Postgame Notes 12/14

Posted on December 14, 2008 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are a few quick notes from today’s Patriots-Raiders game:

Wes Welker caught his 100th pass of the season, a 13-yard touchdown reception from Matt Cassel in the second quarter. Welker, who had a franchise-record 112 catches in 2007, became the first player to have back-to-back 100-catch seasons with the Patriots and became the eighth player in NFL history to achieve the feat. Welker joins Marvin Harrison (1999-2002), Jerry Rice (1994-96), Herman Moore (1995-97), Sterling Sharpe (1992-93), Cris Carter (1994-95), Rod Smith (2000-01) and Randy Moss (2002-03) as the only players in league history to achieve the feat. Welker’s 100-catch performance is the third in Patriots history, joining his franchise-record 112 catches last season and Troy Brown’s total of 101 catches in 2001.

Randy Moss scored two touchdowns against Oakland, giving the Patriots a 14-0 lead with a 20-yard touchdown reception from Matt Cassel in the first quarter and scored on a 9-yard catch in the third quarter, extending New England’s lead to 42-14. The touchdowns raised Moss’s 2008 total to 10 touchdown receptions and brought his career total to 134 touchdown catches. Moss’s 10 touchdown catches tie the third-highest single-season total in Patriots history, trailing only his NFL-record 23 scoring catches last season and Stanley Morgan’s 12 touchdown catches in 1979. Besides Moss, two other Patriots have totaled 10 touchdown catches in a season – Morgan in 1986 and Jim Colclough in 1962. Moss’s 134 career touchdown catches rank third in NFL history behind Jerry Rice (197) and Terrell Owens (138). Since joining the Patriots prior to the 2007 season, Moss has now caught a league-high 33 touchdown passes. Moss entered today’s game as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions per touchdown, averaging a touchdown catch for every 6.33 receptions. Entering today’s action, Moss’s eight touchdown receptions this season were tied for the AFC lead.

Randy Moss had two touchdown receptions against Oakland today, recording his 32nd career game with two or more touchdown catches. Moss’s total number of games with two or more touchdown catches ranks second in NFL history to Jerry Rice’s all-time record of 43 games with at least two touchdown receptions. Moss has had three games with two or more scoring grabs this season and has achieved the feat 11 times in 30 games with New England since joining the Patriots prior to the 2007 season.

On a 14-yard reception from Matt Cassel in the third quarter, Randy Moss moved into the top 10 on the NFL’s all-time receiving yardage list. Moss passed Steve Largent’s total of 13,089 career receiving yards to claim 10th place on the league’s all-time list. Following his 14-yard catch in the third quarter, Moss had a total of 13,092 career receiving yards.

The Patriots’ victory over Oakland was Bill Belichick’s 100th regular-season victory as Patriots head coach. Following the game, his regular-season mark with New England was 100-41 (.709). Belichick’s 100 regular-season wins are the most in Patriots history. Mike Holovak ranks second in franchise annals with 52 regular-season wins from 1961-68. Including playoffs, Belichick’s record with the Patriots now stands at 114-45 (.765).

·The Patriots improved to 22-2 in the month of December since 2003. New England has won 10 straight December games.
·The Patriots defeated the Raiders in Oakland for the first time since Sept. 24, 1978.
·The Patriots won their 12th straight game when having a 100-yard rusher.
·The Patriots improved to 9-5 on the season and have won at least nine games for the eighth straight season. New England has won at least nine contests in each season since 2001 and is the only team to achieve that feat. Indianapolis ranks second over that span with seven seasons of nine or more wins since 2001.
·The Patriots won their 40th straight game in which they led at halftime and their 39th straight game when leading after three quarters. Both marks are post-merger NFL records (1970-present).

As a team, the Patriots ran for 277 yards on 39 carries, recording the team’s highest single-game rushing total since Dec. 22, 1985, when the Patriots posted 281 yards on 46 carries (6.1 avg.) against the Cincinnati Bengals. New England’s rushing total against Oakland was the eighth-highest single-game total in franchise history. The Patriots team record for rushing yards in a game is 332, achieved on Nov. 28, 1976 against Denver. In the Patriots’ win over Oakland, Sammy Morris led the way with 14 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown, LaMont Jordan had 12 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown, Kevin Faulk had six rushes for 45 yards, and Matt Cassel added seven rushes for 18 yards, including three game-ending kneeldowns.

Sammy Morris ran for 117 yards on 14 carries, recording his second 100-yard rushing game of the season. The 100-yard game was his fourth in 16 games since joining the Patriots prior to the 2007 season, and was his fifth career 100-yard rushing game. Morris’s other 100-yard game this season came on Oct. 20 against Denver, when he totaled a career-high 138 rushing yards. The 100-yard rushing game was the third by a Patriots player this season, with Morris’s two 100-yard performances joining a 105-yard day by BenJarvus Green-Ellis on Nov. 9 against Buffalo.

Matt Cassel’s 16-yard completion to Sam Aiken on the final play of the third quarter brought his season total to 300 completions. Cassel’s 300-completion performance is the 12th in Patriots history. Cassel joins Drew Bledsoe (6 times) and Tom Brady (5 times) as the only players in Patriots history to break the 300-completion mark in a season.

Matt Cassel threw four touchdown passes, setting a new single-game career high and tying the sixth-best single-game touchdown performance in team history. Cassel has thrown for three scores on three occasions this season – against Denver on Oct. 20, against the New York Jets on Nov. 13 and at Miami on Nov. 23. Patriots passers have thrown for five touchdowns on four occasions and Tom Brady set a team record with six touchdown tosses on Oct. 21, 2007. Including his four touchdown passes against Oakland, Cassel has totaled 18 touchdown throws this season.

LaMont Jordan had 97 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, recording his highest rushing output of the season and his highest total since recording 121 rushing yards on 29 carries on Sept. 23, 2007 while playing for the Oakland Raiders against Cleveland. Jordan’s rushing performance included a 49-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that was his longest rush since Oct. 1, 2006, when he had a 59-yard scoring run for the Raiders in a game against Cleveland. Jordan’s 49-yard touchdown run was the longest rush by a Patriots player this season and the longest by a New England player since Dec. 23, 2007, when Laurence Maroney ran for a 59-yard touchdown in the second quarter of a game against the Miami Dolphins.

Sammy Morris gave the Patriots a 21-0 first-quarter lead on a 29-yard touchdown run. The touchdown was Morris’s team-high seventh rushing score of the season. His seven overall touchdowns are a career high, topping his six touchdowns as a rookie with Buffalo in 2000 (five rushing, one receiving) and his six scores (all rushing) with Miami in 2004. Morris’s seven overall touchdowns this season rank second on the team to Randy Moss, and his seven rushing touchdowns are the most by a Patriot since Corey Dillon had 13 rushing touchdowns in 2006.

Ellis Hobbs returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 35-14 lead with 12:46 left in the first half. The kickoff return for a touchdown was the third of Hobbs’s career, tying Raymond Clayborn for the most in team history. Clayborn returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in his Patriots career with all three returns coming in his rookie season of 1977. Hobbs has also returned kickoffs for touchdowns on Dec. 17, 2006 against Houston (93 yards) and on Sept. 9, 2007 against the New York Jets (an NFL-record 108 yards). entering today’s game, Hobbs’s career average of 27.4 yards per kickoff return was the best in Patriots history and his 1,140 kickoff return yards this season (entering today’s action) was the highest single-season total in team history.

Kevin Faulk scored a touchdown on a 7-yard reception from Matt Cassel in the first quarter to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead. The touchdown was Faulk’s fifth of the season (three rushing, two receiving). Faulk’s five touchdowns this season tie the second highest total of his career, joining his 2000 total (four rushing, one receiving). Faulk’s five touchdowns are his highest single-season total since 2002, when he had a career-high seven touchdowns (two rushing, three receiving, two via kickoff returns).

