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Julian Edelman comes through again in clutch for Patriots

11.25.13 at 7:06 pm ET
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As a free agent, he didn’t inspire the same passion as any of the other big names who were coming or going from Foxboro this past offseason. But Julian Edelman has had just a big an impact in 2013 as any one of the free agent moves that impacted the Patriots.

Edelman, who signed a one-year deal to come back to Foxboro after taking exactly one free-agent visit — the Giants — has been immense for the New England receiving corps this year. Through 11 games, he has a team-high 61 catches (tied for 11th in the league) for 610 yards and four touchdowns, all of which represent career-highs for the former college quarterback.

But it’s not just the numbers that are impressive — it’s how they’ve been compiled. Time and again on Sunday night, when the Patriots needed to move the chains, Brady went to Edelman. The former college quarterback responded with nine catches for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns, his second two-touchdown game of the 2013 season. That stat line includes four of the 10 longest plays from scrimmage against the Broncos, with the capper coming on a 43-yard reception in the third-quarter where he got two Denver defenders to bite on a fake work himself into the open.

‘€œHe’€™s been so dependable and consistent all year for our team,’€ quarterback Tom Brady said of Edelman, who has accounted for 24 percent of all of Brady’s completions through 11 games. ‘€œHe’€™s been the one veteran player on our offense that’€™s been in there and has been around. He always does a great job. He’€™s tough, smart, disciplined. It’€™s fun to see him do well because he deserves it.’€

Which means that despite the resurgence from tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Shane Vereen and wide receiver Danny Amendola — and even though his numbers have taken a small hit since he started the season on a red-hot pace — Edelman figures to play a sizable role in the passing game going forward.

“[Sunday], my number was called a few times and I was able to have a couple opportunities and I just try to take advantage of them,” said Edelman. “A couple games back it was [Kenbrell Thompkins], [Aaron Dobson], Danny [Amendola.] That’€™s our job ‘€“ our job is to be able to get open and catch the football, and I was able to do that a few times.”

Edelman, who has seen 28 of his 61 catches go for a first down, not only has tremendous offensive value, but is really distinguished by his work as a punt returner. He’s averaged 11.7 yards per return over the course of the first 11 games, and has become one of the most consistent returners in the league the last few seasons — he has one of the best career averages in the history of the NFL when it comes to return yardage.

Against the Broncos, he had three returns for 39 yards, including a 20-yarder. He wasn’t immune to the fumble issues that plagued everyone on Sunday because of the wind and cold — he muffed a punt return of his own in the early going before corralling the ball.

The conditions made it a rough one for everyone.

“I fumbled a punt after I muffed one, so that’s not that good,” Edelman said. “[The wind had] a pretty decent effect in the kicking game, more so than the passing game. But I mean, both sides had to deal with it. I mean, we muffed one, so I’€™ll probably get yelled at for that one, so we’€™ll see.”

Even if he does hear it from the coach when it comes to post game film review, there’s the very real likelihood he’ll also hear some good things.

“Julian did a great job,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game. “First of all, he did a good job of handling the ball, especially in the third and fourth quarter there. Made a couple good runs with the ball in his hands, also got open, caught the ball. The end route he got there gave us the field position in the overtime, it was a big play.

“Julian is a tough competitor.”

Read More: Julian Edelman, Tom Brady,

Pats-Broncos highest-rated prime-time November game in 17 years

11.25.13 at 1:45 pm ET
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Sunday night’s Patriots-Broncos game on NBC posted a 17.0 overnight rating and 28 share, making it the highest-rated prime-time November NFL game since a Steelers-Dolphins game in 1996.

The rating peaked at 17.9/34 from 11:30-midnight, during the game’s closing minutes.

The game is the fifth-highest-ranked game in the eight-year history of Sunday Night Football on NBC, excluding NFL Kickoff games.

Denver had the highest rating of metered markets with a 48.2/71. Boston was second at 37.3/59, followed by Providence at 30.2/46.

The rating was a 26 percent increase over last year’s Season 12 Sunday Night Football game between the Packers and Giants.

