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Bill Belichick on double-pass trickeration: ‘You better find a way to win some games’ 11.28.16 at 12:49 pm ET
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Nov 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets corner back Darryl Roberts (27) breaks up a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (19) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Darryl Roberts gets called for pass interference on a double-pass intended for receiver Malcolm Mitchell. (Brad Penner-USA Today Sports)

One of the key plays of the Patriots’ run to the Super Bowl title in 2014 was the double-pass touchdown from Tom Brady to Julian Edelman to Danny Amendola against the Ravens in the AFC divisional round when the Patriots were down 28-14.

The Patriots rallied to win, 35-31, at Gillette Stadium and that play was pointed to as a turning point in the postseason.

During the NFL Films feature “Do Your Job,” receivers coach Chad O’Shea noted how the Patriots showed that play earlier in the season against the Chiefs in their Monday night loss. But because Amendola stopped his route short on the edge, it hid it enough for the Patriots to feel comfortable using it down the road.

On Sunday, there was no hiding the double-pass. Tom Brady, getting beaten around by the Jets and trailing 10-0, quickly threw backwards to Chris Hogan, who then threw deep to Malcolm Mitchell at the Jets 8. The Hogan lefty pass wasn’t completed completed but pass interference was called on former Patriot Darryl Roberts. That led to the Patriots’ first score, a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

Belichick was asked Monday what goes into the decision to use the double-pass at this point of the season as opposed to perhaps saving it like he did back in the 2014 divisional playoff game.

“I think you’re always looking for plays that complement other plays,” Belichick said. “So, if you do something in this league you can’t just keep doing it all the time. I mean, other teams are too good and they’re too well-coached. You’ve got to have something that comes off of it. I think there’s an element to that in most of the plays that we run.

“Whatever we run there is a complimentary play somewhere that’s either a different run from the same formation or a different pass from the same formation or plays that kind of look alike but they’re really trying to attack different parts of the defense. I think that’s a very important part of an offensive or a defensive system, or special teams system for that matter to have those complementary plays.”

Belichick clearly doesn’t think much of the thought of saving a play for later in the season or the playoffs.

“As far as saving it, I’m not really sure what that means,” he added. “We’re trying to go out there and win a game. If you don’t win any games then what are you saving it for? You better find a way to win some games or you’d just be saving it for some other organization that you’re coaching for.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chris Hogan, double-pass, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick defends Malcolm Butler in coverage: ‘I think Malcolm competed hard, as he always does’ at 12:15 pm ET
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Quincy Enunwa (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Quincy Enunwa makes a spectacular grab over Malcolm Butler Sunday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

By his own admission after the game, Malcolm Butler had a tough day at MetLife Stadium Sunday.

He was the man in coverage on both of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s touchdown passes and got burned for a 40-yard reception when Quincy Enunwa made a diving grab in the first quarter.

Butler appeared to mis-time his jump just a hair in the fourth quarter and the taller Enunwa took advantage when he leaped and grabbed the ball in the back of the end zone for a “butt” touchdown. Enunwa caught five passes on all five targets for 109 yards and touchdown while Brandon Marshall caught his touchdown with Butler in press coverage at the goal line.

On Monday, after his coach had a chance to look at the film, Bill Belichick offered his insight.

“I think Malcolm competed hard, as he always does,” Belichick said. “Look, we’re going to play against good receivers and good quarterbacks every week. That’s what the National Football League is. Quarterbacks in this league make good throws, receivers make good catches.

“We don’t play any teams that can’t throw the ball and can’t catch it and can’t execute at a high level. They’re just not on our schedule. That’s what we’ve got to be ready to defend.”

Without getting into specifics, Belichick hinted that perhaps there were techniques that Butler could work on to stay in tighter coverage, like the first touchdown by Marshall, where the receiver got Butler to turn and separate before turning around to catch the touchdown five yards deep in the end zone.

“Technique-wise, there are always things you can do a little bit better,” Belichick said. “And certainly, the Jets made some good plays offensively. That’s what it’ll be this week, too. Britt will make them. Austin will make them. Rams have got a lot of guys that’ll make them, too. So does everybody else.”

Belichick did praise Butler and Chris Long for forcing two key turnovers that helped the Patriots hold on for the win.

