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Important dates on NFL calendar for next few months

02.03.14 at 3:53 pm ET
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We’ve posted this before, but now, with the offseason officially underway, it’s worth another look — a look at some of the most important dates on the NFL calendar for the next few months.

Feb. 17: First day for clubs to designate franchise or transition players.
Feb. 19-25: Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.
March 8-11: The open window for teams to contact and start contract talks with players who will become free agents when their 2013 deals expire at 4 p.m. on March 11. A contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m. ET on March 11.
March 11: New league year, free agency begins. Before 4 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2014 on all players who have option clauses in their 2013 contracts. In addition, teams must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts, and clubs must be under the 2014 salary cap before 4 p.m. ET. According to reports, the cap will be between $126 million and $127 million.
March 23-26: Owners meetings, Orlando, Fla.
April 7: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2013 regular season may begin off-season workout programs. (April 21 is the date teams with returning head coaches may begin off-season workout programs)
May 2: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
May 7: Deadline for prior club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
May 8-10: NFL draft, New York, Radio City Music Hall. First round begins at 8 p.m. ET.

A record-setting day at Super Bowl XLVIII

02.03.14 at 2:46 pm ET
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SUPER BOWL XLVIII: RECORDS SET AND TIED

Compiled By Elias Sports Bureau

 

SUPER BOWL RECORDS SET IN SUPER BOWL XLVIII

Quickest Score From Start of Game: 12 seconds, Seattle

Most Playing Time In The Lead, Game, Team: 59 minutes, 48 seconds, Seattle

Most Completions, Game:€“ 34, Peyton Manning

Most Receptions, Game:€“ 13, Demaryius Thomas

Most Super Bowls Lost, Team: 5, Denver

Most Completions, Game, Team: 34, Denver

SUPER BOWL RECORDS TIED IN SUPER BOWL XLVIII

Most Receptions, First Half 7, Demaryius Thomas

Most Two-Point Conversions, Game:€“ 1, Wes Welker

Most Safeties, Game: 1, Cliff Avril

Most Touchdowns, Kickoff Returns, Game: 1, Percy Harvin

Most Safeties, Game, Team: 1, Seattle

Fewest Touchdowns Rushing, Game, Team:€“ 0, Denver

Fewest Times Sacked, Game, Team: 0, Seattle

Fewest Times Sacked, Game, Both Teams: 1, Denver vs. Seattle

Fewest Times Intercepted, Game, Team: 0, Seattle

Fewest Punts, Game, Team: 1, Seattle

Fewest Punt Returns, Game, Team:€“ 0, Seattle

Most Touchdowns, Kickoff Returns, Game, Team:€“ 1, Seattle

Fewest Fumbles, Game, Team: 0, Seattle

Fewest Turnovers, Game, Team: 0, Seattle

YOUNGEST PLAYERS TO WIN SUPER BOWL MVP AWARD

Marcus Allen, L.A. Raiders, Super Bowl XVIII, Jan. 1984         23 years, 302 days

Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh, Super Bowl X, Jan. 1976                      23 years, 317 days

Tom Brady, New England, Super Bowl XXXVI, Feb. 2002        24 years, 184 days

Malcolm Smith, Seattle, Super Bowl XLVIII, Feb. 2014              24 years, 212 days

Read More: Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl XLVIII,

John Elway can really relate with Peyton Manning in Super Bowl misery

02.03.14 at 1:59 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — Peyton Manning said he played a great football team. John Elway said his team made too many mistakes. They’re both right and they can now relate with one another on a whole new scale after the Broncos were humiliated by the Seahawks, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Never had a team jumped out to such a big lead in a Super Bowl as did the Seahawks when they grabbed a 36-0 lead in the third quarter.

“It was embarrassing,” Wes Welker said, perfectly summing up Denver’s day in the swamps of Jersey.

Truth is, the game felt like garbage time from the moment Manning and his center Manny Ramirez weren’t on the same page and the opening snap of the game sailed into the end zone for a safety.

