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After going down with injury, Nick Mangold has ‘utmost respect’ for Vince Wilfork

12.22.14 at 6:30 am ET
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A number of players from both teams sent their well wishes to Jets center Nick Mangold before he was carted off with a lower left leg injury. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

A number of players from both teams sent their well wishes to Jets center Nick Mangold before he was carted off with a lower left leg injury. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It was an unfortunate day for Jets center Nick Mangold.

After walking onto MetLife Stadium field wearing an NYPD hat to honor the two fallen officers from Saturday’s horrible event, he left the field on a cart with what looked like a serious lower leg injury.

Early in the second quarter, the 2006 first-rounder got his leg rolled up on and he went down in serious pain before having to be being carted off the field. Before the cart took off, virtually the entire Jets sideline and a good number of Patriots players went over to the cart to give Mangold their best wishes. He had X-rays and said more tests will be needed to be done Monday, but he was moving around the locker room afterwards on crutches.

The player closest to the cart may have been a member of the Patriots, Vince Wilfork, as the two have been battling against one another for close to a decade going back to college when Wilfork was at the University of Miami and Mangold at Ohio State. It has only continued as the two have been division rivals since entering the league with there always being a good battle in the trenches when the two teams meet with Mangold at center at Wilfork at defensive tackle.

“Vince and I, we’ve been playing against each other for, shoot, it goes back to college,” Mangold recalled. “We played against each other. We’ve had some great battles and I have the utmost respect for that guy. … Very appreciated.”

“That was greatly appreciated,” Mangold added of the support. “Even though I wasn’t in the best of moods at the time as a player your team behind you and even the other team, that leaves you with a deep appreciation.”

As for wearing the NYPD hat prior to the game, Mangold was doing anything he could to show his support, saying he decided on the gesture Saturday night.

“Those two officers, it’s a shame. That’s tough,” Mangold said. “Those guys, they do a great job. I’ve been here nine years. Every one of those guys that’s out there, that risks their lives every day, to go out there and keep the community safe, protect the community — for that to happen, for those two guys, for their families, that’s a raw deal.

“If wearing that hat gives a little bit of comfort or shows support for those folks, I’m happy to do it.”

Read More: Nick Mangold, Vince Wilfork,

Danny Amendola stepping up in Julian Edelman’s absence: ‘Everyone has a job to do, just trying to do my job’

12.21.14 at 7:38 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. — With wide receiver Julian Edelman downgraded to out Saturday night with a concussion/thigh injury, someone was going to have to step up and fill the void left by a guy who has 92 catches and 972 yards on the year.

That guy was Danny Amendola.

Amendola entered the game Sunday with 15 total catches this season, and finished Sunday with eight catches for 63 yards. At times the sixth-year veteran looked like the best Patriots player on the field in the first half. He also was able to provide a spark in the return game as he finished with 91 yards on five kick returns, and 63 yards on three punt returns, including a 39-yard return in the first half, which led to a Rob Gronkowski touchdown, the Patriots’ first score of the game.

“Absolutely,” when asked if he was looking forward to Sunday. “It’s a rough game. Some guys go in, some guys go out. Everyone has a job to do, just trying to do my job.”

The wide out played a total of 43 snaps by our count, his most since Week 9 against Denver. His season-high was 61 in Week 1 against Miami. He was part of the grouping that sparked the Patriots in the second half when they went no huddle with he and Brandon LaFell as the wide receivers, Tim Wright and Gronkowski at tight end and Shane Vereen in the backfield.

“He did a great job, and he’s been really looking for this opportunity,” Tom Brady said. “I thought he did a great job in here in the role that he played. He’s a very good player for us. He did a good job returning some great kicks and punts. It will be good to get Jules [Julian Edelman] back next week. Hopefully he can get back next week.”

Even with not being as productive as he was with the Rams, Amendola is keeping his confidence up and making sure he’s ready when called upon.

“You have a job to do every week,” Amendola said. “You have a role on the team if you’re suited up. You have something to do within the game plan. You have to do your job. Whatever it is, never doubt yourself.”

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‘Air Vince’ Wilfork shows he’s got the ups to join Patriots FG block party

12.21.14 at 7:18 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Nothing like a 6-foot-2, 325-pound nose tackle making like Michael Jordan to save a game with a blocked field goal.

Vince Wilfork became the fourth Patriots player this year to block a field goal, and the second one to save a potential game-winning kick by the Jets’ Nick Folk.

“Blocking a field goal by Air Vince, we’ve got to do those things,” Devin McCourty said.

On Sept. 14, Chandler Jones got the block party going with a block of Vikings kick toward the end of the first half. He returned it for a touchdown. On Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium, Chris Jones preserved a 27-25 win with a last-second bat down. Against the Dolphins, it was Jamie Collins doing the honors on the game’s first drive, leading to a Kyle Arrington scoop and score.

Sunday, it was Wilfork’s turn. With 5:21 left, Wilfork moved over to his right, jumped up and got his right hand up high enough to block Folk’s 52-yard attempt.

“I just filled a soft A-gap, making sure that I was legal, not covering up the center and at the same time, being able to get vertical in that lane,” Wilfork said. “I felt that I had a good shot of getting some penetration, so it worked out well. That is just one of the plays that (we had) opportunities on. I had a good opportunity to make a play and I did for the team. It was nothing special that I did. I just penetrated a little bit and got my hands up and got a piece of it. I’€™m glad it helped my team win a ball game. That is what it is all about, the wins, and we walk away with another one.”

