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Welcome to Gillette: Patriots-Bengals

09.12.10 at 10:49 am ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots look for their ninth straight win in a home opener as they welcome the “Real World” Bengals to Gillette Stadium.

This will be the first game for Tom Brady since surviving an ugly car wreck on Thursday morning and agreeing to a four-year, $72 million contract extension hours later.

Naturally, he was the biggest story this week in Foxboro as the Patriots look to get their 2010 season off on the right foot. So, it’s no surprise he is the coverboy of the first regular season Patriots GAMEDAY program.

Some other notes to keep in mind for today’s first game of the season:

- The Patriots have won the last four meetings with Cincinnati in Foxboro, beginning with a 27-21 win on Oct. 16, 1988 when the Pats handed 6-0 Cincinnati their first loss of the season. The last time the Bengals won in Foxboro was on Dec. 7, 1986 when James Brooks ran through the Patriots for a then-team record 264 all-purpose yards in a 31-7 Bengals win.

- Aside from the season-ending injuries to Ty Warren and Leigh Bodden, those Patriots who are dressing are relatively healthy. Terrence Wheatley has a sore foot and likely won’t see action today. Julian Edelman is also a scratch with a bum foot. Running back Laurence Maroney won’t be seeing any action as he is out with a bad thigh.

- Tom Brady is 3-0 against the Bengals as a starter but was on the team the last time the Bengals beat New England. It was also the last time the two teams met in the season opener. The year was 2001 and the starting QB was Drew Bledsoe. The Bengals won that day, 23-17, on a hideous grass surface at Paul Brown Stadium, Sept. 9, 2001. When the Patriots returned to action following 9/11 on Sept. 23, Bledsoe suffered a life-threatening rib injury on a hit from Mo Lewis of the Jets. The next week, Brady got his first NFL start against San Diego and a legend and a Super Bowl season were born.

- Terrell Owens needs just 49 yards to join Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce as the only players with 15,000 receiving yards.

- Chad Ochocinco needs just 48 yards to become 33rd player to reach 10,000 receiving yards.

- Owens and Ochocinco have a combined 23 years of NFL experience. Darius Butler and Devin McCourty have a combine one.

Read More: Bengals, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, nfl

Kicking off the new season with some pessimism

09.12.10 at 10:11 am ET
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Getting ready for some football? Well, so are the guys at the WEEI’s NFL Sunday Show. The problem is that the two players among the group — Christian Fauria and Troy Brown – don’t sound too excited about the Pats‘ prospects. Click here for a listen.

Brady, Kraft talk about new contract

09.11.10 at 3:29 pm ET
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On Saturday afternoon, the Patriots recently released a statement that included quotes from owner Robert Kraft and quarterback Tom Brady on Brady’€™s four-year extension. Here’€™s the complete text of the release:

Yesterday, the Patriots submitted the paperwork for the four-year contract extension that was recently signed by Tom Brady. The extension extends through the 2014 NFL season. Today, both Robert Kraft and Tom Brady issued statements regarding the extension.

Statement from New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft on the four-year contract extension that was signed by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: ‘€œWe have been very fortunate to have Tom Brady as the quarterback of the New England Patriots for the past decade. I am glad that this contract extension will allow his tenure to continue well into the next decade. Tom has been a terrific representative for the Patriots and a great leader for this franchise. Since he first arrived, no player has worked harder and been more driven to succeed than Tom. His core values have kept him grounded, despite his many successes, and he remains a consummate professional, both on and off the field. It is much easier to reward a player for his professional accomplishments when you have such respect for him personally and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tom and for everything he has accomplished in his life. There is no one that I would rather have leading this team and I am happy to reward him with this contract extension.’€

Statement from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: ‘€œI have never been comfortable talking about my contract and certainly didn’t want discussions of my contract negotiations to serve as a distraction to any of my teammates as we have been preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals and the start of the 2010 season. However, I do want to express my appreciation to Mr. Kraft and Jonathan Kraft for extending my opportunity to play for the New England Patriots. I am grateful for all that the Kraft family has done for me, both personally and professionally, and for all they have done for my family. Not only have I had the good fortune of playing for just one franchise, I have also played for the greatest head coach and with some of the best teammates a player could ever ask for. My teammates, both past and present, are the main reason why we have accomplished so much over the years. I love playing in New England and appreciate all the support that our fans give us. I look forward to tomorrow’s game and the start of another exciting season.”

Read More: Robert Kraft, Tom Brady,

Bill Belichick: The modern-day Paul Brown

09.11.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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FOXBORO — A famous and successful football coach once told his players that they’re only a product of their discipline, on and off the field.

