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Bill Belichick is asked about faking injuries to slow down the game

09.20.11 at 1:05 pm ET
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The Patriots have been big proponents of the hurry-up offense this season, using the no-huddle an extraordinary 42 of the 138 plays from scrimmage this season over the first two games. (For more on that, check out my story here.)

But the Chargers found a way to slow down New England on Sunday — albeit very briefly — when San Diego linebacker Shaun Phillips went down early in the game. Phillip returned to the contest shortly afterward, but his actions (as well as the actions of some of the players in the Giants-Rams game Monday night) have sparked a discussion across the league about defensive players possibly faking injuries in hopes of taking an offense out of a rhythm.

“I think we all see, the way the game is now,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, speaking on a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. “There are different breaks in the game at all points in time. You can have the momentum, and positive things going in your favor, and we stop and review a play, review a score, or a play gets challenged, or a player gets injured, a beach ball rolls on to the field. It could be a dog runs out there. It could be anything. Streakers, you could have that.

“Things happen,” Belichick added. “That’s part of being focused and playing through the situation, whatever it is that comes up, you have to be able to deal with it, both sides of the ball, for and against it, on the road and home. It’s just part of the game. I think if you want to address that whole issue, that’s something that needs to go to the people who make the rules.”

Of course, the Patriots have been accused of similar stalling tactics in the past. In a 2003 game against the Colts, Indianapolis was in the midst of a second-half comeback before New England linebacker Willie McGinest went down with what appeared to be a knee problem — a strange sight for one of the Patriots most durable players of that era. (He returned to the game soon after, and later, was a little coy about the nature of the injury.) Of course, McGinest made the big play at the end of the game, stopping Edgerrin James on the goal line, but the memory of McGinest’s action is still fresh for many Indianapolis fans.

Of course, this give us an excuse to post our favorite fake sports injury of all time:

Read More: Bill Belichick, Edgerrin James, Rodney Dangerfield, Shaun Phillips

WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

09.20.11 at 10:25 am ET
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A thrilling Week 2 provided much insight on which teams will be pretenders and which will be contenders. The week also left us scratching our heads in some cases. The Bills and Redskins are both 2-0 while the Ravens were upset by the Titans.

The Packers and Patriots retain their spots as the top two teams in the NFL. Entering the top five for the first time this season are Rex Ryan‘s Jets (4).  In a rapid decline are three playoff teams from 2010. The Chiefs (30), Colts (31) and Seahawks (32) have dropped to the bottom of the league.

Looking ahead, there are a few key games in Week 3 that could have a great impact on the rankings: Packers at Bears, Giants at Eagles, Texans at Saints, and Redskins at Cowboys. We should be in for another exciting week in the NFL.

1. (1) Packers (2-0) ‘€” Aaron Rodgers and the Packers maintained their composure after falling behind to an inferior Panthers team and came back with a win. Rodgers has to love the production he got from James Starks. Starks averaged over nine yards per carry. Add a strong run game to an explosive pass game and the Packers will have their way with opposing defenses all season. On a down note, Packers Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins is out for the year. This is a team certainly capable of overcoming injuries but definitely a cause for concern as the pass defense has allowed back to back 400-plus-yard games.

2. (2) Patriots (2-0) ‘€” Tony Dungy said Sunday night that Tom Brady and the Patriots look like the 2007 team that went 18-1. It’s tough to disagree. The Patriots offense has been unstoppable over the first two games while the “bend but don’t break defense” has forced key turnovers.

3. (5) Saints (1-1) ‘€” The Saints defense responded well in Week 2 after getting torched by the Packers on opening night. It’s important to note that they were facing the Bears offensive line, but the Saints attacked the quarterback and sacked Jay Cutler six times while also forcing a fumble. In just two weeks, Darren Sproles has made Saints fans ask, “Reggie who?” Sproles has quickly become one of Drew Brees‘ favorite weapons. He was targeted 10 times in Sunday’s win.

4. (6) Jets (2-0) ‘€” The Jets came out ready to play on Sunday after a shaky Week 1 performance. Luke McCown and the Jaguars offense proved to be no match for the Jets dominant D. Rex Ryan‘s defensive unit had four interceptions and held the Jaguars to under 100 yards passing. Mark Sanchez, on the other hand, was inconsistent once again. He threw two interceptions, upping his turnover total to four this season. Furthermore, Nick Mangold will miss some time and that could also hinder Sanchez’ play. Mangold has started in every game since entering the league in 2006.

