|10.26.12 at 4:33 pm ET|
London is a long way from New Orleans.
Wembley Stadium and its grass pitch is a lot different than the turf-laiden Superdome.
On Friday, just minutes after getting off the plane after a six-hour flight across the Atlantic, Brady was asked what he remembers about beating the Rams in that Super Bowl and whether he could have possibly predicted the success to come in the following 10 years?
“It doesn’t seem like long ago, but other times it does seem like a long time ago,” Brady said. “How do I feel about that experience? That was a long time ago. It was a lot of hits ago. I mean, you win the Super Bowl, it was my second year in the league and you never forget that. That’s something that’s embedded in your mind and heart for the rest of your life. We had so many great teammates that were a part of that and guys that I’m still friends with. We played one of the best teams that I’ve ever played against. I think that’s really where Patriot football and team football really kind of started for us in New England.
“It took a team effort to win that game. It was, like I said, an exceptional team we faced and they had some Hall of Famers on that team, some guys that were playing at the height of their careers and we found a way to beat them. We lost to them earlier that season, so it was a very memorable day, very memorable night. Certainly since then it’s been more than I could ever ask for as a person, as a player and I’m sure all my teammates feel the same way.”
That was followed up by what is it like to lose after having such success, and how does he get over the Super Bowl loss from last year?
“I think you realize that, you’re right, when you win like we did early in my career here and in our careers, you don’t take it for granted,” Brady said. “I think as time’s gone on, you realize now how challenging that was because we’ve had some great teams since then, we just haven’t had the chance to win a Super Bowl. We got there twice, but didn’t really close the deal. As a team you realize all the small things that go into preparing each week and the process that you put into each game so that you can perform at your highest level when it matters the most.
“Losing sucks and especially to lose the Super Bowl at the end of the season like we did last year, it’s a very disappointing feeling but at the same time you have mental toughness to move forward and not allow that to have any impact on what we’ve done this season. We’re still growing as a team. We’re not even to the halfway point. I think each step along the way we’ve learned and we’ve gotten a little bit better, a little more prepared and hopefully this week is our best game this season.”
Here is the rest of Brady’s Q and A with the British media on Friday in London: Read the rest of this entry »
|10.26.12 at 12:21 pm ET|
Bill Belichick met the English media on Friday morning shortly after the Patriots landed overseas, and he touched on a variety of topics — both football and non-football. He did acknowledge that the team brought a few players who could be game-time decisions because of their health.
“We’ll probably have some guys that are game-time [decisions] that we’re not 100 percent sure about. We’ll have to see how that goes,” Belichick said. “We have a lot of guys who are working really hard, getting a lot of extra treatment, coming in early, staying late and doing everything they can to be ready, whether how ready they’ll be, what they’ll be able to do and all, I’m not sure we know that 100 percent.
“Our last practice was Thursday, so that’s still a half week before the game — a lot of times it takes a couple days more than that, sometimes it takes up until game time to really figure that out for sure. We’ll see where some of those guys are.”
While the Rams went over early in the week, the Patriots made the decision not to travel until later, touching down on Friday. Belichick decided not to practice as the team continued to adjust to the time change in anticipation of Sunday’s game against the Rams.
“We’ll get done what we feel like we can get done productively,” Belichick said when asked about the Friday off-day. “We got three days of practice ‘ Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — last week and this week so that’s the three days we normally have. Saturday will be a normal Saturday for us. [Friday] is kind of a transition day.”
Logistically, the trip and travel isn’t easy, but Belichick said it’s something they’ve faced in the past. In the end, the key is making sure you’re ready to go come game day.
“We have normal weeks, we have short weeks, we have travel weeks, we have home weeks, but I think you always try to get to Saturday, Sunday or the day of the game, day before the game, you try to have consistency at that point in the week,” he said. “Sometimes, you have to modify or adjust what happens before that. When you get to game day, you want that to be a fairly consistent routine that the players and the coaches and the organization are comfortable with. Hopefully the day before that, your final preparations are consistent as well. That’s I think the most important part of it.
“Like I said, we’ve played on four-day weeks, three-day weeks, two weeks, 10 days, but in the end it’s the final lead-up to the game that I think is the most important part of the consistency of the week.”
