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Matthew Slater says Patriots need to be ready for a fight Saturday night vs. Chiefs 01.11.16 at 4:47 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Matthew Slater was paying close attention as Knile Davis took the opening kick of the postseason 106 yards, basically untouched, for a game-opening, tone-setting touchdown. The Chiefs used the kick to set the foundation for a 30-0 rout of the Texans, en route to an AFC divisional date with the Patriots.

“Certainly, certainly, and they do a great job in the kicking game,” Slater said. “They always have, and their special teams coach has a tremendous history working with Devin Hester during the prime of his career. So they know what they’re doing. They do it well, and I think that game, in all three phases, they really had their way. So this is going to be a tough football team, as I said, and we’re going to have to do everything we can and be ready for a fight on Saturday.”

Dave Toub was Devin Hester‘s coach with the Bears from 2004-12, including Hester’s record-breaking season in 2006, when he returned six kicks for touchdowns, including the 108-yard return against the Giants on Sunday night football on a missed field goal. Hester also returned the opening kick of Super Bowl XLI against the Colts for a touchdown. Now, Toub is doing it again for the Chiefs.

“I think their team, they’re going to do what they do, and if they see a weakness that you have, they’re going to attack it,” Slater said. “And I think they do a great job of just playing to their strengths. They have guys who play with a lot of effort, and a lot of times they just outwork teams. It’s very evident when you turn on the film. They’re hungry to make plays, and sometimes it’s just an effort thing. They out-effort a lot of the guys that they go against, and I think that mentality starts with him. If you know anything about his background, he has a military background. He was a D-line coach. Excuse me, not a military background, he was a D-line coach and he has a strength coach background. So I think that says a lot about him, and I think that character that he has pours over into his unit.”

As for momentum, Slater isn’t convinced that Kansas City’s 11-game winning streak or the Patriots’ 2-4 slump to the finish matter much.

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Kansas City Chiefs, Matthew Slater, New England Patriots
Devin McCourty: Patriots have to hit ‘reset button’ going into postseason 01.03.16 at 5:50 pm ET
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The Patriots are not going into the postseason the way they would have liked. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Patriots are not going into the postseason the way they would have liked. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Patriots aren’t going into the postseason the way they would like.

The Patriots have now lost two straight games, as they fell 20-10 to the Dolphins Sunday in Miami and have scored a combined 30 points the last two games after averaging 30 points a game the entire season prior to Week 17.

While it is concerning the way things have gone of late, going 2-4 in their final six games, the team knows the playoffs are the beginning of a new season.

“I think every year you have to hit the reset button once the postseason starts and I think right now we definitely have to hit the reset button and get ready to go,” safety Devin McCourty said. “There’s no tomorrow. There’s no next game.”

Special teams captain Matthew Slater has been around the game long enough to know two losses to end the year isn’t reason for total panic, but is something to take note of.

“I don’t know if I would describe it as concern, but I definitely think we need to start playing a lot better than we have the last few weeks,” he said.

Fortunately for the Patriots, despite the final two losses to end the regular season, they will have a first-round bye to get healthy, as well as correct some of the things that have gone wrong of late.

“We have things to work on,” McCourty said. “There’s no tomorrow. You have to have a sense of urgency to go out there and get it done. I think we have guys aware of that. Now it’s making sure as a team we get it going and use this week to be ready to go.”

As for Sunday specifically, the Dolphins entered the game 5-10 with nothing to play for but pride, and for 60 minutes they looked like they were the team heading to the postseason, not the Patriots.

Slater said that is life in the NFL.

National Football League. Guys take a lot of pride in what they do,” Slater said. “Yeah, it hasn’t gone well for them this year, but still, they have good players. Good coaches. It’s the National Football League. Any given Sunday. If you’re not ready to go, you’re going to get beat.”

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Read More: Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater,
Bill Belichick thinks furor over Matthew Slater reaction in OT is ‘much ado about nothing’ 12.28.15 at 1:33 pm ET
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The Jets were surprised Bill Belichick elected to kick off to open overtime. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The Jets were surprised Bill Belichick elected to kick off to open overtime. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

There were countless memes all over the internet almost instantly after Matthew Slater reacted to referee Clete Blakeman’s announcement in overtime that the Jets would choose which goal they would defend.

Many of those memes had Steve Harvey’s face photoshopped over Slater’s, a reference to Harvey’s recent gaffe at the Miss Universe Pageant when he announced the wrong winner. Slater, as a visiting player, called heads and the coin came up heads. “We want to kick off,” Slater said. Then, TV cameras on the field – with microphones still open for the overtime coin toss – caught Slater asking “We won, don’t we get to choose?”

The immediate internet reaction was to think Slater was getting hoodwinked out of choosing to receive. That wasn’t the case at all, as Bill Belichick confirmed Monday during his conference call that he had already informed Blakeman that if the Patriots won the toss (which they did), they would elect to kick off to start overtime. Slater was just out on the field to call the coin toss and execute the pre-determined orders.

Before Slater went to the center circle with Rob Ninkovich and Jerod Mayo, there was extensive discussion on the sidelines, as Belichick also confirmed Monday.

“The discussion was that we wanted to kick off, number one,” Belichick said. “But number two, if we didn’t win the toss, we had the preferred direction. Honestly, it didn’t really make any difference. There was almost no wind in the game so that wasn’t a big consideration. What I didn’t want to do was defend the goal and then have them choose to kick off so we chose to kick off and again, I don’t know exactly what happened out there at midfield but we obviously didn’t have the choice of goals, they did.

“But we talked about that on the sideline because that could’ve been our choice had the coin toss gone differently. So, yeah, we did talk about that. But in the end, the direction of the goals, I don’t think there really any wind advantage. If there was, it was very minimal and not really worth taking a goal over [kicking off].”

