Archive for October, 2010

Patriots Defense Has Had Plenty of Practice Against Moss

Most teams usually need someone on the scout team to try and learn all the tendencies and idiosyncrasies to attempt to do a good job simulating a certain player.

They try and learn the mannerisms, body language, along with certain moves a player will do in certain situations to try and give the defense the best possible look in trying to prepare for that week’s match-up.

The good news is they don’t need anyone to pretend to be Randy Moss this week as they get set to take on the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium. Many of the players on that defense have had a couple of years to get used the way he operates and moves, and any of the new guys at least had an entire training camp of chasing him around to be able to get some of the timing down with him.

One guy who will likely be called on to guard Moss is rookie Devin McCourty, who spent plenty of time working against him during training camp, and that’s likely one of many reasons he’s slowly emerging as a solid player during his first NFL season.

“I mean you line up against that guy and you know you’re going against one of the best,” McCourty said of Moss back during training camp. “Just lining up against him day in and day out is just going to get me better as a player. You go against a guy that good and you’re really prepared to go against anyone in this league.”

Then there’s head coach Bill Belichick, who probably knows him better than anyone at this point. Belichick may have viewed the trade to Minnesota as an easy way to move the disgruntled receiver when they traded him weeks ago – but it’s likely fairly certain that he wouldn’t have moved him to a team they’d be facing later in the year unless he felt they’d be able to stop him. He told reporters Wednesday that having him here in New England for as long as they did should definitely be an advantage.

“Randy looks like Randy,” Belichick said Wednesday. “He’s a big weapon for them — he can do a lot of things.”

So far through three games with the Vikings Moss has 12 catches for 166-yards (13.8 avg) and 2 touchdowns. Belichick knows how dangerous a player he can be, but obviously having him as a player has made quite a difference in making things a little easier as they continue preparing for Sunday’s game.

“We know Randy,” said Belichick. “Certainly, when you’ve had a player, and you’ve coached him or he’s been on your team, you certainly have better knowledge of him than you do if that wasn’t the case.”

OTHER NOTES: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre said on Wednesday that he’s hoping he can play on Sunday despite dealing with two fractures in his ankle. “There’s still a lot of football left. We’ve dug ourselves a hole here,” Favre said. “This could easily be an injury where I could where I could say, ‘I’m going to slip under the radar. See you later. Easy out.’ And people may think that. I want to play, and I want to help this team win. I owe that to the guys. I owe that to myself.”…Looking ahead, the talk out in Cleveland is about who will start against the Patriots on November 7th, with head coach Eric Mangini telling the Cleveland Plain Dealer he hasn’t decided yet. “The play time that [McCoy has] gotten has been great,” Mangini said on the rookie. “The things that he’s shown has been really positive. But we’re always gonna try to play the guys that we think give us the best shot to win on Sunday.”….Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reported on Wednesday that CB Darius Butler, CB Tony Carter, and WR Taylor Price were the standout performers in practice last week in preparation for the win over San Diego….The onside kick Sunday will likely see the team spend some time this week working on that in practice. “We’ve got to be more alert in that situation, maybe change something that we’re doing schematically, and also just be more prepared for that play,” said Belichick on Monday. “It’s come up twice this year. I don’t think we’ve handled it the way we need to handle it either time. That was a great kick by [Kris] Brown. They were right there. We were ready for it, but we didn’t play it very well.”

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Patriots Chung, Wilfork Miss Practice Wednesday

Jeff Howe of NESN.com reported on Wednesday that Patrick Chung and defensive linenman Vince Wilfork were among five players not seen during the media portion of practice on Wednesday.

The other players not present were reportedly Jarrad Page, Fred Taylor, and Matthew Slater.

Chung suffered a knee injury Sunday, and one report Monday said that he was scheduled to undergo tests to determine the severity of the injury.  So far those who have seen him around the stadium have said that he’s not on crutches – which is obviously a positive sign.