Here are a few other highlights of his Q&A with the media on Friday:
|10.26.12 at 10:01 am ET|
NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to preview Sunday’s Patriots-Rams game and discuss news from around the league. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Some have speculated that overseas trips help teams to bond, but Lombardi said he didn’t believe so.
‘The Patriots, the Rams, they’re not Boy Scouts,’ Lombardi said. ‘Trips that go away are not bonding trips. What bonds a team is what Tom Brady did at the end of that Jets game. Coming from behind, kicking that field goal, winning the game. Those are the kind of plays that bond teams. This whole going away stuff, I’ve never bought into it.’
Asked whether the Patriots’ use of a conservative defensive scheme, one that doesn’t blitz, is partly to blame for their inability to close out games, Lombardi said the responsibility starts with the offense.
‘The Patriots team this year has given up 58 points in the fourth quarter alone,’ Lombardi said. ‘They’ve only given up 61 points in the first half alone. Because the offense hasn’t extended the lead, whether it’s Seattle where you’re up 23-13, or the Jets game where you’re up 23-13. You’ve got a chance. Put the game away, make it a 30-13 game. They didn’t do it, they made it a closer game. Same thing in Seattle, same thing in Baltimore. And I think that becomes the problem for them, when the offense doesn’t put the game away, then all of a sudden things start to fall apart. That’s really what’s happened.’
Lombardi predicts the Rams will attempt to take advantage of New England’s unimpressive defensive secondary by airing it out.
‘I think they’re going to,” Lombardi said. “The Rams have a unique team. What the Rams are saying when they play you is, ‘We think you’re going to mess up. So we’re going to be as conservative as we possibly can be. We’re not going to blow this game. We’re going to try to get this game to the fourth quarter, we’re going to take our shot.’ And I think you’ll see them take shots up the field.
“I think they will throw it down the field if they can make a few plays. That’s part of what they want to do, anyway. They know they’re not good enough. They know their offensive line is really a work in progress, and that’s being polite. ‘¦ They have to control the ball, stay in a lot of third-and-shorts, keep 10-play drives, and really the Rams don’t mind if you keep the ball for 10 minutes, either. They just want to keep you out of the end zone. They’ll let you have a field goal if you keep it for 10 minutes.”
|10.26.12 at 9:09 am ET|
Welcome to Rotobahn’s Week 8 starts and sits. Head to Rotobahn and use our full lineup rankings if we fail to cover your lineup questions here. As usual, we’ve done our best to avoid the obvious choices and to talk about players that are on the fringe of lineups in 12-team leagues. We’ll be doing a Sunday morning chat at 11 a.m. at WEEI.com, so join us if you have any last-minute issues. And if you are looking for late-breaking Sunday news, sign up to follow us on Twitter.
Good luck to all in Week 8!
Michael Vick, Eagles vs. Falcons
You are going to get Vick’s best effort this weekend against his old team. You might see an interception or two and perhaps a fumble, but barring injury, Vick will fill the stat sheet in his usual way. Don’t let all the bad press affect your lineup choices. He’s still a high-end fantasy option, and we expect solid fantasy output in Week 8. Vick is a good option in all leagues.
Jay Cutler, Bears vs. Panthers
Make sure he practices fully Friday, but we like Cutler this week if you are looking for a bye week option. He’s without Alshon Jeffery, which hurts, but Matt Forte is healthy again. Forte and Brandon Marshall should be all Cutler needs to have a solid fantasy start this week.
Matt Hasselbeck, Titans vs. Colts
This should be a competitive game, and we like Hasselbeck at home vs. a soft Indianapolis defense. He has a deep receiving corps to work with, and Chris Johnson‘s resurgence gives the Titans some balance. Hasselbeck can start for you this week in 12-team leagues.
Philip Rivers, Chargers at Browns
He might be just fine, but we’re concerned with the Chargers in general. They are making a lot of knee-jerk decisions, and now coach Norv Turner is talking about being more conservative. It always worries me when teams start to doubt their identity. So while Rivers certainly is viable, we are not looking to start him this week in 10-team leagues and he’s not a great play in 12-team leagues either.
