Tag Archives: Kyle Arrington

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 Score Twice In Final Two Minutes For Third Straight Comeback Victory

Tom Brady celebrates taking the lead late in the fourth quarter with Ryan Wendell.


For the third straight week, the Patriots offense got off to a slow start, and for the third straight week, led by Tom Brady, they found a way to dig themselves out of the hole. Trailing 26-14 with two minutes left after Cleveland made it a two-possession game, Brady led the team to not one but two touchdowns to give them the improbable victory, 27-26.

Unlike the previous two times, however, it took two touchdowns in the final two minutes to earn the victory. Not to mention recovering an onside kick and keeping the Browns and kicker Billy Cundiff just far enough away so that his 58-yard attempt came up just short as time expired.

“That was awesome,” said Brady after the game. That was awesome. What a game. I’m just proud of the guys. We fought through a lot of adversity. A lot of mental toughness. We grinded it out, so it was pretty sweet.”

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Patriots Stun Broncos With Biggest Comeback In Team History

Julian Edelman leaps into the end zone to give the Patriots the lead in the fourth quarter.

It was fitting that the coldest regular-season game played in Foxboro in the last 20 years (22 degrees) was also (one of) the best regular-season games played in Foxboro in the last 20 years. For the 10th time in 14 career meetings with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady got the best of the other best quarterback of our era after Denver dominated the home team in the first half, but just the first half, scoring the first 24 points of the game and forcing three turnovers.

It was the final turnover, however, that was the biggest one. Denver special teams player, Tony Carter, allowed the ball to hit him after Wes Welker, back to return the kick with three minutes remaining in overtime, may have made the “get away” call just a little too late. New England recovered and three plays later, Stephen Gostkowski capped the biggest comeback in Patriots’ history with a 31-yard field goal to beat the Denver Broncos, 34-31.

If you’re going to turn the ball over three times in a game, you might as well get them all out of your system in the first half.

“The weather conditions get a little tough [and] things can turn quickly,” said  Brady, who finished 34-of-50 for 344 yards and three touchdowns, of the second-half turnaround.

Despite only one touchdown pass from Manning in the first half, Denver jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks to Patriots’ fumbles on each of their first three possessions. Von Miller returned the first 60 yards for a touchdown 4:53 into the game and Kowshon Moreno plowed in from two yards out just over a minute later following a Brady fumble that was returned to the New England 10. They were two of his 224 rushing yards on the night, easily a career-high.

Then, LeGarrette Blount put the ball on the ground, leading to a field goal and quick 17-0 lead before Manning threw his first touchdown pass to in the second quarter to make it 24-0 all before the break.

It seemed like it would be a laugher after the first 30 minutes, but Brady drove the Pats down the field after receiving the second-half kickoff and after just eight plays, hit Julian Edelman from five yards out to make it 24-7. Then, after five straight draw plays to begin their first drive of the half, Moreno put the ball on the ground as Dane Fletcher jarred it out and Brandon Spikes got the recovery. Six plays after that, Brandon Bolden ran it in from a yard out and just like that it was 24-14. By the end of the third, it was 24-21 as Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on 3rd-and-6 to bring the Pats within three.

It kept going after that. Manning threw just his sixth interception of the year into the arms of Logan Ryan and three plays later, Brady hit Edelman for their second scoring connection of the night to cap the 30-yard, 78-second drive and somehow give the Patriots the 28-24 lead.

After Wesley Woodyard dropped a tipped interception that he had both his hands on and a would-be 2nd-and-20 was negated by an illegal hands to the face penalty, Gostkowski hit his 20th consecutive kick to give the Pats the seven-point lead with just over seven and a half remaining.

When it looked like it could be over on the next Denver drive, Aqib Talib, who had completely shut down Demaryius Thomas all night, was called for holding and negated his own interception, giving the Broncos some hope. Then Manning started converting third downs and Thomas started catching passes. And the Patriots started committing penalties. With 3:06 left, Manning hit Thomas from 11 yards out to tie the score at 31 after Denver picked up two first downs from penalties on the drive, including a pass interference call on Rob Ninkovich on 3rd-and-7 in the red zone. Brady would then go three and out and Ryan Allen was called to punt the ball to Welker with 1:45 remaining.

Denver took over at the 33-yard line, going into the wind. Then, Manning went three and out with a near sack from Andre Carter, a pass break-up from Kyle Arrington and an incomplete floater to give Brady one more chance from his own 11-yard line with 28 seconds left and two timeouts. Just a screen and a draw would take Brady and Manning to overtime, though.