Rob Ninkovich on M&M: Bill Belichick’s decision to take wind over ball to start OT showed confidence in defense

11.25.13 at 1:39 pm ET
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Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich joined Mut & Merloni on Monday for his weekly chat, following Sunday night’s 34-31 overtime victory over the Broncos.

Ninkovich was one of the team captains who went on to the field before overtime, and he appeared confused about coach Bill Belichick‘s instructions regarding the coin toss, as Belichick went against conventional wisdom and elected to take the wind rather than the ball.

“Bill came up to each one of us and kind of explained what he wanted,” Ninkovich said. “When we won the toss, I was looking at [Devin McCourty] and I was like, ‘We want the ball, right.’ Because I thought that he was explaining we want — it was just a miscommunication between everybody when we won just of, ‘OK, Bill told us that we want to kick the ball so they’re facing the wind.’ But I guess when we won, it’s a natural instinct on overtime to be like, ‘Oh, yeah, you want the ball, right?’ ”

Ninkovich eventually looked back at the sideline to confirm Belichick’s order that the team wanted to choose the wind over the ball.

“The wind was definitely a factor. So, to have the wind at your back is definitely an advantage,” Ninkovich said. “Bill just had confidence that the defense was kind of getting into a groove there, shutting them down on their third-and-shorts, so they were trying to run those intermediate routes and stuff like that.

“It was a good call, right?”

The Broncos came into the game with the league’s leading passing offense, but they switched to the ground game for this one, with Knowshon Moreno rushing for 224 yards on 37 carries.

“I think when they realized that the wind was a factor and it was kind of difficult to get the ball down the field usually how they would normally run their offense, they just decided let’s get in third-and-manageable, like third-and-shorts so we can throw the ball maybe five to eight yards and pick up the first down,” Ninkovich said. “I think they ran the same play it seemed like 30 to 40 times. It felt like that they just ran the same inside run, inside run. It just felt like they ran it over and over again on first and second down and then they got in their spread, intermediate route type thing on third down.

“I think they might have changed their game plan once they took the field and realized that it was going to be difficult to get the ball down the field.”

Ninkovich was called for a questionable pass interference penalty during Denver’s fourth-quarter drive that led to the game-tying touchdown. On third-and-seven, Ninkovich was called for interfering with Jacob Tamme. The Broncos scored a touchdown on the next play.

“I was really surprised, because I was playing through the guy with my opposite hand to the ball,” Ninkovich said. “I was pushing through to the ball and I dove to get to the ball and the ball was thrown outside. And it almost was uncatchable, because I was right there. I didn’t feel like I tackled or grabbed the guy. I think he did a pretty good job of acting. As I tried to get to the ball, he kind of fell down.

“Again, it’s one of those things that I don’t have too many of those flags thrown on me. So, again, at the time it’s disappointing to have a good third-down stop giving them another chance to score and tie the game up.”

Added Ninkovich: “If I’m looking at the ball, and we’re both playing the ball and I’m trying to get to the ball with my hands, then there’s some contact. It happens when you’re both going for the ball. It’s not like I was just tackling him or just looking at him and he fell. I was looking at the ball the whole time. Again, it’s one of those calls that you just have to move on and move past and hope that it doesn’t affect the game to where you don’t get the win. We won, and I’m happy about that.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Rob Ninkovich,

Kyle Arrington on M&M: Wes Welker ‘one of the most talented guys I’ve matched up against’

11.25.13 at 1:32 pm ET
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Patriots defensive back Kyle Arrington joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss his team’s  34-31 comeback win in overtime against the Broncos on Sunday night.

After trailing 24-0 at halftime, Arrington and New England’s defense stymied Denver in the second half and paved the way for a Tom Brady-led comeback.

“We just rallied behind each other, played for each other and had confidence not only in ourselves but in our teammates,” Arrington said. “We were just battle-tested, and we’re going to fight to the very end.”

The Patriots scored 31 unanswered points to start the second half, then eventually won on a Stephen Gostkowski 31-yard field goal in overtime.

“It’s hard to play a complete 60-minute football game, but just credit our guys who just kept battling and fighting,” Arrington said. “As long as there’s time left on that clock, we’re going to battle.”

The New England offense lost three fumbles in the first quarter, putting the defense in a number of inauspicious positions.

