Archive for September, 2012

Patriots at Bills: Charting the Patriots Runningbacks


Above you can see the runningback chart from Sunday’s win over Buffalo


With the Patriots going over 200 yards rushing on Sunday, here’s a look at how it broke down between Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden and we’ve included a breakdown of where each player got their yards from.

RUSHING TOTALS:

Brandon Bolden: 16 carries, 137 yards (8.6 avg) 1 TD
Stevan Ridley: 22 carries, 106 yards (4.8 avg) 2 TD’s
Tom Brady: 1 carry, 4 yards (4.0 avg) 1 TD
Shane Vereen: 1 carry, 0 yards (0.0 avg)

RUSHING TOTALS BY DIRECTION:

Left End
No Carries

Left Tackle
Brandon Bolden: 4 carries, 35 yards (8.8 avg) 1 TD
Stevan Ridley: 3 carries, 9 yards (3.0 avg) 2 TD’s
Tom Brady: 1 carry, 4 yards (4.0 avg) 1 TD

Left Guard
Stevan Ridley: 8 carries, 43 yards (5.4 avg)
Brandon Bolden: 3 carries, 22 yards (7.3 avg)

Middle
Stevan Ridley: 9 carries, 51 yards (5.7 avg)
Brandon Bolden: 4 carries, 30 yards (7.5 avg)
Shane Vereen: 1 carry, 0 yards (0.0 avg)

Right Guard
Brandon Bolden: 4 carries, 37 yards (9.3 avg)
Stevan Ridley: 2 carries, 3 yards (1.5 avg)

Right Tackle
Brandon Bolden: 1 carry, 13 yards (13.0 avg)

Right End
No attempts

If you’d like to see how each runningback performed on 1st down, 2nd down, etc., you can view the complete stats in our database from Sunday’s game by clicking here.

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Against the Run: Solid Performance By the Patriots Defense

Despite giving up over 400 yards of total offense to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, there was a clear highlight that should certainly be mentioned when it comes to the Patriots defense.

They were absolutely fantastic against the run.

They held C.J. Spiller to just 33 yards rushing on 8 attempts during New England’s 52-28 come from behind win, and also held Fred Jackson to 29 yards.


Brandon Spikes was a force for the Patriots defense on Sunday. (FILE:USPresswire)

More importantly, they never let up their intensity up front, with Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Brandon Spikes turning up the heat against a Bills offense that had every opportunity to put this game out of reach and prevent the Patriots from staging a comeback.

They held the Bills to 15 carries of 3 yards or less, including six of no gain or a loss of yardage and also forced three fumbles – one of which proved to be the biggest play of the game and came right before the end of the first half half. It happened shortly after wide receiver Wes Welker had coughed up the football following a 14 yard reception with just over 2-minutes to go and gave Buffalo the football down at their own 21.

From there Buffalo took it down to the Patriots 4, but Spikes came in and absolutely leveled Spiller on a 2nd down carry, knocking out the ball and Wilfork alertly recovered the football.

At that point the Bills lead 14-7 and could have easily gone up 21-7 at the half, but it ended up being a key moment in the game that turned things around.

“That was a huge play,” said Belichick after the game.  ”That was a big momentum play because we were getting the ball to start the third quarter so we felt like we would have a chance to cut into it a little bit if we could just get out of there with a field goal, I mean as it was that turnover was huge.”

Welker agreed, especially since he was the one who turned it over.

“I mean, that was huge, especially since I’m the one that fumbled for them to go in there,” Welker told reporters after the win.  ”So hats off to the defense for making that big play.  It really put us in a good position going into half time and being able to fight there in the second half.”

Another big turnover came in the fourth quarter that ultimately sealed the game for the Patriots.  With Buffalo down by just 7 at 28-21 following Rob Gronkowski’s touchdown to start the fourth quarter, the Bills had a chance to answer.  But on their 3rd play from scrimmage on their ensuing drive, Spikes once again put a vicious hit on Fred Jackson who lost the ball and Tavon Wilson recovered at Buffalo’s 42.

Six plays later Stevan Ridley ran it in from 2 yards out and it just got worse from there.

New England’s secondary made the next play after Devin McCourty intercepted a 3rd down pass on the Bills’ fourth play on their next drive, giving the Patriots the ball at the Bills 12.

This time Brandon Bolden took it in to put New England up 42-21, and despite the fact there was 10:34 still left in the game Bills fans knew it was the Patriots – and not their team – who had the momentum at that point and they started heading for the exits.

In the end Belichick credited the fact his team simply hung in there for the reason they were able to come back from being down two touchdowns and come away with the win.

