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Devin McCourty after facing Russell Wilson in college: ‘I always thought he was a really, really good quarterback’ 01.26.15 at 11:06 pm ET
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Devin McCourty is no stranger to facing Russell WIlson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty is no stranger to facing Russell Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Sunday’s Super Bowl won’t be the first time Patriots safety Devin McCourty will be in a secondary opposing Russell Wilson at quarterback.

Besides when the two faced each other in 2012 in the NFL, the pair faced off when they were in college in the 2008 Papa John’s.com bowl — a game in which McCourty’s Rutgers’ Scarlet Knights team got the best of Wilson’s NC State Wolfpack, 29-23. Wilson was injured in the second half of the game and would later transfer to Wisconsin.

Having weeks to prepare for the game, McCourty watched a lot of film on Wilson and liked what we saw even then.

“I played him in college, so I always thought he was a really, really good quarterback,” McCourty said. “He kind of ate us up in college, so watching him, to me the amazing part is to see, you know, what we saw in college, him being able to still do it at a high level in the NFL. With staying in the pocket and throwing some balls deep down the field in spots that only the receiver can get it, and then also having the ability when a play breaks down to make three guys miss and then find a wide open guy.

“Usually when you do that in college the first thing they tell you is when you get to the NFL, everyone’€™s bigger, stronger, faster, you won’€™t be able to do that, and he still is able to do that. Watching him, I still see some of the great things he did in college, he does in the NFL.’€

Wilson threw for 3,475 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, while also running for 849 yards and six touchdowns, making him a tough quarterback to prepare for.

“A lot of things he does I don’€™t think any team in this league has a guy that can show you that in practice,” said McCourty. “You don’€™t have Russell Wilson in your locker room to practice against. I don’€™t care what quarterback you have on your roster. You can’€™t practice against it. So, a little bit of it is once you get out there in the game, realizing how fast he is or how deep he can throw the ball, all those things you won’€™t see until you get out there and you play against him. So I don’€™t know if it’€™s as much in the right place at the right time, but I think it’€™s more just his playmaking ability.”

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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Devin McCourty, Russell Wilson, Super Bowl XLIX
Devin McCourty on MFB: Deflategate ‘out of our control’ 01.23.15 at 12:11 pm ET
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Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty joined Middays with MFB on Friday as the Patriots try to put Deflategate behind them and focus on preparing for the Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

McCourty said the controversy over the underinflated footballs might be big news for the rest of the nation, but it has not been a major issue in the locker room.

“I’ve been focused on winning,” McCourty said. “To go last time and to lose, the only thing this year, being back in the Super Bowl, that I’ve thought about is winning the game. I think us as a team, putting that as our focus allows to ignore everything else going on. Because the rest of that is out of our control. The only thing we can control is being prepared and trying to win on Sunday.”

Added McCourty: “This team has done a lot of hard work, we’ve earned the right to go to the Super Bowl, winning the AFC. I wish the focus was on that, but it’s not. I can’t control that. But that’s where my focus is. Even today, doing all the media, I told them that’s what I want to talk about, this opportunity playing against the Seahawks, a great team. But we have to put a lot of work in for us. As a team, that’s where our focus is. That’s where it needs to be if we don’t want to go out there and get embarrassed in Arizona.”

Brady addressed his teammates before speaking to the media about the issue Thursday, but McCourty said stays between the QB and the team.

“I don’t think there’s a reason to really discuss that anymore,” McCourty said. “We’re kind of past that as a team.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Devin McCourty, Tom Brady,
Phyllis Harrell is one proud ‘MamaMcCourty’ as Devin McCourty brags about best football family on Patriots 01.17.15 at 12:51 pm ET
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Devin McCourty speaks Friday on his fourth straight AFC title game appearance. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Devin McCourty speaks Friday on his fourth straight AFC title game appearance. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Phyllis Harrell is rightfully proud of her two football sons. After all, it’s not often you get to celebrate not one but two of your kids being simultaneously recognized for their community service and generosity in the same year.

Such is the case with twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty.

They are two of the 32 players who, in December, were named their team’s Man of the Year and nominees for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The NFL-wide winner will be announced Super Bowl eve in Glendale.

Since joining the Patriots in 2010, McCourty has been one of the most active players in the New England community, regularly volunteering to assist the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’€™s many initiatives, volunteering countless hours to help others. McCourty has also teamed with his twin brother, Jason, who plays for the Tennessee Titans, to start a foundation to help fight Sickle Cell, a disease that has affected members of his own family.

