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Bill Belichick: That Peyton Manning is good

11.17.10 at 2:26 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick was in the mood for stating the obvious on Wednesday. But in all fairness, he was asked the fairly obvious questions about arguably the greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

“They’re both really good,” answered Belichick when asked if he could appreciate the fans’ interest in debating who’s the better QB. “I’ll leave that to [media], you and the experts.”

He also offered this on Manning, who is again leading a winner on the field this year as he brings his 6-3 Colts to town on Sunday.

“It’s no secret he’s good,” Belichick said. “I don’t think that’s a big news story, right? He’s great. He’s a great quarterback. He does a good job no matter who’s in there. There aren’t many bad plays from him, not many at all. He does a great job managing the team, getting the team in the right play, very accurate passer. He takes what you give him.”

But while Belichick has tremendous respect for Manning, Brady is still his guy, through and through.

“I have a lot of respect for Peyton Manning,” Belichick said. “He’s a tremendous quarterback. There’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady.”

The Colts have had seven straight seasons of at least 12 wins, a remarkable feat in this age of parity in the NFL. The Patriots have won the AFC East in eight of the last 10 seasons. Also remarkable.

“The Colts, as usual, look real good, they just good at everything,” Belichick said.

If Belichick sounds like a broken record, there’s particularly good reason for that this week. This is the sixth straight November that the Patriots and Colts are squaring off as the NFL loves to capitalize on the league’s most competitive and marquee match-up for TV ratings. So, for Belichick, this might as well be a division game against the AFC South.

“Back in the division again,” Belichick quipped. “Just like Pittsburgh.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, nfl

Pats practice Wednesday: Tom Brady misses

11.17.10 at 2:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For the second straight week, Tom Brady missed Wednesday practice to rest his foot as the Patriots began on-field work in advance of their latest huge game, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Brady was nursing a foot injury following the loss in Cleveland on Nov. 7 and did not practice last Wednesday. He was also limited on Thursday and Friday but showed no ill effects during a 39-26 thrashing of the Steelers last Sunday night. Brady had his first 300-yard game, throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski while rushing for another.

Also missing from practice again were safety Jarrad Page (calf) and Myron Pryor (back). The team practice in sweats and shells on the upper grass fields outside Gillette.

Read More: Indianapolis Colts, Jarrad Page, Myron Pryor, New England Patriots

Tom Brady on 4th-and-2: ‘I wouldn’t expect anything different’

11.17.10 at 1:23 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Like everyone else in New England, Tom Brady remembers ‘fourth-and-2′ last November at Lucas Oil Field.

It’s just that he doesn’t look back on it at all. So he said Wednesday, just four days before he finally gets a chance at payback.

Last year, the Patriots needed just two yards for a first down with two minutes to go to salt away a 34-28 win at Indy. But instead of punting the ball away to Peyton Manning and the then-perfect Colts, Pats coach Bill Belichick decided to put the contest in Brady’s hands.

“I haven’t thought about it at all since probably that game, since that night as a matter of fact,” Brady said Wednesday. “When it comes to those situations, and it could happen this weekend, I’m always confident we’re going to be able to make the play. Our coaches have always had a lot of faith in what we do offensively and the way the offensive line protects and the way the receivers get open.”

Brady hit an open Kevin Faulk in the flat last year but instead of two yards, he was called short by about three inches and Manning and company took over at the Patriots 29 and drove in for the go-ahead score with 13 seconds remaining in a gut-wrenching 35-34 loss to the Colts.

This year, even in victory, Belichick has not shied away from going for it when “the book” might suggest otherwise. The Patriots were leading the Chargers 23-20 when the Patriots went for it at midfield. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was stuffed a full yard short and the Chargers drove into field goal position, only to see Nate Kaeding clang his 50-yard kick off the right upright. Unlike Indy on Nov. 15, 2009, the Patriots escaped with a win.

In total, the Patriots are 5-for-8 or 63 percent  on fourth down.

“He’s gone for it a bunch on fourth down this year so if it comes down to it again, I wouldn’t expect anything different,” Brady said.

Except the result.

Read More: 4th-and-2, Bill Belichick, Indianapolis Colts, Kevin Faulk

Pierre Woods back with Patriots

11.17.10 at 12:04 pm ET
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The Patriots on Wednesday announced the signing of linebacker Pierre Woods, who had been released by the team on Sept. 4. A 6-foot-5, 255-pounder, Woods joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Michigan in 2006 and played four seasons with New England before his release. In 52 games, he has 48 tackles on defense and 62 on special teams.

