Get Social With

Another Disappointing Finish For Patriots WR Dobson After Being Placed on IR

Dobson hasn't looked like the amazing player fans saw when he was at Marshall.
Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson hasn’t looked like the amazing player fans saw when he was at Marshall. (USA TODAY Images)

After an offseason spent trying to get healthy, Aaron Dobson’s season never really got started and on Thursday it came to an end, with the 2nd-year Patriots receiver having been¬†placed on injured reserve.

The move comes after Dobson seemingly suffered a hamstring injury on just his fourth snap¬†of Sunday’s loss to Green Bay, with Dobson pulling up lame on a deep route. ¬†He left the game at that point and didn’t return.

When it was over Dobson took some criticism after both Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell valiantly fought through injuries of their own in the loss to the Packers. The bad news is, it appears rather than having another opportunity to battle through it, the team made the decision to shelf him for the rest of the season. Now he’ll have plenty of time to get healthy before he tries again in 2014.

Prior to the game he was awarded the coveted black “Practice Player of the Week” jersey, which ultimately ended up being his final accolade of the year. ¬†Many hoped that would be a sign of things to come after five straight weeks of being inactive, and in the third quarter while the team was trailing 23-14, Tom Brady took a shot at giving him an opportunity to make a big play to get his team back in the game.

<a href=Aaron Dobson showed flashes in 2013 that haven't carried over into this season." WIDTH=250>
Dobson showed flashes in 2013 that haven’t carried over into this season.
(USA TODAY Images)

But on the attempt Dobson couldn’t catch up to the football and pulled up short, hopping up the sideline in apparent agony before coming out of the game for good.

It more or less was symbolic of his season, which is now over.

The former 2nd round pick out of Marshall was a dynamic receiver in college and his selection was welcomed by Patriots fans who were hoping New England was finally developing a talented long-term piece of Tom Brady’s offense.

Prior to the draft, the team held their annual Pre-Draft Event Presented by ESPN Boston and Dobson was one of the more featured prospects, so when the Patriots took him in the second round there was a lot of hope that there would be more moments like this amazing catch by Dobson.

After missing the first week of his rookie season, Dobson kicked his NFL career off with a bang thanks to a 39 catch and run for a touchdown on his first career reception against the Jets last season in week two.

He peaked in the middle of last season over a three game span against Miami, Pittsburgh and Carolina while scoring a team-leading 3 touchdowns over that stretch and made some big plays, including an 81-yard touchdown against the Steelers during a 9-catch, 130 yard two touchdown performance in week nine, his only 100+ yard game of his career thus far.  He also finished as the only player with two receptions that went for over 50 yards last season.

For now that¬†performance against Pittsburgh has¬†been his best game, and it’s hard not to wonder if we’ll ever get to see what else he’s capable of.

Dobson told Mike Reiss last December that he was no stranger to adversity.

“Just dealing with adversity,” Dobson told Reiss when asked what he had learned the most from football. “You go through a lot of it — the whole game is like life, you have ups, downs, interceptions, dropped passes. You have to learn how to shake it off and move on to the next thing, whatever it is, and embrace it.”

Given what he’s faced so far, it will be interesting to see how he responds heading into 2015.

Despite Loss to Packers, Patriots Prove They’re Contenders

Sunday’s game in Green Bay was a tough battle for Brady and the offense, and they simply came up short. (USA TODAY Images)

When the Patriots took on the St. Louis Rams during the 2001 regular season, it was a hard fought game which, at the time, was Tom Brady’s biggest test as a starter and the Patriots’ biggest litmus test as they started their streak toward the post season.

In that game they battled hard against a Rams team that put forth a pretty solid effort but by the time it was over, the Patriots simply came up short in a 24-17 loss.

When given another shot against St. Louis a few months later, the outcome ended up being different as New England got redemption when it mattered most, beating them in front of the entire world and winning their first championship.

Sunday’s match-up against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers had a similar feel. ¬†Having won seven straight games prior to Sunday, the Patriots came into Green Bay looking to make a statement in what many felt could be a Super Bowl preview given how the two teams were playing. ¬†New England held up their end of the deal, playing fairly well against a Packers team that simply played a little better.

Neither team committed a turnover, and it was more or less a pretty solid effort from both sides. ¬†The biggest problem with Sunday’s loss for New England was simply the fact that it came down to just a couple of plays they didn’t make that Green Bay did, and that’s the reason why they came up on the wrong end things.

