|Tom Brady isn’t afraid of (preseason) blitzes: ‘You figure out how to solve the problem’||08.21.14 at 6:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As far as Tom Brady is concerned, go ahead and bring the heat, even in the preseason.
And certainly, with the Carolina Panthers coming to town Friday, the opponent certainly has the wherewithal to execute a blitz or two.
But usually, in the preseason, defensive coordinators like to hold off on showing too much on film when it comes to exotic or advanced defensive approaches. And offensive coordinators, similarly, do the same.
However, usual and customary are not two words commonly used to describe Rex Ryan. The Jets coach watched last Saturday as his defense was torched by Andy Dalton for 144 yards on 8-for-8 passing and a touchdown. His response? Start blitzing the Bengals second and third stringers along the offensive line.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander took some offense.
But if the Panthers want to do the same from the start against Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback says he’d have no problem with it, since there is no “wrong” defense to play, even in the third preseason game.
“They can blitz, they can do whatever they want to do,” Brady said. “Every defense is right. Like every call, there is risk and reward to everything. If they’re going to blitz, then you’ve got to figure out a way to beat the blitz. If you don’t fix the blitz, they’re just going to keep running them. It’s the same thing on offense.”
Then Brady got to the heart of the matter and revealed what competition is all about, even in games that don’t count.
“If you see a weakness, you’re just going to keep going to it, and that’s what separates pro-caliber players from guys who aren’t. There are guys who can fix problems and know that this is what a team is trying to do, and then you figure out how to solve the problem, and then they’ve got to work on something else. But if you know there are weaknesses, that’s what you go after. That’s what pro football is all about.
“We’ve got two games left, and they’re both very important for our season, for our preparation leading up to the opener. Coach told us we’re going to get a lot of work, and what that means I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever knows with him. But we’ll be prepared and ready to go for 60 minutes, and hopefully it’s a good 60 minutes. We’ve had a couple doozies in the third preseason game lately, and it’d be nice to have a good one.”
Brady also took some time to talk about the other Ohio team, which named its starting quarterback this week, old friend and teammate Brian Hoyer, Brady’s back-up between 2009 and 2011. Hoyer was chosen as the Browns starting QB over Johnny Manziel this week by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine.
“I love Brian. He’s just such a great guy, person and friend. We’ve always kept in touch,” Brady said. “I’m proud of him. He’s fought through some tough circumstances over the years, being released here, going to Arizona, getting a little bit of an opportunity there, and then really taking advantage of his opportunity in Cleveland. It’s great for him, and he’s a great player, so I’m very happy for him.”
FOXBORO — Every once in a while, there’s a player perfectly suited to play with Tom Brady.
But there’s one player who fits into that category, a player who most certainly has flown under the radar since his arrival in New England as an all-purpose player.
Since being released off Cincinnati’s practice squad in the middle of the 2012 season, James Develin has found a home in New England. Develin is the kind of Patriot Bill Belichick, and by extension, Tom Brady, loves having around. He was a defensive end at Brown before switching over to tight end and fullback with the Bengals and the Patriots.
He played in all 16 games last season for the Patriots, carrying the ball four times for 10 yards. But that hardly tells the story for the fullback. Three of those carries were for first downs. The other? his first career touchdown. He was targeted four times in the passing game, catching all four passes for 62 yards and three first downs.
On Wednesday, Brady was asked about Develin’s evolution as a player.
“He’s done such a great job,” Brady said. “He’s such a selfless player, great teammate. I don’t think there is a better fullback in the league, so I’m so happy he’s on our team, and what he’s been able to accomplish for our team has been awesome. He brings so much in terms of his toughness, his attitude. It’s that one position on offense that can really bring a lot of toughness. You get it out of that fullback position. He does whatever the team asks him to do. I can’t say enough good things about him because I think so highly of him.”
|Darrelle Revis: Day 1 vs. Redskins shows ‘physical’ Patriots D ‘getting better every day’||08.04.14 at 7:56 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — Redskins coach Jay Gruden knows an aggressive defense when he sees one. As the offensive coordinator of the Bengals and newly minted Andy Dalton, he went up against the Ravens and Steelers twice a year.
On Monday, he complimented the Patriots’ aggressiveness, particularly from the secondary led by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. He called it a “learning experience” for his offense.
“They didn’t have a problem today,” Gruden said. “There’s no referees out there. They have two very physical corners and some of their backups did a nice job as well. It’s a great test for our guys. We’re going to have to work on our releases. I think we got knocked off quite a bit today. I liked the fact that they were physical because teams are going to be physical with our guys until we can fight it off and make them pay.”
Revis had a different perspective but came away with the same feeling.
“We’re getting better every day,” Revis said. “We’re improving every day and this is the time in training camp where we get closer. It’s going well. Everybody is playing at a high level and we just have to continue that high level of playing going into the season.”
But Revis cautioned that he wasn’t focused on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin, or Tom Brady, for that matter.
“I wasn’t really focusing on how they looked,” Revis said. “I’m trying to make sure I do my job and look good out here as well. It’s just competing. That’s all we’re trying to do. Both sides are trying to get each other looks out there and just compete.
“Competition kicks at that time and there might be a couple of words out there at times. It’s all in good [spirit]. We know the Redskins just like they know us. Some of us are friends with each other. It goes back and forth. It’s just competition.”
|Danny Woodhead: ‘If people are shocked, they’re shocked’||01.05.14 at 6:01 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — So many times in New England, Danny Woodhead was the silent little engine that could.
On Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, Woodhead – as he did so often in Foxboro – let his feet and hands do the talking in a 27-10 Chargers win over the Bengals that put Woodhead into familiar territory.
For the fourth straight season, the former Patriot finds himself in the AFC divisional playoffs. He figures to be another big weapon for Philip Rivers and the Chargers when they take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos next Sunday.
Sunday, he set the tone early with a five-yard TD run right up the middle, putting San Diego up, 7-0, and sending a message that the team that came within a bad call on an overtime field goal by Kansas City last week had come to Cincinnati with every intention of winning. The 11-5 Bengals, champions of the AFC North, were favored by a touchdown on their home turf in the rematch of the iconic “Freezer Bowl” in the 1981 AFC championship.
“We practiced all week with the idea of coming in here to win,” Woodhead said. “We were underdogs. If people are shocked, they’re shocked. There’s nothing we can do about that. Our job was to go out there and execute.”
That’s exactly what Woodhead, Rivers and the Chargers did against a Bengals team that didn’t lose all season at home before Sunday. The Chargers committed no turnovers in 56 snaps. Woodhead carried the ball 15 times for 54 yards and gained another 14 on two catches.
The Patriots let him go after the 2012 season and he signed a two-year, $3.5 million contract with the Chargers in March, a deal that included a $1 million signing bonus. The Chargers wanted a threat in the backfield that would be hard to account for in open space. He was that and more Sunday as he cut through big holes his offensive line established.
“I just try to take advantage of every opportunity I’m given. Our offensive line was great today and set the tempo early,” Woodhead said. “We ran and ran and we just build momentum.”
Woodhead was there so many times on Sunday like he was in New England. Every time Rivers needed a big play to put the game away in the second half, it was Woodhead’s number that was called. He carried the ball three times on San Diego’s opening drive of the third quarter, which ended in a touchdown that put the Chargers ahead for good.
Now, as was the case in New England with Tom Brady, Woodhead is into the second round with a playoff-proven quarterback. Rivers was spectacular only in his efficiency Sunday, throwing just 16 passes and completing 12 for 128 yards and a touchdown and a 118.8 quarterback rating.
“Philip is a great quarterback who has done it in the past in the playoffs,” Woodhead said. “Everybody knows he’s a great quarterback. We went about our business and just executed today.”
|San Diego Chargers eliminate Cincinnati Bengals, paving way for Andrew Luck to play Patriots at Gillette Stadium||at 4:15 pm ET|
Andy Dalton turned in another atrocious playoff performance while Philip Rivers managed a near-perfect road playoff game as the San Diego Chargers beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-10, Sunday at an appropriately dreary Paul Brown Stadium.
Dalton threw a pair of second-half interceptions and forced his own fumble on a scramble as the Bengals fell to 0-5 in the postseason under head coach Marvin Lewis. Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs in all three seasons in the NFL but has lost in the first round each time.
Rivers finished 12-of-16 for 128 yards and a touchdown for the No. 6 seed Chargers, who advance to play the No. 1 seed Broncos next Sunday in Denver. The Chargers beat the Broncos, 27-20, in Denver on Dec. 12. The Chargers trio of Ronnie Brown, Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead combined for 196 yards rushing on 40, a 4.9 yard-per-rush average.
The Chargers dominated the opening quarter, grabbing a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard TD run up the middle by former Patriots back Danny Woodhead. The Chargers ran the ball 12 times for 57 yards, averaging 4.8 yards a carry and possessing the ball for over 10 minutes of the opening quarter.
The Bengals responded with a strong second quarter, holding the ball for 10 minutes, 34 seconds, tying the game on an Andy Dalton TD pass to Jermaine Gresham just as Dalton was hit by linebacker Melvin Ingram.
The Bengals appeared to be going in for the go-ahead touchdown when Dalton connected to Giovanni Bernard at the Chargers 10. But he was stripped from behind by Donald Butler and the ball was recovered in the end zone.
After the Bengals defense forced a punt deep in San Diego territory, the Bengals marched to the Chargers 28, thanks to a 13-yard pass to Gresham, who was pushed out of bounds with 11 seconds left. But the side judge ruled Gresham was tackled in bounds and the clock ran down to two seconds.
Both the Gresham catch and Bernard fumble resulted in long reviews by referee Jeff Triplette, the same referee who allowed a controversial TD run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis against the Colts in early December.
Mike Nugent connected from 46 yards to give the Bengals a 10-7 lead at the half.
San Diego took their opening possession of the second half and marched 80 yards in 10 plays, taking the lead for good, 14-10, on a Rivers 4-yard TD pass to Ladarius Green.Dalton turned in an awful third quarter performance, capped off by a fumble on a head-first scramble that gave the Chargers the ball at the Cincinnati 46. The Chargers capitalized on a 25-yard field goal from Nick Novak, making it 17-10.
After another Dalton interception led to another Novak field goal, Ronnie Brown put the game away with a 58-yard TD run with just over two minutes left to send San Diego to Denver and Indianapolis to Foxboro next Saturday.
|Bengals, Colts win, forcing Patriots to win to earn bye||12.29.13 at 4:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots will have to earn their first-round bye.
The Bengals beat the Ravens, 34-17, in Cincinnati and the Colts beat the Jaguars, 30-10, at Indianapolis. Those two results mean the Patriots will have to beat the Bills to earn a weekend off when the playoffs begin next weekend.
If the Patriots lose, the Broncos will be the No. 1 seed and the Bengals will be the No. 2 and both will advance to the divisional round and have next weekend off.
A Patriots loss would also ensure the Patriots would play the Chiefs next weekend in the 4-5 matchup at Gillette Stadium.
Cincinnati’s win also eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens from the playoffs as the Steelers won and the Dolphins lost.
A win over the Chiefs would put San Diego into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed while a Chargers loss would allow the Steelers to earn the final spot with an 8-8 record.
|Patriots hold on to No. 2 seed while pushing Ravens to brink||12.22.13 at 9:37 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — The Patriots’ 41-7 blow out of the Ravens wasn’t just window dressing on their fifth straight AFC East title that was clinched before the game even began.
With the win Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the Patriots held on to the crucial No. 2 seed in the AFC, which they can clinch next week with a win over the Bills at Gillette Stadium or a Cincinnati loss at home to the Ravens.
The Bengals routed the Vikings at home, 42-14, Sunday to improve to 10-5. Cincinnati clinched the AFC North when the Patriots completed their romp over the Ravens. The Bengals hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots by virtue of a 13-6 win at Paul Brown Stadium on Oct. 6. The 11-4 Patriots hold a one-game lead heading into the final week.
The top two seeds have a first-round bye in both conferences. Why is a first-round by so important? All five trips to the Super Bowl under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have occurred when the Patriots had a bye. The closest they have come to advancing to the Super Bowl without a bye was in 2006 when they won at home in the wild card round against the Jets and beat the Chargers on the road before losing to the Colts in the AFC championship.
The Patriots are 11-4 and control their destiny heading into the final week. The Patriots also have an outside chance at the No. 1 overall seed if they win and the 12-3 Broncos slip up and lose to the Raiders in Oakland. In that case, the Patriots would be the No. 1 and the Broncos would finish as the No. 2 seed.
If the Patriots lose to Buffalo and the Bengals beat the Ravens, the Patriots would finish as the No. 3 or 4 seed and be forced to play a home game in the wild card round Jan. 4-5 then heading out on the road. If that scenario unfolds, the Broncos and Bengals would receive the top two seeds and, with them, the two first-round byes. The Patriots would lose a tiebreaker with the Colts. The Patriots would finish as the No. 4 if they lose and the Colts win their season finale at home against Jacksonville.
The loss was a crushing one for the Ravens, who fall to 8-7 and saw their four-game win streak come to an end. The Ravens still can qualify for the playoffs, but their fate is no longer in their own hands. They must beat Cincinnati and hope that either Miami loses at home to the Jets, or the Chiefs beat the Chargers, or the Dolphins, Steelers and Chargers all lose.
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