|12.13.10 at 11:42 am ET|
A day after another impressive performance by the Patriots ‘ this time a 36-7 shellacking of the Bears in snowy Chicago ‘ Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday.
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
I’m sure he will. I’m sure he will. And he should. It was a great win for us, and I think he was very excited after the game, as everyone was, the players. It seems like another team in first place in their division, on the road, in those kind of weather conditions ‘ I think that’s a win we’re all going to remember for a long time.
There’s plenty of plays in that game that kind of skewed the outcome. A play like Gary Guyton‘s interception return the play before half. If we don’t have those two touchdowns, it’s a different game. We made those plays, obviously which were important. You can’t expect to made those plays all the time.
But I think there’s plenty of other plays we should have made. We’re weren’t very good in the red area. I hate to say it, I hate to be Debbie Downer, but we were 2-for-5 in the red area. And I think if we were better in the red area, it could have been much more convincing.
I’m sure there will be critiques, as there always are. And I think that’s what you have to do. You can’t just say, “Man, everything’s perfect.” No, I wouldn’t say that’s the case. I think there’s things we need to do better this week. And here comes another damn good football team to Foxboro [the Packers on Sunday night].
|12.12.10 at 9:32 pm ET|
Tom Brady to Deion Branch for 59 yards and a touchdown to end the first half had more than just a familiar ring to it. Funny how – after Sunday’s 36-7 romp over the Bears – reporters were asking Brady and Branch how this team compared to the Patriots of 2007 and that record-setting offense.
Funny because Branch wasn’t even on that team. “I think they’re some similarities,” Branch began, before remembering, “I wasn’t around. I wish I was.”
He was on the 2004 team and what’s more amusing to Patriots fans is that this 2010 team is looking more and more like that bunch that went 14-2 in winning their second straight Super Bowl.
Remember how that season ended? Brady to Branch 11 times for 133 yards in a 24-21 Super Bowl win over the Eagles in Jacksonville.
Brady continued his incredible late-season run on Sunday at Soldier Field with 369 yards passing and two touchdowns. He has now thrown 268 passes without an interception, the third-best streak in NFL history. How long can Brady keep up this fierce pace?
“You all been saying that the last five or six weeks,” Branch laughed. “This guy, it starts in the classroom and he takes it from there.”
But what makes Brady truly remarkable is his ferocious intensity and drive for perfection. The Patriots were up 14-0 after drives of 85 and 87 yards. Then Gary Guyton returned a fumble 35 yards and it was 21-0. The Patriots got a strip sack of Jay Cutler and short field on a bad punt but could only manage field goals before the hook-up with Branch.
“I thought it was great to get out to a lead today, to play from ahead, that was really important,” Brady said. “We took advantage of some opportunities we got on offense. We also didn’t take advantage of some other opportunities. It was a fun day. We’ll remember that one.
“Some were ones we’ve done quite a bit and some were probably new ones out of the playbook,” Brady said of the play-calling. “I wish we’d gotten the ball into the red area a little bit more. We kicked too many field goals I thought. But other than that, it was a pretty good day.”
A good day if you were a Patriots fan in a warm, dry place to watch the game.
“It was one of those days, one of those days where people would be cozied up next to the fire place drinking hot chocolate but we work on Sundays and all of us are pretty committed to coming out here and playing well, and executing well in pretty tough conditions, and for the most part, I thought we did that,” Brady said.
“We’ve been pretty good in snow over the years for whatever reason. I think because we practice in it, to tell you the truth. We don’t go in our bubble (field house) very often. If it’s windy out there, we practice out there. If it’s snowy, we practice in the snow. If it’s raining, we practice in the rain.”
Brady was underwhelmed with the news the Patriots clinched a playoff berth with the win. His goal are just a little bit higher.
“There’s a long way to go I don’t think anything’s been accomplished yet. We don’t sit here and think we’ve got it all figured out.”
For Brady, that feeling won’t come until February.
|12.12.10 at 9:07 pm ET|
PATRIOTS CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT FOR 12TH TIME IN KRAFT’S 17 YEARS OF OWNERSHIP
New England has now qualified for the playoffs 18 times in its 51-year history. The Patriots have earned 12 playoff berths in the 17 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a dramatic contrast to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence. New England has won 12 division crowns and has qualified as a wild card team on four occasions (1998, 1994, 1985 and 1976). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players’ strike.
THE PATRIOTS ARE GOOD IN THE SNOW
The Patriots played the Bears under snowy conditions and improved to a 10-0 record under head coach Bill Belichick when playing in the snow. In the last three games played in the snow, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 142-14.