“I think we played a great football team,” Manning said. “We needed to play really well in order to win, and we didn’t come anywhere close to that. We weren’t sharp offensively from the very get-go. The turnover on the first play of the game to give them a safety is not the way you want to start a game. For whatever reason, we couldn’t get much going after that. Give Seattle a lot of credit. They are an excellent football team, and they caused a lot of our mistakes. At the same time, we just didn’t play well.

“They have an excellent defense. Certainly, to get behind and give them the lead, played into their hands. That’s what they do to a lot of teams. I think when you get the lead on a team, it definitely benefits their team and their defense. We certainly didn’t want to do that. We wanted to keep the game on the field and keep the score even. We got behind early and never could make a run to catch up. From that standpoint, it was a disadvantage for us, and an advantage for them.”

As for Elway, the Broncos Vice President of football operations, he won two straight Super Bowls (XXXII, XXXIII) but not before getting blown out in his first three. Elway was dominated by the Giants in Super Bowl XXI and lost 39-20. His Broncos scored the first 10 points of Super Bowl XXII before Washington scored 35 points in the second quarter and won, 42-10. It only got worse two years later when the Broncos were humiliated, 55-10, by the 49ers. Sunday’s game felt like that, something Elway denied after the game. “No, those are separate,” he said.

But still, Elway could relate with a Broncos team that won the AFC title like his did in the 1980s, only to get blown out on the game’s biggest stage.

“We just didn’t play like we’re capable of,” Elway said. “I was disappointed. Hopefully, we’ll learn from this. It started tough. We just couldn’t seem to get it going.

“It was a great year. It’s always disappointing. Only one team is happy at the end of the year, and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They played well. They took advantage of mistakes we made. I’m proud of these guys.”

The Broncos were sloppy and committed four turnovers, which didn’t include the bad snap for a safety or the overturned Trindon Holliday kickoff fumble recovery by Steven Hauschka.

“What hurts more is the turnover, because if you turn it over that many times, especially in this game to a good football team, which you know you’re going to play in this game, it’s hard to [win]. But that’s where you have to give the Seahawks a lot of credit.”

Read More: Denver Broncos, John Elway, nfl, Peyton Manning

Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Offensive line

02.03.14 at 1:46 pm ET
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With the Patriots done for the year, we’€™ve got an end of the year position-by-position breakdown of where the roster stands. We started with special teams, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks. Now, it’s the offensive line.

Depth chart: T Nate Solder, G/C Dan Connolly, G/T Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, T/G Marcus Cannon, T Sebastian Vollmer, G Josh Kline, G/T Will Svitek, G Chris Barker, OT Markus Zusevics. (C/G Braxton Cave, T Jordan Devey and OL R.J. Mattes are all practice squadders.)

Overview: It was an up-and-down season for the New England offensive line. On many occasions, the group was able to do an excellent job buying time for quarterback Tom Brady to deliver the ball, as well as create sizable holes for backs like LeGarrette Blount to run through over the course of the season. However, there were times — and part of this was due in part to breakdowns in other areas, as well as injury — that the line struggled to hold up. Over the course of the season, the Patriots faced some of the best defensive front sevens in the league, and while they were frequently up to the challenge, there were times where they had issues, particularly in pass protection. Some of that can be blamed on the fact that, as a group, the offense was still searching for an identity and struggling with the acclimation of so many new faces. But don’t tell that to the offensive line, a group that continued to hold itself to an almost impossibly high standard regardless of the opponent and situation.

As a group, it was clear that health was an occasional issue. Vollmer had a leg injury that limited him to eight games, while Solder missed a game because of a head injury. As a result, the Patriots had to rely on versatility and depth to get them through some of the toughest points of the season. After Solder went down late in the loss to the Dolphins in Miami, Kline stepped in at left guard and Mankins played left tackle. The same combo faced the Ravens the following week, and held up impressively in the face of the stern Baltimore pass rush.