On the road against a good defense is not the spot to play Smith if you can avoid it. We also are concerned about his finger injury, which has been blamed for his recent struggles. Smith is a player we want to see play well again before we put him in our active lineup.
|10.26.12 at 8:49 am ET|
In the latest edition of ‘4th and Goal,’ WEEI.com’s Chris Price takes a look at this week’s game between the Patriots and the Rams, and some points of emphasis for New England.
|10.25.12 at 11:10 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich has a simple formula for success.
‘Just keep playing hard and get around the ball, and things happen,’ he said Thursday morning.
Lots of good things have happened for Ninkovich over the last few weeks, as the linebacker/defensive end has come up big at several key moments for the Patriots. The Purdue product leads the team with four forced fumbles in four straight games. If he reaches five, he’ll tie Mike Vrabel for the most forced fumbles for a New England player within the last 20 years. (Vrabel reached the mark in 2007.)
That includes his role in a strip-sack of Mark Sanchez to close out the Jets in overtime last weekend, the latest in a long line of performances that has earned him the nickname ‘Jet Killer’ from coach Bill Belichick.
‘It’s not just sacking the quarterback, but as you go to tackle him that you have an awareness of where the ball is,’ Belichick said. ‘Rob has done that on numerous occasions, including last year as well. He has a good feel for that.
‘It’s just an instinctive play that we coach and we talk about, but every play like that is different. It’s really the player’s awareness — in this case Rob’s awareness — that made it a game-changing play. Not only did he finish the tackle; he had that awareness of the ball being down to his left side and was able to knock it out and once he knew the ball was out then he instinctively rolled over Mark and just came up and recovered it.
‘It’s a heads-up play by Rob that we’ve worked hard on it, and Rob has really had several opportunities to do this year and he’s done it well in all of them.’
In addition, he and rookie Chandler Jones have combined to form the bulk of the New England pass rush: Jones leads the team with eight quarterback hits and five sacks, but Ninkovich is second in both departments with four sacks (for 21 yards lost), and quarterback hits (five).
‘The more you watch them, I think the more impressive both of them become. Especially the last couple weeks, I think they’ve kind of found their groove,’ Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said of Ninkovich and Jones.
‘They’ve put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They do a great job of never going around the quarterback, never taking themselves out of the rush. They’re always right there around you. So there’s no doubt that we’re going to have to take care of the edges this week or they’ll cause turnovers just like they did last week.’
The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Ninkovich returned the compliment on Thursday. Before boarding a plane for London in advance of Sunday’s game against the Rams, he sounded impressed at what both Bradford and running back Steven Jackson have accomplished to this point in their careers, and said they’ll be a tough out come Sunday.
‘[Bradford is] a good quarterback — he can make all the throws,’ said Ninkovich. ‘They have a running back back there that can make a few plays as well. As a defense, we have to do a good job of stopping him first and not letting Bradford beat us with some good throws.
‘I think [Jackson has] got six years over 1,000 yards. He’s been a great running back for some years now,’ he added. ‘You just have to make sure you don’t let him have a breakout game against you.’
While the Patriots’ pass defense has struggled, the run defense remains one of the best in the league.
‘We really pride ourselves on stopping the run first, so as long as you do that and make the game more one-dimensional, it’s just going to help your defense in the long run,’ he said.
‘I think we work well together as a [run defense] — I think that starts in training camp. The front seven forms a tight unit there, and we kind of play off each other and try and understand our responsibilities are.’
|10.25.12 at 5:51 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Walt Coleman — the official who made the “Tuck Rule” famous in the Patriots’ “Snow Bowl” win over the Raiders — will be working the New England-St. Louis game Sunday in London, according to our friends at FootballZebras.com.
Coleman, who was also the official in an Oct. 31, 2004 game between New England and Pittsburgh that saw the end of the Patriots’ 21-game winning streak, will be working his second game of the year. (He worked the Panthers-Falcons game on Sept. 30.) He served as the lead official for one New England game last season, a 20-16 win for the Patriots over the Cowboys at Gillette Stadium.
For more on his tendencies and background as an official, check out his page at Pro Football Reference.