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Some final thoughts on the Patriots win over the Jets

11.14.11 at 8:23 pm ET
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Before the page is turned, three more things about Patriots and Jets…

Julian Edelman working as a defensive back: With New England perilously think at corner after the injury to Devin McCourty, the former college quarterback worked as the slot corner for a handful of plays in the second half. (ESPN Boston had him listed with four defensive snaps.) On Monday, Bill Belichick said the Patriots went with less intricate coverage schemes when he was in the game, but added that Edelman knows his way around the defensive playbook. “He has to be able to play what we’€™re running,” explained Belichick on Monday. “We’€™re not probably looking to run every single call in the book at that point; we’€™re going with two or three calls there at the end of the game because of the situation. He’€™ll know enough; he does know enough. He’€™s a smart kid. He’€™s worked in there before. He would know enough to do be able to do whatever it is we have.”

The Patriots won the special teams battle: It wasn’t just Niko Koutouvides recovering a key fumble on a third-quarter punt. It wasn’t just Zoltan Mesko putting two of his four punts inside the 20 and averaging 46.8 yards per punt. And it wasn’t just Matthew Slater making a great special teams tackle on a punt return. Stephen Gostkowski rebounded from one of the worst games of his career to go 3-for-3 on field goal attempts (connecting from 50, 36 and 27 yards), put four of his nine kickoffs in the end zone and make good on all four extra-point attempts. When compared to his counterpart Nick Folk (who set the tone with a missed 24-yarder on the Jets opening drive), Gostkowski certainly stood tall.

No Gary Guyton: At all: There were various moments during the night where we saw Guyton standing on the sidelines. He was dressed and ready to go, but all his snaps  at inside linebacker were taken by Jeff Tarpinian. In the end, the only two players who dressed but did not play a single snap were Guyton and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. (We tried to find out how many times, if at all, Guyton dressed but did not play, but we couldn’t find it. According to Pro Football Focus, Sunday night marked the fewest snaps for Guyton since he played just two snaps in Week 2 of the 2008 season against the Jets.) Guyton was questionable heading into the game with a shoulder injury. On Monday, Belichick was asked about Guyton’s playing time. “Players that were active for the game were active for the game. The players that weren’€™t active, either weren’€™t active because of injuries or because of coaching decisions,” Belichick said. “Anybody that was active for the game was able to play. He missed some time this week in practice and that was a concern going into the game, but he was active for the game.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brian Hoyer, Devin McCourty, Gary Guyton

Andre Carter on M&M: ‘The game is always won in the trenches’

11.14.11 at 12:28 pm ET
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Defensive end Andre Carter stopped by for a visit with Mut & Merloni Monday morning and said he has not yet come down from his “24-hour adrenaline rush” after setting a Patriots record with 4½ sacks in Sunday’s 37-16 victory over the Jets.

“It was such a great win,” he said. “It was a great performance on all sides of the ball. This was something that we had discussed, coming into this week, what we have to do. I tell everybody there were three [AFC East] teams that were 5-3. Somebody has to win. We just came out there, fought hard, and we were very successful.”

The Patriots defense already had some communication issues before being forced to put some new players into crucial roles due to injuries and cuts. Carter said that was one of the things the team worked on last week.

“I think overall we had a great practice [week],” Carter said. “There were definitely corrections. I can’t say how many. But you’re going to have them. But I think overall that’s one thing that we did. We constantly communicated — during practice, after practice, meetings after the meetings. We are a meeting team. So, I just think overall it was great. The guys that came in, the new faces, they were professional about the situation. They knew their role and handled it well.”

Added Carter: “We’ve worked on this since Day 1, but now everything’s just kind of come together. It’s communication. I tell everybody, [Vince] Wilfork is like the fourth linebacker. If he has an idea, we discuss it and it kind of spreads throughout the whole group. I’ll say my two cents, Gerard Warren, he’ll say his two cents. We just all talk. Pepper [Johnson] is over there, jaw-jacking as always. But I am a firm believer in despite how thin you are, whether it’s in the front end or the back end, the game is always won in the trenches. That’s going to determine the outcome of the game.”

