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Jim Nantz on Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning: ‘This is as big as it gets’

01.14.14 at 7:19 pm ET
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CBS analysts Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason and play-by-play man Jim Nantz held a conference call Tuesday to discuss the Patriots-Broncos AFC title game. Here are a few highlights from that conference call

(On the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry)
Nantz: I think it transcends the NFL. This is something everyone wants to see. This is tantamount to Ali-€‘Frazier one more time. This is Palmer-Nicklaus. This is Bird-€‘Magic. I’m not trying to create some sort of synthetic drama here, but this is what it is. This is as big as it gets. We’re going to savor it because you don’t know how many more times we’ll get it again. You say Brady-Manning, I defy anyone to say there is anything that has been bigger in this league.

Simms: The word legacy, all these things who they are, I have fun with them and I hear it. Somebody said their legacies, both of them, are at stake in this game at this time. I don’t care what either one of them does in this game. It will never change what I think of them. If one of them goes out and has the worst game of his career and is the sole reason why they lose, it will not bring them down one single bit in my eyes. They’ve done so much for the league, and their teams, and themselves, there is nothing that can diminish it.

Esiason: Each one of these players this year really defines who they are. Peyton lifted and took a young group of receivers to a completely different level, and very few players are capable of doing that. And Tom Brady took a team basically that was more built around the run, broke through for 4,200 yards, and got them back all the way here to the AFC Championship game. I think really what speaks to the greatness of both of these quarterbacks, they both have, along with Bill Belichick, and I’m sure John Fox says this as well, a Ph.D. in high-€‘level thought processes that give them the opportunity to make these championship games each year.

(On what makes Brady and Manning the best of their generation)
Simms: We have two quarterbacks that are tough guys. Tom Brady, his attitude, staying on the field, the way he conducts himself with his football team mirrors his head coach. Peyton Manning, just to play the style of football he plays. Man, I get tired watching him and all the work. You’ve got to remember he does that every day in practice.

Esiason: The fact really is three words: longevity, consistency and success. Both of these guys have kind of been going in parallel lives to one another and now find themselves in the AFC Championship game. For Tom Brady it’s his eighth game with Bill Belichick. Nothing says greatness better or more than winning, especially at the highest level. Great moments require great people to do great things, and both of these players have accomplished that. I think I speak for Phil and every other quarterback that’s ever played the position, maybe with the exception of Joe Montana, that what you’re watching here are two guys that will go down as two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

(On what makes Bill Belichick so successful)
Simms: The thing that makes Bill so successful is that, in my eyes, it is truthfulness to his players. He tells them the truth. And it is raw, and it hurts. You’ve got to get used to that. But once you get used to it, it clarifies everything for you. You don’t have to walk around in your job and go, ‘€˜Oh, I wonder what Coach thinks of me or how am I doing?’€™ They let you know constantly. It is a rough way to play.

Read More: boomer esiason, Jim Nantz, Peyton Manning, Phil Simms

Broncos sign former Patriots defensive back Marquice Cole

01.14.14 at 5:25 pm ET
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Time for more gamesmanship.

One week after the Colts picked up ex-Patriots receiver Deion Branch in the days leading up to the AFC divisional playoffs, the Broncos announced Tuesday afternoon they have signed former New England defensive back Marquice Cole.

The 30-year-old Cole has spent most of the last two years with the Patriots as a cornerback and special teamer. In his NFL career, the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder has played 64 career games and totaled 36 tackles with four interceptions and 14 pass breakups to go with 51 special-teams stops. New England released the veteran cornerback on Dec. 26.

Cole figures to help shore up a depleted secondary that recently suffered the loss of cornerback Chris Harris, who tore his ACL in the recent playoff win over the Chargers.

From a defensive perspective, Cole had been relegated to a rotational spot behind Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan this year, so it’s debatable how much he can still bring to the field when it comes to pass defense. However, he remained a fairly regular face on New England’s special teams, and could provide depth for Denver at that spot as well.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Chris Harris, Deion Branch, Marquice Cole,

Josh McDaniels confirms: ‘I’ll definitely be here’ in New England with Patriots in 2014

01.14.14 at 4:33 pm ET
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Not that it should surprise anyone but Josh McDaniels has confirmed the obvious – he’ll be back with the Patriots in 2014.