“I just think our execution…we just kept battling in there and made enough plays at the right time I guess,” said Belichick.  ”It wasn’t perfect, but we did enough good things.”

That they did, and if they can get the guys in the defensive backfield to play as well as the guys up front, it’s starting to look like they good have something special going on in the weeks to come.

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Wes Welker’s PostGame Press Conference Transcript

On how concerned he was down 21-7:

“I wasn’t really all that concerned.  I mean I just wanted to make sure we were still out there battling and still fighting and making sure everybody’s doing that and trying to make some plays to get us going and some guys really stepped up and made some plays and put us in a good position where we were able to fight back and win the game.”

On if he learned anything about his team after this game:

“I think so, I think so.  I think it tells a lot about a team whenever you’re down like that and you just keep on fighting, keep on staying after it, and eventually good things happen and we were able to do that today.”

On what it says about a team who’s on the other side when that happens:

“They have a good team and they got out to a good start on us and played really well, and I think we just played really, really well in the second half and we were able to really kind of come together and make some plays and were able to come out with the win.”

On if the receivers can take a deep breath when they’re running the ball like that:

“I don’t think you really kind of take your foot off the pedal at all as a receiver with the run game going or anything.  Eventually we’re going to pass the ball and we’re going to have to make some plays in the passing game.   The running backs and the offensive line did a phenomenal job and hats off to them.  It really does make our job a lot easier when they’re having to think about the run like that.”

On what it’s like having somebody like Tom Brady running the offense in that:

“Yeah, I mean it’s a big part of it.  I mean, Tom’s always going to fight til the end and knowing that you have that at your quarterback position makes you want to fight until the end and ultimately everybody did that and came together, and we were able to win.”

On if he was surprised that they kept putting #26 [Bills CB Justin Rogers] on him:

“Yeah, I mean there was some plays there in the first half where I was telling Tommy, ‘Hey I’m getting open on some of these plays, come and find me’ and he does a great job of analyzing the match-ups and we just try to take advantage of them and win on those match-ups.  He got me on a few plays where I’d like to have the route back, but ultimately we were able to make some plays and win the game.”

On if with Logan Mankins out if he was expecting them to throw the ball a lot more instead of running the ball:

“I don’t know.  You go into every game, you don’t really know what to expect at the end of the day.  You have an idea but ultimately the game plan changes at times and situations in the game and different things like that. Luckily we were able to stay pretty balanced and the run game was really good for us, especially going as fast as we were.”

On how quickly things changed in the game:

“We  had a key drive there, we were driving the ball pretty well and we had that 3rd down where Danny [Woodhead] made a great play and Tom scrambled and we were able to get that touchdown. I think that really helped us out there.  I think that 3rd down, if we don’t get it,  it could be a different game.  Luckily we were able to make that play and the defense got a stop and we were able to score again.  It kind of put us in the driver’s seat if you like.”

On if there’s a fine line between a sense of urgency but not panicking:

“Yeah, I mean I don’t think you really ever panic.  I think you just go out there and just play your game and go out there and try and score points and let everything else kind of take care of itself.  When you’re down like that you almost don’t have anything to lose at that point.  You just have to go out there and play and try and fight back.”

On if experience makes him believe the team will go on a run since they’ve done it before:

“You know what?  I think we have the players to do it.  I think our offense does a good job.  We go ‘no-huddle’ quite a bit and really get moving so we definitely have those opportunity to be able to make those runs.”

On the play at the end of the half that Spikes made to force the fumble after they turned it over:

“I mean, that was huge, especially since I’m the one that fumbled for them to go in there.  So hats off to the defense for making that big play.  It really put us in a good position going into half time and being able to fight there in the second half.”

On the third down they faced that he mentioned earlier and how it keyed the dominance they had for the rest of the game:

“What keyed that type of dominance?  You know, I don’t know.  I think just going fast we were able to run the ball and get into some second and shorts and we were able to really move the chains that way and I think it really kind of helped us get down there and then ultimately Danny made a great play and Tom as well on that 3rd down.”

On if spreading things out helped Tom see some of the match-ups in the second half:

“I think so a little bit.  Especially the situation we were in.  We were down two touchdowns and we knew we had to get something going.  We had to hit some pass plays and kind of spread them out and do some of those things.   We were able to hit some match-ups and take advantage of them.

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Tom Brady’s Post Game Press Conference Transcript

On the frustrating start and how the maintained their patience:

“Well, I think we realized that we had to execute a lot better than we were executing.  We talked about it on the sideline, we talked about it at halftime, in order to score points we just can’t keep stubbing our toe.  So I thought we did a better job in the second half.  Obviously the turnovers were huge and to get those, the defense was really getting after them, that fumble before halftime was huge.  We were down 21-7 on the road, our backs against the wall, and I thought we showed a lot of heart.  That’s what this team’s made of.  We’re going to battle to the end, I know that.”

