|01.14.11 at 9:14 am ET|
Patriots-Jets III is almost here. No more ridiculous trash talk. Tee it up and play football. This game has been analyzed every which way all week, so it was a challenge to find nuggets that are (hopefully) interesting AND new. But here you go:
* – Over the last eight regular seasons, the Patriots have made 54-of-55 fourth quarter field goal attempts (98 percent). That includes 31-of-31 from 30 yards or more. Their only miss came in Week 2 of the 2006 season at the Jets in a 24-17 win.
You might want to read that one again. I had to.
Note this: During that same span, Patriots’ opponents are just 35-of-46 in the fourth quarter (76 percent), the second LOWEST percentage allowed in that span.
* – Only three road teams since 1978 have won playoff games after being shut out at halftime: The 2009 Jets, the 2010 Jets, and the 1993 Chiefs. Last year, the Jets beat the Chargers in San Diego, 17-14, after trailing 7-0 at half. Last week in Indianapolis, the Jets again trailed 7-0 at half before rallying to beat the Colts, 17-16.
Last Saturday was just the fourth time since 1971 (including postseason) that the Jets have won a road game after being shut out through two quarters. They are now 4-37 in those games.
* – New England allowed zero points in the last two minutes of the second half this season. Also, they allowed only one touchdown in the final two minutes of EITHER half, fewest in the league:
1 – Patriots
3 – Dolphins
3 – Redskins
What makes that even more impressive is that the Patriots’ opponent was almost always trying to catch up at the end of the second half. Miami and Washington, not so much.
* – The Jets scored only one first quarter touchdown over their last 13 games this season (including last Saturday’s game). During those 13 games, they shut their opponent out in the opening period seven times and won all seven. In the other six, they allowed 57 first quarter points and went just 2-4, with both wins coming in overtime.
* – Patriots’ running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 229 times this season without committing a fumble, the second most carries without a miscue in the NFL this season (Ray Rice, 307). It was easily the most carries in a fumble-free season ever by a Patriot:
229 – BenJarvus Green-Ellis, 2010
185 – Lawrence Maroney, 2007
85 – Sammy Morris, 2007
In his career, Green-Ellis now has 329 carries without a fumble, the second most carries in a fumble-free career since 1950:
364 – Scottie Graham (1992-1997)
329 – BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2008-2010)
227 – Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala (1998-2004)
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|01.14.11 at 8:20 am ET|
Ravens defensive end Terrell Suggs, in an appearance on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio, continued to take shots at Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The man who said that he voted for Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick over Brady for the Pro Bowl suggested on Thursday that the Patriots quarterback’s three Super Bowl titles were “questionable.”
Asked to evaluate the standing of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — whom Suggs and the Ravens will face this weekend in a divisional playoff game — in the pantheon of quarterbacks, Suggs offered this swipe at Brady:
“If you ask me, [Roethlisberger] is definitely up there with them. He has the hardware to prove it. That’s all that matters in this league, the Super Bowl. He’s won two of them,” said Suggs. “If I’m correct, Manning has only won one, both Mannings that is, Phillip Rivers doesn’t have any. Tom Brady has three. A questionable three.
“You had the tuck rule incident and you’ve got the video taping of the other team’s practices,” Suggs added. “You’re like, ‘Oh, OK, what’s going on here?’ But hey, it is what it is. They won the games, no matter how they did it. Whatever.”
Suggs was then asked how his enmity towards Brady formed.
“I love Tommy,” Suggs laughed. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I guess it all brews from when I nicked his knee I guess a little bit. I was just like, ‘Wow ‘ you almost hit a guy and you get a flag?’ That kind of blew me away. I never knew one man could have so much power. I guess I stand corrected.
“Maybe [players feel resentment] because he is Tom Brady and he dates super models. That could have a lot to do with it. This guy’s got the world. He’s won Super Bowls, he’s dating super models. It doesn’t get much better than that. He has rules made for him. He gets to tell the referee when to throw the flags.”
For more Patriots coverage, visit weei.com/patriots.
|01.14.11 at 1:27 am ET|
The slugger, a guest on ESPN 1050 in New York, didn’t hold back when it came to talking about Cromartie, who called Patriots quarterback Tom Brady an ‘ass—-.’
