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Tully Banta-Cain on D&H: Key penalty wasn’t a concern

12.20.10 at 2:23 pm ET
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Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain stopped by for a visit with the Dale & Holley show Monday afternoon at Gillette Stadium as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday. To hear the interview, including Banta-Cain talking about his fledgling music and clothing careers, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Banta-Cain was called for having his hands on the facemask of Packers offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga while rushing the passer with 3:30 remaining in Sunday night’s game. While the 15-yard penalty nullified a Patriots interception, Banta-Cain said he didn’t let it bother him. “I kept a positive attitude and I really wasn’t thinking of what the outcome would be had we lost and that had been the reason why,” he said.

Banta-Cain ended up clinching the win by sacking quarterback Matt Flynn and forcing a fumble on the game’s final play. “We did what we had to do,” he said.

Another huge play was Dan Connolly‘s 71-yard interception return in the second quarter. Said Banta-Cain: “What a play, man. That’s the play of the game definitely.”

Added Banta-Cain: “We were sitting on the bench, they had just scored, and we were thinking like, ‘Wow, two scores now we’re down, we’re going into the half.’ As soon as I saw him break in the open field, I got up off the bench and was rooting him all the way down the sideline. So, that was definitely a huge emotional shift for us.”

Read More: Bryan Bulaga, Dan Connolly, Tully Banta-Cain,

Kyle Arrington goes to school and earns a ‘TD’ grade

12.20.10 at 1:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — In the NFL, the biggest plays usually occur when players are able to learn from their mistakes and make adjustments. And if they’re lucky, both happen in the same game.

Such was the case for Patriots corner Kyle Arrington Sunday night after he was beaten several times in the first half on short pass patterns, including a one-yard slant by Greg Jennings that resulted in a touchdown, just moments before Dan Connolly‘s return for the ages.

“A lot of inside routes, I got beat on a few of them, slants and inside routes, so I said when I get an opportunity, I’m going to try and take advantage of it,” Arrington explained.

So, when the Patriots applied pressure to Packers quarterback Matt Flynn early in the third quarter on Green Bay’s first drive, Arrington made the adjustment. He played the inside of James Jones and read Flynn’s eyes. His reward – an interception and 36-yard return for a touchdown that gave the Patriots a 21-17 lead with 12:04 left in the third.

As he told WEEI’s Dale & Holley, the interception return was also “a blessing.”

“We got great pressure on the play, first off,” Arrington said. “I wouldn’t have had the pick without that. Just tried to seize the opportunity.”

Still, overall neither the coach nor the players on defense were particularly happy that a rookie QB making his first NFL start threw three touchdowns, engineered an offense that held the ball for 40 minutes and came within one play of pulling an unbelievable upset.

The Patriots certainly didn’t melt like butter like the Giants did in the final eight minutes against the Eagles but there were still plenty of breakdowns that made everyone a bit unhappy.

“He’s not, we’re not,” Arrington said of the team’s lack of satisfaction with the performance. “We’re definitely capable of playing a lot better than we showed. We’ll get right back on it on Wednesday to get ready for Buffalo.”

Then there was Tully Banta-Canta coming up with the sack of Flynn at the Patriots’ 16-yard-line as time expired to preserve the win.

‘€œOh, man, it was surreal,” Arrington said. “It was crazy, the stadium was loud, they were rocking and we knew it was going to come down to us. We were kind of struggling all day and then we knew it was going to come down to us and we had to bail the offense out. The d-line just made a terrific play. We definitely have to play a lot better though next week.’€

Arrington, known for one of the most engaging personalities in the Patriots locker room, could at least laugh about his first career interception and touchdown.

He also is never afraid to offer some helpful advice – even to Bill Belichick. So after he broke four tackles on the way to his first career touchdown on his first career interception, he was only too happy to remind everyone that his pick-6 proved a point to the Patriots head coach.

‘€œI tried to tell [Bill Belichick] in the offseason to put me at kick returner,” Arrington said laughing and smiling all the way, making sure not to offend the boss. “But no, just kidding, Brandon [Tate] is a hell of a kick returner. But, first career pick and that close to the end zone, so I just said I’€™m going to let my feet do the rest. I just tried to keep them alive and keep them moving and fortunately, I got in there.’€

Read More: Green Bay Packers, Kyle Arrington, Matt Flynn, New England Patriots

Kyle Arrington on D&H: ‘I’m 1-for-1′ after pick-six

12.20.10 at 12:56 pm ET
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Defensive back Kyle Arrington checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday from Gillette Stadium to talk about his interception in Sunday night’s 31-27 victory over the Packers. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Arrington grabbed a pass from Matt Flynn that was intended for receiver James Jones early in the second half. The cornerback broke four tackles during an impressive 33-yard return for a touchdown that put the Pats ahead 21-17. “It’s one of those things where I don’t get a lot of time to showcase my terrific running back skills,” he said with a laugh. “I just said, you know what, as soon as I get the ball in my hands, I get an opportunity, I just try to maximize on it. I just tried to keep the legs moving, and it worked out in my favor.”

