|Julian Edelman on OM&F: Stephen Gostkowski ‘still the best in my eyes’||11.28.16 at 2:27 pm ET|
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Monday to discuss Sunday’s 22-17 win over the Jets and looked at the team moving forward. To hear the interview, go to the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.
Although kicker Stephen Gostkowski made three field goals in the win, he did miss his fourth field goal of the season. The four kicks missed in a season are the most since 2012, but Edelman has Gostkowski’s back and believes he will get through it.
“I do the baseball treatment where you kind of let a guy get through his journey through himself,” he said. “You let him know you’re behind him and you show him that you’re behind him. Kicking, I have no clue on how that goes because I never was really like a kicker. If I could think of something, it’s like a golf swing. Sometimes you’re there, you’re not. He’s still the best in my eyes and he’s going to work through it. He works hard every day at it.
“You just let him know you’re behind him and let him keep working. He’ll get through it. Steve, he’s made too many big time kicks in big time situations. He’s made a lot of key plays for us on our team since I’ve been here, so I have full confidence and faith he will keep working and get through this.”
With Sunday’s win, Tom Brady now has 200 wins overall for his NFL career, tying Peyton Manning for the most all-time. Bill Belichick didn’t have much praise for the quarterback after the game, saying he’s just another member of the team and expected to play well.
Edelman said it was just Belichick being Belichick.
“I think it’s an unbelievable accomplishment — 200 wins, that’s like getting 10 wins playing 20 years and he hasn’t played 20 years,” Edelman said. “It’s an unbelievable accomplishment at the speed he’s done it. That is coach being coach. He’s focused on the season and we all know he has love for everyone, for the big dog Brady, but it’s kind of like he’s a focused individual. Maybe after the season he’ll go up to him and slap him on the butt or behind the scenes where we don’t see it, but he’s got to make sure that he has the team getting ready to improve and continue to improve on this back third of the season. That’s how coach does it.”
|3 up, 3 down following Patriots 22-17 win over Jets||11.27.16 at 9:05 pm ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — At first glance, here are three up and three down in the wake of Sunday’s 22-17 win over the Jets.
Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell: The rookie keeps showing up in big moments. On Sunday against the Jets, he had five catches on seven targets for 42 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the second of which turned out to be the game winner. The fourth-quarter score was all the more impressive given the fact that it came after a pass for the end zone ended up going through his hands. He now has 16 catches for 235 yards and three touchdowns on the year.
Quarterback Tom Brady: It wasn’t one of his more artful performances, but the veteran quarterback went 30-for-50 for 286 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win. It marked his 200th career victory as a starter, tying Peyton Manning for the most wins ever by an NFL quarterback. In addition, it was his 50th career game-winning performance to lead his team to a victory from a fourth-quarter deficit after leading the Patriots back from a 17-13 disadvantage.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: There were honestly a few different guys who could have claimed the third spot (including Chris Hogan, Chris Long or Malcolm Butler), but in this case, we’ll go with Edelman, who battled his way through a physical, gutsy afternoon of football, finishing with eight catches on 11 targets for 83 yards. Nothing overwhelming, but with Rob Gronkowski out after the early going and Martellus Bennett gutting his way through the afternoon with an ankle problem, he saw more action, and came through time and again.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski: Another down day for the kicker. While he did have successful field goals from 28, 29 and 41 yards out, he was wide left on a 39-yarder at the end of the first half that would have given the Patriots a 13-10 lead going into halftime.
Early intensity: There was very little energy in the early going on either side of the ball for the Patriots, who looked listless and ragged for large portions of the first half. At one point, tight end Martuellus Bennett had an early catch, and could be seen gesturing to the sidelines to try and get his teammates cranked up. New England dodged a bullet with a solid second half, but it was a little disconcerting.
Whoever was covering Quincy Enunwa: This is basically a cop-out until we go back and take a closer look at the all-22s, but the Patriots had a variety of cornerbacks chasing Enunwa around for much of the afternoon. No one seemed to have much success against the relatively unheralded wide receiver who finished with five catches on five targets for 109 yards and a touchdown against New England. Enunwa is just the sort of relatively unheralded second or third option in the passing game that’s given the Patriots fits over the last few years, and he certainly did that Sunday against New England.
|Snap Judgments: Tom Brady makes history, Pats squeak out win, lose Rob Gronkowski to back injury||at 7:31 pm ET|
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.