As for Wilfork, according to the report it’s not known why he wasn’t at practice on Wednesday.  His name wasn’t on the injury report, and it’s not believed that he was injured in Sunday’s win over the Chargers.

Slater left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, and his loss put them in a tough spot because he’s a big part of their special teams units.  Page has also had a similar role on special teams and his loss also costs them some depth at safety defensively.  He’s now missed his fourth consecutive practice while he continues to recover from a calf injury he sustained against the Ravens two weeks ago.

Meanwhile Fred Taylor continues to recover from a toe injury that has kept him out of practice since September 24th.  Since then it’s been BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead handling the majority of the carries, with Sammy Morris coming in periodically to spell them.

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Wednesday Patriots Buzz Headlines

An abbreviated version this morning, but here are some notable headlines to check out:

Arrington’s special teams prowess - Mike Reiss ESPNBoston.com

Patriots Hope to See Brett Favre Instead of Tavaris Jackson – NESN

Childress’ “Signal Stealing” Comments Puzzling – NESN

Belichick doesn’t respond to Vikings coach‎ - Patriot Ledger

Faith In McCourty Starting to Pay Off – Worcester Telegram

Moss Will be Well Received – Boston Globe

Raising a Steal Curtain – Boston Globe

Favre Soap Opera Coming to Town – Boston Globe

Farinella: Seeing Less of Favre Would Be a Good Thing – Attleboro Sun Chronicle

Patriots Help Build Playground for Boys & Girls Club – WickedLocal.com

Brian Baldinger: Patriots are being re-made to try and beat the Jets – WEEI.com

How will the Patriots go about defending Randy Moss? - WEEI.com

Randy Moss OK by Robert Kraft, Pats with Vikes up next? - Boston Herald

Patriots have big presence at Celtics-Heat season opener – Boston Herald

Signals Not Crossed, Pats Ignore Brad Childress – Boston Herald

That’s it for this morning.  Hope everyone has a good day and we’ll have more later on.

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Grogan’s Grade: New England at San Diego

Did you miss Grogan’s Grade Monday Morning?  If you did, here’s the complete transcription of the conversation between Greg & the gang, and former Patriot Steve Grogan:

Morning Buzz: I think the word to describe Sunday Mr. Grogan is “escaped.” Do you agree?

Steve Grogan: That would describe it pretty good I think.

MB: It felt like we escaped out of there. Even in the press conference after the game, Tom Brady was like, “boy that was ugly. That was about as ugly as we’ve seen,” why do you think that is?

SG: Yeah it was a pretty sloppy game. I mean San Diego hasn’t played that well this year. I think they were back home, they were a little bit desperate – which gave them a little incentive. You’ve got a young Patriots team that traveled across the country for the first time this year and that throws your schedule off a little bit – sometimes it affects the way you play. But it was just a sloppy game all the way around for both sides Sunday.

MB: In the first half they had real problems moving the ball. What does Tom Brady take away from this game, what do they need to work on first?

SG: I think they need to get Randy Moss back. (laughs) I just think they don’t have anyone that’s really stretching the field right now. They’re not threatening anybody deep, and that makes it tough to throw the underneath routes. They’ve been running the football pretty good, which has taken the pressure off of having to throw the ball so much — Sunday they couldn’t run the ball. So it caused problems, this is an offense that’s going to be in transition without Moss around to see what they do well and how they can get it done. And then you’ve got the young defense that seems to play well for three quarters sometimes a half, and then in the second half struggles — and I think we saw that Sunday again. It’s just a maturing process that’s taking place right now.

MB: Brandon Meriweather appears to be a marked man and the crowd seemed ready to jump all over him, what were your thoughts on his first half hit Sunday?

SG: He’s going to have to learn to play a little bit of a different game than he’s used to, so that’s going to be an adjustment.

MB: We saw some bonehead plays by the Chargers Sunday, apparently they’ve been doing it all season long. The reception where the rookie put the ball on the ground, and then the lateral pass that was or wasn’t — you wouldn’t see that from a Belichick coached team would you Steve?

