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Heath Evans on M&M: ‘Never going to convince’ Marshall Faulk that Patriots didn’t cheat in Super Bowl XXXVI 01.31.14 at 11:48 am ET
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NFL Network analyst Heath Evans, a former Patriots fullback, joined Mut & Merloni from Super Bowl Radio Row on Friday to preview the Super Bowl and respond to Marshall Faulk‘s Spygate comments from a day earlier. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On Thursday, Faulk appeared on Mut & Merloni and indicated that he holds a grudge toward the Patriots, who upset his Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, implying that they gained an advantage from illegal videotaping.

“When you have that blood, sweat and tears mixed into a lost Super Bowl vs. the Patriots, and then you hear all the conflicting reports about what could be or what was or what wasn’t, the bottom line is that you just start throwing it all, ‘Well, everything they did, they won because they were cheating,’ ” Evans responded. “Well, the bottom line is, we know for a fact as a team that the day when Bill [Belichick] came in and squashed that whole thing, we know there was a whole bunch of other teams that current time, in that day and age in ’07, that were doing the same exact thing. It was just kind of the standard policy that, OK, if you get caught you take the tape and you just kind of let it hush-hush. Well, [then-Jets coach Eric] Mangini had his panties in a wad, kind of broke rank, and end of story.

“You go back to those Super Bowls, Marshall doesn’t know for a fact that anything was done. It’s speculation. Therefore, it’s a non-conversation. If it was facts, then we could argue facts. But opinions? I’m never going to convince Marshall. We’ve had these same conversations.”

Added Evans: “When you’re in it, and your life’s invested in this, and then you feel something has been taken away from you — I look back at 2007 and I listen to some of the conversations that I’ve had with Bill and the conversations we had right after that game. It had nothing to do with taping; it had the fact that we drifted away from our game plan and we fell right into the trap of what the Giants would want us to do. We became a pass-happy team instead of cramming it down [Michael] Strahan‘s throat.

“Well, it is what it is. Now we live with 18-1 for the rest of our lives. There’s nothing we can do about it. But it had nothing to do with taping some signals Week 1 vs. the Jets. We beat them by 40 points. We could have given them all our signals and we still would have beaten them by 25.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Heath Evans, Julian Edelman
Marshall Faulk on M&M: ‘Just ironic’ that Patriots have not won another Super Bowl since Spygate 01.30.14 at 1:42 pm ET
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Marshall Faulk

Marshall Faulk

Former Colts and Rams running back Marshall Faulk checked in with Mut & Merloni from Super Bowl Radio Row on Thursday, and he made it clear he still holds a grudge for what he perceives to be cheating on the Patriots’ part before their Super Bowl win over Faulk’s Rams in 2002. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“Here’s the thing: In the NFL, you don’t get fined for nothing. All right? Let’s understand that. OK? We’re smart, we’re businessmen, and it’s about protecting the brand, protecting the shield,” Faulk said. “Now, you tell me, at anything that you do, if you find out somebody cheats you in any little way, that you’re OK with it. I mean, you’re not a competitor. You’re not a competitor if you’re OK with it. I’m a competitor. That’s what I am.

“It’s not like I hadn’t played that team before. It’s not like I didn’t know what they were going to do to me. That’s fine. And up until that day that we found out that information, you had never heard me say anything about that team or about what they did. And I still consider [Bill] Belichick one of the greatest coaches. I still consider Tom Brady one of the greatest players. That team and what they did, and went on that run, it was great. The only thing that bothers me is there’s something that exists that gives us doubt on why the game went the way it did.”

Faulk would not come out and directly say the Patriots cheated — and a story implying a Patriots staffer taped a Rams walkthrough never was verified — but Faulk noted that the Patriots have not won a championship since the Spygate scandal broke.

Said Faulk: “The question is, how did they become a championship team? … Listen, I’m not going to be the only one to say this: Ever since they got fined and, ‘OK, we’re not doing that anymore,’ they’ve won how many Super Bowls?”

Asked directly if he feels the facts lead him to the opinion that the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl since being punished for videotaping opposing coaches, Faulk danced around the question.

“I’m just telling you how I feel about it. If that’s your perception of what I’m saying, then that’s your perception,” he said. “I’m not taking anything away from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady; they’re great. I’m going to continue to tell you that. They’re great. They’ve won, boy, I don’t know how many games, how many AFC championships, eight? … You don’t do that without getting some things accomplished.

“I’m just telling you it’s just ironic that that’s the case.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, marshall faulk, Robert Kraft
What pundits were saying about Patriots on Sunday 12.09.13 at 8:51 am ET
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Marshall Faulk

Marshall Faulk

Here’s a quick rundown of what some NFL analysts were saying about the Patriots before and after Sunday’s game against the Browns.

