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Giants’ Will Blackmon on D&C: ‘We have a special team’

01.26.12 at 10:11 am ET
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Former Boston College Eagle and current Giants returner/cornerback Will Blackmon joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to discuss the Super Bowl and the big BC connection to this year’s game.

Blackmon is one of six former Eagles on the Giants or Patriots roster. He is joined on the Giants by Mark Herzlich (’10), Mathias Kiwanuka (’05) and Chris Snee (’04). The New England roster boats Ron Brace (’08) and Dan Koppen (’02).

In addition to players, there are 10 coaches, scouts or team personnel with ties to BC. Most notable among them are Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who was the Eagles coach from 1991-93, New York assistant coach Jack Bicknell Jr., who played center at BC in the early 1980s for his father, Giants president and chief executive officer John Mara, a 1976 BC graduate, and Giants senior vice president of player evaluation Chris Mara, a 1979 BC grad.

“It’s unbelievable,” Blackmon said of the BC presence among both Super Bowl teams. “The one thing is that we know for sure that you are going to get a quality guy when you play for BC.”

Blackmon, a Providence native, is in his sixth NFL season. After four seasons with the Packers, he played five games for the Giants last season. He was waived last January but re-signed on Nov. 23, playing six regular-season games and all three playoff games. Although his time on the roster has been limited, Blackmon was present for the final two games of a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season that threatened to end the Giants’ playoff hopes. He said that the team’s ability to self-evaluate and band together fueled the playoff run.

“I think the way we were losing games, it came down to there’s no way we should have lost that game,” Blackmon said. “You look at the [San Francisco] game, you look at the Philly game, where we let Vince Young throw for 400 yards. Just certain ways that we lost games, like there’s no way we should have lost it. So when it became crunch time, we just honed in and rallied around each other and just said, ‘Hey listen, we have a special team and we can’t be losing games like this anymore. Let’s do something special. Here we go.’ We just turned into lockdown mode and here we are.”

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Read More: Eli Manning, Mark Herzlich, Super Bowl XLVI, Will Blackmon

Chad Ochocinco has odd Twitter exchange with House Speaker John Boehner

01.25.12 at 10:02 pm ET
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Perhaps failing to be scared off by the Tim Thomas White House controversy, Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco ventured into the world of politics this week.

During Tuesday night’s State of the Union address from President Barack Obama, Ochocinco noticed a stone-faced House Speaker John Boehner sitting behind Obama.

Tweeted Ochocinco: Anybody notice the guy over Obamas left shoulder doesn’t seem very happy and he’s not smiling. He’s not clapping with joy.

After being informed about Boehner, Ochocinco tweeted the Republican: Just read some of your tweets and you seem pretty angry kind sir. I can see you on tv but you’re not smiling. Hope you’re ok.

Ochocinco, who was inactive for Sunday’s AFC championship game after flying to Florida to attend his father’s funeral Saturday, followed up with another tweet Wednesday morning: Hello Mr. Boehner, hoping you are in better spirits today. If all else seems bad in life just remember I love you kind sir.

Boehner, an Ohio representative, eventually responded to the former Bengal: Thanks & good luck in the @SuperBowl we’ll see you in the playoffs next year. Go #Bengals.

Read More: Chad Ochocinco, John Boehner,

Bill Belichick won’t bring back red hoodie

01.25.12 at 9:51 pm ET
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When the Patriots played the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, coach Bill Belichick debuted a red hooded sweatshirt, a departure from his normal muted tones.

When the teams meet again on Feb. 5, there will be no repeat. Belichick’s longtime girlfriend Linda Holliday tweeted Wednesday: It’s official … no red hoodie at Super Bowl XLVI!

Read More: Bill Belichick,

Taking a closer look at the regular-season matchup between the Patriots and Giants

01.25.12 at 9:07 pm ET
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Here are five takeaways after rewatching the Nov. 6 regular-season matchup between the Patriots and Giants:

1. We’€™ve been big proponents of the Patriots’€™ use of the no-huddle all season — New England has used it one in every four snaps since the start of the regular season, and run it effectively on a number of occasions this year in hopes of catching an opponent on their heels. One of the things that really stood out was the fact that even though the Patriots couldn’€™t muster any offense in the first half (they were scoreless over the first two quarters), they didn’€™t run a single play in the no huddle in that time. In all, New England used it just four of 75 total offensive snaps against New York, or five percent of the time. To that point in the year, it represented a season-low in total snaps and percentage (two games later, New England used the no huddle just once in 65 offensive snaps against the Chiefs). The only time the Patriots went no-huddle against the Giants was on their final drive of the afternoon, one that ended with the go-ahead touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady to tight end Aaron Hernandez with 1:36 to go. For a team that leaned so heavily on the no-huddle all season long, the numbers were interesting.