“[There was] naturally a little frustration, because we dug ourselves quite a hole, but to come back and win it in that fashion, it’s very rewarding,” Arrington said. “To be in a hole like that, and just crawl our way out of it slowly but surely, it’s a testament to the character of the guys in our locker room.”

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Read More: Kyle Arrington, Stephen Gostkowski, Tom Brady, Wes Welker

Adam Schefter on D&C: Tom Brady owns ‘slight edge’ over Peyton Manning

11.25.13 at 12:08 pm ET
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ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 34-31 overtime win over the Broncos on Sunday.

New England came back from a 24-0 halftime deficit in the bitter cold at Gillette Stadium to improve to 8-3 on the season.

‘€œThe first thing I thought yesterday morning when I woke up and headed outside in the Northeast corridor here, I walked into that weather and it was biting cold and it was freezing, and I said to myself, ‘€˜This is Patriot weather, this is conducive to a Patriot victory,’€™ ‘€ Schefter said.

The Patriots and Tom Brady seem to flourish in adverse weather conditions, while the Broncos’€™ Peyton Manning seemingly wilts. Brady tore up Denver’s defense, throwing for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Manning completed 19-of-36 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. However, it took him until late in the fourth quarter to eclipse the 100-yard mark.

‘€œIf you look historically, Peyton Manning just hasn’€™t produced as well in that type of setting, and the Denver strength is its offense,’€ Schefter said, adding: ‘€œWhen you take an offense like that and put it in weather like last night, it neutralizes things, and it takes away an advantage Denver might have in that area.’€

Brady now owns a career 10-4 record over Manning.

‘€œI’€™d give the slight edge to Brady based on the number of championships he’€™s won, and the players he’€™s played with,’€ Schefter said when asked which QB he would prefer. ‘€œBut you’€™re talking about splitting hairs.’€

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Read More: adam schefter, LeGarrette Blount, Peyton Manning, Stevan Ridley

Tom Brady on D&C: ‘We were a pretty mentally tough team, and that’s what it took’ to beat Broncos

11.25.13 at 10:37 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, following Sunday night’s 34-31 overtime victory over the Broncos.

The Patriots trailed 24-0 at the midway point but rallied in the second half, then capitalized on a Broncos turnover late in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.

“It was a great win,” Brady said. “Anyone couldn’t really have expected the way that one would go. It was pretty sweet.

“We really got off to such a poor start and then stormed back, and then kind of played a little bit of defensive football there in the fourth quarter and in overtime, and got a good break there at the end. It was a great team win, everybody contributed. We were a pretty mentally tough team, and that’s what it took last night. We’ll enjoy it, then we’ve got to get back to work, ’cause that’s the way it is in the NFL.”

While the Patriots were being dominated on the scoreboard in the first half, Brady said the team didn’t lose confidence, because Denver’s points were the result of Patriots mistakes.

“We had 200 yards of offense at halftime. So it wasn’t like we had 70 yards of offense and we weren’t doing anything,” Brady said.  “You make those critical errors like fumbling the ball and putting the ball on the ground like we did, and we’re not going to score a lot of points. We knew if we took better care of the ball that we’d have a better chance.

“Weather played a factor. We punted to them before halftime and it ended up being a turnover; we got it, we didn’t do anything anything with it. Then late there in the game, just tough to field some of those plays and we got a few bounces. That was really a great way to win the game.

“It was a tough battle, it was two good football teams. It obviously could have gone either way, but I’m glad it went our way.”

Brady said the team did not overreact at halftime, nor were there a lot of tweaks that had to be made to the game plan.

“I think we always take our cue from coach [Bill] Belichick as a team,” Brady said. “There wasn’t much to be said, truthfully, because we had done nothing. It wasn’t like there was a bunch of adjustments. We kind of thought the game — they played the game the way that we thought they would play it, and we just weren’t doing anything to execute.

“We just talked about making some good plays and seeing if that could turn into something. It turned into one touchdown, then it tuned into two touchdowns, then in turned into a field goal, it was another touchdown. We got the ball rolling, and that’s what we needed at that point.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Stevan Ridley

Quick Hits: Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down Patriots’ stunning comeback

11.25.13 at 9:34 am ET
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Read More: Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, nfl,

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