Sterling Sharpe on NFL Network on the Patriots, before the game: “If they stay healthy, nobody wants them to come to your place or certainly go to Foxborough in the playoffs…This football team’s going be hard to deal with down the stretch.”

Marshall Faulk on NFL Network on Patriots running back Shane Vereen, before the game: “[Shane] Vereen, coupled with Tom Brady, could be the best back they’ve had come out of the backfield since Brady has been there because of his ability to stretch the field.”

Michael Irvin on the Patriots on NFL Network before the game: “I say they are built for the long-haul…Their three losses were all by one possession; they were all tough, [hard] fought games. They would blow everybody out for years and then get in the playoffs and go up against a tough team like Baltimore [who would say], ‘We’ll just be physical with them.’ Now they have this, they have been physical.”

Tony Dungy on NBC after the game: “I get so frustrated watching people not know how to play situational football. But good teams, like New England and Baltimore, know how to keep their poise in the final minute.”

Deion Sanders on NFL Network on the pass interference call on Cleveland cornerback Leon McFadden in the end zone against the Patriots, after the game: “This is suspect. You can call it but it’s really not pass interference…You could call it, but you have to let them play because that’s going to change the game.”

Tony Dungy on NBC, who disagreed with crucial defensive pass interference call on Browns late in the game, on the officials in the Browns-Patriots game: “In the last two minutes, everybody has to play under pressure, including the officials. In this play, everybody didn’t do their job.”

Willie McGinest on NFL Network after the game, on the Patriots moving forward without tight end Rob Gronkowski: “It’s survival mode. They go right back into what they were at the beginning of the year before they had [Rob] Gronkowski when he was hurt; finding different ways to get different guys the football.”

Rodney Harrison on NBC after the game, talking about Rob Gronkowski’s injury: “It’s hard for me to think they can go very far in the playoffs without his production.”

Read More: Deion Sanders, marshall faulk, Michael Irvin, Rodney Harrison
What pundits were saying about Patriots on Sunday 12.02.13 at 10:42 am ET
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Tony Dungy

Tony Dungy

Here’s a quick rundown of what some NFL analysts were saying about the Patriots before and after Sunday’s game against the Texans.

Sterling Sharpe on NFL Network before the game: “The New England Patriots are the only team that doesn’t care whether they get the No. 1 seed.”

Steve Mariucci on NFL Network before the game: “This team is just getting better and better, and gaining some confidence…This is a very dangerous team and it’s the best team in the AFC.”

Bill Cowher on CBS before the game: “New England can wait for one of the slip‑ups right there because they hold the tie-breaker now over Denver having beaten them last week. From where they’re sitting right now, I think their schedule may be the easiest of those three. Certainly, Denver, look at them there. They should win out. If they win, get by [Sunday]. Right now, New England is sitting there at number two.”

Tony Dungy on the Patriots on NBC after the game: “This team reminds me so much of our 2006 Super Bowl team in Indy. They’re decimated on defense, but they’ve got a great quarterback who’s making plays and keeping them in every game. Tom Brady is the reason they’re winning.”

Marshall Faulk on NFL Network after the game: “The mismatch of [covering] Shane Vereen [in the passing game] will be giving teams trouble [the rest of the season].”

Read More: marshall faulk, Sterling Sharpe, Steve Mariucci, Tony Dungy
Michael Irvin on Patriots receivers and Tom Brady: ‘You can tell these guys are not on the same page’ 09.13.13 at 10:05 pm ET
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Michael Irvin

Michael Irvin

In the wake of the Patriots 13-10 win over the Jets Thursday night in Foxboro, the NFL Network crew of Michael Irvin, Steve Mariucci and Marshall Faulk weighed in on several topics on the New England side of the ball, including Tom Brady‘s visible frustration with his receivers.

On the Patriots’ miscommunication on offense in the win over the Jets:

Irvin: “We saw it a whole lot [Thursday]; a lot of dropped balls, miscommunication – it didn’t look like the New England Patriots we’re used to seeing out here. And we keep talking about sooner or later they’ll come together and they’ll play well together. They certainly didn’t do that [Thursday]. And not only did they drop some balls, there were a few balls that Tom Brady didn’t put to where we’re used to seeing Tom Brady lay the football…On both sides [quarterback and wide receivers], you can tell that these guys are not on the same page.”

Faulk: “There was a special tonight that we ran [during the pregame show] with a bunch of [Tom Brady’s] former receivers who talked about Brady, and just how patient and how much of a competitor he is. All of that patience and all of his competitiveness, he’s going to have to channel that to kind of carry these guys along because they don’t have other answers outside of the guys that they’re playing right now. You’re going to get [Rob Gronkowski] back, fine, and you’ll get [Danny] Amendola back but he moves in for [Julian] Edelman – you still have the two guys [Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson] on the outside. I want to see how Tom continues to put his arm around those guys and bring them along.”

