|Urban Meyer: ‘Wrong and irresponsible’ to blame University of Florida for Aaron Hernandez||07.06.13 at 7:42 pm ET|
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, in a text exchange with the Columbus Dispatch, took issue with suggestions that either he or the University of Florida served as enablers for former Patriots and University of Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez, who has been accused of murder in the death of Odin Lloyd.
‘Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim,’ Meyer told the Dispatch in a text. ‘Relating or blaming these serious charges to the UniversityofFlorida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible.’
Meyer suggested that reports of cover-ups of multiple failed drug tests by Hernandez were fals.
‘This is absolutely not true,’ Meyer suggested via text. ‘Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.
‘He was an athlete at Florida [four to seven years] ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct,’ Meyer’s added to the Dispatch. ‘Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him.’
|Report: Devin McCourty underwent shoulder surgery||03.29.13 at 6:29 pm ET|
According to ESPNBoston.com, Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty underwent shoulder surgery this offseason but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. The report did not specify on which shoulder McCourty underwent the procedure, which was characterized as “routine.”
McCourty played in all 16 games for the Patriots, splitting his time between cornerback and safety. The 25-year-old recorded 82 tackles and five interceptions.
For more team coverage, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Randy’s no Rice: Moss kept quiet in Super Bowl loss||02.04.13 at 1:30 am ET|
The claim was a head-turner. Of course, no surprise there — Randy Moss is used to utterances that are controversial, fascinating, provocative, nonsensical or brilliant.
Still, his claim on media day prior to this year’s Super Bowl represented a fairly extreme claim, even by Moss’ own standards.
“I really live on impact and what you’re able to do out on the field,” Moss, now a receiver for the 49ers, told reporters in New Orleans. “I really think I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”
While there’s a strong case to be made that Moss turned in some of the best — if not the best — seasons ever by a wide receiver (particularly his 2007 campaign with the Patriots, and perhaps some of his early-career seasons with the Vikings, when he posted huge yardage totals that failed to account for the incredible amount of yardage he added through pass interference penalties), it was difficult to suggest that he could match up with Jerry Rice for the title of greatest receiver ever.
And when it comes to performances on football’s biggest stage, there’s no debate at all between the two receivers. Moss did little to back his boast on Sunday as his team lost, 34-31, to the Ravens. He hauled in a pair of catches for 41 yards while never reaching the end zone. Frequently, it seemed he was neither the primary nor secondary option for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, even when the 35-year-old was in single coverage.
His relatively unimpactful performance in this year’s Super Bowl followed a solid but less-than-standout performance with the Patriots against the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, when Moss caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. While that performance was fine, it’s intriguing to note that it closely resembled Rice’s effort as a 40-year-old in Super Bowl XXXVI, when he caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. That was, far and away, Rice’s worst performance in any of his four Super Bowls.
In other words, Rice was more impactful in his worst Super Bowl than Moss was in his best. A look at the Super Bowl game logs of the two players underscores the notion that Moss’ performances in championship games have fallen far short of Rice’s.
On Sunday, Moss’ effort — or lack thereof — became the subject of considerable ire in San Francisco, as former 49ers Bill Romanowski and Dwight Clark ripped the receiver for having “alligator arms” and failing to make an attempt to prevent a second-quarter interception by Ravens safety Ed Reed.
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For now, then, it seems unlikely that those around the 49ers will endorse Moss’ claim that he deserves the title of greatest receiver of all time. Certainly, even Moss would be hard-pressed to make such a claim about himself when it comes to the Super Bowl.
|What NFL history says about (un)importance of Nos. 3 and 4 playoff seeds||12.18.12 at 3:22 pm ET|
With their loss to the 49ers on Sunday night, the Patriots slipped from the No. 2 to No. 3 seed in the AFC, a setback with obviously considerable implications. New England would have to win an additional playoff game to reach the Super Bowl, and the team would then have to win a road game in the divisional round in order to advance to the AFC championship game with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
WEEI.com’s Christopher Price argues that, given the likelihood that the Pats can’t overtake the Broncos (who play a couple of easy marks in the last two weeks of the season), New England would be well served to lose its way down to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
But what does history say? Have teams with the No. 3 seed done any better than those with the No. 4 seed? For that matter, how big is the difference in the second and third seeds in terms of the likelihood of emerging from a conference and reaching the Super Bowl?
