Tag Archives: San Francisco 49ers

Brady Picked In End Zone As Dolphins Hang On To Top Pats

Michael Thomas of the Dolphins celebrates his game-ending pick with the rest of the Miami defense.


The Patriots have been nothing shirt of dominant in the moth of December for the past few seasons. The Miami sunshine must have confused them.

With a chance to take advantage of Denver’s Thursday night loss at the hands of the Chargers, the Pats could not pull off their fourth straight gut-check win. Trailing the Dolphins, 24-20, Tom Brady was picked off by on a fourth-down play in the end zone by Michael Thomas, fresh of the 49ers‘ practice squad, as time expired.

The Miami win kept their hopes for the AFC East alive as they improved to 8-6 and the Patriots lost for the first time since the Monday Night game against the Panthers. It was their first win against New England in eight games and their third straight overall.

“We didn’t do a good job in the red area,” Brady said after the game.And didn’t do a good job finishing drives. We came up on the short end of the stick. It wasn’t a good day. Just couldn’t make enough plays.”

Brady did throw two touchdowns to Michael Hoomanawanui and Julian Edelman, but his only mistake of the day at best prolonged New England’s 11th division title in the last 14 seasons.
Miami’s Ryan Tannehill threw the game-winning touchdown pass – his third of the day – to Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 remaining in the fourth, leaving just enough time for Brady to get within striking distance thanks to a couple of big conversions.
The Pats went into the half up 10-0 thanks to a botched Miami field goal attempt, but quickly saw their halftime lead turn to 10-7 to start the third and then 17-10 after a field goal and another TD pass.

They would come back to score the next 10, however, with a Stephen Gostkowki field goal from 23 yards out and a 24-yard pass from Brady to  Edelman with 4:07 left in the fourth quarter. Gostkowski had missed his first attempt earlier in the game.

Again, however, the Pats’ makeshift D gave up the go-ahead score despite Miami facing a 3rd-and-16 to begin the drive. Tanehill would complete two straight and pick up the first down as the clock kept rolling. After mostly short and intermediate throws, he then connected with Rishard Matthews for a 24-yard gain to the New England 14 and then hit  Thigpen on the next play to put the ‘Phins up, 24-20, with 1:15 to go. Gostkowski’s kickoff had gone out of bounds, which set Miami up at their own 40.

Then, facing a 4th-and-8 at his own 33, Brady threw a pea to Danny Amendola for one of his 10 catches, to pick up 12 yards with 52 seconds left. On the next series, Brady connected with Edelman for one of his 13 catches to pick up 16 on 3rd-and-10 now with 27 to play. And the Pats were in the red zone.

A Dolphins’ offsides set the Pats up at the 14, but Brady tried three times to get in the end zone and failed. The first was to Edelman, the second to Hoomanawanui and then his fourth-down pass intended for Austin Collie was intercepted by Thomas in the end zone to end the game.

“I knew being the new guy that Tom Brady would come after me,” Thomas said. “He’s a great quarterback, and he’s going to exploit any weaknesses.”

Danny Amendola's potential game-winning catch slipped through his finger tips.

Danny Amendola’s potential game-winning catch slipped through his finger tips.

Brady finished the day 34-of-55 for 364 yards – his fourth straight 300-yard game. Edelman caught 13 for 139 yards and a score while Amendola snagged 10 for 131 of his own, but couldn’t haul in the game-winner in the end zone despite having both hands on the ball on the final drive. Both were huge in the comeback bid that fell just short while Shane Vereen mustered only 21 total yards on five touches for the day. Neither team ran for 100 yards.

The loss dropped the Patriots to 3-4 on the road this season while they are a perfect 7-0 at home. Fourteen fourth-quarter points allowed had a lot to do with that.

“We were short in every area [today],” Bill Belichick said, noting that special teams play had a lot to do with it.

Miami coach, Joe Philbin, said after the game that he might go home and jump in his pool for the second time since moving to Florida, referring to a celebratory swim.

The Pats will host the 7-6 defending champion Ravens in the late game next Sunday while the Dolphins look to bolster their playoff chances against the Bills at Ralph Wilson.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

BST&N’S 2013 NFL Predictions From The Playoffs To Individual Awards

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It’s almost here, but if you weren’t excited enough about the NFL returning in a couple weeks, here are a few more reasons. It’s time to make some predictions that will inevitably have clear cut outomes and boggle the minds of some while sparking some pretty intense debates. I think I have them all right, though. Here are my picks for all eight division winners, the four Wild Card teams, each conference’s championship matchup, the Super Bowl, league leaders and major award recipients.

