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Deion Branch on D&C: ‘We just didn’t execute’

11.07.11 at 11:45 am ET
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Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch joined Mut & Merloni at Gillette Stadium Monday morning for his weekly discussion about the team. The Patriots dropped their second straight game Sunday, a 24-20 loss to the Giants.

The Patriots failed to score on their first nine drives Sunday, but Branch said the Giants defense did not do anything the Patriots weren’t expecting.

“No, no surprises. Everything they did was pretty much what we game-planned for,” he said. “We just didn’t execute. No excuses at all. None. No excuses.”

Added Branch: “I honestly know that we were prepared to play this game. We just didn’t go out and do it.”

After a scoreless first half, the Patriots still could not get on track at the start of the third quarter. That’s something Patriots fans aren’t used to seeing.

“We preach and harp on starting fast. The last two weeks we haven’t,” Branch said. “For whatever reason, it is hard right now. ‘€¦ That’s our goal each and every game: Start fast, start fast after halftime. The last couple of weeks, we haven’t been doing it.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On second-year receiver Taylor Price: “He has great potential. He has a lot of potential. He has all the attributes as a receiver — the height, speed, size, all that stuff. And he’s a great practice player. So, he’s doing the things. It’s just all about getting over that little, small hump. He’s fighting [a hamstring injury]. This guy’s battling. He’s doing a great job. He’s doing everything the coaches ask of him. He’s not complaining at all. He’s fighting. And trust me, all the guys are pulling for him. The coaches are, too. There’s a reason they brought him here, because they know what type of talent he has.”

On the Jets’ improvement since the last time the teams met: “It’s a different team. As the weeks go on, some teams get better, some fall off.”

On Jets week: “It’s always good playing those guys. There’s a lot of entertainment that leads up to the game, and then the game is always good. ‘€¦ We’ve got to get a win. That’s the only thing that matters.”

Read More: Deion Branch, Taylor Price,

Opposing teams have a read on Tom Brady, Patriots offense

11.07.11 at 10:28 am ET
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FOXBORO — Before lifting his coach onto his massive shoulders in a wild postgame celebration, Justin Tuck was helping once again to carry the load defensively against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Yes, Brady drove the Patriots 64 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on fourth-and-9 at the Giants‘ 14 with 1:36 remaining. And yes, Brady had an 80-yard drive earlier in the fourth quarter following Kyle Arrington‘s end zone pick of Eli Manning.

“All of us defensive guys were kind of bummed out,” Tuck said afterward of the Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski TD. “We had the opportunity to shut them out in the fourth quarter. We played consistently. There’€™s been some games where we’€™ve had some spurts of playing really well and then for some [times when] we’€™ve looked liked we’€™ve never played together before.”

But the reason Tuck and the Giants were jubilant afterward was their defense for three quarters that kept the undermanned Giants in the game on the road. Brady and the Patriots had three points against a defense that was showing signs of weakness, especially against the run.

However, the Patriots could not take advantage, running just 24 times for 106 yards, with 18 of those yards coming on a BenJarvus Green-Ellis run on their first play of the first quarter. Another came on a Wes Welker 13-yard reverse. Take those two out and the Patriots had 75 yards on 22 carries.

The numbers for the Patriots offense are not good the last three games, albeit against three good to very good defenses. They have put up 20, 17 and 20 points. But against Dallas, they had 13 points before a Brady TD pass to Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds remaining. Against the Steelers, the Patriots couldn’t sustain a drive until the fourth quarter. On Sunday, the Patriots didn’t reach the end zone until the fourth quarter and were inept offensively before picking up the pace.

The serious questions are there: Why is it taking 45 minutes for the Pats to find their rhythm? Have the Patriots and Brady become predictable?

Boomer Esiasonon Monday with Dennis & Callahan — thinks so. So, apparently, do opposing defensive coordinators.

Put pressure on Brady up front. Then, either bump-and-run with the corners like Pittsburgh and Dallas did or drop your linebackers into coverage like the Giants did Sunday and try to confuse or disrupt Brady. It all depends on your personnel. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell thought he had the linebacking group that could play close to the line then drop back into coverage. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Justin Tuck, New England Patriots, New York Giants, nfl

Boomer Esiason on D&C: ‘Opposing teams now know how to stop Tom Brady’

11.07.11 at 9:54 am ET
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CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to break down the Patriots’ 24-20 loss to the Giants on Sunday. Esiason provided his insight into why the Patriots offense was held to 20 or less points for the third consecutive week and why the offense was unable to score in the first half for the first time since Dec. 12, 2006.