The Patriots scored 21 points in the first quarter today, tying the team record for most points in the second quarter. New England also scored 21 points in the first quarter on Oct. 29, 1978 against the New York Jets (a 55-21 win) and also scored 21 points in the first quarter on Dec. 15, 1974 at Miami (a 34-27 loss). New England had 35 points at halftime, falling a touchdown short of the team-record 42 first-half points scored on Oct. 21, 2007 at Miami.

Rookie cornerback Jonathan Wilhite recorded his first career interception when he picked off a JaMarcus Russell pass inside the Patriots’ 5-yard line in the second quarter. Wilhite, who was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, is making his second career start today. His first career start was last week at Seattle.

Mike Vrabel strip-sacked JaMarcus Russell in the first quarter, forcing him to fumble on third down on the Raiders’ second possession of the game. Vrabel’s sack was his fourth of the season, and his forced fumble was his second of the year. Vrabel now has a total of 48 sacks since joining the Patriots in 2001, a total that ranks seventh in team history. Following Vrabel’s sack today, the Raiders recovered the ball at their own 9-yard line and the Patriots took possession at Oakland’s 35-yard line following a Raiders punt, setting up a three-play, 35-yard touchdown drive that ended in a 20-yard touchdown reception by Randy Moss and a 14-0 Patriots lead.

On the game’s opening kickoff, Kelley Washington tackled Oakland punt returner Justin Miller at the Raiders’ 7-yard line, starting the Raiders’ first possession deep in their own territory. After a three-and-out by the Patriots defense, Kevin Faulk returned an Oakland punt to the Oakland 40-yard line, allowing the Patriots’ offense to begin their first possession in Raiders territory and set up a 9-play, 40-yard drive that ended in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Matt Cassel to Kevin Faulk and a 7-0 Patriots lead.

Vince Wilfork blocked an Oakland extra point in the third quarter. The blocked extra point was the first by the Patriots since Oct. 6, 2002, when Tebucky Jones blocked an Olindo Mare extra point in the Patriots’ 26-13 loss at Miami.

The Patriots scored 49 points against the Raiders today, tying the eighth-best single-game point output in team history. New England’s 49 points tie their total from Oct. 21, 2007 at Miami as the eighth-highest point total in the team’s 49-season history. The single-game team record is 56 points, achieved on two occasions – at Buffalo on Nov. Nov. 18, 2007 (56-10) and against the New York Jets on Sept. 9, 1979 (56-3). New England’s 49 points against the Raiders tie the fourth-highest road output in team annals.

More quotes from the West Coast

Posted on December 11, 2008 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s some Q&A from San Jose this afternoon — Wes Welker, Heath Evans, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo:

Q: What are your thoughts on being out here and getting ready for another big game?
WW: It has been nice. A little cool for California, but it’s been nice. A lot better weather than what we have been use to the past couple of weeks. We are just trying to get our work done and make sure we are ready to go on Sunday.

Q: Three games to go and three teams tied in the AFC East, how do you look at these as you come down the stretch?
WW: You just try to control what you can control and just going out there, playing well and try to win games. That’s what it comes down to. We have to make sure we are preparing and are ready for Sunday.

Q: Is tn nice to have Matt Cassel back with the team?
WW: Absolutely. Obviously, with him being our quarterback now and the circumstances that he’s had to face… let him take care of his business. It is good to see him back out here.

Q: How much do you feel for him at this time?
WW: It is tough. It is never an easy deal. You just hope the best for him and his family and support him in any way you can.

Q: Where there any words of support that you were able to express to him today?
WW: I really haven’t gotten to talk to him yet. I sent a text to him and said I was here for him for whatever he needs.

Q: Sometimes do you think the best thing is to be with your teammates, it is like you are with your own family almost?
WW: Yeah. Being able to get away and make sure you focus on something else away from that. He has to do what he has to do to make sure he is prepared and ready.

Q: What about the Raiders defense and the challenges they present for you this week?
WW: There are a lot of athletes over there. They run with the football real well. They are fast [and] real physical. We are going to have our hands full with everything they present for us.

Q: On going up against Nnamdi Asomugha…
WW: You are always looking for challenges out there and he’s it. You have to make sure you are ready and doing the best you can against a cornerback of that caliber.

Q: How excited are you guys to have three games to go and be tied in the AFC East?
HE: It is definitely a good spot. These are the games of the year that you have to play well. You have to finish strong. It has been a model all year to finish, so that is what we are trying to get done.

Q: Do you shake your head at Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin that they have stepped in this late doing what they do?
HE: It is crazy that they came in last week and ended up playing as much as they played. But, that is kind of the way things have gone this year. We have needed bodies and I have faith those guys will get it done.

Q: Can you talk about the loss of Matt Cassel’s dad and what is means to have Matt back with the team?
HE: It is hard to speak because I have never really lost a loved one. Obviously, you think maybe being around the guys might ease it a bit. I don’t know that for a fact, but I know I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him I loved him. At this time, that is probably the only thing you know to do. So, hopefully we can be some encouragement to him and see how that helps him.

Q: When you face a team like the Raiders, what kind of challenges do they pose especially on defense for you guys?
HE: It is good we had the game we had last week. Seattle was in the same scenario. They had a bunch of loses racked up on them and we were in that game until the end. If anyone needed to have their eyes opened to how the games are in this league we got it. So, Oakland is going to be tough. They are probably the fastest team we have played all year. That can offer a wide array of different challenges, so hopefully we can be ready.

Q: Have you thought about the kind of reception that Randy Moss is going to get in the Black Hole?
HE: The last time I was there was my rookie year. That is probably the closest place that you get to a college like atmosphere. That will be crazy.

VW: I feel better, a lot better. This is down the road where you need to start getting a lot of treatment because your body starts to breakdown around this time. I am doing everything I can. I am happy to be back on the field. Hopefully, Sunday it will show.

Q: Do you expect to play on Sunday?
VW: Oh, yeah. No question. I am ready for Sunday.

Q: How scared where you when the injury occurred?
VW: It bothered me a little bit when it happened because of the pain that I was feeling. But, everything came back OK and I feel a lot better. I am still sore but at the same time everybody is sore around this time. I am happy to be back out there. Hopefully, it shows on Sunday.

Q: Not playing last Sunday, were you just trying to be smart?
VW: I wanted to play, but I am not going to put myself or my team in a situation where I am basically useless out there on the field and last Sunday I was because I couldn’t move my arm at all. But, now it’s a lot better. I can move my arm and that’s all I need to know. Hopefully, Sunday it will show.

Q: There are a lot of guys going down, how excited are you to actually be able to get back out there?
VW: I am very fortunate that it wasn’t anything major. Like I said, I am very happy that I can support my team in any way I can. I am ready to grind it out. From here on out, as long as I am healthy enough I am ready to grind it out. I am looking forward to grinding it out.

Q: Was it good to see the guys come together in your absence and come together late in that game?
VW: I knew we had it in us. We always speak about when it is your time, when your number is called, you have to be ready. Those guys numbers were called. They went out and early in the game we had a few problems with the running game. I think they had over one hundred yards in the first half, but in the second half they basically shut the running game down. That could have happened with me out there. I think there were a few adjustments that they had to make on the sidelines, which they did. They came out in the second half and did a pretty good job. Hopefully, we can start off where we left off against the Seahawks because we can’t be giving up points that easy. It is going to be tough for us and our offense to get back on track. Our main thing is to start off fast and continue to finish the game.