“We just couldn’t quite make enough plays in the end to come out on top, and they did. ¬†So give them credit.” – Bill Belichick
(USA TODAY Images)

“That’s a good football team,” said Belichick after the game. ¬†“In the end they made a few more plays than we did tonight. ¬†I thought both teams competed hard. ¬†[I’m] really proud of the way our guys hung in there, fought right to the end. We just couldn’t quite make enough plays in the end to come out on top, and they did. ¬†So give them credit.”

One of the biggest problems was the Patriots couldn’t get to Aaron Rodgers, who had all day in the pocket and frustrated a defense that on one play¬†chased him around for 12 seconds before forcing him to throw it away. ¬†They did manage to sack him three times, but for the most part he moved forward and backward like a video game, eluding oncoming defenders in what was one of the best performances by an opposing quarterback that we’ve seen all season. ¬†He finished with 368 yards passing along with two touchdowns and helped the Packers offense move the chains while holding the football for 36:35 and keeping it out of Tom Brady’s hands.

He also made some big plays against a defense that had done a decent¬†job of not allowing that many¬†in recent weeks. ¬†The Patriots allowed five pass plays of over 30 yards Sunday, the most they’ve given up all season.¬† Rodgers¬†was calm and cool all afternoon, despite a few plays where New England was able to get to him and there were quite a few times where the Patriots brought pressure and had a shot at him, but Rodgers’ quick feet allowed him to get away as he either slid away laterally or moved up in the pocket and made the throw.

It was like that all afternoon, and the absence of Chandler Jones was glaring for the Patriots as they struggled to get any consistent pressure on him. ¬†To make matters worse,¬† Rodgers¬†was nearly flawless throwing the football on third down, completing 10-of-13 (77%) passes¬†including eight first downs. ¬†Overall Green Bay converted 10-of-17 on the afternoon, including one that was set up coming off of a 2nd-and-17 play that Rodgers scampered 17 yards to set up a 3rd-and-1, which they converted and later lead to a 35-yard field goal. ¬†Those plays make for a frustrating day, but Belichick acknowledged that it’s not like they didn’t have their chances. ¬†The Packers were simply the ones who made the most of them.

“Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback,” said Belichick. ¬†“Coach [Mike] McCarthy does a good job with this football team. ¬†They’re tough to beat. ¬†We had our chances, we just couldn’t quite get enough¬†plays there at the end, or throughout the game. Got¬†to take my hat off to the Packers. ¬†That’s a good football team.”

If nothing else, Sunday’s loss is one of those games that proves that New England is right where they need to be in terms of being able to play with the NFL’s best. ¬†They’ve come a long way since being embarrassed in their loss to Kansas City that kicked off their seven game winning streak. ¬†Brady admitted that one of their other problems was the fact they didn’t capitalize on each possession, which lead to them putting up just 21 points on the road in a place where the Packers hadn’t been beaten all season.

They did finish 3-of-3 in the red zone including 2-of-2 facing goal-to-go. ¬†It just wasn’t enough.

“I think we’re playing a little bit better, and we have our whole season ahead of us,” said Brady after the game. “We’re in a decent position, I think we really need to turn it up and just realize that every possession and every play is an opportunity and if you don’t take advantage of it you never know which play it’s going to be in close games like this that leads to losses. We have to win tough games and find ways to make the important plays when we have them.‚ÄĚ

Sunday proved that they’re close, and fortunately it’s one of those games that gives Belichick and Brady enough to work with should these two meet again.

For now they’ll head out to the West Coast and get ready for a tough battle with the Chargers next Sunday night as they try and rebound from a game that they obviously know could have turned out differently. ¬†There’s a lot of talent with this football team and games like this are a reminder of what they’re really capable of. ¬†All they need to do now is continue playing well and put themselves in position to battle whoever comes out of the NFC in February in the event they make it that far.

And if it’s the Packers, hopefully history repeats itself.

Patriots Looking to Hand Packers Their First Loss at Lambeau of 2014

Tom Brady and the Patriots will be looking for their 10th win this Sunday when they travel to Green Bay. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots know what it’s like to dominate opponents at home, and they’ll be trying to do what hasn’t happened to the Packers all season when they travel to Green Bay this weekend.

Beat them at Lambeau Field.

In a town with a population of 100,000 people, 80,000 of them fill the Packers’ home field each Sunday in what is one of the most historic and intense environments in the NFL. ¬†It’s also been a place they’ve played extremely well this season, scoring more than 30 points in each of their home games in 2014 (31, 42, 38, 55, 53), all of them wins. ¬†Going back to 1921, it’s the first time the Packers have registered at least 30 points in each of their first five home contests.

