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Archive for January, 2012

Patriots Super Bowl Preview On Latest Episode Of Patriots Fourth And Two

Monday Night was the latest episode of Patriots Fourth And Two. We started our preview of the upcoming Super Bowl for the Patriots as they face the Giants on Sunday.

Joining us in a wonderful discussion about the game was Fred Capace and Mike Sangiamo of the Hammer Sports Hour on Blogtalkradio.com.  They host a Giants fan’s radio show, and we had them on to get the New York perspective on this game. Our guests gave us great insight to the Giants and their fans.

I would highly recommend listening to this episode as it was fans of both teams just talking about the game in a very respectful manner. I think you will enjoy this episode of Patriots Fourth And Two.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

Patriots Fourth And Two Tonight At 7PM EST

Monday Night at 7PM EST will be another live episode of the internet radio show Patriots Fourth and Two. We will be starting our preview of the Super Bowl.

During the show we will be joined by Fred Capace of the Hammer Sports Hour which is a Giants fan’s radio show on Blogtalkradio.com. He is coming on to give us the Giants perspective on this game.

Co-hosting with me for this show will be Steve Balestrieri of Pats Pub, Damien Jarrett of 4th And Long, and Derek Havens of Patriots Haven.

Again, Please do join us at 7PM EST for 60 minutes of Patriots Fourth And Two BY CLICKING HERE.

 

 

Marc Bertrand And Jen Royle On Latest Episode Of Patriots Fourth And Two

Tuesday Night was the latest episode of Patriots Fourth And Two. We discussed the Patriots huge victory in the AFC Championship game against the Ravens. We  were joined by Marc Bertrand of the 98.5 The Sports Hub who gave us a great interview in the first half hour. Later in the show we had on Jen Royle who covered the Ravens for WJZ 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, and gave us a very interesting perspective on the game.

We had a great hour plus of talk and discussion about the Patriots in the playoffs. Please do take a listen.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

Five Positives To Take Away From The Patriots Victory Against The Ravens

During the season after a Patriots victory I usually go back and write a post about “What We Learned From The Patriots Victory”.  Several weeks ago I decided to change it, and focus on what good came out of each game. The negatives in this game were noticeable. However, I am going to bring you Five Positives To Take Away From The Patriots Victory Against The Ravens.

This was a game that was more about the defenses for both teams than the offenses. I think that was very surprising, especially from a Patriots perspective. The offense for the home-team was stifled a good amount from a tough Ravens defense.

The first half saw the Patriots offense with just one touchdown, and two field goals. The Ravens being able to force the Patriots to field goals showed how they were affecting the offense. They were more than hanging with the Patriots as the first half ended with a slim 13-10 lead for New England.

The second half again was a defensive struggle for both teams. The Patriots defense, to their credit, did something that not many predicted they could not do. They made several key plays down the stretch to win the game for the Patriots.

This game eventually came down to two plays by street free agent Sterling Moore who kept the Patriots in the lead. He broke up a sure touchdown pass to Lee Evans. He then batted away the next pass to set up the dramatic ending.

Billy Cundiff missed a 32 yard field goal, and the Patriots moved on to the Super Bowl in their 23-20 victory against the Ravens.

Now, there were certainly negatives in this game that you can point to. Tom Brady was not sharp, and did not have one of his best games throwing for 239 yards, with two interceptions, and no touchdowns.

The Patriots secondary also gave up a few big plays in the passing game. When Joe Flacco throws for 306 yards with 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, your defensive backfield is not getting the job done.

In this game there certainly were several positives to take away in this AFC Championship Game. However, I am going to give you five that I feel are important to discuss.

1. The offensive line did their job in protecting Tom Brady. I thought this was the most important key to the game. Brady was only sacked once, and the pressure for the most part was contained.

The line deserves a good amount of credit for their job in this game. Brady seemed to have enough time overall to make plays.

2. Benjarvus Green-Ellis ran the ball effectively against the Ravens. With the Ravens playing a decent amount of the game in nickel coverage, that gave opportunities for Green-Ellis to be a factor running the ball.

He ran for 68 yards on 15 carries which is a 4.5 yards per carry average, and he also scored a touchdown.  He turned out to be a pleasant surprise on offense, and the Patriots really needed his quality performance on Sunday.

