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Breaking: Patriots Re-sign Talib

Aqib Talib wil return to the Patriots in 2013.

Aqib Talib wil return to the Patriots in 2013.

Just after 11:45 this morning, Adam Schefter broke the good news that all Patriots fans wanted to hear. After letting one of their “big three” free agents in Wes Welker get away earlier this week, the team has reached an agreement with cornerback, Aqib Talib, on a one-year deal reportedly worth $5 million.

The news comes less than a day after the organization announced they signed five-time Pro Bowl safety, Adrian Wilson, formerly of the Cardinals. He will replace Patrick Chung, who left for Philadelphia.

Bringing Talib back should fortify the Patriots secondary, which struggled mightily last season. Talib’s presence alone was a season-changer for them and he was missed in the AFC championship game after being forced to leave with an injury. He also battled a hip injury during much of his time in New England, but should be good to go for the 2013 season.

As long as he can remain healthy and out of trouble, Talib has shown that he can be a very useful player for the Patriots’ defense. His size as a corner presents matchup problems for opposing receivers and his skill usually puts him against the opposing team’s best threat.

Talib reportedly turned down several multi-years deals the Patriots offered him and stuck with one of the one-year variety.

The team has also met with defensive ends Dwight Freeney and John Abraham with the expectation that they could very well sign one of them – more likely Abraham.

As free agency continues, Talib adds to the list of defensive players signed by the team that includes the aforementioned Wilson and also Kyle Arrington, who they reached a four-year agreement with Friday as well. It has also been reported that the team is close to making an offer to former Steelers receiver, Emmanuel Sanders.They added former Bill, Donald Jones, Friday after the departure of Welker for the Broncos and Danny Woodhead to the Chargers. After a very quiet start to free agency, the Patriots are coming alive.

With Alfonzo Dennard potentially facing jail time for his conviction of assault on a police officer, at least one conrnerback position will be accounted for in 2013. Next priority: Sebastian Vollmer.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

Ravens Shock Patriots, Return To Super Bowl

Tom Brady sits on the ground following the interception that sealed the game for the Ravens.

Tom Brady sits on the ground following the interception that sealed the AFC Championship game win for the Ravens.

Remember when Tom Brady in the postseason was as sure as death or taxes? His 9-0 start to his postseason career had people all over New England thinking that this late-round diamond in the rough could never do any wrong. Three championships in his first four seasons.

None in his last eight.

Maybe it was payback. Maybe it was destiny. Whatever it was, Joe Flacco outplayed Brady, the Ravens defense outplayed that of the Patriots and as banged up as Baltimore  had been this year, it was the home team and favorite that felt the blows when it mattered most. Oh, and Ray Lewis, with the help if his good friend, God, has lived to play another day – and for the Super Bowl.

From the moment the coin hit the ground in favor of the Ravens and they deferred to the second half – stealing the Patriots’ bread and butter on their home field – it just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. They committed fewer penalties, made less mistakes and completed a higher percentage of their passes. Most importantly, their zero turnovers, compared to three from the Patriots, were nothing less than huge. They were the team that executed better on Sunday.

Like it did towards the end if the regular season, the Patriots offense struggled to capitalize when their defense set them up with good field position and scored just 13 points – their lowest total of 2012. As the league’s No. 1 offense, the fewest points they had scored this year before yesterday were 18 in the Week 2 loss to the Cardinals.

The windy conditions at Gillette Stadium forced both teams to play conservatively and cost the Pats a couple chances at field goals they would normally attempt.

Their opening drive looked promising, but Wes Welker couldn’t haul in a deep pass from Brady when he had his defender beat by a couple if steps. They then almost caught the Baltimore special teams off guard, however, as Ryan Mallett snuck into the punt formation and forced the Ravens to burn a timeout.

A quick three-and-out by Baltimore gave New England the ball back, but only after a holding penalty called on Aqib Talib backed them up to their own 21. They had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski and took a 3-0 lead on their 32nd straight red zone possession that resulted in points.

The next Baltimore drive ended quickly as well, but came at a cost as Talib hurt his thigh while breaking up a pass on third and long. Some production from last week’s star Shane Vereen on the ensuing drive and a 15-yard personal foul penalty called on Lewis were for not as Brandon Lloyd ended up dropping a tough catch on third down.

Flacco then missed an open Dennis Pitta down the field and New England couldn’t convert following a 28-yard punt return from Welker as Paul Kruger influenced the Brady pass. The Pats D allowed just one completion in the first quarter and the Ravens went 0-for-3 on third down. New England led the Ravens 3-0 after one quarter of the AFC Championship game for the second consecutive year.

As the second quarter began, Flacco would lead a 90-yard drive in his first Title Game win to put the Ravens on the board with a two-yard run by Ray Rice. Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower both missed tackles on the back as he then walked into the endzone on second down. Pitta had an 18-yard reception on third and four and Flacco took advantage of Talib’s absence, hitting Torrey Smith on a 25-yard pass to the New England 15.

