|01.05.15 at 9:32 pm ET|
With interviews with the Falcons and 49ers out of the way, Josh McDaniels said Monday that his complete focus now is on the Ravens in the AFC divisional round this Saturday. That’s a good thing because after watching the Ravens defense handle Steelers’ wideout Antonio Brown over the weekend, he knows that he’ll need his whole bag of tricks to make sure they don’t do the same thing to Rob Gronkowski.
“They seem to do a good job each week of forcing the offense to do some things that maybe the offense didn’t want to do,” said McDaniels on a conference call Monday. “They have the ability to try to take somebody out of the game with different things that they can do in their scheme. They also have good players that they can just cover and match up with the guys they have without doing anything special.”
Cornerback Ladarius Webb was asked to spot Brown Saturday night in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger targeted the NFL’s leading receiver 14 times, connected just nine times for 117 yards. Take out the 44-yarder in the second half and that’s eight catches for 73 yards. Webb also kept Brown out of the end zone.
“They’ve played a lot of good players this year, and really they don’t do a lot of exotic things to take them out of the game,” McDaniels said. “They play good team defense. It’s one of the best units in the league for a reason. They’re well coached, as I mentioned before. They play hard. It’s 11 guys playing the same call and executing their assignment on every snap, which makes this a tremendous challenge for us.”
McDaniels will also being going up against old friend Dean Pees, the defensive coordinator in Baltimore who held the same job in New England for four years (2006-09).
“I don’t know how much of an advantage it is from one year to the next because Dean is obviously a very good coach,” McDaniels said. “This unit we’re playing is very talented. But they don’t really stay the same in terms of the things that they use or do in each game that we’ve played them.”
|01.05.15 at 9:06 pm ET|
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork joined Dale & Holley on Monday to preview the Patriots’ upcoming playoff game against the Ravens. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
With the Ravens being known for being one of the most physical teams in the league, Wilfork is fully expecting a tough, physical game on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s going to be an old-school football game, it’s going to be a physical ballgame,” said Wilfork.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us up front and we understand this game is going to be a lot about up front on both sides on the ball — our offensive line and defensive line being able to play well against a good physical football team,” he added. “We know how to play that way, we just have to play that way for how long it is going to take.”
Saturday’s game will mark the fourth time in the last six years the Patriots will play the Ravens in the postseason with the Ravens winning two of the last three. Wilfork spoke of players taking their level of play to another level in the postseason and just how much the two teams have met over the years.
“Everybody’s play has to come up another level,” said Wilfork. “You lose, you go home now. So anything that we have, anything we’ve been saving, it’s the time to lay it all out. Game plan, to calling the game, to playing the game, to being aggressive playing it, whatever we have that we think will give us an edge we got to do. Like I said, if you lose you go home and I don’t think anyone in our locker room is ready to go home and I am pretty sure Baltimore is feeling the same way.
“You have two teams that it seems like over the years it seems like a divisional team, over the years we seem to play each other at least once a year and it is one of those things this year we got them again in the divisional round playoff. They are coming in here to beat us, they seem pretty confident coming in here and playing us. They feel they understand how to play us. At the same time we have to make sure we’re on our P’s and Q’s that we are executing at a high level. Everyone’s level of play has to get to an all-time high starting now, and we will be.”
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|01.05.15 at 7:38 pm ET|
There were nothing but nice words coming out of Baltimore Monday as the Ravens got to work preparing for the Patriots and the divisional playoff contest Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
“They’re tremendously well-coached, very well-balanced,” Harbaugh said. “They play complementary football as well or better than anybody in football year-in and year-out, and especially this year.
“All three phases are Top 10-, Top 5-type units. They’re good up front on both sides. They have playmakers, skill guys everywhere [and a] great quarterback. They can run the ball; they can throw the ball. You never know what you’re going to get from coach Belichick scheme-wise. So, it is just a huge challenge for anybody going in there in the playoffs.”
For two teams not in the same division, the Patriots and Ravens are frequent dance partners. Prior to this year, the two teams met five times between 2009 and 2013 — this game will mark the fourth postseason contest in six seasons between Baltimore and New England.
For Harbaugh, the fact that the Ravens have an extensive history against the Patriots in Foxboro is a positive.
“It’s always a plus to have played in a building before,” Harbaugh said of New England. “It seems like we play there a lot. It’s always nice to know your surroundings, and that helps us. Beyond that, the guys who had experience playing against the Patriots will be able to lead the way a little bit. They are the same coaching staff, the same principles that they are built on in all three phases, so that helps to some extent.”
Harbaugh said Monday he’s been impressed by just about every aspect of the Patriots this season.
|01.05.15 at 7:15 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley on Monday to look ahead to this Saturday’s divisional round game against the Ravens and also to look back on the bye week and some of the things that took place, including offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels interviewing for a few head coaching positions. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
It was reported McDaniels interviewed with the Falcons and 49ers in New England for their head coaching jobs, as the Patriots were on their bye and the interviews were conducted within the league structured window during the bye week. McDaniels said Monday he is now focused on the Ravens, and Belichick said there weren’t any issues.
