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Bill Belichick won’t bring back red hoodie

01.25.12 at 9:51 pm ET
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When the Patriots played the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, coach Bill Belichick debuted a red hooded sweatshirt, a departure from his normal muted tones.

When the teams meet again on Feb. 5, there will be no repeat. Belichick’s longtime girlfriend Linda Holliday tweeted Wednesday: It’s official … no red hoodie at Super Bowl XLVI!

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Taking a closer look at the regular-season matchup between the Patriots and Giants

01.25.12 at 9:07 pm ET
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Here are five takeaways after rewatching the Nov. 6 regular-season matchup between the Patriots and Giants:

1. We’€™ve been big proponents of the Patriots’€™ use of the no-huddle all season — New England has used it one in every four snaps since the start of the regular season, and run it effectively on a number of occasions this year in hopes of catching an opponent on their heels. One of the things that really stood out was the fact that even though the Patriots couldn’€™t muster any offense in the first half (they were scoreless over the first two quarters), they didn’€™t run a single play in the no huddle in that time. In all, New England used it just four of 75 total offensive snaps against New York, or five percent of the time. To that point in the year, it represented a season-low in total snaps and percentage (two games later, New England used the no huddle just once in 65 offensive snaps against the Chiefs). The only time the Patriots went no-huddle against the Giants was on their final drive of the afternoon, one that ended with the go-ahead touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady to tight end Aaron Hernandez with 1:36 to go. For a team that leaned so heavily on the no-huddle all season long, the numbers were interesting.

2. Injuries were a big part of this game. Hernandez was still working his way back after a knee problem, and while he played 59 of a possible 78 snaps (according to Pro Football Focus), he clearly was at less than his best. That led to a passing game that relied almost exclusively on Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, as the two accounted for more than half of the targets (25 of 49), receptions (17 of 28) and receiving yards (237 of 342). In addition, the Patriots lost safety Patrick Chung to a foot injury late in the game and linebacker Brandon Spikes to a knee injury late in the second half. That led to some interesting personnel combinations down the stretch — linebacker Tracy White and safety Sergio Brown was on the field at the end of the game in pass coverage. On the other side of the ball, the Giants were without wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and starting center David Baas (more on them in a bit), which certainly altered their overall game plan.

3. The Giants were looking to defend the pass first and foremost against New England. According to Pro Football Focus, they had five defensive backs on the field on every play. Despite that, even with the New York pass rush being one of the best in the league, the Patriots were a pass-first offense — Brady looked to pass more than twice as much as run, with New England running the ball 24 times and throwing it 49 times. (For what it’€™s worth, PFF has Brady as being blitzed 14 times, and ended up going 4-for-12 for 68 yards with one run and one sack.) While New England got decent production in the running game from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, it was clear that Green-Ellis wasn’€™t 100 percent physically. For Green-Ellis, this game was sandwiched by eight-yard game against the Jets and a nine-yard game against the Steelers, and in the middle of an extended period where he was questionable on the injury report because of a toe problem on a consistent basis. (As our scout suggested here, expect the Patriots to try and run the ball more often against the New York defensive line that is always looking to get after the passer.)
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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Andre Carter, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Brandon Spikes

Patriots place WR/TE Dorin Dickerson on injured reserve

01.25.12 at 5:32 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Wednesday that wide receiver Dorin Dickerson has been placed on the practice squad/injured reserve list.

Dickerson, 23, was signed to the New England practice squad on Dec. 7. He is a second-year player who was originally drafted by the Houston Texans in the seventh round (227th overall) out of Pittsburgh in 2010. As a rookie, he played in seven games, mainly on special teams. Dickerson, 6-foot-2, 227 pounds, was released by Houston on Sept. 3 and was then signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ practice squad on Sept. 12 before being released on Sept. 15.

During his college career, he played at wide receiver, linebacker and tight end.

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Super Bowl roundup: Eli Manning tells Giants to ‘handle your business’

01.25.12 at 3:08 pm ET
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Eli Manning is all business, and he’s making sure his team is, too. Manning, a team captain, made sure he got his message across during a team meeting on Tuesday.

“We got an excellent message from Eli. … It was very well needed,” Antrel Rolle told the New York Post.

Explained Manning: “Just a little bit how to prepare for this, handle your business with tickets, get that stuff done. Just the mindset of this week, we have to have great preparation, prepare this week like you’€™re playing the game this week, because once you get out to Indianapolis, you’ve got to take a bus ride to practice [and] your whole schedule gets thrown off.”

Manning obviously knows how to successfully prepare for a Super Bowl, and his message was heard by teammates.

‘€œIt’€™s great to hear someone speak with that kind of leadership,’€™’€™ Rolle said. ‘€œYou know Eli doesn’€™t say much, and when he says it, he means it and you know it’€™s coming from the heart. We’€™re going out there to take care of business. Everything else, that’€™s for the spectators, that’€™s for your family and your friends.”