Q: Have you spoken with Matt Cassel at all?
VW: I sent him a text and told him that I was sorry to hear about his loss. I have been through a similar situation with both of my parents and I basically left him alone. I saw him and he thanked me for sending him the message. I told him, I am here for you if you need me. I know what you are going through. Some people handle it differently. He knows that he has a bunch of brothers on this team that are here for him with open arms. So, if he needs to cry or get something off his chest, however he wants to express himself, he can do that.

JM: I am enjoying this weather out here, taking it one day at a time and am getting ready for the Raiders.

Q: On losing guys on defense…
JM: It is crazy, but guys are stepping up, taking their role and playing well right now.

Q: What is it like to watch Rosevelt Colvin and Junior Seau step in late in the year and do what they are able to do?
JM: It is amazing. Junior has been playing for 19 years. It is crazy to see how these guys have come in – in shape. You can tell that they have been working out. I have been really impressed with those guys.

Q: On Darren McFadden…
JM: He was an explosive player. He still is an explosive player. He can change the game with one carry and that is what he’s doing in the NFL right now as well.

Q: Do you miss Tedy Bruschi already?
JM: Yeah. Ever since I came in on the first day Tedy has taken me under his wing and showed me the ropes. I do miss him. He’s like an older brother to me.

Q: What have you seen from Junior Seau so far? Everyone talks about his spirit and his passion, have you picked up on that already?
JM: The intensity of the pregame speeches, the intensity on the practice field – I am trying to take as much as I can from him while he is here as well.

Q: Do you notice a change in the level of intensity of these games as the playoffs are approaching?
JM: Coach told us every game is a playoff game from here on out.

Q: How are you holding up physically?
JM: I feel great.

Q: What will you miss most about Tedy Bruschi?
JM: The conversations that we had before the game, on the field and things like that. The rest of the guys have been picking up the slack and have been doing an excellent job of it.

Thursday Injury Report

Posted on December 11, 2008 
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Here’s the latest, straight from San Jose….

Did Not Participate
LB Tedy Bruschi (knee)
S James Sanders (abdomen)
LB Pierre Woods (jaw)

Limited Participation
CB Ellis Hobbs III (shoulder)
LB Vince Redd (ankle)
LB Mike Vrabel (neck)
DT Ty Warren (groin)
WR Kelley Washington (thigh)
NT Vince Wilfork (shoulder)

(QB Matt Cassel, RB Kevin Faulk and WR Randy Moss were all officially removed from the injury list)

Did Not Participate
LB Ricky Brown

Limited Participation
C Jake Grove (calf)
QB JaMarcus Russell (ankle)

Bill Belichick Q&A, 12/10

Posted on December 10, 2008 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the full press conference between Bill Belichick and the media today in San Jose.

BB: Our thoughts are with Matt and his family during this time. From a football standpoint, we will just handle it with the other guys like we normally do in any other situation. Otherwise, we are getting ready for Oakland. It is good to be out here. I hear we are missing some good weather back east.

Q: Have you spoken with Matt Cassel?
BB: I have.

Q: Do you expect him to start on Sunday? Has he indicated what he would like to do?
BB: Right now, we are just taking it day to day.

Q: So you don’t know when he will rejoin the team?
BB: He’s going to take care of what he has to do.

Q: With all that is going on, how tough is this blow as far as trying to get ready for a football game without Matt?
BB: Well, it’s bigger than football. I have been through that during the season as well. It’s a personal situation that you just have to deal with. As I said, our thoughts and prayers are with him.

Q: Do you have an update on Tedy Bruschi?
BB: Tedy Bruschi will not practice today.

Q: Is he in town?
BB: We will do the injury report at the end of the day like we always do.

Q: On practicing at San Jose State University for a second time…
BB: It is a good setup here. San Jose is great. They have been very accommodating. Right now, it’s really just up to us to have a good week of preparation and practice and get ready to go for Sunday. But, I think we have everything we need here.

Q: On the Raiders’ close games against AFC East opponents this season…
BB: They are tight. The Buffalo game they had a nine point lead in the middle of the fourth quarter. Buffalo beat them at the end, [they won in] overtime against the Jets and in the Miami game [the Dolphins] kicked a field goal at the end. They are very competitive. We know how tough this division is. The Raiders are a real physical football team. I don’t care what their record is. They have a lot of talent. We have seen them play well and have a lot of respect for them.

Q: What are some of the pros and cons of staying out on the West Coast as opposed to going back home?
BB: It is just a matter of crisscrossing the country two more times in a period of six days, or five days, whatever it was, so we would be coming back out on Friday. We just felt like we get more rest and more production staying here and I think it worked out well last time and that’s why we did it again.

Q: Are you guys San Francisco 49er fans again this week? They have done pretty well for you the last two weeks.
BB: We can’t control anything that anybody else does. We always root against the AFC East teams, you know that. But, we just worry about what we are doing and let everything else…however it happens, it happens. We just try to control what we can control. That will be to play well on Sunday against Oakland.

Q: What have you seen from Nnamdi Asomugha this year? Teams have been avoiding him, what is it that makes him so good?
BB: He really does everything well. He is probably as complete of a corner as we have faced all year: excellent run force, good tackler, physical guy, long arms, good ball skills. He plays good press coverage. He reads the quarterback well. He plays the ball well. He is a hard guy to throw over with his height and length. He really has no weaknesses. He matches up well against everybody. He does a good job in the running game, and as a tackler and in run force.

Q: On Oakland’s offense…
BB: Power. A physical team. A lot of running backs. They have great depth at that position. All those guys are good, and they run a lot of play action to go with it. So, you get the running game play action and the vertical receivers – they have great speed at that position. The tight end, [Zach] Miller has had a great year for them. He is an outstanding player. He reminds me a lot of [Antonio] Gates in terms of his ball skills. It seems like he is always open. He comes down with the ball in a crowd or in tight coverage. So, they have a big offensive line, good backs, big quarterbacks – guys that can throw the ball down the field, pass receivers [and a] real good tight end. They do a good job of mixing up the formations and running the ball, running the stretch and zone runs and you have to fit on them good defensively or those backs get through there and it’s a big play. It is similar to what we saw from Denver in terms of the offensive scheme.

Q: On the San Diego vs. Oakland game…
BB: San Diego played well against them. They sure did. They played real well against them. They did a great job all the way around.

Q: How has Kevin O’Connell progressed as the backup quarterback through the course of the season?
BB: I think Kevin learns every week. He takes advantage of the opportunities that he gets in the meetings and on the practice field. He is a smart guy. Football is important to him. He works hard at it and I think he gets better on a daily basis. He’s gotten better through the course of the year with the opportunities that he’s had, which have been limited. But, he’s always ready to go when we put him in there.

Q: Have Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin felt the effects of getting a bigger workload than anyone would have expected?
BB: I think they will be alright. They seem to be in a good frame of mind this morning. I think they will be alright.

Q: You were out here 10 years ago interviewing with Al Davis. What were your impressions of that meeting and of the Raiders organization back then?
BB: It was a pretty interesting interview to be talking X’s and O’s with an owner. Al’s had six decades in the NFL, so he has as much history and knowledge about the game, what he wants and what’s going on in the game during that time as anybody. We talked a lot about strategic football, X’s and O’s, as well as overall organizational stuff, and personnel and philosophy. It was great to sit down and talk with him. We shared some views and conversations on different aspects of technical football. It wasn’t a big social interview. It was much more detailed and specific to football.

Q: It was more chatting X’s and O’s than actually interviewing for a job?
BB: Well, no, we talked about a lot of organizational things: putting a staff together, putting a team together, different ways of doing things, how to organize it and how to build an organization. He shared what his views were with me and I gave him what some of my thoughts were at that time.

Q: This is Randy Moss’ first game back and those Raider Nation fans can be tough. How do you think he will be received?
BB: I don’t know, probably about the same way I will. I am sure they will be happy to see us.

