|Andrew Luck replaces Tom Brady on AFC Pro Bowl squad, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker and Vince Wilfork also out||01.21.13 at 7:38 pm ET|
Tom Brady is again politely declining a trip to Hawaii to play in the NFL’s greatest exhibition game.
Andrew Luck had one of the best seasons any rookie quarterback has ever had in living up to his No. 1 overall draft billing coming into the 2012 season.
On Monday, the Indianapolis Colts rookie was rewarded with a trip to Hawaii to replace Brady in the in the Pro Bowl. Brady was excused from the Pro Bowl with an undisclosed injury.
Brady was selected to his eighth Pro Bowl game in late December but hasn’t played the last six times he’s been selected. He played in Feb. 2002 after winning the Super Bowl and he played in Feb. 2005 after the 2004 season but hasn’t played since, as he has been designated as injured and has been replaced.
It appears Brady won’t be alone in turning down the leis in paradise. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports Wes Welker, Logan Mankins and Vince Wilfork have also taken their names out of the Pro Bowl due to various injuries. Linebacker Jerod Mayo and special teams captain Matthew Slater were also selected but remain on the Pro Bowl roster.
As for Luck, through Week 9, Luck had thrown for the same number of yards as his predecessor, Peyton Manning, did in his first season in Denver.
His legend began to truly grow in Week 13 against the Lions. Luck and the Colts were trailing 33-28 with 1:07 left. He was able to get to the Lions’ 14 yard line and faced a fourth down with three seconds left. Luck then threw a screen pass to Donnie Avery who got free and ran in for the winning score.
The win gave Luck his eighth on the season – the most wins by a rookie quarterback drafted first overall in NFL history, as well as his fifth game-winning drive on the season, tying Vince Young and Ben Roethlisberger for the most by a rookie quarterback. On Dec. 23, 2012, Luck broke the record for most passing yards by a rookie against the Kansas City Chiefs, throwing 205 to bring his season total to 4,183. Cam Newton held the previous record with 4,051 yards.
Luck advanced the Colts, one season removed from 2-14, to the the playoffs, where they lost to the Ravens in Baltimore.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Patriots charge to No. 1||12.13.12 at 7:14 am ET|
The mighty have fallen. After seven straight weeks occupying the top two spots, the Texans (4) and Falcons (5) no longer can be called the two best teams in the league. The Patriots surge all the way to the No. 1 spot for the first time this season after a dominating Monday night performance. The 49ers (2) and Broncos (3) round out the new top three.
The Seahawks (9) finally break into the top 10 after winning four of their last five games. Their impressive play of late has catapulted them in front of both the Bears (10) and Steelers (12). The Colts are another team that continues to inch closer into the league’s elite. Andrew Luck has Indy (11) poised to make a playoff appearance after the team won just two games last year.
The top two teams in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings rarely play each other, not to mention in December, but we’ll get to watch the regular-season version of the Super Bowl this Sunday night. That’s not the only top-10 matchup we’ll see in Week 15. The Broncos (3) play the Ravens (8), and the Giants (7) will take on the Falcons (5). We’re in for another interesting week of pro football.
1. (3) Patriots (10-3) — The Patriots defense did what it had to do: improve. Bill Belichick‘s D held the Texans to just 14 points. The only other team in the league that was able to hold Houston to fewer points was the Bears. Under Tom Brady, the Pats have won a remarkable 20 straight home games in the month of December. Super Bowl-caliber teams get better in December and that’s just what New England is doing once again.
2. (4) 49ers (9-3-1) — The relentless 49ers defense is at the top of the league in pass defense, run defense and points allowed. Sunday night’s matchup pits the best defense in the league against the best offense. Football fans are in for a treat.
3. (5) Broncos (10-3) — The way Knowshon Moreno has been able to step up and fill Willis McGahee‘s shoes is very encouraging for Broncos fans. With Peyton Manning at the helm, an effective run game makes the Broncos offense extremely difficult to defend against.
4. (1) Texans (11-2) — Are the Texans good enough to rebound from a loss like this? Their pass defense has officially been exposed. On a big stage, the Texans crumbled. Stupid penalties, turnovers and an overall lack of competitiveness has many across the NFL questioning if this team is as good as its record indicates.