3. Vince Wilfork gave a dominant performance against the Ravens. In the first few drives you could notice Wilfork collapsing the pocket back to Joe Flacco. He also stopped Ray Rice on a crucial play in the late game. He followed that up by getting pressure on Flacco on a 4th down that caused a bad pass.

He had six tackles, and one sack for the day. However, it cannot be played down what a force Wilfork was against the Ravens. He probably played his best game ever in a Patriots uniform.

4. The Patriots did a real good at stopping the run. Now, I know late in the game the Ravens were able to run the ball. However, if you look at it for four quarters, they really contained a dangerous running back in Ray Rice.  He ran for 62 yards for a 3.2 yard per carry average.

Rice and Ricky Williams combined for 89 yards which is a 3.3 yard per carry average. In my book that is getting it done.

5. The Patriots won a game when Tom Brady played a below average game for his standards. If you would have told me that Brady would throw two interceptions, and have no touchdown passes,  I would have told you the Patriots would lose the game.

Well, they were able to overcome the issues on offense, and the defense wasn’t perfect, but did make crucial plays when it needed to. I must have heard over the past six months from the media, can the Patriots win a game when the offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders? I guess the Patriots proved that they certainly can, as they are now headed to the Super Bowl.

Overall this was a very tough game that we saw could have gone either way. However, in the end, the Patriots made a few more plays to win the game. No matter how this victory is spun the next two weeks, just remember that a win is a win. It doesn’t matter how they got to Indianapolis. The most important thing is the New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl.

As we get ready for the Super Bowl against the Giants, I am sure we will be spun the negatives of this Patriots team.  My advice is to remember the positives from this game, and and let’s look forward to what should be a good game.

My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Ravens

The Patriots are coming off of an impressive 45-10 victory against the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last weekend, and this Sunday they play for the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live on WBZ Channel 4 at 3:00 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

The Ravens are coming off of a 20-13 home victory against the Houston Texans. It was a defensive battle in this game, and the home team made more plays to get the victory, and move on to face the Patriots.

On offense, the Ravens have a great running back in Ray Rice who has the ability to not only break the long run, but to hurt you on screens in the passing game. Rice ran for 1364 yards, and 12 touchdowns this season. He will be a huge challenge for the Patriots defense to contain.

The wild-card for the offense has to be quarterback Joe Flacco. His issue can be with confidence in the pocket and accuracy. His completion percentage this regular season was only 57.6  percent, and he will have to be better against the Patriots.

On defense, the Ravens are definitely one of the best units in the NFL. They have play-makers at all three levels. On the defensive line you have defensive end Haloti Ngata who is a force, and he will have to be controlled.

The player the Patriots need to limit his effectiveness has to be Terrell Suggs who had 14 sacks this season. He can get after the quarterback, and is always looking to make an impact. You also cannot forget about middle linebacker Ray Lewis who is the leader of the defense. He might be getting older, but he is someone to still fear.

In the defensive backfield, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will have to know at all times where safety Ed Reed is on the field. He is a true play-maker who can take over a game. He is dealing with an injury, but is expected to play, and the Patriots will have to keep an eye on him.

The Ravens deserve to be in the AFC Championship game, and are definitely a true test for the Patriots. This is a contrast in styles between the two teams, and it should be fun to see how this game shakes out. However, in the end I feel the Patriots will be the team standing with the victory.

Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.

 


Danny Woodhead could be an ‘X-Factor’ in this game. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

1. The offensive line needs to protect Tom Brady at a maximum level. I think this is the most important key to the game.

If Brady has the proper time to find his receivers, the Patriots will score at a very good level. Matt Light will have his hands full with Suggs, but the line will have to deal with Ngata as well coming up the middle. This is the true test of the game.

2. The Patriots offense needs other players to be options for Brady rather than just the tight ends and Wes Welker. The Ravens defense will make every effort to take away the Patriots three top weapons in the passing game.

The Patriots need some dark-horse x-factors to step up in this game. I see the potential of Danny Woodhead to play a role in this game. He had a great game the last time these teams played last season. He could have some key yards in the running game on draws.

Deion Branch also had a huge game against the Ravens, and he more than likely will be single covered. Branch has had a knack for stepping up in big games. The AFC Championship game is a great time for Branch to have one of those games.