Q: Has anything changed for you up front defensively, if Vince [Wilfork] and Ty [Warren] can’t play this week?
BB: We do the same thing we try to do every week. We try to put together the best combination of people and schemes that we can against the opponent that we are facing. This week we will do the best we can to try to stop Oakland’s offense. That is a big challenge. They do a lot of things well, but we will try to put together what we think is best to try and match up against it. That’s all we can do.

Q: What about the inability to rotate guys through on defense due to injuries?
BB: We will do what we can do.

Q: How pleased are you with where you stand at this point in the season?
BB: We are really not thinking about that too much. It doesn’t make any difference where we are right now. It only matters where things are at the finish line and right now the only thing we can do anything about is the Oakland game, so we are just going to put all of our energy and effort into this game and try to be as competitive as we can on Sunday against the Raiders. We will worry about next week next week and whatever is in the past is in the past. That’s already in the books, so whatever it is it is. We just have to try to control what we can do this week and that’s all we are thinking about.

Q: Is San Jose becoming like a second home for you guys?
BB: Yeah, kind of. It seems like we have spent a good part of our season out here. One quarter of our games have been on the West Coast. We have spent two solid weeks out here, so it does. It feels like home. You know your way around, know where the bus driver is supposed to turn and recognize all the little spots. It’s been fine, it’s been good.

Q: Any spots in particular you guys have gotten to know?
BB: I know that hotel like my house. I have the floor plan down.

Dillon duped out of big money

Posted on December 10, 2008 
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Apologies if this has been posted to the message board already — I didn’t see it. I know we haven’t seen Corey Dillon around these parts in a long time, but I felt the need to link to this story, simply because it sounds so amazing. Per, it sounds like No. 28 was bilked out of roughly $500,000. Check out the story here.

Wednesday Injury Report

Posted on December 10, 2008 
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Here it is, direct from the West Coast….

Did Not Participate
LB Tedy Bruschi (knee)
QB Matt Cassel (not injury related)
S James Sanders (abdomen)
LB Pierre Woods (jaw)

Limited Participation
RB Kevin Faulk (not injury related)
CB Ellis Hobbs III (shoulder)
WR Randy Moss (not injury related)
LB Vince Redd (ankle)
LB Mike Vrabel (neck)
DL Ty Warren (groin)
WR Kelley Washington (thigh)
NT Vince Wilfork (shoulder)

Did Not Participate
LB Ricky Brown (groin)

Limited Participation
C Jake Grove (calf)
QB JaMarcus Russell (ankle)

Belichick and McDaniels Q&A, 12/9

Posted on December 9, 2008 
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Here are the Q&A’s from the conference calls today with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels

BB: We have been watching a lot of Oakland and they are a big, physical football team. They love to run the ball. They have some great [running] backs, a big offensive line [that is] very physical and big receivers. They are big everywhere. They have a real physical front seven on defense, big corners that play a lot of man to man coverage that’s a to challenge the receivers. They are very good in the kicking game. [They have] a lot of big fast guys in coverage. They have two real good returners. I think this is a team that is really strong, physical, a lot play with power and we are going to have to be ready to play that way too.

Q: You mentioned the man to man coverage that you might see. What do you see from Nnamdi Asomugha? You hear good things about him but he is on a team that isn’t winning a lot of games, so he slips under the radar a bit. Mike Shanahan called him one of the best in the game.
BB: I would agree with that. He’s a very good corner. He is a tall guy and for his length he has good quickness getting his hands on receivers well. He is very physical. He is a good tackler. He is a very good run force player. In all honesty, he doesn’t get a lot of action. People stay away from him a good part of the time, so he doesn’t get an inordinate number of opportunities to play the ball or to have his receiver get it. He gets a few, but not all that many. He is very impressive. He is tight on the receiver, he’s very physical on the line of scrimmage and he is a good run force player and tackler. He is a complete player. He does everything in the game well.

Q: From what you have seen, do they move him around or are they locked in on sides with their corners?
BB: They move him some. Most of the time they don’t but we have seen him match from time to time, so we will have to be ready to play it both ways. I am sure they can do it either way. They have matched in the past. They don’t match a lot more than they do match.

Q: I would assume he would be mostly on the left side?
BB: That is correct.

Q: You talk last week about the crowd noise in Seattle, what about Oakland with the black hole? Do you have any memorable stories from that group of creatures?
BB: No, I am sure I will get a great reception from them. I always do. They always seem particularly happy to see me. I am sure I will get a nice welcome from them. It is loud in Oakland. They have a very good fan base. They are enthusiastic and they try to make it hard on the opponent, especially when you get down there in that area. We were out there for a Monday night game a few years ago and it was pretty intense there. I am sure they will be ready to go.

Q: Is their legitimacy to the so called rookie wall and if so, as a coach, how do you deal with it?
BB: Well, as I said it is a long season. It is a lot longer than any college season. So, when you come into the National Football League you can’t really prepare for the length and the intensity of the season. You can talk about it, other people can tell you about it, but until you actually experience it it’s not really the same. We all have to go through that and how it affects each individual player the first time they go through a season like this is unique to each individual. I think it is an adjustment period, it certainly was for me. The first year I did it and from then on it was never as bad as the first year because at least you know what to expect, you know how to pace yourself and both mentally and physically can gear up for it. How it affects each individual player or each individual coach for that matter the first time is certainly a learning experience and something you can’t prepare for. You just have to take it as it comes, adjust to it and do the best you can.

Q: On the play from the Seahawks game where Seneca Wallace had that run on their last drive, from a coaching standpoint when a player pulls up it looks like he doesn’t want to pick up the 15 yard penalty there, which we have seen quite a bit of this year. How do you coach that?
BB: Play until the runner is on the ground or he is out of bounds. We have seen that before – players and quarterbacks especially running to the sideline. They get to the sideline and then pull it down, stay inbounds and try to tightrope it down the sideline or fake like they are going out of bounds and sprint past the defender. We just have to be alert in all of those situations and finish the plays. I wouldn’t say play until the whistle because that isn’t accurate anymore, but play until the runner is down and until the possession of the ball is clear at the end of the play.

Q: Is there any extra logistical hurdles if you wanted to bring in players to workout with not being at home? Are you handcuffed at all if you wanted to workout a player based on the fact that you are not at home?
BB: No, I don’t think so. As you said, there might be a little bit more of a process just because we are not doing it where we normally do it. But, we would fly him in here, pick him up, get the physical done and all of that. We would do whatever we would normally do it just wouldn’t be quite as expedient and as smooth. We would just have to go through the process. It might take a little bit longer, but it wouldn’t restrict us.

Q: Do you have your practice squad guys out there joining you?
BB: Yes, they will. They will be here.

Q: Will you take anytime this week to talk to Randy Moss about going back to Oakland because there might be extra emotions for him in that situation?
BB: Randy is pretty professional. He is one of the most professional guys we have. I am not really too concerned about that. But, I have talked to Randy about the specific players, their skills, strengths and weaknesses. We have already had those discussions relative to preparing for the Raiders. I think the rest of it – he’s played a lot of football and we have all played teams that we have been on before, knew people from or what have you. It seems like that stuff comes up every week with some player or another, either on our team or the other team that we face. So, I think the novelty on that has kind of worn off. But, definitely he and LaMont [Jordan] know a lot of players on the Raiders team, their skills, strengths and weaknesses. I think that can definitely help us in our preparation, they know a lot better than we do.

