Tag Archives: Jerod Mayo

Running Game Has Patriots More Fit For AFC Championship Than Last Year

Okay Patriots fans this is their third straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game, but this time it is on the road. The Patriots have not won a road playoff game in what feels like forever, really 2006 in San Diego but I digress. I feel like the talk of Brady vs. Manning has been dialed down this week as there was so much time spent on it during the regular season. Peyton now has all the stats, as he took Brady’s single season touchdown record this season, as well as Drew Brees’ yards record. While Brady still has more rings.

LaGarrette Blount was a force last weekend against the Colts.

LaGarrette Blount was a force last weekend against the Colts.

Brady did not need to have to have a lights out game last weekend against the Colts as he mainly handed off the ball and kept the Colts offense off the field and when they were on the field the defense stepped up. Josh McDaniels always has something up his sleeve that really makes me scratch my head, so I hope they stick to the run this week in Mile High and continue to keep the opposing teams offense off the field.

After all the Broncos offense is a well oiled machine with Manning having Welker, Decker, and the Thomas’ to throw to. All four had double digit touchdowns this season. We remember Peyton had plenty of weapons in Indianapolis and only won one Super Bowl so here is hoping he will not come up in the big game again. His arm strength has declined but now he has Welker in the slot and Thomas on those screen passes.


The Chargers played the Broncos three times this season including last weekend’s Divisional matchup. Each time the Chargers defense held the Broncos under 30 points but unfortunately only won one of those games. The Broncos can win the shootout type games going up and down the field without question but when it comes down to it I don’t think they can win another time controlled game where the opposing team tries to eat the clock leaving the Broncos offense impatient. Also Tom Brady has had great success against Jack Del Rio defenses, the Broncos defensive coordinator and this year was no different as he lead the Patriots back in the second half of that great Sunday night thriller.

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NFL Week 15 Preview : Patriots @ Dolphins

Bill Belichick may have his toughest challenge to date after the loss of Gronkowski

It wasn’t pretty, in fact – it was a gruesome, improbable and miraculous 27-26 victory by Tom Brady and the Patriots last week against the Browns. Toss up, losing against Cleveland in Week 14 or losing Gronk for the postseason run? I think we all know the answer here. Just after New England escaped again in Houston, following a historic comeback versus Denver, the Pats absorbed their biggest blow of the season. It’s difficult to understand how New England is 10-3 after season-ending surgeries to two Pro Bowl defensive leaders in Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork. Losing the best TE in the game is just icing on the cake. If anything, 2013 has been an opportunity to reflect on how great of a mastermind Bill Belichick really is. He has been able to produce more with less for years and faces his steepest uphill climb to date. No one deserves the coach of the year more than BB.

While a death stare from the hooded menace may have taken the Browns safety’s soul, T.J. Ward took Gronk’s ACL/MCL in the 3rd quarter. Rewind to the first six weeks and the Patriots posted a scrappy 5-1 record without Rob, there’s hope.

New England controls their own #1 seed destiny after San Diego upset Peyton Manning and the Broncos last night 27-20. Furthermore, the Patriots have a chance to clinch their 11th AFC East title in 12 years by defeating the (7-6) playoff hungry Dolphins in Miami on Sunday. Incognito v Martin is still brewing but this mini-run is somewhat of a smoke-in-mirrors to their embarrassing MNF loss to a winless Tampa Bay squad at the height of the scandal. 2013 has been a roller-coaster ride full of luck, controversy and struggle for some but Belichick and Brady are exactly where every team in the NFL wants to be – a game away from clinching. The Patriots have the opportunity to make the Superbowl go through Gillette Stadium by winning out and it starts at Sun Life Stadium at 1:00 PM on CBS. Check out these three keys to victory for the New England:

