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Former NFL official Jim Daopoulos on MFB: Referee’s decision to move Dont’a Hightower on FGA ‘was the right call’

10.17.14 at 11:33 am ET
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Former NFL referee Jim Daopoulos joined Middays with MFB on Friday morning to discuss the controversy surrounding the field goal attempt at the end of the Patriots-Jets game from Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Jets attempted to kick a game-winning field goal on the final play of the game. However, Chris Jones blocked the try to seal the Patriots’ win. Before the kick, Dont’€™a Hightower was lined up in front of Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum, which would have been a five-yard penalty.

Before the snap, though, a referee alerted Hightower to move out of the area. That raised the ire of some in New York, but an NFL spokesman said Friday morning that it was “standard operating procedure.”

Said Daopoulos: “It’€™s what we call preventive officiating. It happens many times during a game. It can happen when situations are going on down field, you may talk to a defensive back and tell him to keep his hands off of the receiver. On the line of scrimmage, you may tell a player, ‘Hey, watch yourself, your hands are getting out too wide.’ We see too many flags nowadays, and this is just one of the ways that officials are working to keep the flags down. It was exactly right last night.

“Unfortunately, all of the officials don’€™t work like that, but it was the right call.”

While telling a player to move is one thing, some feel that the grabbing and nudging of Hightower went a little too far. Daopoulos said it’s within the referee’€™s right to do this.

“It’€™s exactly what you need to do,” Daopoulos said. “You give him a little slap on the backside and tell him to move himself over, get off the center’€™s nose, get into the gap. It’€™s not a big deal. You’€™re not going actually grab him and physically move him, just give him a little slap and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to move.’

“Just kind of let him know that he’€™s out of position. And it’€™s not anything that’€™s illegal, it’€™s something that most officials do. The better officials do it all the time.”

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Bill Belichick on Jonas Gray: ‘This is an opportunity for him’

10.17.14 at 10:46 am ET
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Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

In wake of running back Stevan Ridley being lost for the season, the Patriots needed to add depth at the running back position.

Prior to Thursday’s game, the Patriots signed Jonas Gray off the practice squad and he was active for the game over rookie running back James White — who had been on the 53-man roster since training camp broke but only has appeared in one game.

“I think Jonas has been solid for us all the way through preseason,” Bill Belichick said on a conference call Friday. “He’€™s done a good job in practice. He got an opportunity last night — not a lot of opportunities, but he had some blitz pickup opportunities, had a few carries. He works hard, he’€™s a tough kid. [He’€™s a] bigger back obviously, more in the [Stevan] Ridley size range. He played for us in the kicking game as well. [We’€™ll] keep going with that. This is an opportunity for him. Unfortunate the way it came out, but he’€™s worked hard. He deserves it. We’€™ll see what he can do with it.”

Thursday was Gray’s first ever NFL game and he finished with 12 yards on three carries.

By our count Gray played only 11 snaps, but that was second among running backs as Shane Vereen played 47 and Brandon Bolden had just one. Moving forward it seems likely Belichick will ride the hot hand each week — based on performance, as well as game planning against their opponent.

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Rodney Harrison on D&C: Rex Ryan’s Jets team ‘just seems unprepared each and every week’

10.17.14 at 10:34 am ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the Patriots’€™ win over the Jets on Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

New England narrowly defeated the Jets, thanks to a blocked field goal by Chris Jones on the final play of the game. The Patriots used a bend-but-don’t-break approach on defense, which Harrison said they shouldn’t have done against the Jets and quarterback Geno Smith.

Said Harrison: “I think it directly applies to what type of team you play. I like that against, say, a Peyton Manning or a Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, a high-scoring offense with potentially a quarterback that can beat you in so many different ways. But when it comes to Geno Smith, one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, I don’€™t agree with that. I still think [Bill Belichick] could become a lot more aggressive, play a lot more man-to-man coverage. And you force him to make those tight throws.”

The Jets ran a solid game plan against the Patriots, running for over 200 yards while not committing a single turnover. They also limited Tom Brady‘€™s time on the field. In the end, though, the Patriots still won.

“[The game plan] didn’t work to perfection because if anybody knows playing against the Patriots, when Tom Brady is halfway on, when you get to the red zone, you have to score touchdowns,” Harrison said. “You can’€™t continue to settle for field goals. I think that’€™s a big mistake. When I look at the Jets, with all that being said, you look at what happens week in and week out, and obviously that wasn’t the case last night in terms of turnovers. But you look at the blown coverages, you look at the mistakes on the defensive side of the ball, you look at the mistakes, period, across the board. And you start to wonder, is it the players’€™ fault or is just the lack of coaching? And this team just seems unprepared each and every week. … I think you have to look at the coaches in this situation, not just the players.”