GRONKOWSKI SCORES SEVENTH TOUCHDOWN OF THE SEASON
Patriots rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski caught his seventh touchdown reception of the season on a 7-yard pass from QB Tom Brady in the first quarter. Gronkowski is chasing down WR Jim Colclough and WR Randy Vataha for the Patriots rookie receiving touchdown record of nine touchdowns. Gronkowski ranks in the top five for total touchdowns among all Patriots rookies. He ranks third in NFL history for touchdowns by a rookie tight end.
PATRIOTS EXTEND STREAK TO FIVE GAMES WITH 30 POINTS AND NO TURNOVERS
The Patriots have scored at least 30 points without committing a turnover in each of their past five games to extend their NFL record. Last week they became the first team to have at least 30 points without committing a turnover in four straight games.
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|12.12.10 at 8:33 pm ET|
Last week, during a 45-3 win over the Jets, people wondered why Tom Brady was in the game during the fourth quarter of a romp. He explained that he wanted to play a ‘complete’ 60-minute game. On Sunday, with a 27-0 lead as time was winding down in the first half, it appeared the Patriots would be happy to take that four-touchdown lead to the locker room. Most quarterbacks would. But not Tom Brady.
And thanks to Brady, the play that put the final nail in the Bears’ coffin was pulled off perfectly. But it nearly didn’t happened.
Deion Branch caught a 59-yard ‘hitch and go’ route from Brady down the left sideline as time expired in the first half. But Branch said there was “a lot of yelling” on the Patriots sideline with one coach yelling out for Brady to take a knee with a 27-0 lead.
“At one point, the coach was telling us to take a knee [laughter] and I’m looking at Tom like, ‘take a knee,’ and he was like, ”No.’ He called a route and I was like, ‘Alright, good. That’s a good route.’ I’m thankful to have him,” said Branch, who felt the TD made up for the 71-yard punt return for a TD by Julian Edelman that was called back because of holding by rookie Dane Fletcher.
“But if you think about it they took the punt return away from Julian, which was a big minus,” Branch added. “That guy’s been working real hard. But I think we capitalized on what they were giving us on defense. We took a shot at it and it worked. I wasn’t looking at the defender in the back half but my job was to get past Charles Tillman and let Tom and the front line do the rest and they did it.”
So the next time anyone wants to accuse Bill Belichick of running up the score, they may want to ask Tom Brady first.
|12.12.10 at 7:08 pm ET|
The Patriots moved to an NFL-best 11-2 on the 2010 season with a 36-7 (and it wasn’t even that close) annihilation of the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday. The lousy conditions did nothing to slow down an offense that is in 2007 mode (or better?) right now, and the defense limited the Bears to just 185 yards of offense and picked off Jay Cutler two times. Here’s a look at what went right (and wrong) for the Pats in their fifth straight win:
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
Tom Brady: Considering the conditions and the reputation of the Chicago defense, how good were these first-half (really the only part of the game that mattered) numbers: 13-21, 195 yards, two TDs and a 124.1 passer rating. That’s the kind of stuff you’d expect in a September home game vs. the Cardinals. It’s just too easy right now for Brady, who led the Patriots on three scoring drives of at least 80 yards in the first half and finished the game with 369 yards passing. Since the Steelers game Brady has 15 touchdown passes and zero interceptions and hasn’t had a passer rating lower than 117.4.
Deion Branch: A remarkable story continues, as Branch sets a career high with 151 receiving yards. Would you call this a decent return on for a fourth-round pick? As Cris Carter continues on his inevitable (and speedy) slide to irrelevance (and Randy Moss weeps in a Nashville hotel room), Branch keeps on making plays for the Patriots. He put the finishing touches on a nearly perfect first half, abusing Major Wright (playing the role of Alphonso Smith) and hauling in a 59-yard TD pass from Brady to give the Pats a 33-0 lead. A huge day for the starting wideouts as Wes Welker was a force in the first half, catching six passes for 85 yards (finishing with eight for 115), including a pair of third-down conversions on the opening drive.
Devin McCourty: Is there any question that McCourty is having a Pro Bowl season? The rookie made plays on third down to stop the Bears on each of the first two drives — first blowing past Greg Olsen to tackle Matt Forte on a third-and-one for a two yard loss and then breaking up a pass for Earl Bennett on third-and-seven. Then he forced the fumble on Johnny Knox that Gary Guyton returned for a touchdown. Phil Simms pointed it out and we’ve said it time and again this season — where would this secondary be without McCourty?
Offensive Line: Whether it was Logan Mankins running over Brian Urlacher to open a huge hole for BenJarvus Green-Ellis on the Patriots first TD drive, or Matt Light getting out for a block on a Welker catch in the first quarter, or Sebastian Vollmer (on the very next play) pancaking a Bears defender for Green-Ellis or Dan Connolly leading the way for Danny Woodhead’s TD rush, the offensive line was flat-out dominant on Sunday. Brady was sacked once but rarely pressured as he had plenty of time (particularly on the third-and-long conversions) to make plays.
Gary Guyton: A fumble recovery, TD and an interception for Guyton on Sunday. That’s right, Guyton has more TDs over the last two weeks than the New York Jets.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
McCourty Injury: McCourty did not play in the second half as he was sidelined with a rib injury. Obviously no idea as to the extent of the injury — maybe he plays if the game isn’t a rout – but if this turns out to be something serious it could be a killer injury for a thin secondary.
Dane Fletcher: Thanks to Brady and Branch it turned out to not cost the Patriots points, but a Fletcher holding penalty negated a 71-yard punt return TD from Julian Edelman (who had a terrific game returning punts, easily the biggest impact he’s made all season) at the end of the second quarter.
Shayne Graham: Actually he did a nice job on Sunday, making all three field-goal attempts, but he did miss an extra point. That’s his second missed extra-point since joining the Pats.
|12.12.10 at 5:42 pm ET|
There are two quarters in the books at Soldier Field, and the Patriots are absolutely dominating the Bears, 33-0.
‘¢ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has always done well against Tampa-2 defenses, and today is no exception. The quarterback is absolutely shredding the Chicago pass defense, using the empty spaces in the secondary ‘ particularly in his connections with Welker ‘ to eat up big chunks of yardage. In absolutely awful conditions, he’s 13-for-21 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Deion Branch has four catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 11 carries for 61 yards.
‘¢ After a pair of punts, New England made it 7-0 after a 12-play, 85-yard drive that included a 24-yard pass to Wes Welker and ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Rob Gronkowski. (It was the seventh TD reception of the year for Gronkowski, which ties him for third in NFL history among rookie tight ends. In addition, with the touchdown pass, Brady extended his steak of consecutive games with a TD pass to 13.) On the second drive, it was 11 plays and 87 yards, and included a 19-yard pass play on a screen to Welker and ended with a three-yard dive into the end zone by Danny Woodhead. The killer was a 59-yard pass play down the Chicago sideline from Brady to Branch on the final play from scrimmage of the first half that made it 33-0.
‘¢ For what it’s worth, Brady’s turnover-free streak was almost halted three times in the first half when the Bears tipped two balls and Brian Urlacher dropped another one.
‘¢ Meanwhile, the Bears were unable to get much of anything going against a New England defense that held them to only four plays from scrimmage in Patriots’ territory. The low point for Chicago came midway through the second when the Bears, already trailing 14-0, fumbled the football ‘ Devin McCourty forced the ball from Johnny Knox and Gary Guyton returned it 35 yards for the touchdown, giving New England a 21-0 lead 9:56 left in the first half. The Patriots picked up another turnover late in the second quarter when newcomer Eric Moore (who also had a tackle for loss) made his presence known, strip sacking Jay Cutler and allowing Jerod Mayo to recover the ball. McCourty is the unquestioned defensive star for the Patriots ‘ through two quarters, he has a tackle for loss on third down, pass defensed on third down and a forced fumble.
‘¢ It’s even been good for the Patriots on special teams ‘ while the Chicago kick return unit has come up with a couple of good returns, New England has a career-high 42-yard punt return (which would have gone for a touchdown if he hadn’t turned the wrong way) and field goals of 30 and 25 yards from Shayne Graham into the teeth of the wind. And Dane Fletcher had a great tackle of returner Devin Hester late in the second quarter. (Late in the first half, Fletcher had a holding penalty that negated a 71-yard punt return for touchdown for Edelman.)
|12.12.10 at 3:03 pm ET|
The following players were ruled inactive by the Patriots for Sunday’s Patriots-Bears game: cornerback Jonathan Wilhite; defensive linemen Myron Pryor and Mike Wright; wide receiver Taylor Price; running back Thomas Clayton; defensive back Chevis Jackson; and offensive linemen Rich Ohrnberger and Mark LeVoir.
When it comes to analysis, we’ll start with the least surprising: Wilhite (hip), Pryor (back) and Wright (concussion) have all been battling injuries the last few weeks, and all three were all ruled out on Saturday night. In addition, Price, Ohrnberger and LeVoir have all been inactive more than active this season, so those three are hardly shocking from a personnel standpoint.
As for the last two, Jackson, who signed with New England earlier this week, is probably another week or so away from being game ready. And finally, Clayton is simply the victim of a numbers game, as the Patriots are extremely deep at running back.
One notable player who is active is defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Moore, who will be suiting up for the first time in his Patriots career Sunday afternoon. Known as a pass rusher, Moore, a 6-foot-4, 268-pounder out of Florida State, was signed by New England as a free agent earlier this month.
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