On Brady looking visibly frustrated with dropped balls and miscommunication on offense:

Irvin: “I actually got sick and tired of seeing Tom Brady [being visibly frustrated] when everybody missed the ball because they are young guys. OK, they made a mistake, we know you’re upset – now let me see you take a different approach and try to raise these guys up so maybe they can go back and make plays…I got tired of seeing it. As a wide receiver, I would have said something.”

Mariucci: “Tom’s the captain of this football team and he’s been here for a long time. I hear what you’re saying [directed to Michael Irvin] because there are ways to lead, especially with the quarterback, but we don’t know why [there was] the frustration. Was it those couple plays? Has this been going on in practice? Are they working hard enough? There is certainly frustration right there but he knows enough that these are going to be the guys he’s playing with next week against Tampa so he’ll lift them back up somehow. But he wants perfection. That’s how they got here. He wants perfection with all of his players, I don’t care if they’re 21 or 31.”

Irvin: “You talk about how difficult the offense is – these are young guys, they’re playing in their first couple games in the NFL, their first couple games with these guys. I don’t mind Tom getting down on these guys some time and going after them, but as a receiver I saw way too much of it. I saw way too much of it for these young guys. I didn’t see him do it one time when he messed up. I would have problem with that, regardless whether I’m a Hall of Famer or a young guy. I would have an issue with that. Tom is a great leader, he’s done a wonderful job and I’m sure he’ll lead these guys – I would have issues with that.”

Read More: marshall faulk, Michael Irvin, Steve Mariucci, Tom Brady
Former Rams RB Marshall Faulk: ‘I’ll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl’ by Patriots 01.30.13 at 11:53 am ET
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Marshall Faulk

Marshall Faulk

Former Rams running back Marshall Faulk, now an NFL Network analyst, said he hasn’t made his peace with the way the Rams lost to the Patriots in the 2002 Super Bowl.

“Am I over the loss? Yeah, I’m over the loss. But I’ll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl,” Faulk told CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran on Tuesday. “That’s a different story. I can understand losing a Super Bowl, that’s fine. … But how things happened and what took place. Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them but if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don’t burn ‘em.”

Faulk was referring to tapes the Patriots allegedly made of the Rams’ coaches’ defensive signals before the 2002 Super Bowl, although none of those tapes were ever found and commissioner Roger Goodell said in 2008 that he had no evidence of the Patriots taping the Rams’ pregame walkthrough.

Still, Faulk said he doesn’t believe the game could have gone the way it did if the Patriots didn’t have prior knowledge of the Rams’ plans.

“I understand Bill [Belichick] is a great coach,” said Faulk. “But No. 13 [Kurt Warner] will tell you. Mike Martz will tell you. We had some plays in the red zone that we hadn’t ran. I think we got to fourth down — we ran three plays that we hadn’t ran, that Mike drew up for that game — Bill’s a hell of a coach … we hadn’t ran them the whole year [and the Patriots were ready for them].”

“Bill has done a great job,” Faulk continued. “I love [Robert] Kraft and what he’s done. They almost drafted me. I remember [Kraft's] vision for that organization. I respect everything about that organization. But am I bitter about how that went? Am I bitter about how the league handled them taping people? If Bountygate was that bad and Sean [Payton] got suspended for a whole year? If we want to talk about some unfair assessment of how we’re assessing things? Man.

“If you lost a game and your brother cheated you, you’ll remember that.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, marshall faulk, Patriots, Rams
Bye-Week Breakdown: Wide receivers 10.21.11 at 1:25 am ET
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The connection between Tom Brady and Wes Welker has been impressive this season. (AP)

Over the course of the next few days, we’ll roll out something called Bye Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots as they head into the bye weekend. We’ve already tackled the tight end spot. Now, it’s the wide receivers.

Overview: The Patriots passing game has been the best in the league through the first six games of the season, and a sizable reason for that has been the connection between Tom Brady and Wes Welker.

Welker’s 51 catches and 785 yards make up 32 percent of the Patriots’ receptions and 36 percent of their total receiving yards. (He’s just off the pace to shatter the league records for most catches, but can still break the record for most receiving yards in a season — at this rate, Welker will have 136 catches and 2,093 receiving yards.)

As for the rest of the receiving corps, Deion Branch has provided depth and dependability at the No. 2 spot (he has managed to make at least one important catch through each one of the first six games). However, it’s clear that Chad Ochocinco continues to struggle in the offense, and it will be interesting to see what sort of role he has in the passing game when he returns from the bye weekend.

Meanwhile, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater continue to serve more as special teams contributors than as wide receivers, getting only occasional snaps on offense, while second-year receiver Taylor Price remains a non-entity with just one snap through six games.

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Read More: bye week breakdown, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman
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