“There are things we’re just going to have to work on but I thought Malcolm competed hard, which he always does. [He] tackled and was competitive on a lot of those plays. They made some and he made some.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Marshall, Malcolm Butler, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick uses football science to explain how Malcolm Butler, Chris Long finally created turnovers at 11:40 am ET
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Nov 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Jonathan Freeny (55) causes New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) to fumble during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Long gets to Ryan Fitzpatrick for a key strip sack late in the fourth quarter Sunday. (Brad Penner-USA Today Sports)

Sometimes in football, you need some luck to go with good technique.

And sometimes that good technique leads to good fortune.

Such was the case not once but twice Sunday as the Patriots generated their first two turnovers in over a month. The Malcolm Butler forced fumble after a 25-yard pass play to Robby Anderson led to New England’s first touchdown in the second quarter. Chris Long’s strip sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the final 90 seconds sealed the Patriots’ ninth win of the season and the 200th victory of Tom Brady’s career.

“Well, we work on turnovers every day,” Belichick said Monday in his conference call. “We work on getting the ball off of runners or receivers and different angles and so forth. So, we have basic fundamentals we coach. Each play is different, each situation is different, where the ball is, which hand the runner has the ball in and where we’re positioned and so forth. We talk about it, we emphasize it, we have drills to work on it but each situation is different.

“It was a great awareness play by Malcolm to be able to quickly get his hand in there and literally punch the ball out while it was just a little bit away from Anderson’s body. So, it was a very instinctive play with a very quick reaction by Malcolm to take advantage of a brief opportunity.”

Butler, who was initially beaten underneath on the reception by Anderson, recovered quickly and punched the ball out as Devin McCourty made the tackle. On the strip sack, Long created his own pressure by using great technique to quickly get to the quarterback while Trey Flowers and Jabaal Sheard were being double-teamed.

“It’s something that we coach but I can’t say we’ve been in that situation,” Belichick said. “The situation Chris was in was a situation we practice every week and I’d say that was a little more of a textbook case. It’s awareness and it’s the player’s judgment and ability to create pressure on the ball.

“We’re in a three-man rush and he kind of went right into [left tackle] [Ben] Ijalana to make him honor a power rush-type of move. He was able to knock his hands off him and make a tight edge past the tackle to the quarterback so he didn’t get pushed wide or up the field. He went right into him and cleared him pretty quickly as opposed to just running up the field and running around and taking a longer route. His route was pretty direct.

“I don’t think he ever really hit Fitzpatrick. He just kind of reached for the ball and as Fitzpatrick was throwing, knocked it out. It wasn’t one of those plays where the quarterback gets tackled and hit at the same time. I don’t think Fitzpatrick went down on the play. As he was going to throw the ball, Chris just extended with his right arm and got it. It was a good, tight path to the quarterback. We were in a three-man rush. They doubled the other two rushers. They had two on Flowers and two on Sheard. Chris got the corner on Ijalana.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chris Long, Malcolm Butler, New England Patriots
Malcolm Butler proclaims defense is coming around: ‘Our day is coming’ 11.27.16 at 11:16 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A lot of Patriots fans were wondering when the team’s defense would finally produce a turnover.

After all, it had been over a month since the last one.

Malcolm Butler produced it when he picked off Steelers quarterback Landry Jones in Pittsburgh on Oct. 23. Butler was again the spark in a key situation Sunday.

With the Patriots down, 10-3, and the Jets driving toward midfield, he punched the ball out of the hands of Robby Anderson at midfield after a 25-yard gain five minutes into the second quarter. Devin McCourty held up Anderson on the tackle while Butler did the dirty work. Butler also recovered the ball.

“We’ve been building. Our day is coming,” Butler said. “Today is one of those days. We want to continue to build on it and continue doing the right things to get the ball.”

The offense responded by taking the ball down the field and tying the game on a Tom Brady-to-Malcolm Mitchell touchdown in the end zone.

“They most definitely paid off,” Butler said. “They took away some of the errors that we made. The offense converted those to points, so it turned out pretty well.”

The Patriots defense did it again at a most opportunistic time. With under two minutes left and the Patriots holding a precarious 22-17 lead, Chris Long got through for a strip sack on Ryan Fitzpatrick, New England’s only sack of the day. Trey Flowers recovered at the Jets 34 and the game was over.

