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Patriots Beef Up In Later Rounds With Linemen (Videos)

Bryan Stork was one of three offensive linemen taken by the New England Patriots on Saturday.



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The New England Patriots addressed their depth on both sides of the line of scrimmage in the final day of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

They came into the day with seven total picks after they added two more selections (in the fourth and sixth rounds) with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night.

1. Fourth Round (105th pick): Center Bryan Stork

In their first pick and the first of three fourth-round selections on Saturday, the Patriots chose center/guard out of Florida State, the reigning national champions. Stork started at center for the Seminoles, but the Patriots also could use him as a guard. This offseason, the Patriots brought back center Ryan Wendell on a two-year deal. The 6-foot-3-inch, 315-pound interior lineman will challenge Wendell. Last season, the Patriots struggled to protect Tom Brady from inside pass rushers. In the AFC Championship game, the Broncos were able to apply pressure in the middle. Also, the Cincinnati Bengals’ ferocious defensive line was able to sack Brady on four occasions in a 13-6 victory over the Patriots in a regular season game. Stork is a big body, but he has durability concerns. He missed several games with various ailments, including a concussion during a game last season against Maryland. He also did not play in a game against Boston College due to frequent headaches. If Stork can stay on the field, the Patriots may have a steal. This is the initial pick that the Patriots got from the Jaguars in the transaction on Friday.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiuQyUC2jJM?rel=0]

2. Fourth Round (130th): Running Back James White Read more

Patriots Pulse: Brady Shocks Brees, Saints With Last-Second Touchdown Pass

Kenbrell Thompkins skies to hang on to the game-winning touchdown pass and the Patriots held on to improve to 5-1 on the year.

Kenbrell Thompkins skies to hang on to the game-winning touchdown pass and the Patriots held on to improve to 5-1 on the year.


In a back-and-forth game at Gillette, when the leaves seemed to be a little redder at the end than they were at the start, Tom Brady once again reminded everyone in New England just exactly why he is one of the greatest of all-time. And it was one of his rookies, Kenbrell Thompkins, that was on the receiving end of the 17-yard pass as he jumped up and came down with the ball between his hands just above the outstretched defender in the corner of the endzone and all but locked up the 30-27 come-from-behind win over the previously undefeated Saints.

Trailing by four with just over a minute left, Brady drove the Pats 70 yards after the defense forced a New Orleans punt and left enough time by burning their three timeouts. He went 5-for-7 on the drive, utilizing Julian Edelman, Austin Collie and then Thompkins for big gains and also passing Vinny Testaverde for eighth on the all-time passing yards list.

“Guys made big time catches,” Brady said of his new receivers’ play on the final drive before adding that no matter what, he has confidence in his targets.

The Pats jumped out to a 17-7 halftime lead behind two rushing touchdowns from Stevan Ridley, who was back in the lineup after missing last week’s contest with a knee injury. A Stephen Gostkowski field goal on their first possession had made it 3-0, Pats. Drew Brees would keep his team in it, however, as he utilized some new targets to put up some points.

New England fell behind, 7-3, as Brees got the Saints on the board with a late touchdown pass in the first to Travaris Cadet from three yards out. Ridley would score the next two, though, and the Pats went into the dressing room with a 10-point lead despite no touchdown passes from Brady for the sixth straight quarter.

After deferring to the second half, the Saints came out with the first 10 points of the third quarter as well with a 28-yard field goal from Garrett Hartley first and then a three-yard run from Khiry Robinson, who was in there with Mark Ingram inactive for the contest. Gostkowski then broke the 17-17 tie with 1:36 left in the third and added his third of the day six and a half minutes into the fourth to make the score 23-17 Patriots with 8:34 to play.

Again, Brees answered, however, finding Kenny Stills with a 34-yard pass that Alfonzo Dennard appeared to have a beat on, but was unable to bat down in the corner of the endzone. Stills came down with both feet in and the Saints led, 24-23, with 3:29 to play. Plenty of time remained for Brady, but No. 12 couldn’t get anything going and New England was forced to punt. Hartley would then add three more and force the Pats to drive down the field needing a touchdown with 2:24 left.

