|11.23.14 at 8:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Last week the Patriots ran for 246 yards on the ground. This week the Patriots threw for 349 yards in the air.
Despite the different styles, the results were the virtually the same — a 33-17 win over the Colts last week, and a 34-9 win over the Lions this week.
The ability to win different ways, and play a different style of football each week depending on the opponent could go a long way, as the Patriots close out the regular-season and gear up for the likely postseason.
“We did a decent job so it was good to ‘ I thought we got off to a good start and then played from ahead,” Brady said. “We struggled a little bit there in the third quarter, but rallied there in the fourth. It was a good win. I thought a lot of guys made a lot of great plays. Some penalties really held us back from being a little bit more consistent, but it was a good game. Whatever it takes, we’re going to try to figure out, whatever it takes.”
Brady had another strong game Sunday, going 38-for-53 passing for 349 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. It was Brady’s 63rd 300-yard passing game of his career, which ties him with Dan Marino for third on the all-time NFL list.
The quarterback also did a tremendous job of spreading the ball around, as he has the majority of the seven-game win streak, as he completed five or more passes to five different receivers in Sunday’s win.
|11.23.14 at 7:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Although he may not get the recognition like Rob Gronkowski or Tom Brady, there is no denying a major reason for the Patriots’ seven-game win streak has been the play of wide receiver Brandon LaFell.
Over the last six games, LaFell has caught 37 passes on 53 targets for 489 yards and four touchdowns, emerging as a third option for Brady besides Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.
LaFell continued his strong play Sunday with nine catches on 12 targets for 98 yards.
“It feels great to be where I’m at now compared to where I was at at the beginning of the season,” he said following the game. “Going out there, putting together good games back-to-back, earning time, trust, and the coaching staff’s trust. And the trust of my teammates to depend on me in big-time situations like it was today; to come to me in that situation. So it feels good, but as a whole offense and as a whole team, it feels good to be in the position we are at now.”
The first-year Patriot did go down awkwardly on his last catch of the game — late in the fourth quarter — landing hard on his shoulder and did not play another snap, but LaFell says he’s fine.
“I’m good. If we had a game tonight, I’d be ready to play,” LaFell said. “I’m good, I won’t miss [any] time. My body’s feeling great.”
The receiver has developed a good relationship with Brady on back-shoulder throws, something Brady eluded to during his weekly press conference this week. LaFell said it is a good way to stretch out defenses.
|11.23.14 at 7:26 pm ET|
The win improved the Patriots to 9-2 on the season, guaranteeing their 14th straight winning season, the fifth such longest streak in NFL history. The Patriots are also just the third team since the 1970 merger to record 14 straight winning seasons, two shy of the Cowboys (1970-86) and the 49ers (1983-98).
It was also New England’s 15th straight win at home, 12 shy of the NFL record of 27 set by the Miami Dolphins from 1971-74.
|11.23.14 at 7:15 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Pick your poison. The Lions chose to double Rob Gronkowski often on Sunday in the red zone. That part worked but the Patriots killed the Lions with a heavy dose of Tim Wright, who caught a pair of touchdowns, including one where Tom Brady had no choice to but to throw it to him.
Wright caught a 4-yard TD pass over the middle in the first quarter as the Patriots took the lead for good. In the second quarter, Wright caught a pass in the end zone when there wasn’t a Lion within 10 yards of him.
Wright admitted after the Patriots’ 34-9 win Sunday that he was grateful for the attention Gronk drew, leaving him in single coverage or no coverage at all.
“We both work hard and try to play off of each other,” Wright said. “However the dice may fall, however the defense plays it, who doubles who, the other guy just has to be ready for the opportunity. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”
Wright caught three more passes in the second half but none for touchdowns and finished with just 36 yards receiving. But it was the red zone where Wright made it matter most.
“The Lions have a great defense all around,” Wright said. “We knew going into that game that whatever that role is, we had to stick to it and that’s what we had to utilize for that game. We did a great job. The [offensive] line held up great. Tom delivered. He does what he does all the time, and just the receivers getting open and doing their job.”
This was particularly important going in since the Lions fearsome front seven figured to rush the quarterback at all costs.
