|Bill Belichick on D&H: ‘There’s no break in the action’ when playing Broncos||11.03.14 at 10:34 pm ET|
Since the Chiefs manhandled New England, 41-14, at the end of September, the Patriots have won five games in a row. Sunday’s game against the Broncos was almost a 180-degree turn from that game, in Kansas City as just about everything worked for the Patriots.
“We just tried to stake each possession, and really each play, I shouldn’t even say each possession,” Belichick said. “Just one play at a time, just try to go out there and have a good play and move on to the next one and try to string them together. I feel like that’s the way it is when you play [the Broncos]. There’s no break in the action. One play could be a strip sack, one play could be a 60-yard touchdown, one play could be a blocked punt, one play could be anything if you’re giving them that opportunity. They’re good enough to capitalize on it, so you’ve really got to do a good job in every situation and every phase of the game and at all times.”
Many wondered whether this game would come down to weather factors and outside forces. While it did not snow, the wind did pick up and seemed to play a role in how the game was played, especially on special teams decisions. Belichick said it did affect the game a bit, but not as much as people think.
Said Belichick: “I didn’t think the wind was that bad. I didn’t think it was nearly the factor it was the week before against Chicago. It was a little bit of a factor, and when we went for it on fourth down on the pass to [Shane] Vereen on fourth-and-5, or whatever it was, I’m not so sure on a good day that would’ve been a consideration. I’m saying good day, a day with even less wind. But I think that was really about it. We had a couple of touchbacks into the wind. Obviously, the wind favored going away from the lighthouse, but I don’t think it affected the passing game very much. I think it affected the kicking game more than the passing game.”
Julian Edelman‘s punt return touchdown put the Patriots up 20-7 in the middle of the second quarter. Before the play, the Patriots actually thought the ball was going to to be punted to the other side of the field, which made Edelman improvise on the runback.
“We expected the ball to go to their bench because I think that’s where [Britton] Colquitt was trying to punt it and also that’s the way the wind was favoring it,” Belichick said. “When Colquitt muffed the snap, Brandon Bolden made a really smart play. He saw it, he was holding his man up and then when he saw the ball muffed then he forced the punter and almost blocked it. But that really wasn’t his responsibility at all, he just saw the play and reacted to it. The punt went more down the middle than what we thought it would go down the sideline probably because the timing of the play — Colquitt was just trying to get it off. And then the gunner on the right was down the field and he kind of got past [Malcolm] Butler and so [Danny] Amendola came over and chipped him off. And that kind of got Julian started and then he just saw the space out there.”
After being cut loose in New England, it appears that the Cardinals have only been too happy to welcome defensive lineman Tommy Kelly to the mix in Arizona.
“Tell Bill (Belichick) I said, ‘Thank you,'” defensive line coach Brentson Buckner told Michael Silver of NFL Media on Sunday when asked about Kelly. “Kelly’s been great for us. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Kelly was cut loose by the Patriots after a year in New England that saw him struggle with injury. But the 34-year-old has been reborn in the desert as part of a team that’s won seven of eight to start the season. Kelly has started six of the eight games this season with the Cardinals, and has 15 tackles.
“They say everything happens for a reason,” Kelly told Silver. “I’m happy — they work me hard but they treat me nice … and no snow! It’s a great group. We believe in each other. We believe in our scheme. And even with some big-time losses, we still feel we’ve got enough to get it done.”
On Sunday afternoon the Patriots beat the Broncos — arguably the best team in the NFL prior to Sunday by 22 points — to now hold the best record in the AFC after Week 9. But even after such a dominant performance, coach Bill Belichick says the game was far from perfect.
“We, to be honest, still feel like we left a lot of points on the field last night in terms of our overall execution offensively — missed guys in the deep part of the field, dropped the ball, couldn’t convert on short-yardage and then some of the same things on defense,” Belichick said on Monday’s conference call. “We were fortunate that we had some third and fourth down stops and plays, which those included red area, but we gave [up] a lot of yardage in the passing game. There were a lot of open receivers. We were fortunate that the running game for Denver wasn’t like it was the last couple times we played them. We did a more consistent job on that, but there are a lot of things that we need to tighten up.”
Peyton Manning and the Denver offense totaled 429 yards of net passing offense – although most of it came in garbage time – it was still the most net passing yards the Patriots have allowed in the Belichick era.
Quarterback Tom Brady and the offense committed its first turnover since Week 4 in Kansas City and left some points on the board, settling for field goals on three occasions — once inside the red zone — and went 6-for-16 on third down.