“That’s the goal every week,” Butler said. “To make plays, create turnovers and get the ball to the offense so they can add more points to the board. Like I said once before, we have to continue to build on it and just keep scoring.”

Butler also addressed his tough day in coverage. He allowed both touchdowns, one to Brandon Marshall in the first half and another to Quincy Enunwa in the fourth quarter. Enunwa finished with five catches on five targets for 109 yards and a touchdown. In fairness to Butler, two of the catches were of the spectacular variety, including the “Butt Touchdown” in the fourth quarter that put the Jets ahead, 17-13.

Did Butler think it was a difficult day for him?

“Yeah, my standards are very high so I’d say so,” Butler said. “I don’t want to give up touchdowns or long balls but hey, it’s going to happen. The biggest thing is we got the win. So, just got to learn from it, be pissed off about it and put it into next week. That’s all I can do.”

Read More: Malcolm Butler, New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl
Mike Petraglia, Chris Price explain how Tom Brady survived the Jets, made NFL history in process at 9:04 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — How did the Patriots outlast the Jets Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium? Tom Brady makes some history and reaches milestones while Rob Gronkowski injures his back. Mike Petraglia and Chris Price have your full recap inside MetLife Stadium.

Read More: Chris Price, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, New York Jets
Snap Judgments: Tom Brady makes history, Pats squeak out win, lose Rob Gronkowski to back injury at 7:31 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27:   Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the New York Jets during the second quarter in the game at MetLife Stadium on November 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady rescued the Patriots Sunday. (Elsa/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Brady would not be denied.

The banged up and bruised Brady found Malcolm Mitchell for their second touchdown connection of the day with 1:56 left to rescue the Patriots Sunday, 22-17, at MetLife Stadium.

Brady finished 30-of-50 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Fittingly, Brady’s 50th career game-winning drive produced his 200th victory, tied with Peyton Manning for most all-time.

He also became the fifth quarterback in NFL history with 60,000 yards and took a knee to end the game to chants of “Brady, Brady, Brady” inside the enemy stadium.

Mitchell was a star of the game, with five catches on seven targets for 42 yards and two touchdowns. He stepped up after the Patriots lost tight end Rob Gronkowski to a back injury.

The Patriots (9-2) clinched the victory when Chris Long stripped Ryan Fitzpatrick with 90 seconds left. Trey Flowers recovered at the Jets 34 before LeGarrette Blount ran out the clock with a first down on the ground.

Early on, the Jets beat up the wounded Brady badly.

The Patriots offensive line allowed two big hits on the first two snaps of the game. Then Brady, already battling a sore knee that forced him to miss practice on Wednesday and Thursday, took a vicious hit from Lorenzo Mauldin on a weak side linebacker blitz. Brady, who completed the pass for no gain, was driven hard into the turf by the Jets linebacker.

The Jets, meanwhile, took it to the Patriots physically on offense as well. The Jets took their first drive and went 41 yards in eight plays, keyed by completions of 13 and 20 yards from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Brandon Marshall. The drive was capped by a 51-yard Nick Folk field goal that not only split the uprights but hit halfway up the netting behind the goal post.

On the next drive, Brady went deep on a post route to Gronkowski on third-and-7 at the Patriots 38. Gronkowski was open very briefly in double coverage but by the time the ball arrived, both defenders caught up and the pass fell incomplete. Gronkowski appeared to fall hard and walked off slowly.

On the next series, Gronkowski was targeted on another deep pass down the right sideline that fell incomplete. He left the game after that and headed with medical staff to the locker room, where he was treated for a back injury. He did not take the field to start the second half and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Pro Football Talk reported in the second half that the injury is not believed to be serious and his removal from the game was precautionary. PFT reports that he is not expected to miss games going forward.

The start got even uglier when Fitzpatrick picked on Malcolm Butler and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass in the back right corner of the end zone to Brandon Marshall for a 10-0 Jets lead.

The Patriots finally got on the board on a 28-yard field goal just over three minutes into the second quarter.