5. (4) Ravens (1-1) ‘€” If the Ravens want to reach the Super Bowl, they can’t afford to have many more games like they did last Sunday. The defense was totally unprepared for the Titans passing game as they looked helpless against Matt Hasselbeck. The pass rush was nonexistent and the thin secondary had no answer for Kenny Britt. With all that being said, I’d be shocked if we saw a similar type of performance from the Ravens in Week 3.

6. (7) Steelers (1-1) ‘€” The Steelers did exactly what many expected after suffering an embarrassing Week 1 loss. They routed an awful Seahawks team. Looking ahead, they’ll face another second-rate team next week when they travel to Indy.

7. (10) Falcons (1-1) ‘€” The Falcons played to their strengths Sunday night and they came away with a huge win. This team is at its best when it has a strong balance in the run and pass game. Matt Ryan performed great in the no-huddle offense while Michael Turner and the Falcons running game also excelled.

8. (3) Eagles (1-1) ‘€” The so-called “Dream Team” of the NFL has a lot of challenges ahead. It took just seven quarters of football for Michael Vick to suffer a serious enough injury that he had to leave the game. The Eagles have some major problems. Vick continues to be on the ugly side of some vicious hits, he’s been careless with the football, and the defense has struggled mightily, especially against the run.

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Jets, NFL Power Rankings, Packers

Fantasy Football: Week 3 Waiver Wire

09.20.11 at 8:00 am ET
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Here is our Week 3 waiver wire. Obviously, if any of our guys from last week are available, we still encourage you to add players like Cam Newton, Ben Tate, James Starks or Mike Tolbert. Here, we present you with ten new options. If you are looking for more, please check out our full waiver wire at Rotobahn.com.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals

For those who have been reading Rotobahn, you know we like Dalton, but even we did not expect him to be this cool and calm this soon. He looks good out there and he has a GREAT array of weapons with Green, Gresham, Simpson and crew. He’s worth an add in most medium-to-large leagues right now as a backup or matchup option.

Roy Helu, RB, Redskins

We told you to add him last week. If you did, you beat the rush and saved some cash. If you are leveraged on Tim Hightower, you MUST add Helu. Sell out for him. Now, if you don’t have Hightower, we’d still go hard after this guy. He was the preferred player in the 2nd half for Washington and he should be the man there before the year is over. He could have predictable flex value in the near future. He should be owned in all formats.

Dexter McCluster, RB, Chiefs

Here’s what we said last week… “We called him out as a week-one sleeper and we were right. This is probably the guy to use as a handcuff to Jamaal Charles, even though he is listed as a WR on most sites. He is the guy who will explode in value if Charles goes down. And, certain sites, like Yahoo for example, give him multi-positional status, which is a rarity and could give him extra value depending on your league’€™s format.” Obviously, the dynamic has changed. He’s probably going to play as a tailback now, but he could have great value in leagues that give him multi-positionality. He won’t get all of JC’s touches and he is not Jamaal Charles, but he should be a viable flex play in most formats now that his touches are going to double. At least we think they will double.

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Following the flags: Breaking down the Patriots penalties through two games

09.19.11 at 7:48 pm ET
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In their first two games of the season, the Patriots have been flagged for 15 penalties (tied for eighth-most overall with the Cowboys) and 130 yards (tied for sixth-most with the Titans). Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against New England, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
Matt Light: two penalties (both holding), 20 yards
Dan Gronkowski: two penalties (both false starts), 10 yards
Leigh Bodden: two penalties (both defensive holding), 10 yards
Sergio Brown: one penalty (defensive pass interference), 20 yards
Andre Carter: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
James Ihedigbo: one penalty (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
Nate Solder: one penalty (holding), 10 yards
Devin McCourty: one penalty (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
Rob Gronkowski: one penalty (holding), 10 yards
Chad Ochocinco: one penalty (illegal formation), five yards
Deion Branch: one penalty (false start), five yards
Brian Waters: one penalty (holding), 5 yards

Most penalized by position:
Offensive line: four penalties for 35 yards
Tight end: three penalties for 30 yards
Cornerback: three penalties for 30 yards
Safety: two penalties for 30 yards
Defensive line: one penalty for 15 yards
Wide receiver two penalties for 10 yards

Most frequently called penalties on the Patriots:
Offensive holding: five
False start: three
Defensive holding: two
Illegal block above the waist: two
Defensive pass interference: one
Roughing the passer: one
Illegal formation: one

Read More: Patriots, penalties,

Check out the first meeting of the top two passers in the NFL, Tom Brady and Cam Newton

