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Brandon Meriweather on D&H: Win ‘goes straight to the coaches’

11.22.10 at 12:37 pm ET
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Defensive back Brandon Meriweather stopped by for his weekly chat with the Dale & Holley show Monday at Gillette Stadium as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday, one day after a 31-28 victory over the Colts. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Meriweather said credit goes to the scout team and the coaching staff for having the defense ready to face Peyton Manning and the potent Colts offense.

“Our coaches had a great game plan,” Meriweather said. “This win right here goes straight to the coaches. They had a good game plan, they made good adjustments and they kept us focused and ready for this game.”

Meriweather said another key for the Patriots being able to hold off the Colts was because they didn’t let up until the final whistle. “Going against the Colts, you’ve got to play 60 minutes,” he said. “You can’t let up one minute. [Manning will] make you pay for it.”

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Peyton Manning,

Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘We don’t have any selfish players on this team’

11.22.10 at 12:09 pm ET
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Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork joined the Dale & Holley show Monday morning at Gillette Stadium for his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Patriots Monday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Despite the defense allowing Peyton Manning to seemingly march down the field at will in the fourth quarter, Wilfork said he’s looking more at the positives from Sunday’s 31-28 victory over the Colts.

“The Colts are a great team,” Wilfork said. “Every year we play these guys, it’s always a nail-biter, it goes down to the wire. The biggest thing for us was to finish, to play 60 minutes of football this week. We got every bit of 60 minutes out of the game yesterday.”

Added Wilfork: “Peyton, we forced him to throw three interceptions. You can say whatever you want to say about our defense. The fact of the matter is, he did throw us three.”

Wilfork said one of the strengths of this defense is the players’ ability to stay focused and level-headed even when things go bad, no matter who might make a mistake. Said Wilfork: “I think the guys around me are comfortable with their roles. We don’t have any selfish players on this team. Everybody just pulls for one another. They make the plays when they present themselves and we get to the next play, good or bad. These guys do a real good job of that.”

Read More: Peyton Manning, Vince Wilfork,

Boomer Esiason on D&C: Peyton Manning has edge over Tom Brady

11.22.10 at 10:20 am ET
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As part of Patriots Monday, CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning and talked about the Patriots’ dramatic victory over the Colts. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The game was secured when James Sanders picked off a Peyton Manning pass in the final minute as the Colts were driving for the potential go-ahead touchdown.

Esiason credited the Patriots pass rush with forcing Manning to throw his pass off target. “He got a little greedy is what he did,” Esiason said of Manning. “And again, I think he was spooked [by the pass rush]. ‘€¦ If he holds the ball, steps up, maybe another step, hits the shallow cross underneath, we might be talking about an overtime victory one way or the other.”

Esiason said he doesn’t believe that the Colts will go far in the postseason. “I can see them winning their division, simply because their division is pretty average right now,” he said. “But I don’t know how the Colts keep doing this. I really don’t.”

During his Sunday CBS show, Esiason said that Manning has the edge over Tom Brady in a head-to-head comparison. Esiason backed up that claim on Monday, noting that Brady’s Patriots have tended to have a better defense than Manning’s Colts. This season, Manning’s responsibility has increased even more. “Under the current set of circumstances, if Peyton Manning is not on the Indianapolis Colts, they might be the worst team in football,” Esiason said.

Danny Woodhead continues to impress with his play in the Patriots backfield. Esiason said he’s impressed with “the amazing growth of this kid and what he has done, and how he has replaced Kevin Faulk.” Added Esiason: “Watching the game, watching how many guys made their first attempted tackler miss from Indianapolis ‘€” and Woodhead was right there. All those little things to keep the chains moving. The way he runs with the football, it’s almost like he’s fearless.”

Next up for the Patriots is Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. Esiason said the Lions might be 2-8, but they won’t be pushovers. “They’re going to put up a pretty good fight on Thursday,” he said. “Offensively, they’re pretty good. The Detroit Lions can throw it, Jahvid Best is one of the best young running backs in football, and I think that Shaun Hill is more than a capable quarterback I guarantee you it will be a high-scoring game.”

Read More: boomer esiason, Danny Woodhead, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady

Tom Brady on D&C: Third-down execution key for Patriots

11.22.10 at 10:02 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday. For a transcript of the conversation, check back at this blog later in the morning. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brady said he understands the Patriots made plenty of mistakes in their 31-28 victory over the Colts, but the end result is the key. “I’ve been around long enough to know that a win is a win is a win,” he said.

Brady said the Patriots’ main problems in the second half Sunday dealt with their performance on third down. “Ultimately, it comes down to execution on third down,” he said. “That’s why you stay on the field. That’s why you end up getting the ball in the end zone. I don’t think it had anything to do with play-calling, I thought it had to do with execution. … It just shows you at the end of the game, if you don’t convert third downs when it really counts, then a team like that is capable of coming back.”

Brady almost threw a disastrous interception deep in Patriots territory late in the game, but Colts linebacker Tyjuan Hagler dropped the ball. “That was just a terrible read by me. I was trying to jam it in there to Wes [Welker],” Brady said. “I thought I was going to get him to move with Julian [Edelman]. As I looked back to Wes, he didn’t take it, and he just jumped right in front of it. I’m glad he didn’t catch that one. I would have felt pretty awful.”

After the game’s final play Sunday, when Brady kneeled with the ball to run out the clock, the quarterback screamed at the referee. He explained to D&C that a Colts player was illegally simulating the Patriots’ snap count in an effort to draw a penalty. “I’m in the middle of my snap count, and the defensive tackle’s going, ‘Hut, hut,’ to try to get us to jump offsides,” Brady explained. “To me, the only thing that the ref should be listening for is that. [The Colts are] doing it, and they can’t do that. So, I was just creating some awareness for the referees that what they were doing. It’s not that they care or listen to me. They really don’t. I don’t know, it just gives me something to bitch at a little bit.”

Asked about Danny Woodhead‘s ability to replace what the Patriots lost when Kevin Faulk went down with an injury, Brady cautioned that it’s far too early to make that assessment. “To me, what is the most underestimated thing about Kevin is his ability to perform under pressure,” Brady said. “He’s the most clutch player I’ve ever been around ‘€” right up there with Troy Brown. In the biggest games of Kevin’s career, he’s played his best games. That remains to be seen with Danny. Believe me, I have a hell of a lot of confidence in Danny. He’s a hell of a player. We’re so fortunate to be able to have him, with what he’s been able to do for us.

“When we lost Kevin, that was a significant loss to our team,” Brady continued. “The way Woody’s been playing, he’s really taken the role and accepted it and done a great job with it. Nobody can replace Kevin Faulk. He’s one of a kind. But Woody’s doing a hell of a job in the role we’re asking him to do because of what he can do both running and catching, and he’s making plays on special teams, too. He’s done a hell of a job.”

Read More: Dany Woodhead, Kevin Faulk, Tom Brady,

Reggie Wayne feels like Colts are chasing Patriots

11.21.10 at 8:52 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne discussed the rivalry between the Patriots and Colts following his team’s 31-28 loss.

“No one wants to fall, no one wants to be that team,” said Wayne. “They won numerous Super Bowls, we’re trying to win numerous. I believe, I don’t want to speak for everybody, but me personally I feel like we’re kind of chasing them a little bit.”

A disappointed Wayne added that the Colts have to beat the Patriots if they want to match them in Super Bowl victories.

“To catch them you, got to beat them and each time we play them it’s always tough, it’s always one of those games. We almost got it done, but it’s the way it goes. Hopefully we do what we got to do and we’ll see them later.”

Wayne also was asked to describe what he saw from the Patriots defense.

“They’re a team that’s scrappy on defense. They have young guys on defense that continue to fight and play hard. They kind of had the mentality of bend but don’t break.”

Wayne finished Sunday’s loss with eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Read More: Colts, Reggie Wayne,

James Sanders makes sure history doesn’t repeat

11.21.10 at 8:48 pm ET
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FOXBORO — James Sanders was thinking what every Patriots fan was thinking watching the final two minutes of another Patriots-Colts epic Sunday afternoon.

Moments before his game-clinching interception, Sanders had a very bad case of flashback to last season. Sanders intercepted Peyton Manning at the Patriots 6-yard line with 31 seconds remaining to clinch the 31-28 win over the Colts Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

As was the case 12 months earlier when the Patriots lost 35-34, the Patriots had a 31-14 lead over the Colts in the fourth quarter, following a 25-yard Shayne Graham field goal with 10:23.

But Manning threw a pair of touchdown passes over the middle to Blair White to draw the Colts within 31-28. And when the Patriots couldn’t convert a first down, Manning got the ball back with 2:25 remaining. He drove the Colts to the Patriots 24 when Sanders made a leaping interception of Manning’s throw intended for Pierre Garcon.

“For a minute, I was thinking deja vu,” Sanders said. “As a defense, we knew if we didn’t make a play, we were going to lose the game. He wasn’t just going to give it to us. We had to go out there and take the win. We made a play at the end and came out on top.”

So how, exactly, did his heroic pick on the deep out from New England’s 24-yard line come to be?

‘€œI thought I had a chance,” Sanders said. “Gary Guyton and I had a double [team] on the tight end and looking through [Jacob] Tamme to Peyton, I saw that he saw that once I stepped down that he had one-on-one with the corner. So, I tried to drop back at the last second and help. Luckily I got enough depth to make the play.

‘€œIt was huge. It was a total team effort though. Gary had a jam on the tight end that gave me a chance to sit back and read Peyton. I had an opportunity to make a play and made it.’€

Turns out Sanders and the other defensive backs were showing just enough of a disguise to tempt Manning – a classic Belichick trait.

‘€œI don’€™t know if we were daring him to throw deep, but we were trying to disguise the whole game and keep them guessing,” Sanders said. “At times our disguises worked, other times they didn’€™t work. [Manning] is one of the best quarterbacks to play this game and it’€™s tough as a defense to hold those disguises. If you’€™re not sound, he can hurt you.’€

At the end, the Patriots had their first win over the Colts since the unbeaten regular season of 2007 and just their second in six tries.

‘€œIt felt good,” Sanders said. “We haven’€™t beat those guys in a while. It seems like we always get a nice lead and they always come back at the end. We knew it wasn’€™t over until the end and we just kept fighting and we made the plays we had to make at the end.

But it was Sanders’ teammate Kyle Arrington who made the best point of all.

“Like he did against the Steelers last week when he made a great play for an interception, he made a terrific play for the interception,” added corner Kyle Arrington. “James is the go-to guy to bail us out right now.”

And how.

Read More: Indianapolis Colts, James Sanders, New England Patriots, nfl

Patriots-Colts Postgame Notes

11.21.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are some postgame notes from this afternoon’s contest:

SUSTAINED SUCCESS: PATRIOTS TO FINISH ABOVE .500 FOR 10th STRAIGHT SEASON
With their eighth win of the 2010 season, the Patriots are guaranteed to finish the season with a record of .500 or better for the 10th consecutive year. At the conclusion of the 2010 season, the Patriots will be the only NFL team to finish with a record of .500 or better in each of the last 10 years (2001-2010). Each of the other 31 NFL teams had at least one losing season between 2001 and 2009.

BRADY TIES FAVRE FOR MOST CONSECUTIVE HOME GAMES WON AS A STARTING QB
Tom Brady won his 25th consecutive regular-season start at Gillette Stadium, tying Brett Favre‘€™s post-merger NFL-record 25-game home winning streak. Favre won 25 home games in a row from 1995-98. The last time the Patriots lost a regular-season home game in which Brady started was on Nov. 12, 2006 against the New York Jets.

BELICHICK TIES JOE GIBBS FOR 11th PLACE IN NFL HISTORY WITH 171 WINS
With the victory against the Colts, Bill Belichick passed Paul Brown and tied Joe Gibbs with his 171st career victory as a head coach, including playoff games. Belichick and Gibbs are tied for 11th in NFL history with 171 career victories. Mike Holmgren ranks 10th with 174 career wins.

SANDERS PICK ICES GAME
James Sanders, last week’€™s AFC Defensive Player of the Week, clinched the victory for the Patriots when he intercepted a Peyton Manning pass at the Patriots’€™ 6-yard line with 31 seconds left and New England holding a 3-point lead. Sanders’€™s big play thwarted a potential game-tying field goal try or a potential game-winning touchdown. The interception was Sanders’€™s second of the season and his second in as many weeks. Last week at Pittsburgh, Sanders returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown. The interception against the Colts was the seventh of Sanders’€™s 6-year career .
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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Bill Belichick, Colts
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