After winning the coin toss, the Pats elected to forego possession and select the side of the field with the wind at their back, giving Manning and the Broncos the ball first. Both teams would trade possessions with New England’s ending on a long incomplete sideline pass on 3rd-and-4 after everyone thought Kenbrell Thompkins was interfered with on the previous throw, forcing the Pats to burn their first timeout to cool off.

When it seemed the Pats would be playing for a tie at best, the only thing that hadn’t happened in the game happened. Nate Ebner recovered the loose ball at the 18 and with 6’8’’ backup quarterback Brock Osweiler in the game to try to get the block, Gostkowski sent those who stuck it out home happy with a little bit of history to take with them.

Special teams players pile on Nate Ebner after he recovered the botched punt to set up the winning field goal.

Special teams players pile on Nate Ebner after he recovered the botched punt to set up the winning field goal.

“We just calmed down and each played one play at a time,” said Edelman, who finished with nine catches for 110 yards and the two huge touchdowns. “We didn’t turn the ball over in the second half.”

For Brady, it was his 33rd game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime and this was certainly one of the bigger ones as New England now controls its own destiny in its hunt for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Denver turned the ball over four times in the second half while the Patriots played mistake-free and scored on all five of their possessions, including 21 points in the third quarter, 10 in the fourth and, of course, the three in overtime. Manning finished with just 150 passing yards while Brady put up 344. It was the Pats’ ability to score touchdowns and not having to settle for field goals that gave them a chance to get back in the game.

While they did fumble the ball six times, they only losy three. Welker finished his return to Foxboro with just four catches for 41 yards and, of course, it wouldn’t be a Welker outing at Gillette without a big drop.

“We had a lot of guys step up here,” said Bill Belichick after the game. “You could rattle off 35-40 guys.”

After the improbable victory, New England will move on to the disappointing Texans (2-9) while the Broncos will take on the Chiefs for the second time in three weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

NFL Week 12 Preview: SNF – Broncos @ Patriots

Manning travels into Foxboro for Round XIV against Brady on Sunday Night Football


There’s a first time for everything. 2013 has been a roller-coaster ride for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The 24-20 Monday Night loss against the Panthers marks their second controversial defeat of the year. Just as the pieces finally came together before the bye week, the Pats faced the 2nd overall defense in the NFL and it certainly showed. Although TB12 started out hot, he finished the game 29/40 for 296 yards with 1 TD and the game ending interception as time expired. The Patriots were held to 107 rushing yards, as both Ridley and Blount failed to surpass 50 yards respectively. Ridley did however score a touchdown, marking his 5th straight game to do so. A ton of penalties crippled both teams but the athletic Cam Newton made just enough plays to earn the victory his career and city so desperately needed. AFC seeding aside, the win meant more for Carolina than the New England loss. They did not play well enough to deserve a win. What’s next? Round XIV of the Brady (36) vs. Manning (37) saga on Sunday Night Football. There is no way the under is clearing in this high octane AFC matchup. Brady is 9-4 in his career against Eli’s better half, who has thrown 34 TDs to Tom’s 14 – yikes. So while the Patriots come off a short week and a tough loss, the Broncos beat the streaking (9-0) Chiefs to restore order in the AFC West. Check out these three keys to victory for the Patriots come Sunday night:

1) Devin McCourty & DB Play: With CB Alfonso Dennard (knee) most likely out on Sunday, Duron Harmon will be thrusted into more snaps at safety. McCourty should be an integral part to the pass defense and will be lined up against WR Eric Decker and TE Julius Thomas. Aside from his play on the field, Devin needs to corral his defensive backs mentally in the locker room. Aqib Talib was a hot head on the big stage, losing his composure against rival WR Steve Smith early and often – putting him on the sideline for multiple key plays. CB Kyle Arrington will be lined up against Welker in the slot, who has been practicing since sustaining a concussion last week. Rookie Logan Ryan has proved to be a solid tackler but has not turned heads or his with ball skills. It will be a challenge to halt this offense but it ends with Devin McCourty. Assuming Gregory will be limited on Sunday Night, a big performance from our center-fielder could propel the Patriots to a victory.

2) Protection: From Brady’s pocket to ball security, the Carolina defense got to New England when it mattered in Week 11. A sack took the Patriots out of field goal range on their opening drive, forcing a punt. Ridley’s fumble in the Red Zone was also an early squander. New England escaped an odd first half down 10-3 and stepped it up in the second half as Tom only get sacked once more. There isn’t that much room to make mistakes against elite teams and there is no doubt that Peyton Manning makes you pays for costly errors. The Patriots will need to execute a clean and efficient gameplan to have any chance of beating the 39.8 PPG Denver Broncos. This starts with giving Brady enough time to dish it out and providing running room for Ridley, Blount and Vereen.

