|01.15.14 at 6:00 am ET|
Tony Corrente will serve as the referee for Sunday’s AFC title game between the Patriots and Broncos, according to Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira.
This will mark the third New England game of the season for Corrente, who also worked the Oct. 13 game against the Saints in Foxboro and the Dec. 15 contest against the Dolphins in Miami.
According to our pal Football Zebras, Corrente will be working his 13th postseason assignment and his fourth conference championship. (He also worked five wild card playoffs, 3 divisional playoffs, and Super Bowl XLI.)
Here’s a look at each lead official assigned to work Patriots games to this point in the 2013 season:
Sept. 9 vs. Buffalo: Walt Anderson
Sept. 12 vs. NY Jets: Carl Cheffers
Sept. 22 vs. Tampa Bay: Jeff Triplette
Sept. 29 vs. Atlanta: Walt Coleman
Oct. 6 vs. Cincinnati: Gene Steratore
Oct. 13 vs. New Orleans: Tony Corrente
Oct. 20 vs. NY Jets: Jerome Boger
Oct. 27 vs. Miami: Walt Anderson
Nov. 3 vs. Pittsburgh: Walt Coleman
Nov. 18 vs. Carolina: Clete Blakeman
Nov. 24 vs. Denver: Gene Steratore
Dec. 1 vs. Houston: Pete Morelli
Dec. 8 vs. Cleveland: Jerome Boger
Dec. 15 vs. Miami: Tony Corrente
Dec. 22 vs. Ravens: Ron Winter
Dec. 29 vs. Bills: Ed Hochuli
Jan. 11 vs. Colts: Pete Morelli
|01.14.14 at 9:23 pm ET|
Matt Patricia knows the ugly numbers from Nov. 24. Thirty-seven carries, 224 yards for Knowshon Moreno. Forty-eight carries for 280 yards and a 5.8 yards per carry for the Broncos as a team.
It was the single game that symbolized New England’s inability to stop the run all season. They finished last in the AFC in run defense, allowing 134 yards per game. Only Atlanta and Chicago allowed more this season.
The Broncos knew they could exploit the Patriots, who were without Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo. On Sunday, the Patriots will be without another starter, run-stopping linebacker Brandon Spikes. That’s four key cogs out of the mix in the Patriots run defense.
The Patriots didn’t want Peyton Manning beating them so the Broncos nearly used the running game to do the job. Doesn’t it figure the Broncos might use the same strategy Sunday in Denver? And if that unfolds, what would have to change?
“We obviously have to play better than we did the first time around against these guys,” Patricia said. “I don’t know if we want to challenge Denver to anything. I think we are trying to stop them the best we can in both the pass and the run. Certainly they did a great job against us in the run game and blocked us very well. It is certainly something we need to go out and perform better in than we did last time.
“We want to get back to using our techniques and being strong up front and try to control the line of scrimmage, which is really the goal in the game of football every week. That battle in the trenches is a huge one and something that they obviously had success with last time we played them, Like I said, [in] the run game and they have done a great job here since our game and recently moving through the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs of really having a good run game with all the backs.
“Like I said earlier with Moreno and Ball both being very productive carrying the ball. That is certainly a huge challenge for us and something we need to improve on from the last game. On top of it the record setting passing game that they have behind it. We have a huge challenge in front of us.”
|01.14.14 at 7:19 pm ET|
CBS analysts Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason and play-by-play man Jim Nantz held a conference call Tuesday to discuss the Patriots-Broncos AFC title game. Here are a few highlights from that conference call
(On the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry)
Nantz: I think it transcends the NFL. This is something everyone wants to see. This is tantamount to Ali-Frazier one more time. This is Palmer-Nicklaus. This is Bird-Magic. I’m not trying to create some sort of synthetic drama here, but this is what it is. This is as big as it gets. We’re going to savor it because you don’t know how many more times we’ll get it again. You say Brady-Manning, I defy anyone to say there is anything that has been bigger in this league.
Simms: The word legacy, all these things who they are, I have fun with them and I hear it. Somebody said their legacies, both of them, are at stake in this game at this time. I don’t care what either one of them does in this game. It will never change what I think of them. If one of them goes out and has the worst game of his career and is the sole reason why they lose, it will not bring them down one single bit in my eyes. They’ve done so much for the league, and their teams, and themselves, there is nothing that can diminish it.
Esiason: Each one of these players this year really defines who they are. Peyton lifted and took a young group of receivers to a completely different level, and very few players are capable of doing that. And Tom Brady took a team basically that was more built around the run, broke through for 4,200 yards, and got them back all the way here to the AFC Championship game. I think really what speaks to the greatness of both of these quarterbacks, they both have, along with Bill Belichick, and I’m sure John Fox says this as well, a Ph.D. in high-level thought processes that give them the opportunity to make these championship games each year.
(On what makes Brady and Manning the best of their generation)
Simms: We have two quarterbacks that are tough guys. Tom Brady, his attitude, staying on the field, the way he conducts himself with his football team mirrors his head coach. Peyton Manning, just to play the style of football he plays. Man, I get tired watching him and all the work. You’ve got to remember he does that every day in practice.
Esiason: The fact really is three words: longevity, consistency and success. Both of these guys have kind of been going in parallel lives to one another and now find themselves in the AFC Championship game. For Tom Brady it’s his eighth game with Bill Belichick. Nothing says greatness better or more than winning, especially at the highest level. Great moments require great people to do great things, and both of these players have accomplished that. I think I speak for Phil and every other quarterback that’s ever played the position, maybe with the exception of Joe Montana, that what you’re watching here are two guys that will go down as two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.