The roster spot became available when Shawn Crable was released Tuesday.

Read More: Pierre Woods, Shawn Crable,

James Sanders named AFC Defensive Player of Week

11.17.10 at 11:00 am ET
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Safety James Sanders was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday for his performance in Sunday night’s 39-26 win over the Steelers. Sanders’ highlight was his fourth-quarter interception that he returned 32 yards for a touchdown.

Sanders is the first Patriots player to win a Player of the Week award this season, and it’s the first time in his career that Sanders has been so honored.

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The Big Nickel: Looking back at Tom Brady’s big night, wondering who could replace Dallas Clark and … Kirsten Dunst?

11.16.10 at 7:44 pm ET
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The five most things you need to know about the Patriots on Tuesday:

1. With an extra day to take a closer look at Tom Brady‘€™s performance against the Steelers, the guys over at Football Outsiders suggest that given the fact that it came against the Pittsburgh defense, it could be one of the finest single-game performance of his career.

FO’€™s Bill Barnwell writes that Brady’€™s line against the Steelers ‘€” 31-for-43 for 350 yards and three touchdowns ‘€” certainly deserves a spot in the pantheon of Brady’€™s best games. As part of an in-depth look at Brady’s night, Barnwell notes the quarterback was ‘€œdevastating when the Patriots threw downfield against the Steelers,’€ writing ‘€œon passes thrown 15 yards past the line of scrimmage or more, Brady was 5-of-7 for 132 yards and two scores. Before Sunday, the Steelers had 53 such passes thrown against them and allowed just 28 completions.’€

As for Brady, he said Tuesday that Sunday’€™s game came down to some great plays by his pass catchers, singling out tight end Rob Gronkowski on his first touchdown reception, as well as the work of Brandon Tate, Alge Crumpler, Wes Welker and Deion Branch in the passing game and BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the running game.

‘€œWe say that all the time, you know, you’€™ve got to go out and make plays. And certainly you go out there not to lose and not to turn it over, that’€™s important,’€ Brady told WEEI. ‘€œBut, ultimately it’€™s got to come down to guys making plays, and we were making plays the other night.’€

2. Peyton Manning has been without his most reliable option since last month, when the Colts placed tight end Dallas Clark on season-ending injured reserve with a wrist problem. (Indianapolis has put 12 players on season-ending IR this year.) The two, who former one of the most prolific quarterback/tight end combos in NFL history ‘€” they have paired for 44 touchdown passes, one behind all-time leaders and former Patriots’€™ Drew Bledsoe and Ben Coates ‘€” have tormented the Patriots over the years.

But on Sunday, the Patriots will see an all new offense, including Jacob Tamme, a 25-year-old who has stepped in at tight end in place of Clark this season and has 24 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns. (Tamme was reportedly a little dinged up in Sunday’s win over the Bengals.)

According to Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the Colts haven’€™t made many changes to their offense since Clark went down. While they still lean heavily on wide receiver Reggie Wayne, Belichick said they still run the same offense they have in the past, a grouping that includes new faces like Tamme and a handful of other relatively anonymous pass catchers.

‘€œ[Jacob] Tamme’€™s done a good job for them there. They’€™ve really played four different tight ends, primarily three, after Clark, so, they use a lot of different people, different combinations,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œIt comes down to team offense. They’€™re effective moving the ball regardless of who the tight end is or who anybody is. [If] you take something away from them, they find somewhere else to go.

‘€œClark did a great job for them, but Tamme’€™s stepped in and done a good job. They’€™ve gotten production from their other receivers, from [Austin] Collie, [Pierre] Garcon and I know other guys they’€™ve used in there, as well. Blair White‘€™s done a good job for them. They’€™re definitely able to use their other tight ends: [Brody] Eldridge and [Gijon] Robinson. They’€™re able to still continue to make the defense defend everything, take the play and go to the weak spots that the defense gives them.’€
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Read More: Ben Coates, Bill Barnwell, Bill Belichick, Dallas Clark

Patriots release linebacker Shawn Crable

11.16.10 at 6:07 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Tuesday evening they have released linebacker Shawn Crable. The Michigan product, a third-round pick of New England back in 2008, played in six games in 2010 and registered four total tackles, a half a sack and one special teams tackle. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Crable was inactive for the first eight games of the 2008 season before finishing the year on injured reserve. He spent the entire 2009 season on injured reserve, and was released by the Patriots on July 28 and signed to the practice squad on September 6. He was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Sept. 25.

Read More: Shawn Crable,
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