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Jerod Mayo knows Sunday’s performance ‘won’t be good enough any other week’

12.11.11 at 7:50 pm ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — In a game that saw the Patriots give up big play after big play to Rex Grossman, it was Jerod Mayo to the rescue with 20 seconds remaining to preserve the Patriots’ 34-27 win over the Redskins Sunday at FedExField.

He intercepted a bobble by Santana Moss on a throw from Grossman with the Redskins threatening inside the Patriots’ 10.

“Tracy [Tracy White] made a great play on the ball and kind of separated the man from the ball, and it just popped up and fell into my hands,” Mayo said.

Moss was upset following the game when asked about the offensive pass interference penalty the play before that negated the game-tying touchdown. Replays showed Mayo getting screened off on a corner route by Moss, who appeared to get his hands extended, with the side judge throwing the flag.

“I’ve been playing this game for a long time and I still find it hard to believe that it’s all right for somebody to mug us at five yards but we can’t get the guy off us, so they called pass interference on us,” Moss said. “How can I get open if a guy is going to put his hands on me, and if I put my hands back on him? You feel me? It’s just stuff that has been going on for years but we’re wrong if we do it, but if they do it, it’s OK.”

Back to the Patriots, was Mayo’s pick enough to erase what happened in the first 59 minutes, 40 seconds, when the Patriots couldn’t come up with a big defensive stop?

“A little bit, but at the same time we still want to put together a full game and, it was good enough today, but it probably won’t be good enough any other week,” Mayo said.

No one on the Patriots defense was targeted more than Devin McCourty in the first three quarters. And after giving up a 51-yard completion to Donte Stallworth in the first quarter, he knew the Redskins would be coming back his way all game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andre Carter, Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots

NFL Sunday roundup: Tim Tebow engineers another miraculous comeback

12.11.11 at 7:23 pm ET
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Tim Tebow proved Sunday he can still work his magic in the NFL with more late heroics in the Broncos latest win, a 13-10 overtime victory over the Bears. (And, in case you forgot, the Patriots have to deal with that magic next Sunday.)

Tebow and the Broncos ran a string of fourth quarter comebacks to four games in the win Sunday when, despite trailing the Bears 10-0 with under three minutes remaining in the game, Tebow and kicker Matt Prater led the Broncos to another incredible comeback. The quarter was topped off by Prater’s 59-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining to force overtime. The Bears had possession of the ball after the two-minute warning, but Chicago running back Marion Barber went out of bounds on second-and-10 with 1:59 remaining and went out of bounds, stopping the clock and allowing the Broncos to have more time to come back.

“I just believe we’re a team that keeps the faith and believes in each other, and that’s special,” Tebow told FoxSports after the win.

In overtime, the Bears made it into field goal position but fumbled on the Denver 33-yard line. Bronco Wesley Woodyard recovered the fumble to give the Broncos a chance to win the game. Prater completed the comeback with a 51-yard field goal in overtime.

– In the Dolphins‘ 26-10 loss to the Eagles Sunday, Miami (4-8) also lost quarterback Matt Moore, who left the game with a head injury at the end of the third quarter. Moore was 11-for-19 in the game and threw for a touchdown and an interception. He was replaced by veteran J.P. Losman, who struggled in Moore’s place. Losman completed six of 10 passes for 60 yards, fumbled on a fourth-down conversion attempt and was sacked for a safety in just over a quarter of play.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: J.P. Losman, Jim Leonhard, Marion Barber, matt moore

Tom Brady stands up for Tiquan Underwood and Bill O’Brien

12.11.11 at 6:41 pm ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — If you thought Tom Brady was not going to stand up on the podium and take full responsibility for his critical red zone interception in the fourth quarter – a pick that nearly let Rex Grossman and the Redskins tie the game and led to a heated confrontation with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien – you haven’t been paying close attention to Brady for the last decade.

“I threw a bad interception, so he wasn’t happy about it,” Brady said of the argument. “There was probably a long line of coaches and players who were pretty pissed at me after that, but Billy got to me first. He let me have it. I deserved it.”

It was the first of five questions in his postgame press conference about “The Argument”.