“What my coaches and I accomplished during those years came from the way we handled our players,” he said. “To know and appreciate all that went into our football – in high school, college and the pros – and why we were successful, it is necessary to understand the principles that guided our teams.

“Everything had to do with people, from properly assessing a man’s character, intelligence and talent to getting him to perform to the best of his ability in a way that benefited our team. The ‘team’ was everything.”

That certainly sounds like Bill Belichick but those were actually the words of Paul Brown, the man Belichick credits for creating the system now employed by all NFL coaches and organizations.

And those words came from the 1979 biography “PB: The Paul Brown Story” co-authored with Brown by longtime Boston sportswriter Jack Clary.

Belichick, a voracious reader, is familiar with Brown’s words on coaching and the book. Before Bill Walsh‘s detailed work, “Finding the Winning Edge,” there was Paul Brown’s book. It’s no mistake that Walsh coached under Brown with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1970s.

“Pretty much everything that we do now, he did when he was coaching 30, 40, 50 years ago,” Belichick said Friday of Brown. “He’€™s really the kind of father of professional coaches and the father of professional football. Not that other greats like [George] Halas and so forth’€¦ But the way it is now, is the way it was when Paul coached.”

And it certainly worked. Belichick won three Super Bowls in four years. Walsh led his 49ers dynasty teams to three titles in seven years. But together that’s one less than the seven NFL titles won by Brown’s Cleveland teams of the 50s and 60s. Brown led his team to the title game 11 times in 12 seasons.

“Nobody did more for football than Paul Brown did,” Belichick added.

After an ugly ending with then-Browns owner Art Modell in the mid-60s, Brown founded the Bengals in 1968. Brown oversaw a franchise that made two Super Bowl appearances in 1982 and 1989. Ironically, they were beaten both times by Bill Walsh’s 49ers. Brown passed away in 1991, handing leadership of the Bengals to his son Mike, whom Belichick says, has carried on the franchise in a way that would make his dad proud.

“I think that Mike [Brown] has done a great job with the organization. They had a terrific year last year. They have a good team. It looks like they’€™ve done some things to improve it this year. I think they do a lot of things well. They swept their division last year which is something not a lot of teams can say or have ever been able to say.

“When you have those kind of accomplishments, I think that Paul would be pretty proud of what the Bengals did last year and what they’€™re about, how they play, the way they’€™re coached, the way the organization is run. I think they do a pretty good job.”

Brown thought so much of his father that he turned away the chance for corporate sponsorship of the Bengals’ new stadium when it opened in 2000, instead choosing simply to name it after his dad.

What’s amusing to any Cincinnati native is to think how a disciplinarian like Brown would’ve handled the ‘Real World’ Bengals of 2010 with players like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. But Belichick said Friday that while Brown was known for his discipline, every coach is smart enough to understand the different personalities on their team.

“Well, I think ‘€“ not that I was there for a lot of it ‘€“ but even when Paul was coaching, every team [had] personalities,” Belichick said. “I think that’€™s part of every group you have ‘€“ football or otherwise.”

Still, it’s hard to imagine what Paul Brown would do this Sunday if Ocho scores and grabs a rifle and fires it into the air after a touchdown. Very hard.

Read More: Bengals, Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh, Cincinnati Bengals

Nuggetpalooza: Around the NFL – Week 1

09.11.10 at 10:54 am ET
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For those of you who’s NFL lives don’t begin and end with the Patriots each week, how about a bunch of nuggets from around the league?

* – The Cleveland Browns have not rushed for a touchdown in the 1st quarter in their last 42 straight games dating back to October, 2007. They had another streak of 55 straight without a 1Q rushing TD from ’00 through ’03.

* – In 2009, the Dallas Cowboys had 26 possessions that lasted 10 or more plays but they managed to score points on just 11 of those (42.3%). Not only was that the lowest percentage in the NFL last season, but it was the lowest by any team since the 2003 New York Giants scored on just 40.0% of their 25 drives of 10+ plays.

* – The Miami Dolphins converted 78.9% of their 3rd and short (3 yards or fewer) tries last season, the highest such percentage in the NFL since Kansas City in 2004 (79.6%).

* – The New Orleans Saints have allowed at least one 10+ yd rush in the 1st quarter of their last 14 straight regular season games (including Thursday night against the Vikings). The 49ers have allowed only 4 such 1st quarter rushes over their last 22 games (143 carries).

* – New England has won 44 of their last 47 home games in which they have scored first. During that same span, they’re 14-10 when their opponent gets on the board first.

* – San Francisco 49ers receivers caught the ball an average of just 3.3 yards downfield in home games last season, by far the lowest such average since they began tracking the stat in 1992.  On the road, though, they made the catch an average of 7.0 yards downfield, the 4th HIGHEST average in the NFL in 2009.  They travel to Seattle on Sunday.