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.]
|Scouting Report: What you have to know about Patriots-Niners||11.19.16 at 12:35 pm ET|
Here’s everything you need to know for this Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Niners at Levi’s Stadium.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
The numbers are really super simple: the Niners run defense is apocalyptically bad, and a sizable reason why San Francisco is allowing a league-worse 31.4 points per game. The Niners allow an average of 180.4 rushing yards per game. In four of their nine contests this year, San Francisco’s opponents have run for 190 yards or more on the ground, with the high-water mark (or low-water mark, depending on your perspective) coming when the Bills had 313 rushing yards in one game earlier this season. The numbers were better last week against Arizona, as the Cards could only muster 80 yards on the ground in a narrow win. (The San Francisco run defense narrowly avoided the honor of being the first team in NFL history to avoid yielding 100 rushing yards or more in seven straight games.) Bill Belichick said earlier this week that the biggest difference between that game and the previous eight was the fact that the Niners did a better job tackling. On the other side, LeGarrette Blount (182 carries, 678 yards, a league-leading 12 TDs) is going to get the bulk of the carries for New England, and given the breakdown, if he doesn’t get the ball 20-plus times, something is either wrong with Blount or the New England coaching staff has gotten too cute and tried to overthink things. The wild card here is Dion Lewis, who made the trip and could see his first action of the year. If he does see playing time, it might be wise to temper expectations (at least initially) for a few reasons, including the fact the Patriots still have a placeholder in James White. Regardless, this matchup is a big edge for New England.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
The Patriots’ passing game is one of the best in the league; even with Tom Brady missing the first four games of the season, New England is at or near the top of NFL in most major passing categories. Brady (121-for-166, 73 percent, 1,635 yards, 12 TDs, 1 INT, 125.5 passer rating) won’t have Rob Gronkowski in the lineup Sunday, so expect Martellus Bennett (38 catches, 47 targets, 504 yards, 4 TDs) to go wire-to-wire in this one. In addition, Julian Edelman (48 catches, 71 targets, 451 yards, 1 TD) will see an uptick in work for a few reasons, not the least of which is that the Niners are bad at stopping No. 1 receivers. (More on that shortly.) And no Chris Hogan will mean more work for either Danny Amendola (17 catches, 21 targets, 203 yards, 3 TDs) or Malcolm Mitchell (7 catches, 15 targets, 95 yards) as the best deep threat.
On the other side of the ball, the Niners are better against the pass than they are against the run, allowing an average of 249 passing yards per contest (14th in the league). Using some Football Outsiders’ numbers, they have some very specific strengths and weakness: San Francisco is one of the best teams in the league in defending tight ends (eighth-best, per FO), but one of the worst at slowing No. 1 wide receivers (31st, per FO), and they’re not great at defending No. 2 receivers (23rd). We know the Patriots are going to tweak their offense because Gronkowski won’t be on the field, but this could mean a bigger game than usual for the likes of Edelman and Amendola.
|Special teams coach Joe Judge reiterates Patriots’ faith in kicker Stephen Gostkowski: ‘He’s our guy’||11.03.16 at 7:56 pm ET|
Special teams coach Joe Judge has faith that kicker Stephen Gostkowski is going to get back to his old self sooner rather than later.
Judge publicly backed the kicker this week, despite the fact that Gostkowski is having an uncharacteristically inconsistent season. After missing three field-goal attempts and no extra-point tries during the 2015 regular season, Gostkowski has missed three field-attempts and a pair of extra-points this year through eight games.
But count Judge as among those who believe that his perfect afternoon last Sunday (2-for-2 on field-goal tries — including an impressive 51-yarder — and 5-for-5 on extra points) is a sign that things are back on track for the veteran kicker.
“Man, we’re very excited for Steve,” said Judge. “I’ll tell you what; nobody works harder than Steve. Nobody prepares better than Steve. We have all the confidence in the world in Steve. He’s done it consistently for so long in this league. There is nobody I’d rather play with.
“He’s our guy.”