Belichick was also critical of himself on his challenge of a potential Rob Gronkowski touchdown following his spectacular one-handed catch at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter. Belichick thought Gronkowski was not touched and should not have been ruled down, but after looking back at the tape he admitted it was a bad challenge on his part.
|Bill Belichick on Akeem Ayers: ‘He’s done a real good job’||at 11:10 am ET|
Patriots linebacker Akeem Ayers had only been a member of the Patriots for just 12 days prior to Sunday’s game against the Broncos, but he looked like it had been years as he played a significant role in the Patriots’ 43-21 drubbing of the Broncos.
Ayers played 77 of a possible 83 defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus and finished with four tackles and a sack — the only sack of Peyton Manning on the night — a bone-crunching hit in the second quarter.
“He’s done a real good job,” Bill Belichick said of Ayers on Monday’s conference call. “He’s picked things up quickly. He’s a sharp kid. Works hard, very attentive. He really wants things to get things done right and tries to do them and communicates well with the defense.”
The linebacker was traded to the Patriots along with a seventh-round pick from the Titans for a sixth-round pick on Oct. 21.
Ayers was a second-round pick in 2011 and had a good first couple of seasons, but injuries and a fallout with current Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt led to him not being the same player the last couple of seasons.
In his rookie year Ayers totaled 76 tackles and then 104 in his second year, but in 2013 he only had 49. Ayers had offseason knee surgery on both knees and was active for just two of the first seven games for the Titans this season.
Since being traded to the Patriots he has nine tackles in two games and is settling in nicely with the New England defense.
“Akeem played quite a bit his first three years in Tennessee, I think he was somewhere around the 80 percent playtime range,” said Belichick. “He’s been on the field a lot, he played a lot of snaps — not so much this year. So, whenever you get a player you don’t know — it wasn’t like when we brought Deion Branch in from Seattle, it wasn’t that kind of situation at all, we didn’t really know Akeem — we’ve to get him into our system and work with him in practice and so forth.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s decisive 43-21 victory over the Broncos and discuss the team’s turnaround after the slow start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Brady played down the importance of Sunday’s game as compared to any other, although he acknowledged it was a nice win for the Patriots.
“They all count. They do. They count the same in the end,” Brady said. “When you play one of the best teams in the league, I think there’s a sense of urgency that’s created by that. Everything can cost you the game, in practice, in the week of preparation, the meetings. There’s such a heightened sense of really accountability. You’re playing a team that can score on defense, they can score on offense, they can put in the 40s and 50s in points. You’ve just got to do as well as you possibly can all week, and then you go out there and you see where you’re at.
“They’re a very good football team. They didn’t play their best yesterday, obviously. I don’t think we played our best, either. But it was a great win for our team. It was one that we really needed. When you play these games at home, you’ve really got to take advantage of it, and we really did yesterday.”
Added Brady: “We got off to a good start. We played from ahead, the way we talked about playing. And we were able to make some plays there in the second half to close it out. But they’ve got a good football team. They’ll be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch.”
Following the Monday night blowout loss to the Chiefs that left them at 2-2, the Patriots have made a dramatic turnaround. Brady credits Bill Belichick for keeping the team from getting too high or too low.
“We’ve always just kind of believed in each other and believed in what we’re doing,” Brady said. “It’s a great lesson, and coach talks about it: ‘Ignore the noise.’ And I think for a long time when he says it, it’s because we’ve won a lot of games, and people — whether it’s family or friends or people who support you and love you and watch you — they tell you how great you are and all these things that are really positive things. If you get caught up in that, then, yeah, maybe you lose your urgency.
“The other part of that is ignore the noise when things aren’t going well. That’s when people tell you you’re the worst team and you’re the worst players and the worst everything. You’ve got to ignore those things also. None of those things are going to affect the outcome of the game. What really affects the outcome is what we do on a weekly basis, showing up to work and believing that we’re doing the right things to help our team improve.”
|Setting the scene: Winter wonderland for Tom Brady-Peyton Manning Bowl XVI||11.02.14 at 12:10 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Winter has arrived early and just in time for the biggest game of the season so far for the New England Patriots.
But Bill Belichick will be happy to know that heavy, wet snow throughout the morning hours is expected to give way to windy and cold conditions for the 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium, with a game-time temperature of 39 degrees predicted. But biting 20 MPH winds out of the north, northwest will make the start of Brady-Manning Bowl XVI feel like 29.
