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Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: Tom Brady ‘making a pretty good supporting cast look a lot better’

10.27.14 at 9:40 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ big win over the Bears and next week’€™s battle against the Broncos. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

New England’€™s offensive outburst and Brady’€™s 30-for-35 passing performance has given the Patriots a lot of confidence heading into the second half of the season. Next Sunday the Patriots will face off against Peyton Manning‘€™s Broncos, a game that will pose another midseason challenge.

Said Hasselbeck: “It doesn’t need hype. … In terms of the tune-up, with the way [the Patriots] played offensively, just the points they had, they end up with over 50 points in that football game. So now everyone looks at it as if New England has solved all of the offensive woes that they had early in the season. And now it’€™ll be billed as a big shootout between the two star quarterbacks.”

New England’€™s wide receiving corps and Brady’€™s supporting cast during Sunday’€™s win, and over the last few weeks, have stepped up since the early part of the season. The hosts wondered whether it’€™s time to stop talking about the possibility that they are a weak group.

“I don’€™t know if a couple of weeks changes it,” Hasselbeck said. “Now, [Rob] Gronkowski is healthy, I think that all of us would agree, Gronkowski’€™s healthy versus what we saw from Rob Gronkowski after very little work in the preseason and playing about 30 snaps a game at the beginning of the year, versus what we saw yesterday is totally different. Tim Wright, I think we’ve seen very little from Tim Wright. They threw him a touchdown pass down near the goal line, but you probably could’ve taken Jim Dray from the Cleveland Browns and had it sneak out. I don’€™t that that was a matchup that was won necessarily by Tim Wright. Shane Vereen‘€™s a nice player, but he’€™s not Le’€™Veon Bell.

“I still don’€™t look at the supporting cast as this unbelievable group surrounding  a very good quarterback. I see a very good quarterback making a pretty good supporting cast look a lot better than they did earlier in the year.”

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Read More: Geno Smith, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Tim Hasselbeck

Tom Brady on D&C: Sunday’s rout of Bears ‘one of the most fun days we’ve ever had on the football field’

10.27.14 at 8:00 am ET
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Coming off his best game of the season, Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss Sunday’s rout of the Bears and preview next Sunday’s showdown against the Broncos. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brady completed 30-of-35 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns in Sunday’s 51-23 dismantling of the Bears.

“I think there’s always room for improvement,” he said. “But truthfully, the guys make it easy for the quarterback when all those guys play the way they did yesterday. It makes it easy for me — not to say playing the Bears defense is easy, because it’s not — but when the guys around you play the way they did, it makes it easy for the quarterback.

“I’m proud of the way those guys — all of them, Julian [Edelman] and Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] and Danny [Amendola] and the offensive line especially, Tim Wright played great, we got off to a great start in the run game. All those things, they all have a cumulative effect on the offense. You’re trying to move the ball down the field, score points, and when the guys around you are playing at the level they played at, for me, then I just read the defense and make the throw and those guys are making all the plays. It was a great day for us.”

The oft-injured Gronkowski appears to have returned to form, as he finished with nine receptions for 149 yards and three touchdowns.

“He was phenomenal,” Brady said. “He’s been such a great player for our offense and our team. I love playing with him. He brings such an energy to the team. He’s a great player. He certainly played as well as he’s ever played yesterday — three touchdowns through 2 1/2 quarters was pretty awesome. He’s making all the catches, making all the catch-and-runs. He’s just playing fearlessly. The guys really take a cue from him. He’s just a great player.

“When he plays like that — and like I said, [Brandon] LaFell plays like that, Julian’s been one of our most consistent players for the last two years, he’s just been phenomenal for us. Danny made a couple of plays, Tim Wright, the offensive line, the run game. When one guy’s doing well it just helps another guy do well and then helps another guy do well. You see some of the great offenses around the league week in and week out, it’s those types of performances that lead to team success.

“It’s been good, we’ve made some great improvements here from what we talked about over a month ago. But look, we’ve still got to get better. Our whole season’s in front of us. We’ve got to get back to work today and we’ve got obviously the biggest game of the year coming up.”

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Read More: Julian Edelman, Peyton Manning, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady

Fun-loving Rob Gronkowski helps get everyone in Patriots offense ‘clicking’

10.26.14 at 11:49 pm ET
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FOXBORO — There’s no doubt that when Rob Gronkowski plays like he did Sunday, everyone in the Patriots’ offense benefits. As a matter of fact, everyone gets better.

Just ask Tom Brady, who found Gronkowski nine times on nine targets for 149 yards and three touchdowns in a 51-23 demolition of the Bears at Gillette Stadium.

“It’€™s pretty sweet,” Brady said. “He was a big-time player today. It was great to get him going like that. Certainly running the ball was great. The guys up from played awesome. A lot of guys contributed. We got great play defensively. There were a lot of big plays and we got a lot of momentum, so it was a fun day. Those don’€™t happen like that very often.”

Don’t just take Brady’s word for it. Brandon LaFell had a career high 11 catches for a career best 124 yards and a touchdown. With Gronkowski covered in the second quarter, Brady found the other tight end – Tim Wright – racing the other way across the back line of the end zone for an easy touchdown.

Nothing symbolized Gronkowski’s dominance on Sunday than his 46-yard ramble through the Bears secondary for his third touchdown of the day. He disposed of three would-be tacklers on his way to pay dirt.

“Sometimes you see Gronk go out there and make a play like he made and you turn into a fan real quick, so it was a lot of fun today,” LaFell said.

