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Tavaris Jackson had feeling he was starting over Brett Favre

10.31.10 at 8:29 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Speaking after the Patriots’ 28-18 win over the Vikings Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, Minnesota backup quarterback Tavaris Jackson admitted that he had the feeling he was going to get the start with Brett Favre still nursing a left ankle injury.

“I had my feeling, but I’m not always right. I think I am,” said Jackson, who later confirmed his “feeling” was that he would be starting. “It was a situation where it could go either way and the guy that he is, there aren’t too many guys coming out of  that boot and playing on Sunday with the same injury that Brett has.”

Jackson — who did get a chance to play when Favre was driven from the game with a 10-stitch laceration on his chin in the fourth quarter — said he didn’t find out Favre was going to start until Sunday. Favre finished his outing going 22-of-32 for 259 yards, throwing one interception. Jackson came on to complete four of his six tosses, including a one-yard touchdown pass to Naufahu Tafi (which was followed by a two-point conversion pass to Percy Harvin).

“Really tip-off,” said Jackson when asked when he discovered Favre would stretch his streak of consecutive starts to 292 games. “We really didn’t know, honestly, until last night and this morning. It really depended on how Brett’s foot felt. He looked good in pre-game so he went.”

Jackson later continued, “I’m not the one to sit here and cry about, ‘He got the start today’ and sit here and pout. Who is to say if I pouted today, went in there and didn’t produce. I just want to make sure I’m ready, not having any self-pity, and just go out there and play.

“Just try and tell myself it’s bigger than me, it’s all about the team, and that’s the approach I always took. Obviously I want to play, and play well. But when it really boils down to it, it comes down to the same goal and that’s to win the Super Bowl and win games. Regardless of who is in there, I’m pretty sure if I was the starter today Brett would have backed me. It’s not a point of having self-pity of ‘Why is he playing?’ I’m just trying to be a team player.”

Speaking at his locker, just as Jackson was completing his interviews, Favre told a small group of reporters that playing was, “a miracle,” and that he “could barely walk Monday and Tuesday.”

For more Patriots coverage, see the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Rapid response from the Patriots’ locker room

10.31.10 at 8:27 pm ET
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Rapid response from the Patriots’€™ locker room in the wake of the 28-18 win over Minnesota:

Devin McCourty on his interception: ‘€œIt was a little strange the way he went to catch the ball. I guess it bobbed a little and I was able to get my hand in there and then the ball bounced straight in the air so I was able to intercept it.’€

Devin McCourty on the defensive philosophy when it came to covering Moss: ‘€œJust to come out and compete, be aggressive with him when we could and try and jam him at certain times when the defense calls for it, and really to compete because you know at any time Moss can go out and make a big play. So it was really trying not to be lulled to sleep by Adrian Peterson running and just staying the course on Moss.’€

Devin McCourty on whether or not Favre looked sharp: ‘€œYeah, he was. He plated, I think, a vey controlled game. He stuck to their game plan. I mean, that’€™s Brett Favre. He’€™s going to make some big plays.’€

Danny Woodhead on his first-down conversion in the fourth quarter: ‘€œThings ended up working out on the third-and-long. That was a great throw by Tom [Brady], too. And Wes [Welker] came back to get a block also. It was the whole team working together on that one.’€

Danny Woodhead on his touchdown: ‘€œIt was just a run play, and it was blocked great. It didn’€™t really have to do much. I just had to get in the end zone. I mean, the line did a great job and just opened it up for me.’€

Gerard Warren on fourth-down stops building confidence: ‘€œIt build momentum when guys go for it on fourth-and-inches, fourth-and-short. To make that play, like you said, it was a momentum builder. Throughout the whole game, guys were making plays.’€

Jerod Mayo on the goal-line defense: “Guys stepped up when we had to. They had to make plays and keep our offense in striking distance. I think we did that and had a good turnout.’€

Jerod Mayo on the goal-line stop in the first half: ‘€œWell, [Peterson] is their go-to guy and we knew that he was going to get the ball at some point. So I think the guys up front did an excellent job keeping guys off the back end and just made the play.’€

Jerod Mayo on the mentality of forcing turnovers: ‘€œLike I said earlier, mental toughness. Just chipping at the rock. You don’€™t need the big plays. Just keep chipping at it and eventually, something will happen.’€