5. (2) Falcons (11-2) — The Falcons have a tremendous opportunity this Sunday to prove to the NFC that they are an elite team. The defending Super Bowl champion Giants will be in Atlanta and both teams have a lot on the line.
6. (7) Packers (9-4) — Green Bay has won seven of its last eight and has come storming back to take control of the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers has been terrific, though it has been production from the run game over the last two weeks that has made a huge difference on offense for Green Bay.
7. (8) Giants (8-5) — Keep an eye on the NFC East race and the Giants. New York travels to Atlanta and Baltimore the next two weeks while the Redskins and Cowboys are just one game back and hold a better divisional record.
8. (6) Ravens (9-4) — It’s never a good sign for a playoff team to fire its offensive coordinator in December. Unlike the Patriots and Broncos, the Ravens have played worse as the season has progressed. If recent play is any sign, the Ravens look to be on track for falling just short of the Super Bowl once again.
9. (11) Seahawks (8-5) — There have to be many organizations out there that are extremely jealous of the Seahawks’ recent success. This is a team that not only drafted a quarterback in the third round but started him over Matt Flynn after signing the former backup to a three-year deal. Teams struggling to find a quarterback like the Cardinals, Jets and Bills must be envious. Russell Wilson has played outstanding of late. In his last five games, he’s thrown 10 touchdowns and just one interception.
10. (9) Bears (8-5) — Jay Cutler‘s health is imperative to the Bears’ success. Everyone watched the Bears go 1-5 last year at the end of the season when Cutler was injured. The starting QB has been sacked 31 times this year and already has suffered a concussion. The offensive line has to get better if this team is going to be successful. Chicago has dropped four of its last five.
|10 things to know about Ryan Tannehill||11.28.12 at 7:35 pm ET|
On Sunday, the Patriots will have the opportunity to clinch the AFC East, but they’ll have to beat Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins in order to do it.
Tannehill, the third quarterback taken in the 2012 draft behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, was selected by the Dolphins eighth overall with the hopes that he could finally provide some stability at a position that has been in flux since the retirement of Dan Marino.
Thus far, Tannehill has put up lackluster numbers, completing 197 of 334 passes for 2,373 yards with seven touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 72.9 quarterback rating. In the process, he’s led the Dolphins to a 5-6 record which, while not outstanding, is good for second place in the AFC East.
The Dolphins certainly hope that Tannehill is the long-term solution, so the Patriots figure to see plenty of Tannehill over the next however many years. Here’s an introduction to the rookie with nine more things to know about Tannehill:
He played a lot of receiver in college
Though Tannehill was recruited to Texas A&M as a quarterback, he was moved to receiver in his redshirt freshman season after competing for the starting job at quarterback.
Tannehill stuck at receiver for his first two seasons and played the first six games of his junior year there before getting more snaps splitting time at quarterback with Jerrod Johnson and, eventually, earning the starting job. He completed 152 of 234 passes for 1,638 yards with 13 touchdowns and six picks as a junior and went 327 of 531 for 3,744 yards with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his senior year.
His wife has gotten a lot of attention
We’ll get this one out of the way early. Put it this way: When you Google Ryan Tannehill’s name, “Ryan Tannehill wife” is the first item below his name on autocomplete.
Tannehill met his wife, Lauren, at Texas A&M and the two were married in January. Over the course of the pre-draft process through the draft and the Dolphins’ appearance on “Hard Knocks,” Lauren gained more and more attention from fans. She currently has over 17,700 followers on twitter.
When Tannehill was asked after being drafted why he got married at 23 years of age, he responded by pointing to her and asking, “Do you blame me?”
