10 years, and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming AFC playoffs.

“I think it’€™s pretty cool that we’€™re in a position this week to actually do something about it,” Brady said. “To have worked for seven or eight months for a particular goal and then to have this goal sitting in front of you only two days away now, I hope everyone realizes the importance of this game and I think everyone in [the locker room] does.

“I think that’€™s been something that’€™s been emphasized this week is a lot of guys have been putting a lot into this and there would be no better Christmas present this time of year than to go out and win this game. I think everyone has to go out there and play a great game against a very tough team in a very tough environment. But I’€™ll tell you it’€™s very exciting for us. There is no doubt about it. This is a championship game. It’€™s pretty special any time you win a championship.”

And all of that would mean the road to the Super Bowl would go through Foxboro, a small price to pay for practicing on Christmas Eve and flying to Western New York on Christmas afternoon.

“It’€™s always fun playing professional football for a living,” Brady said. “I mean, we couldn’€™t get a better job than this. We’€™ve all worked pretty hard to get to this point. All the teams have worked pretty hard to get to this point. It does take a lot of good fortune to be able to control your own destiny like we do. We’€™ve said nothing has really been accomplished yet, though. I will say that.

“I think we’€™re in a very good position in terms of us being able to win this game and win our division and few other things come along with it, but we got back here in March after a tough season last year and a tough offseason and I think we set the goals understanding that ‘€˜these are the things we need to do to accomplish them.’€™”

Read More: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, nfl, Orchard Park

Bill Belichick: Rob Gronkowski is ‘similar’ to Mark Bavaro

12.24.10 at 2:57 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had some Christmas reflections on one of the best tight ends he’s ever coached – Mark Bavaro.

Belichick on Friday compared his rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski to the great Giants tight end he worked with in the 1980s. He did admit that while there are ‘some similarities, rookies like Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have a ways to go to be in that class.

“He [Bavaro] isn’t in the [top echelon], that is it,” Belichick said of the best blocking tight end he’s ever been around.

Listening to Belichick, Bavaro – the native of Winthrop, Mass. and Danvers High School product – should be in Canton – Canton, OH that is – as in Hall of Fame.

“The best I’€™ve seen,” he said. “There’€™s a lot of things that any player can learn from watching Mark play but again, the big thing about Mark was his overall consistency: his practice, his meetings, his preparation and how consistent he was as a player in everything that he did, whether it was catching balls after practice, working on his run-blocking, his pass protection, his route running. He and [Phil] Simms would stay after practice and spend a lot of time on various routes and certain coverages and just working on their timing. So they had a real good feel for each other.

“It is a tough position to play because you have a lot of things going on. You have guys in front of you, outside of you, inside of you coming at you from a lot of different angles and it’€™s not like playing on the perimeter where you’€™re dealing with a lot fewer people. At that position you have to release off of the line of scrimmage and you’€™ve got to get into your route, you have blocking adjustments to make against teams playing different fronts. There is a lot less variation the further out you get from the formation. Whether it be in the running game or the passing game, that’€™s a tough spot to play. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Danvers High School, Mark Bavaro

Tonight on “Patriots’ All Access”

12.24.10 at 2:15 pm ET
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This week’s edition of “Patriots’ All Access” features a look back at the win over the Packers, as well as a look ahead at what awaits New England this week as it travels to Buffalo for a date with the Bills.

Read More: nfl, Patriots,

Pats practice: Tully Banta-Cain, Jermaine Cunningham, Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch return

12.24.10 at 12:15 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Linebackers Tully Banta-Cain and Jermaine Cunningham returned to Patriots practice on Friday on the lower practice field outside Gillette Stadium. Banta-Cain missed Wednesday and Thursday with a groin injury while Cunningham had been battling a calf injury that forced him to miss practice Thursday.

Also back on the practice field after missing on Wednesday and Thursday were Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez. Branch has been nursing a sore knee while Hernandez missed two days with a hip injury.

However, after returning on Thursday, defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick was again missing on Friday. Also absent were Mike Wright, Dan Connolly and James Sanders. The team practiced in sweats and shells as they had their final workout before Christmas. They leave Saturday for Western New York and their Sunday match-up with the Bills in Orchard Park, NY.

Read More: Brandon Deaderick, Buffalo Bills, Jermaine Cunningham, New England Patriots

Tom Brady has nothing but love for Terrell Suggs

12.24.10 at 11:07 am ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady was back in the building on Friday, ready for a second straight day of practice after battling the effects of a mild flu bug. He was also in the Christmas spirit when asked about his reaction to Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs leaving him off his Pro Bowl ballot earlier this week.

