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Tom Brady on D&C: Win over Ravens ‘great test of character for us as a team’

12.23.13 at 10:55 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, following Sunday’s surprising 41-7 rout of the Ravens in Baltimore. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“It was a great win,” Brady said. “To go on the road against a team that we’ve struggled with the last bunch of times we’ve played them, really a huge win for our season. Yeah, it was satisfying. We talked about it all week, we had a pretty tough loss in Miami, and I think fought back through a long week. We put a lot into the week. There was a lot of preparation. I don’t think there were many people that thought we could go in and beat those guys. That was really a great test of character for us as a team.”

Brady didn’t deny using the Patriots’ underdog status as a motivator for Sunday, but he insisted the players try to avoid getting caught up in what the media says about the team.

“This week everyone will be picking us,” Brady said. “Across the board, everyone’s going to think, oh, Patriots over the Bills, like it’s going to be some easy win, which is so far from the case in the NFL. I just think you have to ignore all the noise because it’s all a bunch of hot air, it’s all a bunch of B.S. You just don’t want to listen to it. You want to try to focus on what you need to focus on.

“Every team presents different challenges. We went into the game feeling like we could match up against these guys. We played great defensively, we played great on special teams against one of the best special teams units in the league. And offensively we got off to a decent start. It was a good win. Now this game that’s coming up is the one that’s the most important one of the year.”

The Patriots relied more on their running game Sunday than they have in a while, rushing the ball 34 times compared to 26 passes.

“Well, we wanted to stay balanced; we always want to stay balanced,” Brady said. “It just turned out that our execution in the run game was really good all day, and our execution in the pass game probably wasn’t as good as what it’s been. As the game evolved, we got out to a lead and then tried to just play smart and play aggressive — try to play aggressive but for the most part try to force them to defend our running game, and our running game really set the tone there the whole second half. In the first half, too, we were really efficient running the ball. Our backs did a great job finding the holes. The line did a great job against a really good defensive front.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dan Marino, Drew Bledsoe, Peyton Manning

Patriots’ slate of opponents for 2014 now set

12.23.13 at 9:16 am ET
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With the Patriots wrapping up the 2013 AFC East title on Sunday — and the AFC West and North also being decided — it allows for the 2014 schedule to come into a sharper focus. Keeping in mind that each season, each team plays the other teams in the conference that finish in the same place that they do within their division, as well as the fact that the AFC East will play the AFC West and NFC North in 2014, here’s a look at New England’s opponents for next season. (The dates and times will be announced this spring.)

Home: Jets, Dolphins, Bills, Bengals, Broncos, Bears, Lions, Raiders
Road: Jets, Dolphins, Bills, Chiefs, Chargers, Colts, Packers, Vikings

Tom Brady left hanging by his teammates … again

12.23.13 at 8:22 am ET
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Tom Brady is having a heck of a time trying to get high-fives from his teammates. First it was earlier this year …

And then Sunday …

Logan Mankins really loves to stick it to so-called ‘experts’

12.22.13 at 10:24 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — The smile on his face said it all.

In the afterglow of a 41-7 romp over the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, Logan Mankins was asked if he thought the Patriots and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels proved a point with their physical, pounding running game on Sunday.

“When he called the runs, we did a good job of encouraging him to keep calling them,” Mankins said of McDaniels. “If you go out there and get stuffed on the line of scrimmage every time, it’s hard for him to call it again. But if you’re productive, then it makes it easy for him to keep calling it.”

The Patriots ran the ball 34 times for 142 yards – a 4.2 yards per carry average. They passed just 26 times. Mankins started his first game of the season at left tackle in place of Nate Solder and contained Terrell Suggs all day.

“Well, the experts, I know they always have all the answers,” Mankins beamed. “They really had them when they picked the winner of this game. So, when they don’t mention us as physical I always say, ‘Just go ask the guy that lines up from us if we’re physical.'”

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Josh McDaniels, Logan Mankins, Nate Solder

Patriots-Bills regular-season finale moved to 4:25 p.m.

12.22.13 at 10:11 pm ET
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The NFL announced Sunday that the Patriots’ regular-season finale Sunday against the Bills has been moved to 4:25 p.m.

It’s one of several moves that were made — the Eagles and Cowboys were moved to Sunday night, and the Bucs and Saints also moved to 4:25 p.m. In addition, the league announced that the Packers and Bears game will move to 4:25 p.m. if Chicago loses Sunday against the Eagles.

It marks the second rescheduled game of the year for the Patriots, who also saw this Sunday’s game against the Ravens moved from a Sunday night contest to a 4:25 p.m. start.

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Bill Belichick: Friday trip to movies chance to ‘change up routine a little bit’

12.22.13 at 9:56 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — Bill Belichick said that when it came to taking his team to the movies on Friday afternoon — “Lone Survivor,” the new film from Mark Wahlberg — there was no ulterior motive involved. Instead, it was a good chance to “change up the routine a little bit.”

“We do different things from time to time,” shrugged Belichick when asked about the decision after Sunday’s game. “Mark Wahlberg, obviously, is a huge Patriots fan and a huge supporter. And I really appreciate everything that Mark did to make it possible to watch the show. He’€™s a tremendous guy, and it was such an honor to meet him a few weeks ago.”

The film is based on the Navy SEAL ‘€œOperation Red Wings’€ mission of June 28, 2005, when four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked with the mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. Three were killed and one survived inside Afghanistan.

“I think the movie certainly had the messages of leadership, perseverance, preparation, and then, execution,” Belichick added. “It’€™s one thing to prepare; it’€™s another to actually go out there and play the game and go through the battle that they did. So, that was a great message, no question, and a great movie.’€

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Rob Ninkovich: ‘I knew that we were going to beat’ Ravens before kickoff

12.22.13 at 9:41 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — In the mind of defensive end Rob Ninkovich, there was no doubt what was going to happen Sunday afternoon.

Ninkovich, who had six tackles and a sack in Sunday’s 41-7 thumping of the Ravens, said he knew the outcome even before he took the field.

“Coming in here, on the bus ride in here, I felt great,” he said. “I knew that we were going to beat these guys. And getting some hand gestures from some of the fans, that’s always a good motivating thing.

“I was confident — I knew that we had worked hard. I knew that we had put in the work. If you put the time in, you put the effort in, and you do it on the practice field, it’s going to come out in the end.”

Ninkovich said that it was a combination of good preparation. execution, and an ability to force turnovers that allowed the Patriots defense to hold Baltimore to just seven points on the afternoon.

“I think we did a great job during the week. We know these guys — we play them a lot. It just comes down to execution,” he said. “We got some turnovers, and that was a big thing for us. We haven’t gotten a lot of turnovers in the last three or four weeks. That was a point of emphasis — getting turnovers.”

The Patriots were able to come away with three interceptions (two from rookie cornerback Logan Ryan and a third from safety Tavon Wilson) and a fumble recovery (by Chandler Jones) and turn those into points. Jones and Wilson immediately cashed theirs in with touchdowns, while Ryan’s takeaways led to a touchdown and a field goal.

In the end, it all added up to an impressive afternoon for the New England defense, which was able to silence some of its doubters with an impressive, complete-game performance for the first time all year.

“You have to ignore things from the outside,” Ninkovich said. “And knowing that we have the personnel and talent to do that, but we have to do it consistently, and that’€™s a big point of emphasis as well. We have to be consistent throughout the whole game. You can’€™t come on in the first half and then give up some things in the second half. You’€™ve got to play four quarters, and [Sunday] we did some good things, but there are some things we can improve on.”

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