What Belichick was trying to avoid by predetermining the decision in overtime was the exact confusion that presented itself on television. And even Blakeman conferred with Belichick AFTER the flip to make sure everything was as Belichick intended and that there was no miscommunication.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Clete Blakeman, Matthew Slater, New England Patriots
Matthew Slater: No questioning Bill Belichick’s decision to kick away at start of overtime 12.27.15 at 7:20 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Matthew Slater said there was no debate when it came to making the call to kick off at the start of overtime.

The special teams captain said after the 26-20 loss to the Jets on Sunday that it was Bill Belichick who said that if they won the toss, they should kick off.

“Obviously as a player, you ask three or four times just to double check because you want to make sure you got it right,” he said. “So we [went] out there [and] we won the toss. We chose to kick off, just like coach instructed us to.”

He added: “The only confusion was whether or not we got to choose which direction we get to kick the ball. Because we won the toss and we chose to kick off, then they got to choose which way they wanted to receive the ball. That’s the way it was explained to me. Obviously, we wanted to kick off. That’s what coach wanted to do so that’s what we did. So when we won the toss we elected to kick off.”

Slater said that he asked Belichick so often that he worried the coach might think there was something wrong with him.

“I double checked three or four times. I think he was looking at me like, ‘Are you concussed?’ because I kept asking him,” he said with a smile. “But that’s what he wanted to do. You never question coach’s decision making. He’s the best in the business and we trust him fully. So that’s what we did.”

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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down bizarre coin flip, overtime loss to Jets at 6:35 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price analyze the Patriots’ bizarre 26-20 OT loss to Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Patriots fought back from a 17-3 hole to force overtime when Tom Brady hit James White over the middle with 1:55 left in regulation. But a controversial decision to allow the Jets first possession in overtime burned the Patriots when Eric Decker caught a 6-yard touchdown pass just 2:37 into overtime to end the game.

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Read More: Chris Price, Matthew Slater, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots
Lucky 7: New Patriots Pro Bowlers reflect on honor 12.24.15 at 6:15 am ET
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Malcolm Butler was selected for his first career Pro Bowl. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Malcolm Butler was selected for his first career Pro Bowl. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — In a team sport like football, individual recognition is nice. And so, when seven members of the Patriots were recognized as Pro Bowlers late Tuesday, coach Bill Belichick took time out to acknowledge their work.

Quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, cornerback Malcolm Butler, defensive end Chandler Jones, linebacker Jamie Collins, special teamer Matthew Slater, kicker Stephen Gostkowski were all named Pro Bowlers. It marks the seventh straight year where New England has had at least five different players get the call to the Pro Bowl: in 2009, there were five, and eight each on 2010 and 2011. There were seven Patriots named to the Pro Bowl in 2012, 2014 and this year, as well as five in 2013.

Prior to practice on Wednesday, Belichick took a moment to note the fact that all seven of the New England reps were homegrown. He also took note of the fact that there were multiple players in all three phases of the game who were included: two offensive players, three defensive players and a pair of special teamers.

“I think the representation speaks a little bit to the balance of the team with Slater and [Stephen] Gostkowski in the kicking game, Rob [Gronkowski] and Tom [Brady] on offense, and Chandler [Jones] and Jamie [Collins] and Malcolm [Butler] on defense,” Belichick said. “That’s good.”

And while a free trip to Hawaii is always nice, it’s safe to say that they all hope to have other things to focus on come late January.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, chandler jones, Jackie Slater, Jamie Collins
Bill Belichick proud of his 7 ‘homegrown’ Pro Bowlers but adds, ‘that’s not our top goal’ 12.23.15 at 1:04 pm ET
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Bill Belichick spoke Wednesday about the 7 Pro Bowlers on his roster. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick spoke Wednesday about the 7 Pro Bowlers on his roster. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick spoke like a proud papa Wednesday when asked about the seven Pro Bowlers selected off his roster Tuesday night.

Individual accolades have never been the end-all, be-all in Foxboro but when the NFL announced that Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Jamie Collins, Malcolm Butler, Matthew Slater, Stephen Gostkowski and Chandler Jones were all selected, Belichick couldn’t help but give a nod those who have developed the players.

“Sure, it’€™s great for the players who are recognized, certainly felt like all the players that were recognized were deserving, all had good years,” Belichick said. “There are other guys on the team that had good years, too, but that’€™s kind of the way it always is. I’€™m proud of the fact that all seven of those players are homegrown ‘€“ they all came in as Patriots, spent their whole career as Patriots, developed as Patriots one way or another, but that’€™s what they all are.

“I think there is something to be said for that. [Matthew] Slater, five Pro Bowls, father had [seven] Pro Bowls ‘€“ that’€™s pretty special. Nobody else had done that. The Matthews clan is still going, I had Clay, but that’€™s as an aside kind of a special thing. I think the representation speaks a little bit to the balance of the team with Slater and Gostkowski in the kicking game, Rob and Tom on offense, and Chandler and Jamie and Malcolm on defense. That’€™s good.”

Then Belichick brought the focus back to what really matters in Foxboro.

“I mean look, it is what it is. Don’€™t make this into more than it is,” Belichick said. “I think we all know what the process is and who’€™s actually making the decisions here and based on what. But again all that aside, all those guys had good years, they’€™re all good players. We have other good players on our team that weren’€™t recognized, but that’€™s the way it always is, and I’€™m sure every team feels the same way. But that doesn’€™t take anything away from what those guys did and I’€™m happy for them, but I don’€™t think that’€™s why they or myself are involved in that. Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, All-Pro, whatever it is, that’€™s not what any of us are here for. If it comes, it’€™s great, but that’€™s not our top goal.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Jackie Slater, Matthew Slater, New England Patriots
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