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Bill Belichick gets emotional in locker room when Robert Kraft presents him with game ball

10.17.16 at 6:25 pm ET
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A different side of Bill Belichick came out after the game Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

A different side of Bill Belichick came out after the game Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

After the Patriots’ win over the Bengals on Sunday, Bill Belichick showed an emotional side not many people often see from him inside the Patriots locker room.

When the Patriots beat the Browns in Week 5, Belichick earned win No. 250 for his career, becoming just the fourth coach in NFL history to do so.

Following Sunday’s 35-17 win over the Bengals, owner Robert Kraft presented Belichick a game ball to honor the achievement.

“Last week in Cleveland, a special milestone happened — only the fourth time in the 90-odd year history of the NFL that a coach reached 250 wins,” Kraft said via “So we all wanted to present Coach Belichick with this game ball. We think it was especially sweet that he did it in Cleveland.”

Belichick appreciated the gift and appeared rather emotional for him.

“You guys know this — I’ve said it many times, and it is the truth, coaches don’t win games, they lose them and players win them,” he said. “I’m lucky. I’ve coached a lot of great players. Let’s get ready to go this week. On to Pittsburgh.”

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Bill Belichick on D&H offers insight on how he feels about Patriots defense this season

10.17.16 at 5:20 pm ET
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Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 35-17 win over the Bengals on Sunday and also how he feels about his defense this season. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The eye test says the Patriots defense has had an up-and-down season with a few stretches of poor play within games, but the overall results have been good.

Belichick was asked what statistic matters most to him when it comes to the play of his defense.

“Points,” he said without hesitation.

“It’s all about points,” Belichick said. “How do you score points? How do you score points in the red-area, goal-line — there’s a lot of points involved there. You score points on big plays where plays don’t go through the red-area. So defensively, if you can’t give up big plays and force the team to drive through the red-area and play well in the red-area and not give up touchdowns, give up field goals, then how many points can you score? I mean, it’s hard to get a lot of points that way.

“Obviously, the better you play on third-down — and look there is no stat that correlates more to winning than turnovers. So, points in No. 1, turnovers is No. 2. Third-down and red-area are critical. Red-area is points and third-down is really the form of a turnover because you give up possession of the ball based on what happens on that down, so punting is involved so it’s not the same field position you could get if you turned it over, but it’s kind of close.

“I think when you look at those four aspects — points, turnovers, third-down, red-area — generally speaking that pretty much tells the story of most games. If we can keep the points down on defense, that always helps our chances of winning and nothing correlates more to winning than turnover stat, period.”

Judging by Belichick’s thinking, especially when it comes to points, the Patriots defense is playing well this season, as through the first six games they have allowed an average of 15.2 points per game, the second-fewest in the entire league.

The other three stats aren’t as good as the Patriots are in the middle of the back in forcing turnovers, but make up for it on offense by not turning the ball over much. They are 27th overall in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 44 percent of the time and have struggled much of the season in the red-area.

But overall, at least according to Belichick and his statistical thinking, the Patriots defense is getting the job done.

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Patriots add FB Glenn Gronkowski, RB Tyler Gaffney to practice squad

10.17.16 at 4:40 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Gillette Stadium is a two-Gronkowski place again.

Fullback Glenn Gronkowski was in the Patriots locker room Monday afternoon and confirmed he has been added back to the Patriots practice squad. He was released last week after spending a week on the practice squad leading into the Browns game.

Another familiar face was also seen, as running back Tyler Gaffney was spotted and also confirmed he has been added to the practice squad. Gaffney was released with an injury settlement after training camp, but settled with the team and is now back on the practice squad.

The Patriots had two open spots on the practice squad following the promotions of Anthony Johnson and Geneo Grissom for Sunday’s game against the Bengals.

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Rob Gronkowski zeroing in on top spot of Tom Brady’s list of all-time favorite targets

10.17.16 at 12:37 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski has caught more passes from Tom Brady than anyone other than Wes Welker. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski has caught more passes from Tom Brady than anyone other than Wes Welker. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

We have tracked Tom Brady’s big board of favorite receivers several times over the last few years, but with Rob Gronkowski continuing to move up the list and Julian Edelman landing in the top 5 this year, we figured it would be a good time to revisit the latest totals. As always, we have to point out that these are not career totals, but only catches from Brady during regular-season contests:

Most catches from Brady, regular-season games only:
1. Wes Welker (563 catches in 78 career regular-season games with Brady)
2. Rob Gronkowski (391 catches in 82 games)
3. Deion Branch (328 catches in 89 games)
4. Julian Edelman (327 catches in 89 games)
5. Troy Brown (323 catches in 84 games)
6. Kevin Faulk (310 catches in 117 games)
7. Randy Moss (192 catches in 36 games)
8. Aaron Hernandez (175 catches in 38 games)
9. David Givens (158 catches in 53 career games with Brady)
10. David Patten (157 catches in 54 games)

Here’s the rest of the top 20:

11. Danny Amendola, 144 catches. 12. Ben Watson, 142. 13. Daniel Graham, 117. 14. Brandon LaFell, 107. 15. Shane Vereen, 106. 16. Danny Woodhead, 92. 17. Christian Fauria, 79. 18. Brandon Lloyd, 74. 19. James White, 65. 20. Antowain Smith, 64.