Brady then threw a deep interception on the first play as he tried to connect with Edelman down the right side and it would be up to the defense to get the ball back. They held and with the help of the two-minute warning and their final timeout, were able to get the ball back into Brady’s hands.

He opened the game-winning drive with a 23-yard completion to Edelman before finding Collie for 15 more on the next play. Instead of clocking it with 39 seconds remaining, Brady faked the spike and fired to Aaron Dobson, who not only picked up six huge yards, but got out of bounds to stop the clock. After failing to connect with Edelman on each of the next two plays, including once at the goal line, Brady then found Collie again, who got to the New Orleans 17 with 10 seconds left on the scoreboard clock.

Then, Brady found the rookie, who made his third catch of the game to cap off the thrilling no-huddle drive and shock the undefeated Saints. Brady finished the game .25-of-43 for 269 yards and the one huge touchdown pass that sent his team to 5-1 on the year, while out-passing Brees.

“What more can you ask out of your leader?” Ridley said. “He put the team on his back.”

Danny Amendola, Dan Connolly and Aqib Talib all suffered injuries in the game, but despite hurting his hip, Talib was able to help contain tight end, Jimmy Graham, who had just zero catches for zero yards on six targets and failed to become the first tight end ever with five straight 100-yard receiving games.

Dobson was solid on the day and led the Pats with six catches for 63 yards and Ridley finished with 96 yards on 20 attempts. Edelman had five for 57 and a tight end actually snuck into the offense as Michael Hoomanawanui caught four balls for 57 yards. Joe Vellano led the team with eight tackles.

The touchdown pass to Thompkins would have tied Brees’ NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass had Brady’s streak not come to an end a week ago. Rob Gronkowski was inactive for a sixth straight game.

New England (5-1) remains alone atop the AFC East and will take on the Jets for the second time this season next Sunday afternoon while New Orleans, who fell to 5-1, will host the Bills.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

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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Patriots Super Bowl Chances Looking Better And Better

It's been a while since we've seen this as Tom Brady, surprisingly, hasn't raised the Lombardi Trophy in eight years.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen this as Tom Brady, surprisingly, hasn’t raised the Lombardi Trophy in eight years, but his chances this February look good.

Before Monday night’s demolition of the league’s best team, the Houston Texans, the Patriots were thought to be in pretty good position in their pursuit for their fourth Super Bowl Title. Since their 42-14 win, however, the Pats have gone from Super Bowl contenders to Super Bowl favorites with oddsmakers placing them at 3-1 to win Super Bowl XLVII.

If they can destroy the then 11-1 Texans by 28 points, then the feeling is that they should be able to beat anybody in any round of the playoffs. After all, the team’s three losses this season have been by a total of four points if we remember and two out of three came against playoff caliber teams in the Ravens and the Seahawks.

The 11 other teams currently in position to make the playoffs are averaging 25.4 points per game this year. The Patriots are averaging 36.3 points per game this season – 7.5 points per game more than the second-highest scoring team, the Broncos. In fact, their offense is on pace to perhaps break the record for the most points scored in a season, which is held by the 2007 team (589) as they have scored 472 points through 13 games.

Those 11 teams are also allowing an average of 19.6 points per game, something else that New England would seem to not have a problem dealing with. They have scored less than 19 points only once this season (18 in Week 2).

The Patriots’ last six games have resulted in these point totals: 45, 37, 59, 49, 23, 42. Would anybody really be able to slow them down enough at a time in his career when Tom Brady is playing on a whole other level?

Though they have three losses, many of their wins have come against playoff teams, including big ones against Houston and the Colts, as well as a 10-point victory over the Broncos. Their schedule was not as tough last year when they went 14-2 and won the AFC Championship.