On after seeing his team get down 21-7 on the road after a loss that week if this helps him find out about this year’s team:

“Yeah we lost two in a row.  You go on the road, our 5th or 6th on the road including the preseason.  So you’ve had two really tough losses, games that we expected to win, and then you come and you play against a team that we lost against last year up 21 points, and we showed a lot of heart.  There was a lot of adversity that we faced and I thought we did a good job really responding in the second half.”

On if he can get a feeling now of how good his team can be:

“Well I think we’re trying to make improvements every week and I’d say that’s what we’ve done.  I mean I know we’re 2-2 and it’s not a great record, but I think we’re getting better.  I think that’s what we’ve shown and you’ve got to keep building on the good things and try to eliminate the bad things.  We’re doing a good job in some areas, we really ran the ball really well tonight.  That was a big point of emphasis this week and you know, capitalize on some of their mistakes.

On if being down 21-7 if that went against conventional wisdom against running the football:

“Well, I think they were really challenging us to run the ball.  They had some little guys on the field with our big personnel groupings so at that point you have to try and take advantage of it.    You can’t just keep throwing into a heavy pass defense.  So we ran it, Brandon [Bolden] ran great, Stevan [Ridley] ran great, [Danny Woodhead] made a huge play on the scramble for the touchdown that really got us started, so all those guys really contributed.”

On how much is on him the last two weeks with the play calls with the crowd noise etc.:

“Well, I mean you’re the quarterback so ultimately you have the last say before the ball is snapped.”

“It’s not your first year.”

“Yeah, it’s not and I’ve seen a lot of defenses and we’ve been in a lot of dogfights too and I thought our guys, the way they played, the way they competed…Wes [Welker], I mean what a game by Wes.  Brandon [Lloyd] really fought his butt off, that touchdown catch at the end was phenomenal.   Gronk, he really fought back after some tough plays there but [had the] big touchdown.  The offensive line played phenomenal with Logan [Mankins] out.  You know, Deion [Branch], Daniel [Fells], [Michael Hoomanawanui], everybody contributed.  So it was  really a great win for us as a team.  Obviously it only gets tougher from here, but we’re proud of the fact that we really fought through some pretty tough times here  in the second half and came up with a big win.”

On with Denver coming up if there’s an extra degree of competitiveness when he sees #18 [Peyton Manning] on the other sideline:

“You know fortunately I don’t have to go against him, that’s really the challenge for our defense.  They’ll put a good week of practice in, hopefully, and be prepared.  But he’s one of the best to ever play so it’s always an exciting game.   We’ve got a great history against Denver, recent history, and I’m sure it will be another tough game.”

On what Mr. Kraft said to him on his way off the field:

“I don’t know.  I think it was pretty personal.”

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Rob Gronkowski PostGame Press Conference Transcript

On his return home and how big it was for him to recover after his fumble:

“Yes, definitely.  I mean I had a fumble and everything, a couple drops and just got to execute those plays, we can’t be having that.  It hurts the team a lot and got to be protecting the ball better, no doubt about that.   It’s awesome that Tom [Brady] came back to me, trusted in my abilities, trusted in me throughout the whole game, running-wise, running behind me still, kept throwing me passes so it was overall a great team win.  A lot players did a lot of great things.  The  runningbacks had a great game, the o-linemen had a great game.  Overall, awesome team win.”

On what he felt was the turning point in the game offensively:

“Definitely in the 3rd quarter, for sure.  But just running the ball out there, executing, we’ve got to be doing that for all four quarters.  Not turning the ball over and just going out, being able to run the ball, being able to pass the ball.  In the 3rd quarter we got our rhythm going and it ended up going pretty well from there.”

On if they felt ever feel like they’re out of it:

“Yeah, definitely.  You can’t panic.  It’s a long game and that’s why you’ve got to play all 60 minutes.  That’s what we did, we played all 60 minutes and we’ve just got to come out stronger in the first half and be able to execute better.  That’s what you’ve got to do.”

On how big the Brandon Spikes hit was at the end of the first half:

“Yeah, definitely.  The defense played a great game.  I think we had 6 turnovers?  Devin McCourty had a couple interceptions.  [We had] a couple fumble recoveries too, especially on the goal line at the end of the half that was huge by Vince Wilfork.  So the defense did a great job and it helps the chemistry going with the offense when the defense is playing great complementary football we were playing in the second half and things went well from there.”