I wouldn’t expect to see that from a Belichick coached team, no. Norv Turner gets knocked a lot out in San Diego, they’ve always started slow and seemed to finish fast. But when you play that kind of sloppy football, it’s just not smart. The kid that wasn’t touched and laid the ball on the ground and got up, he’s a young player — you can say he just wasn’t thinking, but when you’re playing professional football you need to be thinking and you need to not be making mistakes like that. The four turnovers that San Diego had Sunday were the difference in the game, there’s no question about that.

MB: What about the fourth and one call in the fourth quarter, what are your thoughts on that play?

SG: I question the call myself. They had not been running the ball well all day, they’d been struggling offensively. I know the defense wasn’t playing all that well, but still in my mind you’ve got to make the Chargers go 80 yards to win, or 50 yards to tie. At that point in the game I would’ve punted the ball away and taken my chances with my defense.

MB: Steve, it seemed like a sloppy game all around the NFL Sunday. Do you agree?

SG: Sometimes the stars and the moons align like that, it just seems to happen that way. I mean who would ever figure the Raiders would go for 59 points the way they’ve been struggling. It’s one of those “go figure” kind of days.

MB: Have you ever seen in your career NFL referees not be able to decide who recovered a fumble?

SG: Not that I remember no (laughs)

MB: Watching former Patriots coach Eric Mangini’s team Sunday, do you think Colt McCoy has a chance to be a good quarterback in the NFL?

SG: I think there’s no question he has an opportunity to be a really good quarterback in the NFL. For Cleveland to go into New Orleans Sunday and do what they did was another big surprise. I think you’re going to see the maturation of this kid. I saw him play a lot in college – he is going to be a good one.

MB: Do you think it’s a mistake that Belichick didn’t grab back Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel? I mean they’re both doing well in Kansas City right now?

SG: They’re doing great in Kansas City. In retrospect I’m sure he would’ve liked to have had both of them back. But coaching, finding jobs, and who you sign with is something I’ve never really figured out in all the years I’ve been around the game. This year Belichick seems to want to do everything himself, that’s just the way it this. That’s the way it’s going to be the year, and that’s what were going to have to put up with.

Steve have you ever watched the NFL RedZone channel?

SG: I don’t get to see it that much, but it is kind of neat. When you’re not watching the Patriots game, you can put it on and see just about any game that’s about to have a score, which is kind of neat. You almost need to have two TV’s, one to watch the game, and one the watch the RedZone channel.

MB: So what are Grogan’s Grades for this week?

SG: On Offense, I’m giving them a C+ There was no running game to speak of, and the passing game looked sporadic. They couldn’t find a rhythm, and gave up four sacks, which isn’t good. They were just 25% on third down conversions, and also had the ball for just 25 minutes, which also wasn’t good.

On Defense, I give them a B. They shut down the Charger’s running game well, for only 38 yards, which I thought was good. However, they did let Rivers throw for 336 yards, which wasn’t good along with allowing the Chargers to convert 46% of their third downs. San Diego also held the ball for 35 minutes. But they did force 4 turnovers, and that was the difference in the game. I still think there’s room for more consistency in the 2nd half.

I give the Special Teams a B-. There wasn’t much special about this unit Sunday. They had one nice return by Julian Edleman, and I thought the coverage for the most part was good. Stephen Gostkowski had a solid game, but Zoltan Mesko had a below average day punting the football.

Overall I give them a B-, it was a slightly above average performance. If not for a sloppy Chargers team, this one could have gone the other way very easily. They were fortunate that San Diego missed the field goal at the end, and that was huge to say the least. Next week against the Vikings should be interesting. They’re reeling right now, and I think if he plays Brett Favre and Randy Moss will be a good test for this young secondary. I’m looking forward to that one.