Here’s a look at the seeds of the 44 teams to reach the Super Bowl since 1990, when the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format:
No. 1 seeds – 21 reached Super Bowl, 9 won
No. 2 seeds – 12 reached Super Bowl, 6 won
No. 3 seeds – 2 reached Super Bowl, 1 won
No. 4 seeds – 6 reached Super Bowl, 3 won
No. 5 seeds – 1 reached Super Bowl, 1 won
No. 6 seeds – 2 reached Super Bowl, 2 won
As one might expect, the No. 1 seeds have been the most frequent conference representatives in the Super Bowl, emerging almost one out of every two times (47.7 percent). And, as might also be expected, the No. 2 seed is the second most frequently represented, an unsurprising development given the opportunity to host a divisional playoff game and, in years where the No. 1 seed gets upset, the AFC championship game as well. Read the rest of this entry »
|Rob Gronkowski continues his march into history||10.28.12 at 9:59 pm ET|
As Rob Gronkowski marched in the end zone, his attempt to pay homage to the Changing of the Guard — in his words to reporters, ‘That little nutcracker dude that’s guarding the house’ — more closely resembled a mechanical toy soldier. And in some ways, his mechanical march perfectly embodied what the third-year tight end has become.
Simply put, he is a touchdown machine. In 2½ NFL seasons, he’s established himself as one of the foremost scoring threats in league history, someone who has assumed end zone residence as no one else at his position in the modern history of the game.
That notion was underscored on Sunday against an overmatched Rams team, as Gronkowski delivered one of the most dominating games of his career. He matched a career high with eight catches and two touchdowns while amassing 146 receiving yards, the second most of his career. He nearly had a third score, in fact, getting touched down at the 1-yard line on a tremendous diving catch at the end of the first quarter.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the performance — aside from the celebration and charming absurdity of its explanation — was the fact that it was almost unremarkable. It simply represented what has become a characteristic romp over NFL defenses, which have yet to identify a defensive grouping — defensive linemen are too big and slow; linebackers too small and slow; safeties and defensive backs too small — to prevent Gronkowski from getting to the end zone.
The result? Gronkowski has scored 34 touchdowns in 40 games in his career, and he now is marching through end zones and into history books in a fashion befitting his robotic Sunday celebration.
Gronkowski now has 11 games with multiple touchdown catches in his career. He joins Jerry Rice as the only players in NFL history with that many multi-TD games in his first three seasons; but Gronkowski, of course, still has eight games left this year to set a new standard. No tight end has come remotely close to such a figure. Read the rest of this entry »
|Inside the numbers: Patriots chase history with woeful pass defense||10.15.12 at 1:05 am ET|
The good news for the Patriots is that their pass defense a year ago fairly could be characterized as horrible — particularly at the start of the season — yet the team advanced to the Super Bowl. The bad news for the Patriots is that, to date, this year’s secondary appears to be worse, at least statistically.
A year ago, after all, there was some measure of bend-don’t-break operating in the Pats secondary at the start of the season. There were grounds for concern based on the staggering volume of yards that New England permitted last year, but ultimately, the Pats limited opponents to 10 passing touchdowns while picking off eight passes in the first six games to limit the damage, allowing the team to get off to a 5-1 start.
This year? There’s been a lot of breaking. The Patriots’ 24-23 loss to the Seahawks highlighted what seems like a considerable vulnerability, chiefly, an inability to defend adequately against downfield passes.
Consider: Russell Wilson entered Sunday having thrown five touchdowns while getting picked off six times. On Sunday, he threw for three touchdowns and wasn’t picked off. He also completed six passes of 20 or more yards — including the game-winning 46-yard bomb to Sidney Rice in the final two minutes — after not having completed more than three such passes in any of his first five games this year.
It would be one thing if getting shredded by the rookie was an aberration. But to date, the Patriots’ struggles to shut down the passing game appear to be an eye-opening trend that teams undoubtedly will try to continue to exploit going forward.
Here’s a look at the brutal start by the Patriots’ passing defense: Read the rest of this entry »
|This Tuck had a different ending: Tom Brady before and after the sack||02.06.12 at 10:51 am ET|
Though he got off to a rocky start by getting called for intentional grounding and a safety on the Patriots’ first offensive play of the game, the Patriots quarterback soon found his footing. Between the second and third quarters, Brady completed 16 consecutive passes, the longest such streak in Super Bowl history. Even after his streak was snapped on an incompletion to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brady’s numbers in the middle of the third quarter looked like this:
20-24, 201 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 141.9 QB rating
In other words, to that point in the game, Brady had his highest QB rating ever in a Super Bowl game, and was tracking for the fourth-best rating ever in a Super Bowl, behind only Phil Simms (150.9 in SB XXI), Joe Montana (147.6 in XXIV) and Jim Plunkett (145.0 in XV).
But then, Brady encountered a game-changing Tuck play that had a very different effect than the one that famously occurred in the Snow Bowl of the 2002 playoffs. Read the rest of this entry »
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