Five thoughts on the list:

1. Other than Gronkowski, the top 6 consists of only smallish, “make-you-miss” guys who had the sort of field awareness to understand what the quarterback needed and when, particularly when it came to reaching the sticks. Says something about the comfort level Brady has with some of those guys, especially Welker. Of course, in the rush to praise Gronkowski, it’s easy to dismiss Welker and his tremendous run, but it’s even more amazing to consider that Welker lost almost a full season with Brady (2008) because of the QB’s knee injury. Welker is already head-and-shoulders above the rest of the pack. If the two were able to stick on another 80-catch season, it’s unfathomable what they might have been able to accomplish.

2. That being said, can Gronkowski pass Welker? Going into Week Six, he’s 172 catches off Welker’s mark. If he can finish this season with somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 catches (an eminently reachable goal, considering his slow start), that would give him 453 at the end of the 2016 season — 110 shy of Welker’s mark. If he and Brady stay healthy, he could pass Welker somewhere toward the middle of the 2018 season.

3. In such a short span (36 games, the fewest in the top 10), Moss’ numbers are ridiculous. If he had all of 2008 with Brady, and found a way to work before his 2010 trade, he could have certainly landed in the top 5.

4. Amendola has gotten off to a slow start, but he should almost certainly break into the top 10, and could climb as high as No. 9 before the end of the season. White is the latest name to land in the top 20, thanks in large part to his nice day Sunday against the Bengals. He’s one of four “third-down backs” who have reached the top 20.

5. The guys who are on the active roster now who are closest to the top 20? Running back Dion Lewis has 49 catches, while tight end Martellus Bennett is already up to 11 in two games with Brady. One guy who just missed out was Aaron Dobson — the wide receiver who was cut loose this season had 53 catches from Brady in his three seasons with New England.

Read More: Julian Edelman, Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady

Dont’a Hightower on OM&F doesn’t approve of Vontaze Burfict’s low hit on Martellus Bennett

10.17.16 at 12:00 pm ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 35-17 win over the Bengals on Sunday, while also touching on the Bengals’ chippiness late in the game. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

Late in the game things got chippy with the Bengals taking some cheap shots against the Patriots, including linebacker Vontaze Burfict going at Martellus Bennett’s knees. Hightower, a linebacker himself, wasn’t a fan of the play.

“It does [piss me off], but that is part of football,” Hightower said. “If the refs don’t call it and that is what it has come up to. That’s up to the refs. You have to do as business is being done. There are a lot of things that go down under the pile that doesn’t get flagged or whatever.

“That hit — I don’t approve of any defensive player going to the knees taking down any offensive player no matter what the reason is.”

Hightower had one of the biggest plays of the game with a safety sack in the third quarter, which gave all the momentum to the Patriots. New England would go on to score on its next four possessions.

“It was actually a great call. Matty P [Matt Patricia] called that one up trying to get a little pressure inside,” Hightower said. “Definitely called. He called it at the right time. It was actually supposed to be a pick and E-Rob [Elandon Roberts] kind of hit the center and actually knocked him back a couple of yards and pulled him to his side. The gap opened up and I didn’t see Jeremy Hill.”

As for next Sunday’s game against the Steelers, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reportedly won’t play because of a knee injury. Hightower was honest saying he wouldn’t mind if he has to miss the game as it would give the Patriots an edge.

“I would not,” he said. “Hey, best shot and all that stuff, but I want to win. Whatever we can do to get that edge. Not having [Big Ben] would be a pretty big edge. I am sure he will try and get out there.”

Read More: Dont'a Hightower, Vontaze Burfict,

Bill Belichick defers to NFL on Vontaze Burfict: ‘We’ll let the league talk about that’

10.17.16 at 11:22 am ET
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Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick wasn’t about to get into a war of words with Vontaze Burfict or the Bengals on Monday.

The Patriots coach said he was more than willing to let the NFL and their disciplinary people handle the review of Burfict’s hit on Martellus Bennett in the fourth quarter Sunday.

With 11:22 left in the fourth, as the Patriots were marching down the field for a field goal, Adam Jones was defending Martellus Bennett over the middle and Tom Brady completed a pass to Danny Amendola.

Well after the ball, which was not intended for Bennett, cleared the receiver’s area, Burfict came in from Bennett’s blindside and took him out in the back of his left leg. Bennett was slow to get up and walked off the field after the hit. Replays showed that Burfict came over as Bennett was walking off and said something. Bennett said after the game that Burfict apologized for going low.

Multiple reports Monday morning indicated the league will review the play and take into account Burfict’s previous track record, which included a three-game suspension to start this season for his hit on Antonio Brown in the playoffs last season.

“We’ll let the league talk about that,” Belichick said. “It’s their decision. It doesn’t really matter what any of us think about it.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Cincinnati Bengals, Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots

NFL reportedly will review Vontaze Burfict hit on Martellus Bennett

10.17.16 at 10:01 am ET
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Things got chippy late in the Patriots’ 35-17 win over the Bengals on Sunday.

One of the plays that led to the chippiness was Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict going low on Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett for no apparent reason. (For video of the play, scroll down to the end of the post.)

According to multiple reports, the NFL will be looking into the play and will note that Burfict is a repeat offender. It seems likely a big fine will be coming.

Afterwards, Bennett said Burfict apologized for the play.

“Just playing football,” Bennett said of the play. “It gets like that sometimes. You get guys who don’t back down from anyone and play hard the whole game, it’s just what it is. We won’t back down. We’re not looking for trouble, but we won’t walk away from trouble either.

“We always have each others’ backs. Things happen in a game. It was one of those things that just happened. It usually doesn’t happen that way, but Gronk was like ‘Bro, I got you.’ And the same thing with him. We just try and set the tone.”

Read More: Martellus Bennett, Vontaze Burfict,
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