In the end, much of the mental toughness that eventually became the calling card of the 2013 Patriots came from the offensive line, and, by extension, Mankins. Now the second most senior member of the roster in terms of time in a New England uniform (he was drafted in 2005, and while there have been guys who have been in the league longer — Andre Carter, Isaac Sopoaga — only Brady has been with the Patriots longer than Mankins), he’s the leader of the line, and one of the premier leaders in the locker room. After nine years in the league, Mankins — who was named a second-team All-Pro for the fifth time in his career in 2013 — continues to set the standard.

Going forward, this group will be interesting to watch. The Patriots have a decision to make on pending free agents Wendell and Svitek, and Vollmer faces a return from a leg injury that prematurely ended his 2013 season. And then, there’s the question of how the group will react to the retirement of longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who leaves the franchise after 30-plus seasons. Stability, consistency and continuity have always been the watchwords of the New England offensive line, and as it enters a new era without Scarnecchia, the transition to new coach Dave DeGuglielmo will be something to watch in 2014.

Best moment: It’s shortsighted to measure an offensive line purely on sacks alone, but their work against the Falcons was pretty impressive — Brady wasn’t sacked in a September win in Atlanta. (The only game all season he wasn’t sacked.) The stretch drive the group was able to put together over the final three regular season games and the first playoff game, clearing the way for Blount to carry the offense on his back, particularly against the Bills, Ravens and Colts.

Worst moment: Probably the singular worst series for the New England offensive line was coming out of the half for the start of the third quarter against the Jets on Oct. 20: the first six offensive plays for the Patriots went as follows: sack/interception/four-gain gain/five-yard gain/no gain/sack. It’s tough to lay all that at the feet of the New England offensive line, but by Mankins’ own admission, it starts up front, and the line wasn’t able to get the job done. By the end of the quarter, a 21-10 lead turned into a 27-21 deficit, and ended up in an overtime loss. For more from Mankins on that breakdown, click here.

By the numbers: 1,218. The number of snaps played by Wendell this season, tied with Brady for most on the team.

Money quote: “I’ve coached a lot of tough guys. I don’€™t think there’€™s any that I would put ahead of him. Maybe some on that level, but none ahead. Anytime Logan needs help getting off the field, you feel like it’€™s something serious. Usually he ends up just staying out there, but for him to need assistance getting off the field was definitely a concerning moment. Then when [head athletic trainer] Jim Whelan came back and told me, as you mentioned, after the next series that Logan was back, I was a little bit surprised to hear that. He’€™s a tough individual, tough-minded, physically and mentally tough.”€ — Bill Belichick on Logan Mankins

Read More: Dan Connolly, Dante Scarnecchia, Dave DeGuglielmo, Josh Kline

Rodney Harrison on D&C: Peyton Manning ‘clearly looked rattled’ in Broncos’ Super Bowl loss

02.03.14 at 10:28 am ET
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Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss Peyton Manning and the Broncos‘ loss in Super Bowl XLVIII. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

After one of the best seasons of his career, Manning had one of his worst games as the Broncos fell to the Seahawks 43-8.

“I think the pressure was just too much,” Harrison said. “I think it was overwhelming for the entire team. You saw from the very first play of the game. When you have two weeks to prepare for a team, you should come out and be able to handle the pressure, especially having that experience.

“I don’€™t know if the expectations were too high or they were just trying to play a perfect game. It was just really sad because to see something like that. I mean as a fan, I’€™m watching, I want a good, competitive game, and it was just flat-out embarrassing.”

“That was a prime example of what Peyton’€™s been struggling with,” Harrison added. “You know, in those big games, those big moments, not being able to come through, and he clearly looked rattled.”

Manning’€™s night started off with a botched snap that went sailing by his helmet before landing in the end zone.

“He didn’t look like the same Peyton Manning that was throwing the ball all over the place this whole entire season, and he just looked different,” Harrison said. “That’€™s what people are going to remember him by.

“People say, ‘€˜OK, the MVPs and the record-setting year he had this year,’€™ but at the end of the day, they’€™re going to look back at this game, and this game is going to haunt him. … This game will haunt him as well as the rest of those guys. The rest of those guys will be fine, but this is something that’€™s going to stick with Peyton.