09.19.11 at 4:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The folks at Under Armour have to be loving this — the first two weeks of the season, its two marquee pitchmen (Tom Brady and Cam Newton) are a 1-2 in the league in total passing yards. Brady has 940 yards through two games, while the rookie out of Carolina has 854 yards. Here’s the video of their first meeting:

Read More: Cam Newton, Tom Brady,

The next day, the Patriots talk about the ‘funky looks’ they showed San Diego’s Antonio Gates

09.19.11 at 4:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When it came to prep work for Sunday’€™s Patriots-Chargers game, the New England defense was presented with a simple choice: tight end Antonio Gates or wide receiver Vincent Jackson?

The Patriots decided to dedicate their efforts to stopping Gates, using multiple series of coverages against the All-Pro tight end. As a result of the work of a series of defenders, New England held Gates without a catch for the first time since Dec. 4, 2008, when he was shutout by the Raiders. (A stretch of 34 games.) After the game, Gates talked about the variety of ‘€œfunky looks’€ the Patriots showed him.

‘€œThey would put a corner and a safety on me, or two safeties ‘€¦ they did a lot of different things to take me out of the game,’€ said Gates, who had eight catches for 74 yards in a 24-17 win over Minnesota the previous week. ‘€œI kept working at it, kept trying. The end result was I couldn’€™t get the ball to come my way.

‘€œThey had a tremendous game plan and they executed well. They gave us different looks, a combination of things, making it difficult for me to release off the ball. With the defensive end, linebacker and the safety dropping down to help once I released. They made a lot of funky looks.’€

One of those ‘€œfunky looks’€ came the one time that San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers only threw in his direction once all afternoon, a second-half pass attempt where the ball was picked off by New England defensive back Sergio Brown. On that play, Gates wasn’€™t jammed off the line (as he had been for much of the afternoon) but was allowed to pass into the secondary unabated before Brown picked him up.

‘€œWe tried to mix it up,’€ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday afternoon when he was asked about the interception. ‘€œBetween jamming receivers, doubling them off the line with a jam, not doubling, doubling them downfield. We had various degrees of success with each. We tried to keep them off-balance and change up coverages.

‘€œIt wasn’€™t anything revolutionary.’€

In the end, while Jackson had 10 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns (most of which came at the expense of cornerback Devin McCourty, who was left in single coverage with him while the rest of the defense shadowed Gates), the tight end was a non-factor.

‘€œI think looking at the final stat sheet says a lot,’€ said safety Josh Barrett of the work they did on Gates. ‘€œGuys really did a good job, especially on the back end and even with the linebackers and even the defensive ends, getting hands on him early, and it was just keeping him somewhat contained. It was a great team effort doing that.

‘€œWe put an onus on it, and coach made sure that we had a scheme that was going to be able to kind of lock down what we had to do with him.’€

Read More: Antonio Gates, Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, Josh Barrett

Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘I won’t ever say that again’ about drinking before games

09.19.11 at 1:32 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady checked in with Dennis & Callahan for his Monday morning conversation, following Sunday’s 35-21 victory over the Chargers.

Brady created a controversy last week when he encouraged fans in Foxboro to get “lubed up” before Sunday’s late-afternoon start so Gillette Stadium would be loud and rowdy. He said Monday that he regretted how his joke played out.

“I hope there was nobody that was drinking irresponsibly,” Brady said. “I was trying to just make a very subtle joke. But for a guy that doesn’t even drink — me — it gets a lot of attention. I think that I won’t joke like that anymore. That wasn’t the best thing for me to say. I won’t ever say that again.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

In my humble opinion, the most significant play yesterday is a play where nothing happened. The hit to your knee early in the third quarter could have been devastating. It was not. What’s your recollection of that moment in the game?

I’m glad I had a knee brace on. Those are scary, man, when you’ve been through those ones before. He got me in a good spot, and I’m glad the knee brace took the brunt of the force. Why I never wore a knee brace before, I have no idea. Why every quarterback doesn’t wear one on their left knee, I have no idea. It’s just so unprotected.

But we were able to kind of withstand those literally and figuratively, the different blows from San Diego. We made some good plays out there in all three phases. That was really a great complementary game by all of us in a team win. It’s a very good San Diego team. And really, if you remember last year, that was a tough game that we played against them last year. Had we not gotten the turnovers last year in San Diego, we didn’t do anything offensively. So, to come out and play this way offensively against a very good defensive team was I think very encouraging for all of us.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch
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