* – Opponents blitzed the Seattle Seahawks on 36% of their pass plays last season (19th) and recorded sacks on 12.4% of those plays, the highest percentage in the league. When there was no blitz, their sack percentage (2.9%) was the 3rd LOWEST in the league.

* – 51% of the Philadelphia Eagles passing yards last season came on pass plays gaining 20+ yards, the highest percentage in the NFL. Next highest were the NY Giants (47%) and the San Diego Chargers (46%).

* – The Pittsburgh Steelersdefense came on the field following a turnover 25 times in 2009 and allowed only 1 touchdown on those 25 drives (4%). Compare that to the Tennessee Titans, who allowed 13 touchdowns following 31 turnovers (42%).

* – 41.5% of passes by NY Jets’ quarterbacks (mostly Mark Sanchez) were recorded as “uncatchable” last season, the 2nd highest percentage in the league. Only Cleveland’s quarterbacks (who are gone now) were worse (41.8%).

* – The Green Bay Packersdefense gave up 36 first downs via penalty in 2009, the most in the league, just ahead of Baltimore (35), Philadelphia (34), and Houston (34).

* – The Tampa Bay Bucs fumbled 25 times last season, but lost only 5 of those (20%), the lowest percentage in the NFL. Compare that to Denver, who fumbled only 15 times but 10 became turnovers (67%).

* – The Minnesota Vikings found themselves in a goal-to-go situation 40 times last year (NFL high) and averaged 6.3 points on those drives (also NFL high), scoring 39 times (34 touchdowns). How much different would last season have been for Chicago if they had averaged more than 4.8 points (30th) on their 32 goal-to-go chances. UPDATE: Minnesota never had a goal-to-go chance on Thursday night.

* – The Washington Redskins and the NY Jets were the only defenses that did not record an interception on a pass play that began inside their 30 yard line last year. San Francisco, New Orleans, and Carolina each had 7 such picks.

* – The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Bucs were the only teams that did not allow a kickoff return of 40 or more yards in 2009. They were the first teams to go a whole season without allowing a 40+ KOR since 2006.

* – The Green Bay Packers have not allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown since December 7, 2003, a streak of 454 consecutive KOR without their opponent taking one to the house. The second longest current streak is 286, by the Seattle Seahawks. They last allowed a KOR for a TD on October 9, 2005.

* – The Kansas City Chiefs defense stuffed opposing rushers for losses on just 4.9% of running plays last season, the lowest percentage since they began tracking the stat in 1994.

* – The Philadelphia Eagles have allowed a total of 1 passing touchdown in their last six opening week games. Let’s see, they’re playing the Packers on Sunday. I’ll be surprised if this one holds up.

* – The New York Giants have allowed at least 1 touchdown pass in each of their last 24 opening week games (since 1985). Let’s see, they’re playing Carolina (and starting QB Matt Moore) this Sunday. Is 2010 the year that this streak ends?

* – The Jacksonville Jaguars managed just 4 quarterback sacks at home last season, the fewest in the 16 game era.

* – The Indianapolis Colts did not allow any pass plays of 25 yards or more in the 4th quarter last season (182 pass attempts).  They are the only team to do so since they began tracking the stat in 1994.

Enjoy the games!

Bengals practice report for Friday

09.10.10 at 4:34 pm ET
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Bengals’ Thursday injury report

Did Not Participate in Practice
CB Brandon Ghee (head) Doubtful
WR Andre Caldwell (groin) Questionable

Limited Participation in Practice
HB/FB Brian Leonard (foot) Questionable

Full Participation in Practice
DT Geno Atkins (knee) Probable
DE Jonathan Fanene (hamstring) Probable

Read More: Bengals practice report, Cincinnati Bengals, nfl, Patriots

Patriots practice report for Friday

09.10.10 at 4:19 pm ET
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Patriots’ Thursday injury report

Did Not Participate in Practice
OT Nick Kaczur (back) OUT
CB Terrence Wheatley (foot) OUT

Limited Participation in Practice
WR Julian Edelman (foot) Questionable
RB Laurence Maroney  (thigh) Questionable

Full Participation in Practice
CB Kyle Arrington (groin) Questionable
DT Ron Brace (ankle) Probable
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder) Probable
LB Jermaine Cunningham (ankle) Probable
DE Brandon Deaderick (toe) Probable
TE Aaron Hernandez (knee) Probable
DE Myron Pryor (knee) Probable
WR Matt Slater (hamstring) Probable
S Jarrad Page (back) Probable

Read More: New England Patriots, Patriots, Patriots injury report,
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