He’s one of 10 rookie quarterbacks to start from Week 1 on in the last five years
Think about that. Remember the days when a team would draft a quarterback in the first round and have a veteran signal-caller around to start the season and help him ease into life as an NFL quarterback? That’s becoming a thing of the past. Read the rest of this entry »
|Boomer Esiason on D&C: Patriots lose a ‘major, major player’ with Rob Gronkowski injury||11.19.12 at 10:13 am ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan and talked about Rob Gronkowski’s injury, the Patriots’ 59-24 win over the Colts, and more news from around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
After the Pats’ commanding win Sunday, all focus shifted to Gronkowski, who reportedly broke his left forearm on an extra-point attempt while the Patriots were ahead by 35 points. Esiason said the loss would be big for the Patriots over the next few weeks.
“Gronkowski is a beast in the middle,” Esiason said. “He is impossible to cover. When he’s playing at the level that he played at yesterday, he’s a major difference-maker every time the Patriots play. With him out for the next maybe three to four to five weeks, maybe Aaron Hernandez comes back, maybe he’s ready to go. I don’t know. That is a major, major player that now is missing out of this Patriot offense. I know everybody else did their part yesterday, but certainly he is one of the guys that spearheads the success of that team. … We have never seen a guy who is that big, that talented, that athletic and to be able to make a play like that, to hold on to the ball while he’s getting hit in the back is pretty damn impressive.”
Added Esiason: “I would think that once Tom [Brady] found out, he probably was like, ‘I can’t believe this, I have to go down the next three or four weeks without legitimately my best player.’ ”
Keeping with the Patriot way, Bill Belichick did not pull his starters, including Gronkowski, out of the game even though New England far ahead and has a short week before the Thanksgiving game with the Jets on Thursday.
“I think it’s a part of the game,” Esiason said. “Belichick has always played it that way. Whether their team is 15-0 and there is a 16th game to be played, and they’ve already locked up home-field advantage, he’s playing his guys. He makes no excuses for that, he makes no apologies for that. It’s just the way it goes.”
The Patriots will have to plug the big void Gronkowski leaves as he recovers from the injury, and Esiason said he wasn’t sure exactly how they would go about this.
“A lot of this depends on where Aaron Hernandez is. I know he practiced on Friday,” Esiason said. “I thought when they first brought Aaron back, that was way too early. When you come back with the ankle injury he had suffered, you’re asking a lot for a guy to come back that quickly. … A lot of that will be determined by whether or not he is healthy. The other thing, too, remember, it’s a short week. So, I just don’t know if he is ready to go or not. … They’ll figure something out. If there’s a team that can do something on a short week and still be very good offensively, even without one of their best players, it’s going to be the New England Patriots.”
Overall, Esiason was impressed by the Patriots’ strong performance against the Colts on Sunday.
“Yeah, it was pretty impressive, no question,” Esiason said. “Julian Edelman was great. Certainly Tom Brady was more than efficient; he was actually surgical if you ask me. And then a couple of those interceptions that Andrew Luck threw were because of pressure that he was receiving. Anybody who watched the game can certainly see that Andrew Luck has all the skills to be one of the great ones, his time will definitely come. … I give Aqib Talib a lot of credit. He was in the right spot at the right time. A little bit of pressure forced the interception. To me, that was the point that really changed the whole dynamic of the game.”
|Aqib Talib: ‘Man, I would love [Foxboro] to be my home!’||at 12:53 am ET|
FOXBORO — Talk about your great first impressions.
Coming into this week, everyone wondered just how much Aqib Talib would play, as the new cornerback spent the week getting accustomed to the Patriots secondary.
After a first quarter of mixed results, he made the play of the game when he picked of an Andrew Luck overthrow of Reggie Wayne and raced around the field before winding up in the end zone for a pick-six and a touchdown that would give the Patriots the lead for good, 21-14.
“A lot of fun, executed in all three phases of the game, won the game and had a lot of fun out there,” Talib said. “Luck overthrew the ball and kind of threw it right to me. Defense did a great job of setting up that wall and I got into the end zone.”
It was the least Talib could do to say thanks to the fans who cheered him for the first time since he was traded to New England in a deadline deal with the Bucs on Nov. 2.
“When they mentioned my name, I was really locked in,” he said of the introductions before the game. “Wasn’t paying attention to the volume meter. But when they said my name at the beginning, I got a pretty good welcome, made me feel pretty good. Made me a little bit more excited than I already was.”
