|10.26.14 at 4:04 pm ET|
FOXBORO — One week ahead of their showdown with the high-scoring Broncos, the Patriots served notice they can score with the best of them.
On Sunday against the Bears, New England had little trouble, jumping to a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter and adding three shockingly fast touchdowns in less than two minutes before halftime to put the game away. They sat on the ball for the bulk of the second half on the way to a 51-23 win over Chicago.
Tom Brady had a phenomenal afternoon, going 30-for-35 with 354 yards and five touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski added nine catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns, while Jonas Gray added 16 carries for 80 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Jay Cutler went 20-for-30 for 227 yards, with three touchdowns and a pick. He got most of his help from Matt Forte, who had 19 carries for 114 yards to go along with six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Here’s what we learned about the Patriots on Sunday:
A healthy Rob Gronkowski changes everything
Gronkowski, who left the game midway through the third quarter with what the team termed as dehydration, finished the afternoon with nine catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns. It was the 14th time in his career he topped the 100-yard receiving mark. His most impressive feat came on the first drive of the second half, where he busted through a series of would-be Chicago tacklers on the way to the end zone, a 46-yard score that brought to mind the broken-field runs he made in 2011. It was a masterful performance for the big tight end, who will likely be packed in bubble wrap for the remainder of the week as the Patriots prepare for their biggest test of the season in the Broncos next week.
|10.26.14 at 2:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots seized command early and added three rapid scores at the end of the second quarter to build a huge lead — 38-7 after two quarters here at Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady had an incredibly sharp first half, finishing 18-for-21 for 203 yards with four touchdowns. It marked the fifth time in his career he finished with four or more TDs in one half, with the last time coming on Oct. 18, 2009. Meanwhile, Jay Cutler was 7-for-13 for 66 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Here are a few quick notes:
— With the exception of one Chicago drive midway through the second quarter, the Patriots dominated most of the first two quarters on both sides of the ball. On defense, they were able to minimize the damage inflicted by Matt Forte (10 rushes, 59 yards, as well as four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown), while the Bears had no answer for Rob Gronkowski (8 catches for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns), who went over 100 receiving yards for the 14th time in his career. Read the rest of this entry »
|10.26.14 at 11:41 am ET|
FOXBORO — The following Patriots are inactive for Sunday’s game with the Bears: cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, offensive linemen Jordan Devey, Cameron Fleming, and Chris Barker, wide receiver Aaron Dobson, safety Nate Ebner and defensive end Chandler Jones.
Jones (hip) was the only player who was already ruled out, as it is reported his injury will keep him out for six weeks and possibly the reminder of the season.
This is the second straight week Dobson has been inactive and the fifth time out of eight games this season. Dennard started the last three games, but will be inactive for the fourth time this season — he was not listed on the injury report this week. With Dennard inactive, expect Brandon Browner and Logan Ryan to get the bulk of the plays on the other side of Darrelle Revis.
The offensive line also gets a boost with both Bryan Stork and Dan Connolly returning from concussions. Stork has missed two straight games, Connolly just last week.
Linebacker Akeem Ayers, who was traded to the Patriots officially on Wednesday, will make his debut with the team. Also, rookie running back James White is active for just the second time this season.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|10.26.14 at 11:12 am ET|
|10.26.14 at 10:42 am ET|
FOXBORO — Are the Patriots in the running for star wide receiver Vincent Jackson?
According to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the answer is yes. Rapoport reported Sunday morning that the Patriots are one of the teams considering making an offer to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the big play receiver.
According to Rapoport, Tampa Bay wants “real value” in return, said to be at least a second round pick for the 31-year-old receiver with 25 catches, 344 yards and two touchdowns this season for the 1-5 Bucs. Jackson would give the Patriots something critics and scouts alike have said has been desperately lacking in the passing game – a legitimate deep threat with size, as Jackson stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 230 pounds.
At the very least, the Patriots would have to make an offer better than what the Eagles and Seahawks are said to be considering offering the Bucs.
Jackson signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Bucs in March 2012. Any team that trades for him would assume approximately a $5 million cap hit. According to the sports salary tracker Spotrac, the Patriots currently stand roughly $8.8 million under the cap.
The trade deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m.
‘ Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 26, 2014
|10.26.14 at 9:48 am ET|
FOXBORO — Mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s are expected for the 1 p.m. showdown between the Patriots and Bears in the last game before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. NFL trade deadline, and the last game before Halloween. Wind could be a factor as the forecast calls for a gust out of the north, northeast at 16 MPH.
The Patriots have been Jekyll and Hyde this season, showing their typical scary potential on offense in wins over the Bengals and Bills. They have also looked ghoulish in near-home losses to arguably the two worst teams in football, the Raiders and Jets.
Still, the Patriots are riding a three-game winning streak entering their match against the “Monsters of the Midway,” who have been hit-and-miss themselves this season.
The Bears enter the game with a 3-4 record and are coming off a hideous 27-14 home loss to the Dolphins last Sunday in Chicago. The Bears, when they don’t shoot themselves in the foot and turn the ball over, are one of the most explosive teams in the league, featuring Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and the NFL’s leading receiver Matt Forte. And, of course, they have one of the most unpredictable quarterbacks in the game in Jay Cutler.
Their defense still has the ability to rush the passer, with names like Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston.
The Patriots will be without their leading pass rusher Chandler Jones, who is out with a hip injury for at least six weeks and could be gone for the season. Shane Vereen is officially questionable after missing Friday’s practice with an illness.
Tom Brady is facing the Bears for the fourth time in his career, having won the previous three meetings.
Of all the impressive statistics the Patriots have compiled in their time at Gillette Stadium, their record in their last 43 games might be most impressive. New England is 40-3 in their last 43 games in Foxboro. They also own the NFL’s longest home winning streak at 12 games. They also have won 70 straight home games when leading at the half. The last time the Patriots lost a game when leading at halftime was in Bill Belichick‘s first season in New England, a 27-24 loss to the Dolphins on Christmas Eve 2000 at old Foxboro Stadium.
New England’s 84-15 record in 99 regular season games at Gillette is the highest win percentage in the NFL since the 1970 merger.
|10.25.14 at 10:11 pm ET|
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