On the mood on the bench when they were down 21-7:

“Well, I mean it wasn’t the end of the game.  It was only the second half and we knew we were making some plays and we just had to keep on executing and just keep making plays.  Basically you don’t want to  panic because when you panic, nothing good happens from there.  We just stuck with our offense, stuck with our game plan and everyone on offense was doing a great job.    The O-line, from the receivers, to the runningback, to the quarterback, everything went well from there.

On if it was as easy as it looked:

“It’s not as easy as it looks, no, it’s the NFL.  Those guys that are out there are great players.  You’ve got to work your butt off out there.  You’ve got to be going full speed out there in order to execute, in order to make some plays.  Overall, everyone just came together as chemistry and worked hard, and things went rolling from the 3rd quarter on.”

On if there was any way he was going to miss coming home and playing:

“It’s great coming home in front of my friends and a family and everything,  but it’s great getting that victory too.  But I’m proud to be a New England Patriot, but no, I wasn’t going to miss it.”

On if he caught any abuse from the people who were there that he’s known all these years:

“I mean you hear it everywhere you go, whatever stadium you’re in.  But it’s all part of the game, it’s all part of being a pro and it kind of puts the fun in the game too and stuff like that.”

On how hard it was for him after the fumble and how badly he wanted to get back in:

“Yeah, definitely, I mean it’s not a great feeling at all.  I can tell you that right now, it’s not a great feeling.  And then the very next play they throw a touchdown into the endzone.  But the thing is, you just have to overcome things,  just like if you have a great play, you’ve just got to move on from the great play.  If you have a very bad play, you’ve got to move on and you’ve got to stick with the game plan and keep on moving on forward.”

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Bill Belichick’s PostGame Press Conference Transcript

Here’s the transcript from head coach Bill Belichick’s press conference following the Patriots win over the Bills on Sunday:

OPENING STATEMENT:

“Ok, well it was good to come in here and win today.  I thought the players did a real good job.  Buffalo answered our lead with 21 straight points and our guys responded with a bunch of turnovers, a bunch of points, and overall a pretty solid football game.  Certainly a lot of room for improvement, but it’s good to come in here and do enough things well.  We made a lot of plays, we missed some opportunities but we made a lot of plays and that’s a good feeling to come in here and be able to do that.  We’ve got a long way to go, hopefully we can continue to work  hard and improve.  I think our team’s got a good attitude.  They work hard, they’re tough and hopefully we can keep getting better.  But we’ve still got a long way to go here.”

On if there were any adjustments made at halftime:

“Well, I mean we felt like we missed a lot of good opportunities in the first half.  We had the ball down there and didn’t take advantage of it.  We got some turnovers and weren’t able to put points on the board.  Fortunately in the second half we were able to capitalize on that.  We had some good field position, we had a couple punts down inside the 5 yard line, weren’t able to hold them down there. So I just think we played and executed a little bit better, there was no magic.”

On the play of the offensive line without Logan Mankins:

“Our line, our tight ends, our backs they all did a good job.  We were a little disappointed in our running production in the last couple of games and really made a big emphasis this week.  The offensive line, Dante [Scarnecchia], Josh [McDaniels], George Godsey [tight ends coach], I mean everybody really put a lot of emphasis in it.   We worked hard on it in practice and were able to have some good results today so it was good to see that hard work pay off.  But you can’t say enough about the offensive line.  These guys have got a good front.  We were able to block them and the backs ran well.”

On the spark Brandon Bolden gave them today:

“He did a good job.  I mean our backs ran well, we had a lot of production.  But Brandon ran well, no doubt about.”

On how key it was to keep the running game going in the 3rd quarter despite being down:

“I think the key thing was to put together a good drive, and we did that.   We hit some passes, we hit some runs, and we just needed to come back and make it a one score game.  But that was a big drive for us.  A bad drive there,  and I mean, we could have gotten knocked out at that point.  Although I thought we had a couple chances to really knock them down in the first half, we missed them, but that was a big drive to come back and answer that.  Again, fortunately we were able to be able to convert those turnovers in the second half  into points and the game kind of got out of hand there at the end but it was obviously a lot more competitive than the final score would indicate”

On the play of  Devin McCourty:

“Devin’s had a lot of good coverages and he made two real good plays on the ball.  Devin works hard, we have a lot of confidence in him.  He’s one of the hardest working players on the team.  Believe me, nobody feels worse after missing an opportunity than he does, but nobody will work harder to get it fixed and get it right.  So give him a lot of credit for that.”