The winds will be between 15 and 20 MPH out of the north throughout the game, making it feel like 22 degrees by the end of the contest.
Heavy wet snow began to blanket the field around 11 a.m., totaling about an inch. But there was no tarp placed on the field, as was the case before the Jets game on Oct. 16. A pair of John Deere tractors began clearing the field at about 12:15 as the snow began to taper into flurries.
Once the precipitation ends around 3 p.m., the wind figures to be the primary factor in the game. It would be no surprise to see the team that wins the toss defer in order to have the wind at their back in the fourth quarter.
This is the second year in a row that the Patriots have played the Broncos in a key AFC battle in November in cold conditions. Last year, the wind chills dropped into the teens as the Broncos raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead. Tom Brady led a furious comeback in the second half and the Patriots won, 34-31, in overtime when the Broncos muffed a punt, leading to Stephen Gostkowski‘s game-winning field goal in the final minute of overtime.
The Patriots enter this week with a remarkable 33-game home winning streak against AFC opponents, the longest such streak in NFL history dating back to the 1970 merger. The Dolphins have the second-longest streak at 21 games from 1971 to 1974. The Patriots’ last home loss to an AFC opponent was with Matt Cassel at the helm in 2008, when the Steelers came away with a 33-10 win. Tom Brady has won 41 straight at home against AFC opponents, dating to a 17-14 loss to the Jets on Nov. 12, 2006.
Not only is this another landmark game in the Brady-Manning rivalry, it’s the 200th regular season start for Brady. He is 154-45 in his regular season career. A win today would give him 155 in 200 games, the most in NFL history. Manning is second with 136 regular season wins in his first 200 starts.
Brady enters the game with a 10-5 lead in the lifetime series with Manning, dating back to their first meeting, a 44-13 Patriots win on Sept. 30, 2001. Manning snapped a three-game losing streak in the series with a win last January in the AFC championship game in Denver. Brady is 8-3 against Manning in the regular season, 2-2 in the postseason.
Manning has won just two of nine career games in Foxboro, with the last coming on Nov. 5, 2006 in a 27-20 Colts win.
Sunday’s matchup is the first in NFL history between quarterbacks with at least 150 regular season wins. The game is also a matchup of quarterbacks who are coming off a perfect October. Brady was 4-0 with 1,265 yards passing, 14 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Manning was 4-0 with 1,320 yards passing, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions.
|No joke: Patriots urge fans to ‘arrive early’ to deal with weather, security on Sunday||11.01.14 at 1:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick may be willing to poke some fun at the weather and the people who try to predict it but the organization is not joking around about the potential hazards and inconvenience for fans on Sunday.
Kickoff between the Patriots and Broncos is scheduled for 4:25 p.m., meaning that gates will open to fans at 2:25 p.m. The forecast is calling for wind, rain and possibly snow with temperatures falling through the 30s in the late afternoon, leading up to kickoff. By the end of the game, around 7:30 p.m., temperatures could dip into the upper 20s.
The main message from the team to fans Sunday: arrive early.
“With cold temperatures in Sunday’s forecast, Gillette Stadium officials anticipate longer screening times at stadium gates as fans will likely be bundled up for the weather. Fans are strongly encouraged to arrive early at the gates, which open at 2:25 p.m., two hours before kickoff,” the team said in a statement.
With a capacity crowd of more than 68,000 fans, Gillette Stadium officials encourage drivers to allow themselves plenty of time when traveling near the stadium on game day. Traffic restrictions will be in place on local roads before and after the game. Fans must use I-95, I-495 or Route 140 to access Gillette Stadium. For ease of entry and exit, fans are reminded of the following:
· From the North (from I-95), fans are strongly encouraged to stay to the right and park in P10.
· From the South (from I-495), fans are strongly encouraged to stay to the left and park in P11 or P10.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Tom Brady Injury: Updates on Patriots QB's Knee and Return
- Alan Branch Wins Suspension Appeal: Latest Details and Reaction
- Can the New England Patriots Survive Another Rob Gronkowski Absence?
- Rob Gronkowski Injury Update: TE Reportedly Will Miss 8 Weeks with Back...
- Marcus Cannon, Patriots Agree to New Contract: Latest Details and...
- Tom Brady Became 5th QB in NFL History to Throw for at Least 60,000 Yards
- Patriots vs. Jets: Full Report Card Grades for New England