Kyle Arrington on whether or not there was any trash-talking between him and Randy Moss: ‘€œNot really. We said, ‘€˜What’€™s up’€™ and everything during the first quarter and he noticed at the start how I was trying to play him early, and he let me know he was aware. That was about it. Then, in the fourth quarter, he might have said a word or two. We hugged after the game and said, ‘€˜Good game, stay healthy’€™ and everything like that. Not too much was said between him and me. We both knew this was business and we’€™re professionals. We bith knew what kind of job we had to do.’€

Brandon Meriweather on how it was playing against Randy Moss: ‘€œIt was great. It’€™s like playing against your big brother. Whenever you get a chance to play against your big brother, you want to limit him in as many ways as you can. That’€™s what we were trying to do. Me personally, I wanted to be the one to do it, but Kyle [Arrington] did a great job, Devin [McCourty] did a great job, and everybody else who was on him did a great job. I just helped in every way I could.’€

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Snap Judgments: Patriots 28, Vikings 18

10.31.10 at 7:13 pm ET
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The Patriots moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC East with a 28-18 win over the Vikings at Gillette Stadium. BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 112 yards and two TDs and Tom Brady passed for another score for the Pats, who limited Randy Moss to just a single catch in his return to New England. The Patriots (6-1) travel to Cleveland to meet up with old pal Eric Mangini and the Browns next Sunday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Brandon Tate had been quiet since the departure of Randy Moss, catching just a single pass for 36 yards in the last two games. But with Moss on the field Sunday, it was Tate who proved to be the game-breaking wideout, catching a 65-yard TD pass in the third quarter that gave the Patriots a 14-10 lead (first lead of the game). Lots of credit goes to Tom Brady on the TD, as he managed to escape pressure (a problem for much of the game) and gave Tate time to get downfield. Tate beat cornerback Asher Allen on the catch, then used his speed to break away from Madieu Williams and find the end zone. Tate also made a 32-yard catch on the first TD drive, a poor throw from Brady that was dropped by Williams and managed to land in Tate’s hands. (Also a terrible challenge by Brad Childress on the play, it was clear that the ball never touched the ground. One other Childress beef: If you are going for it on fourth-and-goal from the one — I think the correct call — you go for it on fourth-and-1 from midfield in the third quarter. Not sure why they punted in that spot.)

Devin McCourty continues to impress, stripping a falling Percy Harvin of the ball (a throw from Favre that was slightly behind the wideout) and returning the INT 37 yards. BenJarvus Green Ellis scored on a 13-yard INT just three plays later to give the Patriots a 21-10 lead. McCourty really demonstrated why he might turn out to be a true No. 1 corner earlier in the third quarter, matching Percy Harvin (as fast as any WR in the league) stride-for-stride before breaking up a pass at the New England five-yard line.

– BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the best running back on the field Sunday, no small feat when you consider how good Peterson is. Ellis rushed for 112 yards on 17 carries, including that 13-yard TD rush in the third quarter and the game-clinching two-yard TD run with 1:55 left. A remarkable effort from Green-Ellis, who had just four carries for four yards at halftime.

– The Patriots stopped Adrian Peterson on fourth-and-goal from inside the one-yard line at the end of the first half. Patriots defensive lineman Ron Brace — MIA for the 2010 season to this point — lead the push on the tackle, with Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes on the assist. Probably the biggest defensive play of the season for the Patriots, stopping arguably the league’s top back on 4th-and-goal from inside the one-yard-line. Lots of debate in the press box on whether it made sense for Brad Childress to pass on a sure three points, but it’s hard to criticize the decision when you have a back the caliber of Peterson.

– Randy Moss? One catch for 8 yards. Kyle Arrington on Moss for most of the game, with plenty of safety help from Brandon Meriweather. Moss did draw a pass interference on Meriweather that gave the Vikings a first-and-goal at the NE nine-yard line (24-yard penalty).

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Another quiet game for Wes Welker, who finished with just three catches for 24 yards. Welker hasn’t had a 100-yard game since Week 15 of the 2009 season and his seven catches the last two weeks is the lowest back-to-back output of his New England career.