3) Attack: 20 points won’t beat the Broncos. Aforementioned above, they are averaging almost double that in PPG and have scored 51 touchdowns as a team – the Patriots have scored 26. Although New England slowed the pace down against Carolina to combat their league leading time of possession, I predict a high-tempo no huddle offense to start the game. The Patriots did not have a lot of chances to score given their methodical approach. Denver has been solid against the pass; however, the two top receiving yards totals against the Broncos this year were by tight ends Antonio Gates (62) and Jordan Reed (90). Gronk needs to get in the end zone, it’s a fact. If not, we need multiple touchdowns from our running backs.

Last week’s game was a challenging test for the Patriots. Manning’s ankles will be sore the rest of the year and Chandler Jones needs to exploit that on Sunday to force Peyton into some early decisions. Belichick has historically owned Manning but have the times changed? Don’t think so. In what could possibly be a more exciting game than MNF, the Patriots take it 31-30. Don’t chew off all your nails!

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 4 Preview: Patriots @ Falcons – SNF

Chemistry is the study of change. Belichick and Brady head into Atlanta for the game of the week on Sunday Night Football.

Chemistry is the study of change. Belichick and Brady head into Atlanta for the game of the week on SNF.

New England has won their first three games to kickoff the 2013 season in uncharacteristic fashion. It’s no secret the Patriots have been hindered by a lack of production from the TE and WR position. Checking in at last in the NFL in red zone TD conversion and 22nd in passing offense, Tom Brady and company face their most talented offensive unit to date. Despite the Pats’ struggle, Julian Edelman is tied as league leader with Falcons stud Julio Jones for receptions (27), both have 2 touchdowns. Only problem is, Edelman has 201 yards which is good for 172 yards less than Jones who sits at the top of the totem pole with 373 yards.

Atlanta lost to New Orleans and Miami, both by one score on the road. They took care of business against the Rams (31-24) in the Georgia Dome but did not look convincing considering St. Louis’ embarrassing performance last night against the 49ers. The Falcons will face their second AFC East opponent in as many weeks as New England marches in for Sunday Night Football on NBC at 8:30. Tom Brady has never lost to Atlanta in his career, taking 2 games on the road in 2001/2005 and 1 at home in 2009.

Recently acquired RB Steven Jackson has been out of practice with a thigh injury and expects to come back around Week 7. WR Roddy White has been hobbled by an ankle tweak limiting him to 7 receptions and 56 yards thus far. This leaves the Patriots in an advantageous matchup early in the season. The Falcons are 1-2 without being able to spread their wings to full potential just yet. In their toughest task to date, New England looks to stay undefeated and display their true colors. Check out these five keys to victory for the Pats:

1) Start Hot: The Patriots struggled hard in the first quarter against the Bucs. After just one first down on their first drive, TB12 was sacked twice and New England punted on their first three possessions. Lucking out with a missed field goal and a fourth down stop, Josh Freeman could not convert in the red zone at Gillette. K Ryan Lindell put three points on the board with two minutes left in the first quarter, little did they know it would be their only points of the afternoon.

Blessed by home field advantage and a currently benched quarterback, the Patriots were able to outscore the Buccaneers 17-0 in the second quarter and take control of the game. Do you see this same scenario panning out against the high-octane offense that is the Atlanta Falcons? Matt Ryan is not an elite quarterback, yet, but ATL is an elite team that should not be discounted. They are 1-2 and chasing the Saints, the Falcons are hunting for prey in their own backyard Sunday night. It is integral for the Patriots to put some points on the board early on the road.

2) Protect Brady: With Sebastian Vollmer out, Marcus Cannon will receive some serious reps against Osi Umenyiora, Jonathan Babineaux and the rest of the Atlanta defensive attack. Brady was only sacked once after the first quarter, 3 in total, but the Patriots will need to score more than 23 points to win on Sunday night. This all starts with the hogs up front building a nice pocket for TB12 to have enough time to find his amateur receivers. Brady has been sacked 7 times through the first 3 games and both ATL and NE have 7 sacks on the season. This is not rocket-science but the chemistry in terms of hot reads is just not there yet. Tom needs more time and protection in the Georgia Dome.

3) Convert in the Red Zone: Aforementioned above, the Patriots are at the bottom of the pack in red zone TD conversions. This may sound shocking, but New England has not scored a rushing touchdown in the red zone. TB12 has thrown  4 out of his 5 touchdowns inside the 20 and this is becoming a trend the Pats need to break. TE Zach Sudfeld was a full participant in the most recent practices; however, the double TE sets fans are accustomed to have vanished. What to do? Pound the rock with the hot hand Bolden and sprinkle in some Ridley and Blount. Get in the end zone Patriots!

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