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Tom Brady on D&C: ‘We’ve definitely got a group of overachievers’

12.30.13 at 8:01 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show on Monday morning, a day after the Pats clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs with a 34-20 victory over the Bills. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The game was played in rainy and cold conditions in Foxboro, but it didn’t slow down the home team, which closed the season with two solid wins.

“I think when you win, none of the conditions really matter much,” Brady said. “When you lose, yeah, you definitely have some games that you remember and you go, ‘God, those sure were crappy weather conditions.’ But I thought we really fought through adversity and played a tough game, played a really tough, hard-nosed football game that we needed to play. We just did such a great job in the run game, played really good on defense, great in the kicking game. That’s what we did against Baltimore, and it was really effective. To do it two weeks in a row this time of year is exactly what we needed.”

LeGarrette Blount was the game’s star, as the big running back amassed a team-record 334 all-purpose yards, including a career-high 189 yards rushing with two long touchdowns. Toward the end of the game, Blount could be seen with his arm around Brady as they had a discussion on the sideline.

“It was a very joyful moment I think for both of us,” Brady said. “He had played an incredible game. It’s really been a great season for our team to get to this point. We’ve definitely got a group of overachievers, guys that have worked really hard to come in and played whatever role they’ve been asked to play, whether that’s the receiver position or the running back position, the offensive line has been shuffled around.

“To be 12-4, we’re pretty proud of that. It’s a lot of guys that believe in one another. Certainly the way LeGarrette performed yesterday was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, in some pretty tough conditions. It was a great effort by him. The offensive line played their hearts out. They continued to be the strength of our team. That’s what we’re going to need here down the stretch.”

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Julian Edelman reaches two franchise milestones in win over Bills

12.29.13 at 11:02 pm ET
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FOXBORO — With all the injuries and departures that have taken place within the Patriots passing game following last season to this point in 2013 there remains one constant besides quarterback Tom Brady — wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Edelman continued his career-year Sunday, hauling in nine passes for 65 yards in the Patriots’€™ 34-20 win over the Bills at Gillette Stadium. Of Brady’€™s 14 completions, nine went to the fifth-year receiver, who completed his first full 16-game season since being drafted in 2009.

“I don’€™t think there’€™s ever been any question about Julian’€™s skills or his toughness or his competitiveness. Yeah, you’€™re right,” said head coach Bill Belichick, when asked if playing in a full season helped Edelman’s development. “This is the year he’€™s been able to stay on the field and certainly his production has paralleled his time on the field. He’€™s done a good job with his opportunities. He always practices hard, plays hard, prepares well. He’€™s always a tough guy you can count on from that standpoint and this year he’€™s been healthy.”

Being healthy was one of the main reasons for his breakout year, which saw him catch over 100 passes with a 12-yard reception in the second quarter. He entered the game with 96 catches and finished with 105, good for sixth on the all-time Patriots list for catches in a season. He became the first Patriots player not named Wes Welker to reach the milestone since 2001 and Troy Brown.

“I don’€™t know what the significance is,” Edelman said. “I do know that we went out there and played a pretty solid game. There were mess-ups, which, I mentally was the guy who screwed up that formation in that four-minute offense situation. I’€™m a little bummed about that, but it was definitely a good team-win and it was good to clinch that first-round bye.”

Edelman also eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark with a five-yard catch in the opening quarter, becoming just the 10th player in franchise history to do so, as he finished the year with 1,056. While the accolades are special, Edelman maintains helping the team win is more important.

“I mean, it’€™s cool and everything, but you really go out there and play for other things, like playing in the last game of the year and winning that game,” he said. “We put ourselves in an opportunity to go one step closer to that. It is definitely kind of cool, just with the road; it’€™s been a crazy road. It’€™s definitely been kind of cool.”

Playing in just 11, 15, 13, and nine games respectively in his first four years in the league due to injury or players ahead of him on the depth chart, Edelman’€™s record-breaking day did have some special meaning to him.

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Read More: Julian Edelman, Patriots, Troy Brown, Wes Welker

Quick Hits: Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down Patriots’ bye-clinching win

12.29.13 at 10:46 pm ET
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Read More: Buffalo Bills, Chris Price, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots

Patriots to host divisional round game Jan. 11 8:15 p.m.

12.29.13 at 10:34 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The NFL playoff schedule has been released, and with the Patriots holding the No. 2 seed, they have earned a first-round bye and will host a divisional round game Saturday, Jan.11, at 8:15 p.m. on CBS. The Patriots’ opponent is dependent on next weekend’s Wild Card games, but it will be either the Colts, Chiefs or Bengals.

No. 1 seed Denver and New England have earned first-round byes and now await their playoff opponents. Cincinnati earned the No. 3 seed and will host the No. 6 seed Chargers, while the Colts will host the Chiefs in the matchup of the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds next weekend. The Broncos will play the lower-seeded team that advances, while the Patriots will oppose the higher seed.

The AFC Championship will be played Sunday, Jan. 19 leading to the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2.

Here is the AFC Wild Card Weekend Schedule:

No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs at No. 4 Indianapolis Colts, Saturday Jan. 4, at 4:35 p.m. on NBC.

No. 6 San Diego Chargers at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday Jan. 5, at 1:05 p.m. on CBS.

Stephen Gostkowski’s record-breaking season could pay dividends in postseason

12.29.13 at 10:09 pm ET
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FOXBORO — A pattern has been established. A startling 11 of the 16 games the Patriots played this season were decided by one possession, and there’s no reason to expect that the playoffs should be any different as the intensity of contests ramps up. In close games, there are few positions that are more important than the place-kicker, and the Patriots have a pretty good one in Stephen Gostkowski.