– A trio of penalties cost the Patriots. A first-quarter illegal motion penalty by Crumpler wiped out what would have been a first down on a direct snap rush from Woodhead (who later scored on the same play — nice prep work, Future NFL Coach Leslie Frazier). The Patriots were forced to punt on the drive. On the Vikings’ first TD drive, Gary Guyton launched into Favre with his helmet (hello, 25K fine) and gave the Vikings a first-and-goal from the five-yard-line. And on the Vikings’ TD drive that cut the lead to 21-18, it was Jonathan Wilhite with a illegal use of the hands that put the Vikings at the NE one-yard-line.

– Brady had a couple of poor throws in another shaky first half, the aforementioned first-quarter pass to Tate as well as missing Deion Branch on a deep ball in the second quarter. Branch had just a single catch in the game and seemed to be battling a hamstring injury that limited him in practice this week.

Halftime analysis: Patriots 7, Vikings 7

10.31.10 at 5:28 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots and Vikings have just finished up two quarters of action here at Gillette Stadium, with the game tied at seven. Here are a few quick notes:

Stat leaders: Tom Brady is 8-for-13 for 98 yards, while Danny Woodhead has seven yards rushing and one touchdown and Brandon Tate has two catches for 36 yards. On the other side of the ball, Brett Favre is 11-for-13 for 121 yards, while Adrian Peterson has 17 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown and Percy Harvin has four catches for 64 yards.

Both teams fizzled offensively to open the game, and early on, the Vikings were able to get good pressure on Brady, knocking him down on a number of occasions and forcing quick throws by the New England quarterback. On the other side, the Patriots were able to make sure Minnesota stalled out at its own 42-yard line.

The Vikings were also unable to get much going early, but they moved the ball nicely on their second offensive sequence, a 12-play, 76-yard drive highlighted by a 21-yard strike from Favre to Harvin, as well as a third-down conversion on a nine-yard completion from Favre to Bernard Berrian. New England helped out Minnesota when linebacker Gary Guyton was flagged for roughing the passer ‘€” two plays after that penalty, Minnesota punched it in for the first score of the game, a one-yard run by Peterson that made it 7-0 with 14:57 left in the second quarter. (The play was challenged by the Patriots, but stood.)

The Patriots answered with an impressive drive of their own ‘€” an eight-play, 75-yard series highlighted by back-to-back impressive pass plays. On the first, Wes Welker and Sebastian Vollmer delivered great blocks to spring Deion Branch on a bubble screen for a 21-yard gain. The Patriots followed that up with a great fake handoff to Welker on an end-around, and Brady then delivered a dart to Brandon Tate, who juggled the ball but hauled it in for the catch, a 32-yard gain. Four plays later, Woodhead scored on a three-yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven with 10:25 left in the first half.

Toward the end of the half, the Vikings were able to exploit a soft spot in the New England defense, the area between the linebackers and defensive backs. It was an area where Favre and Minnesota were able to make great gains toward the end of the first half, including on its final drive of the half, a series that stalled out on the Patriots’€™ one-yard line when the Vikings were turned away by New England’€™s goal-line defense on fourth-and-one.

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Patriots opening defense

10.31.10 at 4:26 pm ET
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The Patriots opened with the following defensive personnel package:

DL: Brandon Deaderick, Vince Wilfork (at nose tackle), Mike Wright
ILBs: Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo,
OLBs: Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham
CBs: Kyle Arrington, Devin McCourty
S: Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders

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Patriots opening offense

10.31.10 at 4:19 pm ET
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The Patriots opened with the following personnel on offense:

QB: Tom Brady
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
WRs: Wes Welker, Deion Branch
TEs: Aaron Hernandez (lined up in the backfield) Alge Crumpler
OL: Matt Light, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Sebastian Vollmer

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Pats inactives: Pat Chung sits this one out

10.31.10 at 3:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — In a mild surprise, safety Pat Chung will be inactive for today’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. Chung suffered a bruised knee in last week’s win over the San Diego Chargers. Meanwhile, Deion Branch, who suffered a mild hamstring strain and will play for the Patriots.

The inactive for the Patriots are: Chung, Mark LeVoir, Kyle Love, Rich Ohrnberger, Jarrad Page, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater and Fred Taylor.

For the Vikings, cornerback Lito Sheppard will sit this one out. Their complete inactive list reads as follows:

QB Joe Webb (3rd QB), WR Hank Baskett, S Tyrell Johnson, CB Lito Sheppard, RB Albert Young, LB Erin Henderson, G Chris DeGeare and DT Jimmy Kennedy.

Read More: Deion Branch, inactives, minnesota vikings, New England Patriots
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