|01.12.15 at 8:19 pm ET|
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork joined Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ win over the Ravens last weekend and to look ahead to this week’s AFC championship game against the Colts at Gillette Stadium. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
One of the biggest plays of Saturday’s win was the double-pass when Julian Edelman connected with Danny Amendola for a 51-yard touchdown pass, which tied the game at 28 in the third quarter. Wilfork said the play sparked the whole team, including the defense.
“Awesome. I mean it was awesome,” Wilfork said. “When you see plays like that it sparks your team and gives your team a spark. I think that’s exactly what happened when that play happened. I think the whole sideline jumped off the bench and was just so excited to make that play. Even though Tom [Brady] threw some touchdowns in the game, but to see that play work, I think that play really got the team turned around and going in the right direction. We fed off that play, definitely.”
The Ravens got off to a quick start, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game, but the Patriots defense settled down, especially in the second half. The Patriots allowed just one second half touchdown, and after the first two drives of the game, Joe Flacco was 19-for-35 with 183 yards, after going 9-for-10 with 109 yards on the first two drives.
“It was up and down,” said Wilfork. “‘… They came out with a script and they executed their script to a T. We had to make some adjustments and basically had to settle everyone else back down. Once we did that we were go to go. I told our guys the main thing for us right now is to win. I don’t care about any stats, regular season stats, whatever it may be — it’s a new season now. Every team you face from here on out is a good football team. We knew the Ravens were going to come in there and play a certain style offense, certain style in general. We knew we had to just be patient, start making plays and taking it one play at a time. Once we started doing that we started playing the way we know we can play.
“Going forward like I said it was a big win for us. Any time you can win a playoff game that’s huge, so at this point you either lose and go home and luckily we’re still playing.”
|01.12.15 at 5:27 pm ET|
The Broncos and coach John Fox have mutually agreed to part ways, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Fox went 46-18 in his four years as head coach in Denver – including a 12-4 mark this season, and an AFC title last year – but was unable to deliver a Super Bowl championship.
|01.12.15 at 4:47 pm ET|
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Monday that he knows Andrew Luck could make it much harder on the Patriots he if gets out of the pocket and starts throwing.
There are many mobile quarterbacks now in the NFL. That’s nothing new. But what Luck presents is the ability to scramble, keep his eyes down field and throw long-range missiles at vertical targets. Patricia and Bill Belichick have no doubt seen the film of Luck’s third-quarter strike to Donte Moncrief of 36 yards against the Bengals in the wild card round.
Luck was flushed out of the pocket and was running forward to the line of scrimmage when he was caught from behind. As he was falling to the turf, he held himself up just long enough to find Moncrief breaking open in the end zone for a touchdown that all but put the game on ice.
Like Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers, the play is not over with Luck until the quarterback is on the ground.
“I mean that’s a huge challenge for us,” Patricia said. “This guy is not only mobile, has a very strong arm, but can move out of the pocket and keep his vision and concentration downfield and really see the entire field where he might not just be locked into one player as he’s trying to elude a rush or escape out of the pocket or even just move out of the pocket on their move out of the pocket plays.
“[He] does a good job of keeping the entire field open in his vision and finding pockets or seams or holes where his receivers are either uncovering or finding space to get open in their routes. Then obviously with the arm strength he can get the ball there. I think the other thing that’s extremely difficult about Andrew Luck is how strong he is. He’s a very big quarterback, he’s extremely strong. You’ll see a lot of guys that think they have him in the grass and think they can get him down and then he breaks free.”
|01.12.15 at 4:35 pm ET|
After a slow start to the game, the Patriots blew out the Colts, 42-20, in Indianapolis on Nov. 16 where they rushed for 246 yards on the ground.
Some may think because of that game the Patriots will be able to walk over the Colts this coming Sunday in the AFC championship game, but that simply isn’t the case according to the Patriots coaches, who say a lot has changed with the Colts’ team.
The Colts seemingly used that game to lift their play for the rest of the season, as they have gone 7-1 in games since the blowout loss, including two playoff wins. Their defense has especially picked up its play of late, allowing 13 points or less in their last three games.
“I think they’ve improved in every area,” coach Bill Belichick said on Monday’s conference call. “[They’ve] gotten more production in their running game with the backs and [Donte] Moncrief’s become more a part of the passing game. They’ve gotten a lot of production out of the tight ends, offensive line, even though they’ve had a couple moving parts in there, I think they’re playing well. Defensively I think getting [Arthur] Jones back has definitely helped them. They’re playing just good team defense.
“They’ve got [Josh] Cribbs in the return game, so he gives them an explosive player there. I think they’re good in all three phases of the game. Obviously they’ve got a great kicker. They’ve improved the return game; excellent punter and kickoff guys. They do a good job on field position and those areas, so they’ve improved their return game and their overall balance offensively. They’re playing well on defense.”
Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in that Nov. 16 meeting, but the Colts were without one of their best defensive players in Jones — Chandler Jones’ brother. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels knows they are an improved team or else they wouldn’t be in the AFC championship.
“Each team that’s playing at this time of the year is, to me, they’re getting better as the season goes on and improving as a football team, and I see no difference with this group on defense,” said McDaniels. “A lot of times, it doesn’t require a dramatic shift in philosophy or scheme or players to improve. Sometimes it takes consistency and staying with it and just working at it and at times getting some people back healthy to really arrive at what you hope you could be. … Like I said before, I would imagine that this group is playing the way they want to play, and we’re going to have to play our best football game of the year against them on Sunday night.”
|01.12.15 at 4:26 pm ET|
Tom Brady posted the following picture to his Facebook page on Monday. Looks like someone is ready for the AFC championship.
|01.12.15 at 4:15 pm ET|
Here’s a quick rundown of what some NFL analysts were saying about the Patriots before and after Saturday’s playoff win over the Ravens:
Shaun O’Hara on NFL Network after the game on the Patriots overcoming two 14-point deficits to defeat the Ravens: “This team just doesn’t flinch. That’s the biggest thing that came out of that game in my mind. … You look up and you’re down 14 points, but there was no panic, nobody flinched, and the reason why is because Tom Brady doesn’t flinch.”
Sterling Sharpe on NFL Network after the game on the Patriots defense: “I learned that this defense with a bunch of no-name guys other than Darrelle Revis and Vince Wilfork can still get it done. … Darrelle Revis played probably his worst game in his entire NFL career and the New England Patriots made the plays.”
Sterling Sharpe on NFL Network before the game: “You look at Tom [Brady] and this football team, they need to make a statement. They’ve stood up to a lot of the big teams; they took care of the Denver Broncos earlier in the year. I just think this football team needs this victory more than air itself.”
Marshall Faulk on NFL Network before the game on Tom Brady and the Patriots: “That 10-0 [record to start his playoff career], that was Willie McGinest, it was [Mike] Vrabel, it was [Tedy] Bruschi — it was a lot of guys carrying the Patriots on defense. Tom, pretty much it was a lot of showing up, not turning the football over — we’re going to win games. The 8-8 [since], that’s a bunch of Tom Brady-led teams where, ‘Tom, this is on your arm, you have to go out there and win these football games.'”
Marshall Faulk on NFL Network before the game on Tom Brady: “[The Ravens] get to Tom, like the games against the Jets. He’s worried in the pocket. I’ve seen Tom stand in the pocket flat-footed like nobody is going to touch me. In games against the Ravens and games against the Jets [with] defensive coordinators who throw different things at you, I’ve seen Tom just duck sometimes when nobody has been around him.”
Marshall Faulk on NFL Network before the game on the Patriots: “They sound so confident in who they are and what they are as a team. At the Kansas City game, they looked defeated. … How they have answered by not just winning games but taking over the number one seed in the AFC, it’s unbelievable what they’ve been able to do.”
Rodney Harrison on NBC Sports before the game on John Harbaugh‘s comments that Joe Flacco is best QB in the NFL: “If I was in this locker room, I’d get about 30 copies of that newspaper, and put it in Tom Brady‘s locker. It would absolutely upset him.”
|01.12.15 at 3:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — A lucky few Patriots fans will get a chance Tuesday to buy tickets to the AFC championship Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Similar to last week, the team announced Monday afternoon that they will make a limited number of tickets available for sale to the public on Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 10:00 a.m. exclusively through Ticketmaster.
After fulfilling orders for Patriots season ticket holders and Patriots “Wait List” members, the remaining tickets will be placed on sale to the public on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. All Patriots playoff ticket orders will be processed through Ticketmaster.
Playoff tickets will not be sold at the Gillette Stadium Ticket Office. Ticket orders can be processed one of two ways, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone by calling 800-745-3000. Visa, a sponsor of the National Football League and the New England Patriots, will be the only accepted form of payment. Please beware of any tickets acquired through third-party vendors or non-Ticketmaster transactions. The team is also warning against purchasing secondary counterfeit tickets.
A 35-31 victory over the Baltimore Ravens this past weekend gave the Patriots their 100th win at Gillette Stadium and propelled the Patriots into the AFC championship for the fourth consecutive year.
This Sunday’s game will be the third AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium in the last four years and will be the Patriots’ 11th overall appearance in an AFC championship game. The Patriots are 7-3 in those games, including 4-1 at home. With the victory over the Ravens, the Patriots improve to 12-3 (.800) in the playoffs at Gillette Stadium.
For the first 34 years in the franchise’s history, the Patriots hosted just one playoff game ‘ a loss to the Houston Oilers in 1978. Yet, in the 20 years since Robert Kraft purchased the franchise in 1994, the Patriots have qualified for the playoffs 16 times, including 14 times as division champions. This week’s AFC Championship Game will be their league-leading 20th home playoff game since 1994. The Patriots are 16-3 in the previous 19 games.
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