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Bills shoot themselves in the foot with a boatload of penalties 11.11.12 at 6:48 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When all was said and done at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots narrowly escaped the Bills with a win, thanks in large part to a penalty-ridden Buffalo team Sunday. The Bills racked up 14 total penalties for a total of 148 yards and still managed to gain 481 yards of offense, including 162 on the ground against the league’€™s eighth-best rush defense.

On the first offensive series alone for the Bills, a third-and-1 situation turned into a third-and-26 after three consecutive flags were thrown ‘€“ two for a false start and one for holding. It was certainly an indication of the way things would turn out.

After the game, Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson said that some of the defensive pass interference calls against his team were ‘€œbogus,’€ because the same calls could have gone both ways yet it seemed like the yellow laundry didn’t fly as much for the home team.

‘€œWe’€™d go down and have a fade rout, and the guy’€™s, he’€™s holding me too,’€ Johnson said. ‘€œI’€™m not saying that his was a pass interference either, but if you called it on Stephon [Gilmore], you have to call it on their defensive player also.

‘€œIt’€™s something that we’ve got to fix as far as offsides go. We’ve got to fix that on our own. But some of the calls were pretty weak, and some of it was football.’€

Gilmore said afterwards that he didn’t know what else he could do to try and defend the throw, and tried to explain the pass interference call on him.

‘€œI don’€™t know what happened. I don’€™t know what else I can do,’€ Gilmore said. ‘€œOn the first penalty, he ran into me, and the ball bounced off of him. On the second penalty I was running with him and he tripped on my feet, and they threw the penalty on me.’€

There is no timely penalty in the NFL, but for the Bills it seemed that some of the flags thrown came at points during the game when the Patriots struggled to get offensive production. Safety George Wilson said that ultimately it came down to the fact that they put themselves in a tough position to win based on their foul trouble.

‘€œThey started calling the game real closely on their own,’€ Wilson said. ‘€œ[The Patriots] weren’t moving the ball with offensive production. It wasn’t anything they were doing to us; we just have to be smarter and not put ourselves in that position.’€

Read More: Buffalo Bills, George Wilson, New England Patriots, Stephon Gilmore
A fine stitch: Rob Gronkowski is making an art form of the seam route 09.27.11 at 1:25 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It has quickly become one of the trademarks of the highest-powered offense in the game. It’s bigger than a single receiver or running back. It even starred in the recent Bill Belichick biography on the NFL Network.

It is the seam route.

Anyone watching the Patriots decimate the Bills in the opening 20 minutes Sunday saw plenty of examples of just how proficient Tom Brady has become in isolating a receiver in the slot on a mismatched safety or linebacker. The receiver finds a gap between the outside cornerback and the closest defender on the inside of the defense and splits the seam almost evenly, allowing the quarterback to hit the receiver in stride.

It has already produced four touchdowns directly and been the key play in several other scoring drives in the opening three games, a three-game stretch that has seen Brady throw for an NFL-record 1,327 yards.

The most notable example of course was 1st-and-10 at the Patriots 1 on opening night in Miami. The Patriots had just stopped the Dolphins on 4th-and-goal at the 1, protecting a 14-point lead when Brady spotted Wes Welker on his left, isolated.

He wasted little team finding enough space in the seam to fire the ball to Welker. And 99 yards later, Brady, Welker and the Patriots made history with the longest play in franchise history, just the 13th 99-yard TD play in NFL history. Aaron Hernandez has become another favorite of Brady’s on the route. And as we all saw on Sunday, when Hernandez isn’t available due to his knee injury, Rob Gronkowski has no problem filling the void.

“Whatever it is, whatever the coaches want me to do. We just have one tight end, we just go in with our game plan. It is what it is, definitely whatever it is the coaches bring out, we definitely have to perform.”

It’s a simple enough route if you have a quarterback accurate enough to thread the needle consistently, and Sunday in Western New York aside, Brady certainly qualifies. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: A Football Life, Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Buffalo Bills
Latest news on NFL labor situation as of Friday afternoon 07.22.11 at 3:07 pm ET
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Here’€™s the latest when it comes to the NFL labor situation, as of Friday afternoon:

‘€¢There is still no word on whether or not the players will hold a vote on the proposed deal that was ratified by the owners on Thursday afternoon, with the NFLPA going into shutdown mode early Friday morning shortly after the following announcement was made: ‘€œPlayer leadership is discussing the most recent written proposal with the NFL, which includes a settlement agreement, deal terms and the right process for addressing recertification. There will not be any further NFLPA statements today out of respect for the Kraft family while they mourn the loss of Myra Kraft.’€ (NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith was in New England for the service.)

One player rep who was talking was George Wilson of the Buffalo Bills, who told NFL Network shortly after noon that there was no upcoming conference call scheduled with the NFLPA members. He also sounded a far more optimistic note than many of the players did Thursday night when the owners first agreed to the deal. ‘€œWe’€™ve come too far to let personal differences or emotions to come into play to stop the process,’€ Wilson said. ‘€œWe’€™re just asking for a sufficient amount of time.’€

‘€¢As of Friday afternoon, the players haven’€™t agreed to the proposal, but it’€™s clear that many of the Patriots have started to return to New England, presumably for the start of training camp. Several Twitter feeds from the players ‘€” including rookies ‘€” have shown that they are in the process of returning or have already gotten back to New England and have started to settle in anticipation of the season ahead. It certainly appears that once things do get going, whether it’€™s next week or the week after, the Patriots will be able to hit the ground running.

‘€¢Representatives from all 32 teams underwent a tutorial Friday in Atlanta, preparing them for the intricacies of the new system, a session that hit on everything from the new salary cap rules (including the new rookie wage scale) to free agency to the signing of players. Several changes to the system have reportedly been proposed as part of the new agreement, including limiting the offseason workouts to nine weeks and holding only 14 padded practices over the course of the entire regular season (and one padded practice per week in the postseason), none of which can exceed three hours in length.

‘€¢According to Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network, the players are still pushing for what he calls a ‘€œseat at the table’€ when it comes to the disciplinary process on the players. Lombardi says players don’€™t want Roger Goodell to be ‘€œjudge and jury’€ on disciplinary issues. However, many of those issues cannot be tackle until the players’ union recertifies, which is becoming a greater issue than either side first anticipated.

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, George Wilson, lockout, Michael Lombardi
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