|01.20.12 at 12:44 pm ET|
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday, two days before the showdown with the Ravens for the AFC championship. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“There’s a sense of urgency here,” Mayo said. “We feel like we’re ready to go. We’ve got a good game plan, and hopefully we can execute it on Sunday.”
Patriots players and coaches credited the team’s practices before the Broncos game as a key to the team’s success in the blowout victory. Asked how practice has been going this week, Mayo said: “Practice has been good. We’ve put in some different things, some different looks. been working on a lot of Baltimore stuff. They’ll be a challenge. It’s all about going out there and executing, and hopefully we can get it done.”
Joe Flacco has received a lot of criticism for his play, but Mayo said statements that the Ravens quarterback is unable or unwilling to move around the pocket aren’t accurate.
“Watching him these last couple of games, he’s been moving all right,” Mayo said. “I’ve seen a couple of runs where he’s run for like 40 yards on a play. So, I don’t know where these people are getting that from. I’m not going to sit here and say he’s Michael Vick, but at the same time, he’s not immobile. He can move around a little bit.”
|01.20.12 at 12:27 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Friday that former quarterback Drew Bledsoe will be one of the honorary captains for Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Ravens. The club previously announced that former wide receiver Troy Brown, linebacker Tedy Bruschi and cornerback Ty Law were the first two members of the group, all of which will come from players who were part of the 1996 AFC championship team, as well as the 2001 team.
|01.20.12 at 10:40 am ET|
Who will be the MVP of Sunday's AFC championship game?
- Tom Brady (51%, 164 Votes)
- Rob Gronkowski (17%, 56 Votes)
- Aaron Hernandez (6%, 20 Votes)
- Tim Tebow (6%, 18 Votes)
- Wes Welker (5%, 16 Votes)
- A Patriots defensive or special teams player (4%, 13 Votes)
- A different Patriots offensive player (4%, 12 Votes)
- Ray Rice (4%, 12 Votes)
- Joe Flacco (2%, 6 Votes)
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis (1%, 4 Votes)
- Anquan Boldin (0%, 1 Votes)
- A Ravens defensive or special teams player (0%, 1 Votes)
- A different Ravens offensive player (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 323
|01.20.12 at 10:32 am ET|
Who wins Sunday's AFC championship game?
- Patriots in a close game (52%, 231 Votes)
- Patriots in a blowout (34%, 151 Votes)
- Ravens in a close game (12%, 53 Votes)
- Ravens in a blowout (2%, 13 Votes)
Total Voters: 448
|01.19.12 at 7:37 pm ET|
Chung, who was sidelined for seven games with a foot injury he suffered in a Nov. 6 loss to the Giants, made his way back for the regular-season finale against the Bills on Jan. 1. And since the end of the first quarter of the win over Buffalo through the divisional playoffs last week against Denver, the New England defense has yielded one touchdown and 10 total points. Against the Broncos, the Patriots allowed 252 net yards, their lowest total allowed on the season.
During a year in which New England discarded veteran safeties like Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders, when he’s been healthy, the 5-foot-11, 212-pound Chung has been a steady, stabilizing presence in the secondary, providing support for the Patriots’ back line. For the season, the 24-year-old Chung was sixth on the team with 67 tackles (39 solo), to go along with one sack, two quarterback hits, one interception and four passes defensed.
‘Patrick brings a good level of experience. He’s been through a lot in terms of all our calls and adjustments,’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ‘Patrick is a smart guy. He understands concepts, he’s well prepared and he had a good level of experience. He’s been out there in all situations: first down, second down, third down, fourth down. He takes that experience to all those situations and he’s got good confidence.’
‘It means a lot [to get him back],’ linebacker Jerod Mayo said of Chung’s return. ‘We had a lot of different guys back there, and any time you can get consistency anywhere on the defensive side of the football, you’ll have a better defense. So it’s good to get him back, it’s good to get [Brandon] Spikes back and hopefully we continue to improve.’
|01.19.12 at 5:13 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It was arguably one of the most important games in NFL history and certainly the turning point for the Patriots franchise.