‘™¦ As Patriots fans know, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff was the goat of the AFC championship game. Sunday’s other game had its own goat: 49ers return man Kyle Williams, who muffed one punt and had another stripped, setting up two Giants scores (including the game-winning field goal).

Williams had eight punt returns on the day in while filling in for Ted Ginn Jr., and there have been reports that the Giants targeted him for big hits, knowing Williams has had problems with concussions. Devin Thomas, who picked up both of Williams’ fumbles, and linebacker Jacquian Williams, who caused the fumble in overtime, had interesting words after the game.

“He’€™s had a lot of concussions,” Thomas was quoted as saying. “We were just like, ‘We’€™ve got to put a hit on that guy.’€™ ‘€

Added Williams: ‘€œWe knew he had four concussions, so our biggest thing was to take him out of the game.’€

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Read More: David Tyree, Kyle Williams, Rooney Mara, Super Bowl

Tom Brady on the cover of this week’s ‘Sports Illustrated’

01.25.12 at 2:47 pm ET
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This week’s issue of Sports Illustrated — which is scheduled to be released Wednesday — has Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on the cover for the 15th time as part of a Super Bowl preview.

This marks the second time in a couple of months that Brady made the cover — he made it a couple of weeks ago as part of a regional edition that previewed the divisional round of the postseason.

The story on the Patriots inside the issue is penned by writer Damon Hack, and looks at the effect that the late Myra Kraft had on the franchise and how the team has rallied in her memory.

‘€œI told Mr. Kraft I was going to leave it all on the field for Myra,” said linebacker Brandon Spikes, who picked off Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco in the AFC championship game. “I personally wanted to come out and get that game for her [and] for him. I told him not to worry about a thing.’€

SI writer Jim Trotter also gives his pick for the game.

Read More: Brandon Spikes, Damon Hack, Jim Trotter, joe flacco

Super Bowl XLVI gets an animated preview, courtesy of NMA.tv

01.25.12 at 1:43 pm ET
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The folks at NMA.tv in Taiwan specialize in slightly surreal interpretations of the news, and so it’s no surprise that their preview of Super Bowl XLVI looks like some sort of acid-drenched cartoon that sprung from the mind of Hunter S. Thompson. Please to enjoy:

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Five takeaways from Bill Belichick’s Tuesday afternoon conference call

01.24.12 at 4:56 pm ET
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With the understanding that Rob Gronkowski‘€™s injury situation was already covered earlier in the day, here are five takeaways from Tuesday afternoon’€™s conference call with Patriots coach Bill Belichick:

1. The Patriots have given the players Tuesday and Wednesday off, with the instructions being that they should use those two days to take care of logistics and come back Thursday ready to work. New England will hold practices Thursday and Friday (Saturday’€™s schedule is still up in the air), and the Patriots will leave for Indy after a sendoff rally at Gillette Stadium on Sunday (more details on that will come later in the week).

Belichick talked about the sort of things they’€™ll have to focus on before leaving for Indianapolis.

‘€œI think there are a lot of things, but the logistics and all that, that’€™s part of it,” Belichick said. ‘€œThat’€™s something that we have to deal with on any away trip. This is an extended away trip so it has some elements of that, but there are additional things. But that’€™s part of it. The health of the team is always important. That’€™s what a team is: the healthy players that you can put out there on the field. That’€™s always something that we try to be mindful of and do everything we can to get it to the highest level. We can get started on our opponent and understanding what they do and what we need to do against them and how those things match up and what adjustments we can anticipate or we’€™ve seen them make. I’€™d say it’€™s all those things.’€

2. Super Bowl XLVI will mark another battle with Giants coach Tom Coughlin. The two were assistants together in New York, and have nothing but good things to say about each other.

‘€œI have a lot of respect for Tom. I think he’€™s definitely stood the test of time in a couple organizations: in Jacksonville and at the Giants,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œHe’€™s tough; his teams are disciplined. They play with great competitiveness and play smart. They’€™re a good situational football team. They force you to go out there and beat them. They do a lot of things well. That’€™s kind of the way Tom is: Tom is tough, he’€™s very detailed, he has a lot of experience, he’€™s an intense coach and I think that’€™s reflected in the way his teams play. He’€™s a good friend of mine that I’€™ve been with a long time as I’€™ve mentioned before.

‘€œWhen I was the secondary coach and Tom was the receivers coach at the Giants, we worked against each other daily and we also had great rapport off the field of helping each other out, talking about the different techniques and players of our upcoming opponents and suggestions of how to cover them or run routes, helping each other out on things like that as well as working with each other on the practice field. Of all the coaches I’€™ve worked with, it was as good as any.’€

3. Belichick also continued to lavish praise on veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who was immense in the Patriots 23-20 win over the Ravens in the AFC championship game.
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, David Tyree, Josh McDaniels
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