AFC East (2): Patriots – Nine straight division titles when the team has been quarterbacked by Tom Brady? Yeah, make it 10 for New England. While they undoubtedly will be transitioning on the field this season, they are still fairly high above the other three teams in the division. Plus, their quarterback never runs into butts.

AFC North (4): Bengals – Get used to hearing “Dalton to Green” and get used to seeing the Bengals in the postseason (even if it is just for one game) for the third straight year. Cleveland will probably finish fourth.

AFC South (3): Colts – The Colts made an unbelievable turnaround in 2012 and it seems to me they are not done improving. Eleven wins last season was good, but I see them hitting at least 12 this year, including making a push to overtake the Texans late in the year with a huge win over them in Week 15.

AFC West (1): Broncos – Obviously. This one will probably be the biggest division win by any team this season. I say 14-2 for Denver with San Diego the closest to them at 7-9. Welker…and Decker…and Thomas might play a role in their success as well.

Peyton Manning wil lead the Broncos to another division title.

Peyton Manning wil lead the Broncos to another division title.

AFC Wild Card (5): Texans – Houston has three of the best players in the league in Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt. The supporting cast is not bad either and Matt Schaub obviously has what it takes to lead a team to the postseason. I just think the Colts will steal the division from them sooner or later and Houston will wind up in the five-spot.

AFC Wild Card (6): Ravens – Though their defense is gong to look quite different, the Ravens should be able to get enough out of Joe Flacco to back in to the playoffs as the conference’s No.6 seed. From there, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were bounced immediately as I’m a little wary that Flacco might have nothing left to motivate him.

NFC East (3): Redskins – As long as RG’s knee can hold up for 16 games, the Redskins are poised to repeat as NFC East champs. He will be an x-factor for them this season, leading them to big wins over the Packers, Falcons and Giants and clinching this division before the final night of the season.

NFC North (4): VikingsAdrian Peterson will carry them to the division title in 2013. That’s really the only way I see that happening for the Vikes, who will have to contend with the Packers and maybe even the Lions or Bears. Green Bay finishes a very close second, but will be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

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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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Tom Brady Has Chance To Rewrite History For Patriots, NFL

 

Mr. Consistency: While his looks have changed over the years, his play on the field has not and the many faces of Tom Brady are just another piece of the legacy he is still writing.

Mr. Consistency: While his looks have changed over the years, his play on the field has not and the many faces of Tom Brady are just another piece of the legacy he is still writing.

When you think of some of the greatest men to ever lead our country, the same names instinctively come to mind time and time again. Household last names, that don’t require a first name, a middle initial or anything else, like Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and, of course, Washington.

The same can be said for NFL quarterbacks. If 100 random people were surveyed on a busy city street regarding who they believed the best quarterback of all-time to be, many of the answers would definitely be repeated.

Some would gravitate to the original greats like Johnny Unitas or Bart Starr. Others might lean on those with the greatest stats like Brett Favre or Dan Marino.

But, then there would be those fans smart enough not to look at what the quarterback has done for himself, but to look at what the quarterback has done for his teammates.

And coaches.

And ownership.

And his city.

But, most importantly, they would look at what he has done for, well, them. And what can a professional athlete do for the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of fans who follow his career, idolize all his triumphs and pick him up when he should make a mistake?

Bring a Lombardi Trophy back home, of course.

That’s what the real greats have done in the past, what others are trying to emulate in the present and what still others, some who may not even be born yet, will compare themselves to while striving to overtake them.

While there are undoubtedly other factors in determining who the greatest of all-time ultimately is, there is no denying that if a quarterback does not have multiple championships under his belt, he cannot be in the discussion. That is because there are those like Joe Montana, like Terry Bradshaw, like Troy Aikman and like Tom Brady, that have all hoisted the Lombardi Trophy three or more times during their playing careers.

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Vereen Leads Patriots Past Texans, Back To AFC Title Game

Dual threat: Shane Vereen scored three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) to lead the Patriots past the Texans and back into the AFC Championship game.

Dual threat: Shane Vereen scored three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) to lead the Patriots past the Texans and back into the AFC Championship game.

Remember just over a month ago when the Texans were the best team in the AFC? With the best defense in the league? Yeah, I’m having a little bit of trouble recalling that too. It seems just a bit far-fetched right about now.