The last time Tom Brady played at Lambeau field, the Patriots beat Brett Favre and the Packers 35-0.
(USA TODAY Images)

It’s going to likely be quite a rowdy environment, and one thing New England will need to do is get on the board early because Green Bay has gotten off to fast starts in the first half this season. ¬†The¬†Packers have¬†had at least four scoring drives in the first half in four of their last five games, and have outscored opponents 128-9 in the first half of their last four home games.

For the Patriots, they’ve had success there in the past, although this is just the first time that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will face off in that stadium. ¬†The last time these two teams played there it was New England who came up big, beating the Packers 35-0 back in November 19, 2006. ¬†In that game New England’s defense dominated then-quarterback Brett Favre, holding him to just 5-of-15 passing for 73 yards, while Brady threw four touchdowns on the afternoon.

One big key in that match-up was the fact¬†the Patriots got up 21-0 in the first half and forced the Packers to have to play from behind, which Brady admitted this week is something they’ll need to try and do this time around as well.

“This is not the team you want to get behind by,” Brady told reporters on Wednesday. ¬†“You get behind 14-0, and then it’s 21-0, then it’s 28-0, and before you know it, they’ve just got the game so well under control that you have no chance.”

“You’ve got to be able to stay close to them. There is nothing other than solid execution that you could point to, and we’ve got to figure out the best ways to attack them. They present a lot of challenges. They can rush the passer. They’re good in coverage. They’ve got a real good secondary [with] great cover players. It’s a terrific team, great defense. We’re going to need to be sharp.”

Defensively this should be a good challenge for New England’s secondary. ¬†They’ve recorded interceptions in each of their last four straight¬†games, but picking off Rodgers is going to be quite a challenge. ¬†He’s thrown just three interceptions all season and has thrown 322 consecutive passes at home without an interception, as well as 29 consecutive touchdown passes at home without being picked off. Both are current NFL records.

Oddly enough, Rodgers needs one more three or more touchdowns and no interception performance to tie Brady for the most in NFL history in a single season. Brady did that eight times in 2007.

As a result, Brady admitted this week that limiting turnovers is an obvious point of emphasis because each turnover eliminates a scoring opportunity. ¬†He and Rogers are the top two quarterbacks all-time in touchdown-interception ratio, with Brady having thrown 385 touchdowns and 140 interceptions, while Rodgers has 218 touchdowns and just 55 interceptions. ¬†That’s one of the key reasons why Rodgers has been so dangerous, and Brady said that they’ll need to take advantage of each time they have the football.

“That’s the problem with turnovers. ¬†You can’t score if you’re turning it over,” said Brady. ¬†“It’s like a punt. If you go out and you punt 12 times, you’re not scoring points. That’s not good. So, when you turn the ball over and throw interceptions, you’re giving the other team more opportunities and your team less opportunities. Not that they’re going to take advantage of it every single time, but the odds are they’re going to take advantage of it more than they’re not, especially a team like this, where you turn it over, they have the highest percentage of scores after you turn the ball over than any team in the league.”

“That’s a big reason why they’re getting ahead at home because they get ahead of you, you start to press, you turn it over, they convert into more touchdowns, and it just piles on. You’ve got to keep the game close and keep it competitive, and I think Aaron has done a great job in his career of not turning the ball over. He’s got all the ability in the world.”

It should definitely be a tough game for a Patriots team that is looking for their 10th win, which would mark the 12th consecutive season they’ve won 10 or more games. ¬†That would trail just the San Francisco 49ers, who won 10 or more games for 16 consecutive seasons from 1983-1998.

New England has won 14-straight games against NFC North teams following their win over Detroit last Sunday.  However, the last team that beat them was the Packers, which came in a 28-10 home loss at Gillette Stadium back on October 13, 2002.  Overall Rodgers has won his last six games against AFC teams at Lambeau Field and Green Bay has already had their way against the AFC East so far, beating both Miami and the Jets heading into this game.

Now it will be up to Brady and the Patriots to make sure they’re not the Packers’ next victim.

“They’re one of the best teams in the league, so it’ll be a lot of fun,” said Brady. “It’s fun getting a chance to go up to Lambeau again, so I know all the guys will be pretty pumped up.”

Patriots Extend Special Teams Captain Matthew Slater For 2-Years

The Patriots have given Slater a two-year contract extension. (USA TODAY Images)

Matthew Slater has been an intricate player on special teams for the Patriots in recent years and it appears they’d like to make sure he stays here.

According to ESPN Boston’s Field Yates, the Patriots have agreed to terms with the special teams captain on a 2-year deal that will keep him here in New England through 2016.