It was the first career interception for Arrington, who is in his second season as a Patriot after spending time on the Eagles and Buccaneers practice squads, and his first career touchdown. “What more could you ask for?” he said. “It’s definitely a blessing. I’m extremely grateful. I’m 1-for-1. Hopefully, I’ll keep it going.”

Asked about teammate Dan Connolly‘s 71-yard kickoff return, Arrington said he was impressed with the offensive lineman’s moves. “A guy that size, for him to be running away from people my size, you don’t see that every day,” he said. “You’ve got to take your hat off to him.”

Read More: Dan Connolly, Kyle Arrington,

Vince Wilfork on D&H: Critics ‘will not take the victory from us’

12.20.10 at 12:33 pm ET
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Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork stopped by for a visit with Dale & Holley at Gillette Stadium as part of his weekly Patriots Monday appearance. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Wilfork said he takes positives and negatives from Sunday night’s 31-27 victory over the Packers in which the defense had a number of struggles, especially on third down. It wasn’t our greatest game,” Wilfork acknowledged. “We didn’t go our and dominate like we wanted to at times. … If we play like that going forward, we will get beat.”

That said, Wilfork noted that people need to have reasonable expections. Said the lineman: “You look at this game and say, ‘Oh, the Patriots didn’t play like they played the last couple of weeks.’ The last couple of weeks we only gave up 10 points. We can’t blow everybody out every week. I think sometimes as players, coaches or fans, you look at teams we played the last couple of weeks, we handled them pretty well. It’s not going to be like that all the time. We expect to win. I don’t care what the margin of the win is, we expect to win every week we take the field.”

Wilfork said has has no time for people who only want to criticize the Patriots. “You will not take the victory from us,” he said. “You will not make us feel bad like it’s the end of the road because we gave up 27 points or whatever it is, or we were inconsistent at times. Yes, there’s things we can work on and we can learn from, which we will.”

Added Wilfork: “This New England Patriot team, we work our tails off. We work our tails off from the preparation, from the coaching staff getting us in the right situations, from the players going out there and making plays when it counts. We work our tails off the whole week. So, for us to go on the field and things not swing our way ‘€” penalties, just mistake football that we’ve done ‘€” that’s unacceptable. I understand that. But we overcame that. We made the plays that got us the ‘W.’ We played pretty good situational football, especially when it came down with 18 seconds left.”

Wilfork committed two penalties Sunday ‘€” offsides and a facemask ‘€” his first two of the season. Said Wilfork: “I’m pissed off about it. ‘€¦ I take responsibility for that. That’s all on me. I told my defense I owe them one for that.”

Wilfork did a bodybuilding pose celebration after one big play, a rare show of emotion from the veteran. “I was just excited,” he said. “I’ve got some 23-inch pipes. I can showcase mine a little bit. ‘€¦ I was just excited, caught up in the moment, just trying to give our team a spark.”

Offensive lineman Dan Connolly embarked on a 71-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, earning praise from Wilfork, a fellow 300-pounder. “He showcased everything for a big guy last night,” Wilfork said. “We can do it all. I’m proud of him. He can get a game ball of mine; I don’t care. When we saw that play I said, ‘Man, look here, If we can get pumped up for this game off of that, we have a problem.’ “

Read More: Dan Connolly, Vince Wilfork,

Tom Brady on D&C: Dan Connolly’s kick return ‘pretty funny’

12.20.10 at 9:58 am ET
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Quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, only hours after leading the Patriots to a 31-27 victory over the Packers at Gillette Stadium. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brady said he wasn’t happy with his team’s performance, but some credit has to go to the Packers. “They played a very good game,” he said. “I thought they were a very good football team, and they played like it last night.”

The Packers started the game with an onside kick that they recovered, and they pushed the Patriots to the limit. “These games are hard to win any way you’re looking at them,” Brady said. “They played very well. From the opening kickoff I knew that, OK this is going to be one of those games. This is the way it’s going to go.”

Added Brady: “I’m sure we lost the field-position battle last night. And we overcame a bunch of penalties. I don’t think we played our best game, certainly, but I’m also very proud of that fact that we won the game.”

One of the keys for the Patriots was the defense stopping the Packers from getting in the end zone after Green Bay had a first-and-goal from the 2 early in the fourth quarter, forcing the Packers to settle for a field goal on fourth-and-1. Said Brady: “Our defense is very good in those situations, I will say that. It’s a big, stout defense that we have. It’s hard to run the ball.”

The highlight Sunday night was offensive lineman Dan Connolly returning a kickoff 71 yards to the Packers’ 4-yard line. Connolly held the ball with the nose in the air as he rumbled down the field. “He doesn’t hold the ball very often,” Brady said. “When he does, it’s not like it’s going to be the way BenJarvus [Green-Ellis] carries it. He’s holding it however he can get those big hands around it. That was pretty funny when I saw him running down the field. You’re right, I’ll never forget that.”