Brady would answer right away, however, aided by another personal foul penalty, this time on Dannell Ellerbe. A 24-yard pass to Welker set the Pats up in good position and Brady found him again from a yard out to make it 10-7 Patriots with 4:18 left in the opening half.

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Patriots 2012 Regular Season By The Numbers

On the surface, it is easy for any fan to see just how good or bad of a season their team has had. Whether it be wins and losses or total points put up, some stats tell the story, god or bad, of the year of their favorite team.

What most fans fail to sometimes realize, however, is all the stats that go into making an NFL team successful. Here are a bunch you would never even think to remotely consider about the 2012 season of the New England Patriots.

You name it. If it can be statistically tracked in the NFL, it’s probably in this post.

0 – The number of wins the team had when their leading rusher was under 40 yards for the game (0-2).

0 – The Patriots had no two-point conversions on the year. Just kind of odd.

0.5 – Brandon Bolden averaged half a yard more per carry than Stevan Ridley did.

1 – The number of franchises to score 500 points four different times. New England accomplished that this year after 500-point seasons in 2007, 2010 and 2011 as well.

1 – The New England offense ranked first in the NFL in total yards, yards per game, points and points per game in 2012.

1 – Of the four members of the team who finished the year as the starting secondary, only one (Devin McCourty) was on the team last year. Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Steve Gregory were the other three.

1 – Vince Wilfork‘s four forced fumbles were tied for first in the NFL.

1 – The number of full games that tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were both on the field for the whole contest – the season finale against the Dolphins.

1 – The number of NFL quarterbacks to throw at least one touchdown pass in all 16 regular season games for three straight seasons – Tom Brady in 2010-12.

2 – The number of teams to ever win 10-plus games in 10 consecutive seasons – the Patriots became the second to accomplish that this year.

2 – Their two-game losing streak in Weeks 2 and 3 was tied for their longest losing streak since they lost four straight in the 2002 season.

2 – This season was the second time they have gone undefeated against the AFC East, joining the 2007 team.

2 – The number of teams to ever record 400 first downs in a season – the 2012 Pats and the 2011 Saints.

2 – The number of points that Stephen Gostkowski needed to tie the all-time single-season Patriots scoring record set by Gino Cappelletti in 1964.

3 – Pass plays in the NFL this season longer than Shane Vereen‘s 83-yard reception in Week 12.

3 – It had been three years since the Patriots lost four or more games in a season (10-6 in 2009).

3 – The Pats have scored 500-plus points in three consecutive seasons.

The Patriots' offense has been unstoppable in the three years since drafting this duo.

The Patriots’ offense has been nearly unstoppable in the three years since drafting this duo.

4 – New England had four different players lead the team in receiving in their 16 games – Brandon Lloyd (3), Wes Welker (9), Gronkowski (3) and Vereen (1).

4 – It was Brady’s fourth career season of throwing 30 or more touchdown passes, good for a tie for the fourth-most all-time.

4 – Welker finished four receptions behind league-leader Calvin Johnson, who had 122 on the year.

4 – The Patriots have made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.

4 – The team had four different players lead them in rushing in their 16 games – Ridley (13), Bolden (1), Julian Edelman (1) and Danny Woodhead (1).

5 – There have only been five Patriots running backs to rush for 1,200 yards in the team’s history. Ridley became the fifth this year.

5 – Wilfork was elected to the fifth Pro Bowl of his career and will start on the defensive line for the AFC.

5 – The team has held its opponents to 20 points or less in five of six games since Nov. 18 (5-1).

6 – In 16 games, the Patriots only lost six fumbles.

6 – The Pats finished six spots higher in total defense this year compared to last season when they finished 31st in the league.

6 – New England has been a top-10 offense in the NFL for six straight seasons.

7 – The amount of consecutive games that Brady needs to throw a touchdown pass in to break the all-time record of 54.

7 – New England’s longest winning streak of the year from Week 7 through Week 14.

7 – The number of points that Brady’s total QBR trailed Peyton Manning‘s for tops in the league.

7 – McCourty was one of seven NFL players to return a kickoff more than 100 yards on the year.

7 – The team sent seven members to the Pro Bowl in 2012.

New England's seven Pro Bowlers in 2012 are the third-most in the league.

New England’s seven Pro Bowlers in 2012 are the third-most in the league.

7 – Last year’s NFL leader in interceptions, Kyle Arrington, had seven fewer interceptions in 2012 than a year ago. He had seven in 2011.

8 – The number of years it had been since the team had a 1,200-yard rusher before this year. Corey Dillon rushed for 1,635 yards in 2004.

8 – Rob Ninkovich led the team with eight sacks on the year.

8 – The Pats had eight return TD’s on the season.

9 – The number of games in which the starting offensive line of Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Logan Mankins were all on the field together.

9 – Brady now ranks ninth on the NFL’s all-time passing list with 44,806 yards. He needs 1,427 yards to pass Vinny Testaverde.

9 – Ridley finished the season as one of just nine non-kickers in the top-40 in the league in scoring.

9 – The team has a nine-game division win streak heading into next season.

10 – The number of consecutive 10-win seasons for the Patriots – the second longest such streak ever (16).

10 – The team scored 30-plus points 10 times in their 16 games in 2012 (8-2).

10 – The number of players who had a rushing attempt for the Pats in 2012 led by Ridley’s 290 carries.

10 – New England had 10 more sacks than it allowed in 2012.

11 – They also had 11 more interceptions than their opponents did.

11 – The combined number of points New England fell by in its four losses against the Cardinals (2), Ravens (1), Seahawks (1) and 49ers (7).

11 – The number of current and former Pro Bowl running backs that Ridley out-rushed in 2012.

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How The HELL Did The Cardinals Beat The Patriots? Not Even God Supports Them Now (PHOTO)

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Just three months removed from beating the New England Patriots in Foxboro (where they NEVER lose) and staring out 4-0,  the Arizona Cardinals find themselves in a living, breathing HELL (losers of NINE straight).

After the man upstairs “put the horns on” Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski on his attempt to win the game, G-O-D has pulled up the stakes on the Cardinals.

No more miracles….to be had.

Cardinals-church-sign

(PHOTO: Victory Formation)

From Victory Formation:

The swoon has not gone unnoticed. West Greenway Bible Church in Gelndale, AZ (this is the same Phoenix suburb where the Cardinals play) has poked some fun at the hometown team. Yes, even The Cardinals can find salvation, but with the Bidwells in charge, they’d probably just waste it.

I guess “The Big Kahuna In The Sky” had the under on the Cards/Seahawks game.

Edelman, Gregory Spark Patriots As Fans THANKFUL For Smackdown Of Jets

Tom Brady, one of three Players of the Game, bites into a turducken drumstick after the Patriots’ 49-19 Thanksgiving Night win.

After a long day of turkey, stuffing and everything in between, the best part of the day finally arrived. The injury-battered Patriots and fast-fading Jets faced off for the second time this year on Thanksgiving Night in the Meadowlands as the Jets tried to salvage their season with a win over their archrivals.  The game was nothing short of bizarre with a scoreless 1st quarter followed by a 38-point 2nd quarter as well as the first 35-5 score in NFL history. When all was said and done, the Patriots won their fifth straight by a score of 49-19.

Rex Ryan, fresh off of eating three or four Thanksgiving dinners, led the 4-6 Jets into the Thanksgiving Night game against their most bitter division rivals. The short week proved killer for New York as the Patriots torched the Jets for 49 points including their first 35 in the 2nd quarter. The win improved New England’s record to 19-0 in the second half of the past three seasons.

It was an ugly start to the game as the teams traded punts and then a low throw from Tom Brady, who was looking for Wes Welker, brought up a 4th down for the Pats. Stephen Gostkowski was summoned and promptly missed his second field goal in the last two weeks and the score remained 0-0 midway through the 1st quarter, but Brady did go over 3,000 yards in a season for the 10th time in his career. He’s just the sixth player in NFL history to accomplish that feat six times.

The Jets began to drive until, in typical Mark Sanchez fashion, he threw an interception in the red zone. Steve Gregory picked it off to give the ball back to the Pats. It was the 22nd straight game with a takeaway for New England, the longest active streak in the NFL.

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Celtics Tweets of Interest: Jeff Green’s Man Wins Election; Rajon Rondo Teaches Freshman Algebra

 

The Boston Celtics are off to a poor start at 1-2. They began the 2012-’13 season in Miami where they fell to the defending NBA champions, the Heat. This angered Celtics fans as former Celtic Ray Allen scored 19 points for the Heat. The game was going to be tough since the Heat kept the majority of their players from last year’s squad and they added both Allen and Rashard Lewis.

On Friday night, the Celtics lost their home opener to the Milwaukee Bucks. Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings outplayed Rajon Rondo. Jennings posted 21 points, 13 assists, and six steals.  The Celtics fell behind early and could never find any rhythm on either side of the court.

The Celtics finally got their first victory when they survived the Washington Wizards. These Wizards were playing without starting point guard John Wall and center Nene. The Celtics blew a 16-point lead in the first half, but Paul Pierce drilled the game-winning trey that put the Celtics ahead, 87-86. The Celtics were able to hold the Wizards scoreless over the final two and a half minutes.

Despite the team’s struggles, the players are tweeting about Election Night and community events.

 

Heat guard Dwyane Wade might think Rondo acted like a punk when Rondo committed a flagrant foul in the final minutes of the Celtics, 120-107 loss, but Rondo is proving to be a role model for a Freshman Algebra class at Burke High School. Instead of sending tweets about his political beliefs, Rondo was teaching 9th graders. He just needs to show more leadership on the court by bringing a complete effort every night instead of letting guards like Jennings penetrate to the basket with no resistance.

Overall, the Celtics are incorporating new faces on the roster and Doc Rivers is working out different combinations so it is only natural that the Celtics would get off to a sluggish start. Even the New England Patriots lost their home opener to a less talented squad in the Arizona Cardinals. The NBA season is only a week old and there are 79 more games left.

 

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