It wasn’t quite like the first time around, but the Texans still gave up 40 points, J.J. Watt still didn’t bat a pass, Rob Gronkowski still ended up missing the majority of the game (more on that a little bit later) and the Patriots still scored 40-plus points. They also won and believe it or not, it is the first time in the Brady-Belichick era that the team has won a playoff game that was a rematch of a regular season game (1-6).

In the final game of the weekend, Tom Brady became the winningest quarterback in NFL history as he passed his idol Joe Montana with his 17th career postseason victory to set up a rematch with the Ravens at Gillette Stadium on Sunday following the 41-28 victory.

The Texans won the toss and, perhaps to the delight of the Patriots, elected to receive as the temperature reached 51 degrees in a January heat wave in Foxboro. The teams were each at full strength and it was time to see whether the game five weeks ago was a fluke or a preview.

What happened when the ball came down in the hands of Danieal Manning six yards deep in the endzone shocked everybody, however. After taking over the kick return duties just last week, he found a seam and took off running. It looked like he was gone until Devin McCourty caught him from behind at the 12-yard line of New England.

The Pats defense held and after fullback James Casey dropped a likely touchdown pass, Houston was forced to kick a field goal, which was good from 27 yards out by Shayne Graham. Following just eight yards on their first drive, however, Zoltan Mesko was on the field as the Patriots went three-and-out, but a monster punt and good coverage set Houston up back at their own 17-yard line.

Houston punted the ball back, but on a second-and-long, Gronkowski landed on his injured left arm while trying to catch a pass and looked to be in some serious pain. A conversion on third and 11 kept the drive going, but then Wes Welker, who took a big hit to move the chains on the previous third down, dropped a relatively easy pass on third and eight and the Texans got the ball back, still leading 3-0 with 5:49 left as Gronkowski went to the locker room. Again, Houston punted though after Aqib Talib nearly picked off a second-down pass and Arian Foster dropped one on third down.

Brady then led the Pats on a 65-yard drive following a poor punt by Donnie Jones. The six-play drive utilized Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen for five of the plays. A 13-yard reception by Ridley and a 25-yarder by Vereen set them up in the red zone. Vereen then took it in from a yard out and gave the Patriots the lead with 1:28 left in the first on the first postseason rushing touchdown of his career. After kicking the extra point, Stephen Gostkowski made sure to get all of the ball on the kickoff to keep Manning from running another one back deep into their territory. New England led 7-3 after one.

Houston picked up a few yards, but stalled again. Jones’ third punt of the day gave New England the ball back, but a good-looking drive stalled when Brandon Lloyd made a pretty big mistake in his first playoff game. He was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the red zone for throwing the ball at the official with a bit too much force, but again, Vereen looked very solid, picking up 48 yards on the drive, including a 22-yard run and a six-yard run on third and two in which he made Connor Barwin look pretty foolish. Gostkowski nailed a 37-yard field goal to extend the home team’s lead to 10-3 with just over 10 minutes left in the half.

Same story on the next Houston drive. After a solid start and the first good run from Foster on the day, Dont’a Hightower blew up a play in the backfield and Steve Gregory made a nice open-field tackle on third and 12 to force another punt. Gregory also made another play earlier in the drive to kill a little momentum with a pass break-up following a 24-yard hook-up between Matt Schaub and DeVier Posey.

With a chance to really grab momentum, the Patriots did just that with an 80-yard touchdown drive that included a 13-yard reception by Welker on third and 11 and a 47-yard, one-handed catch by the little guy to set up first and goal. Again, Vereen got into the endzone, this time on a Brady pass from eight yards out and just like that, it was 17-3 Patriots. Lloyd caught the first pass of his postseason career for seven yards earlier in the drive and Welker became the team’s all-time leader in playoff receptions on the 47-yarder. He broke Troy Brown‘s old record of 58 and at the end of the game, had 61.

Another impressive kick return from Manning forced Gostkowski to try to stop him, but he committed a horse-collar tackle that set the Texans up at the New England 47-yard line. They then rode Foster, who, on five carries in five plays, got the first Texans touchdown of the day. After review, the touchdown was confirmed and the New England lead was cut to seven. Foster now has scored a rushing touchdown in all four of his career playoff games.

It was just the third touchdown for the Texans in their last 13 red zone appearances. With just over a minute left, Brady and the Patriots took the field, but like Peyton Manning the night before, appeared content to get to the next quarter. He was hit again on third down and Houston got the ball back with 24 seconds left and three timeouts. Mesko’s punt was nearly blocked and the Texans set up at their own 38-yard line.

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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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