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Brandon LaFell with another strong performance, feels ‘good’ after leaving with injury

11.23.14 at 7:26 pm ET
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Brandon LaFell

Brandon LaFell

FOXBORO — Although he may not get the recognition like Rob Gronkowski or Tom Brady, there is no denying a major reason for the Patriots’ seven-game win streak has been the play of wide receiver Brandon LaFell.

Over the last six games, LaFell has caught 37 passes on 53 targets for 489 yards and four touchdowns, emerging as a third option for Brady besides Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.

LaFell continued his strong play Sunday with nine catches on 12 targets for 98 yards.

“It feels great to be where I’€™m at now compared to where I was at at the beginning of the season,” he said following the game. “Going out there, putting together good games back-to-back, earning time, trust, and the coaching staff’€™s trust. And the trust of my teammates to depend on me in big-time situations like it was today; to come to me in that situation. So it feels good, but as a whole offense and as a whole team, it feels good to be in the position we are at now.”

The first-year Patriot did go down awkwardly on his last catch of the game — late in the fourth quarter — landing hard on his shoulder and did not play another snap, but LaFell says he’s fine.

“I’€™m good. If we had a game tonight, I’€™d be ready to play,” LaFell said. “I’€™m good, I won’€™t miss [any] time. My body’€™s feeling great.”

The receiver has developed a good relationship with Brady on back-shoulder throws, something Brady alluded to during his weekly press conference this week. LaFell said it is a good way to stretch out defenses.

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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down how Patriots crushed Lions

11.23.14 at 7:26 pm ET
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FOXBORO —’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price detail how the New England Patriots completely demoralized the Detroit Lions, 34-9, at Gillette Stadium.

The win improved the Patriots to 9-2 on the season, guaranteeing their 14th straight winning season, the fifth such longest streak in NFL history. The Patriots are also just the third team since the 1970 merger to record 14 straight winning seasons, two shy of the Cowboys (1970-86) and the 49ers (1983-98).

It was also New England’s 15th straight win at home, 12 shy of the NFL record of 27 set by the Miami Dolphins from 1971-74.

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Tim Wright was ready for his ‘opportunity’ when Lions doubled Rob Gronkowski

11.23.14 at 7:15 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Pick your poison. The Lions chose to double Rob Gronkowski often on Sunday in the red zone. That part worked but the Patriots killed the Lions with a heavy dose of Tim Wright, who caught a pair of touchdowns, including one where Tom Brady had no choice to but to throw it to him.

Wright caught a 4-yard TD pass over the middle in the first quarter as the Patriots took the lead for good. In the second quarter, Wright caught a pass in the end zone when there wasn’t a Lion within 10 yards of him.

Wright admitted after the Patriots’ 34-9 win Sunday that he was grateful for the attention Gronk drew, leaving him in single coverage or no coverage at all.

“We both work hard and try to play off of each other,” Wright said. “However the dice may fall, however the defense plays it, who doubles who, the other guy just has to be ready for the opportunity. That’€™s what we pride ourselves on.”

Wright caught three more passes in the second half but none for touchdowns and finished with just 36 yards receiving. But it was the red zone where Wright made it matter most.

“The Lions have a great defense all around,” Wright said. “We knew going into that game that whatever that role is, we had to stick to it and that’€™s what we had to utilize for that game. We did a great job. The [offensive] line held up great. Tom delivered. He does what he does all the time, and just the receivers getting open and doing their job.”

This was particularly important going in since the Lions fearsome front seven figured to rush the quarterback at all costs.

“We knew timing was critical going into it and the offensive line did a great job all week of sticking together and creating a scheme to defeat their d-line, defeat the pass rush. Give Tom time to deliver the ball, that’€™s what he did, and the receivers on the perimeter ran great routes and we got it done.”

Wright caught his fifth and sixth touchdowns of the season, a new career best, making that trade of Logan Mankins look better and better as the season goes on.

“It’€™s definitely rewarding,” Wright said. “Like I said, every phase of the ball is important to this game that we play. As long as everyone works hard during the week, it will pay off on Sunday.”

Read More: detroit lions, Gronk, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski

Things get testy at end of Patriots-Lions game

11.23.14 at 6:41 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Things got interesting at the end of the Lions-Patriots game Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

It all started when the Patriots were attempting a 20-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining and Lions’ defensive tackle C.J. Mosley jumped Patriots long-snapper Danny Aiken. It drew a personal foul penalty and an automatic first down. Instead of just taking a knee to run out the clock, the Patriots handed it off to LeGarrette Blount for his second touchdown run of the game.

Things didn’t end there as when the Lions were taking a knee to officially end the game, Lions center Dominic Raiola dove at the knees Patriots nose tackle Zach Moore (see Vine below). Also, Blount and Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh reportedly exchanged words after the game, too. Suh left the Lions locker room before the media was allowed in.