On Friday, McCourty was reminded that his mom went to Twitter to show her pride, tweeting, “Words can’t describe how proud this makes me. :)”

Devin’s reaction?

“She did a good job,” McCourty quipped, referring presumably to both the social media tweetup and the raising of her two sons.

“It’€™s an honor. I think that speaks more about who you are as a person than as a football player,” McCourty said, adding a serious tone. “I think that’€™s what’€™s important in life. A lot of what we do is god given ability, not much we had to do being able to be out here playing football, you know. It’€™s hard work but god gave us those abilities, but to go out and be recognized for your work in the community and service I think that’€™s an honor of who you are as a person.”

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, New England Patriots
Why the Patriots (despite recent history) won’t be overconfident against Andrew Luck, Colts in AFC title game at 10:27 am ET
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FOXBORO — There’s been plenty of predictions this week on the AFC championship game and precious few have Andrew Luck breaking through a glass ceiling and beating the Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl.

Most prognosticators have the Patriots taking care of business on the Gillette Stadium turf and making preparations for their sixth Super Bowl trip in the Bill Belichick era. After all, this is the fourth time Luck and the Colts are playing the Patriots in the last three years. All previous three have ended in Patriots romps. There was the 59-28 game in 2012 when Rob Gronkowski broke his arm blocking an extra point with Sergio Brown in the vicinity of the crime.

There was the 43-22 kicking of the Colts in last year’s AFC divisional round at Gillette. And this year, there was the 42-20 butt-whooping at Lucas Oil Stadium. That’s a collective 144-70 margin of victory.

Overconfident?

“I think overconfidence is not preparing. I think if you prepare I think you give yourself the right and the chance to be confident going in there,” Devin McCourty said Friday. “I think if you don’€™t prepare, you try to fool yourself with being overconfident. That’€™s not something I really worry about with this team. We have a blue collar team and it starts with our quarterback.

And the competitive fire or preparation of Tom Brady has never come into question, as was again revealed this week.

In short, a Bill Belichick team doesn’t get to this stage and ever feel like it’s not prepared for battle. That doesn’t guarantee a victory but you never get the sense that the team was overconfident or not prepared going into the contest.

“There’€™s been plenty of games that we’€™ve played away on the road and on the plane after a win, and as everyone is up walking around, he’€™s in his seat watching film,” McCourty added. “It starts there and it trickles down throughout this whole team. I think this game, being the biggest game of the year, we’€™ve gone over everything as a group [and] talked about everything. I think that gives us the opportunity to be confident going into the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 playoffs, AFC Championship, Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower
Game-changers: Patriots prepare for heightened intensity of playoff football 12.28.14 at 8:04 pm ET
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Matthew Slater know the game changes when the postseason rolls around. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater know the game changes when the postseason rolls around. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In the wake of Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Bills, the Patriots will spend the next few days flipping the calendar — and the mindset — from the regular season to the postseason. The veterans who have been through the playoff grind in years past understand the pace of the game also shifts. Things get quicker, and considerably more intense.

Linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who has played in nine playoff games since joining the Patriots in 2009, said that the best way to describe the changes in the pace of the game for a rookie (or any young player who has never experienced the postseason before) is that the move from the regular season to the postseason brings the same sort of spike in intensity players get when they move from the preseason into the regular season.

“Everything is magnified,” he said following Sunday’s contest against the Bills. “Everything means that much more, and it always comes down to a play here, a play there, for the outcome of these games. It comes down to execution — the best teams are in the playoffs. You have to really work hard during the week and prepare well to know who you’re playing and understand what they do well. It all comes down to studying.”

“That comparison is adequate,” said special teams captain Matthew Slater when told of Ninkovich’s assessment. “It’s like going from preseason to regular season. It’ll be like nothing they’ve experienced before. They’ve got to realize everything is on the line. The whole season. It started back in OTAs, it’s all on the line now. There’s got to be a sense of urgency, a sense of purpose, a drive that every play in practice and in the game is the season. That’s the message we have to send out as leaders on this team. And hopefully, everybody understands that.”

Then, there’s the danger that comes with resting on your laurels. The Patriots finished the regular season with a 12-4 mark and the top seed in the AFC, but now that the playoffs loom, everyone is back to 0-0.