Q: In terms of them helping you, is that a regular occurrence throughout the week and how does that process work where the information they have might help you? Do they just relay it to you and you disseminate it to the team?
BB: It would depend on what the nature of the information was and who the team was. A lot of teams, we have quite a bit of information on those teams from the accumulation of information from watching them play other teams, division teams and teams like Pittsburgh, Denver and Indianapolis, teams like that that we play year in and year out. Maybe if you had a player from one of those teams you might ask him a specific question about how do they block this, how would they read that, or what adjustment would they make if this happened and that type of thing. But, I think for the most part we have a pretty good understanding because we have already gone through that with a lot of players and a lot of coaches, so we study those teams very thoroughly. But, a new team one you haven’t played in awhile, that you are not really very familiar with – say a team like St. Louis where Mark LeVoir was earlier in the year. He knows those players well, how they run certain plays, things they look for and the whole procedure of play calling and that kind of information can be helpful. So, if a player knows more than you do, they can add some insight. Most of the time I would say it is pretty minimal what they can add if it is a team you really know well.

Q: Was it good to have Junior Seau back? It seemed like he stepped back into the leadership area in terms of addressing the team before the game. Was that the case and can you comment on having that leadership back?
BB: It is great. One thing about Junior, he is very enthusiastic, vocal and positive. I think everyone of us appreciates that, whether we have been in the game awhile or whether it’s a first year player. He also adds a perspective now from a guy who has been out of football all year. It is a little bit the same with [Rosevelt] Colvin about how good it is to be back and how you can’t be sure that an opportunity is going to last forever and take advantage of the ones you have. I don’t think it ever gets old to hear a player of Junior’s stature and the respect that he has on this football team, and the league for that matter, to step up and say what is on his mind, what is important to him and what he thinks about the game, the situation or our team. I think that’s well received by everyone. He is so genuine that it makes it even more special.

Q: Do you have an update on Tedy Bruschi at all?
BB: No, I don’t.

Q: Coach [Bill] Belichick mentioned that the Raiders play quite a bit of man coverage. As the offensive coordinator, what kind of a challenge is that for the receivers? Is this a chance for them to maybe highlight their abilities in those one-on-one matchups that they might not see on a regular basis?
JM: Yeah, anytime you play a team that plays a significant portion of man coverage, there’s obviously a burden on the receivers to get off the line of scrimmage, be physical, use their quickness, whatever their strengths may be. All of our receivers have different strengths and then you have to try to create some separation down the field. This is a team that they do play a little bit more man coverage than some of the teams that we’ve played in the recent past. But, that being said, they use some different forms of it where they have some people that will help on the interior portion of the coverage, or what have you. It not only presents a challenge to the receivers, but it also requires us to pass protect well and keep them out of the middle of the pocket as long as we need to get open and create some plays in the passing game. It also requires the quarterback to do a great job of reading the coverage. If they have players in there, whether it is an extra secondary player or a linebacker that’s designed to kind of help out those man-to-man players, he has to see those guys and make sure he takes care of the free player.

Q: You have a receiver in Wes Welker who has nearly 100 catches and is leading the league with that amount. Are you ever surprised that a guy of his size has such success in this league that’s often dominated by much bigger guys?
JM: Not really. Wes’ skill set is different and unique in its own right. He’s a very intelligent player. He does a lot of things well. That’s the thing that we are fortunate to have here in him is that there’s a lot of strengths that he possesses that we don’t just do one thing with him. We can move him around and do a lot of things. We try to do that with all of our skill players. Wes seems to find a way to get open against different coverages and he has abilities that allow us to move him and do some different things with him. It doesn’t surprise me. Like I said, I don’t think size is a prerequisite to be successful as a receiver in this league.

Q: That being the case, do you think his size offers any advantages? And, if so, what would those possibly be?
JM: I don’t know if his size is an advantage. Less to hit? If you’re up there trying to jam a guy, there’s a lot less to hit with Wes then there are with some receivers. That could be an advantage, or at some times it could be a weakness, I guess. He’s hard to get a hold of and those guys really have to do a good job of moving their feet and try to stay with his – match his quickness and stay with him at the top of his routes. He does a good job.

Q: What did it mean to have LaMont Jordan back in the mix last week?
JM: At this time of year, I think you’re looking for as many healthy skill players and backs, in particular, that you can have. We know very well that playing in a climate that we play in a lot late in the year — where it’s cold and the weather can be inclement — it’s nice to have a different array of backs to send into the game to change the pace up and make them tackle us. Another runner never hurts and Lamont went into the game and did what we asked of him. He ran the ball hard and also played a little bit in the passing game and we look forward to building on that.

Q: Can having two former Raiders like Randy Moss and LaMont help out with intel with their defense?
JM: Anytime you have players that were in a system for a few years, they seem to know a little bit about the players and maybe some small things about the system, if that’s the case. But, in the end, it’s going to come down to our execution against whatever they decide to do against us. Maybe their familiarity with some of the players gives them an advantage in their preparation, but for the most part it’s going to come down to our preparation this week against what we’ve seen them do and the matchups that we’re presented with on Sunday.

Q: With the man-to-man coverage that we talked about earlier, is it assumed that comes with jamming the receivers at the line of scrimmage?
JM: I think there are a lot of times that they would prefer to be up there. They do a very good job at that. They do a good job when they have to play off the line of scrimmage, too. This is a team that’s very comfortable playing man-to-man coverage so I don’t really think you can get to that point without having to do both. If they can get up there and get their arms and hands on you at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing of your routes in the passing game, then I’m sure they feel very good about that. At the same time, they are very willing to play it from off [the line of scrimmage] if they need to and match patterns that way, too. They play a lot of it so they are very good at it. Whatever style or format of man coverage we get on Sunday, I’m sure it’s going to be a challenge for us.

Q: Can you talk about Matt Cassel’s development? Is there one area in particular where you’ve seen him make the greatest leap?
JM: I wouldn’t say that there is one area. I think he’s really grown as a player. The one thing that Matt never really had was a lot of experience playing in game situations. He obviously practiced a number of years here, and played in preseason games, and from time to time in a regular season game. But his overall development — as you would expect of most players — the more you play in the games, the more comfortable you feel doing in the next week or the next time out. I think he’s gained confidence from week to week in the things that he’s capable of doing and the way that he runs our offense. I think there’s a lot of confidence in him and we continue to try and strive to improve every week. He works his butt of to try to do that, himself. It’s a credit to him, but we still have a long way to go. He’s going to work hard and we’re going to push him hard.

Q: Which teams that you’ve have you seen a majority of man coverage?
JM: We see man coverage every week. Seattle played quite a bit of man coverage on us last week. I think every week when you practice, in particular, there are certain situations in every game where you definitely expect man coverage. Third down and shorter distances is definitely one that comes to mind. But every team has man coverage schemes in their system and some choose to employ that more than others when they play us. I think you have to be ready for it every week because if you’re not then they can certainly take away a majority of your passing game schemes. Like I said, we played against Seattle that employed quite a bit of that last week and we’re in for another dose of that against the Raiders.

Q: Are there any similarities in the Raiders defensive system based on Rob Ryan’s background from his time in New England? Or is it quite different?
JM: It’s his own twist. Rob does a great job there. He’s been there for a few years and there are some things that you can see that he does there, or he uses in Oakland, that maybe we have some experience with here, or we’ve done here in the past, defensively. Rob’s an aggressive coach. His players love to play for him. He plays an aggressive style of man-to-man. He mixes in pressure and they are always ready to go. That’s a credit to him because you can see on film how hard they play. They have a lot of talented players and he has them playing a good system. It’s his own system. It’s his own defense and he’s got them playing really well.