Grogan’s Grades for Patriots at San Diego:

Offense: C+
Defense: B
Special Teams: B-
Overall: B-

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Tuesday Patriots Buzz Headlines

One of the bigger stories this morning is the fact that most fans in New England are waiting to see how things unfold for Patriots safety Patrick Chung, who suffered a knee injury during Sunday’s win over the Chargers out in San Diego.  Chung is reportedly set to undergo tests to find out the severity of the injury, and his loss is disappointing – especially considering that he appeard to be on the verge of a breakout year so far this season.

The other big story this morning is the fact that Vikings head coach Brad Childress called the Patriots the “All time greatest signal stealers” in his press conference yesterday when talking about their previous meeting back in 2006.

“It was like a surgical procedure,” Childress said of the ’06 contest. “That’s back when we used to signal [plays] and things like that. I remember having a conversation with [former Vikings defensive coordinator] Mike Tomlin about that. These were some of the all-time great signal stealers. In fact, that’s what was going on. They were holding, holding, holding. We were signaling from the sideline. They were good at it. It’s like stealing signals from a catcher.”

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady heard about the comments, and fired back this morning during his weekly interview with WEEI.

“We’ve been called a lot worse than that,” said Brady. “That game was so long ago. … I remember us executing pretty well that night. I’ve heard different guys in the past say that. That’s come and gone. That’s been not a part of football here for a long time, and we’ve still won a lot of games. In ’07, they changed the rule and so forth. I don’t buy a whole lot into that. The team that’s going to win this weekend is the team that plays better. I can promise you that.”

Meanwhile despite reports that Brett Favre has a fractured ankle, Glenn Farley of the Patriot Ledger reports that the Patriots defense is getting ready to face him anyway.  They’re also preparing for backup Tavaris Jackson – who is a five year veteran with 19-career starts.

“Of course, he’s started 8,000 games in a row,” said Belichick of Favre. “It’s the same thing we were all talking about with (San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio) Gates last week. He wasn’t going to play and all that.
 
“I don’t think you can ever count players like that out. I don’t know when the last time Gates has missed a game. Favre, it’s like playing Lou Gehrig.”

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe takes a look at New England’s first half struggles, and points out that one of the changes they made in the second half was the fact they went to the no huddle.  According to Wes Welker that changed the tempo of the game, and helped alleviate some of the pressure Brady faced from the pass rush.

“Using the no-huddle really changed the tempo,’’ wide receiver Wes Welker said. “It tired out the [defensive] linemen, and the rush wasn’t such a factor. The change in tempo helped.’’

Meanwhile safety Brandon Meriweather got some praise from the league office yesterday for his play on Sunday.  On one of the hits by the veteran safety, he completely leveled Patrick Crayton and dropped his shoulder right into the midsection of the vetran receiver.  Ray Anderson, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, offered up some praise for Meriweather yesterday.

“Last week, we were appropriately calling him out and chastising him,’’ Anderson said of Meriweather. “[Sunday], Meriweather made two very tenacious, effective and legal hits in similar situations. But you could see it, he lowered the target area, blasted the opponent with his shoulder. He adapted, showing it can be done. It is appropriate to praise him for the tough play.’’

When he heard the news, Belichick was fairly sarcastic in his response about the fact the league is now evaluating the play of individual players.

“Nah, it’s got to be a first for me,” said Belichick when asked if he’d ever heard a league official praising one of his players. ”The officials now are evaluating the players and their performance, I mean, that’s great. I can’t say how much that means to me…. really.’’

Ron Borges of the Herald has a report card this morning of Sunday’s game, offering up some interesting opinions in this one.

Kirk Minihane also has his report card, with a different breakdown of this one.

Ian Rapoport of the Herald takes a look at the play of Sergio Brown, who filled in nicely when Chung went down with an injury Sunday.

Rapoport also writes that the Patriots have plenty of “situational intelligence”, and that was one of the key factors in beating the Chargers on Sunday.