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Week 7 NFL picks: Whose line is it anyway?

10.17.14 at 10:01 am ET
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During the first couple of weeks of the season, I waxed poetic about how the NFL is a fickle lover and how trying to predict games was a total crapshoot. I implored you to ignore anyone claiming to know anything about the NFL before delivering my own thoughts. At the time, it was a convenient goof, a way to protect myself in case my picks were terribly inaccurate. But now, after six weeks, my record stands for itself. While others may know nothing about the NFL, I truly have my ear to the grindstone. So, no, don’t listen to other bloggers, analysts or talking heads, instead you should listen to me. S. Barnaby Covers clearly is the smartest man in the room and he drops hot knowledge on a weekly basis. On to the picks!

Falcons +7 at Ravens

I consider myself an expert on the city of Baltimore, and not just because I have seen “The Wire” six times. Rather, one time I took a class dedicated entirely to analyzing the sociological implications and narrative structure of the show. As if that past sentence didn’t already let you know, I graduated from a liberal arts college, so after the class I really felt like if not physically, I, at least intellectually, or even metaphysically, KNEW the city, you know?

I genuinely hate everything about the Ravens organization, but because of my “Wire”-based education, I could never hate the people of Charm City. Especially not when their accent is so damn funny. That incoherent rambling just tickles my fancy. Whenever I hear it, I completely forget about how Ray Lewis probably did his sack dance murdering that guy. So people of Baltimore, THIS PICK IS FOR YOU. Joe Flacco, the elitest quarterback in the league, is going to tear through a a mediocre Falcons team. Old Bey and Mayonnaise sandwiches for every one! Especially to the members of the Natural POH-Lice

Pick: Ravens -7

Bengals +3 at Colts

If this game was decided based on the crude and dimwitted nicknames I gave the starting quarterbacks, I would pick Andy “Red Rocket” Dalton over Andrew “Ugly Quarterback” Luck. “Red Rocket” simultaneously serves as an allusion to a great South Park moment and a subpar hamburger chain. “Ugly Quarterback” merely describes Andrew Luck‘€™s face and the position he plays. Good thing for the Colts, my attempts at humor have no bearing on the football match. The Colts have won four in a row and Ugly Quarterback is putting up insane numbers. T.Y. Hilton is a tiny man who can run like the wind blows. Also, ever since Tom Brady remembered how to play football, the Bungels have forgotten how to defend the pass. The Red Rocket will shrivel up once he sees Ugly Quarterback taking off his helmet to celebrating his fourth touchdown pass.

Pick: Colts -3

Chiefs +4 at Chargers

I feel like the rest of the media has entirely jumped on the San Diego Super Chargers bandwagon, but why hasn’t Vegas? All of the power rankings have the Chargers as a top-five team, yet they only are a four-point favorite at home? Phillip Rivers has eight kids, and you think the Chiefs are going to slow him down? HA! HA, I SAY. Rivers is two times the man Alex Smith is, and four times the lover. Chargers win big, sneaky Eddie Royal fantasy game, book it.

Pick: Chargers -4

49ers +6.5 at Broncos

I actually am making this pick based primarily for football reasons rather than traditional Peyton hate. The Broncos have not dominated teams on the scoreboard this year. Their first two wins were by one touchdown, and last week before the Aqib Talib pick-six, they were only up seven on the Geno Smith-led Jets. (Sidenote, Talib still is my dude.) The 49ers have won three in a row and it looks like their defense has adjusted to early injuries to the roster. The Broncos can’t really run the ball either, so I expect the Niners to deliver a heavy pass rush. I really wish I was getting a half-point, because I think there is a good chance the stupid Peyton Manning still wins the game. God, he is such a touchdown-throwing ninny muggins.

Pick: 49ERS +6.5

Texans +3.5 at Steelers

I can’t decide whether to stick with the Steelers for another week. Two weeks ago, I called for Antonio Brown to be nicknamed “Nino Brown,” and he hasn’t scored a touchdown since. Then last week I picked them to win, and the Browns dropped chocolate all over them. I really should pick against them this week, especially when they are going up against defensive cyborg J.J. Watt, but I really don’t want to get burned if Ben and Nino have a breakout game. Also, I have real problems with Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s beard. He looks like an embittered veteran of the Confederate Army who just hangs around in the 1870s complaining about how “we used to BUILD things in this country.”  JUST DEAL WITH RECONSTRUCTION RYAN FITZPATRICK AND SHAVE YOUR BEARD.

