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Patriots players dismiss talk of deflated footballs

01.19.15 at 2:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots players weren’t in the mood Monday afternoon to talk about the report of deflated footballs in Sunday’s AFC title game.

Reports have surfaced that the Colts believe that there were some partially deflated footballs used in Sunday’s game, with a story from WTHR-TV in Indianapolis quoting a source saying the Patriots partially deflated the footballs.

Asked if the ball felt “a little deflated” when he caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady in the second half. left tackle Nate Solder laughed.

“I don’t know anything about that. I’m glad I caught it,” he said with a smile. “[But] I don’t anything about that. Nothing.”

Wide receiver Julian Edelman was a little more dismissive of the idea that deflated balls played a role in the game.

“No. I don’t even know anything about that. I think it’s just a story. Whatever,” he said Monday. “I don’t know anything about it, like I said. It’s funny.”

According to NFL rules, officials test game footballs two hours prior to kickoff, and they can measure the pressure during the game. As a result, it’s not clear how a team could deflate footballs surreptitiously during a contest.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady laughed off the talk on WEEI on Monday morning, saying he had ‘€œno idea’€ what the controversy was all about.

‘€œI think I’€™ve heard it all at this point,’€ he said.

Added Brady: ‘€œThat’€™s the last of my worries. I don’€™t even respond to stuff like this.’€

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Julian Edelman, Nate Solder,

Vince Wilfork helps woman out of car after accident following AFC championship win

01.19.15 at 1:54 pm ET
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Not even a few hours after the Patriots won the AFC championship, Vince Wilfork helped free a woman from her vehicle after she had flipped her Jeep Wrangler on Route 1 in Foxboro.

Mass State Police say the operator of the vehicle, 38-year-old Mary Ellen Brooks of Hanson, was unable to get out of the vehicle. Trooper Kenneth Proulx stated that he held the drivers door of the vehicle open, and Wilfork reached in and helped lift the operator out of the vehicle with one hand.

Wilfork left the scene after the troopers didn’t need any more assistance. Brooks was placed under arrest for operating under the influence of alcohol and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

The Patriots defensive tackle will be playing in his fourth Super Bowl in two weeks.

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Vince Wilfork,

Andrew Luck had ‘long day’ in worst statistical game of NFL career

01.19.15 at 1:29 pm ET
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Andrew Luck had the worst statistical game of his NFL career in Sunday's loss to the Patriots. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck had the worst statistical game of his NFL career in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — While Andrew Luck has proven he is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, Sunday’s AFC championship proved Luck is not ready for the big stage just yet.

Luck has his worst statistical game of his career Sunday in the Colts’ 45-7 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

The 25-year-old was 12-for-33 passing for 126 yards with two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 23. The quarterback rating was by far the worst in his three-year career, as his previous low was Dec. 21 of this year in a 42-7 loss to the Cowboys, where he had a rating of 41.7.

His 36.4 completion percentage was also the worst of his career, and his 126 passing yards were second-fewest, only to the Dec. 21 game against the Cowboys.

“Long day, they obviously outplayed us and deserve to move on,” Luck said afterwards.

Luck and the Colts have struggled in his four games against the Patriots. He is 0-4, including two playoff losses, and has been outscored 189-73 in those games. Luck and the Colts have also struggled away from home against good teams. Over the last three seasons in games on the road against teams finishing .500 or better, the Colts are 2-12 and have been outscored 486-265.

The Patriots defense wasn’t necessarily surprised with the outcome Sunday night.

“Not at all,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “They’€™re a great team, but we are a good team as well. We had a great game plan, we came out and we executed. I mean there were a couple of plays that we obviously wanted back, but I think we played really good out there.”

A major part in the Patriots’ success was their ability to take away Luck’s receivers and the passing game. T.Y. Hilton finished with just one catch for 36 yards — a spectacular catch on the sidelines — and Reggie Wayne was not even targeted. Hilton was the leading receiver with tight end Coby Fleener being the next closest with three catches for 30 yards. Hilton finished the regular season with the sixth-most receiving yards in the NFL — 1,345.

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Andrew Luck, Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Arrington

What pundits were saying about Patriots on Sunday: ‘Bill Belichick is the greatest coach ever’

01.19.15 at 1:28 pm ET
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Here’s what the pundits were saying about the Patriots after their win over the Colts in the AFC championship game Sunday:

NFL Network’s Michael Irvin on Patriots head coach Bill Belichick: “I think [Bill] Belichick is the greatest to ever coach. Bar none.”

NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk: “[Bill Belichick] is changing what you call ‘good coaching.’ Good coaching was having a system and finding players to fit it. Good coaching is now coaching the players you have and doing things to make them better.”

NFL Network’s Deion Sanders: “I’ve never seen a matchup that you didn’t check off the New England coaching staff with [Bill] Belichick. He always wins the coaching matchup … [The New England Patriots] have veteran players that they put in the right situations to be successful. They outcoach everybody.”

NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk: “Bill Belichick finds an identity for his team regardless of what it is, who it is, who the players are, and he gets the win. Once again Bill Belichick [and] Tom Brady they’re in the Super Bowl.”

NFL Network’s Deion Sanders: “[Tom] Brady is the attitude of the offense and Bill Belichick is the attitude of the defense. Collectively what these guys do, week in and week out, year in and year out, they’re consistent with who they are.”

NBC’s Al Michaels after the game on the upcoming Super Bowl matchup: “So many great early storylines to think about: Two chess masters, Belichick and Carroll, going head-to-head. Two hugely successful quarterbacks, Brady and Wilson, with vastly divergent styles. Two teams that will come to the Super Bowl with anything and everything in the back of their playbooks — fake punts, wide receivers throwing passes, eclectic formations and who knows what else. In Marshawn Lynch and LeGarrette Blount, the equivalent of identical twins at running back. Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman against ‘The Legion of Boom.’ Darrelle Revis matched up against anybody. Richard Sherman matched up against anybody. And two teams that rarely face each other — only three meetings in the last 21 years. These are just the appetizers.”

NBC’s Cris Collinsworth: “This will be a legacy Super Bowl. Will it be Seattle winning back-to-back Super Bowls with a young team capable of many more, or Tom Brady and Bill Belichick winning their fourth? … This is the first Super Bowl in a long time that I have no idea who will be favored.”

NBC’s Tony Dungy: “The Patriots are hitting on all cylinders. They do so much on offense and show so many different looks. Every game plan is a little different, and it’s a huge advantage. … This will be a chess match that boils down to how the Patriots defense will handle the Seahawks run-option offense, and how the Seahawks defense handles the precise, inside passing game of the Patriots.”

NBC’s Rodney Harrison: “The Patriots returning to the Super Bowl is no surprise. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were prepared and the team is confident. There’s no set game plan with Belichick. He’s always trying to find the right mix to win the next game.”

Read More: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, marshall faulk, Michael Irvin

Julian Edelman on MFB: ‘We just so happened to do a lot of things right’ vs. Colts

01.19.15 at 12:59 pm ET
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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and defensive end Chandler Jones joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss Sunday’s rout of the Colts in the AFC championship game. To hear the interviews, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Patriots had their way with Indianapolis on both sides of the football Sunday night.

“They’re a good team. We just so happened to do a lot of things right,” Edelman said. “We played a complementary football game. … We were just able to execute at a high level last night. Hopefully that goes on to two weeks.”

Said Jones: “It’s good for the coaches to give out a game plan, but at the end of the day it’s up to the players to execute and buy into what the coaches are coaching. I feel like our players did a good job of buying into the coaches’ game plan, and we outexecuted the other team and it definitely showed on the scoreboard at the end of the game.”

Jones credited fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich with having a standout game.

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

“I want to personally take the time to point out Rob Ninkovich‘s game that he had last night,” Jones said. “I just finished watching him. Rob had a tremendous game. It might not show on the stat sheet, but he did a really good job of pressuring Andrew Luck. Like I said, I want to shout him out. That was a great game by Rob Ninkovich.”

Edelman said he knew nothing about the controversy regarding allegedly underinflated footballs.

“I’m not even getting involved in this one,” Edelman said. “Ask coach Bill Belichick on all situations.”

Added Edelman: “Those guys [on the sideline] didn’t do anything. They’re probably just overreacting on something. It’s ridiculous, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We’re going to just try to get better for Seattle.”

Offensive lineman Nate Solder scored a touchdown in the third quarter, catching a short pass from Tom Brady and running into the end zone. Edelman said he was happy to share the spotlight with his underappreciated teammate.

“Those big dogs, they do all the grinding work each and every week. They don’t ever get the credit they deserve,” Edelman said. “To see one of your big dogs get a touchdown, especially in such an important game, it’s always awesome. You get to see those guys, they light up like a Christmas tree. It was awesome to see that.”

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Read More: chandler jones, Julian Edelman, Rob Ninkovich,

Arthur Jones on brother Chandler: ‘I always want to beat my brother in everything that we do’

01.19.15 at 12:13 pm ET
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Chandler Jones was able to beat his brother Arthur in Sunday's AFC championship. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Chandler Jones was able to beat his brother Arthur in Sunday’s AFC championship. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It was a win-win situation for the Jones family Sunday night — they were going to the Super Bowl no matter what.

If the Patriots won, Chandler would be going. If the Colts won, Arthur would be going. But, there wasn’t much doubt as the Patriots rolled to a 45-7 win and Chandler will be playing in his first Super Bowl in two weeks in Arizona.

Despite the loss, Arthur was proud of his younger brother, especially for all he went through this season, missing significant time with a hip injury.

“The kid is a champion. He’s a warrior,” Arthur said. “He battled through injury, I congratulated him. I don’t want to be a sore loser, my mom and dad raised me better than that. Hats off to them. We’ll be ready to go next time.”

“As a competitor you always want to go to the Super Bowl,” he added. “I always want to beat my brother in everything that we do. Hats off to them. It’s a team sport, they won fair and square, but we will be back.”

This wasn’t the first time the two brothers have faced off — it was the fourth time the brothers faced each other since Chandler, a first-round draft choice in 2012, joined his brother in the NFL. Arthur was fifth-round pick in 2010 by the Ravens and this was his first season with the Colts.

“I’ve played against my brother before and he has beaten me. I have beat him before too,” Chandler said. “It was kind of a win-win for my family — they get to go to Arizona no matter what. It was a great win.”

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Arthur Jones, chandler jones,

Reports: League looking into report of deflated footballs in AFC title game

01.19.15 at 10:09 am ET
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Multiple reports now indicate the NFL is looking into the report of deflated footballs being used in Sunday’s AFC title game.

The initial report was first made late Sunday evening by Bob Kravitz of WTHR-TV in Indianapolis.

“I was told by an NFL source that the league was looking into — or going to look into — the possibility that the Patriots deflated the footballs,” Kravitz told WEEI on Monday morning. “I thought it was outlandish, but this particular source has never steered me wrong before.”

Added Kravitz: “When I heard it, I thought, man, that’s outlandish, do I really want to go with this? And then I thought, well, everybody thought the idea of them taping practice was outlandish. So, at the end, it’s a source that I trust implicitly, and I’ve never been steered wrong before.”

According to NFL rules, officials test game footballs two hours prior to kickoff, and they can measure the pressure during the game. As a result, it’s not clear how a team could deflate footballs surreptitiously during a contest.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady laughed off the talk on WEEI on Monday morning, saying he had “no idea” what the controversy was all about.

“I think I’ve heard it all at this point,” he said.

Added Brady: “That’s the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.”

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots,
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