It would be his last catch of the day as he left with dehydration. “Just have to drink more,” Gronkowski said with a wide smile that broke into a giggle when he realized the delicious irony of his words.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Chicago Bears, Gronk, New England Patriots

Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down an epic game from Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell

10.26.14 at 8:06 pm ET
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FOXBORO —’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down Patriots romp over Bears, as Tom Brady throws for 354 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-23 win at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are now 6-2, and face Peyton Manning and the 6-1 Denver Broncos next Sunday for the top spot in the AFC.

Read More: Brandon LaFell, Chicago Bears, Chris Price, Denver Broncos

Akeem Ayers on recording sack in first game with Patriots: ‘That was a great feeling’

10.26.14 at 7:50 pm ET
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Akeem Ayers recorded a sack in his first game as a Patriot on Sunday (Jim Rogash/Getty Images).

Akeem Ayers recorded a sack in his first game as a Patriot on Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It was a crazy week for Patriots linebacker Akeem Ayers.

Last week at this time Ayers was a member of the Titans, but he was officially traded to the Patriots on Wednesday. He was able learn everything he needed in four days and capped off the week by recording a sack in Sunday’s 51-23 blowout of the Bears.

“[There] was a lot going on,” Ayers admitted after the game. “Me having to get situated moving, meeting guys around the building, learning the playbook, meeting teammates, the schedule — everything was difficult early on, but everyone around here made it easy for me and they really worked with me. It made the transition a lot easier.”

The Patriots were leading 24-7 with Chicago having the ball at its own 15-yard line with 1:47 left in the half. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder was able to get through the line on the right side — after lining up in a hybrid defensive end position — and sack Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for a nine-yard loss.

Chicago punted two plays later, and after a great Julian Edelman return, the Patriots scored on their first offensive play — the second touchdown of a three touchdown in 57 second span late in the first half to blow open the game.

“That was a great feeling and was a real momentum builder,” Ayers said of the sack. “Something I can build off of and continue to work.”

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Read More: Akeem Ayers,

Brandon LaFell just having fun watching Patriots offense reach ‘a whole new level’

10.26.14 at 7:15 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Brandon LaFell looks like a man having a lot of fun. Who could blame him?

After all, not only did the big receiver look like the big-time Tom Brady target the Patriots were looking for when they signed him in March, he has a great view to watch Brady and Rob Gronkowski do their thing.

LaFell had career highs of 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 51-23 destruction of the Bears at Gillette Stadium Sunday.

But LaFell was like a kid in a candy shop Sunday. LaFell is not like some athletes who say they don’t watch games when they’re not playing. He’s exactly the opposite. He loves keeping tabs on other great players. It just so happens that two of them were on the same sideline with him Sunday. Gronkowski had three touchdown catches while Brady was nearly perfect, going 30-of-35 for 354 yards and five touchdowns in the rout.

“It was a lot of fun ‘€“ everybody catching the ball, everybody making plays,” LaFell said. “Sometimes you see Gronk go out there and make a play like he made and you turn into a fan real quick, so it was a lot of fun today.”

LaFell caught 11 passes on 11 targets from Brady and clearly had a good vibe going into the game.

“Yeah, we felt good. We knew they were going to play a lot of zone coverage, and we just go out there, have good spacing, catch the ball [and] protect the ball because those guys ‘€“ I think they lead the NFL since 2010 in takeaways, strip fumbles and stuff like that. We knew what type of game it was. We just had to go out there and execute,” LaFell said.

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Read More: Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady

Tom Brady on 5-TD performance: ‘Everything was working’

10.26.14 at 6:52 pm ET
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One of the best days of Tom Brady's career allowed the Patriots to dominate the Bears. (Getty Images)

Tom Brady had his best performance in quite some time in Sunday’s win over the Bears. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Tom Brady‘€™s stat line read 18-for-21, 203 yards and four touchdowns — not a bad day’s work — in one half.

Those first-half numbers said what kind of day it was for the Patriots quarterback as he led the way in the Patriots’€™ 51-23 rout of the Bears.

Brady finished 30-for-35, throwing for 354 yards and five touchdowns in undoubtedly his best performance of the season. He’€™s now thrown five or more touchdown passes in a game six times in his career.

“We didn’t punt there until the middle of the third quarter, so it felt good at halftime,”€ Brady said. “Everything was working. You come in and you want to make adjustments at halftime, but really we were just sticking with the plan because we did a good job keeping them off balance and when we were throwing it, we had great protection and guys were making a lot of plays in the passing game. It was one of those days where that’€™s what we needed. They have a really good offense and we needed to get ahead of them and make them play from behind and we did that and that’€™s why it turns out the way it does.”

The Patriots’ signal caller threw three touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski and also hit Brandon LaFell and Tim Wright in the end zone to account for the five touchdown passes. Overall, on passes to those three players he was 26-for-26 for 317 yards and five touchdowns.

For the game he finished with an 85.7 completion percentage, the second-highest in team history. Brady holds the record when he went 23-for-26 (88.4 percent) against Jacksonville in 2009.

“I love coaching Tom,” coach Bill Belichick said. “€œ[I’ve] been fortunate to have him [his] whole career since he’€™s been here. We meet at least twice a week, sometimes more. [We] spend a considerable amount of time together. I think that’€™s important to have that relationship between the head coach and the quarterback so at least we’€™re on the same page [with] what we’€™re trying to do.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Peyton Manning, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady
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