2. Injuries were a big part of this game. Hernandez was still working his way back after a knee problem, and while he played 59 of a possible 78 snaps (according to Pro Football Focus), he clearly was at less than his best. That led to a passing game that relied almost exclusively on Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, as the two accounted for more than half of the targets (25 of 49), receptions (17 of 28) and receiving yards (237 of 342). In addition, the Patriots lost safety Patrick Chung to a foot injury late in the game and linebacker Brandon Spikes to a knee injury late in the second half. That led to some interesting personnel combinations down the stretch — linebacker Tracy White and safety Sergio Brown was on the field at the end of the game in pass coverage. On the other side of the ball, the Giants were without wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and starting center David Baas (more on them in a bit), which certainly altered their overall game plan.

3. The Giants were looking to defend the pass first and foremost against New England. According to Pro Football Focus, they had five defensive backs on the field on every play. Despite that, even with the New York pass rush being one of the best in the league, the Patriots were a pass-first offense — Brady looked to pass more than twice as much as run, with New England running the ball 24 times and throwing it 49 times. (For what it’€™s worth, PFF has Brady as being blitzed 14 times, and ended up going 4-for-12 for 68 yards with one run and one sack.) While New England got decent production in the running game from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, it was clear that Green-Ellis wasn’€™t 100 percent physically. For Green-Ellis, this game was sandwiched by eight-yard game against the Jets and a nine-yard game against the Steelers, and in the middle of an extended period where he was questionable on the injury report because of a toe problem on a consistent basis. (As our scout suggested here, expect the Patriots to try and run the ball more often against the New York defensive line that is always looking to get after the passer.)
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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Andre Carter, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Brandon Spikes

Patriots place WR/TE Dorin Dickerson on injured reserve

01.25.12 at 5:32 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Wednesday that wide receiver Dorin Dickerson has been placed on the practice squad/injured reserve list.

Dickerson, 23, was signed to the New England practice squad on Dec. 7. He is a second-year player who was originally drafted by the Houston Texans in the seventh round (227th overall) out of Pittsburgh in 2010. As a rookie, he played in seven games, mainly on special teams. Dickerson, 6-foot-2, 227 pounds, was released by Houston on Sept. 3 and was then signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ practice squad on Sept. 12 before being released on Sept. 15.

During his college career, he played at wide receiver, linebacker and tight end.

Read More: Dorin Dickerson,

Super Bowl roundup: Eli Manning tells Giants to ‘handle your business’

01.25.12 at 3:08 pm ET
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Eli Manning is all business, and he’s making sure his team is, too. Manning, a team captain, made sure he got his message across during a team meeting on Tuesday.

“We got an excellent message from Eli. … It was very well needed,” Antrel Rolle told the New York Post.

Explained Manning: “Just a little bit how to prepare for this, handle your business with tickets, get that stuff done. Just the mindset of this week, we have to have great preparation, prepare this week like you’€™re playing the game this week, because once you get out to Indianapolis, you’ve got to take a bus ride to practice [and] your whole schedule gets thrown off.”

Manning obviously knows how to successfully prepare for a Super Bowl, and his message was heard by teammates.

‘€œIt’€™s great to hear someone speak with that kind of leadership,’€™’€™ Rolle said. ‘€œYou know Eli doesn’€™t say much, and when he says it, he means it and you know it’€™s coming from the heart. We’€™re going out there to take care of business. Everything else, that’€™s for the spectators, that’€™s for your family and your friends.”

‘™¦ As Patriots fans know, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff was the goat of the AFC championship game. Sunday’s other game had its own goat: 49ers return man Kyle Williams, who muffed one punt and had another stripped, setting up two Giants scores (including the game-winning field goal).

Williams had eight punt returns on the day in while filling in for Ted Ginn Jr., and there have been reports that the Giants targeted him for big hits, knowing Williams has had problems with concussions. Devin Thomas, who picked up both of Williams’ fumbles, and linebacker Jacquian Williams, who caused the fumble in overtime, had interesting words after the game.

“He’€™s had a lot of concussions,” Thomas was quoted as saying. “We were just like, ‘We’€™ve got to put a hit on that guy.’€™ ‘€

Added Williams: ‘€œWe knew he had four concussions, so our biggest thing was to take him out of the game.’€

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Read More: David Tyree, Kyle Williams, Rooney Mara, Super Bowl

Tom Brady on the cover of this week’s ‘Sports Illustrated’

01.25.12 at 2:47 pm ET
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This week’s issue of Sports Illustrated — which is scheduled to be released Wednesday — has Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on the cover for the 15th time as part of a Super Bowl preview.

This marks the second time in a couple of months that Brady made the cover — he made it a couple of weeks ago as part of a regional edition that previewed the divisional round of the postseason.

The story on the Patriots inside the issue is penned by writer Damon Hack, and looks at the effect that the late Myra Kraft had on the franchise and how the team has rallied in her memory.

‘€œI told Mr. Kraft I was going to leave it all on the field for Myra,” said linebacker Brandon Spikes, who picked off Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco in the AFC championship game. “I personally wanted to come out and get that game for her [and] for him. I told him not to worry about a thing.’€

SI writer Jim Trotter also gives his pick for the game.

Read More: Brandon Spikes, Damon Hack, Jim Trotter, joe flacco
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