And finally on a different topic, Greg Easterbrook of ESPN discusses the fact the league needs to go to outer padded helmets for next season, and writes that several players have tried them and it’s lengthened their careers.  Here’s a link to a photo of one of the prototypes that was discussed a while ago, but never came into widespread use in the league.

That’s it for this morning.  We’ll have more later on, so be sure and check back for updates.

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Patriots Chung To Undergo Tests

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reported Monday night that Patriots safety Patrick Chung will reportedly undergo tests to determine the severity of the knee injury he suffered during New England’s 23-20 win over the Chargers Sunday – citing a source familiar with the situation.

Chung was injured in the second quarter of Sunday’s contest, and was seen afterward with a noticable limp before heading for the locker room. The team had listed him as “questionable” following the injury, but Chung didn’t return to the game.

Head coach Bill Belichick appeared on sports radio WEEI Monday, but downplayed the severity of Chung’s injury.

“Patrick is a pretty quick healer,” said Belichick. “Hopefully this won’t keep him out long, if at all.”

The injury comes at a tough time, as Chung has really come on strong the past few weeks. He had an interception return for a touchdown, along with blocking both a punt and a field goal against the Dolphins two weeks ago. He also had a good game against the Ravens last week, finishing with a combined 13 tackles.

Now we’ll have to see how long this injury keeps him out for. He was replaced by Sergio Brown who played respectably while filling in. However, they’ve already lost Jarrad Page to a calf injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game, and it’s not yet known if he’ll be ready for this week. So at this point they’re already struggling depth-wise at the safety spot. Needless to say hopefully it’s not serious and we’ll see him back in the near future.

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Monday Patriots Buzz Headlines

A new feature here in the blog – we’ll have daily headline updates each morning to help you keep up with what’s being written about the team online.  You’ll see this feature added each day somewhere between 8am – 9am ET, so be sure to check in each morning to get all the news you need right here at the Morning Buzz.

New England is now 5-1 after a 23-20 win over the San Diego Chargers yesterday at Qualcomm Stadium, and there is certainly plenty going on this morning after the win.  So let’s get to the headlines.

Michael Silver writes that while the call to go for it on fourth down was questionable, the odds were in the Patriots’ favor that San Diego would screw the game up even if they didn’t make it.

Alok Pattani of ESPN.com also has some interesting math behind Belichick’s 4th down gamble.

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald talked to Rob Ninkovich, and asked him how he was alert enough to pick the ball up after the lateral was left laying on the ground by San Diego.  Ninkovich says he can’t take the credit, as it was the coaches yelling at him on the sideline that made him dive on it, before getting up and taking off before Philip Rivers took him down.

Erik Scalavino of Patriots.com has analysis/reaction from Sunday’s game, as the team survived a close one during their fifth win of the season.

Chistopher Gasper of the Globe takes a look back at Sunday’s win in his “On Football” piece for this morning, and feels that the Patriots were both lucky and good in this one.

As he always does, Christopher Price of WEEI.com has another terrific “Ten Things We Learned From Sunday’s Game” article, giving an in-depth breakdown while pointing out it’s a different year, different players, and a different mentality in the locker room for New England.

Alex Speier of WEEI.com questions the 4th and 1 call, but both Belichick and Brady said after the game that they had no doubt about going for it - since it would have essentially ended the game.

Mike Reiss writes that Belichick has no need for second thoughts, and thankfully unlike last year that call ended up not costing them the game. 

Reiss also points out that the Patriots had just 38 net yards in total offense in the first half – which is a number you don’t see very often from them.

Ron Borges of the Boston Herald has “the best and worst of yesterday’s game”, with some interesting thoughts on several different areas of yesterday’s win.

Borges also has this week’s column for the game, and feels that toughness and smarts were what saved the day for New England yesterday.

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe writes that after a game like yesterday, the Patriots should just take the ‘W’ and not ask questions.