With 6:37 remaining in the game and the Patriots leading, 34-27, the Patriot offense was at the 4-yard line on third-and-4 when Brady attempted to throw the ball to wide receiver Tiquan Underwood at the back of the end zone. Instead, Redskin cornerback Josh Wilson stepped in front of Underwood to make the interception.

“I made a terrible play,” Brady continued, “so, he just let me know I made a terrible play. It’s football, man. It’s a game of emotion. It’s athletics. I was looking there adn then I was trying to throw to Tiquan in the back [of the end zone] and was trying to get it over Gronk and there were two other guys on him, and I put too much air on it. I have the DB a chance to make a play, so not the ideal time to throw an interception with a seven-point lead.”

What ensued was a sign of a highly competitive and frustrated quarterback and an angry offensive coordinator.

The two had to be physically separated by several coaches and head coach Bill Belichick.

“I think this was a real competitive game and we have a lot of competitive players on this team,” is all Belichick would say in describing what he saw transpire.

Rob Gronkowski – whom Brady looked to at first before seeing he was double-teamed and throwing to Underwood – was on the sidelines but said he didn’t know the two got into a verbal tussle.

“I didn’t see it. I’ve got to go watch the tape,” Gronkowski said with a good-natured laugh.

Brady and O’Brien spent the next five minutes calming down while talking to each other side-by-side on the Patriots bench while the Redskins drove down the field.

The Redskins almost tied the game with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game following the interception, but Jerod Mayo intercepted Grossman at the New England 5-yard line to end the game.

Although the Patriots win Sunday did not seem satisfying for Brady, he admitted that winning ugly and making mistakes is simply part of the game.

“There’s nothing perfect in football – unless you’re the Packers,” Brady said.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Josh Wilson, New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski shows ‘love’ for Pats fans and no respect to Redskins

12.11.11 at 5:54 pm ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — Before his NFL record-breaking 14th touchdown catch as a tight end, Rob Gronkowski ran into franchise lore with a catch, run and rumble that goes down as one of the most memorable in Patriots history.

One play before, Gronkowski caught a crossing route pass from Tom Brady and fell to the ground untouchded. He got up and ran to the sideline, shaking off two would-be tacklers, including DeJon Gomes, whom Gronkowski routinely flung off like a rag doll at the Redskins 40. Gronkowski then rumbled down another 20 yards before being tripped up. He kept his balance long enough to get to the Redskins 11.

“Tom just made a great throw,” Gronkowski said. “The defender was right there. He put it where no one could get it besides me. I just made the catch and I just noticed the guy didn’t touch me at all. So, I got up, started running, just happened to spin off a couple of guys and got down to the [11] so it was a good play, big play. It was a good pass so, that’s where it started, was the pass.”

Did he think he was out of bounds after flinging Jones to the side?

“I don’t even know,” Gronkowski said. “There were no whistles or nothing so I was just running. When I don’t hear whistles, I just keep running.”

On the next play, Gronkowski ran a seam route into the end zone and caught the ball for his 14th receiving touchdown, the most by a tight end in any one season in NFL history. Antonio Gates (2004) and Vernon Davis (2009) had the previous record at 13.

He spiked the the ball and then looked up in the air to see where it was before retrieving it and getting to one of the Patriots equipment managers.

“I got the ball back and everything,” Gronkowski said. “It’s cool to get a record and everything but that really doesn’t matter. We got the team victory, we got the ‘W’ and that’s all that matters when coming out. The defense played well at the end of the game, they got that interception, which was huge. It can’t be any better coming out with a victory.”

In the third quarter, he broke free after being jammed at the line of scrimmage and hauled in a pass that resulted in a 37-yard TD reception, his 15th. He celebrated that by leaping into the stands and getting some love taps from a Patriots fan in a white jersey.

“I just do things on the spot,” Gronkowski said. “I never thought of that before. I just saw the guy with the New England jersey in the first row so got to give him some props, gotta give him some love because he’s got first row at an away game with the New England jersey on.”

There were thousands of Patriots fans inside FedExField Sunday that made it sound like “half the stadium” was behind them, according to Gronkowski.

Patriots fans everywhere will remember Sunday as the day Rob Gronkowski – with 160 yards and two TDs on six catches – further cemented his place in franchise lore in just his second season.

His 160 yards fell just one yard shy of the franchise record set by Ben Coates against the Dolphins on Sept. 4, 1994 at Miami.