On what he saw on the play right before the half (the Spikes fumble):

“That was a huge play.  That was a big momentum play because we were getting the ball to start the third quarter so we felt like we would have a chance to cut into it a little bit if we could just get out of there with a field goal, I mean as it was that turnover was huge.  But I don’t know, there was a big pile of bodies in there, ball came loose, Vince [Wilfork] came up with it, I’m not sure exactly what happened.   I thought overall we did a pretty decent job in the running game. I mean this is a good running team.  Overall I thought we handled the running game fairly well, pretty competitively.  But that was a huge play, knocking the ball out we had two fumbles so those were big plays, 4 interceptions.  So anytime you get six turnovers that’s a good thing.”

On if there was a time where he thought the team was in trouble:

“Things weren’t looking too good there at the end of the first half, yeah, absolutely.  I mean you always want to try to get off to a good start and play the game from ahead.  But sSometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t.  The big thing is to play sixty minutes and finish the game.  We haven’t done a great job of that the last two weeks.  It was certainly a lot better today, so we’ll take the outcome.”

On what he felt turned things around for the defense:

“Well you know they hit a big play there on the long touchdown.  Then they hit two other big plays where they had the long pass to [Fred] Jackson and then the seam pass to [Scott] Chandler, right?   So they got a lot of yards in just  a couple of plays.  I mean obviously we can’t give up big plays.  You can’t play good defense that way, so we’ve got to try and limit those big plays and make them drive it and play better on 3rd down.   I just think our execution…we just kept battling in there and made enough plays at the right time I guess.  It wasn’t perfect, but we did enough good things.”

On the reaction to the fumbles by Welker and Gronkowski on the sideline:

“Well there’s nothing we emphasize more than ball security, that’s from day one.   Everybody knows how important it is to take care of the ball.   It always has been the number one priority, it always will be so whoever handles it, we’ve just got to do a better job of taking care of it.  That’s not a good way to win football games is to drop it on the ground.  And we know they’re trying to pull it out, they did a good job of pulling the ball out.  But we knew that was coming, we just have to hang onto it better.”

On if they were ‘chomping at the bit’ to get back out there:

“I think any competitive player wants to keep playing, and keep competing, absolutely.”

On what happened on the two missed field goals:

“I don’t know.  Just have to take a look at it.  It looked like they were both fairly close but you know, we’ve got to make those kicks.  But it’s a whole group.  It’s a snap, it’s a hold, it’s a kick, it’s everything.  I don’t know, I’ll have to take a closer look at it.”

On if he felt good about giving Gostkowski another chance at the end:

“Yeah, we just felt like it was another opportunity for us to kick under pressure and so we did it.  I mean I felt like we needed to do it.”

With Mankins out, on the continuity he saw on the offensive line:

“No the offensive line did a good job.  I mean they did a great job.  Buffalo has a good front.  Donald [Thomas] stepped in there at left guard and our tight ends did a good job.  Our line blocked well, our backs ran well.  It was a good group effort.  In the running game it’s not about one guy.  You’ve got to have a lot of blocking and running and all that’s got to be coordinated, and we had a good day doing that today.”

On how closely he’s studied the Broncos and when he turns his attention to that:

“In about 20 minutes. [Smiles]  They’re obviously good.  They run an offense that we’ve seen many times or some facsimile of it from Indianapolis so I’m sure they’ll be ready to go.    We’ve got a big challenge for us this week.  We know they’re a good football team. They obviously did a great job opening the week against Pittsburgh we all saw  that game.  I mean they’re a good football team.  We’ll just have to have a good week of practice and be ready to go.”

On if the running game gave Brady more freedom to do some more checks at the line in the second half:

“I wouldn’t say…not significantly.  I mean that’s part of what we do anyway.  We have an element of that in our offense and it kind of depends on what play’s called.    Some are called either or, some we just go ahead and call and run it.  And some we don’t change because we get the look that we think we’re going to get to run the play and so there’s no need to change it.  I’d say we probably do it about the same every week and how it turns out may be different but I would say our method is pretty similar.

On if he has an update on Dont’a Hightower:

“No.”

On his thoughts on the play of Brandon Spikes:

“I mean we know he’s a heavy hitter.  He had a couple solid hits in the game.  He brings a physical element to the running game and to the tackling.”

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Patriots TE Winslow Requests & is Granted Release from Club

Well, that didn’t last long.

Patriots tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. signed with the club just over a week ago back on September 19th, but it appears his stay will be short lived. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss & Adam Schefter the veteran requested and received his release from the team, ending his tenure in New England.

Winslow played Sunday night against the Ravens and was targeted twice, with one reception for 12-yards.

Both of his targets came in the 3rd quarter:

1st Down – 1 Target, 1 Reception, 12 Yards
2nd Down – 1 Target, 0 Receptions

One other note of good news: Aaron Hernandez was seen by several reporters today walking around the locker room without crutches and without his walking boot. According to those who saw him there didn’t appear to be any bruising on the ankle, and it’s encouraging after reports had initially said he suffered a high-ankle sprain that would keep him out 4-6 weeks.