The Patriots offensive coordinator confirmed that he withdrew his name from consideration for the head coaching vacancy with the Cleveland Browns on the same day Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did likewise.

On Tuesday, during a conference call, McDaniels shed some light on the reason why he’s staying in New England.

“Well, I’€™ll definitely be here. I think all it means is that, you know, I made the decision that this is the right time for me to be here,” McDaniels said. “I’€™m really happy here ‘€“ I’€™ve said that numerous times. There’€™s not really much else to it. I don’€™t think it’€™s ‘€“ you know it’€™s a process you go through sometimes and you ultimately have to make choices based on what’€™s best for you and your family. That’€™s what I try to do.”

There is the possibility that one of his key weapons may not be staying around with McDaniels as Julian Edelman is a free agent after the season.

It’s been under McDaniels’ tutelage that Edelman has grown into one of the more feared slot receivers in the NFL, taking the chance to replace Wes Welker and running with it all the way to a likely lucrative free agency prize.

“Well, Julian has always had great ability. He’€™s a guy that has speed and can do a lot of different things€“ versatility,” McDaniels said. “Certainly, I wasn’€™t here when we first got him the first years that he was here, and have had an opportunity to really get to know him the last couple years. His opportunities have certainly increased and he is a guy that embraces whatever role you give him each week.

“He’€™s capable of playing on the perimeter of the offense and he has for us. He’€™s also unselfish and will do whatever we ask of him in any role, whether that’€™s to be a clear-out guy, block the secondary in the running game, whatever it may be, and he’€™s always had a great attitude towards his work and his preparation. I just see a guy that’€™s driven to be a great player. He’€™s always tried to be the best he could be.

“He’€™s certainly had opportunities presented to him this year that he’€™s taken advantage of. I think he’€™s really led our receiving group with a tremendous amount of toughness, consistency. He practices hard, prepares hard, he’€™s on top of his game plan. He understands the defenses that we play and the players he’€™s going to compete against. I think he’€™s just really made himself a very well-rounded player that certainly has had a very productive year for us.”

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Read More: Cleveland Browns, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots, nfl

Bill Belichick: ‘Possibility’ Patriots could travel to Denver on Friday

01.14.14 at 3:59 pm ET
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In a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that the team could travel to Denver Friday instead of Saturday for this weekend’s AFC title game.

“Yeah, it’€™s a possibility,” Belichick said. “We’€™re working out our arrangements for the week here now.”

In the past, when faced with a trip to the West Coast, the Patriots have departed early. The time change adds an interesting wrinkle to this game — it will mark only the second game this year the Patriots will have played outside of the eastern time zone.

Belichick also addressed a handful of other topics in his Q&A with the media, including the health of punter Ryan Allen. The rookie left Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the Colts because of an injury, and Stephen Gostkowski worked in relief of Allen. Belichick said they would have an update on Allen when the Wednesday practice report is released, but added that signing a punter on Friday and having him work Sunday is a possibility, as well as the chance that Gostkowski could work as the punter again against the Broncos.

“Sure, both those things are possible,” Belichick said.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Ryan Allen, Stephen Gostkowski,

Denver Broncos cautioning fans looking for tickets to Sunday’s AFC championship against Patriots

01.14.14 at 3:29 pm ET
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On Monday, there was word that it would be very hard for Patriots fans living in New England to acquire tickets to the AFC championship in Denver because of a team policy.

Now, the Broncos are warning those same fans to be careful not to get duped into buying counterfeit tickets.

The Broncos Tuesday urged fans to be wary of counterfeit tickets that can make their way through secondary markets and take appropriate measures to ensure the authenticity of their purchases.