Albert Haynesworth was released by the Patriots last week and picked up by the Buccaneers. He made five tackles in a starting role Sunday, although the Bucs were routed by the Texans, 37-9.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. But from what I heard, he had balled out [Sunday],” Carter said. “I can understand how he may fit into that defense. Because they’re — I don’t know how to describe it — I think when it comes to their big men, their tackles, they just kind of shoot upfield and their ends kind of control everything. ‘€¦ That’s just their style. Our style is unique. We have so many schemes. Every day we’re always learning something new. It’s more of an understanding of how guys fit and everything’s in unison.”

Carter said Haynesworth’s release was not a shock, based on what he’s learned from his 11 years in the league.

“There was no surprise,” Carter said. “At the end of the day, this is the NFL. You’re in it one day and out the next. You can be a starter or a non-starter. This is the nature of the business. You just shake hands and part ways, ‘I’ll text you later, I’ll tweet you.’ That’s just life.”

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Vince Wilfork,

Deion Branch on M&M: No disrespect meant to Fireman Ed

11.14.11 at 11:40 am ET
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Patriots receiver Deion Branch, who caught a touchdown pass in Sunday night’s 37-16 victory over the Jets, made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning.

Branch said the team was aware that people were doubting the Patriots before Sunday’s game, with New England coming off two straight losses.

“We hear the rumors,” he said. “You hear what people talk about you, this and that. I’ve been playing for a long time; it’s more useful for the younger guys to understand that that comes with the job. You’ve just got to focus on the task, what’s in front of you. The Jets were the next opponent.

“I also said after the game last night that we beat these guys, now probably people will be saying we’re back on top. It was just one game. We went out and played a good game. We made more plays than they did. Now it’s time to focus on Kansas City. Like coach [Bill] Belichick always says, ‘Don’t believe the hype.’ Because it’s going to be there. But it’s all about what we’re doing at that time and moment.”

Branch said despite the team’s recent struggles, the players were not uptight during last week’s preparation for the AFC East showdown.

“I think given the situation we were in — we lost two games in a row — you’d think guys would be real tight, coach would be tight. Everybody was relaxed,” Branch said. “I think we had a lot of fun. But at the same time, when we took the field, it was all about business and taking in our game plan and trying to prepare for this game, and knowing that there was going to be a lot of different things that would happen during the course of this game. We just had to stay focused. And I think we did that.”

For his touchdown celebration, Branch did an imitation of Jets supporter Fireman Ed.

“I was just caught up in the moment, the atmosphere of the game,” Branch said. “Last night was just all about football. The atmosphere was the best. Great time, Sunday Night Football, the weather was good, and we were in New York. The stage was set. Everything was just great. It was perfect.

“The mocking thing, I was just having fun. Just having fun, enjoying the game. That’s what it’s all about. I think we got back to doing that last night. Overall, it wasn’t any disrespect to him. I was just having fun. That’s that guy’s thing. That’s what he does. Like I said, I was just out there having fun.”

Read More: Deion Branch, Fireman Ed,

Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: Bill Belichick ‘never lost faith in us’

11.14.11 at 10:45 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady checked in with Dennis & Callahan Monday morning for his weekly discussion. Brady led the Patriots to a 37-16 victory over the Jets Sunday night, snapping a two-game losing streak.

With the win, Brady and Bill Belichick set the NFL record for most wins by a coach-quarterback combination, and Brady credited Belichick for showing his value as a leader once again.

“The last two weeks have been rough, but you know what? He never lost faith in us or confidence in what we’re doing,” Brady said. “He just said, ‘Look, we’ve just got to do better.’ He doesn’t ride those highs and lows. He comes in every week with a goal in mind. I think all the guys who played for him really appreciate that, appreciate his consistency, and appreciate the way that he listens to the team as well. Ultimately, he’s the one that makes the decisions, but at the same time, he takes a lot of input from a lot of people, too. Everyone feels like they’re a part of it. It’s very special for it to be like that.”

Following is a transcript from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

I guess you’re in a little better mood than the last couple of Mondays.

It’s definitely a different feeling when you win. We got off the field last night, and just to walk into the locker room and celebrate with the guys after a tough couple of weeks for us. Even battling a very good team last night under some tough conditions, with their home stadium. It was pretty sweet.

Does your uniform need to be washed? I don’t think you got roughed up very much last night.

We had great protection. We’ve had great protection all year. The strength of our offense is our offensive line. The way those guys battle, with [Matt] Light and Logan [Mankins], and Danny Connolly stepped in for [Dan Koppen] when he got hurt, and Brian Waters has played phenomenal, and Sea-Bass [Sebastian Vollmer] and Nate Solder. Those guys, they put a lot in every week. And their coach, they’ve got a great coach, Dante Scarnecchia, that works those guys every day. They work their tail off. And it really shows up every week, because we rely on those guys for so many things. And the communication between myself and them on a down-by-down basis, and their ability to perform with the entire gamut of the playbook, whether it’s run, play-action, screens, draws, traps, flip screens — we really ask those guys to do everything. They’ve done a great job all year.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brian Waters, Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk

Boomer Esiason on D&C: Mark Sanchez ‘afraid to pull the trigger’

11.14.11 at 10:11 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Patriots’ 37-16 win over the Jets on Sunday. Esiason praised a New England defense that was patched together before and throughout the game Sunday in order to compensate for injuries that decimated the lineup, but he placed much of the blame for the Jets’ loss on quarterback Mark Sanchez, who once again failed to step up during an appearance on prime-time television.

“A lot of it I think has to do with the opposing team’s quarterback who’s afraid to pull the trigger, it looks like to me right now,” Esiason said. “There are times where you just have to take chances. You have to throw the ball and go let your playmakers make a play for you. When you happen to have Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes on the field with you, and Dustin Keller for that matter, and you’re afraid to pull the trigger, you want to see guys completely wide open, you’re going to ask for problems.

“I thought that Mark Sanchez last night, even though he threw for over 300 yards, he just is not ready to be that prime-time player that we all thought that he was going to be by this time.”

Esiason said the Jets’ decisions on offense at the end of the first half were especially mystifying considering Tom Brady and the New England offense’s reputation. Sanchez and the Jets had the ball with under five minutes to play in the half and the Patriots holding a 6-2 lead. The Jets marched 63 yards while running the clock down to 1:24, then called a timeout on the New England 2-yard line. Sanchez then rushed the two yards for the touchdown, but he handed the ball over to the Patriots with 1:20 remaining in the half.

Brady and the Patriots offense made good use of the time the Jets allowed them, running a no-huddle offense and driving 80 yards in 1:11 for a touchdown that allowed the Patriots to head into the break with a 13-9 lead.

“To call a timeout at the end of the first half and to leave too much time on the clock for Tom Brady and this offense, the mindset going into a game against Tom Brady, even though their offense hasn’t been clicking the previous two weeks, the danger is always there,” Esiason said. “So the thought process is, is that OK, let’s be effective with our offense in a couple of ways. One, let’s score a touchdown, of course. Two, let’s use the clock to our advantage and try to eat up as much time as we possibly can and not give them the ball back, especially in a situation where he goes no-huddle and he can carve you up like he did.”

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Read More: boomer esiason, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Mark Sanchez

The Patriots D: Who are these guys?

11.14.11 at 4:21 am ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A funny thing happened on the way to sure disaster for the Patriots defense.

It ran into an inept Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense Sunday night, and found an identity.

So, instead of curling up in a little ball when Patrick Chung was a last-minute scratch with a foot/ankle injury and Brandon Spikes was out with a knee injury, the Patriots fought back with the likes of Sterling Moore, Jeff Tarpinian, Philip Adams and Tracy White.

Andre Carter had a franchise-record 4.5 sacks. Rob Ninkovich turned back the clock to 2010 against the Dolphins with a pair of interceptions — including a game-sealing “Pick-6″ — and Moore and linebacker White filled in on defense as the Patriots hammered the Jets, 37-16.

“It’s no different, really,” Moore said of starting for Chung, who’s injured right foot wouldn’t allow him to play Sunday. “I prepared all week like I was going to start, so to me, it was just another game. I mean, I’m just glad that my coaches and teammates had confidence in me out there to give me that shot.”

There was a lot of joking in the upbeat Patriots locker room afterward that the Jets were asking themselves on the field what everyone on TV was asking: Who are these guys?

“I didn’t hear any of it,” Moore said. “I try not to pay attention to any of it. I didn’t hear too much of it. Plaxico (Burress) did talk a little bit, but it wasn’t too much.”

The key for Moore on Sunday were the reps he got during the week in practice.

“I wouldn’t say I was surprised, just because I was taking all the first team reps during the week,” Moore said. “They were telling me all week to be prepared. I knew I had a real good shot at starting, so I did my best during the week to prepare for that.”

It wasn’t all smooth sailing as he drilled his own teammate — Devin McCourty — with shot to the shoulder that left McCourty with an injured shoulder in the second quarter. He left and did not return.

“I apologized,” Moore said. “That’s my fault. I probably owe him a dinner or something for that.”

Moore has been Mr. Everything to the Patriots secondary in practice.

“Probably three or four weeks,” Moore said when asked how long he had been playing and practicing safety with the Patriots. “Between that, corner and nickel. When I got here, they told me, ‘We’re going to need you everywhere.’ They told me to learn all three spots, and that’s what I’ve done.”

Who are these guys? They’re players that found a way to pull together and produce a win that has the Patriots all by themselves atop the AFC East.

Read More: New England Patriots, New York Jets, Sterling Moore,

Rob Gronkowski knows Tom Brady will still get him the ball

11.14.11 at 2:26 am ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — While everyone watching in the first half Sunday night was wondering about Tom Brady‘s right arm, Rob Gronkowski had no such concerns.

He was just concerned with the fact that the Jets had somehow grabbed a 9-6 lead and momentum of a game that had no rhythm. He knew that if the Patriots could get their offensive swagger back before halftime they’d be in great shape.

“It was definitely a very important drive,” Gronkowski said of the six-play, 80-yard drive that took 71 seconds. “We were up. We had to go into halftime and put some points up.”

Gronkowski had three of his eight catches on the night on that drive, including an 18-yarder in the end zone as he went head over heels to hold on.

Thanks to the up-tempo drive that put the Pats up, 13-9, with nine seconds to go in the half, the Patriots had the momentum.

“It just went faster,” Gronkowski said. “Everyone has to be on their toes when we’re going that fast. It was good execution. That’s what we’ve got to be doing the whole game.”

Earlier in the game, Gronkowski watched as Chad Ochocinco got deep on a blown Jets’ coverage for a 53-yard connection, his longest with the Patriots this season. It set up the second Stephen Gostkowski field goal of the night. Ocho finished with two catches and 65 yards.

“He’s doing a great job, he’s practicing real hard,” Gronk said while Ochocinco was dressing next to him in the locker room. “He’s cool.”

Gronkowski finished with eight catches on 11 targets for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He was so big that the Jets put their best defender — Darrelle Revis — on him in the second half.

“He’s a great player and it’s a great challenge going up against Revis,” Gronkowski said. “I just have to run my route the way they teach me to run my route in practice, run it correctly.”

Now the Patriots have sole possession of first place, but Gronk downplayed it afterward.

“We’re not even looking at that now, man,” the tight end said. “There’s seven games left. It was definitely a big win. You’ve got to win the road games. It was huge. It was for first place in the division but we have many more to keep going.”

As for the 11 targets by Brady, many will naturally assume that Gronk is clearly Brady’s favorite target. Not so fast.

“There’s a lot of guys that are main targets for him,” Gronk said. “Everyone is playing great. You never know who’s going to be the main target that game. You never know what the coverage is going to be. You just have to be prepared for every coverage every game.

“He just hits the open man. That’s what he looks for. A lot of receivers are getting open, Aaron’s getting open, running backs are getting open. He just hits the open man.”

And no one was more open that Gronkowski on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.

Read More: Darrelle Revis, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl
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