The team is currently preparing to take on the Bills this Sunday in Buffalo.

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Grogan’s Grade: Week 3 – Patriots at Ravens

PatsFans.com is proud to welcome former New England Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan back for the 12th straight season. Grogan played in 149 games with the Patriots from 1975-1990, and was named to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1995. Steve will join us each week to provide his insight on the progress of the Patriots during the 2012 football season. He already joined the Buzz on Monday, now we do an additional expanded feature with another interview from local writer R.R. Marshall which gives you even more from the former New England signal caller.

R.R. Marshall: Despite scoring 30 points for the second time in three games, the Patriots dropped a 31-30 decisions to the Ravens to fall to 1-2 and I imagine losing in the final minutes in consecutive weeks has to be frustrating at this point for this team?

Steve Grogan: Very disappointing loss, has to be very frustrating for everybody involved. They played a good football team and they played well, they just couldn’t get it closed out at the end when they needed to.

RRM: They Patriots actually lead this game 30-21 in the fourth quarter but as you mentioned, they couldn’t put Baltimore away when they had the chance. Does the share of blame go for the offense or the defense for this do you think?

SG: I think when you put up 30 points you have to feel pretty comfortable about winning the football game, and for the defense to let them come back and get themselves back in a position to win the game, I would probably put the blame on the defense. In the first couple of games we got used to seeing them pressure the quarterback and forcing bad throws and didn’t see much of that Sunday night. But again Baltimore’s a very good football team, a playoff caliber team and when you’re playing them at home you have to be at your very best, and I don’t think the defense was at their very best Sunday night.

RRM: You bring up a good point because I thought the big difference in the game was when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter, the Ravens got heavy pressure on Tom Brady and the Patriots weren’t able to put any pressure at all on Joe Flacco?

SG: Yeah, and you didn’t see many blitzes out of the Patriots and I think Ray Rice, the runningback, probably is the reason for that. If you blitz to put pressure on Flacco and they happen to hand the ball off to Rice and he breaks the line of scrimmage, he’s a tough guy to catch and bring down. So I think they were trying to just keep everything in front of them, but by doing that they left Flacco all kinds of time to throw and he’s a good enough quarterback that when he’s got time and no pressure, he’s going to make plays.

RRM: I was going to say, I could see your point for the first 3 ½ quarters, but with a 9 point at the midway point of the fourth quarter, I thought they could have risked a couple of blitzes because Flacco could have played that game in a tuxedo?

SG: Looking back on it they probably wish they had. But their defensive philosophy, at least Sunday night, seemed to be ‘don’t give up the big plays’ and by doing that they allowed the Ravens to just kind of move it down the field and score the points they needed to win.

RRM: This appeared to be Tom Brady’s best game of the season going 28-of-41 for 335 and a touchdown, but Joe Flacco outdid him going 28-for-39 for 385. How did you view the play of the two quarterbacks?


” I thought Brady played really well.” – Steve Grogan (FILE:USPresswire)

SG: I thought Brady played really well. [He] spread the ball around a lot, got Welker involved again, and Brandon Lloyd is going to be a factor in this offense. I’m not sure why Woodhead played as much as he did more than Ridley, that’s kind of a head scratcher to me. But Tom seemed very comfortable in the pocket back there even though they did get some pressure on him at times. He didn’t’ make any major mistakes and again, they put up 30 points and that should won the game.

RRM: Have you changed your mind about Flacco? Are you ready to elevate him to elite quarterback class of NFL quarterbacks?

SG: Well I think he’s still just a notch below being one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he is getting better as time goes by. He does have some weapons out there, so he’s moving up the ladder pretty quickly.

RRM: Steve a total of 24 penalties were called in the game which pretty much explains the physical nature and ‘chippiness’ of the type of game it was. Were the replacement officials to blame because they let this game get out of hand too early? Should they have dropped some flags a little earlier, or was this just going to happen because of the nature of these two teams?

SG: You know, it’s easy to point the finger at the replacement refs, but I think these two teams have played each other so many times in big games over the past few years that they’ve almost developed a rivalry that neither likes each other. Even if you had the regular refs in there I think it probably it would have been a little chippy, it just may not have lasted quite as long as it did Sunday night. The replacement guys I’m sure are afraid of affecting the outcome of the game, especially early in the game by throwing a flag on somebody. If you’re going to throw it in those kinds of situations you penalize both teams, they offset, and then you move on. But it would have been chippy anyway I think, no matter who was refereeing.