Gostkowski proved just how valuable he could be come the playoffs in Sunday’€™s 34-20 win over the Bills. Amidst a driving rain storm at Gillette Stadium, the eighth-year kicker booted four field goals, tying a career-high, and three came from 35 yards or more. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, the 29-year-old didn’€™t let them affect him.

“It doesn’€™t get much tougher than that, as far as rain goes,” said Gostkowski. “œI don’€™t think I’€™ve ever been a part of something that sloppy, but when it’€™s like that you’€™ve just got to increase your focus and increase how you go about things. You’€™ve got to slow things down a little bit and just make sure everything goes smoothly. [Long-snapper] Danny [Aiken] and [holder] Ryan [Allen] did a great job.

“One thing that stinks about playing here, but also that’€™s good is we practice outside everyday, no matter what it is. You complain and gripe when it’€™s 35 degrees outside and it’€™s raining or snowing or really windy. It pays off though. The coaches know what they’€™re doing when they put us out there for games like this.”

Sunday’€™s regular season finale put a cap on an outstanding season for the kicker, who was voted an AFC starter for the Pro Bowl late last week. His 29-yard field goal at the end of the first half gave him 37 on the year, besting his franchise record of 36 set in 2008. He finished the year with 38. He also broke Gino Cappelletti‘€™s Patriots record for most points in a season as he finished the year with 158, topping Cappelletti’€™s 155 in 1964. The 158 points led the league in scoring and Gostkowski is now just one of five players in league history to lead the league in scoring for at least three seasons (he also led the league in scoring in 2008 and 2012).

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Read More: Danny Aiken, Gino Cappelletti, Patriots, Ryan Allen

LeGarrette Blount: ‘We had to man up and play tough football’

12.29.13 at 9:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — There were only two certainties Sunday: The driving rain and the driving legs of LeGarrette Blount.

Blount established a new Patriots franchise record with 334 all-purpose yards, rushing for 189 yards and two touchdowns while returning two key kicks 145 yards to lead the Patriots to a 34-20 win over the Bills at waterlogged Gillette Stadium.

“Obviously, it was a tremendous game by LeGarrette,” Bill Belichick beamed. “Clearly, the best player on the field. He had a tremendous day. He carried the team on his back for most of the day.”

Blount, being the humble man he is, declined to accept that assessment from his coach. Instead, he chose to thank the offensive line and the special teams units that he insisted opened huge holes for him all day.

‘€œI wouldn’€™t say that,” Blount said. “On the returns that I had, I didn’€™t get touched for like the first thirty yards, so I tip my hat off to those guys, the core special teams guys. We have a Pro Bowler in [Matthew] Slater, so I tip my hat off to those guys. And the offensive line played amazing for both of us, me and [Stevan] Ridley and Shane [Vereen]. The offensive line played amazing, so you can’€™t ever give them enough credit.’€

Belichick said the weather definitely turned the contest into a “running game.” Blount excelled given the chance.

‘€œI mean, I like touching the ball no matter what the weather is,” Blount said. “I’€™m not going to argue with them if they want to give it to us.

‘€œI feel like we had to man up and play tough football with the conditions, and whoever played better football physically is going to be the winner. It was cold and it was rainy, and it was hard for a lot of guys to keep their footing. We just went into the game with the mindset to run the football and play physical football, and that’€™s what we did. It’€™s a mindset and the will of what’€™s at stake and the urgency that we have to have to continue to be successful, and how important this first round bye was.’€

Blount was without question the most important player on the field. In addition to his two touchdown runs, everyone saw why Belichick saw such promise in Blount as a return man way back in training camp. He returned one kick for 83 yards after the Bills cut the lead to 16-10. That led to a Patriots touchdown that made it 24-10.

The Bills came right back and made it 24-17. No worries, Blount was there again to save the day, returning the ensuing kick 62 yards and setting the Patriots up at the Bills 40. The field goal made it 27-17 and the Patriots dodged two speeding bullets.

‘€œIt was a good feeling, man,” Blount said. “Those core guys ‘€“ I mean, we’€™ve been close a few times, but a few times it’€™s been us, it’€™s been the returners that haven’€™t ran the return to the point to where we could’€™ve broken it, and we finally got to the point where we read it perfectly, and they brought the perfect play and it broke.”

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Read More: Buffalo Bills, LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots, nfl

Snap Judgments: Patriots secure second seed with soggy win over Bills

12.29.13 at 7:27 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots put the capper on the 2013 regular season and clinched the second seed in the AFC playoffs with a 34-20 win over the Bills Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

New England ends the regular season with a 12-4 mark, and will have wild card weekend off as they prepare to host a divisional playoff game the following weekend at Gillette.

The Patriots traded first-quarter field goals with Buffalo, but then tacked on 13 straight points to take command, with the highlight coming on a 36-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount in the second quarter. (Blount added a 35-yard touchdown late in the fourth to put the game out of reach.) Shane Vereen tacked on a second-half touchdown when he hauled in a five-yard touchdown from Tom Brady, and Stephen Gostkowski knocked home field goals of 43, 35, 29 and 35 yards yards.

For the Patriots, Brady was 14-for-24 for 122 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Julian Edelman had nine catches for 65 yards, and Blount had one of the best games ever for a New England running back with 24 carries for 189 yards and two touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Thad Lewis was 16-for-29 for 247 yards and one touchdown, while C.J. Spiller had 19 carries for 105 yards.

Here are a few notes on what happened at a cold and soggy Gillette Stadium:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– The Patriots were able to take care of business. Armed with the knowledge that the Bengals and Colts both won their one o’clock games, which left the second seed still up for grabs, they were able to effectively shut down the Bills when it counted. Buffalo posted just three first-half points, and that cushion was enough to lift New England past the Bills. Read the rest of this entry »

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