Belichick, Welker and Seau Q&A’s from 12/8

Posted on December 8, 2008 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the Q&A’s from Bill Belichick, Wes Welker and Junior Seau via conference call this afternoon:

BB: We made the trip down to San Jose last night. We settled back in at the hotel. It is a normal Monday here with the players and coaches. It’s set up and we are ready to roll. From the game yesterday, the biggest thing was that we were able to make some plays in the fourth quarter in critical situations that we really needed. Both the kickoff return and the touchdown drive by the offense when it was 14-3 was a big answer to their 11 point lead. It was a very competitive game. Seattle is a good football team. I don’t care what their record is. They have a lot of good players, they played hard and they played well. It was rewarding to see our players fight through some of the adversity and situations that came up during the game and come out and make the plays at the end that we needed to make to win the game. We will keep working on a lot of the things that we need to work on, turn our attention here to Oakland and see if we can come out of this week with two wins.

Q: Do you have any preliminary status on how the injured players are?
BB: No, I don’t have anything to add at this point. We are evaluating everybody. I probably won’t know much until Wednesday.

Q: Are all of the injured players with the team?
BB: I just said what I am going to say. They are all being evaluated. We’ll let you know on Wednesday.

Q: At this point in the season are you aware of the playoff scenarios?
BB: All I know is there are a lot of teams that are in contention. Right now, we are just worried about Oakland. We’ll win as many games as we can, I’m sure if we qualify somebody will let us know.

Q: Now that you have seen the tape how impressed are you with what Mike Wright and Le Kevin Smith were able to do coming off the bench?
BB: Mike and Le Kevin did a good job for us. We had a lot of players step in there defensively yesterday: Junior [Seau], Rosie [Colvin], Antwain Spann, Lewis Sanders. We had a whole bunch of guys that I don’t think we expected to play as much as they played and I don’t think they expected to play as much as they played. Mike and Le Kevin both did a good job. They played hard and they played a lot of football for us. Thank goodness we had them. They came through with a lot of other guys on that side of the ball.

Q: Looking at those two players the odds were against them coming into the league. One is undrafted and one is nearly undrafted. How have they turned themselves into viable NFL players?
BB: I think both of those players have good talent. As we all know, where the player is drafted doesn’t necessarily equate to what his ability is. But, I think they both have good talent. Mike and Le Kevin work hard. They are guys that have put a lot of extra time in the weight room and practice sessions trying to improve their individual skills and techniques. They’ve played behind some very good players and I think they have learned from them, put forth effort and tried to become better technique players in our defense. When they have had a chance to play in the past they have done a solid job for us. Yesterday was one of those days where they got a chance to play more than they usually do or they have in the past. A couple years ago when Vince [Wilfork] was out Mike played two games at nose against Jacksonville and Tennessee. He took pretty much all the snaps in those two games and played well for us then. We have seen Mike in this situation before and he has come through for us before.

Q: You mentioned a lot of guys playing that you didn’t expect to play and they didn’t expect to play. With all of those guys out there on the field, was Mike Vrabel the glue that was holding that together?
BB: He was definitely a big part of it. Mike [Vrabel], Richard [Seymour], Brandon Meriweather – those guys are involved in a lot of the communication and some of the adjustments that we had to make by the nature of their position. They were really solid that way, but Mike especially as the signal caller. He’s a guy who is involved in a lot of the adjustments we make and coverages. He is very good, probably as good as anyone could possibly be in that situation. He does a number of things and as well as he does doing it, he’s certainly outstanding.

Q: How about LaMont Jordan’s contribution?
BB: It was good to have LaMont out there. I thought he gave us some quality carries. He ran hard, broke some tackles and another game with no losses in the running game on negative runs. He was a big part of that and so was Sammy [Morris] and Kevin [Faulk]. It is good to have LaMont back there and be able to take some snaps and some hits off of those other guys. I thought that Kevin, Sammy and LaMont all did a good job, particularly Sammy and Kevin on blitz pickup. Seattle blitzed about two-thirds of the time and there were an awful lot of plays where backs are involved in protection and also, the tight ends. We were involved in a lot of protection situations, so it is a lot of contact. It was a very physical game for our running backs.

Q: Seneca Wallace said that you guys lined up for the play where Brandon Meriweather blitzes three times during the game and they called a timeout the first two times because they didn’t have a way to block it. Did you know when you lined up the third time that they did not have any timeouts left?
BB: We knew they didn’t have any timeouts left. We thought it would be a good play for us and we didn’t have a chance to run it. The other times we couldn’t because as you said, they took a timeout. We got into a situation at the end of the game where they needed a field goal to tie, where they had the ball we didn’t think was quite at field goal range. But, one more first down and I think it would have been for sure. We wanted to try to put some pressure on them there, keep from getting a first down and keep from getting the ball in field goal range at that point.

Q: On that play Brandon Meriweather mentioned that throughout the course of the game you were able to get a better feel for the snap count and he was able to time that blitz accordingly. Is that something that the players pickup on the field or is that something that you tell them on the sideline?
BB: Something that we talk about going into every game is the line of scrimmage operation that the team uses. There are a lot of elements to that between the offensive line, the motion, the shifting and the center and the quarterback’s mannerisms. When you are in the game that is the best time for the players to really draw a bead on it and Brandon did a great job. He timed it perfectly and hit the gap at the right time, late enough so the line didn’t block down on him, but early enough that he was able to get Wallace on his way back. It was a really nice play by Brandon. It was well executed and I think it was something that we talk about every week, but something that he picked up on during the game and he used that timing to make the play.

Q: How important is it to have Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan back in the running game going into December?
BB: I think it is always good to have as many good players as you can and have that kind of backfield. You would like to have multiple guys that can perform those jobs and be productive in whatever way they are productive – different styles or maybe even different plays from time to time. It is great to have that kind of depth back there and have multiple people contributing. We will do what we need to do to win going forward, try to put together the best game plan and configure things as well as we can to make ourselves productive offensively, whether that is running or passing. It is good to have those good players available.

Q: Is it impressive to see Matt Cassel make plays when he has had to move out of the pocket and create time for himself by stepping up? Can you talk about his decision-making?
BB: I think his decision-making for the most part has been good. I thought it was good again yesterday. I thought he took care of the ball well, we didn’t turn it over. There weren’t a lot of opportunities where the defense had their hands on the ball or they were that close to it. No matter how much you practice and go through things, there is nothing quite like the speed of a real game. For a quarterback there is contact in a game that he normally doesn’t see in practice. So, it is one thing to stand back there and throw the ball in practice and it is another thing to have guys coming at you in practice in a blitz drill where you know they are not going to hit the quarterback, but they are trying to give the offense a look. Then you get into situations where those are live hits. I thought Matt did a terrific job yesterday of standing there in the pocket, throwing the ball under pressure, letting the ball go at the last second, getting hit and putting it right on the money. The play to Welker where he hit him on the sideline right in the face of a blitz was an outstanding play. Matt has really done a good job of that.

Q: Without comparing Matt Cassel to Tom Brady – Brady’s first year it was a good solid season. Are they on a similar plane back then when Brady played to Matt’s play now?
BB: I think you answered your own question, it’s better not to make those comparisons. There are so many things that are different: different offenses, different players. We are a much different offensive football team than we were in 2001. Tom did a good job and Matt’s done a good job of doing what they have been asked to do – run the team, make throws, make decisions, clock management and adjustments. We are very fortunate that we have had two players play that position over the last eight years that have really done a good job of it.

Q: What, if anything, did you say to Benjamin Watson about his penalty?
BB: That was the only penalty we had in the game and that was one that we didn’t need to get. It was unnecessary, so we always try to eliminate the penalties that we have total control over. False starts, kicking off out of bounds, anything we can control we don’t want any of those penalties. So, I hope we don’t have any more in the future.

Q: Do you know or care to know how these playoff tie breakers breakdown as you come to these last three games?
WW: No, not really. For us it is just going out there and make sure we do everything on our end to try and win games and let everything take care of itself. Basically just control what you can control.

Q: Have you been impressed with how well your teammates who have had to step in and play for injured guys have been able to do that?
WW: Absolutely. That is the way it needs to be. Anytime anybody goes down you have to have somebody there and they have to step up, play well and take advantage of the opportunity they get to play.