1) Protect the ball: Over their last six games, the Patriots have had seven turnovers in the first half of these contests. That’s one easy way to fall behind early and often. This trend has been the achilles’ heal to an uncharacteristic season. Belichick is known for his second-half adjustments but these halftime deficits are scary and need to vanish, ASAP. Despite ranking 31st in the NFL by allowing opponents a healthy 135.8 rushing YPG, the young New England defensive unit has kept the Patriots in games by forcing 24 takeaways – good for 2nd in the AFC. When the Gronk returned in Week 7 and beyond, Brady smothered him with targets to a point where fans realized there was such a thing as forcing it too much to the beast. Tom was trigger happy and let more than a few get away from him in the first half of the season. Chemistry later developed and the offense was clicking on all cylinders, but now it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

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Patriots Match-Up Mania: Defense Vs. Steelers Offense

Will Belichick enjoy Sunday's result?

Will Belichick enjoy Sunday’s result?


The New England Patriots thrive in November. Is it possible for fans to be optimistic and focus on the team’s 35-13 record in this month? Probably not.

With an offense that is only consistent in its inconsistency – three points in the first half against Miami followed by 24 in the second half is a simple example – Bill Belichick’s defensive team needs to keep beatable teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers in check.

That’s not to say there are no questions surrounding the defense. The defensive injury bug has been well documented as Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo are lost for the season and Tommy Kelly and Aqib Talib remain in the air regarding their playing status. Kelly is definitely out tomorrow while Talib could play. Talib might not return until after the bye week.

I suspect the newest Patriot on the roster, Isaac Sopoaga, will be in uniform to help occupy space on the defensive line. A unstopping big man will serve to augment youngsters Joe Vellano and Chris Jones even with a lack of familiarity with the coaches and players in Foxboro. He got a nice vote of confidence from BB:

We have a couple more days to clean up a few things, but if he continues to progress through the week, I don’t think there’s any reason why he shouldn’t be ready to play…He’s a smart guy and he obviously has a lot of experience I’d say he’s had a real good career. For a fourth-round pick that’s done what he’s done, there aren’t too many of them that have done that. I think it’s been pretty good.

Pittsburgh is struggling as a team and their offense is no different as the 23rd best unit in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger can’t be overlooked, however, he is fronted by an offensive line in flux and possibly shorthanded. Chandler Jones should be able to take advantage of that situation.

Patriots Match-Up Mania: The Replacements, Continued…

Gronk has been cleared to play.

Bill Belichick’s post-game press conferences seldom yield any valuable information. It’s an annoying trend as Belichick possesses and can share significant insights into the sport he has a mastery of.

As the injury-riddled New England Patriots prepare to face the New York Jets at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Belichick inadvertently revealed his thoughts on all of the new players being worked into the team’s regular rotation with a seemingly innocuous comment to CSNNE.com’s Mary Paoletti. Bill was specifically replying to a question on newcomer Austin Collie and observed:

I mean, they’re never 100 percent ready. But there’s a difference between being ready and when you put the person in there and feel like, well there’s just too many things that can and probably will go wrong because they’re just not prepared enough for those…It’s certainly a very individualized type of call and I don’t think there’s any book on that. You just have to try to figure it out the best you can.

I’m focused on the “never 100 percent ready” comment, and I’m expanding the context of it beyond new players – veterans and rookies, alike – to injured veterans returning to the field and reserves switching roles to account for injuries, and starters changing positions. With the many injuries sapping the Patriots depth through six games, the concept of new players is at a premium in Foxboro.

Yes, Rob Gronkowski is available, or “cleared” by some doctor. Will he play? Who knows? Say he plays. What do we get? A fully Gronk’ed Gronk, or a timid, nervous Gronk who really isn’t ready but needs to see some action? Is he even in game shape after reportedly dominating practices? He has had success versus the Jets. Who hasn’t?

Collie made two key grabs in the Saints win. Kenbrell Thompkins isn’t really a replacement at all. However, he seems to be getting it now – finally. Did he “figure it out” in time to make his mark?

