|12.21.09 at 12:50 pm ET|
After the opening series of the game, one in which the Bills’ Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch ran wild, the Patriots defensive line had lots of work to do.
And the coaching staff had lots of adjusting to do.
As it turns out, Mike Wright was the perfect bridge between the two, as Bill Belichick pointed out on Monday.
“Mike Wright had a tremendous game,” Belichick said. “That’s as good as a defensive lineman can play, really. All the things he did in the running game, the passing game, pursuit. He played a couple of different positions, played left end, played nose and had some snaps in sub [defenses].”
Belichick sounded like a coach who was playing chess on Sunday, seeing what the Bills were doing to their base defensive package and then reacting. The Patriots were clearly shorthanded coming in, without in Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren and Myron Pryor. When the Patriots were not using their ‘Zero D-Line’ package, Wright was filling in all over the place.
“I think after the first drive, we kind of saw what they were doing, how they were attacking us,” Belichick said. “They had a couple of schemes for our 3-4 defense, which is not unexpected. We see that every week anyway.”
Belichick gave credit to defensive coordinator Dean Pees, linebackers coach Matt Patricia and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson for coming up with the mid-game adjustments.
“We talked about our technique a little bit, we talked about how we wanted to play the plays,” Belichick added. “We defended them better. We mixed in some calls. Dean, Pepper and Matt talked about making some adjustments in the front, from a call standpoint which would change where our players were placed and I think that might have helped us there.”
|12.21.09 at 10:37 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s win over the Bills. A transcript follows. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
You’re quoting Tom Sr. [in the press conference]: “Tall trees experience high winds”?
I think a lot of times — and I used it in reference to Randy, and the criticism he faced last week. When you’re a really great player like he is, people expect a lot. It’s a real competitive game. There’s obviously weeks where you come out of the game and wish you would have played better. We all do that, every week we probably do that. Sometimes you get criticized more than others, and obviously the guys who are expected to perform the best get the most criticism. You’ve just got to be able to weather that. That’s when it gets tough, and you’ve got to have enough mental toughness and be centered and grounded enough to overcome that. And he certainly did. We as a team certainly have over periods this season. We’re just going to keep battling. We’ve had a lot of close games. Being 9-5 and watching those two teams lose yesterday — the Jets and the Dolphins — that gave us a nice lead here in the division. We obviously have a huge game this week. We’ve got to take care of business at home like we’ve been doing all year. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.20.09 at 5:27 pm ET|
Tully Banta-Cain had three of the six sacks on the day for the Patriots and afterward he talked at the podium outside the Patriots locker room.
“We have the same hunger every week to get to the quarterback,” Banta-Cain said. “We obviously knew we would have our chances but we had to stop the run first.”
Banta-Cain and the Patriots’ defense made the biggest adjustment of the game when they shut down Fred Jackson and the Bills’ running game after Buffalo’s opening drive produced nearly all of their 69 yards, ending with a field goal.
“At the end, we were able to force them into passing situations,” he said. “I think we just made some just adjustments. Some guys, including myself were out of place. We were able to neutralize them.”
But most importantly for the Patriots, this was their first road win on U.S. soil this season.
“The fact we’ve been struggling on the road does get the monkey off our back,” he said. “Hopefully, we can build off this.”
The Patriots are now just one win away from another AFC East title after the Jets lost at home and the Dolphins lost in overtime at Tennessee.
“Oh, they lost?” Banta-Cain asked in pleasant surprise after being told of the Miami result. “We need all the help we can get. That’s good for us.”
|12.20.09 at 4:45 pm ET|
Randy Moss was a man on mission on Sunday and afterward he spoke about his performance at the post-game podium outside the Patriots locker room at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“It’s been really a tough couple of weeks,” Moss said. “You move on. That’s the nature of the game. I’m happy that we got this victory.”
He then acknowledged the support of his fans while taking a veiled shot at those who criticized him for his one-catch effort the week before against Carolina.
“I appreciate all of the support from my true fans, the players, the coaches, my family and loved ones,” Moss said, adding, ”I’ve been in this league 12 years, man, and I’ve been through a lot.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasted no time in giving Moss support after he caught five balls for 70 yards, including a 13-yard TD in the second quarter while drawing a 43-yard pass interference call on Bills cornerback Donte Whitner.
“He’s been one of our most consistent players the last three years,” Belichick said. “He does that a lot.”
Moss, who did not take questions, sounded a defiant tone before walking off the podium in Orchard Park, NY.
“These shoulders that I have on my body, you could put the earth on it,” he said. “Just to let you know, I bounce back.”
|12.20.09 at 3:56 pm ET|
The Patriots just posted a 17-10 win over the Bills at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Recap.) We’ll have more analysis shortly, but here are a few quick notes:
•New England moves to 9-5 with the win (just its second road victory of the year) and takes control of the AFC East picture. Buffalo drops to 5-9, and is officially bounced from the AFC playoff race. In addition, the Patriots win streak over the Bills continues, as New England has now won 13 consecutive games and 18 of the last 20 games between the two teams.
•In terms of bouncing back, Randy Moss had a fine afternoon. It wasn’t a lights-out effort, but the receiver, who was much-maligned for his one-catch performance last week against the Panthers, had a strong day. The Patriots were clearly interested in getting him into the game early — Tom Brady targeted him twice on deep balls in the first half. Both passes were off the mark, but it was clear that the wide receiver was engaged from the start. One of the missed connections did end up producing a defensive pass interference penalty that set up New England’s first touchdown, a 13-yard pass from Brady to Moss.
•After their first drive (an impressive 14-play, 69-yard effort that consumed 9:24), the Bills were unable to mount any sort of sustained offensive attack. Buffalo yanked quarterback Ryan Fizpatrick with just over 13 minutes left in the game, turning to Trent Edwards. But Edwards was ineffective, and left after a single series because of injury.
•A sizable reason for the Bills’ offensive struggles came when the Patriots introduced an interesting wrinkle in the first half, using a defensive package that had no defensive linemen. Buffalo appeared completely unprepared to deal with the unique defensive front, and was unable to do much of anything until late in the game. The Patriots notched a season-high six sacks (the Pats hadn’t gotten more than four sacks in any other game this year; that came in Week 1, also against the Bills), with Tully Banta-Cain accounting for three of those. In addition, the Patriots did a nice job of controlling the clock throughout the game — with 4:47 left in the third quarter, the Bills had run just three plays from scrimmage in second half.
•New England did win the game, but the Patriots struggled down the stretch offensively. New England’s offensive woes in the final 30 minutes continued, as the Pats could only manage a second-half field goal, but it was enough to pick up the victory.
•Stat standouts: Brady wasn’t particularly sharp, but ended up 11-for-23 for 115 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Laurence Maroney was very impressive, leading the way with 23 carries, 81 yards and a touchdown, while Randy Moss had five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the football, Buffalo quarterback Fitzpatrick was 17-for-25 for 178 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Fred Jackson had 80 rushing yards and Josh Reed had four catches for 63 yards.
•The Patriots were in command most of the way, but they sealed the deal when Brady hit Wes Welker on a nine-yard completion that gave New England a first down with two minutes left in the contest.
|12.20.09 at 3:43 pm ET|
Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick and Lee Evans connected on a scoring strike to make it 17-10, New England, with 3:02 left in the game.
|12.20.09 at 2:56 pm ET|
With 4:43 to play in the third, the Patriots have stretched their lead to 17-3 behind a 30-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski. It was the final play of a 14-play, 64-yard drive that took 7:04.
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