(On what makes Bill Belichick so successful)
Simms: The thing that makes Bill so successful is that, in my eyes, it is truthfulness to his players. He tells them the truth. And it is raw, and it hurts. You’ve got to get used to that. But once you get used to it, it clarifies everything for you. You don’t have to walk around in your job and go, ‘Oh, I wonder what Coach thinks of me or how am I doing?’ They let you know constantly. It is a rough way to play.
|01.14.14 at 5:25 pm ET|
Time for more gamesmanship.
One week after the Colts picked up ex-Patriots receiver Deion Branch in the days leading up to the AFC divisional playoffs, the Broncos announced Tuesday afternoon they have signed former New England defensive back Marquice Cole.
The 30-year-old Cole has spent most of the last two years with the Patriots as a cornerback and special teamer. In his NFL career, the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder has played 64 career games and totaled 36 tackles with four interceptions and 14 pass breakups to go with 51 special-teams stops. New England released the veteran cornerback on Dec. 26.
Cole figures to help shore up a depleted secondary that recently suffered the loss of cornerback Chris Harris, who tore his ACL in the recent playoff win over the Chargers.
From a defensive perspective, Cole had been relegated to a rotational spot behind Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan this year, so it’s debatable how much he can still bring to the field when it comes to pass defense. However, he remained a fairly regular face on New England’s special teams, and could provide depth for Denver at that spot as well.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|01.14.14 at 4:33 pm ET|
Not that it should surprise anyone but Josh McDaniels has confirmed the obvious – he’ll be back with the Patriots in 2014.
The Patriots offensive coordinator confirmed that he withdrew his name from consideration for the head coaching vacancy with the Cleveland Browns on the same day Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did likewise.
On Tuesday, during a conference call, McDaniels shed some light on the reason why he’s staying in New England.
“Well, I’ll definitely be here. I think all it means is that, you know, I made the decision that this is the right time for me to be here,” McDaniels said. “I’m really happy here ‘ I’ve said that numerous times. There’s not really much else to it. I don’t think it’s ‘ you know it’s a process you go through sometimes and you ultimately have to make choices based on what’s best for you and your family. That’s what I try to do.”
There is the possibility that one of his key weapons may not be staying around with McDaniels as Julian Edelman is a free agent after the season.
It’s been under McDaniels’ tutelage that Edelman has grown into one of the more feared slot receivers in the NFL, taking the chance to replace Wes Welker and running with it all the way to a likely lucrative free agency prize.
“Well, Julian has always had great ability. He’s a guy that has speed and can do a lot of different things versatility,” McDaniels said. “Certainly, I wasn’t here when we first got him the first years that he was here, and have had an opportunity to really get to know him the last couple years. His opportunities have certainly increased and he is a guy that embraces whatever role you give him each week.
“He’s capable of playing on the perimeter of the offense and he has for us. He’s also unselfish and will do whatever we ask of him in any role, whether that’s to be a clear-out guy, block the secondary in the running game, whatever it may be, and he’s always had a great attitude towards his work and his preparation. I just see a guy that’s driven to be a great player. He’s always tried to be the best he could be.
“He’s certainly had opportunities presented to him this year that he’s taken advantage of. I think he’s really led our receiving group with a tremendous amount of toughness, consistency. He practices hard, prepares hard, he’s on top of his game plan. He understands the defenses that we play and the players he’s going to compete against. I think he’s just really made himself a very well-rounded player that certainly has had a very productive year for us.”
|01.14.14 at 3:59 pm ET|
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that the team could travel to Denver Friday instead of Saturday for this weekend’s AFC title game.
“Yeah, it’s a possibility,” Belichick said. “We’re working out our arrangements for the week here now.”
In the past, when faced with a trip to the West Coast, the Patriots have departed early. The time change adds an interesting wrinkle to this game — it will mark only the second game this year the Patriots will have played outside of the eastern time zone.
Belichick also addressed a handful of other topics in his Q&A with the media, including the health of punter Ryan Allen. The rookie left Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the Colts because of an injury, and Stephen Gostkowski worked in relief of Allen. Belichick said they would have an update on Allen when the Wednesday practice report is released, but added that signing a punter on Friday and having him work Sunday is a possibility, as well as the chance that Gostkowski could work as the punter again against the Broncos.
“Sure, both those things are possible,” Belichick said.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|01.14.14 at 3:29 pm ET|
On Monday, there was word that it would be very hard for Patriots fans living in New England to acquire tickets to the AFC championship in Denver because of a team policy.
Now, the Broncos are warning those same fans to be careful not to get duped into buying counterfeit tickets.
The Broncos Tuesday urged fans to be wary of counterfeit tickets that can make their way through secondary markets and take appropriate measures to ensure the authenticity of their purchases.
“Only tickets acquired from team-associated outlets, including the Sports Authority Field at Mile High ticket office and Ticketmaster/Ticket Exchange, can be fully validated by the club and the NFL,” the team said in a statement.
‘We want fans to be fully aware of the risks involved with buying tickets in the secondary market while remaining assured that tickets purchased through the ticket office, Ticketmaster or NFL Ticket Exchange are 100 percent authentic,’ Broncos Senior Vice President of Business Development Mac Freeman said.
Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Patriots kicks off at 3:05 p.m. ET at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
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