“I think it’s important for us to understand all we’ve done is we’ve put ourselves in good position, but the real work remains,” Slater said. “I think what we have to do over the next week-and-a-half or so is to make sure our focus is on continuing to show improvement. The teams that are able to continue to improve at this point in the season will move forward. For us, what we’ve done in the 16 games over the course of the regular season isn’t good enough. We have to keep getting better.

“And the other half of that is taking advantage of the bye. Guys getting rest. That doesn’t mean guys flying all over the country. That doesn’t mean guys staying up late. We have to do a good job of taking are of ourselves physically, or that bye really doesn’t mean anything if we don’t do that.”

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Read More: Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Rob Ninkovich,
‘Air Vince’ Wilfork shows he’s got the ups to join Patriots FG block party 12.21.14 at 7:18 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Nothing like a 6-foot-2, 325-pound nose tackle making like Michael Jordan to save a game with a blocked field goal.

Vince Wilfork became the fourth Patriots player this year to block a field goal, and the second one to save a potential game-winning kick by the Jets’ Nick Folk.

“Blocking a field goal by Air Vince, we’ve got to do those things,” Devin McCourty said.

On Sept. 14, Chandler Jones got the block party going with a block of Vikings kick toward the end of the first half. He returned it for a touchdown. On Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium, Chris Jones preserved a 27-25 win with a last-second bat down. Against the Dolphins, it was Jamie Collins doing the honors on the game’s first drive, leading to a Kyle Arrington scoop and score.

Sunday, it was Wilfork’s turn. With 5:21 left, Wilfork moved over to his right, jumped up and got his right hand up high enough to block Folk’s 52-yard attempt.

“I just filled a soft A-gap, making sure that I was legal, not covering up the center and at the same time, being able to get vertical in that lane,” Wilfork said. “I felt that I had a good shot of getting some penetration, so it worked out well. That is just one of the plays that (we had) opportunities on. I had a good opportunity to make a play and I did for the team. It was nothing special that I did. I just penetrated a little bit and got my hands up and got a piece of it. I’€™m glad it helped my team win a ball game. That is what it is all about, the wins, and we walk away with another one.”

Read More: Devin McCourty, Michael Jordan, New England Patriots, New York Jets
Why stopping the Jets on third down means everything to Patriots 12.19.14 at 8:02 pm ET
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Devin McCourty and the Patriots defense must find a way to stop Jets on third down. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty and the Patriots defense must find a way to stop Jets on third down. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Before Chris Jones saved the day with a blocked field goal attempt by Nick Folk on the game’s last play, Bill Belichick remembers exactly how the Patriots found themselves in such a precarious position with the lowly Jets on Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots allowed Geno Smith and the Jets to convert 9-of-16 third down chances to extend drives.

“Yeah, killed us,” Belichick recalled Friday morning.

Devin McCourty was a bit more expansive.

“Big point [of emphasis],” McCourty said. “They dominated third down and that gave the ability to dominate the time of possession and keep our offense off the field, keep them in long drive, help them really be able to pound the ball against us. We’ve got to play better on third down.

“Every week, we talk about third down and red area being a lot of times the determining factor in a game. I think it’s no different this week and now, coming up to a game where we’ve already played them, they were over 50 percent on third. It was evidence in watching that film, that third down really killed us.”

If there’s one sure way to keep the 3-11 Jets hanging around on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it’s allowing them to convert 56 percent of their chances on third down, keeping the Patriots’ defense on the field for extended period.

“Third down was a big problem for us in that game on both sides of the ball,” Belichick said. “It’€™s been a problem for us with them. We don’€™t have the ball very long on offense and we’€™re out there on the field too long on defense. It’€™s us converting them and it’€™s us, well, it’€™s converting them on both sides.”

By contrast, the Patriots converted just 6-of-13 chances (46 percent) on that soggy Thursday night. That night in October, the Jets found a way to convert nine third downs, outrush the Patriots 218-63, outdistance the Patriots in first downs (28-16) and outlast New England in time of possession (40:54-19:06). The Patriots somehow found a way to win.

“It’€™s us converting them offensively to stay on the field and it’€™s us converting them defensively to get off the field and get the ball back for our offense and with good field position,” Belichick added. “We haven’€™t made them punt very much. We just have too many, they have too many extended drives and we’€™ve had too many short ones.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots, New York Jets
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