The snow began falling late in the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002. It didn’t stop until well after Adam Vinatieri‘s third field goal of the night split the uprights on New England’s first possession of overtime, sending the Patriots onto Pittsburgh and the AFC championship in Pittsburgh the next week.
But on Thursday morning, when Belichick was asked about one of the most important games of his career, he just stopped briefly to recognize it before insisting all of the team’s focus is on making sure they’re prepared to capture the franchise’s seventh AFC championship.
“It was a great game, it was a great night and of course a lot of fond memories but [we’re] really just trying to get on to Baltimore,” Belichick said. “We’ve had a lot of big wins in the past, we’ve had a lot of great games, we’ve lost games. Right now none of those really I think have too much impact on what’s going on this week. We’re really trying to keep our sights focused on Sunday’s game. It’s a one-game season, we’ve worked all year for that. We’ve worked hard for the last six months to put ourselves in that position and now it’s time for us to go out there and do our best with it. With all due respect to other games, other teams, other situations, it’s really not the forefront now.”
So, it came as no surprise earlier when Belichick was asked by an out-of-town reporter whether offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien‘s role has changed this week and whether he’ll make a good head coach at Penn State.
“We’re definitely all focused on the game with Baltimore and that’s what our team is preparing for,” Belichick said. “He’s done what we’ve asked him to do last week and this week and hopefully we’ll be able to play well on Sunday.”
|01.19.12 at 5:08 pm ET|
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Bernard Pollard has played in the NFL for six seasons, pretty impressive in a league where tomorrow is promised to absolutely no one. He’s been a starter for the last five, picking up at least 90 tackles four times during that span. And now, in his first season with the Ravens, he’s a single win away from the Super Bowl.
But for most NFL fans — and for all in New England — he’ll be forever defined by one play.
“The hit on Brady,” Pollard said on Thursday. “Look, it’s football, at the end of the day guys get hurt every Sunday. I think the fact of the matter is that in this case it was Tom Brady. Nothing was intentional, nothing was malicious. When that happened, we had other guys go down that day and nothing happened.”
In the season opener of 2008, Pollard lunged at Brady’s knee and hit him with his helmet, tearing Brady’s ACL and ending his season before the first quarter of Week 1 was even in the books. Pollard wasn’t flagged on the play, but the NFL instituted a rule after the season that penalized a player for making contact with a quarterback’s knee.
Brian Waters — a teammate of Pollard’s with the Chiefs in 2008 — said Thursday that Pollard “took pride” in being able to get a hit on Brady that September afternoon.
“I took pride because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Pollard said. “This is a game where anything can happen. I don’t care about recognition, I don’t care about being the face of the NFL, I’m just blessed to be able to do what I do.”
Pollard — who referred to Brady as “Mr. Pretty Boy” on Wednesday — said he’s looking forward to a trip to Gillette Stadium on Sunday. But the reaction from some fans to the hit on Brady was as serious as it gets, according to the veteran safety.
“I’ve gotten death threats, from fans, mail email stuff like that,” Pollard said. “They got my house address, they got the Chiefs facility, it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s one of those things. Fans don’t understand the game. We play this game and put so much into it, and when they see the beloved quarterback go down, no one wants to see it. Nobody wants to see it.”
Pollard said he’s never spoken to Brady, and has no plans to do so.
“I’ve not spoke to him directly, indirectly we’ve spoken through other people,” Pollard said. “If you are asking me if I apologized? No. And I’m not going to apologize for it. It’s football. He doesn’t apologize for throwing the ball over your head, he doesn’t apologize for throwing five touchdowns against you. We don’t want anyone to get hurt, but it’s a rough sport and sometimes things happen.”
As for Sunday’s AFC title game, Pollard — who called Brady the best quarterback he’s ever faced — played the respect card when asked about the New England offense.
“We know the monster we are going against,” Pollard said. “It’s going to be the ultimate challenge.”