“Opposing teams now know how to stop Tom Brady,” Esiason said. “He was harassed, he threw interceptions, he fumbled. The Giants defense seemed like they were swarming all over the place, especially in the first half. And then when you watch the performance last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, you say the same thing. He was harassed. He was beat up.”

Esiason attributed the pressure on Brady to the Giants defensive line and said the man coverage down the field prevented the Patriots from making big plays. Just one week after the Patriots were shut down by the Steelers, Esiason said other teams can now attack the Patriots offense from the same blueprint.

“What people are saying about the Patriots, especially offensively, is that most of the completions come inside the numbers,” Esiason said. “They’re 15, 16, 17 yards or less. There’s not a lot of outside completions.

“Completing a lot of these passes inside the numbers to tight ends, to Wes Welker who had yet another great game yesterday is starting to … People are allowing that to happen because they don’t have to worry about any outside threat whatsoever.”

The lack of the deep threat on the Patriots offense goes back to wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who was brought in as a free agent to make big plays and has yet to do so through the first eight games of the season. Ochocinco was targeted by Brady five times in the second half on Sunday and failed to catch the ball on any of those passes. Twice, his failure to catch the ball on third down forced the Patriots to kick a field goal. Although Brady neglected to discuss any personal frustration with Ochocinco in his postgame press conference Sunday, Esiason said he thinks the quarterback has to be frustrated with the receiver.

“I don’t think Tom trusts him,” Esiason said. “That’s my estimation from afar. That’s not something that someone told me. That’s not something that I read. Tom would never say that publicly. But watching it on the field and watching their discussions, there’s no way in the world that [Brady] can trust him.”

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Read More: boomer esiason, Chad Ochocinco, Tom Brady, Wes Welker

Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘We don’t have any quitters on our team’

11.07.11 at 8:10 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looked for answers for the team’s two-game losing streak during his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning.

“It’s a bunch of different things,” he said. “Individually, you look at what you did on every play and you try to figure out what you could have done better, based on not only your own expectation but what the team expectations are for you on a particular play. Then cumulatively, over the course of a game, obviously the more plays you make, the better outcome for the team. That’s what we do all night — we sit around and we think about the things we wish we would have done better. Obviously, if there were a few things that we did better, then we’d have come away with a win yesterday.”

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

From an accuracy standpoint, would you agree that you had an off day yesterday?

Obviously, I wish I would have completed more passes. There were plays out there that I wish I could have hit. Those are the ones that I think about. They made a lot of plays. It’s a good defense. We’re going to keep fighting on. I think that’s really what we’ve done to this point this season, and there’s a long way to go. But we’ve got to get back to winning. We’ve got to get back to making more good plays than bad plays.

Did they do similar things to what the Steelers did the week before? Do you worry about the blueprint theory?

Every week we go in and we have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to do. And we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to do against them. Teams may have a blueprint for us, but we think we have a blueprint for them. That’s how we go out and play. I don’t think there’s any doubt we can make good plays. We’ve done that all season. We’re not incapable of doing that. We’re just making too many bad plays. And the bad plays are what get you beat.

Is Chad Ochocinco ever going to get it? Are you ever going to be on the same page with him?

We make improvements every week. It’s just a matter of us ultimately getting it done in the game. Every week there’s more confidence in what we’re doing with him, and with him and me. It’s just a matter of us getting out there and doing it on the field. Believe me, no one’s more frustrated than us. We talked after the game about what we need to do to get better. And we’re just going to keep doing it. We really don’t know any other way.

We’re not going to sit here and feel bad for ourselves. We’re 5-3. Is it where we want to be? No, it’s not. We’ve got to do something about it. That’s what this team’s always been about. Rather than make a bunch of excuses and point fingers, all of us individually are going to go out and try to perform a lot better and see if we can do a better job.
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Read More: Chad Ochocinco, Rex Ryan, Rodney Harrison, Tom Brady

Brandon Spikes lands first punch, Jake Ballard bounces back for knock-out blow

11.07.11 at 1:08 am ET
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FOXBORO — Say this for the Patriots, they tried to knock Jake Ballard out of the game before he single-handedly devastated the Patriots on the game-winning drive.

Brandon Spikes leveled the Giants tight end in a first-quarter hit that can only be described in his own words on Twitter as #POWWWWWWW.

Spikes made the huge play on 3rd-and-9, stopping the Giants 1 yard shy at the Patriots 46.

“No, I didn’t see it coming,” Ballard said. “He hit me pretty good but I got right up and walked off the field. It was a good hit and it was kind of my fault. He just dropped in zone and I should of cut off [my route]. But it’s football – you get hit hard.”

