|Live blog: Follow all action, tweets, from Super Bowl 50||02.07.16 at 12:10 pm ET|
|Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on D&H: ‘I felt like we had control of the game, we just didn’t have control of the score’||01.27.16 at 3:51 pm ET|
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley for his final appearance of the season on Wednesday and broke down some of the breakdowns that led to a disappointing 20-18 loss to the Broncos in the AFC title game.
“I felt like we had control of the game,” Belichick lamented. “We just didn’t have control of the score.”
Repeatedly noting that the game came down to the final seconds, Belichick bemoaned all of the little mistakes that added up to defeat.
“In a game that close, that comes down to the wire like that, it’s a lot more than one thing,” he said. “It’s quite a few of them, any one of which would’ve helped us.”
He noted that had the distance been greater, the Pats would’ve kicked a field goal. But when Danny Amendola caught a 10-yard pass on third-and-11 to set up the pivotal fourth down call, there was no doubt what the Pats needed to do.
“We were going to do that if it was fourth and short,” Belichick said. “Third and 11 play before, something like that, if it had stayed there, somewhere in the neighborhood of fourth and 11, fourth and 8, we would’ve taken the points. Fourth-and-1? That’s a relatively high percentage of conversion, in the 75-80 percent range, generally speaking.”
With only six minutes left, and the Patriots trailing by eight, Belichick feared the Patriots might not drive that deep into Broncos territory again.
“We hadn’t been down there a lot,” he said. “I don’t know how many more opportunities we’re going to get with six minutes left in the game. Down by eight, I don’t think there was a whole lot of second thoughts about that. . . . Fourth and longer, it would’ve been a different decision. Play the percentages.”
With roughly two and a half minutes left, the Patriots again found themselves facing fourth down. This time it was fourth-and-6 at the Denver 14. Once again, there was no doubt they had to go for it. The Broncos swarmed Rob Gronkowski as Tom Brady‘s pass fell incomplete.
“I’m not sure we’re going to have another possession,” Belichick said. “One more first down would pretty much — it depends on how it happened — but if they were to run three plays and get a first down, that would make it hard for us to win.”
|Patriots, Broncos draw massive television rating||01.25.16 at 2:35 pm ET|
Not that this is going to make Patriots fans feel any better …
— CBS Sports PR (@CBSSportsGang) January 25, 2016
According to Awful Announcing, the rating is 31 percent from the Patriots vs. Colts late window conference championship of a year ago, and 8 percent up from the early conference championship showdown between the Seahawks and Packers in 2015.
The Pats’ loss won honors for the most watched television program since last season’s Super Bowl.
|Bill Belichick offers short explanation for not kicking field goal||01.24.16 at 7:14 pm ET|
DENVER — It was another big-stage, calculated gamble by Bill Belichick.
While the Patriots ultimately found themselves in the red zone two times in the final three minutes of their 20-18 AFC championship game loss to the Broncos, there was one Belichick decision to go for it on fourth down with the ball at Denver’s 16 yard-line and just more than six minutes remaining that will come under the most scrutiny.
With New England by eight with 6:03 remaining, and with a chance to cut the Denver lead to five with the Pats possessing all three timeouts, Tom Brady‘s pass to Julian Edelman went for a yard loss, handing the ball back to the Broncos.
“Because of the score and the situation of the game,” the Patiots coach said when asked about the decision.
“They were looking for the [quarterback] sneak and we tried to do a misdirection,” Brady said. “It wasn’t really Julian’s guy who got him, it was the guy who fell off, so they made a pretty good defensive play. He has the other guy in man coverage and was kind of just waiting for it.”
After another three-play-and-punt drive from Denver, Brady ultimately found the end zone on a TD pass to Gronkowski. But because the deficit had remained at eight, the Pats needed a two-point conversion, which they failed to execute.
“Crash landing to the end of the season, like there usually are in the National Football League,” Belichick said.
“I want to congratulate Denver on an AFC Championship. They have a good football team. They’re well-coached. They have a lot of good players. They played a bit better than we did today. I’m proud of our guys. They fought right to the very end, like they always do. We just couldn’t quite make enough plays, obviously. It’s disappointing. It was a disappointing result.