Read More: Ben Coates, DeJon Gomes, Gronk, New England Patriots

Key Matchup: Linebacker Jerod Mayo makes a play with the game on the line

12.11.11 at 5:00 pm ET
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The key play in the Patriots’ 34 -27 win over the Redskins Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field came late in the fourth quarter with Washington driving for what would have been a game-tying score.

New England was in this rater precarious position because of what had happened down at the other end of the field — namely, a pair of ugly back-to-back plays for the Patriots’ offense. First, wide receiver Wes Welker dropped what would have been a sure touchdown at the goal line. Then, quarterback Tom Brady threw a red-zone pick on a ball meant for wide receiver Tiquan Underwood. (That sparked a heated sideline debate between Brady and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.)

The Redskins responded nicely, as quarterback Rex Grossman drove them from their own 20 all the way down into the New England red zone with under two minutes to go. But just as Brady would encounter misfortune on his trip inside the Washington 20-yard line, Grossman and wide receiver Santana Moss would falter deep in Patriots’ territory.

First, a touchdown pass from Grossman to Moss from five yards out was called back because of offensive pass interference. Then, with the Redskins sitting on a 3rd and goal from the nine with 29 seconds left, Grossman dropped back to pass and looked again for Moss, this time over the middle. Grossman let fly, and the ball was batted up in the air by the receiver, who landed awkwardly on the grass. Linebacker Jerod Mayo plucked it out of the air, allowing him to come away with his second interception for Mayo in as many weeks. After a booth review to confirm that the linebacker hung on to the ball, the game was over.

‘€œWe were in a zone defense (and) it looked like they tried to check it down,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of the play. “Jerod made it look like it was going to be incomplete and he kind of — I’€™m not going to say he came out of nowhere, but  he made a good burst and closed to make the play.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Jerod Mayo, Rex Grossman

Snap Judgments: Patriots 34, Redskins 27

12.11.11 at 4:07 pm ET
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It was a game that did zero to quiet any doubts regarding the quality of the Patriots defense, but it was ultimately a win, as Tom Brady threw three TD passes — two to Rob Gronkowski — and a last-minute Redskins drive was halted by a Jerod Mayo interception as New England moved to 10-3 on the season with a 34-27 victory over Washington.

The Patriots travel to Denver to take on Tim Tebow and the Broncos next Sunday. They will clinch the AFC East with a win or loss by the Jets against the Eagles.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Rob Gronkowski (six catches, 160 yards) continued to make a case for MVP consideration (I’m serious — I know Rodgers will win, but are there five better candidates than Gronkowski?) with another brilliant performance on Sunday. Gronkowski got started quickly, carrying Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes on a 49-yard catch first-quarter catch. Tom Brady hit Gronkowski over the middle on an 11-yard TD catch on the very next play, giving the tight end his 14th TD of the season, setting a positional record. He added another TD in the third quarter, hauling in a 37-yard pass from Brady despite being held by linebacker Ryan Kerrigan on the 3rd-and-5 play.

Vince Wilfork has more INT’s than Devin McCourty this season and now has been in the end zone more than Chad Ochocinco. Andre Carter beat Willie Smith for a sack on Grossman, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Wilfork in the end zone for a first-quarter TD. Carter was a force all game, beating Smith consistently on the edge to put pressure on Grossman.

— Tom Brady wasn’t at his most accurate– he completed just 22-of-37 passes — but finished the game with 357 yards passing and three touchdowns. Both his second-half TD passes were highlight-reel stuff, as he tossed a perfect lob to Gronkowski over the middle and then was able to buy time and find Wes Welker for a 24-yard score. Brady was 9-of-11 for 148 yds and the two TDs in the third quarter and is now over 4,000 yards passing on the season and moved ahead of Warren Moon for sole possession of sixth place on the all-time list for passing TDs.

— Welker caught his ninth TD of the season (career high) and reached the 100-catch total. He is one of three players in NFL history (Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison) with four seasons with at least 100 receptions.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Rex Grossman throws for 252 yards, Roy Helu rushes for 126 yards, and Brandon Banks throws a touchdown pass. A very shaky effort by this defense today. No more excuses, this group took a major step back. There is no way anyone can really believe that this defense, right now, would ever keep a game against the Packers or Saints competitive. Again: For long stretches, Rex Grossman shredded them on Sunday. The Redskins put up 463 yards of offense, and this wasn’t Vince Young or Dan Orlovsky tanking up in garbage time, either.