Q: Going back to the playoffs, I understand it is one game at a time, but a lot of you said that you felt your season was on the line. Is it frustrating to know that even if you control what you can control you could be on the outside looking in?
WW: Not really. You are just out there playing and controlling what you can control. You just take care of your end and let everything else take care of itself, however it shakes down. [We have to] go out there and give ourselves the best opportunity.

Q: Do you have to step back and sometimes marvel looking at the defense knowing there were six starters out by the end of the game from the start of the season and marvel at what they are still able to do?
WW: We have a lot of good players. A lot of good young players and older players that have stepped in, understand the game and know how to play. They’ve had the opportunity to go out there and show their stuff and they have done a great job of stepping up, like they did this past Sunday.

Q: How do you feel about the Dolphins being neck and neck with you at this point?
WW: There is always going to be somebody and competition within the division. For us, we just have to control what we can control and let everything else play out, however it is supposed to play out.

Q: You mentioned control what you can control, with that being said do you think you can afford a loss from here on out?
WW: Yes, probably not. That is the way it is looking. We need to make sure we are bringing it each and every week. The playoffs are almost starting a few weeks early.

Q: How about a Cotton Bowl prediction?
WW: Any win by the Red Raiders would be fine by me. Anyway we can get out there and win the game in the end would do my just fine. I am just a little upset that it isn’t a BCS one.

Q: Junior, can you talk about the task at hand for you guys going forward? Given the injury situation, what do you guys have to do? What’s the mindset for you guys?
JS: Basically our mindset is to go out and honestly look at film today and take it one day at a time. We’re not going to worry about injuries, it is what it is and the team that we put out on the field will be able to focus on winning that game.

Q: How do you feel today? How sore are you, or not sore how do you feel after your first game in almost a year?
JS: You definitely use different muscles surfing and packing coolers for volleyball games. There are some fast twitch muscles that are kind of sore but other than that I feel good.

Q: Can you go over the task at hand for you guys and what it’s going to take, especially with the defense playing shorthanded?
JS: We’re definitely going to have to pay attention to details in terms of the scheme. Really relying on the scheme in itself and believing in each other. We’re really going to just have to pull together and that’s what we’re going to do.

Q: Did it feel like riding a bike at all, getting out there and getting back into it so quickly and playing as much as you did?
JS: Yeah it did. It was definitely a familiar sight. I felt at peace in going in, I really did. Being part of the NFL and back on Sunday it’s something that I live for and that hasn’t changed.

Q: Was the feel of the locker room the same for you too? The attitude and what you saw from the players, even with the younger players around you?
JS: Well it’s a different team. When you say ‘is it different?’ – I expect it to be different. What we have to do is adjust to the team which we have, the players, the character which we are building and we go from there. For us to think we’re going to have the same team, the same attitude, the same mentality that we had last year would be false.

Q: Did you go back to giving the pregame speeches or have they given that honor to somebody else?
JS: That will never change. That will never change. I definitely love to share the experience in the years which I’ve had and having been down that road before and sharing it with the young guys, it was definitely something that the players were looking forward to. Hopefully I didn’t disappoint them.

Q: What kind of memories does playing the Oakland Raiders bring up from your old days in San Diego?
JS: Well, they don’t like me [laughter]. But, being part of an organization that played them twice a year with San Diego, it was definitely a tough environment playing in the end zone with the Black Hole behind you and it’s cheers that you can do without.

Q: With younger guys it’s often not the physical thing that they need to catch up on – it’s the mental thing. In your case having the experience playing in this system, is it more of a physical thing for you now than a mental thing as far as getting back into the swing of things?
JS: I’ll tell you what. My experience and my knowledge of the game is so much faster than my 40 time. It really is and it’s been that way for a good six or seven years. With me coming back I wasn’t worried about the 40-yard dash or lifting weights, breaking records on the bench press. It was basically just getting the momentum and the rhythm where calls were just second nature in terms of terminology. That’s basically what I did with the two days that I had to experience the game plan.

Q: Before you came back to the Patriots, as you watched them as a spectator at home were you amazed at all the injuries they’ve had this year and their ability to overcome them for the most part?
JS: It really is a testament to the system and the coaching staff and what they do with the schemes. Obviously being competitive in the National Football League with the injuries which occurred this season, it’s pretty impressive to see that we’re still in the hunt.

Patriots postgame quotes

Posted on December 7, 2008 
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Thanks to the Seattle PR staff, here are some postgame quotes from the New England locker room:

(On the outcome…) It was a great example of 60 minutes. I thought our team really did a good job of hanging in there today. We didn’t get off to a real good start, but they hung in there, they kept fighting. Just plugged away for 60 minutes and came out of there with a win. It’s a real credit to the players, the way they fought in the fourth quarter on the road. We got behind a couple of times. We closed the gap, then they stretched it out again. So it was really a heck of an effort by our football team. We had a few guys banged up in the game, but people stepped in and they stepped up and make plays we had to make to win. Third down, fourth down, offense, defense, special teams. It was a good win for us. Now it’s like it’s a three-game season. We’ve just got to pick up the pieces here today and have a good week and get ready for Oakland. But it’s really good to win here. It was a good effort here today. I thought the players really played hard, showed a lot of toughness, both mental and physical toughness.

(On playing shorthanded, if he wonders when it will it stop…) Well, not during a game. We’ll take stock of where we are heading into next week. Now, I’m not sure exactly what all that’s going to be. But during a game, you’ve just got to go with what we have. And those guys stepped in: Stan, Mike Wright, Le Kevin, Junior, Rosy – a lot of guys ended up playing probably more than they thought would have. And they came through for us. You hate for that situation to come up, but it’s good that they answered the bell.

(On Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin…) Well, they’re professionals. They both prepared hard all week. Of course Junior didn’t get in here until until early Friday morning and only had one day of practice and a little walk-through yesterday. He’s a pro, and so is Rosy. Rosy worked hard all week and did a lot of things extra to be ready for the game, and we sure needed him.

(On New England’s third-down offense…) They gave us a lot of pressure today, and we just had to hang in there and deal with it. We finally made some plays in the fourth quarter that really helped us. That was critical. Third down is a big down in the red area. Those are two areas where we still could have done better at today. We didn’t stop them on defense, and we got held to a couple of field goals offensively, so we’ve still got to work and try and do better on that. Of course, the fourth-and-long was a huge play. That’s where we really had to have it, and we got it. It’s good to make them when we had to.

(On Wes Welker…) Wes is always impressive. He’s a good receiver. He’s really a competitive guy, a smart guy, quick, good hands, good concentration, tough. He does a lot of things well, and today was a big day for him.

(On New England’s defensive game plan…) We had to cut it back a little bit. We had a little trouble, obviously, the first couple of drives. Seattle had a lot of quick, uptempo plays and we were scrambling a little bit to get where we needed to be. We tried to settle down a little bit. That, combined with some of the people who weren’t able to finish the game, just all kind of added up to, let’s just kind of get back to basics. Probably in the end that served us well.

(On the impact on injuries…) I think we have a lot of really tough people in that locker room, both physically and mentally. This time of year everybody is banged up, and they played through it. Mentally we’ve had our ups and downs, and now on the road. There’s a lot of crowd noise out here, a lot of energy from the fans and from the Seahawks. I thought that team played hard. Their competitiveness and the level of play on their team is certainly a lot better than what their record is. That’s a good football team, and they play hard. They can move the ball, and they can play defense, and they’re good in the kicking game. So that’s a good football team. I can’t imagine that they’re not going to win some games that are left. They just do too many things well. But I really take my hat off to my players. They played hard on the road after a tough loss to Pittsburgh. They came back and battled for 60 minutes.