The real replacement match-ups to focus on are on the defense that could be without the squad’s top three players. Vince Wilfork we know about. Ditto for Jerod Mayo. Aqib Talib didn’t travel to New Jersey with the team. How do you fill those three holes?

McCourty could be playing corner at some point, too. But, he and Ninkovich taking a more pronounced role as captains is a significant match-up type issue. Players like Dane Fletcher, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, and draftees Jamie Collins and Logan Ryan need to take advantage of bigger roles due to injuries.

NFL Week 7 Preview: Patriots @ Jets

We all remember the infamous butt fumble game last Thanksgiving. Can Tom Brady and the Patriots take another chunk out of the Jets' soul?

The Patriots continue to surprise the NFL Sunday after Sunday. Last week, with half of Gillette Stadium leaving early to catch the Sox, New England executed a 70-yard game-winning touchdown drive in 73 seconds (with no timeouts) to stun the undefeated Saints on national television. Despite all the injuries and lack of chemistry on offense, the Pats are making just enough plays to remain at the top of the AFC East at (5-1).

Pro Bowl LB Jerod Mayo joined Vince Wilfork on the IR after tearing his right pectoral muscle, ending his season abruptly after surgery on Wednesday.  The quarterback of the defense, New England loses their leading tackler (55 total tackles) and most consistent every down player. Furthermore, CB Aqib Talib reinjured his left hip (limited in practice today) and DT Tommy Kelly banged up his right knee. How will the Patriots respond and progress? It starts with leadership. DB Devin McCourty and DE Rob Ninkovich were announced as defensive captains for the remainder of the season earlier this afternoon.

Although a few Patriots went down last week, one piece to puzzle is slated to make his overdue return. All parties; Patriots staff, Drew Rosenhaus, doctors, scientists, conspiracy theorists and even a promotional video have finally cleared TE Rob Gronkowski to link up with Brady and get #BackToSuper. Boasting a career (18-4) regular-season record against the New York Jets, TB12 and crew look to grind out another victory in Metlife Stadium at 1:00. Check out these three keys to victories for New England:

1)   Score Touchdowns: An elementary goal for all teams in the NFL, the Patriots continue to struggle in the Red Zone scoring just 9 touchdowns in 22 trips – good for 30th in the NFL. The silver lining under this struggle is the reemergence of Stevan Ridley last week. After missing the sloppy Bengals game, Ridley commanded the lion’s share of carries last week posting a 20 carry, 96 yards and 2 TD game. Stevan pounded it over the goal line from one and four yards out. After displaying his “breakaway speed” in Atlanta, LeGarrette Blount has not found the same success against Cincy and gained a measly 9 yards on 7 carries against New Orleans. We all know Brady found Kenbrell Thompkins from 17 yards out; however, K Stephen Gostowski is tied for the lead with 16 FGM out of 17 FGA. The accuracy is great but the attempts need to disappear in turn for more six spots. Getting the Gronk back will certainly improve these statistics. No Amendola will not.

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Gone In 73 Seconds: Patriots Last Gasp Victory Ends Saints’ Unbeaten Run



A half empty Gillette Stadium witnessed one of the greatest ends to a game in recent memory. With 73 seconds left and no timeouts remaining who else would you want leading your offense in to the last chance saloon other than Tom Brady. After all it was Terrific Tom who rallied the Patriots to victory in Louisiana at Super Bowl XXXVI when the team had no timeouts and just 1:30 left in regulation.

After turning the ball over on downs deep in their own half a Garrett Hartley field goal put New Orleans up 27-23 leaving the Pats needing a touchdown. Brady gathered the troops but then threw an interception on the first play of the drive shortly before the two minute warning which appeared to confirm defeat for Bill Belichick’s team. The Saints offense was thwarted by New England’s defense with their big stops giving Tom Brady and co had a chance to win the game.

The offense moved with urgency with the first pass completed when Brady hit Edelman in the middle of the field on a 23 yard play before throwing over the middle again on the second play of the drive to Austin Collie for the 15 yard reception. With time ticking away the team hurried to line but Brady was as composed as ever as he completed an important 6 yard pass to Aaron Dobson on the sideline with the rookie wideout being dragged out of bounds forcing the clock to stop.

