|Rodney Harrison on D&C: Peyton Manning will ‘battle some demons’ Sunday in Foxboro||10.31.14 at 10:22 am ET|
NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the Patriots’ upcoming game Sunday against the Broncos. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
If the Patriots lose Sunday, that would give the team three losses for the season. The hosts wondered if a loss to the Broncos would end any chance at home field advantage in the playoffs.
“It’s the eighth, ninth week of the season,” Harrison said. “A lot of things can happen. Peyton [Manning] gets hurt, or there’s devastating injuries. The course of any team’s future can change, obviously. But I think this is an important game confidence-wise. I think, yeah, if you’re talking about playoffs and home field advantage, these are the two best teams in the AFC at this point in time. But you’ve still got to remember, you’ve still got to be respectful of the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins, they’re one game behind in the division.
“And I know you’re probably shaking your head saying that they don’t have a chance. But like I talked about, with injuries, with other things that may happen in this league, this is a funny league. Just hasn’t been a lot of consistent football play. I think the Denver Broncos have been the most consistent team over the course of the season.”
Much of the talk in the week leading up the highly anticipated game has been centered on Manning, although Harrison said we shouldn’t forget his supporting cast.
“It’s really unfair to all of his teammates because so much of the attention. And Peyton does a good job deflecting that attention off of himself and trying to put it with his teammates,” Harrison said. “But ultimately, that team goes as Peyton Manning goes. If they have a backup quarterback, that team, they might finish 10-6 or 9-7. That’s how good he is and that’s how much of an impact he has. The biggest thing you have, just like Tom Brady, he has the ability to make other people better and really other people believe in themselves. And I think that’s what you see from Emmanuel Sanders, who’s gone from a pretty good receiver to really one of those on the verge of being a top, elite receiver.
“And that’s just the power of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. But I think it’s unfair to all of his other teammates because they’ve got some really good players, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”
With Sunday being the 16th meeting between the two legendary quarterbacks, every stat imaginable has been compared between the two, but what are the two like behind the scenes? How do the quarterbacks compare in practice, off the field and even who is funnier?
Defensive tackle/fullback Dan Klecko is one of the few players to play with both Manning and Brady. In fact, he won Super Bowls with both of them – 2003 and 2004 with New England and 2006 with Indianapolis. Klecko was a member of the Patriots from 2003-05 and the Colts from 2006-07 so he was able to provide us with some tidbits on the two quarterbacks with a very unique perspective.
What are the two like during practice?
“During practice Peyton is running the everything,” Klecko said in a phone interview this week. “I mean everything, from how long the periods are going to be, if we are going to repeat a period. From what I remember — look, I loved Tony Dungy — but Peyton ran everything out there. He really did, and I honestly believe he had a hand in being a general manager out there, too, but Peyton ran everything.
“Bill [Belichick] still is going to run everything in New England — with Tom’s input. I think Tom more lets Bill do his thing.”
|Tom Brady earns AFC offensive player of month award||10.30.14 at 11:35 am ET|
FOXBORO - From the ruins of September came the resurgence of October for Tom Brady.
The Patriots quarterback Thursday was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for October. After going 2-2 in September and looking like a beaten down quarterback in a 41-14 loss in Kansas City, Brady has responded with one of the best four-game stretches of his career.
Brady led the Pariots to a 4-0 record in the month of October and completed 100 of 144 passes for 1,268 yards with 14 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 129.1. Brady’s 14 touchdowns are tied for first with Peyton Manning during October and Brady is the only starting quarterback that has not thrown an interception during the month.
The Patriots entered the month of October with the 29th ranked offense in the NFL and under Brady’s guidance, the team climbed to No. 10. Brady’s play in the month of October also helped the 24th-ranked scoring offense ascend to the third-ranked scoring offense entering November.
It is the seventh time overall that Brady has earned an AFC Player of the Month honor. It is Brady’s first since he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for December/January in 2011.
Brady had two 300-yard games in October and threw two or more touchdowns in all four wins, including four in the win at Buffalo on Oct. 12 when he finished 27-of-37 for 361 yards and five when he finished 30-of-35 for 354 yards in the 51-23 win over Chicago last Sunday.
Brady has 2,059 passing yards and 18 touchdowns so far in 2014 and is on pace to finished with 4,118 passing yards and 36 touchdowns.
Welker, who played with Brady and the Patriots from 2007-12 before joining the Broncos, still maintains a friendship with the New England quarterback.
“I’m not surprised at all,” the Denver receiver said Wednesday. “I’ve seen it 100 times there, where it’s one bad week and everything’s falling apart … it’s one week and you can never really judge anything off that, and you knew they were going to bounce back from it.”
Welker said he and Brady “text back and forth” on occasion during the season, but it’s never really about football. (“It’s just really how he’s doing, the family and how my wife’s doing and stuff like that,” he said.) He said there probably won’t be much communication this week.
“This isn’t really a friend week this week,” he said. “So I don’t think so.”
Welker is in the second year of a two-year contract he signed with Denver in the spring of 2013, and has 19 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown this season with the Broncos. It represents a down year for the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder, who went from 118 catches in his final season with the Patriots (2012) to 73 last year, to now being on pace for roughly 40 this season.
However, he sounds OK with it, if that means more wins for Denver.