3.The Red Zone defense needs to force the Ravens into field goals instead of touchdowns. This was a key last week as well. If you can be tough on defense when the Ravens enter the red-zone, it could sway the balance of the game if you are holding the Ravens to field goals.

4. Linebacker Brandon Spikes and safety Patrick Chung need to make their presence known in this game. The Patriots defense has been average this season, but there is no question that they are better when Chung and Spikes are in the lineup.

I think they will be a huge help containing Rice in the running game, but both players can come in on a blitzes, and wouldn’t be shocked to see that on Sunday on passing downs.

5. The Patriots need to pressure Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. I have seen Flacco get rattled in the pocket when he has some heat on him. I think it is imperative to pressure him for all four quarters, similar to how the Patriots defense got after Tim Tebow last week.

They need to do it by changing coverages, and bringing on the blitzes at different times during the game. He can get happy feet back there, and this is another way for the Patriots to take control of this game. The defense needs to make Flacco as uncomfortable as possible.

As I stated earlier, the Ravens are a very good football team, and will push the Patriots hard in this game. However, I expect the Patriots to score enough points to really put the pressure on the Ravens to match them point for point. I don’t expect their offense being able to do it for four quarters, and I am a predicting a 28-16 Patriots victory over the Ravens.

What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

The Beginning Of The Patriots Dynasty Through My Eyes

There have been many special games in the history of the Patriots, but there is one that I feel changed their destiny forever. January 19th is the ten year anniversary of the Divisional Round playoff game where the Patriots dramatically beat the Raiders in overtime 16-13 in the final game at Foxboro Stadium. Many call it the “tuck rule” game, and the significance of that rule, and the resulting victory set off an incredible time in Patriots history. Here is the view of the ” beginning of the Patriots dynasty through my eyes”. 

I have been a fan of the Patriots since 1975, and have seen my share of heartache. I can point to the 1976 playoff game against the Oakland Raiders in which the Patriots lost, and Super Bowl XX where the Patriots lost to the Bears as early low points of being a fan of this team.

Patriots would have many lean years, but then there would be those seasons that they would get close to the top, but just couldn’t win it all. Honestly, their luck changed on a snowy Saturday Night on January 19th, 2002.

I can remember it like it was yesterday as many experts were picking the Raiders to beat the Patriots. If I am being completely honest, the Raiders were the better team in the first half. Late in the game the Patriots were trailing 13-10, but had the ball on the Raiders side of the field.

Less than two minutes to go into the game, Tom Brady went back to pass, and was hit by Charles Woodson. The ball was fumbled and recovered by Greg Biekert of the Raiders.

Watching it live I thought it was a fumble, but the play would be reviewed, and referee Walt Coleman called it an incomplete pass because Brady’s arm was going forward.

I am not going into details regarding the “tuck rule”, but I will say according to this NFL rule, it was the right call. Fans of the NFL can argue about the validity of the rule all they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that the reversal of the fumble was the right decision.

The significance of that rule did change history, and as a fan I need to call it like I see it. The Patriots probably do not have the level of success they have had since without the aforementioned rule.

In the NFL Network show, America’s Game: 2001 New England Patriots, Patriots player Lawyer Milloy would mention how the tuck rule gave the Patriots another chance. The best commentary of this show came from the narrator Martin Sheen, who stated these lines below that really explains the result of the “tuck rule” for the Patriots.

It was much more. It was the first brick in the foundation of a dyanasty.  

Adam Vinatieri would hit a dramatic field goal through the snow that would bring the game to overtime. Vinatieri would then hit the winning field goal in overtime that would propel the Patriots to the AFC Championship game against the Steelers.

After the victory against the Steelers, they would beat the Rams in the Super Bowl, and the Patriots would have their first Lombardi trophy. However, it all really began back on the last night of Foxboro Stadium, which was a few weeks before the Super Bowl.

I had a hard time with the “tuck rule” being such a factor in the history of the Patriots at first. However, the Patriots had so many breaks go against them in their history prior, that I have learned to embrace the rule.

I still hear Raiders fans, and some of their former players still talking about the tuck rule. I understand that, but as a Patriots fan, that rule makes up for referee Ben Dreith’s “roughing the passer” call on Ray Hamilton in 1976 against the Raiders that was an extremely questionable call.