“No reaction,” Brady said. “I think he is a great player, he really is. I didn’t get to vote, actually. I left everybody off my Pro Bowl roster this year because I was sick. I would’ve voted for Terrell. He gets my vote, such a nice guy.”

Brady said the flu also didn’t affect his planning for the upcoming game on Sunday against the Bills in Orchard Park, NY. Brady is currently riding one of the best streaks in the history of NFL quarterbacks, having not thrown an interception in 292 attempts, third-best of all-time behind Bernie Kosar (308) and Bart Starr (294).

“None,” is what Brady said when asked what impact being under the weather in the early part of the week had on his preparations for the Bills.

There have been comparisons this week to the AFC Championship in Jan. 2005, when Brady had a 103-degree temperature and managed to make it to Heinz Field for the game.

“No, I wasn’€™t quite on my death bed that day either,” Brady said. “No it wasn’€™t anything like that. Just the normal flu.”

So what does Brady do when he isn’t at practice?

“Everything. All that stuff: treatment, film, still getting prepared, finding different things to do other than run around,” Brady said. “You still use the time to prepare, certainly [to] get caught up on some other things that maybe you don’€™t get a chance to do when you’€™re out there practicing. It’€™s maybe a little more rehab, stuff like that.”

Nuggetpalooza’s Patriots vs Bills Preview!

12.23.10 at 4:41 pm ET
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This is what Andy Williams meant when he sang of “the most wonderful time of the year”! All the Christmas hustle and bustle followed by Week 16 of the NFL season! Don’t sleep on those Bills. They’re competitive…

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* – New England’s defense is allowing an average of 374.6 yards per game, on pace for the second highest average in their history (since 1960):

375.0 – 1972
374.6 – 2010
364.2 – 1981
360.3 – 1995
356.1 – 1990

What makes this so interesting? Well, this year’s team enters their game Sunday with a record of 12-2. The other four teams on that list combined to go 12-50, a winning percentage of .194.

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* – So far in 2010, the Patriots have scored 446 points while gaining 4,970 yards, an average of 11.14 yards per point scored. Check out the best averages in the NFL since 1990:

11.14 – Patriots, 2010
11.17 – Patriots, 2007 (16-0 regular season, Super Bowl)
11.27 – Vikings, 1998 (15-1, #1 seed)
11.87 – Chargers, 2006 (14-2, #1 seed)

All hail the value of an efficient offense and defensive/return touchdowns!

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* – On the flip side, the Patriots have allowed 303 points while giving up 5,245 yards, an average of 17.31 yards per point allowed. It would be the seventh season in the last eight in which New England has posted an average if 16.00 or higher. No other team has more than five such seasons in that span.

All hail the value of “bend but don’t break”!

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* – Wanna know one reason how the Patriots can look so pedestrian on defense and still win? Make your opponent drive the whole field. New England has allowed their opponent to begin a drive on the Patriots’ side of the 50-yard-line only six times this season, on pace for the fewest in a season by any team since at least 1995:

6 – Patriots, 2010 (on pace for 7)
9 – Dolphins, 2008
9 – Giants, 2008
10 – Done five times since 1995 (two by the Patriots: 2007 and 2009)

Note this: The Patriots are on the verge of leading the league in this category for the third time in four seasons.

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* – New England (8) and Buffalo (3) have combined to score 11 defensive/return touchdowns this season, but have allowed only two between them (one each).

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* – The Patriots have yet to allow any points in the final two minutes of the second half this season, the only team in the league that can make that claim. If they can finish the season with such a shutout, they would become the fifth team to do it since 2006 (including the 2006 Patriots).

Note this: Since 2001, the Patriots have allowed an average of 9.7 points PER YEAR in the last two minutes of second halfs, easily the best mark in the NFL in that 10-year span:

9.7 – Patriots
13.2 – Bears
15.0 – Jets
15.5 – Redskins

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* – Since the start of the 2004 season, the Bills are 1-17 at home when they lose the turnover battle (including losses in their last 10 such games. Compare that to 16-4 in that same span when they win the turnover battle at home (and 8-9 when turnovers are equal).

Note this: New England is 35-1 on the road since mid-2001 when they win the turnover battle.

—————————————————————————————————————————– Read the rest of this entry »

Bills only list three on injury report

12.23.10 at 3:57 pm ET
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The Bills only listed three players on their Thursday injury report, with a pair of offensive linemen and a linebacker. Here’s the complete report:

Limited Participation
C Geoff Hangartner (knee)

Full Participation
T Demetrius Bell (knee)
LB Chris Kelsay (knee)

Read More: Bills, injury report,
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