Read More: Devin McCourty, Michael Jordan, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Tom Brady: ‘I’m glad it came out the way that it did. It makes for a better Christmas’

12.21.14 at 7:00 pm ET
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Tom Brady didn't have his best game Sunday, going 23-for-35 with 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he made the plays when it mattered late. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Tom Brady didn’t have his best game Sunday, going 23-for-35 with 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he made the plays when it mattered late. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. — Although it wasn’t as dramatic of a turnaround as last week’s second half against the Dolphins, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense did just enough in the second half to overcome a stingy Jets defense for a hard-earned, 17-16 win Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots entered the locker room trailing 10-7 and Brady was a pedestrian 11-for-15 passing with 79 yards and a touchdown, while Geno Smith was 11-for-16 with 117 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots had just seven first downs total in the first half, but were able to put together a few good drives in the second half — led by a more up-tempo, no-huddle offense.

“We got into a little rhythm there, Brady said. “I think it settled a few things down. We have to sustain it and get it in the red zone down there. We kind of came up short on that 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-2, whatever it was. We just have to finish those drives, especially key drives like that where you can finally get a little momentum, a little rhythm. It’s a good defense, they challenged us. We had long field all day, we had a couple good short fields that we took advantage of. The defense really stepped up when we need to.”

Brady finished the game 23-for-35 with 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was 12-for-20 with 103 yards with an interception in the second half.

Things weren’t going the Patriots’ way, as they trailed 13-7 in the third quarter, but after kicking a field goal, got a huge interception from Jamie Collins. Running back Jonas Gray ran it in from a yard out on the ensuing possession to give the Patriots a 17-13 lead. The Jets then kicked a field goal on their next possession making it a 17-16 game with 7:53 left in the game.

Following the field goal, Brady threw his first interception of the game — a tipped ball intended for Brandon LaFell — giving the Jets great field position at the Patriots’ 24-yard line. A huge Dont’a Hightower sack on third-down made it a 52-yard field goal attempt for Nick Folk, and fortunately Vince Wilfork was able to bail them out by partially blocking the attempt. The Patriots then were able to pick up a few first downs and run out the final 5:16 of time.

“We made plenty of good ones in the fourth quarter to come from behind. That was great,” said Brady. “Defensively, we played great again. I’m glad it came out the way that it did. It makes for a better Christmas. It’s always tough to get a win here, they’re a good team. They always play us hard. We got their best today.

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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price explain how shorthanded Patriots escaped with win over Jets

12.21.14 at 6:43 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. —’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price explain how the Patriots held off the Jets, 17-16, Sunday at MetLife Stadium to improve to 12-3 and lock up a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots will clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout if the Bengals beat the Broncos Monday night in Cincinnati.

Read More: Chris Price, MetLife Stadium, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots

Rex Ryan on Tom Brady: ‘We’re the team that always gives him the biggest challenge, whether he admits it or not’

12.21.14 at 6:19 pm ET
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Sunday could have been the last time Rex Ryan will face the Patriots as head coach of the Jets. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Sunday could have been the last time Rex Ryan will face the Patriots as head coach of the Jets. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. — If indeed Sunday was Rex Ryan’s last game as head coach of the New York Jets, maybe the happiest guy to see him out of the AFC East is Tom Brady, as Ryan led teams have done historically well against the Patriots’ quarterback.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, going into Sunday, Brady’€™€™€™s completion percentage in games against Jets’€™€™ defenses led by Ryan was 59 percent, compared to 65 percent against the rest of the league. That trend continued Sunday as although Brady completed 66 percent of his passes (23-for-35), he wasn’t his usual self and the Jets put tons of pressure on him all game long, forcing him into just 182 yards passing, his lowest since Week 4.

“I don’t know if it is really possible to control Tom Brady. If not, we’re the team that always gives him the biggest challenge, whether he admits it or not,” Ryan said after the game.

“I just think we play defense a lot different than most teams in the league,” Ryan added. “We don’t just line up and play standard defense. I think that’s what I am talking about. Everybody plays hard and we’re no exception. Through the years, that probably holds true.”

Brady was asked what makes facing the Jets defense so difficult?

“I think this is a team that does a lot of things well,” said Brady. “They have good scheme, good players, a good rush, good in the middle of the defense, good middle linebacker, good safeties. The corners played well today. I just think we got their best and I think we kind of sputtered there and got out of rhythm.”

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Read More: Rex Ryan, Tom Brady,

Brandon Browner admits ‘looking on paper, we probably should have killed those guys’

12.21.14 at 6:16 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If you’re looking for a backhanded compliment from the Patriots of the Jets following New England’s 17-16 nail-biter at MetLife Stadium, look no further than Brandon Browner.

“Looking on paper, we probably should have killed those guys but we’re well coached in situations,” Browner said. “They let us know that it’s going to be a tough battle, regardless, going against the Jets. We played them earlier on this year and it was a tough battle all the way down to the end of the game. And that’s what happened. Guys are just resilient. Hats off to my teammates because that’s a good football team. Well, when they play us.”

The Jets, now 3-12 in another dreadful season for Gang Green, played the Patriots as hard as anyone could have expected. They had the chance to take the lead after a Tom Brady interception in the fourth quarter gave the Jets the ball at the Patriots 30.

But Dont’a Hightower recorded a 10-yard sack that turned a 42-yard field goal into a 52-yard attempt by Nick Folk, a kicker nursing a hip flexor.

“It was so huge,” Browner said of Hightower’s sack. “It made a longer field goal, and on a longer field goal, the flight of the ball is always going to be [lower] than on the shorter kicks because he’s trying to get it kicked out there so it’s not going to be as high and our shorter D-lineman was able to get out there and block it.

“We’re well coached in situations we’re put in throughout the week so it when it comes up we’re ready for it.”

Read More: Brandon Browner, Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots, New York Jets
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