At this point it appeared anything could happen but after two incomplete passes it looked like the Saints may hold out for the win as arguably the most crucial moment of the drive came up with the Patriots needing 4 yards to keep their hopes alive; Brady hit Collie on the left side for 9 yards to get the first down. The team spiked the ball after quickly lining up in formation meaning that with 10 seconds to go the team realistically had two shots at the end zone to win the game.

But the Patriots only needed one attempt with Brady showing why he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time by keeping calm and composed as he hit Thompkins in the left corner of the end zone with a perfect throw over the arms of the helpless defensive back Jabari Greer. The three-time Super Bowl champion had done it; his 342nd career touchdown pass, tying him with Fran Tarkenton for fourth all-time, was one fans of the Patriots will remember for years to come as getting a win with 5 seconds to go against very good opposition is something you don’t forget quickly.

brady v saints

A picture perfect throw!

It’s the 37th time Tom Brady has led the Patriots to victory from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie as well as the fifth game in his illustrious career in which Brady threw a game-winning TD pass in the final minute to turn a New England deficit into a win. The win over New Orleans will give Bill Belichick’s men a new found belief and confidence in themselves especially the young guys. This is extremely valuable as soon they will be approaching the business end of the season and will want to claim a bye in the playoffs so to get a momentous win like this can only be a good thing.

The Patriots are now 5-1 are now tied for the second best record in the league and are heading in to a big divisional rival matchup against the Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium which will host the upcoming Super Bowl in around 4 months. The young guys will get a feel and taste of a stadium which will host the big game come the end of the season so a memorable win over the Jets may even inspire the team to push even harder to go one step further and have a shot at creating an even more memorable experience by getting back to MetLife in February.

Unfortunately for New England the injuries are piling up with defensive captain Jerod Mayo officially being placed on injured reserve yesterday meaning he joins Vince Wilfork on the sidelines for the rest of the 2013 season. Cornerback Aqib Talib also sustained a hip injury on Sunday which is not good news considering he is one of the best shutdown corners in the league and was instrumental in keeping Saints tight end Jimmy Graham at bay as he finished the match with no catches; thankfully Dennard, Arrington and McCourty all contributed in making sure Graham was kept quiet by doing their part defensively.

On offense Danny Amendola suffered a nasty head injury leaving him with a concussion which is not good news for an already thin New England receiving core. After some key catches on Sunday during that final drive Austin Collie could play against the Jets while Dobson and Thompkins continue to get better and better week by week as well as the fact that the Patriots are still waiting on superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski to make his long awaited return to the field. Stevan Ridley had his best performance of the season with two touchdown runs for 110 yards so the offense is clearly progressing.

Despite the defensive injuries mentioned already the team re-signed DT Andre Neblett whilst Dont’a Hightower could possibly take over Jerod Mayo’s role; arguably it would suit it more than his current role considering that is where he played most at Bama. Fellow Sophomore Chandler Jones is becoming extremely valuable to the D and came up with a big sack against the Saints whilst rookie Jamie Collins will see more game time due to the teams injuries. New England’s defense has forced a turnover in 33 straight games which is the longest active NFL streak.

The Patriots have faced adversity early on in the season but 5 wins out of 6 is extremely impressive. There are many more challenges ahead but the old saying of ‘next man up’ is working for the team with the roster helping each other win games as a team through hard work and determination. There are trade rumours swirling regarding a wideout with Kenny Britt, Josh Gordan, Emmanuel Sanders and even Hakeem Nicks all possibilities for the Patriots offense. Regardless of that the Pats’ defense and offense have proved their worth throughout these opening six games by helping each other grind out wins with quality performances which makes it clear to see that New England remains as one of the best teams in the National Football League.

Unlucky Rob

Unlucky Rob

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