Karen Guregian of the Herald has the play of the game, which she felt was the false start on what would have been a game tying field goal for the Chargers, along with locker room reaction of the play.

Guregian also feels that for the second straight week, the defense showed its stuff and stepped up and made plays when it counted.

Ian Rapoport writes that while they escaped with a win, they certainly made it harder than it had to be and could have definitely done more damage had they gotten going sooner offensively.

Monique Walker of the Boston Globe writes that San Diego showed just how tough they are defensively, keeping Tom Brady and the offense off balance for the entire first half of play before they finally started to figure things out in the second half.

Safety Brandon Meriweather made another big hit on Sunday, but as  Walker points out: this time around, this one was legal.

Tom Curran of NECN has five thoughts on yesterday’s win over the Chargers, one of which includes the fact that he feels the Chargers “Dimwittedness Was Epic”.

Now – from the other side, it’s a tough morning out in San Diego.

Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune feels that Norv Turner’s lack of fire trickles down to his team, and thinks that he could use a little fury to go along with his usual sound.

Nick Canepa has a report card for the Chargers, with some humorous comments after each grade.

Kevin Acee writes that they lost because a few players misplaced their heads and made blunders that the Chargers “would love to say are uncharacteristic, but are entirely characteristic”.

Bill Williamson of ESPN was in the Chargers locker room after Sunday’s game, and says that the biggest word he heard used in there was “hope” as they wonder when things will finally change after San Diego lost their third game in a row yesterday.

Antonio Gates admitted after the game that he was primarily a decoy out on the field during Sunday’s loss, with the San Diego Union-Tribune pointing out that he was essentially a decoy for all but eight of the Chargers’ first 60 offensive snaps, and played all but one of their final 10 snaps and made four catches for 50 yards, with the first of the catches being a four-yard touchdown.

And we’ll save the best for last – Nick Canepa tells Chargers fans to go ahead and assume that the Chargers 2010 season is “dead”, and has plenty of interesting thoughts to go along with why he feels that way.

So enjoy the fact that you’re not a Chargers fan, because there’s certainly plenty of misery out there in San Diego this morning.  We’ll have more later on throughout the day, so be sure and check back in with us periodically for updates.

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Patriots Brady Has Been Under Pressure So Far in 2010

Last season Tom Brady wasn’t sacked very often, finishing the year having been sacked just 16 times, while getting pretty good protection from his offensive line.

Unfortunately so far this year it’s been a little shakier, with Brady having been sacked 12 times so far through six games, four of which came Sunday against San Diego during their 23-20 win at Qualcomm Stadium.

Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light had a tough afternoon on Sunday, spending the entire game battling with Chargers linebacker Antwan Barnes – and having a tough go of it. Light ended up having the same experience that Ravens tackle Michael Oher did last weekend with rookie Jermaine Cunningham.

It didn’t go very well.


Tom Brady has already been sacked 12 times so far this season (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

Barnes repeatedly made Light’s life difficult for much of the day, and was a factor from the start of the game.  He allowed Barnes to force two hurried throws from Brady, including one where Light was called for illegal hands to the face against him after Barnes pushed him into Brady and forced an incompletion, leading to a field goal attempt.

Light also let Quentin Jammer get around the edge and get a hand on Brady on the next third down, forcing another punt.

It made for a tough start to the game, where Brady admitted after that they had a difficult time getting much going.

“What Offense?” Brady said afterward.  “I mean we had a hard time moving at all.  We just couldn’t get into a rhythm out there.  Second half was better, I don’t think it was great by any stretch.  But it feels good to win, and see the defense play the way they did – get those turnovers.”

Thankfully they adjusted their protections and the problems seemed to subside a bit in the second half.  Overall Brady was sacked four times, and thanks to Light’s inability to slow down Barnes caused several hurried throws that got them off to a slow start.

Brady went into the locker room at half-time having completed just 6-of-16 passes for 35-yards including a touchdown, but they were 0-for-6 on third down.