The Patriots forced their first turnover in four games at a critical time. After Robby Anderson caught a pass for 20 yards at midfield, he struggled for more yards. As he was fighting with Devin McCourty for more yards, Malcolm Butler punched the ball free and recovered at midfield. It was Butler who had the last Patriots turnover with an interception of Landry Jones in Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.

Closing Time noteTom Brady recorded his 200th career victory, tied with Peyton Manning for most in NFL history.

On the very next play, Brady hit Julian Edelman for 18 yards, becoming the fifth player to surpass the 60,000-yard mark. Six plays later, Brady fumbled the snap in the shotgun but recovered in time to roll to his right and find an open Mitchell in the back of the end zone. Mitchell, the rookie who talked earlier in the week about the fight it was going to take against Darrelle Revis to get open, beat the veteran cornerback to record his second touchdown in as many weeks.

With the game tied, the Patriots had the momentum and appeared to be marching for the go-ahead score before halftime. But Stephen Gostkowski hooked a 39-yard field goal wide left with two seconds left and the Patriots were forced to walk off to the locker room tied, 10-10. It was Gostkowski’s second miss this season under 40 yards and his fourth field goal miss this season, in addition to his three missed extra points.

[For a full box score, click here.]

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: New England Patriots, New York Jets, nfl, Rob Gronkowski
Jonathan Kraft explains his undying admiration for the toughness for Tom Brady and ‘hate’ for the Jets at 4:18 pm ET
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Jonathan Kraft

Jonathan Kraft

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — As Tom Brady was stretching and loosening up his sore knees before Sunday’s game with the Jets, team president Jonathan Kraft was admiring just what getting ready means to the Patriots superstar quarterback.

Brady appeared a bit stiff, if not tender, in warmups, trying to get warm to move around in the pocket and avoid the likes of Leonard Williams, Calvin Pace, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. Brady missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday before returning to the practice field Friday.

Kraft was not surprised that Brady pushed himself to get ready for the game.

“I think anybody that’s watched Tom Brady for the last 16 years knows that he’s hates to miss a snap in practice or a game,” Kraft said on the team’s pregame radio show. “If he’s even remotely able to, he’s going to walk out [to play]. I think with a lot of people it’s ‘It’s Week 11, do you really need to play?’ But they’re not in the locker room. I think part of what makes Tom Brady, Tom Brady is if he can absolutely, in any way possible, be out on the field, he’s going to be there because that’s what he believes it means to lead a football team and play the position that he plays.

“You couple that with the history he had in college and leading into the pros, for him, he’s never going to voluntarily step aside. And I think the regiment he has and how he does take care of himself, both in terms of how he works out and how he eats and how he gets his rest does allow him to recover in a way other people may not be able to.”

Does Kraft ever wish he’d dial it back and conserve his body for the postseason?

“While I totally get the thinking when you’re looking from [perspective of], ‘Why push it? It’s just another regular season game,’ his mindset is what makes him who he is, and we all respect that a lot,” Kraft said.

As is always the case when the Patriots and Jets get together, there’s an animosity that’s only outdone in New England sports annals by Red Sox-Yankees. Throw in Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Mike Kensil and Deflategate, and it’s gone nuclear in the last two decades.

Does Kraft think there’s still a genuine hatred between the two franchises?

“I think anytime you have a divisional opponent, familiarity breeds contempt in a lot of instances, and obviously, you’re each competing each year for the division championship,” Kraft said. “There’s other historical things that have happened, at least in our tenure. There’s not a love lost but it’s all left on the field. When we get off the field, it doesn’t carry over. I personally think there’s a little extra edge in the Boston-New York thing, that probably feeds into a little bit so I guess the answer is yes.”

Kraft also spoke to the impending four-game suspension of defensive lineman Alan Branch for violation of the NFL drug policy, and Branch’s appeal that allowed him to play against the Jets Sunday.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the player and what he talks about to his agent, and the NFLPA and what he thinks is right for his own personal situation,” Kraft said. “There are times when a player comes to a club and asks if [the team] would like to be in on the strategy. But it really is player-initiated. There are times that does happen. There are instances where you look at the back half of the year. Ultimately, it’s just the player’s decision and we respect that. Most players consult with their agent and the NFLPA, and I would assume their family as well.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jonathan Kraft, New England Patriots, New York Jets
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