“I cut him,” Raiola said via the Detroit Free Press. “We took a knee, so I cut the nose [tackle]. They went for [a touchdown]. They went for a touchdown at two minutes. They could have took three knees and the game could have been over. It’s football. He wants to keep playing football, let’s play football. Not a big deal. It’s football.”

Vince Wilfork didn’t agree.

“I didn’€™t see anything,” said Wilfork. “I just heard what happened, but that was stupid. I didn’€™t see it, but from what I heard … You’€™re taking a knee. They’€™d get mad if we were just to blow up one of their players, so I mean, it’€™s just uncalled for. But at the same time, you always have to protect yourself, so you always have to play with your neck on a swivel and being alert for 60 minutes and it came down to it today on a bonehead play like that. But luckily no one got hurt and we can move on.”

Read More: Dominic Raiola, LeGarrette Blount, Ndamukong Suh, Vince Wilfork

Jonas Gray ‘moving past’ his benching, serves his time on sideline

11.23.14 at 6:27 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Jonas Gray was the star of the game last Sunday night in Indianapolis. On Sunday, he was the center of attention again after another big Patriots win for a much less desirable reason.

Gray suited up but stayed on the sideline the whole game Sunday, watching his teammates beat up the Lions, 34-9, at Gillette Stadium for their seventh straight win. Gray showed up late Friday morning to Gillette Stadium and earn Bill Belchick’s wrath by suffering the indignity of not playing.

In other words, the Patriots beat the Lions playing a man down.

“We’re moving past that,” Gray said in a brief 25-second statement in front of his locker. “I’m glad we got the team win. I think it would’ve stung more if I didn’t play and we had lost the game. I’m happy for these guys. I just wish I was able to contribute the win but I was glad we came away with the victory and these guys played great.”

Was Sunday’s action indeed discipline for showing up late Friday morning?

“I can’t confirm or deny,” Gray said. “Just moving on and glad we got the victory.”

Belichick’s explanation: “We do what we think is best. That’s what we did today.”

LeGarrette Blount took advantage by running 12 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns on a day when the Patriots ran the ball just 20 times for 90 yards. The Patriots passed it 53 times in the win.

Read More: benching, detroit lions, Jonas Gray, New England Patriots

Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner shut down Lions’ top wideouts; Golden Tate says game was ’embarrassing’

11.23.14 at 6:20 pm ET
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Darrelle Revis and the Patriots secondary shutdown Golden Tate and Lions' receiving core. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis (right) and the Patriots secondary shutdown Golden Tate (left) and Lions’ receiving core in Sunday’s win. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — These guys are good.

Once again the Patriots secondary, particularly Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, rose to the occasion against a proven Detroit Lions receiving core, and led the way in the Patriots’ 34-9, runaway win Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots secondary certainly mixed things up against star wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, but for the most part it was Browner lining up across from Johnson and Revis across from Tate.

“They had a great game plan to limit myself and CJ [Calvin Johnson],” Tate said. “This is one of those games that [we’re] thankful we have a short week and we’re going to have an opportunity to get this out of our system quickly. It’s embarrassing. We have to chalk it up and have a short-term memory. That is the most important thing — not to lose our swagger, not to lose our confidence.”

By our count, Browner lined up across from Johnson on 60 snaps, while Revis did twice. Against Tate, Revis was across from him 59 times, Browner twice, Kyle Arington twice and Ryan once. The Patriots did drop into zone coverage on a few of those occasions, but that was the look they gave at the line.

Tate finished with four catches for 97 yards on 11 targets, while Johnson finished with four catches for 58 yards on 10 targets.

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What we learned: Patriots roll over Lions, 34-9

11.23.14 at 4:22 pm ET
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Darrelle Revis breaks up a pass intended for Eric Ebron. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis breaks up a pass intended for Eric Ebron. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The Patriots smothered the Lions on Sunday, putting together an efficient 60 minutes of football on the way to a 34-9 over Detroit on a cool, clear fall afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

New England took control relatively early in this one, spotting the Lions an early field goal, but answered with a touchdown to take the lead for good, eventually stretching the lead to 21 by the start of the fourth quarter. Tim Wright had a pair of touchdown receptions and the Patriots secondary shut down the tandem of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate for most of the day on the way to a seventh straight win.

Quarterback Tom Brady finished 38-for-53 for 349 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. LeGarrette Blount had two touchdowns in his first game back in New England. Meanwhile, Brandon LaFell had nine catches for 98 yards. On the other side of the ball, the Lions (7-4) got 18-for-46 for 264 yards with no touchdowns and one interception from Matthew Stafford and four catches for 97 from Tate.

Here’s what we learned about the Patriots on Sunday:

They can score points with the best of them.