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Late McCourty Interception Gets Patriots By Bills

 

The Patriots treated service men and women both still in New England and abroad to a Veterans Day win on Sunday as they found a way to hold on and beat the Bills 37-31 in a shootout at home with the help of a couple of crucial Buffalo turnovers and 14 penalties.

The Bills had a chance to win it as they got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining, trailing by six following Stephen Gostkowski‘s third field goal of the day, but Ryan Fitzpatrick was picked off by Devin McCourty in the endzone with less than 30 seconds left – the Bills’ second red zone turnover of the day. Somehow McCourty ended up being huge for the Patriots in this win, something that will need to continue down the stretch if the Patriots want to make a deep playoff run. He figured in both Buffalo red zone turnovers in the 2nd half, which were clearly monumental in securing the win for the Pats.

In an ugly game that featured virtually no defense and its fair share of drops, the team that had the ball last surprisingly didn’t win. The Bills were called for 14 penalties – 6 of which came in the 1st quarter alone. After a 3rd & 1 on their opening drive, Buffalo was guilty of three straight penalties and conceded possession with a draw on 3rd & 21 that put them out of scoring range.

New England got the scoring started with the first of three Gostkowski field goals on their opening drive. Gostkowski connected from 43 yards out to put the home team on top 3-0 with six minutes left in the 1st quarter. The Pats were forced to settle for the field goal, however, after Wes Welker dropped a slightly high pass from Tom Brady with nothing but the goal post in front of him.

The Pats were also aided by two dropped interceptions resulting from tipped passes at the line of scrimmage. Deion Branch caught two balls on the drive, equaling his most productive game reception wise all season. Branch would finish with four catches on the day for 30 yards – the most catches he’s had for the Patriots this year.

On the ensuing Buffalo drive, Vince Wilfork sacked Fitzpatrick for his first sack of the year believe it or not and forced a fumble to be recovered by Jermaine Cunningham at the Bills’ 13-yard line. Three plays later, Stevan Ridley punched it in from a yard out to make the score 10-0 Patriots. Ridley finished with 98 yards on 22 carries and had 100 until a loss of two in the 4th quarter set him back below the century mark. The Pats were aided by two pass interference calls on the Bills in the endzone on the very quick drive.

After one, the Patriots led 10-0, the Bills had committed six penalties for 40 yards and turned the ball over leading to a New England touchdown. But, as we have seen in the last three meetings between these two teams, an early lead is never safe.

The Bills would kick a field goal to cut the lead to seven and then Brady led the Patriots on a methodical drive using the no-huddle to perfection and Danny Woodhead ran the ball in untouched from 15 yards out to put New England on top by 14 and their largest margin of the day at 17-3. Woodhead was responsible for the final three plays on the drive as Brady fed the ball to the hot hand. Both Welker and Rob Gronkowski came up big on the drive as Brady floated a perfect pass to Gronk right down the middle of the field to gain 24 yards on 1st down.

Feeling a bit of urgency, the Bills quickly answered the latest Patriots’ score with one of their own. Fred Jackson ran through about seven Patriots tacklers on his way to the endzone from 14 yards out to bring it back within seven. Fitzpatrick was perfect on the drive, completing all three of his passes and bringing his total to seven straight completions. A 12-yard C.J. Spiller burst on the previous play set up Jackson, who made McCourty’s tackling attempt look like that of a pee wee player.

Like they so often do, the Patriots came right back and Brady connected with a diving Gronkowski in the corner of the endzone to make it 24-10. Gronk now has five touchdown catches in his last three games, but chose to celebrate this one with a traditional American spike. He finished with three catches for 31 yards and the score on the day and now has at least one touchdown catch in all six career games against the Bills. The TD pass marks the 41st straight game in which Brady has recorded a touchdown throw and he remains 11 behind Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, who threw at least one touchdown in his 52nd straight game in Sunday’s upset win over the previously undefeated Falcons. The Pats were helped by 69 more Buffalo penalty yards on the drive.