— Devin McCourty has had a lost season, and it got even lostlier (we’ll go with it) on Sunday. McCourty was beat deep by Donte Stallworth on a 51-yard pass in the first quarter (never saw the ball, never turned around) and was beat by Stallworth on a third-down in the red zone on the same drive. McCourty later was flagged –correctly — for pass interference on a 3rd-and-18 slant to Jabar Gaffney at the Washington 15, allowing the Redskins to continue a drive that would end in a Gaffney TD. The man Gaffney beat on the play? You bet.

— Jeff Triplette headed an officiating crew that was nothing short of embarrassing. A roughing the passer call that wiped out a McCourty INT? Awful. A forearm to the head hit on Brady by London Fletcher? Not even close. Wilfork with a helmet-to-helmet hit on Evan Royster? Nope. The only thing even approaching the level of ineptitude of some of these calls was Dan Dierdorf trying to explain what was going on. A Bird-Domininique duel of ineptitude.

— Up 34-27 with just over 6:00 left in the fourth quarter and with the ball at the Washington 6, Brady and the Patriots looked poised to put this game away. But a Welker drop (ball was behind him, but should have been caught) on second down was followed by an interception, a poorly thrown ball to Tiquan Underwood. Brady and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien had a very heated argument on the bench after the pick, with Bill Belichick and other coaches having to step in.

Halftime analysis: Patriots 20, Redskins 20

12.11.11 at 2:37 pm ET
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Two quarters are in the books at FedEx Field and the Patriots and Redskins are tied at 20. Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢Tom Brady was 8-for-18 for 166 yards and a touchdown, while Rex Grossman was 9-for-15 for 145 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski has four catches for 118 yards and a touchdown, while Roy Helu has 16 carries for 80 yards.

‘€¢It was a very good first half for Gronkowski and a very bad half for Devin McCourty. The tight end set the record for most touchdown catches in a season for a tight end when he hauled in an 11-yarder from Brady in the first quarter. As for McCourty, he appeared to be culpable on several pass plays from Washington, including a 51-yard pass from Grossman to Donte Stallworth, and then later on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Grossman to Jabar Gaffney.

‘€¢The Patriots special teams set up the first touchdown of the afternoon when Zoltan Mesko delivered a booming punt that was downed at the Redskins four-yard line by Matthew Slater. Three plays later, Andre Carter delivered the strip sack on Grossman, who was standing in the end zone. The ball was scooped up in the end zone by Vince Wilfork to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead with 12:17 left in the first quarter.

‘€¢The 51-yard pass play from Grossman to Stallworth highlighted Washington’s next scoring drive. (McCourty also yielded a nine-yard pass play on the following play.) The Redskins stalled out in the red zone and had to settle for a 24-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

‘€¢When the Patriots got the ball back, it quickly became the Gronk Show. On the first pass play, Brady found him over the middle, and Gronkowski shed Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes — both of whom were riding his back and legs — for a Mark Bavaroesque 49-yard gainer. He followed that up with an 11-yard touchdown reception on the next play to give the Patriots a 14-3 lead, and it was off to the races. It was Gronkowski’s 14th touchdown of the season, the most by a tight end.

‘€¢It was another ex-Patriots wide receiver who beat his old mates on Washington’s next drive. The Redskins put together an eight-play, 84-yard sequence that took 4:29 and ended with Grossman hitting Jabar Gaffney on a nine-yard pass play — where it appeared that McCourty was beaten again in coverage — to make it 14-10. The Redskins added to that at the start of the second. That’s when Washington dipped into its bag of tricks when wide receiver Brandon Banks hit Santana Moss on a 49-yard pass play that left the Patriots flat-footed to make it 17-14, Redskins.

‘€¢It was pretty much a field-goal festival the rest of the way: Stephen Gostkowski connected on a 23-yarder midway through the second to tie the game at 17. The Redskins’ Graham Gano answered with a field goal of their own after stalling out in the red zone to make it 20-17 with 2:13 left in the half. Gostkowski closed out the half with a 23-yarder to knot the game at 20 heading into the locker room.

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