Thankfully they got things going in the second half, with Brady finishing the game 19-of-32 for 159 yards.  Despite their protection problems, in the end they were able to make enough plays offensively to get it done. Hopefully things improve in the coming weeks, because head coach Bill Belichick knows this one could have turned out differently and admitted afterward that they were fortunate to leave San Diego with a win.

“I’ve got to give our guys a lot of credit,” said Belichick. “They really hung in there, fought hard, made some plays when we had to and that’s the kind of game it was.  We’ve been in some close games with the Chargers, and we’re just fortunate to come out on top here today.”

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Positives & Negatives from Patriots at Chargers

Overall on Sunday the Patriots played well, with far more going right then wrong during New England’s 23-20 win over San Diego.  While it wasn’t their best performance, even Tom Brady admitted that it’s always good to get a win when things aren’t perfect.

“It’s good to win when you don’t play great,” said Brady.  “You’ve got to win these games when you have the opportunity.”

Here’s a look at some of the highlights, and lowlights from Sunday’s game.

POSITIVES:

Patrick Chung – Caused a fumble on the first play from scrimmage that unfortunatley ended up being recovered by San Diego.  Chung later got knocked out of the game with a knee injury and now his status is uncertain.

Devin McCourty – Made a great read on the second play from scrimmage, and also made a great read on the first play of San Diego’s second drive, coming up and making a big tackle.  He did catch a break on San Diego’s field goal, as Buster Davis got behind him, but caught it out of bounds in the back of the endzone.  McCourty also made a great read when the Chargers went long to Patrick Crayton, reading the ball perfectly and making a terrific leaping interception.  He did have one bad moment after he was at fault for being on the field during a mix-up on a substitution, causing the Patriots to be called for a “12 men on the field” penalty.

James Sanders – Made a strong return Sunday, blitzing on the opening drive and causing an incompletion on 3rd down. He also alertly picked up the ball after Richard Goodman left the ball on the turf following a 25-yard reception.  Unfortunately the Patriots don’t capitalize on the turnover.

Jerod Mayo – Came up to make a play on Ryan Mathews and kept batting his hands – which prevented a stiffarm and forced Mathews out of bounds.  Mayo lead the team in tackles Sunday, finishing with 11 combined tackles and also recovered a fumble.

Brandon Meriweather – Meriweather made a big hit Sunday, and this one was legal.  He made a perfect hit right to the body on Chargers receiver Patrick Crayton, although Crayton held on.  He did a salute to the crowd right after the play.  Meriweather did appear to injure his shoulder late in the game while making a tackle, but stayed in the game.

Dane Fletcher – Great job recovering the kick on San Diego’s first onside kick attempt early in the game – although San Diego would succeed when they tried it again later in the fourth quarter.  Fletcher also later forced a fumble which helped set up the Patriots first touchdown.

Rob Gronkowski – Gronkowski had a touchdown, and finished with two receptions for 10-yards along with his scoring grab.

Rob Ninkovich – Made a great heads up play to pick up the ball after Jacob Hester gave up on what he thought was an incompletion, returning it 63-yards all the way down to the San Diego 8-yard line.  The play was ruled a lateral, and New England ended up with the football.

Sergio Brown – Came in after Patrick Chung went down and played well, making a tackle which lead to a 3rd and long, with Devin McCourty later making his first career interception.

Julian Edelman – Edelman did a good job shaking off a tackle, and returning the punt 34-yards with 1:59 left in the first half.

Stephen Neal – Neal got into it with Antonio Garay, andmuch like Jermaine Cunningham did last week, he got Garay to lose his cool and throw him to the ground.  Chargers were penalized and New England got the first down.

Danny Woodhead – Woodhead got drilled following a reception, but held on and picked four yards after the initial impact early in the game.  Also made a great play on a screen where he high stepped his way out of a tackle to get the Patriots down to the Chargers 6-yard line – 16-yard gain.  Finished with 8 carries for 24-yards.