Now of course that wasn’t the end of the scoring for the half in this wildly offensive game. With 31 seconds left, Fitzpatrick found Patriot killer Scott Chandler for a 3-yard score as Dont’a Hightower somehow lost the big tight end in the endzone. After a slight bobble, Chandler held on for his fifth touchdown catch of the year and third against the Patriots. It was 24-17 at the half and with the late touchdown drive by the Bills, the crowd was taken out of it for the time being.

Getting the ball first in the 2nd half, it would serve the Patriots well to come away with points, but their opening drive of the half stalled and Brady adamantly voiced his displeasure with Welker, who may have run the wrong route a couple of plays earlier. Brady was then sacked on 3rd down and openly voiced his displeasure with his offensive line as well. After scoring on their first four possessions, the Pats failed to come away with points again.

After a Buffalo punt, the next Patriots drive was much more Patriot-like. They struck quickly and efficiently, going 39 yards in 1:39 as Brady found Woodhead for his second touchdown catch of the day and the 31-17 lead. Sunday was the first time in his five-year NFL career that Woodhead has recorded a multi-touchdown game. For the sixth time in nine games, the Patriots offense hit the 30 point plateau (5-1). Brady would finish the game 23-38 for 237 yards and two touchdowns.

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Patriots Nip Jets In OT, Reclaim First Place In AFC East

It was Rob Ninkovich’s strip sack of Mark Sanchez in overtime that sealed the Patriots’ fourth win of the season on Sunday, 29-26.

There’s nothing quite like a rivalry football game in Foxboro on a crisp late Sunday afternoon in October. And there’s definitely nothing better than when the Patriots sport their red ’80s throwback jerseys.

The league’s best offense hosted the Jets and their head coach and defensive genius, Rex Ryan in a battle for first place in the AFC East on Sunday.

As if the rivalry and division lead being on the line weren’t enough, it doesn’t get much better than these two coaches. Along with Ryan, Bill Belichick is another mind game guru and it was sure to be a battle of head games.

Mix in a little Tim Tebowand the possibility that he might see time at running back and we knew we would be in for an exciting afternoon in Foxboro.

If you didn’t want an exciting lead with some wacky plays and a surprise ending, then, well, you got one anyway.

The Jets offense seemed to figure it out in last week’s blowout over the Colts when they took the ball out of Mark Sanchez’s hands. The run game dominated last week and Shonn Greene had a career day, but against the Patriots secondary, or lack thereof, Sanchez sought to take advantage. He almost did, but the Patriots hung on for the victory.

Even though they didn’t quite make it to 30 points, they got close enough and finally found a way to win one of these close games by a final score of 29-26.

It started out looking like the Jets and their lackluster receiving group would have no problem with the struggling Patriots’ secondary. Aided by a red zone flag on Ras-I Dowling and a couple of big plays to Jeremy Kerley as well as a couple of positive plays for Tebow, Greene carried it in from a yard out and the Jets took a 7-0 lead after a long first drive. Kyle Arrington got worked a couple of times on the drive.

Then, something amazing happened. On only his eighth career kickoff return, Devin McCourty took it 104 yards to tie the game at seven. Tom Brady and the offense had hardly done anything, but the game was tied midway through the first despite the Jets strong special teams play. The return touchdown marked the second longest in New England history and the team’s first since 2010 when Brandon Tate took one all the way. Ellis Hobbs took one back 108 yards in 2008.

Just when it seemed the Jets had the momentum, McCourty snatched it away and the defense forced the Jets to go three and out. Brady drove down the field and found Rob Gronkowski with a perfect throw in the corner of the endzone from 17 yards out. New England scored two TD’s in four and a half minutes and Brady recorded a touchdown pass in his 39th straight game, remaining ten behind Drew Brees, who threw a touchdown in his 49th straight game earlier in the day. The first quarter ended with New England driving and on top 14-7, but the drive would stall and the Pats would be forced to punt.

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