“We knew timing was critical going into it and the offensive line did a great job all week of sticking together and creating a scheme to defeat their d-line, defeat the pass rush. Give Tom time to deliver the ball, that’s what he did, and the receivers on the perimeter ran great routes and we got it done.”
Wright caught his fifth and sixth touchdowns of the season, a new career best, making that trade of Logan Mankins look better and better as the season goes on.
“It’s definitely rewarding,” Wright said. “Like I said, every phase of the ball is important to this game that we play. As long as everyone works hard during the week, it will pay off on Sunday.”
|11.23.14 at 6:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Things got interesting at the end of the Lions-Patriots game Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
It all started when the Patriots were attempting a 20-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining and Lions’ defensive tackle C.J. Mosley jumped Patriots long-snapper Danny Aiken. It drew a personal foul penalty and an automatic first down. Instead of just taking a knee to run out the clock, the Patriots handed it off to LeGarrette Blount for his second touchdown run of the game.
Things didn’t end there as when the Lions were taking a knee to officially end the game, Lions center Dominic Raiola dove at the knees Patriots nose tackle Zach Moore (see Vine below). Also, Blount and Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh reportedly exchanged words after the game, too. Suh left the Lions locker room before the media was allowed in.
“I cut him,” Raiola said via the Detroit Free Press. “We took a knee, so I cut the nose (tackle). They went for (a touchdown). They went for a touchdown at two minutes. They could have took three knees and the game could have been over. It’s football. He wants to keep playing football, let’s play football. Not a big deal. It’s football.”
Vince Wilfork didn’t agree.
“I didn’t see anything,” said Wilfork. “I just heard what happened, but that was stupid. I didn’t see it, but from what I heard … You’re taking a knee. They’d get mad if we were just to blow up one of their players, so I mean, it’s just uncalled for. But at the same time, you always have to protect yourself, so you always have to play with your neck on a swivel and being alert for 60 minutes and it came down to it today on a bonehead play like that. But luckily no one got hurt and we can move on.”
Final play of the game and Raiola does this. Ridiculous. https://t.co/TxP1fHyANW
‘ Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) November 23, 2014
|11.23.14 at 6:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Jonas Gray was the star of the game last Sunday night in Indianapolis. On Sunday, he was the center of attention again after another big Patriots win for a much less desirable reason.
Gray suited up but stayed on the sideline the whole game Sunday, watching his teammates beat up the Lions, 34-9, at Gillette Stadium for their seventh straight win. Gray showed up late Friday morning to Gillette Stadium and earn Bill Belchick’s wrath by suffering the indignity of not playing.
In other words, the Patriots beat the Lions playing a man down.
“We’re moving past that,” Gray said in a brief 25-second statement in front of his locker. “I’m glad we got the team win. I think it would’ve stung more if I didn’t play and we had lost the game. I’m happy for these guys. I just wish I was able to contribute the win but I was glad we came away with the victory and these guys played great.”
Was Sunday’s action indeed discipline for showing up late Friday morning?
“I can’t confirm or deny,” Gray said. “Just moving on and glad we got the victory.”
Belichick’s explanation: “We do what we think is best. That’s what we did today.”
LeGarrette Blount took advantage by running 12 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns on a day when the Patriots ran the ball just 20 times for 90 yards. The Patriots passed it 53 times in the win.
|11.23.14 at 6:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO — These guys are good.
Once again the Patriots secondary, particularly Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, rose to the occasion against a proven Detroit Lions receiving core, and led the way in the Patriots’ 34-9, runaway win Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots secondary certainly mixed things up against star wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, but for the most part it was Browner lining up across from Johnson and Revis across from Tate.
“They had a great game plan to limit myself and CJ [Calvin Johnson],” Tate said. “This is one of those games that [we’re] thankful we have a short week and we’re going to have an opportunity to get this out of our system quickly. It’s embarrassing. We have to chalk it up and have a short-term memory. That is the most important thing — not to lose our swagger, not to lose our confidence.”
By our count, Browner lined up across from Johnson on 60 snaps, while Revis did twice. Against Tate, Revis was across from him 59 times, Browner twice, Kyle Arington twice and Ryan once. The Patriots did drop into zone coverage on a few of those occasions, but that was the look they gave at the line.
Tate finished with four catches for 97 yards on 10 targets, while Johnson finished with four catches for 58 yards on 10 targets.