That call changed the Raiders history, as they won that playoff game 16-13 in Oakland. They went on to win the Super Bowl, and have their own time of dominance in the NFL. I guess you can say what goes around comes around.

Think about how much success the Patriots have had since the “tuck rule”. It is incredible, and as a fan I feel blessed to have seen them win the title three times.

I think it is important to remember all that has been accomplished these last ten years. Whether the Patriots win it all this year or not, I have seen so much success that it is all a bonus to me moving forward.

I have heard many NFL fans and media members mention that the Patriots would not have the level of success they have had without the tuck rule. I agree with them, and that is fine with me, because I have seen ten years of incredible football, and it all began on a snowy night in Foxboro.

Five Positives To Take Away From The Patriots Victory Against The Broncos

During the season after a Patriots victory I usually go back and write a post about “What We Learned From The Patriots Victory”.  Several weeks ago I decided to change it, and focus on what good came out of each game. The negatives in this game are far and few between. I am going to bring you Five Positives To Take Away From The Patriots Victory Against The Broncos.

There was much talk prior to this game about Tim Tebow, and the fact that the Patriots had not won a playoff game since the AFC Championship game in the 2007 season. Looking back at it now, those two talking points were eliminated by a dominating performance by the New England Patriots on both sides of the ball.

The Patriots came out strong, and got out to a 14 point lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Tom Brady threw an interception which led to a Broncos touchdown, and some fans might have gotten a little nervous at that point.

However, Brady would erase those fears shortly afterwards, and add an additional 21 points to the score before the half was over. The Patriots really ended the game with a 35-7 half-time lead. The Patriots would cruise in the second half, and the game ended with an impressive 45-10 victory over the Broncos.

The only negative I can really come up with is maybe the coaching staff left the starters in too long in the second half. Aaron Hernandez after a running play did come off the field with a reported head injury. The Hernandez injury will be one to watch this week.

In this game there were so many positives to point to for the Patriots against the Broncos. However, I am going to give you five that I feel are important to discuss.

1. Tom Brady showed what a difference an elite quarterback can make in the playoffs. In the local media this week, I had read and heard a great deal of how badly Brady had played in his last three playoff games.

Well, Brady answered his critics by tying an NFL record with six touchdown passes in a playoff game. The Patriots quarterback also threw for 363 yards in a  stellar performance.

Being at the game, I could really watch the calmness that Brady had in the pocket. He was in complete control of his offense, and the Broncos had no answers for him on defense.

2. The Patriots offensive line did their job incredibly well protecting Tom Brady. I thought the protection for Brady in this game would be the biggest key in this match-up.

The line did their job as they did not give up a sack, and honestly Brady was not really pressured at all. The Patriots quarterback had plenty of time to throw the ball, and the line had a great deal to do with the offense really clicking against the Broncos.

3. Brandon Spikes and Patrick Chung gave a big boost to the Patriots defense. These two defensive players had missed several weeks this season with injuries. They both made an impact against the Broncos.

Chung played all 71 snaps on defense, and was the leader of the secondary. He had four total tackles, but he was often seen being very active in the Patriots defense.

Spikes I thought had a huge impact in the defense on running and passing downs. He played in 59 snaps, and had 6 total tackles along with 1 sack. I watched him often stopping the run and was involved in getting after Tebow. His return to the defense could be a bigger plus than some might think.

4. The Patriots defense caused 14 negative plays. I can’t remember the last time the Patriots defense forced that amount of negative plays. It is also an indication that the Patriots were aggressive, and attacked the Denver offense for four quarters.

It wasn’t just about getting after Tebow, as they caused loss of yardage on many  running plays as well. This defense was not sitting back, and letting the offense dictate the play to them. They took control of the play as they harassed the Denver offense. This was the first time this season, I saw an attacking defense throughout the game.

5. The Patriots fans were very very loud in this game. The Patriots fans have been criticized over the years for not being that loud at Gillette Stadium. It is hard to tell how much the noise made a difference in the game, but the decibel level was sure noticeable.

The fans were into it, and it was really nice to hear the stadium rock like it did against the Broncos. Patriots fans sure made their voices heard in this playoff game.

Overall, this was a very impressive win by the Patriots against the Broncos. The major positive to take out of this game for me is that both the offense and the defense made a huge difference, as it was a balanced performance by the team.