Pick: Steelers -3.5

Last week: 3-1-1

Season: 18-9-3

NFL spokesman: Official moving Dont’a Hightower on late FG attempt ‘standard officiating procedure’

10.17.14 at 9:43 am ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

The Patriots and Jets can’t have a last-second field goal attempt without some controversy.

At the end of Thursday night’s game, the Jets lined up for a 58-yard field goal attempt. Nick Folk’s kick was blocked by defensive lineman Chris Jones, who gained a measure of redemption for last year when he was whistled for a penalty in a similar situation in a Patriots-Jets game. (That opened the door for a second-chance field goal from Folk to give the Jets an overtime win.)

A video review of the play from Thursday night reveals that linebacker Dont’a Hightower approached the line of scrimmage shortly before the snap and stood in front of Jets long snapper Tanner Purdum. According to the rules — specifically, Rule 9-1-3(a) — this is a five-yard penalty. However, an official grabbed Hightower’s arm and appeared to encourage him to move to the outside of Purdum’s shoulder pads.

This has raised the ire of some Jets fans, who believe the Patriots should have been penalized and Folk been given another chance at what would have been a 53-yard field goal attempt. However, a league official told Pro Football Talk on Friday morning that the maneuvering by the official in that situation is fairly common.

“It is a standard officiating procedure that occurs regularly,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said by email.  “€œIn fact, it is on [NFL vice president of officiating] Dean Blandino’€™s video that went to the teams [Thursday] and will be on the version of it that goes to the media [Friday].”

That was echoed by many of Twitter Friday morning.

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Read More: Chris Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Nick Folk,

No surprises from Darrelle Revis as cornerback helps shut down Jets

10.17.14 at 5:51 am ET
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Darrelle Revis tackles Jace Amaro during Thursday's Jets-Patriots game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis tackles Jace Amaro during Thursday’s Jets-Patriots game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In the end, there were no receptions — or interceptions — from Darrelle Revis Thursday night. Only a win over his old team.

The cornerback, who may or may not have been involved in the offensive plans for the Patriots leading up to their game with the Jets on Thursday, said that the most important thing about the contest was the fact that New England was able to come away with a 27-25 divisional victory.

“€œThe only thing to focus [on] is us getting this win,” said Revis, who had two tackles and a pass defensed against his old team. “It was a tough game for us, and it came down to the end. Good teams win these tough games like this. We stuck in there as a team and we fought strong.”

Revis, who was a part of the Jets from 2007 through 2012, had a chance to experience the New England-New York rivalry from the other side for the first time. While he acknowledged the fact that it was a “historical rivalry,” he also downplayed the meeting.

“€œIt’€™s been going on for years and years, and it’€™ll probably continue to keep on being a rivalry. You just never know what you’€™re going to get in these types of games, and they’€™re always tough,” he said. “[But] it’€™s just football to me. It doesn’€™t make a difference. An away game is an away game, and a home game is a home game with a rivalry. It doesn’€™t matter where you play, same thing.”

Even though it was his second crack at his old mates — as a member of the Bucs last season, he suffered an 18-17 defeat in his return to MetLife Stadium — he said it wasn’t personal.

“€œNo. A win is a win — I’€™m excited for this team,” he said. “We’€™re 5-2. The main goal for us was to win this game and be first in the conference, and we accomplished that as a team.”

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‘Rusty’ Brandon Browner says it was ‘fun’ being back on field

10.17.14 at 5:25 am ET
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Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

FOXBORO — After his first action of the 2014 regular season, Brandon Browner sounded like a relieved man.

The veteran, who was suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season but also sat out the last few weeks, said after Thursday’s win over the Jets that it was simply “fun” to get back out on the field again.

“It was fun. It was actually fun,” said Browner, who got the start at cornerback against the Jets in Thursday’s 27-25 win. “I was fortunate to be out there to play. Last week I had an ankle injury, so I’m just happy to be out there playing football.”

Browner was on the field with the starters at the beginning of the game, but appeared to be a little gassed at the first half wore on, and ended up sitting for a significant chunk of the action in the second quarter. He also appeared to play reduced snaps in the second half. After the game, he confessed to being on a snap count, and said he felt “a little rusty.”

“I felt like I could play better,” he said. “In the first half, I felt like I was pretty tired out there. I can only get better from here. We’ll look at the film and critique myself and only get better from here.

“[There were] no surprises, but I was kind of tired out there, you know?” he said. “I’ve got to work on my conditioning.”

Browner was flagged for two penalties on the night, but after the contest, he took issue with both calls.

“To be honest, I have to see it,” he said, “because I don’t think I held him on the first one and I don’t think I pushed him on the second one. He fell down and I’ve got to look at it on film. I’ll probably have a better answer for you after I check it out on film.”

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