Could Talib see New England as a permanent home after his current contract expires after the current season?
“Man, I would love it to be my home!” Talib said with a big smile.
As for the here and now, Talib said he spent sometime on Sunday shaking off the rust from a four-game NFL-mandated suspension for unauthorized Adderall use.
“We had a good week of practice,” Talib said. “We kind of put a lot of emphasis on that, communication and playing fast. We could’ve played better today. We gave up some stuff but felt like it was all right. But, it can get a lot better though.
“I felt pretty good. Get in a little bit better game shape, get my eyes in the right spots and I think I’ll be all right.”
Talib said he was prepared for Luck and the Colts to attack him early, and that’s what they did, as Luck connected for a long sideline route to LaVon Brazill early and a TD pass to T.Y. Hilton in the first half, giving the Colts a 14-7 lead.
“I play corner, I’m used to it all,” said Talib, who was beaten for a pair of touchdowns on the day. “I just got undercut at the goal line. I didn’t play good technique and I kind of let him wide of me to get back inside. On the other one, I had my eyes in the wrong spot, had my eyes exactly where they shouldn’t be, on the quarterback, so I watched him throw a touchdown on me. That’s what I did. I’ve got to get a lot better.
“A little sloppy. My feet were everywhere.”
Sunday was all about shaking off the rust and getting used to playing in the Patriots system.
“You go sit down five or six weeks and then you go play, you’re not going to be your ordinary self,” Talib said. “As I put the pads on, more practice, games, I’ll be all right.”
|Chris Price and Mike Petraglia have the Quick Hits from Patriots rout of the Colts||11.18.12 at 9:36 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com writers Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down the Patriots’ 59-24 rout of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Julian Edelman returned a punt for a touchdown caught another pass for a touchdown and Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes as the Patriots improved to 7-3 on the season. Next up, the New York Jets Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium.
After the game, it was reported by several outlets that Gronkowski suffered a broken forearm on New England’s eighth and final extra point of the day.
He was not available to reporters afterward and was taken for x-rays to confirm the initial diagnosis of a break.
|Setting the scene: Patriots-Colts from Gillette Stadium||at 12:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It will be seasonably chilly when the Patriots and Colts kick off at 4:25 p.m. at Gillette Stadium as the forecast calls for clear skies and temperatures in the low 40s, with a brisk breeze of 10 mph coming out of the northeast.
Temperatures are expected to dip into the mid-to-upper 30s by the end of the game at 7:30.
There will be plenty of matchups to watch today, beginning with the expected debut of left cornerback Aqib Talib, who practiced all week with the team after serving the fourth game of his four-game suspension for admitted Adderall use in violation of the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy.
Talib was acquired from Tampa Bay on Nov. 2 along with a seventh round pick in 2013 for New England’s fourth-round pick next April.
Talib is a welcome addition to a secondary and defense that allowed 481 total yards and a Patriots record 35 first downs allowed in a narrow 37-31 win over the Bills last Sunday at Gillette.
How the Patriots and Bill Belichick handle rookie quarterback Andrew Luck is another matchup worth watching. Luck has been a much better and more efficient quarterback at his home of Lucas Oil Stadium than on the road. At home, Luck has compiled a 4-1 record, with eight touchdowns, two interceptions and a QB rating of 88.7. On the road, he is 2-2 with wins over Tennessee and Jacksonville but has thrown only two touchdowns and has been intercepted twice.
The Patriots are 6-3 for the seventh straight season, matching the all-time record of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even more remarkable, the Patriots are a combined 17-0 in the second-half of the regular season, dating back to their last loss, a 34-27 loss to the Texans, the same game that Wes Welker suffered a torn ACL.
The Patriots enter the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL in two key categories: total points averaged (33.1) and total yards averaged per game (430.3). While the Colts are ranked fifth at 387.3 yards per game, they have not converted those yards into points, as they averaging just 20.7 points a game.
This is the 10th straight year the Patriots and Colts have met in the regular season. The Patriots are 5-4 in the previous nine, with all four of the losses coming at the hands of Peyton Manning. This is the third straight season the Patriots have hosted the Colts in Foxboro.
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