“This is going to be tattooed next to Manning’€™s name if he doesn’t win another one.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,

Aaron Hernandez associate shot in leg at Hartford club

02.03.14 at 8:58 am ET
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Alexander Bradley, who filed a lawsuit against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez for allegedly shooting him in the face in an incident in Florida last February, was shot three times in the leg Sunday night while at a Hartford lounge, according to Hartford police.

Bradley, who is from East Hartford, responded to the shooting by getting a gun from his car, returning to the Vevo Lounge Bar & Grill and firing shots, police said. Officers spotted a car fleeing the scene and pulled it over, and Bradley fell out. He was taken to a hospital in police custody.

Hernandez remains in jail after being charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. A prosecutor in that case referred to Bradley as Hernandez’s “former right-hand man.”

Investigators are looking into a July 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston in which two men were killed, and Hernandez is said to be a prime suspect, with Bradley believed to have been accompanying him.

Bradley has had other brushes with the law, including a 2006 conviction for selling drugs.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Alexander Bradley,

Super Rout: Seattle Seahawks score in every way, crush Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII

02.02.14 at 9:54 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — In one of the most lopsided Super Bowl games ever, the Seattle Seahawks scored in the first 12 seconds and didn’t let up from there in an epic beat down of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.

It was not only Seattle’s first Super Bowl title in their 37-year history, it marked the first major championship for Seattle since the Supersonics beat the Bullets for the 1979 NBA championship.

Seattle dominated the game in every way possible, scoring a touchdown in all three phases while adding two field goals and a safety for good measure. The Broncos are no strangers to Super Bowl blowout losses as John Elway lost Super Bowl XXII by a 35-10 count. Two years later, they were blown out 55-10 by Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and the San Francisco 49ers.

In one of the most dreadful performances of his career on the game’s biggest stage, Manning threw a pair of costly interceptions, including a pick that was returned 69 yards by Malcolm Smith for a touchdown late in the first half. That interception made it 22-0 just over three minutes before halftime and earned him Most Valuable Player honors. Manning finished with a Super Bowl record 34 completions but needed 49 attempts for 280 yards. He was intercepted twice, including a bad pass behind Julius Thomas in the first quarter that wound up in the hands of Seattle safety Kam Chancellor. The game ended appropriately as Manning was strip-sacked on 4th-and-11 with three minutes left at his own 30. It was Denver’s fourth turnover of the game.

Then, on the opening kickoff of the second half, Percy Harvin, playing his first game since a concussion suffered in the NFC divisional round against New Orleans, outraced the Denver special teams unit 87 yards for a touchdown. That was the second kickoff return in as many Super Bowls, as Jacoby Jones returned a kick 108 yards in Baltimore’s Super Bowl XLVII win in New Orleans.

The Broncos continued their disgraceful performance on the next two drives. Instead of going for it on 4th-and-11 from Seattle’s 39, trailing 29-0, Denver coach John Fox decided to punt.

On the next possession, Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas caught a 29-yard pass down to the Seattle 15 but fumbled, committing Denver’s third turnover of the game.

The Thomas turnover led directly to Seattle’s fourth touchdown of the day, a 23-yard connection from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse, with Kearse breaking three half-hearted tackles on his way to the end zone.

The game was a disaster from the very start. Manning couldn’t handle the opening snap from the shotgun from his own 14. The ball got by the Denver QB and was recovered in the end zone by Knowshon Moreno for a Seattle safety 12 seconds into the game, the quickest points in Super Bowl history.

Despite converting four of their first six third-down conversion attempts, Seattle could only manage field goals on their first two possessions inside the red zone but it didn’t matter in the end as the Seahawks out-gained the Broncos 148-11 in the first 15 minutes and never were threatened.

The Broncos avoided the indignity of becoming the first team ever to be shutout in the Super Bowl when Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas on a 14-yard in-cut in the end zone at the end of the third quarter. Manning found Wes Welker for a successful two-point conversion.

Seattle came right back, as Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 10-yard score to make it 43-8.

Read More: Denver Broncos, MetLife Stadium, nfl, Peyton Manning
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