Brandon Deaderick – Made a key sack on a 2nd-and-7, which set up a 3rd-and-13 and left the Chargers forced to attempt a field goal after a big hit by Kyle Arrington 

Aaron Hernandez – Hernandez finished with 5 catches for 54 yards, and did a great job bouncing back from his performance last week where he had a couple of drops.

Mike Wright – Wright had a good performance on Sunday, where he combined for two tackles, including one where he busted through and sacked Philip Rivers late during Sunday’s game.

NEGATIVES:

Jake Ingram – Didn’t have a great day snapping the ball, forcing punter Zoltan Mesko to have to scoop a couple off the turf, and also had a holding penalty in the first quarter.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Green-Ellis rushed for a touchdown early in the 3rd quarter which put New England up 20-3, but finished with 11 carries for 24 yards (2.2 avg).  He also  failed to pick up a blitz after carrying his part of the fake out on a playaction, and it lead to Brady being sacked.  Later was also stopped on what could have been a game winning first down, as he cut his run outside on a 4th down run late in the 4th quarter.  Fortunately for Green-Ellis the Chargers ended up missing the game-tying kick.

Matt Light – Had a tough afternoon.  He got called for illegal hands to the face against linebacker Antwan Barnes, after Barnes pushed him into Brady and forced an incompletion, leading to a field goal attempt.  He also gave up a blitz, which forced a hurried throw by Brady on New England’s opening drive – forcing a punt.  Light also let Quentin Jammer get around the edge and get a hand on Brady on the next third down, forcing another punt.  He also later allowed a sack by Barnes.

Sebastian Vollmer – Called for a holding penalty which took them from a 2nd-and-3 to a 2nd and 14.  Patriots would later go for it on 4th down and convert.

Gary Guyton – got beat by Antonio Gates for the touchdown, his first catch of the day.  Later had Sprolls squared up for a 1-yard gain, and let him get away for a 9-yard gain following the onside kick.

NOTES: The Patriots won the turnover battle on Sunday, as the Chargers had four turnovers in the first half…Patrick Chung left Sunday’s game with a knee injury.  His status for next week’s game to this point is unknown….On the drive where Brady was sacked back-to-back before their first field goal, their “drive” went for 4 plays, minus-14 yards, lasting just 1:54…New England lost Matthew Slater with an “ankle injury”Sunday.  Like Chung, his status going forward is unknown….Patriots were 0-for-6 on third down in the first half, and only ended up finishing 3-of-12…. Brady’s touchdown pass Sunday was his 236th career TD pass, tying George Blanda for 18th all-time in NFL history. His next one will tie Jim Kelly (237)….Ryan Wendell in the game at left guard for Dan Connolly to open the second half….The Patriots finally converted their first 3rd down early in the second quarter on an 18-yard completion to Aaron Hernandez.

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Patriots Lose Chung, Slater to Injuries Sunday

New England saw a couple of guys get banged up during their 23-20 win over San Diego on Sunday.

They lost safety Patrick Chung to a knee injury, and also later lost wide receiver Matthew Slater with an ankle injury.

Chung’s loss is clearly the most significant, as he’s been an impact player both on special teams and on defense – and it’ll be a tough blow if he ends up being out for a prolonged period of time. After all, they’ve got a tough game coming up next Sunday against the Vikings, especially with Randy Moss making his return to Foxboro after being traded earlier this month.

As for Slater, he’s been a big part of their special teams unit and also provided them with some depth at the receiver position. Now the question will be how they deal with the loss of these two players on special teams – since they’ll now have to shift some guys around to try and deal with further personnel losses. They’re already without safety Jarrad Page, who was inactive for Sunday’s game after getting injured last week.

Needless to say we’ll have to wait and see the practice report this week to find out their level of participation – since Belichick isn’t exactly forthcoming with the details when it comes to injuries. Either way there’s cause for concern – so hopefully the news turns out positive for each of these two players.

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