“Only tickets acquired from team-associated outlets, including the Sports Authority Field at Mile High ticket office and Ticketmaster/Ticket Exchange, can be fully validated by the club and the NFL,” the team said in a statement.

‘€œWe want fans to be fully aware of the risks involved with buying tickets in the secondary market while remaining assured that tickets purchased through the ticket office, Ticketmaster or NFL Ticket Exchange are 100 percent authentic,’€ Broncos Senior Vice President of Business Development Mac Freeman said.

Sunday’€™s AFC Championship Game against the Patriots kicks off at 3:05 p.m. ET at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Read More: Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, nfl,

Gisele Bundchen says Tom Brady is ‘very focused’ on football at home

01.14.14 at 1:16 pm ET
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Patriots fans need not worry about the focus of Tom Brady at home, so says his supermodel wife.

Gisele Bundchen spoke recently in New York about the atmosphere in their Boston household as he prepares to make another run at the Super Bowl.

Bundchen says her husband knows how to zero in on the playoffs.

“He’s very focused,” the 33-year-old Bundchen said of her 36-year-old quarterback husband. “We are both very supportive of one another in what we do. … Of course nobody likes to lose. Those aren’t the best days.”

This, of course, was most evident in the moments after Super Bowl XLVI when Wes Welker dropped a key pass in the fourth quarter that would’ve kept a drive going and likely ended any chances of a last-minute touchdown that won the game for the Giants. Bundchen was very defensive of her husband and most famously said, “You [need] to catch the ball when you’€™re supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot [expletive] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’€™t believe they dropped the ball so many times.”

Ironic that her husband will be going up against the very player this weekend who caused her so much grief in Indianapolis.

“He knows he does his best. He works extremely hard,” Bundchen said.

The Brazilian model says the couple winds down differently at night.

“At night if my husband is watching TV and watching football, I have my little book and I put something in my ears so I don’t hear it and I put my light [on] and have my book and I’m like, ‘Ohhh.’ He’s feeding his soul and that’s important to him to watch football. I only want to watch if I’m watching him,” she joked in an excerpt from The Associated Press.

Bundchen reiterated that family is the top priority above all. Brady has a 6-year-old son, John, whose mother is actress Bridget Moynahan. Bundchen and Brady have a 4-year-old son, Ben, and a 1-year-old daughter, Vivian.

“He’s very loving and it’s a wonderful thing,” Bundchen said. “In our house we are very affectionate. I think it’s very important for the boys to know that it’s OK to hug and to kiss and you’re not less than a man.”

Read More: Gisele, Gisele Bundchen, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots

Manning’s use of ‘Omaha’ confuses opposition, benefits city

01.14.14 at 10:47 am ET
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Patriots fans may want to prepare to hear the word “Omaha” in excess Sunday.

Like many other codes a quarterback barks during a game to get his offense to change up a play, the word does not have much meaning. According to ESPN, though, that did not stop Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning from shouting the city’€™s name 44 times, each before the ball was snapped, during Sunday’€™s playoff win over the Chargers.

That led to Omaha becoming a trending topic on Twitter during the game.

During his interview with Dennis & Callahan Monday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady discussed Manning’€™s “Omaha” call and explained how Manning uses it to indicate the snap count to his teammates and throw off the defense.

“He does a good job of changing [its meaning],” Brady said. “One time it means one thing, and the next time it means another. He got [the Chargers] offsides, I don’€™t know, five or six times [Sunday], which is the most I think I’ve ever seen. He was doing a great job with his cadence, really keeping the other team off-balance.

“That’€™s the part of what his strength is as a player. He’€™s able to really deceive the defense. Once you think you’€™re on to one thing, he’€™s on to the next. He tries to stay one step ahead of the defense. Our defense is going to be tested.”

Added Brady: “He probably got other cue words that he uses to let the team know what he really wants to do, his real intention. You just can’€™t really listen in too much; you’ve got to be able to react. But that’€™s part of what good offenses do. And that’€™s why they’ve been able to score a lot of points and keep the other team off-balance.”

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Read More: Doug Parrott, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Warren Buffett

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