Brady said his initial reaction when he saw Connolly fielding the ball was caution. Said Brady: “I’m always saying, ‘Just get down.’ The way they do carry the ball, any slight contact can knock the ball out. I’ve seen that a bunch over the course of my career. You get a guy that doesn’t handle it very often and it’s tough for those guys to really know what to do with it. Danny picked it up, and once I saw him break to the outside, I was like, ‘Goooo!’ ”

Added Brady: “I did see him after the game. He was like, ‘Man, I wish I would have scored.’ He goes, ‘I was on the 4-yard line.’ I said, ‘Don’t you worry about that. Don’t start trying to come up with these ideas.’ ”

Connolly left the game one series after the return with an undisclosed injury. “He was doing better,” Brady said. “He was doing well.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: BenJarvus Green Ellis, Dan Connolly, Tom Brady,

Boomer Esiason on D&C: Packers coach Mike McCarthy missed opportunity

12.20.10 at 9:46 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Patriots’ 31-27 victory over the Packers and other NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Esiason said he was impressed with Packers quarterback Matt Flynn, who exposed the Patriots’ problems on defense. “The young man played a fantastic football game. I don’t know how else to put it,” Esiason said. “But it kind of shows you the Patriots’ Achilles’ heel. To me, if they’re playing against a team that has a good pass offense and they can’t get any pass rush ‘€” no matter who that quarterback is, especially if it is the Green Bay Packers, with that great group of wide receivers ‘€” they can move the ball down the field. I think we saw yesterday they had trouble getting off the field on third down. I’m sure it was just frustrating for Patriots fans to watch it.

“But at the end of the day, really what you saw is you saw a team that was led by a veteran quarterback who could make the big plays in the big spots. I never really was worried that the Patriots were going to lose the game. I just was more amazed at how well Matt Flynn did play for that 58-minute stretch.”

The Packers had a chance to put the Patriots in a deep hole in the fourth quarter, but on fourth down at the 1-yard line, they played it safe and kicked a field goal. Esiason questioned the Packers coach for that call. “To me, Mike McCarthy gave in right there,” he said. “I thought with all my heart that with the way that they were running it, they way that [John] Kuhn was getting yardage, the way that Matt Flynn was standing tall in the pocket, that they were going to go for it. I was thinking that he probably went into this game saying, ‘When I get the opportunity, I’m going to go for it.’ And you know what? When the opportunity knocked, he decided to go against I believe what his pregame plan was.”

In other NFL action Sunday, the Giants blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Eagles on a punt return for a touchdown by DeSean Jackson with no time left. “This thing was just an absolute and total meltdown,” Esiason said. “And you know, guys, it really could be an organization-changer if the Giants don’t come back and play well the next two weeks.”

Esiason said it will be interesting to see where the Giants go from here. “Either they respond, and Tom Coughlin keeps his job and the team responds to him and really puts forth a great effort. Or, it’s a collapse, and it will go down as one of the great collapses ‘€” or one of the worst collapses, however you want to look at it ‘€” in Giant history,” he said.

Added Esiason: “I was a part of that epic loss to the Dolphins in ’94 [the Dan Marino fake-spike game], and there’s never a day where it doesn’t seem like ‘€” during the football season, anyway ‘€” that I’m not reminded of it. And I remember how sick I felt that next day. I can’t even imagine how Matt Dodge, the punter, feels today for not punting that ball out of bounds.”

Read More: boomer esiason, Matt Flynn, Mike McCarthy, Tom Coughlin

Nuggetpalooza’s Boxscore Breakdown: Patriots vs. Packers

12.20.10 at 8:53 am ET
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A few quick statistical notes and observations from last night’s win over Green Bay:

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* – New England’s 19:12 time of possession was their lowest in any game since a 2004 loss at Pittsburgh (17:02). It was their lowest at home since they began tracking the stat in 1981, thirty seasons ago. Their previous home game low was 19:53 in a 31-30 loss to the Dolphins in 1999.

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* – The Patriots scored a touchdown in every quarter for the fourth time this season. It’s just the second season since at least 1997 that they’ve had four or more such games (they had six in 2007). In 2010, the Patriots are the only team with more than two such games. It was just the third time since the start of the 2007 season that Green Bay has allowed a touchdown in every quarter.

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* – New England has scored in 21 of their last 22 quarters.

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* – The Patriots allowed three or more passing touchdowns for the 17th time since the end of the 2002 season. It’s incredible to me that they are now 12-5 in those games, one of only three teams that have a winning record in such games in that span:

Patriots (12-5)
Colts (10-4)
Panthers (7-6)

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* – New England got two TD catches from tight end Aaron Hernandez last night, the third time this season that a Pats’ tight end has had multiple touchdown catches in a game. Since coming into the league in 1960, the Patriots had never had three such games in a season.

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* – After allowing 30 total first downs over the last two weeks, the “bend but don’t break” Patriots defense allowed 26 to the Packers last night. It was the fifth time in New England’s last 16 games that they’ve allowed 26 or more first downs. Prior to that, they allowed 26+ just once in their previous 71 games.

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* – The Packers had 26 first downs to the Patriots’ 14 last night, the first time since 2005 that an opponent has “out-first downed” the Patriots by more than 10 in a game. It was just the third time since 1991 that New England won such a game and the first since 2003.

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* – Green Bay had five drives of 10 or more plays last night (New England had none). The Patriots entered the game having allowed 26 such drives in their first 14 games, the most in the league.

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