RRM: Can you understand the league’s stance toward negotiating with the officials? I mean why are they being so hard-lined? When you look at it, it seems like there’s very little money involved?

SG: It’s hard to figure out. I think the league’s trying to make a statement that these guys are part time guys and they don’t want to pay them, from what I’m hearing anyway, the pension plan. They didn’t want to define a pension plan, they want to have them use a 401K and I’m not a financial guy, but these guys make a lot of money for working 3 days a week for 20 weeks and it seems to me like the officials are being a little bull-headed about it. There ought to be some way to compromise, whether they grandfather the guys who are there and anybody that comes in new uses the new system with a 401K or whatever it might be. But they need to get them back on the field. The product’s starting to be talked about more because of the officiating than it is about the players on the field.

RRM: Despite losing Julian Edelman halfway through this one, the Patriots offense didn’t seem to miss a beat with Wes Welker resuming his old role and newcomer Brandon Lloyd displaying his talents. It looked like he and Brady have been working together for years?

SG: Yeah, Lloyd – he’s a veteran guy that just seems to ‘get it’ and he and Brady have not taken long to develop a pretty good feel for each other. They had a couple of back shoulder throws Sunday night that Lloyd caught, those are not easy to time up when you haven’t been around a guy for very long. But Lloyd’s going to be a factor for this offense and Welker was back again and looked like his old self, so whatever was taking place a week ago seems to have been swept under the rug and they’re using him the way he needs to be used.

RRM: The Patriots are on the road this Sunday, this time for a game against Division rival Buffalo. Although it’s only Week 4, I guess we have to say they’re facing a crucial game this week?

SG: Yes, you’re playing a team in your own division and a team that seems to be improved defensively. They won Sunday and they’re a team that can jump up and get you if you’re not careful. Because it’s a division game it’s extremely important that the Patriots put this Baltimore game behind them and don’t overlook the Bills – which over the past few years has been an easy thing to do.

RRM: History loves to repeat itself and it looked like the Patriots were going to have their hands full with the NFL’s league-leading rusher C.J. Spiller, but he went out with a shoulder injury and it looks like their task will be that much easier. But all I can think about is a game, I think it was in your 3rd season, where O.J. Simpson got hurt and it looked like the Patriots would have a walkover in Buffalo and Owen Hooks came out and had a career game. So these things can happen, especially when you have to go out to Buffalo?

SG: [Laughs] Oh there’s no question about that. There are a lot of great runningbacks in the league, but a great runningback has a great offensive line in front of him – he doesn’t make yards on his own. So if you put another guy back where Spiller is – with their offensive line – he’ll probably gain a lot of yards himself. So they’re going to have to be ready for that this week. Fitzpatrick is a solid guy, he’s not going to win the game but he’s not going to lose it for them and they need to shut down the running game and try to make him win it.

RRM: Before I ask for the grades, we’d be remiss without mentioning Kansas State’s big upset over Oklahoma on Saturday night. This has to be the biggest win I can think of for that program, and in case people don’t realize you’re an alumnus of Kansas State, so you must be one proud alumnus?

SG: Yeah, that was quite a game. I tell you, to go into Ohlahoma and win as convincingly as they did the other night just doesn’t happen to K-State very often. I played down there twice in my career, and I think the closest we came to them was 50 points. So it was fun to sit there and watch Oklahoma struggle. To go into Norman, play in that stadium, I know what it’s like – it’s not easy to win there and it was an impressive victory so I’m really happy for them.

RRM: It takes a little sting out of the Patriots’ loss I guess?

SG: A little bit. Not enough [Laughs].

RRM: What are Grogan’s Grades for the extremely tough 31-30 loss to the Ravens?

SG: I gave them a B- overall. I would say the offense would be a B+ and a C- for the defense. They also did a good job on special teams, but overall I’d have to give them a B-.

RRM: Are you interested in taking up a collection for the fine Bill Belichick’s going to have to pay for grabbing the official’s arm at the end of the game?

SG: You know, Bill gets into the game but he’s not that emotional of a guy. To see him run off the field and grab an official is just really out of character for him. So he must have been extremely upset and he’s going to pay for it I’m sure.

RRM: As Bill would say, we’ll put this one behind us and we move on.

SG: That’s all you can do.

Grogan’s Grade for Week 3:

Offense: B+
Defense: C-

Overall: B-

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FACTS & STATS: Brady Having Issues On 3rd Down

Three weeks into the NFL Season there’s enough information now to start taking a look at some trends, and there are some numbers that are both interesting and somewhat concerning as the Patriots start getting ready to face the Bills on Sunday in Buffalo.