The deal is reportedly worth $4-million and includes $3 million in guaranteed money, including $2 million up front in the form of a signing bonus along with his 2015 base salary of $1 million. Yates also reports that Slater will receive a base salary of $1 million for 2016, and incentives each season of $100,000.

Slater has been such a terrific and solid player on special teams for New England, and Bill Belichick praised him during his press conference on Wednesday.

“Matt does a lot of things for us,” said Belichick. “Obviously he’s a very good player on the field, professional, works hard, does a great job with all the players, younger players,¬†but also his peers. He’s very well-respected in the locker room, not just by the players but by the entire organization by the way he goes about his job, how dependable he is, his work ethic, his attitude, his toughness. He’s really such a model player. I’d love to have 53 guys like him.”

Fortunately for now he’ll have him for at least two more seasons.

STAT CHECK: Blount Among the Patriots Leaders After One Game

Blount is already among the Patriots RB leaders for 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

LeGarrette Blount didn’t take long to make an impact in New England’s offense, and on Sunday the newly acquired running back has already taken over a couple of spots when looking at the Patriots longest rushing plays of 2014.

Blount’s 4th quarter rush of 33-yards gave him the second-longest carry of the year for a Patriots running back, trailing Stevan Ridley’s 43-yard carry in week five against Cincinnati.

His 23-yard carry in the third quarter gave him the fourth-longest carry by a Patriots back this season, moving ahead of Jonas Gray, who had rushes of 19 and 20 last week against Indianapolis.

Blount lead the Patriots last season in this category, holding three of the top four spots in 2013. ¬†His 47-yard rush against the Falcons in week four was the longest carry for the Patriots in 2013, and he also had rushes of 36 and 35 yards against the Buffalo Bills in the regular season finale, both of which were the third and fourth longest carries¬†of the year respectively for New England, trailing Brandon Bolden’s 46 yard run in week three against Tampa Bay.

Tom Brady Hits Milestones During Sunday’s Win Over Detroit

Tom Brady’s assault on the NFL record books continued on Sunday against Detroit.

During Sunday’s win over the Detroit Lions, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady managed to hit a couple of additional milestones as he continues his assault on the NFL record books.

The veteran quarterback did a couple of things that should be a reminder of the fact each pass moves him closer to passing some pretty impressive names in league history, and against Detroit, he did a couple things in the second half that should be noted.

Facing a 3rd-and-9 in the 3rd quarter, Brady completed a 6-yard pass to Brandon LaFell, giving him 305-yards on the afternoon and it set up a 43-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowksi. ¬†However, it was the 63rd time in his career he’s gone over 300-yards passing, tying him with Dan Marino for 3rd most all-time.

Later in the fourth quarter with 9:49 to go in the game and facing a 3rd-and-7, Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 10-yard pass which was his 7000th pass attempt, making him just the 6th player in NFL history to achieve that milestone.

Brady’s now¬†gone over three¬†hundred yards passing four times this season, including¬†against Buffalo, Chicago, Denver and the now the Lions.

Sunday also marked a significant day in Brady’s history, as he made his NFL debut 14 years ago today against, oddly enough, the¬†Lions.

It didn’t take much time for LeGarrette Blount to settle back in with the offense. (USA TODAY Images)

Well that didn’t take long.

After joining the team this week following his release by the Pittsburgh Steelers, LeGarrette Blount suited up and got the “lions share” of the carries against Detroit in his first game back in New England.

Blount was a strong contributor during his first game back with the Patriots.
(USA TODAY Images)

The veteran carried 12 times for 78-yards along with two touchdowns in the victory over the Lions, settling right back into the same offense that helped him resurrect his career last season.

Blount and teammate Shane Vereen were the only two players to carry the football Sunday, with Vereen racking up 8 carries for 12 yards. ¬†However, the majority of Blount’s carries came during the Patriots final drive after he carried eight of his twelve times in their final possession, helping New England close the game out.

Prior to that it was the Patriots’ passing game that did the majority of the damage, with Brady finishing 38-of-53 for 349 yards and two touchdowns. ¬†On the other side New England’s defense dominated a talented Lions offense that failed to register an offensive touchdown, managing just three field goals on the afternoon.

But when he did carry the ball he played well, including a 33-yard run to start their final drive that ended up being the second-longest run of the year by the Patriots offense. ¬†His presence definitely helps a Patriots team that saw the emergence of Jonas Gray last week against Indianapolis, although Gray’s oversleeping mishap made him a spectator and likely was what paved the way for more playing time for Blount.