‘What are you talking about? What are you doing? Shut up, play football,’ Jackson said. ‘What are you talking about [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick and these people for? Spend your time looking at film, spend your time knocking down a pass. What are you doing? You’re not affecting Brady; you’re wasting time.’
Jackson said Cromartie didn’t have the resume to be calling out Brady.
‘Go look at the hardware, dude. Walk through the lobby up there and look at the stuff that’s there,’ Jackson said. ‘You don’t have that, you don’t have anything close to that.
‘You might want to shut up, you might learn something. Read, you might figure something out. Watch film, you might get educated. If not, you have a chance to get embarrassed on Sunday. I hope you don’t, because I like the Jets.’
|01.13.11 at 5:51 pm ET|
The Jets had four players who were limited in Thursday’s practice session, including defensive back Drew Coleman, who reportedly suffered a knee injury in practice. In addition, they listed 10 players as engaged in full participation. Here’s the full report:
CB Antonio Cromartie (groin)
TE Ben Hartsock (back)
WR Santonio Holmes (quadricep)
C Nick Mangold (shoulder)
G Brandon Moore (back)
DT Sione Pouha (back)
RB Tony Richardson (finger)
QB Mark Sanchez (right shoulder)
LB Bryan Thomas (ankle)
WR Patrick Turner (illness)
|01.13.11 at 3:44 pm ET|
As was the case on Wednesday, the Patriots had just one player ‘ defensive lineman Myron Pryor ‘ miss practice. Here’s the complete injury report:
Did Not Participate
DE Myron Pryor (back)
|01.13.11 at 3:03 pm ET|
Harrison certainly was opinionated but – unlike Cromartie and Ellis – didn’t make a habit of talking all the time. He chose his words carefully when he called someone out. But more often that not, he would call out his own teammates on the field before calling out an opponent. Harrison wanted his teammates to do the right thing at the right time when it counted.
When Wilfork was a rookie on the 2004 Super Bowl champs, Harrison showed him the ropes. Later on – Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs – that leadership is defined by what you do in planning and execution more than what you say. To Wilfork, that was the best kind of leadership.
“I think the one guy that stands out in my mind is Rodney Harrison,” Wilfork said. “He played this game to a whole other level. I’ve never seen a guy who played this many years in the league and he goes out on the scout team for offense or he goes out on the scout team for a special teams period, just to give a look. It was easy when I saw that guy doing it.
“It was like, ‘You know what? He didn’t talk much, he came to work.’ He came to work and you know what? He’s probably one of the best safeties to ever play the game and it’s because of that, not from his playing. His playing speaks for itself, but the person that he was in this locker room and on the practice field means a lot to me.”
A safety himself, Patrick Chung never had the chance to play with Harrison but he has spoken with him and those conversations certainly made an impression.
“He’s intense, he’s intense,” Chung said Thursday. “He’s flying around full speed and he’s not going to stop. Every single play, he’s going hard. Every single time. You have to give a guy like that credit. To go hard for so many years, every practice, every game, a lot of guys can’t do that.”
“When I came here it was Seymour of course on the defensive line, Willie McGinest, [Mike] Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Ty Law, Tyrone Poole, the list goes on and on, Rodney Harrison. It goes on and on. So, it was easy for me to come in and pick those guys’ brains. I was never the shy type. I always wanted to know why we were doing that and where did I need to be and what can I do to get better.
“All those guys taught me how to be a profession. They taught me what it takes to be a leader. A lot of people may think that you have to talk all the time to be a leader. That’s not what it’s all about. If you come to work every day and everybody sees you working your tail off, you have no choice but to lead by example.”
Words to live and lead by. So naturally, with rookies Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes and Devin McCourty on the team, Wilfork was asked if he is now the leader that every young player comes up to for advice on how to handle the pressure of the playoffs.
“I don’t know if I’m a player, I’m a coach, I’m a mentor ‘ you name it. Being a leader and being around this team for seven years, I kind of understand it to a point where if a guy has a question and Bill [Belichick], your coaches and staff are in meetings, they can easily turn around and ask any of these guys who have been around. It’s been kind of fun, though, because a lot of years you don’t this.”
Wilfork says he’s seen cases in the locker room where young Patriots players have been almost scared to ask questions of the big-time leaders on their side of the ball. But Wilfork says thankfully, that’s not the case with his group.