Spikes was no where to be found though when the Patriots needed him since he left the game with a leg injury in the second half.

Instead, Tracy White was on the field as Eli Manning used Ballard to pick apart the Patriots on the game-winning drive that had the Giants march 80 yards in eight plays, capped off by a Manning-to-Ballard TD strike on third-and-goal with 15 seconds left.

‘€œThe offensive line pinched and I ended up getting off quick and breaking it out because I knew I had to get separation from the linebacker,” Ballard said. “As soon as I turned around, Eli threw it and it was there, I was just concentrating really hard to make sure I caught the ball.’€

“I played the run,” White said. “You have to play the run first. He stepped up and got out to the back of the end zone. That was it. It was a good route, a good pass. I didn’t lose him. I had him covered pretty good. It was a good catch and good pass.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Spikes, David Tyree, Eli Manning, Jake Ballard

Patriots secondary shines, then falters

11.06.11 at 10:59 pm ET
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Through three quarters Sunday night,  the Patriots secondary proved its critics wrong. The unit that was on pace to give up the most passing yards in NFL history coming into the game had not allowed Eli Manning and the New York offense much of anything, the Giants‘ only touchdown coming on a 10-yard Brandon Jacobs run off a Patriots turnover.

But on the Giants’ final two drives in the fourth quarter, the secondary looked like the same group of guys that played soft coverage and gave up big plays down field through New England’s first seven games. The Giants were just 1-for-11 on third down before converting on their final three on their way to a 24-20 victory.

“We did a good job for the most part, but not good enough,” cornerback Kyle Arrington said.

Nobody was a better representation of the secondary’s rise and fall in the game than Arrington. The third-year corner came up big when he picked off Manning in the end zone with New York threatening on the goal line. He also broke up a pass to Victor Cruz that surely would have resulted in a Giants touchdown early in the third quarter.

But with the Patriots up 13-10 late in the game, Arrington committed a pass interference penalty on a deep pass to Mario Manningham that moved the Giants into New England territory. On that same drive, Manningham beat Arrington to catch a pretty 10-yard touchdown pass from Manning in the left corner of the end zone, giving New York a 17-13 lead with 3:07 left in the game.

“In the National Football League, playing corner, that’s the business,” Arrington said of his up-and-down game. “You got to have a short memory. Can’t help good throws and good catches sometimes. That’s all I have to say about that.”

But after Tom Brady hooked up with Rob Gronkowski for a 14-yard touchdown with 1:40 left in the game, the Patriots defense once again had a chance to put New York away for good. And again, they failed.

On the Giants’ subsequent drive, Manning completed passes of 19 and 28 yards before he scrambled down to the New England 12-yard line. Another pass interference call, this one on safety Sergio Brown, gave the Giants a first down at the Patriots’ 1-yard line. It took three plays for the Giants to punch it in, but they finally did on a pass from Manning to tight end Jake Ballard with 15 seconds left.

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Read More: Devin McCourty, Eli Manning, Kyle Arrington, Sergio Brown

Elite or not, Eli Manning owns the Patriots

11.06.11 at 10:28 pm ET
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“I consider myself in that class”

Eli Manning when asked how he compares to Tom Brady, August 2011

Oh, I mocked him. We all did.

Eli Manning in Tom Brady‘s class? Eli Manning, he of the league-high 25 INT’s last season (Brady had thrown 25 total picks since the end of the 2007 season)? Eli Manning, who has finished in the top 10 in passer rating exactly zero times in his career (Brady has never finished outside the top 10)? Eli Manning, who has made fewer Pro Bowls (one) than Brandon Meriweather?

Heading into Patriots-Giants I think we were all on board with the idea that Eli Manning was a top 10-12 QB in the league, a borderline franchise guy that had one of the great fourth quarters in Super Bowl history but hadn’t made that leap to superduperstardom. And, yup,  he’s having a career season but he’s probably never going to be an MVP, an All-Pro. No Canton for Eli Manning, we get it.

So elite or not can and will be debated when it comes to Eli Manning, but after Giants 17, Patriots 14 and Giants 24, Patriots 20, what is very true and impossible to argue is this:

Eli Manning owns the Patriots.

You can make all the excuses you want — fluke catch by David Tyree, Manning was in the grasp, if Asante Samuel makes a play, Tracy White and Sergio Brown — but numbers are numbers. And in his last two fourth quarters against the Patriots, Eli Manning is 17-27 for 245 yards with four touchdown passes, zero INTs and two game-winning drives. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Eli Manning, New York Giants, Tom Brady,
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