The Patriots didn’t get to 40 points on Sunday, snapping a franchise-record-tying three-game streak where they topped that mark. (Only three teams in NFL history have scored 40-plus points in four straight contests: 1960 Chargers, 2000 Rams and 2004 Colts.) But New England still put up enough to overwhelm the Lions in the second half. The 34 points were the most scored on the Lions this season. (Detroit came into the game having allowed an average of 15.6 points per game, the best total in the league.) Brady threw for more than 300 yards for the 63rd time in his career (tying Dan Marino for third all time) and a pair of touchdowns in the win. And the 90 rushing yards was the second-highest total allowed by the Lions all year.

Even without Chandler Jones, they can still get after the quarterback.

Granted, a sizable reason for their success in getting after Stafford was the result of the wildly ineffective Detroit offensive line, but it should be acknowledged that the Patriots were able to generate good heat on the young Lions quarterback. New England got a pair of early sacks on Stafford, with one from Akeem Ayers and another from Rob Ninkovich. For Ninkovich, it was his sixth of the season, and marked the fourth straight year with at least six sacks for the defensive end. Sunday marked the eighth straight game with a sack for New England.

Don’t be late.

After showing up late and being sent home earlier in the week, Jonas Gray was a forgotten man Sunday against the Lions. The Patriots went with Shane Vereen as the starter, Blount as the No. 2 back (he scored a first-half touchdown) and even Brandon Bolden in the second half. Part of that was because Detroit isn’t the sort of team you want to run against, and Gray is a bigger, between the tackles back who offers little in the passing game. But you can bet that Gray won’t oversleep again.

Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner are nasty.

It’s probably unfair to limit it to Revis and Browner, but the Patriots secondary did a very nice job rendering both Tate (four catches, 97 yards) and Calvin Johnson (four catches, 58 yards) ineffective. New England utilized several different defensive looks on the afternoon, with both man and zone. By our count, only one pass was completed on Revis.

The Patriots did well with their mid-season pickups this year.

Blount didn’t see much action early — he did have a second-quarter touchdown run — but helped the Patriots chew up some clock down the stretch. He ran hard and was a major reason why New England was able to be one of the most effective teams on the ground against the Lions this season. Meanwhile, edge rusher Akeem Ayers had his third sack of the season on Sunday, and even though he arrived shortly before the trade deadline from Tennessee, is already fourth on the team in sacks.

They really don’t need Richie Incognito.

Once again, Brady took a few hits, but he was kept clean all afternoon by an offensive line that was able to keep a fearsome Detroit front seven at bay. The Patriots put up the most points of any opponent against the Lions this year. In addition, Brady wasn’t sacked for the second straight game, and hasn’t been sacked since the first half of the Nov. 2 win over the Broncos, a span of 10-plus consecutive quarters.

They don’t want to see Tony Corrente ever again.

Corrente, who is one of the most flag-happy officials in the league, called 11 penalties for 84 yards on the Patriots on Sunday against the Lions. That’s on top of the 15 penalties he called against New England in a September win over the Vikings. The Patriots have struggled with penalties over the course of the 2014 season — they’ve been one of the most penalized teams in the league this season, and they picked up their 100th as a team this year in the first half Sunday. But they could certainly go without seeing Corrente the rest of the way this year.

Danny Amendola can make some plays on special teams.

The receiver, who has endured a lost season on offense, has provided some energy on special teams as a returner. On Sunday, he had his finest moment with an 81-yard kick return in the second quarter. The Patriots took advantage of the return by punching it in two plays later on a three-yard touchdown run from Blount. In all, it was a pretty good day for the special teamers, who got a couple of really sweet coverage plays from Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner. (The low point came when Malcolm Butler had an illegal block in the back that negated a big return by Julian Edelman late in the third quarter.) In all, Amendola had 90 yards in the return game on the afternoon, and even after the pickup of Blount, figures to be the first choice as a kick returner going forward.

Tim Wright is on a remarkable run this year.

The tight end, acquired before the start of the season from Tampa Bay in a deal that shipped veteran Logan Mankins to the Bucs, caught a pair of touchdown passes in the first half — his fifth and sixth of the season. What’s even more remarkable than that is the fact that Wright has demonstrated an impressive connection with the quarterback in his first year in New England — including Sunday’s win over the Lions, Wright has caught 23 of the 26 passes that have been thrown in his direction by the quarterback.

They suffered a few bumps and bruises.

Two injured Patriots ended up walking off before the end of this one: First, cornerback Kyle Arrington left the game in the second half with a head/neck injury. (The team announced it as a head injury, while the team Twitter account said it was a neck injury.) Arrington walked off the field under his own power and did return on special teams, but not defense. In the fourth quarter, offensive lineman Dan Connolly (ankle) was shaken up and had to be helped off.

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