3rd Down hasn’t been a strong point for Brady this season. (FILE:USPresswire)

Here were a few things that stood out after updating our stats database earlier this evening:

- 3rd Down is a problem for quarterback Tom Brady:  On first down Brady has completed 40-of-57 for 489 yards (70%) with 2 touchdowns and an interceptions.  On second down he’s even better, completing 28-of-37 (76%) with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.  On third down, however, he’s just 11-of-24 (46%) throwing the football, which is surprising considering he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

However, last night’s game against the Ravens was actually his best 3rd down performance so far this season, and here’s how it broke down by week:

Wk 1 at TEN: 2-of-6 (33%) for 16 yards, 1 sack, 0 TD, 0 INT
Wk 2 vs AZ :  3-of-8 (38%) for 47 yards, 1 sack, 0 TD, 0 INT
Wk 3 at BAL :  6-of-10 (60%) for 56 yards, 1 sack, 0 TD, 0 INT

Last season through three games Brady was 16-of-28 (57%) on 3rd down with two touchdowns and 0 interceptions and overall finished the 2011 regular season 80-of-139 (58%) with 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He was also 83-of-137 (61%) with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions on 3rd down overall during the regular season in 2010.

- Brady has been extremely consistent in the 1st quarter.  No, seriously – he has:  This will probably be one of the oddest facts of week’s 1-3, but taking a look today it is indeed true.  Brady has completed exactly 67% of his passes in the first quarter in every game so far this season.  He was 6-of-9 in week one (67%), 4-of-6 in week 2 (67%), and 8-of-12 (67%) last night.  If you want to check out how he’s fared in the other quarters this season, those can be found here.

- Not much Gronk in the Red Zone: So far on 14 attempts down in the red zone, Tom Brady has only targeted Rob Gronkowski 3 times, although the big tight end has two receptions – both of them touchdowns.  Those two TD receptions are the most for the team, with Julian Edelman having had the only other red zone touchdown reception.  Overall Brady is 9-of-14 with 3 touchdowns inside the 20.

- Success to the right hasn’t been there in the passing game:  Looking at raw numbers, most of New England’s success has come at the short middle and left of the field.  Based on the official score sheets Brady is 41-of-50 for 381yds (82%) throwing short left, and 17-of-21 for 205yds (81%) and 2 touchdowns on short attempts to the middle.  However, throwing short right he’s completed 16 of 30 for 131yds (53%) and a TD, and he’s 0-for-2 on deep right attempts.  You can view the passing chart here.

- Ridley now with 9 negative carries on the season:  Patriots runningback Stevan Ridley had just 7 negative carries in all of 2011, but so far through 3 games he already has 9.  He accumulated two more in the 3rd quarter of last night’s loss against a tough Ravens defense, and finished with his lowest yards per carry average of the season (2.8).  He finished game one against Tennessee with a 6.0 avg, and last week’s game against the Cardinals he averaged 3.9.  He did about all he could be expected of last night against a tough Ravens defense, but it’s going to be interesting to see how he holds up over the course of an entire season.

- Welker and Lloyd lead the way on 2nd down so far: On 2nd down Brady’s 28-of-37 (76%) throwing the football through three games, and Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker each have 7 receptions – which obviously accounts for half of the total completions. Brady’s had a little more success throwing to Welker and is 7-of-8 (88%) with 71 yards, while he’s 7-of-11 (64%) on attempts to Lloyd for 73 yards. Brady’s also 4-for-4 passing in the red zone on 2nd down with a touchdown, with Lloyd accounting for two of those four receptins. Julian Edelman caught that touchdown last night against the Ravens.

We’ll try and point out a few things each week, and you can check out our full database here.

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FILM REVIEW: The 59-Yard Completion to Wes Welker

Here’s a quick look at last night’s 59-yard completion to wide receiver Wes Welker on the Patriots 9th offensive play of the game Sunday night:


FRAME 1: In this first frame you’ll see Brady has excellent protection, with the Ravens only sending a four man rush. Moving out to the left into the flat is Stevan Ridley, who went through the gap between Logan Mankins and Nate Solder.



FRAME 2: In this next frame you’ll see Brady is about to throw, and Ridley is out in the flat backed up against Haloti Ngata – who is about to level him.



FRAME 3: In this next frame you’ll see Brady sees that Wes Welker has gotten behind the defense and is stepping into his throw. Negata just dropped Ridley, which you can see in the yellow box on the right hand side of this still.



FRAME 4: In this next frame you’ll see Welker ran an out and up, getting behind the Ravens defense. Brady drops the throw in perfectly, and Welker takes the ball down to Baltimore’s 20 yard line for a 59 yard gain.


It’s just a quick look at what so far this season was New England’s longest pass play, especially having not noticed the Ridley angle on that completion.

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