As we get ready for the AFC Championship game against the Ravens, I am sure we will be spun the negatives of this Patriots team.  My advice is to remember the positives from this game, and and let’s look forward to the clash with Baltimore.

Monday Night was the latest episode of Patriots Fourth And Two. We discussed the Patriots huge victory in the playoffs against the Broncos, and previewed the upcoming AFC Championship Game against the Ravens. We  were joined by Christopher Gasper of the Boston Globe who gave us a great interview in the first half hour. Later in the show we had on Adam Jones  of ESPNBoston.com, and he also hosts the Sun Life Patriots Postgame Show on Patriots.com.

We had a great hour plus of talk and discussion about the Patriots in the playoffs. Please do take a listen.

 

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Broncos

The Patriots being the number one seed in the AFC had a bye last week, and enter the Divisional Round Tonight to face the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium. Here’s a preview with my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live on WBZ Channel 4 at 8:00 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

The Broncos are coming off a 29-23 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home last weekend. They won the game on the first play from scrimmage with an 80 yard reception from Damaryius Thomas who took it all the way for a touchdown. There is no question that the Broncos will be entering Gillette Stadium with much confidence after their winning performance against the Steelers.

On offense, this unit is built around quarterback Tim Tebow who can be a dual threat as he can throw and run the ball. He does have a deep threat in Thomas who definitely has the ability to stretch the field. The running game of the Broncos is also very good led by Willis McGahee who had 1199 yards this season.

On defense, this unit has two players that can get after Tom Brady with defensive end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker Vonn Miller. They also have a cornerback that is still one of the best in the game in Champ Bailey. This unit does have some players that could give Brady some trouble.

I have to admit that the Broncos played well last week, and have improved tremendously over the course of the season. However, I think they are a few players and a season away from being able to win on the road in the playoffs. I think they will be tough in the beginning, but as the game progresses, I expect the Patriots to pull away.

Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.

1. The Patriots offensive line needs to do an exceptional job at protecting Tom Brady. In the last 3 playoff games including a Super Bowl, the line did not do a good enough job at protecting Brady. This is the most important key for the Patriots, and could determine how far they go in the playoffs.

If Brady has the proper time to find his receivers, it will be a long day for any defense. If the Broncos cannot pressure the Patriots quarterback, I don’t think they can win this game.

2. The tight ends need to exploit the middle of the field on offense. In the first match-up, the Broncos did a nice job in limiting the effectiveness of Rob Gronkowski. However, Aaron Hernandez had a huge game against the Denver defense. The Broncos will have a very hard time covering both as one tight end should have a big game.

3. The Patriots need to use the “hurry up” offense early in this game. It doesn’t have to be on the opening drive, but it should be at a time in the first half to establish a faster tempo to the game. The Patriots are tough to beat when they are clicking in the hurry up.

Brady can get in a zone where it almost looks like it is pitch and catch. If this offense can get up on the Broncos using that style, it could be a long day for the Denver.

4. The Patriots defense needs to contain Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos in their victory over the Steelers had many big plays in the passing game. Thomas is their deep threat, and a player the Patriots need to keep in check on Saturday Night.

If they can play a zone defense, and make sure Thomas cannot beat them deep, it should force Tebow to try to look for his intermediate patterns. I don’t feel that Tebow can hit those routes consistently right now in his development.

By taking away Thomas and playing zone, it’s going to force Tebow to methodically drive down the field. I think he will struggle if he is forced into that situation.

5. The Red-zone defense needs to make Denver kick field goals instead of touchdowns. If Denver does move the ball between the twenties, it is imperative to force the Broncos to kick field goals. If the Patriots succeed in this task within the red-zone, it could be a huge help in a potential victory.

I am actually pretty confident that the Patriots will win this playoff game. I think they will force the Broncos to settle for 3 points in many drives, and will not be able to keep up with the Patriots offense. I am predicting a 35-15 Patriots victory over the Broncos.

What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Christopher Price On Latest Episode Of Patriots Fourth And Two

Tuesday Night was the latest episode of Patriots Fourth And Two. We discussed the upcoming Patriots playoff game against the Broncos. We were joined by Christopher Price of WEEI who gave us a great interview at the top of the hour. Later in the show we gave you the Denver perspective on this game with Matt Sierra of Mile High Sports.

We bring you both sides of this Divisional Round playoff game. Please do take a listen.

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio