|AFC playoff field set with Bengals and Colts punching their tickets||12.23.12 at 5:36 pm ET|
The Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts are headed to the playoffs.
Both teams won games on the road Sunday to clinch their postseason berths, meaning all six spots in the AFC playoffs are spoken for. The only thing to be decided is the seeding.
Josh Brown, filling in for the injured Mike Nugent, kicked a 43-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to lift the Bengals over the Steelers 13-10 at Heinz Field on Sunday, sending the Bengals into the playoffs for a second straight season for the first time in 30 years.
Brown missed a 56-yarder earlier in the quarter but earned a second chance when Reggie Nelson picked off Ben Roethlisberger and returned it to the Pittsburgh 46 with 14 seconds remaining. Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green for 21 yards on the next play, setting up Brown’s game-winner.
Moments earlier in Kansas City, the Colts punched their ticket to the postseason with a late 20-13 win over the Chiefs. Andrew Luck threw for 205 yards to break the single-season rookie record, and his touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne late in the fourth quarter provided the margin of victory.
Luck surpassed Cam Newton‘s year-old record of 4,051 yards passing by a rookie in the second quarter, and then came through in the closing minutes. He marched Indy to the Chiefs 7, and then found Wayne in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal for the go-ahead score.
Darius Butler returned an interception 32 yards against the Chiefs (2-13) for a TD, helping the Colts (10-5) join the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season.
|Josh McDaniels preparing for J.J. Watt ‘no matter where they line him up’||12.03.12 at 10:07 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots offense will have their hands full next Monday night with one of the best defensive lines in football, led by one of the best defensive linemen in the game.
J.J. Watt is second in the NFL with 15.5 sacks, two behind San Francisco’s Aldon Smith. Watt also has 59 tackles in 12 games for the 11-1 Texans this season. He is not only in the NFL defensive player of the year conversation, there are those who think the most dominant player on one of the best teams in the league season is worthy of NFL MVP consideration.
How good is he? So good that the Texans didn’t think twice about letting Mario Williams shuffle off to Buffalo after last season as a free agent.
Watt last season made the single-biggest play in the team’s first-ever playoff game, a 31-10 win over the Bengals, when he intercepted Andy Dalton on a pass block at the line of scrimmage just before halftime and raced in for a touchdown.
How will offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the Patriots prepare for the most devastating defensive end they’ve seen this season?
“With J.J. Watt, obviously he’s having a great year and obviously he’s a great player no matter where they line him up,” McDaniels said Monday. “The fact that they move him a little bit inside and outside, we’re going to have to have more than one guy ready to handle him and block him. It won’t just fall to the guard or to the tackle. It could be anybody at times, based on the way they play him. We have to do a great job of trying to simulate his effort, his motor and some of the things he does to disrupt people in the running game and the passing game and have to make sure we’re very mindful of taking care of the football and not letting him get his hands on balls, because he’s certainly created a lot of disruptive opportunities for them defensively by tipping the ball and batting the ball up in the air. [I’ve] got a ton of respect for him, their entire defense, certainly Coach Phillips and their defensive staff. We’re really looking forward to the challenge this week.”
Bill Belichick is known for taking away one offensive weapon from the opposition and making them win with secondary options. That mission changes somewhat this week as McDaniels will have the sizable task this week of meeting that objective, with an extra day to help his cause.
“Coach [Wade] Phillips does a great job and any defense that he’s coached has always been a big challenge for us or any other team and this one certainly is no different,” McDaniels said. “This is an aggressive team that plays physical, tough defense. I think they play fast. They play very hard up front and do a lot of really good things with their front three or four depending on whether they’re in base or in a sub-mode. Obviously they do a great job in terms of trying to take care of the running game.
“I think they’re second in the NFL. They’re top five in fewest points allowed. They’re certainly a good situational football team. Third down, red zone defense is excellent. And they’ve created turnovers and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this is going to be a big challenge for us. They have talented players at every level of their defense and they’re obviously very well coached, so we’re going to have to do a great job in preparing for them this week.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Stevan Ridley taking lead in battle for starting running back role||08.03.12 at 8:28 pm ET|
FOXBORO — With the departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis to Cincinnati via free agency, the Patriots entered training camp with a group of young, largely unproven backs each looking to take the helm as the new feature back for the offense. But in the early showings of camp, it appears that second-year back Stevan Ridley is outpacing fellow sophomore Shane Vereen and presumptive third down back Danny Woodhead for the starting job.
The 23-year-old Ridley enters camp as the team’s top returning rusher after finishing his 2011 regular season with 87 carries for 441 yards and one score. However, the focal points of Ridley’s rookie season heading into camp remain his two fumbles he recorded late last year: one in the season finale against Buffalo and another in the Patriots playoff victory against Denver. It was the second fumble that effectively ended Ridley’s season, as he remained inactive for the rest of the Patriots’ post season run, apparently losing the coaching staff’s confidence to hold onto the ball
“I’m not a coach. I’m just a player and I went out there and played the best I could,” Ridley said of his ball-handling after practice Friday. “Unfortunately, as a running back, you can never have the ball on the ground and that’s something that I know and that’s been since Pee Wee football.
“I have to put that behind me and focus on what’s ahead of me. That’s the future and that’s me holding onto the football. So I’m just going to go out there every day and run hard, tuck the ball and keep it high and tight and be the best that I can so I don’t repeat any mistakes.”
With his size, the 5-foot-11, 225 pound Ridley is the obvious candidate to handle the bulk of the running between the tackles, particularly as a short-yardage back, a role he’s ready to take up, but not as his sole identity in the offense. Read the rest of this entry »
|Chad Ochocinco on ‘dating Tom Brady’ and the first ‘rough year of marriage’ with Patriots||02.01.12 at 12:35 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — While he spoke for over 20 minutes at Tuesday’s Super Bowl “Media Day,” Chad Ochocinco was intent Wednesday on setting the record straight on how he feels about his first year with the Patriots, a year he hope won’t be his last.
He made no secret about his desire to come back to the Patriots next season for the second year of his three-year, $11.5 million contract, which includes a $4.5 million signing bonus agreed to in July.
“You [expletive] right. Can I curse? Don’t bleep it, I’m just being me. [Expletive] right,” Ochocinco told reporters Wednesday morning.
“Let me address this, the New England Patriots is an elite organization where everything is in house and always stays in house, it’s like Fort Knox. There are no leaks, no sources, so claimed, going around the league. There’s no such thing. So, with the media, with the fans, with everyone else, is their public opinion on what they feel might be the problem. They don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Nobody does,” he said.
Ochocinco caught just 15 passes and one touchdown this season, his first with Patriots after a late summer trade from Cincinnati landed him in Foxboro.
Is the system difficult, Ochocinco was asked.
“No, there’s no system [problem],” he said “I’m extremely intelligent, extremely intelligent. Football sense, life, the way I carry myself, the things I do, we can all see I have sense, I’m smart. It’s just that it didn’t play out the way it was supposed to play out.”
Ochocinco was also asked about his relationship with quarterback Tom Brady.
“We’re dating,” he joked with a straight face. “First year of a marriage is always rough, always rough. I’ve always had the chip on my shoulder, that’s my style, it’s the way I am. If I don’t have the chip, I’m going to create it by saying something to someone who had to deal with me that week. I’m just going to be quiet.”
Brady praised Ocho’s work ethic on Wednesday once again.
“This playoff run, this Super Bowl is very meaningful. Many would say it didn’t go the way I would like it, not up to my expectations. Everybody can see that, but I don’t think this season negates a career of what I consider greatness, worth of fun. To get to this point quietly, most people call it bittersweet, but it’s a blessing. People will play this game for years, for years and many names, many greats without having a chance to sniff the Super Bowl. To be able to be here, regardless of how this season went is a blessing, period. Especially where I’ve come from, what I’ve been through. To get to this, not just this stage, but the NFL in general. I’m happy, it could be my last one. There’s no reason to hang my head, there’s no reason to be upset. It is what it is and I’m still smiling. I’ve been smiling all year.”
Would it be hard for him to watch the Patriots win the Super Bowl if he doesn’t play?
“Why would it be hard? When you’re part of a team, I mean there’s nothing hard about it at all,” he said. “There’s always a way to be yourself in the ‘Patriot Way.’ Look at Aaron Hernandez. Aaron Hernandez is nothing but me in the ‘Patriot Way.’”
While conforming to the “Patriot Way,” Ocho insisted he is still enjoying his first Super Bowl week as a participant.
“Yeah, most definitely. I can still have fun,” Ochocinco said. “I sort of have to feel my way through it first. This season’s been, it’s more of a feel my way through it. It’s a learning process. You just can’t come into something new and just bust the door down and say, ‘Hey, I’m here.’” Read the rest of this entry »
|Chad Ochocinco keeps in sync – and in tune – with his teammates||01.28.12 at 12:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Chad Ochocinco has battled through a long, arduous season.
He lost his father the week before the AFC championship, attending his funeral and returning too late to be active for the game.
He has sought out the advice and counseling of fellow diva receivers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.
But say this for Ocho, he is still beloved by his teammates and he has returned that love with a symbol of something he holds near and dear to his heart – his music.
Every teammate received a pair of the Beats by Dre, courtesy of Ocho, a story first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and confirmed by Patriots offensive lineman Nick McDonald, who tweeted his appreciation Saturday morning.
@NMcDonald65 tweeted: Thanks ocho.. You the man
Ochocinco bought the 70 headphones for each of his teammates to have during the team flight to Indianapolis on Sunday for Super Bowl XLVI.
Beats By Dre, created by legendary hip-hop producer Dr. Dre, start at $100 each. Ocho owns a pair of custom gold-plated “Beats” valued at $2,400.
Ochocinco signed a three-year, $11.5 million deal with the Patriots on July 29, after being acquired in a trade with Cincinnati. The deal included a $4.5 million signing bonus. Clearly, Ocho is enjoying his first successful playoff run after first-round exits with the Bengals in 2005 and 2009.
|Vince Wilfork: ‘I’m not ready to stop this year’||01.06.12 at 10:31 am ET|
FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork has seen more action this year at nose tackle than any year since coming onto the scene in 2004.
According to Pro Football Focus, he played in 978 of his team’s 1,134 snaps, a remarkable 86 percent of his team’s snaps. In Washington on Dec. 11, when he recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD for New England’s first score, he missed just one of 75 defensive snaps.
You would figure fatigue would set in eventually. Not for Vince, not this season.
“I never look at it,” Wilfork said this week. “I know I’ve played a lot this year, but I think everybody even guys that have played 20 plays or 100 plays less than me probably feel the same way as me. It’s just a long season when you’re talking meetings, you’re talking walkthroughs, you’re talking practice, and you’re talking more meetings and then you’re talking about games. There are a lot of weeks we’ve put into this season, definitely don’t want it to end soon. This week is a big week for us, so we have to [use] the time to actually get some rest and you know that’s a big, big step for us, I mean, that’s a big, big – for myself and I’m pretty sure everyone in this locker room, coaches included.
“You get a chance to be just around your family and kick back your heels; don’t have to wake up too early. You know, just sleep in for once and your body knows when you need it. And I think this bye comes at a perfect time for us, but at the same time we have some work to do. While we’re here we’ll work, but when we do get our chance to get off our feet and get a chance to sit back and kick your legs up and watch some football over the weekend, take advantage of it. Guys have to take advantage of it because I’m planning on playing for a long time. I’m not ready to stop this year, not yet.”
Still, Wilfork is going to savor this weekend of rest, sitting back as the Bengals and Texans do battle on Saturday and the beat-up Steelers travel to Mile High to take on Tim Tebow and the Broncos on Sunday. The Patriots will be playing either the Bengals, Steelers or Broncos a week from Saturday night at Gillette.
“You know that’s one thing that we can do now. We have no control over who we play. One thing we do have control over is how we can prepare to better this football team, things that we can work on that can help us, the strengths that we have, continue to get better. It’ just things that the New England Patriots can do with each other that can make us a better football team. That’s one thing that we want to try and accomplish with this bye, so with that and being able to get healthy. Read the rest of this entry »
|Setting the scene: Patriots-Bills||01.01.12 at 9:59 am ET|
FOXBORO — You can leave those heavy winter coats and wool socks at home if you’re planning on attending the Patriots-Bills regular season finale today at Gillette Stadium.
Mother Nature apparently had a good New Year’s Eve and is in a giving mood, presenting the Patriots and Bills with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-40s for today’s finale of the 2011 season on New Year’s Day 2012.
There will be some wind to contend with but it’s predicted to be no more than 10-15 MPH out of the south-southwest so wind chill shouldn’t be a factor.
The 12-3 Patriots will clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs for a second straight season with a win. If they lose to the Bills, they will have to sit, wait and hope the 11-4 Ravens and 11-4 Steelers both lose their 4:15 p.m. games to gain home field and the No. 1 seed.
The Ravens are on the road in Cincinnati and have motivation to win since they clinch the AFC North with a victory over the Bengals while the Steelers are also on the road, in Cleveland, battling the Browns with a banged up Ben Roethlisberger.
As for the Patriots, a win would put Bill Belichick in the rarest of air among NFL coaches all-time. He would become the first head coach in the Super Bowl era with five seasons of at least 13 wins.
In addition to the unbeaten 16-0 regular season of 2007, Belichick’s Patriots won 14 games in 2003, ’04 and ’10. He is already the first coach in NFL history with nine straight seasons of at least 10 wins, a streak that began in 2003.
Adding to Belichick’s resume is another remarkable stat, his Patriots teams haven’t been swept in a season series since 2000, his first year in New England, when the Patriots went 5-11. The Jets and Dolphins turned the trick in that season but the Bills have a chance to sweep the series with the Patriots for the first time since 1999.
The Bills, of course, had the chance in 2003, when they won the infamous “Lawyer Milloy” game, 31-0 in the season opener. The Patriots exacted revenge by the identical score in the season finale that year at Gillette. The Bills have lost all nine lifetime meetings at Gillette and haven’t won in New England since sweeping the season series in ’99. Read the rest of this entry »
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
- Bill Belichick and The Greatest Coaches Ever
- New England Patriots Links 5/23/13 - Amendola, Jenkins Top Receivers at...
- Patriots Claim OT Kevin Haslam; Waive R.J. Mattes
- Patriots Spend League High $140K In Guaranteed Money For UDFAs
- New England Patriots Links 5/22/13 - Talib: OTAs About 'Getting Down the...
- The Potential Importance Of Jake Ballard
- Four Missing From Second Day Of Patriots OTAs