“We dealt with it as recently as last year, so it is what it is,” Belichick said. “We have a job to do. I think Josh did a great job last year in terms of staying focused and doing his part in preparing for the postseason games and I think he’s done that again this year. There is no issues there.”
“Each one is a little bit different, but based on our schedule and the way the rules are, and what the format is, I think it was a pretty clean situation this time,” he added. “It was all over by Saturday, and Sunday we were onto the Ravens, so full speed ahead.”
Following the Patriots’ practice on New Year’s Eve, the team went to Patriot Place and saw the movie, “American Sniper” directed by Clint Eastwood. It was not the first time Belichick has gathered the team to see a movie, and Belichick thought it was a good experience for the team, as well as a good teaching tool.
“That wasn’t a spontaneous thing at all because that movie hasn’t been released — it’s not out,” Belichick said. “To be honest with you, it wasn’t that easy to have the opportunity to see, so we certainly are appreciative to Clint Eastwood for making this possible and a couple of other people along the way. There’s some things that are options and other things you have to set up a bit. There seemed to be a lot of talk and interest in that around the locker room, around the building, so we were able to do it. I think the guys enjoyed it — I did. It’s a great movie. It has some good messages in it and really focuses on skill and will.”
|01.05.15 at 2:21 pm ET|
Even though Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is 35 years old and in his first season in Baltimore, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t stopped producing at a high level and playing his with usual tenacity causing fits for opposing defenses.
Smith finished the regular season with 79 catches for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns. The 79 catches were tied for the most he’s had in a season since 2007 when he caught 87.
The 5-foot-9 receiver signed with Baltimore this past offseason after he didn’t re-sign with Carolina — the team that drafted him in the third-round of the 2001 draft and the team he spent the next 13 seasons with.
He’s fit in nicely with the Ravens offense as a good complement to wide out Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta.
“Well I think obviously you are talking about an extremely good player, a very smart, savvy vet,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said on a conference call Monday. “[He’s] a guy that brings in a huge element of toughness out on to the field, a strong competitor. [He’s] a guy that really does a great job of finding the open zone, or seeing the man-to-man coverage. [He] really does a great job of getting open for the quarterback, whether it’s the intermediate routes, the tough catch-and-run plays, also the vertical plays downfield. The guy really has the ability to kind of hit all three levels.
“I think being as dependent as a receiver and a reliable target for the quarterback in the passing game, obviously then for Torrey Smith a lot of the vertical element is then really opened up for him when your attention really goes towards Steve Smith. I think the guy is just a tremendously tough competitor, very energetic, brings a lot of life to the offense — will go out and block. He’ll do the tough duty — blocking and the route running and coming through the middle and catch-and-run type plays. I think he’s just added a whole other element to their offense in the passing game and the run game.”
|01.05.15 at 1:38 pm ET|
If you haven’t already got a ticket to Saturday’s divisional round game Patriots-Ravens game and are planning on going, be prepared to dish out a good amount of money.
Our pals at TiqIQ, say the current average price on the secondary market for the game is $388.40, with the get in price being $170.
Compared to previous divisional round home games at Gillette Stadium it is right up there with the most expensive ticket, as in the last five years the only game to have a higher average price was in 2012 when the Broncos and Tim Tebow came to Gillette Stadium. The average ticket price that game was $392.14.
The game also has the highest average priced ticket among any of the four divisional games this weekend.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|01.05.15 at 12:06 pm ET|
Saturday’s divisional round game at Gillette Stadium will be the fourth time in the last six postseasons the two teams will matchup, with the Ravens winning two of the last three. Belichick knows exactly what the Patriots will get when the two teams step onto the field Saturday afternoon — a very tough team.
“As usual the Ravens are a solid football team in all three phases of the game,” Belichick said on a conference call Monday. “They are well coached. They are physical on the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball. They have explosive skill players on offense, in the return game and on defense. So, I think Coach Harbaugh has always put those types of teams out there with [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and their respective staffs. I think that is what we have again. That is what they are.
“They are tough. They are physically and mentally tough. They can play in tough situations and they are talented. They keep coming at you.”
The Ravens defeated the Steelers, 30-17, in Saturday’s wild card matchup and although as a team the Ravens rushed for 49 yards on 25 carries, Belichick noted Baltimore is still a good rushing team — Justin Forsett rushed for 1,266 yards in the regular season.
They are also a threat in the passing game with plays down the field, as per Pro Football Focus on passes traveling 20 yards or more down the field in the regular-season, quarterback Joe Flacco was 21-for-56 with 663 yards and 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
“At the core, they are still a very good running team,” Belichick said. “They are a very good play-action team. They hit a lot of big plays. They are a very good vertical passing team. They make a lot of big plays down the field. They make a lot of big plays in the running game, too. So, it’s not just all passes. A lot of their passes that are big plays come off of play-action — it draws the defense’s attention in the running game and that opens up other areas. They are well-balanced offense that attacks the edge of the defense, it attacks vertically on the defense and it attacks all the intermediate areas as well. They do a good job.”
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