Gostkowski success rate this year (11-for-14) is good for most kickers, but for the four-time All-Pro, it’s a step down from his usual totals. After all, this is a guy who still ranks third all-time in league history with a success rate of 86.9 percent — he’s got a higher standard than most. That’s one of the reasons why some believe Gostkowski is capable of figuring things out, and whether his misses have been mental or physical.
“Look, I’m not going into the specifics or anything like that, I’ll just tell you what — no one outworks Stephen,” Judge said of the 32-year-old. “He’s very committed to his craft [and] he’s always looking to improve in everything he does, as we all are.”
Bill Belichick has acknowledged that when it comes to working with kickers, because what they do is so specialized, sometimes, the best thing for a coach to do is just step back a bit. Bottom line? You can’t coach a kicker like another position player.
“I’ve coached kickers for a long time and the first thing you have to learn is about your player,” Judge said. “Everyone is unique and everyone is different, and you can’t coach any one player — especially a specialist — the same, because no one has the same body. No one has the same exact mechanics. And no one has the same exact technique.”
|Bill Belichick on Stephen Gostkowski’s perfect afternoon: ‘Nobody better than Steve’||10.30.16 at 6:37 pm ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — After a surprisingly inconsistent stretch over the last few weeks, kicker Stephen Gostkowski looked like he was able to right the ship on Sunday against the Bills, connecting on his two field-goal opportunities and coming away with a 5-for-5 mark on his extra-point chances.
Gostkowski nailed a 51-yarder at the end of the first half and tacked on a 32-yarder in the second half. The 51-yarder was his best moment of the afternoon, and pushed his career mark on 50-plus yarders to 76 percent. It’s the second-highest percentage of makes from 50-plus yards in NFL history (minimum 15 attempts).
“Steve’s one of the best kickers in the league,” said coach Bill Belichick after the game. “We have a lot of confidence in him. When we need a kick, there’s nobody better to send out there than him. Nobody better to send out than Steve.”
For Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|3 up, 3 down following Patriots 41-25 win over Bills||at 5:56 pm ET|
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — At first glance, here’s a quick look at who’s up and who’s down for the Patriots after their win over the Bills on Sunday.
Quarterback Tom Brady: Brady was 22-for-33 for 315 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the win. The quarterback has been absolutely spectacular in his four games back, going 98-for-134 (73 percent) for 1,319 yards, 12 touchdowns, no picks and a passer rating of 133.9.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski: Grokowski almost always feasts when he returns to Buffalo, and Sunday was no exception, finishing with five catches (on seven targets) for 109 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was the 69th of his career, setting a new franchise record. For the year, Gronkowski has 22 catches for 484 yards (best on the team) and three touchdowns, while his 22 yards per catch is one of the best marks in the league.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski: After a wobbly stretch over the last month-plus, he had a clean afternoon against the Bills, knocking home a pair of field goals (from 32 and 51 yards) and converting on all five extra-point attempts. He’s not completely out of the woods yet, but Sunday represented an excellent step in the right direction with a perfect performance in occasionally difficult conditions.
Cornerback Eric Rowe: The youngster had a pair of penalty calls late in the first half — one for pass interference and another for illegal contact. They were the first two penalties on him this year, but they both came at bad times, with the first helping set up the Bills for the first touchdown of the game. He also had a pass interference in the fourth quarter. Not an ideal afternoon for Rowe.
Run defense: A lot of it has to be put in context — there’s what can generously be described as “garbage-time yardage” — but the totals won’t please Bill Belichick. Even without LeSean McCoy, the Patriots allowed a lot of yardage to the Buffalo ground game. It all needs to be put in context, but 167 rushing yards isn’t a good total. That includes 12 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown for Mike Gillislee and five carries for 48 yards from Tyrod Taylor. It was the most rushing yardage allowed in one game for the Patriots since they yielded 179 last November to the Broncos.
Fourth-down defense: Look, we’re fundamentally nitpicking here because we need to come up with three. But on both occasions in the early going, with the money on the table, the New England defense came up empty. The Patriots allowed a pair of fourth-down conversions from the Buffalo offense, including a 26-yard dash from Taylor on 4th and three that ended up going for Buffalo’s first touchdown of the second half.
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