Blount also had another big run to go with his previous 33-yard gain, which was a 23-yard run in the 3rd quarter that helped set up a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

Thanks to his return the Patriots now have a lot of depth in their backfield, with Shane Vereen, Blount, Gray and Brandon Bolden, helping at least soften the blow the team dealt with when they lost Stevan Ridley earlier in the season.

Belichick seemed pleased with the veteran’s performance during his press conference.

‚ÄúI thought LG ran good,‚ÄĚ Belichick said after the game, referring to Blount. ‚ÄúHe had a good week, worked hard to get ready this week. I thought he did a good job for us.

Last week he scored four times, on Sunday, Jonas Gray didn’t register a carry. (USA TODAY Images)

Jonas Gray picked a bad week to oversleep, and as a result he spent Sunday’s win over Detroit on the sidelines while newly-signed LeGarrette blount settled back into the offense.

Gray, who finished last week’s game against Indianapolis with 37 carries for 201 yards and four touchdowns, didn’t carry the football once on Sunday, with Blount and Shane Vereen seeing the majority of the action carrying the football. ¬†Blount finished with 12 carries for 78-yards and two touchdowns, while Vereen carried 8 times for 12 yards.

As a result, Gray wasn’t able to follow-up his big performance.

“I thought LG ran good,” Belichick said after the game, referring to Blount. ¬†“He had a good week, worked hard to get ready this week. ¬†I thought he did a good job for us.”

Eight of Blount’s twelve carries came in the fourth quarter, all of which were on¬†New England’s final drive of the game. ¬†Blount started the drive with a 33-yard rush, which was the second longest carry of the year by a Patriots running back. ¬†New England’s offense was able to frustrate a gassed Detroit team who watched them run the clock down from 6:23 to 1:57, which was exactly what Belichick’s team needed to do to close out the game.

It’s exactly what Gray had done after the Patriots took over the ball with 4:17 to go in the game last week against Indianapolis and Gray was able to run out the clock and help his team get the win.

Instead his error made him a spectator, and after making the cover of Sports Illustrated and having a lot of momentum, the experience likely brought him back to earth.

“We do what we think is best,” said Belichick when asked if Gray’s lack of playing time was discipline related. ¬†“That’s what we did today.”

One would have to believe Gray got the point, but with Blount back in the mix he and Gray will hopefully be a solid tandem heading into the final stretch of the season.

Patriots Reportedly Expected to Re-Sign RB LeGarrette Blount

LeGarrette Blount is reportedly set to rejoin his former team.. (USA TODAY Images)

During the offseason LeGarrette Blount opted to take his talents to Pittsburgh after signing a 2-year deal with the Steelers back in March, but now it appears that he’s on the verge of returning to New England.

According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Blount, who was released by Pittsburgh this week, is reportedly in Foxboro and is expected to re-sign with the Patriots today.

Blount’s time with the Steelers likely didn’t go quite as he hoped after his playing time diminished behind Le’Veon Bell, who has emerged as Pittsburgh’s primary running back. ¬†That lead to him leaving early during his now-former team’s win over the Titans Monday night, which upset many of the players in the locker room.

The addition of Blount will add some veteran depth to a group that is still trying to establish some stability in the back field.  The emergence of Jonas Gray has been a bright spot for the team since losing Stevan Ridley, and adding Blount will now give them an additional weapon as well as some flexibility in the backfield, with Gray, Shane Vereen, and now Blount in the mix.

Stat Change: Jonas Gray Goes Over 200yd Mark

A stat change has pushed Jonas Gray over 200-yards on the night Sunday. (USA TODAY Images)

Occasionally the NFL makes a stat change following a game, and Jonas Gray is finding himself the beneficiary of one following his performance on Sunday night.

The league erased¬†a 2-yard loss he encountered at the 10:31 mark of the fourth quarter, which incurred a face mask penalty on the same play by Colts linebacker¬†Jerrell Freeman. ¬†The play resulted in a first down thanks to the penalty, but the league changed the penalty to a “no play” penalty, erasing the play along with the loss of yardage, moving Gray’s final total from 199-yards to 201 on the night.

That play had been Gray’s only negative rush of the game. ¬†He had only two other carries for no gain, while the rest went for positive yardage.

Here’s how his rushes broke down by distance gained:

No Gain: 2
1-5 yards: 22
6-10 yards: 9
Over 10-20 yards: 4

As noted by the team’s official Twitter feed, this change makes Gray just the 3rd 200+ yard rusher in Patriots history.

Notice: Undefined variable: bprev in /home/httpd/vhosts/ on line 54

Notice: Undefined index: preview in /home/httpd/vhosts/ on line 3