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Boomer Esiason on D&C: ‘Harmony’ back for Pats with Randy Moss gone

10.18.10 at 9:06 am ET
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Boomer Esiason

Boomer Esiason

Boomer Esiason of CBS Sports joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning for his weekly chat about the Patriots and other happenings in the NFL. To hear the interview, check the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Esiason said the Patriots’ victory over the Ravens went a long way toward validating the team’s trade of Randy Moss.

“It seems like there’s harmony again in Patriot land,” Esiason said. “It’s kind of a weird thing. Bill Belichick, it seems in the short term, did the right thing.”

Added Esiason: “There is something to be said about harmony in the locker room, about everybody doing their job and doing it with a smile on their face, and nobody bitching and complaining behind the scenes. Regardless of what coach Belichick says, regardless of what Tom Brady says, the 800-pound gorilla is now removed from the locker room, and that was Randy Moss, always bitching and complaining about getting the ball.

“Maybe he didn’t do it publicly, but just the mere presence and the sulking and the half-assed play from time to time speaks volumes for where his head was at. Quite frankly, I saw yesterday there was never any of that. … What you saw was the team that won the game, and that was like quintessential Patriots from the early 2000s.”

Deion Branch did his part Sunday to prove that he can contribute as much as Moss to the Patriots’ success, just in less-flashy ways. Said Esiason: “It might not be spectacular, right? It might not be 75-yard touchdown passes, one-hand touchdown catches in the middle of the field against the Jets and all things like that. But there is substance to every football team and substance to every football play.”

Looking around the league, Esiason said he expects the Chargers to rebound from their 2-4 start and play like a “wounded animal” Sunday against the Patriots. “They are the Jekyll and Hyde team in the NFL, there’s no question,” Esiason said. “I still think they’re going to win the [AFC] West. They might win it with a 9-7 record.” Esiason also said he ranks the Patriots third in the AFC now, behind the Steelers and Jets, and ahead of the Ravens.

Ben Roethlisberger did an interview that aired Sunday on CBS, and Esiason questioned the quarterback’s lack of remorse on the day he returned from his four-game suspension. Esiason said he also was surprised at how the Steelers organization presented Roethlisberger as “returning Julius Caesar.” Said Esiason: “To introduce him to 70,000 people cheering for him and to come out holding his finger No. 1 up in the air and all that stuff, I just thought was completely the wrong message to be sending. … I just thought that the whole image of it was the wrong thing.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, boomer esiason, Randy Moss, Tom Brady

Tom Brady on D&C: Terrell Suggs ‘had his chance’

10.18.10 at 8:27 am ET
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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show as part of WEEI’s Patriots Monday to talk about Sunday’s 23-20 overtime victory over the Ravens. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Following the game, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs warned that Brady “just better hope he doesn’t see us again.”

Responded Brady: “He had his chance. Maybe if he gets another chance he can try to back those words up. But he had a chance yesterday. You know, we’ve played guys a lot, and they’ve beat us one time in all the times that I’ve played them. They talk a lot for beating us once in nine years.”

As for Suggs claiming that when Brady got in his face he was bragging about his supermodel wife, Brady said, “I think he made that up.”

The Patriots visit San Diego next Sunday, but Brady said no one should expect an easy win just because of the team’s success in the previous two games. “Regardless of what we did this past week, it’s going to mean nothing when we play San Diego,” he said. “But I will say this: We were struggling on the road for quite a while, and we beat Miami on the road in a big Monday night game and played really well in all phases. Then, we lost to a team in the playoffs last year 33-14 and really got our butts kicked, and with a very good defense that, OK, we played them and we’re down 10 in the fourth quarter and we come back and win.

“That just tells me we can win on the road. We can win when we haven’t played our best and we’re down in the fourth quarter and guys are stepping up to make big plays and big kicks and big punts — those types of situations that are situational football, things that we need to execute to win those games. I think we gain confidence from that. I don’t think it’s going to matter next week what we did. But I’ll tell you, if we’re down 10 in the fourth quarter next week, I don’t think there’s going to be a guy on our sideline that doubts that we can win the game.”

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Read More: Deion Branch, Randy Moss, Terrell Suggs, Tom Brady

Brady: Branch ‘doesn’t let us down’

10.17.10 at 7:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady won his 23rd consecutive regular season home game, the second-longest such streak in NFL history behind Brett Favre at Lambeau Field during Favre’s glory days in Green Bay. Brady also improved to 7-1 as a starter in overtime games (including 1-0 in the playoffs). Brady was asked his thoughts on Deion Branch‘s return and erasing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Thanks to the Patriots P.R., here is the Brady postgame transcript.

Q: Long game. You pulled it out.

TB: It was a battle. I think there were a lot of things we wish we could have done better but, I’ll tell you, it feels good to win down 10 [points] in the fourth quarter. We are going to watch the film and there is a lot to correct and a lot to build on but it’s a good one to win.

Q: How much did Deion Branch help you out?

TB: He did great. You guys asked me earlier this week if there was some chemistry there. I’ve been throwing balls to him for a long time; he made some big time plays, [a] touchdown catch, so we all kept battling and I think that was why we pulled it out.

Q: On that crucial third down play there was it a coincidence that [Deion] Branch goes for the ball?

TB: We put him over there to see if he could get open and he doesn’t let us down.

Q: You seemed to rely on him down the stretch. You really haven’t seen him in four seasons. How do you pick it up that quickly?

TB: We’ve known each other for a long time so I think that chemistry is there and it will be there for a long time. He made some big catches – all those play-action passes – he made some good plays on those, so it’s great to have him out there. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Deion Branch, New England Patriots, nfl

Belichick: ‘I’m really proud of those kids’

10.17.10 at 7:36 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Much like the 41-14 win in Miami two weeks ago, Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t hide his pride for his young team overcoming obstacles in their 23-20 overtime win against the Ravens on Sunday. Here, thanks to the hard work of the Patriots PR staff, is the transcript of Belichick from his postgame press conference.

BB: Man. that was a good win for our football team today. I’m really proud of those kids. They played hard. [They were] 10 points down in the fourth quarter, rallied, fought through it in overtime. It was really just a heck of a job by our players. You’ve got to give them all the credit in the world. I know a lot of people doubted that they could do it and our second half [problems] and all of that, but you come back from behind [against] a team like Baltimore and win it at the end…we just had a lot of big plays out there. You can just talk about everybody. They all contributed. It was a real team effort against a real good football team. Baltimore has got a good club. They do a lot of things well. Fortunately, we were able to do one or two things a little better than they did today. I’m really proud of our team. We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us going out to San Diego, but we’re going to enjoy this one for a while and then get back to work.

Q: What were your thoughts on Deion Branch’s first game back?

BB: It was good to have him back there. He’s a good football player. He had the chance to make some plays and I think he made them. [He’s] not perfect, but he did a lot of good things for us like he’s always done. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, nfl,

Postgame Notes from Patriots-Ravens

10.17.10 at 6:48 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are a few notes from today’s Patriots-Ravens game:

BRADY TALLIES 30th CAREER COMEBACK
Brady engineered his 30th career game-winning performance to lead his team to a victory from a fourth quarter deficit. The Patriots trailed Baltimore 20-10 following Billy Cundiff’s 25-yard field goal with 14:53 remaining in the game. From there, Brady completed 16-of-24 passes for 156 yards, one touchdown and one interception as New England scored the game’s final 13 points in a 23-20 overtime win.

•New England’s defense forced punts on each of the Ravens’ five drives after Baltimore took its 20-10 lead, including forcing punts on each of the Ravens’ three overtime possessions.

•Today’s comeback was Brady’s seventh career comeback when trailing by 10 or more points in the fourth quarter. The others are vs. Buffalo (9/14/09, down 24-13 with 5:32 left in a 25-24 win); at Indianapolis (11/4/07, down 20-10 with 9:42 left in a 24-20 win); vs. Miami (12/29/02, down 24-13 with 4:59 left in a 27-24 overtime win); at Chicago (11/10/02, down 30-19 with 5:16 left in a 33-30 win); vs. Oakland (1/19/02, down 13-3 with 15:00 left in a 16-13 overtime win); and vs. San Diego (down 26-16 with 8:48 left in a 29-26 overtime win).

MESKO PUNT A GAME CHANGER
Rookie Zoltan Mesko boomed a 65-yard punt in overtime. The punt significantly changed field position, giving the Ravens possession at their own 19-yard line after the Patriots faced a fourth-and-6 from their own 16-yard line. Mesko’s 65-yard punt was the longest in Patriots history in overtime, besting Mike Saxon’s 46-yard punt in overtime on Nov. 7, 1993 in a 13-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Mesko’s 65-yard punt was the longest of his career and the longest for the Patriots since Chris Hanson boomed a 70-yard punt in 2008.

GOSTKOWSKI NAILS GAME-TYING AND GAME-WINNING FIELD GOALS
Stephen Gostkowski nailed a game-winning 35-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining in overtime, marking his first career game-winning overtime field goal in his first career opportunity. Gostkowski also nailed a 24-yard field goal to tie the game at 20-20 with 1:51 remaining. Gostkowski improved to 17-for-18 in his career in close games in the fourth quarter or overtime (when the Patriots are trailing by seven or fewer points or leading by seven or fewer points). In the playoffs, Gostkowski has one game-winning field goal, a 31-yarder with 1:10 remaining in the game to give New England a 24-21 win at San Diego in the 2006 divisional playoffs (1/14/07).

MAYO ON HIGH TACKLE PACE
LB Jerod Mayo was credited with 18 total tackles by the day-of-game stats crew, his second highest career output, trailing only the 23 tackles he had as a rookie vs. NY Jets (11/23/08). Mayo has 64 total tackles in 2010 and is on pace for a career high 205 total tackles. Mayo had 139 tackles as a rookie in 2008 and 114 in 2009. If he reaches 100 tackles in 2010, he will be the first Patriots player to have three consecutive 100-tackle seasons since Milloy registered five straight 100-tackle seasons from 1997 through 2001.
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Wilfork: Everyone got the message

10.17.10 at 6:41 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork was about as honest and open as he could be following Sunday’s 23-20 overtime win against the Ravens at Gillette Stadium.

He knew his team and their defense looked downright shaky at times, falling behind 20-10, with just under a quarter remaining.

He knew that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was getting time to hit open receivers and not getting off the field on third down, helping the Ravens hold an overwhelming time of possession advantage.

And he heard the crowd’s disapproval over the course of the first three quarters.

“Everyone got the message,” Wilfork said. “A lot of guys here for the playoff game understood what this game meant. We fought back. At times, we were getting booed, but we looked right past that stuff, stuck together as true team.”

He also raised some eyebrows when he called Sunday’s dramatic 23-20 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens the most physical game he’s played in his seven-year career. The message – the Ravens with Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Haloti Ngata – weren’t the only ones on the field Sunday who deliver a hard hit.

“That was awesome,” Wilfork said. “Big win, one of the biggest wins around here in a long time. Most physical game I ever played in.”

Of course, one of those hits – a head shot by Brandon Meriweather on Baltimore’s Todd Heap in the first half – might result in a very, very hefty fine when they’re announced this week by the NFL.

“Brandon might have hefty one [fine] on the way but we’ll do our best to help him out,” defensive back Kyle Arrington said.

Adding to the sweet taste afterward was the fact the the Patriots fell behind 20-10 early in the fourth quarter before scoring 10 fourth quarter points to tie before Stephen Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal to end the game with 1:56 left in overtime. The win also avenged the 33-10 playoff loss to the Ravens on Jan. 10 that end the 2009 season.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Brandon Meriweather, joe flacco, New England Patriots

Snap judgments: Patriots 23, Ravens 20

10.17.10 at 4:46 pm ET
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Tom Brady and the Patriots rallied for a 23-20 overtime victory over the Ravens. (AP)

Tom Brady and the Patriots rallied for a 23-20 overtime victory over the Ravens. (AP)

The Patriots rallied from a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime before Stephen Gostkowski‘s 35-yard field-goal gave the club a 23-20 win. (Box score here.) It was an emotional win for the Patriots, who now can be safely placed among the elite teams in the league with the victory. The Patriots move to 4-1 on the season and hold a share of first place in the AFC East.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– After a shaky first half, Tom Brady found his groove in the fourth quarter, leading the Pats back from a 20-10 deficit with a pair of scoring drives. Brady completed 11-of-14 passes for 118 yards and a TD in the fourth. Brady has always had trouble with the Ravens defense (ranked second against the pass this year), which makes his work in the final quarter in his first game without Randy Moss even more impressive. Then, on the Patriots’ third drive in overtime, Brady was 4-for-4 for 41 yards to lead the drive down the field for the winning field goal.

Vince Wilfork was (correctly) a main target of blame in last year’s playoff loss, getting pancaked by Matt Birk on Ray Rice‘s 83-yard TD on the opening play from scrimmage. But Wilfork — who started at right end with Gerard Warren on the nose — was a force Sunday, a constant disruption in the Baltimore running game (witness the first play, when the Ravens ran the same play with Rice that led to the opening score last year and Wilfork stuffed Rice for a two-yard loss).

(The defense did a solid job throughout the game, straight out of the bend-but-don’t-break school of 2003 and 2004. The Ravens’ headline play makers were limited, as Rice averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and Anquan Boldin finished with just four catches for 63 yards. Don’t forget, the defense gave the offense three chances to win with stops in the overtime.)

– Would you have signed on for eight catches for 88 yards and a TD from Randy Moss vs. the Ravens? Not so shabby, right? Well, those were Deion Branch‘s numbers in his first game back with the Pats. His fourth-quarter TD catch was his first as a Patriot in 1,750 days. Branch made a couple of catches in the first quarter but — as with the rest of the offense Sunday — didn’t seem to find his legs until the fourth quarter. There were lots of questions heading into this game regarding Branch’s role, but it now seems apparent he’ll be a major part of this offense. And in the Things You’ll Never See From Randy Files, Branch had a key block to set up Brandon Tate‘s 22-yard run in the first-quarter TD drive.

Danny Woodhead was the lead back Sunday and the best runner on the field, carrying the ball 11 times for 63 yards, and also catching five passes for 52 yards. It was a terrific effort against a physical team that entered the game ranked 10th in the league vs. the rush.

– Biggest play of the game? Could be Zoltan Mesko‘s 65-yard punt in overtime, which moved the ball from the Pats 16-yard line to the Ravens 19-yard line. It flipped the field over and gave the Patriots a short field for the winning drive after the defense came through with a stop.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– In last season’s playoff loss to the Ravens, about the only thing the Patriots did well was defend the pass, as Joe Flacco finished with just four completions and a passer rating of 10.0. All the talk heading into Sunday’s game was about slowing down a rushing attack that totaled 234 yards on the ground in the 33-14 wild-card victory. And for the most part, Ray Rice was quiet on Sunday, rushing 28 times for 88 yards. But it was Flacco who did damage in the 23-20 loss, completing 27-of-35 passes for 285 yards and a pair of TDs (good for a 119.3 passer rating), with the Patriots’ pass defense looking vulnerable for most of the day.

Brandon Meriweather probably cost himself 50K with a helmet-to-helmet hit on Todd Heap in the second quarter that led to Bill Belichick benching the safety for a series. It was very close to dirty and certainly well past reckless, and it’s another step back for Meriweather, who launched himself head first into Heap when the tight end made his first-quarter TD reception.

– The offensive line had been a bright spot for the Patriots in 2010, but the group really struggled vs. one of the league’s elite defenses Sunday. Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs each picked up a sack vs. Brady, and the Ravens were able to knock Brady to the ground on four other occasions. Dawan Landry was able to get to the backfield untouched and get pressure on Brady to force a third-quarter INT. Give the unit credit, though, as they did nice work on the fourth-quarter TD drive, giving Brady plenty of time to make plays, including on the TD toss to Branch. Matt Light had a rough outing, giving up a pair of sacks to Ngata and picking up a big fourth-quarter holding penalty.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Danny Woodhead, Deion Branch, Tom Brady
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