“Yeah it’s definitely been different, for sure,” he acknowledged. “Would I want the ball more? Yes. As long as we’re winning games and we’re being productive on offense and doing those things, I’m good with however we get that done.
“It’s kind of strange being … I feel like the weak link of our offense. [But] if I’m the weak link, we’re going to be OK. I’m excited about the guys we have and the camaraderie that we have together and really pulling for each other.”
He said he’s placing no added pressure on quarterback Peyton Manning to get him the ball Sunday because he’s going up against his old team.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price preview 16th edition of Tom Brady-Peyton Manning and what it all means||10.29.14 at 6:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price preview the big showdown between the 6-1 Denver Broncos and the 6-2 New England Patriots and the 16th edition in the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry. Brady holds a 10-5 lead in the series and had won the last four meetings before losing to Manning in the AFC championship last January in Denver. The two met in an epic contest last year at Gillette Stadium, when the Broncos raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead, only to see Brady and the Patriots execute a miracle comeback and win, 34-31, in overtime on field goal in the last minute.
|Tough enough: Even into their 30s, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning remain two of NFL’s most durable quarterbacks||at 4:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When you’re talking about football toughness, it’s easy to overlook the quarterback position.
They’re the ones who draw the multimillion dollar deals, marry the supermodels and get too much of the credit when their team wins and too much of the blame when they lose.
But at the same time, they remain some of the toughest players on the roster. And on Sunday, two of the most durable quarterbacks in the recent history of the game will do battle when Tom Brady and Peyton Manning meet for the 16th time in their careers at Gillette Stadium.
“I think really to play in the National Football League, you have to be tough. It’s a tough way to earn a living,” said Denver coach John Fox. “In my opinion, [the quarterbacks] earn every penny.”
Brady and Manning can be measured using a wide variety of metrics, but one thing that certainly sets them apart from their contemporaries is their durability. Brady had started 88 consecutive games, fourth-best among current NFL quarterbacks. (By way of comparison, Eli Manning is first overall with 158 straight games played, all of them starts. San Diego’s Philip Rivers is second with 137 straight games played, while Baltimore’s Joe Flacco is third with 104 straight games played.)
Before he sat out the entire 2011 season following neck surgery, Manning had a consecutive start streak of 227 games (including the postseason), one that dated back to his rookie year of 1998.
When talking about durability on Wednesday, both referenced Brett Favre, who started 297 straight games over 19 seasons.
“His toughness and his durability [have] been similar to Brett Favre,” Brady said of Manning, who has started 43 straight games with the Broncos since e took over as the starter prior to the 2012 season.
“That’s probably why he’s been breaking all those records because he’s been so consistent and durable [and] dependable for his team,” Brady added. “He’s off to another great start this year. He does everything right. I don’t know what more else I can say about him as a player. It means a lot to him. Obviously, he’s got great leadership, and that’s what it takes at the quarterback position.”
As for Manning, his durability comes down to a simple philosophy.
“Certainly, I think quarterback’s job — first and foremost — is to be out there,” Manning said on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve always wanted to be there.
“I’ve always had great respect for Favre’s consecutive start streak because he was always there. He played hurt and had great toughness and durability. I think Eli holds the longest streak now, which speaks to his [durability],” he added. “That was always one I was always kind of proud of — making all those starts until I got injured. That was kind of difficult, because I couldn’t always be there. I wanted to get back out there. I’ve been pleased I was able to be there for these two and a half years.”
Despite the fact that Brady was sidelined for most all of the 2008 season because of a knee injury he suffered in the regular season opener, Manning views Brady through the same lens.
“Brady is always there,” Manning said of the New England quarterback. “He’s always there. He had his long season where he was injured [in the first half] of the first game of the season, I think. I know I’ve talked to him. I know that was difficult for him for a lot of those same reasons. He couldn’t be there to help his team. Now, he’s been back, and he’s been playing like Tom Brady does.
“That’s one of his real strengths — always answering the bell.”
FOXBORO — One of the many storylines in Sunday’s Broncos-Patriots game is Rob Gronkowski facing Broncos safety T.J. Ward for the first time since last December when Ward was his the Browns and he hit Gronkowski low on his right knee, tearing his ACL in the process and ending his season.
Gronkowski was asked if he has any hard feelings towards Ward for the hit, but the tight end sidestepped the question.
“Just going out there playing like I play every day,” he said. “Just going out there trying to make some plays and do my job out there on the field and play to my max ability.”
He was later asked directly if Ward ever reached out following the season-ending hit.
“No,” Gronkowski said.
Gronkowski had a monster game last Sunday against the Bears, catching nine passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns, before leaving with dehydration after catching his third touchdown pass at the beginning of the third quarter. He echoed what he said after the game, saying he’s just fine and could have returned if he had to.
“Very well,” he said of his health. “Like I said, I could have come back into the game very easily.”
“The atmosphere is going to be unbelievable especially playing at home in front of the home crowd,” said Gronkowski. “It’s going to be a great game. The Denver Broncos are a very, very, very good team. One of the best in the league, if not the best team in the league.”
Obviously the biggest storyline, among many in the game, is the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning matchup and is something Gronkowski is looking forward to being part of.
“It’s honor to be out there with both of them,” said Gronkowski. “Brady versus Manning can’t get any better. [They are] two great quarterbacks and two legendary quarterbacks. It’s an honor to be a part of it. And I definitely want to be on the winning side.”
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