|Fun-loving Rob Gronkowski helps get everyone in Patriots offense ‘clicking’||10.26.14 at 11:49 pm ET|
“It’s pretty sweet,” Brady said. “He was a big-time player today. It was great to get him going like that. Certainly running the ball was great. The guys up from played awesome. A lot of guys contributed. We got great play defensively. There were a lot of big plays and we got a lot of momentum, so it was a fun day. Those don’t happen like that very often.”
Don’t just take Brady’s word for it. Brandon LaFell had a career high 11 catches for a career best 124 yards and a touchdown. With Gronkowski covered in the second quarter, Brady found the other tight end – Tim Wright – racing the other way across the back line of the end zone for an easy touchdown.
Nothing symbolized Gronkowski’s dominance on Sunday than his 46-yard ramble through the Bears secondary for his third touchdown of the day. He disposed of three would-be tacklers on his way to pay dirt.
“Sometimes you see Gronk go out there and make a play like he made and you turn into a fan real quick, so it was a lot of fun today,” LaFell said.
It would be his last catch of the day as he left with dehydration. “Just have to drink more,” Gronkowski said with a wide smile that broke into a giggle when he realized the delicious irony of his words.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down an epic game from Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell||at 8:06 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down Patriots romp over Bears, as Tom Brady throws for 354 yards and five touchdowns in a 51-23 win at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are now 6-2, and face Peyton Manning and the 6-1 Denver Broncos next Sunday for the top spot in the AFC.
FOXBORO — When the doors opened to the Bears locker room following their embarrassing 51-23 loss to the Patriots, many expected a lot of yelling and screaming — especially after last Sunday’s scene following their loss at home to the Dolphins.
Instead it was a much different one — players with their heads down at their lockers, speechless at what just happened, as the Bears fell to 3-5 on the year.
Following last week’s loss, Brandon Marshall called it “unacceptable.” But, he wasn’t going there this week.
“That’s last week, brother,” he said. “That’s last week.”
What about this week?
“We lost. I hope that answers your question, bro. But, that’s last week.”
Marshall kept his cool for the most part this Sunday, but did become agitated towards the end of the interview when asked if it was an injury or fatigue leading to him coming out on a fourth-and-10 in the fourth quarter after running a deep route up the sideline.
“I love football and I want to play, so you can take that,” Marshall said. “I don’t give up, I’m a fighter, I’ve always been a fighter. I’ve fought my whole life. Whatever you’re trying to refer to, it’s wack to me. It’s wack, bro. It’s wack. It’s one play. I probably came out six times this game.
“I will say this you want to be on the field every single play, but it’s almost impossible to do that. You go out there and give it your all, a lot of exertion. Mentally, physically. Bad timing.”
|Setting the scene: Patriots battle Monsters of the Midway in pre-Halloween contest at Gillette||at 9:48 am ET|
FOXBORO — Mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s are expected for the 1 p.m. showdown between the Patriots and Bears in the last game before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. NFL trade deadline, and the last game before Halloween. Wind could be a factor as the forecast calls for a gust out of the north, northeast at 16 MPH.
The Patriots have been Jekyll and Hyde this season, showing their typical scary potential on offense in wins over the Bengals and Bills. They have also looked ghoulish in near-home losses to arguably the two worst teams in football, the Raiders and Jets.
Still, the Patriots are riding a three-game winning streak entering their match against the “Monsters of the Midway,” who have been hit-and-miss themselves this season.
The Bears enter the game with a 3-4 record and are coming off a hideous 27-14 home loss to the Dolphins last Sunday in Chicago. The Bears, when they don’t shoot themselves in the foot and turn the ball over, are one of the most explosive teams in the league, featuring Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and the NFL’s leading receiver Matt Forte. And, of course, they have one of the most unpredictable quarterbacks in the game in Jay Cutler.
Their defense still has the ability to rush the passer, with names like Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston.
The Patriots will be without their leading pass rusher Chandler Jones, who is out with a hip injury for at least six weeks and could be gone for the season. Shane Vereen is officially questionable after missing Friday’s practice with an illness.
Tom Brady is facing the Bears for the fourth time in his career, having won the previous three meetings.
Of all the impressive statistics the Patriots have compiled in their time at Gillette Stadium, their record in their last 43 games might be most impressive. New England is 40-3 in their last 43 games in Foxboro. They also own the NFL’s longest home winning streak at 12 games. They also have won 70 straight home games when leading at the half. The last time the Patriots lost a game when leading at halftime was in Bill Belichick‘s first season in New England, a 27-24 loss to the Dolphins on Christmas Eve 2000 at old Foxboro Stadium.
New England’s 84-15 record in 99 regular season games at Gillette is the highest win percentage in the NFL since the 1970 merger.
|Shane Vereen, Chandler Jones not spotted at Friday Patriots practice||10.24.14 at 12:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Shane Vereen joined Chandler Jones Friday as missing at Patriots practice in sweats and shells on the upper grass fields.
Jones has missed all week with a hip injury suffered against the Jets, and will reportedly be out of action for the next 4-6 weeks as he heals. Vereen, meanwhile, has not been on the injury report at all this week. The team will disclose its final injury report later Friday afternoon. The Boston Herald reported via a source that Vereen was given the day off due to an illness.
Newcomer Akeem Ayers was on the practice field again as the team tries to determine if the linebacker – acquired this week in a trade with the Titans – is ready to play in a game. Free agent defensive lineman Alan Branch was not on the field. Branch was in this week to meet with the players and was spotted in the team’s locker room on Thursday.
“I don’t know. We work out a lot of players around here over the course of the season,” coach Bill Belichick said Friday morning. “So, the ones that we bring on the roster and sign we work with and the ones that we don’t are there if we decide to do it.”
Vereen’s brother Brock is a safety for the Bears and Vereen’s parents are expected in town this weekend to spend time with their NFL sons.
|Bears RB Matt Forte on Sunday’s postgame incident: ‘People yell and scream in the locker room all the time’||10.23.14 at 8:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Following the Bears’ 27-14 home loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, much was made of a reported heated locker room incident where Brandon Marshall reportedly called out some of his teammates, including quarterback Jay Cutler.
The players and their coach are putting the incident behind them, calling it a non-issue.
“It’s really no big deal what happened after the game,” running back Matt Forte said on a conference call Wednesday. “Nothing really happened. People yell and scream in the locker room all the time. It just so happens that they heard some stuff. After a loss like that, being our third loss at home, we’re going to have to rally no matter what.”
“I’ve been in NFL locker rooms for 20 years. To me there was nothing there that was at all out of the ordinary or unique, in my opinion,” coach Marc Trestman added. “Players moved on today. That’s really it. That’s really all there is.”
Some of the frustration stems from their performance at home — going winless in three home games so far this season. They have played much better on the road, going 3-1 — their latest a 27-13 win over Atlanta two weeks ago.
“There’s really no secret,” Forte said. “We’ve played solid football when we go win on the road, and at home it’s just changed for some reason. On the road, we’ve taken care of the football pretty well, and our defense has gotten a lot of takeaways. Last week on Sunday, our defense played well enough for us to win the game, but we had too many turnovers. For us to win the game and after this game and the bye week when we start playing some home games, we need to carry that over to our home games, too, and play consistent football where we’re not turning it over.”
The biggest key for the Bears this season has been taking care of the ball. It’s been pretty cut and dry, as when Cutler throws an interception the Bears are 0-4, and when he doesn’t they are 3-0.
“It’s one of the main things we talk about is taking care of the football, protecting the quarterback and establishing the run game,” Forte said. “In the games that we’ve won, we’ve done that. In the games that we’ve lost, we haven’t done it. It’s not a secret formula to winning games or how we play well. We just have to play consistently like when we’ve won the games that we have won.”
|Tom Brady fondly recalls making Brian Urlacher his dance partner||10.22.14 at 3:11 pm ET|
But on Nov. 26, 2006, Brady, then 29, put a move on likely future Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, that Brady proclaimed after a 17-13 win at Gillette Stadium he would tell his kids about. With Brady and Urlacher all alone in the middle of the field, and Urlacher sizing Brady up like a lion before devouring its meal, Brady juked inside and then cut outside for a key first down, leading to the go-ahead touchdown.
“Somehow that always gets brought up, too, when we play these guys,” Brady recalled again Wednesday. “There weren’t many of those in my career, so it’s pretty easy to count them all on one hand when something like that happens. We’ve had some great games against those guys, some very memorable games. They’ve got a real good defense, and I think they always have. It’s kind of been a mark of that team for a long time. A lot of guys at different positions ‘ [Lance] Briggs is still there, Jared Allen is a great player ‘ they’ve got quite a few of them. And some new faces, too ‘ the type of guys that we’ve really had to take time to get to learn. So, it’s going to be a big challenge for us, but we’re excited for it. Hopefully we can go out and try to get to 6-2.
Brady didn’t have kids at the time of the move but now his kids are growing fast. Has he bragged yet about the play to them?
“They’re probably still too young to know that at this point. To figure out what dad does yet is still kind of confusing for them. One day, you’re right. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame someday, so it’ll probably be the only time I’ve made a Hall of Famer miss.”