“There were a lot of big plays in the game. Any one of them probably could have made a bit of a difference. I just think we all feel, as coaches, players’it’s such a fine line today between winning and losing that we all could have just done a little bit more and it might have had a different result, but it wasn’t.”
|Live blog: Tom Brady, Patriots take on Broncos in Denver||11.29.15 at 7:55 pm ET|
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|WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Pre-training camp edition||07.09.15 at 9:45 pm ET|
The defending champion Patriots enter the pre-preseason third in the WEEI Power Rankings. Much of the offense remains intact, but the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork and Kyle Arrington can’t be overlooked. The Seahawks lost Byron Maxwell, but upgraded the offense with the addition of Jimmy Graham, giving them the No. 1 spot. With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the Packers will continue to keep defensive coordinators up at night.
The Cowboys creep into the top five, despite the loss of workhorse running back DeMarco Murray. The Broncos will remain out of the top 10 until Peyton Manning proves he can throw a ball farther than 20 yards. Chip Kelly and the Eagles are the hardest team to gauge, since they were successful last year, and decided to turn their roster over at most of their skill positions.
Leave your comments and opinions below.
1. Seahawks — The defending NFC champions were 1 yard away from back-to-back Super Bowl championships, but Pete Carroll out-thought himself and the rest is history. With the addition of Jimmy Graham, expect Marshawn Lynch to have more room to work.
4. Cowboys — The loss of Murray (2,261 yards from scrimmage and 449 touches) will hurt, but the offense is still bursting with talent (and a great O-line.) Also, Tony Romo got the monkey off his back won a playoff game.
5. Steelers — The Steelers went 8-2 down the stretch last season and saw Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown emerge as true playmakers. However, all eyes will be on new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, who replaces the legendary Dick LeBeau.
|Potential playoff opponents: Broncos||01.01.15 at 3:06 pm ET|
With the playoff picture set, it’s time to size up the possible postseason opponents for the Patriots. We’ll kick off our series with the Broncos.
The skinny: Denver finished 12-4, and while the Broncos were tied with the Patriots for the best record in the AFC, they lost out on the top seed by way of their Nov. 2 loss to New England at Gillette Stadium. The Broncos opened the year 6-1 (the only blemish came with an overtime loss to the Seahawks in Seattle), but ended up with three losses over the second half of the season, including a 43-21 defeat at the hands of the Patriots. Despite the fact that the Chiefs and Chargers had impressive moments over the course of the 2014 season, the Broncos were never really in any danger when it came to winning their division. Despite an alarming late-season stretch for Manning — he threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns over the final four games of the regular season, struggled to complete 60 percent of his passes and he had a passer rating of better than 80 just once in that series of games — this is a team that will go as far as their quarterback can take them.
Offense: The Broncos still rise and fall on the shoulders of Manning (66 percent completion rate, 4,727 passing yards, 39 touchdowns, 15 INTs). Despite an occasionally wobbly finish, the veteran quarterback still had a good enough year to finish in the top six in most major passing categories, including yards (fourth), completion percentage (sixth), touchdowns (second), passer rating (101.5) and yards per game (295, fourth). Denver is the only team in the league that had two pass catchers finish the season with 100 or more receptions in wide receivers Demaryius Thomas (111 catches, 1,619 yards, 11 TDs) and Emmanuel Sanders (101 catches, 1,404 yards, 9 TDs). They are ably complemented by wide receiver Wes Welker (49 catches, 464 yards, 2 TDs) and tight end Julius Thomas (43 catches, 489 yards, 12 TDs).
While the Broncos offense is still powered by Manning, they’ve received an unexpected boost of late from running back C.J. Anderson (179 carries, 849 rushing yards, 8 TDs, 4.7 YPC). In the wake of a season-ending injury to Montee Ball, the 5-foot-8, 224-pounder out of Cal has taken over the role of lead back, and rushed for at least 80 yards in five of the last six regular-season games for Denver. (That includes 335 rushing yards in a two-game stretch against the Dolphins and Chiefs in November.) Ultimately, the Broncos like to do just enough running to keep the opposition honest, as they finished in the middle of the pack when it came to their ground game: 15th in rushing yards per game (111.6), 20th in yards per carry (4.0) and 15th in total rushing yards (1,785).
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