“People will be shy to come up and ask a Tom Brady, Deion Branch or Matt Light who have been playing this game for so long, to ask them questions. But, I don’t think these guys are shy at all. They come up and they ask questions because they want to get it right because they know how important it is to us. So, they ask questions. I’m always talking, and teaching, and coaching and mentoring, watching film, we do it. I’m proud to be someone like that that they can actually look up and ask me for questions and I can give them the right advice. It’s been kind of fun.”
And – as Wilfork knows from his rookie season – winning in the playoffs is best kind of fun and losing can be a painful, humbling teacher.
|01.13.11 at 2:12 pm ET|
The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Thursday:
1. The New England run defense took its fair share of criticism over the first half of the season ‘ five of the first eight games, they allowed at least 99 yards per game, culminating with an alarming 230 rushing yards allowed in an ugly loss to Cleveland on Nov. 7.
Since the midway point, those numbers have improved. In four of the final eight games, opponents haven’t topped 80 rushing yards a game, as Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Chicago and Miami all struggled to formulate a sustained running attack against New England. The Patriots finished the regular season 11th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (108) and total rushing yards allowed with 1,728.
The drop in the rushing numbers has been due to many things, including good complementary football ‘ the fact that the Patriots’ offense has put up big numbers early in the game has forced opponents to try and throw the ball to get back into the contest. But according to Vince Wilfork, a good portion of it is also due to the fact that things have started to come together when it comes to stopping the run.
‘I think everybody’s just been doing their job ‘ focusing [on it], preparing a little bit more, watching more film,’ Wilfork said on Thursday. ‘The more you play, the better you get. I’m a believer in the more reps you get in practice or in the game, the better you’ll be. And I think some of it came with that.
‘Early on in the year, our run phase was kind of crazy. [I was] just seeing guys not understand the defense the way it needed to be played. So, as time went on, we got better and better and better. I think now, we’re sitting back and can say, ‘OK, we’ve gotten better, we have to continue to get better.’ We just can’t sit back and say, ‘Oh, we’re good.’ I think it’s just everyone knowing their role, knowing exactly where they need to be and when they need to be there and preparation.’
It’ll be another challenge for the Patriots’ run defense this week, as the Jets’ running attack was able to pile up big numbers throughout the regular season (sparked by the tandem of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, New York was third in the league in the regular season with 2,374 rushing yards and 148.4 yards per game), and added 169 rushing yards in their wild card win over Indianapolis.
‘One of the best,’ said Wilfork when asked about the New York running game. ‘You’ve got two great backs. They’re known for powering the rock. The offensive line is known for being physical. The New York Jets are known for having a great running attack.
‘They are built for playoff games. They are pretty tough when it comes down to LT and Shonn Greene on top of that.’
2. A year ago, Wes Welker sat and watched as his teammates endured one of the most humiliating playoff defeats in franchise history. The receiver, who suffered a devastating knee injury in the regular-season finale against the Texans, was in a luxury box watching the loss to the Ravens.
Now, Welker is preparing for his first playoff action in three seasons.
‘It was tough. It was definitely hard to watch, especially the way the game went last year,’ said Welker. ‘I’m definitely excited to be out there. These are the type of games you play for, and this is what you spend all year getting ready for. You just want to go out there and put your best foot forward.’
Welker, who has 27 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns in three postseason games (all of them with the 2007 Patriots), says that very little needs to be said when it comes to telling rookies how much the game changes in the postseason.
‘You’re just definitely excited about the opportunity to get out there and have some fun and get in a playoff atmosphere,’ he said. ‘This is what it’s all about. This is where you want to get to.’
The Patriots appear to present a lot of matchup challenges for the Jets in the passing game, with questions about how New York is going to deploy Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis. Welker said Thursday he saw ‘quite a bit’ of Revis when the Patriots and Jets faced each other last month, especially when New York went to man coverage, and it sounds like he wouldn’t be surprised to see him again on Sunday afternoon.
‘You have to bring it every play, because he’s a great player. He’s got great feet. He moves around real well and does some good things out there,’ Welker said of Revis. ‘He gets his hands on you pretty well and understands what you’re trying to do to him. He’s definitely a tough guy to set up and get open against. You have to be on top of your game and make sure that you’re doing everything possible to get open against him.’
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