(On playing basic defense…) I thought we got good pressure on the quarterback on a lot of plays. We just couldn’t tackle him. He was elusive out there. He scrambled out and got a couple of throws on us, and then he scrambled around and ran a couple of times. So at the end we just brought everybody and hoped he wouldn’t be able to get away from us, because that was a big concern, the amount of time, especially at the end of a game, we were a little bit winded. With the quarterback running around, look what happened on the first-down play where it seemed like we had two or three guys in the backfield and he ends up scrambling for whatever it was, 25 yards. So we wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.

(On applying defensive pressure…) We tried to get pressure all the way around, outside and inside, to try and keep the quarterback in there. But we weren’t really successful doing it. We had pressure, but he’s just elusive back there and we couldn’t get him. You’ve got to try and keep him in the pocket and hem him in, but Wallace is a hard guy to do that against. We knew how athletic he was and, as I said, at the end we just ended up bringing enough guys so there weren’t any extra gaps in there.

(On the division race…) It’s a three-game season. We’re 13 games into the year and it’s still a real close race. We’ve just got to suck it up here and get ready and try to go down there and have a good effort against Oakland. We know they are a very physical team, and they beat the Jets earlier this year. We’ve seen them play good, hardnosed, tough football, and they’re very physical, so we’re going to have to do a lot of things well. Hopefully we’ll have a good week of preparation out here and get as many guys as we can back out there and compete on Sunday.

(On personnel matters . . . ) I think Ty (Warren) has been working hard. He’s made some plays in practice. I think he’s earned the opportunity to play a little bit – that his practice effort and his play-making in practice when he’s had the chance to play, since he’s been on the roster for a few weeks, so we thought we might be able to get a chance tgo see if he could make some plays for us today. … We’re going to need everybody. I wouldn’t read too much into who playing ahead of who.”

(On the the importance of this game…) It was a huge win. A huge win, a huge drive. Everybody stepped up. That is what big games come down to and we knew that that the season was on the line and we had to come up here and take care of business in order to put us in the position to still be in that playoff hunt. It was a huge drive and everybody understood and went out and we were able to execute and get points on the board.

(On being able to convert third downs in the second half…) We had some left over from last week so we did a great job on third down. The offensive line did a great job on third down, people made some plays on third down.

(On what more you can say about Wes Welker…) What can’t you say about Wes Welker? He is the all around football player. He is a guy who you can rely on. He is a guy that I look to constantly in big pressure situations because I know that he is going to get open. He is a guy that everybody looks up to because he gives you 150% on every play.

(On the Seahawks blitzing a lot and being able to find Welker to beat it…) Right you know where he is going to be and you know if they are blitzing multiple players then there is probably going to be one-on-one coverage in some capacity outside so we try to take advantage of that. All I know is that I have to beat the defender who is rushing with the ball. The reciever has to do his job of getting open.

(On if they expected Seattle to bring that much pressure…) We knew that they were a pressure team. So we prepared throughout the week for the pressure. Until you get into any game you don’t really know how much pressure it is going to be. It just turned out to be one of those games for them.

(On being able to consistently use the screen play…) It was effective. They made some big plays for us when we needed them. Especially when those guys are coming at you as much as they are. You need to get the ball out quick and then make one guy miss. It definitely takes the pressure off us a little bit. Especially myself, not having to make all the throws down the field all the time.

(On the hard hits taken by Wes Welker…) You don’t ever want to see him get hit but it is part of the game and he is a tough guy and I am just anticipating him getting back up.

(On if he ever doubted this team…) No not at all. You play for sixty minutes. That is our job, you come out and week in and week out you talk about playing for sixty minutes. So there is never a point in the game where you look down or feel like you aren’t going to win the game.

(On if there was ever any thoughts of a pass down at the one yard line…) I don’t think so. I think that we had a good idea of what we wanted to and some good runs in the game plan.

(On Steve Sarkisian getting the job at Washington…) I am happy for him. He is a great coach, he brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Very similar to Coach Carroll, he has a lot of charisma. He will do a great job here, he has a brilliant mind and he really works hard at what he does.

(On whether he should be sore and bruised after the last two weeks… ) I think everybody is, at this point in the season everybody is a little banged up. That is one of those things you just have to fight through to make sure you’re ready to go on Sundays.

(On how he gets up after the tough hits…) That’s just part of your job. You’re going to take some vicious hits out there, and you just have to make sure that you’re bouncing back and getting ready for the next play.

(On improving the third down conversions, compared to last week… ) It’s huge; it’s something that we put a lot of work into: third down and the red area. We’re trying to make sure that we can come through in those two areas.

(On whether he was surprised by the comeback…) Not at all. We have a lot of veteran leadership, and guys are going to fight 60 minutes, and make sure that they’re giving it their all each and every play. That is what this league is all about; to make sure that you’re bringing it every single play.

(On the big catch by Gaffney…) I think there were about 6 or 8 minutes left in the game, something like that, and who knows if we’ll get another opportunity. So, we have to make sure that we take full advantage of it, and play the series as if it was our last one, and give it everything we’ve got.

(On his play…) I’ll do whatever they ask me to do. I just go out there and do my job each and every play, and do it to the best of my ability, and I think that’s everybody’s role out there on the team.

(On Matt Cassel’s leadership…) He did a great job. He took some hits, they blitzed us. They were coming after him, and he did a great job of keeping some poise and trying to make plays every opportunity he got.

(On getting the win late…) It was big. It just shows how close these games are. That one play at the end gave us the victory and if that play had gone the other way we might be having a different story here in the locker room. As a team I definitely think that we overcame some adversity. There is still a ways go and we have three more games that we need to win.

(On scoring early…) That was big. Big to score points. It is a tough environment. The 12th man was alive and in charge today making noise. Seattle is a good football team, they have a lot of great players so it was a tough game.

(On the reason for his touchdown celebration…) I have a baby due February 1st. It was a little shout-out to my wife back home in New England. It wasn’t worth getting a penalty, I didn’t know that I would get a flag, they decided to throw a flag. I wasn’t trying to taunt anybody that was just to her. It will be a little baby girl.

(On driving for the game winning touchdown…) We had to have it.We just rallied behind each other and took it one play at a time and got into the end zone. We even got the two point conversation.

(On if this was the biggest win of the year…) Definitely the biggest win of the year. We have to follow it up next week with another big one.

(On the game requiring 60 minutes of football…) It took all 60 minutes to get this one done. We came down to our last possession to score and we moved the ball down and scored and the defense came back out and got the stop so we could just kneel on it.

(On the last play…) Right down at the goal line it is really just all about guts. It sounds easy to get one yard but out there a lot of guys are trying to keep you from scoring and doing certain things. We were able to get just enough surge and get it into the endzone.

(On his assessment of Cassel filling in for Tom Brady…) He has done a great job. Especially as the season has progressed. He has been getting different looks from different defenses and he has been able to capitalize and either win the high scoring games or win these type of games where you have to grind it out.

(On how he felt they performed today…) “For the most part, after we settled down, we were okay. But we said all week: they’re going to come out fast, they’re going to run their plays up-tempo, and everything else. We just stood there and pretty much watched them move the ball down the field twice in a row.”

(On what caused the Patriots’ inefficiency on defense at the beginning of the game…) “I don’t know. I just think we need to look at fixing it. When we come into a game and play a certain way, or have to play a certain way to win, that’s what we need to try to do.”

(On how his teammates stepped up, particularly Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin…) “It’s like ‘Welcome back,’ you know? They’ve been here for a day and a half, and they get thrown out there and they do a great job. They play hard, and they compete. And we needed them. We certainly needed them today. We needed everybody. We needed Le Kevin [Smith] and Mike Wright to play more, and Jarvis [Green], and everybody else. We’re at the time where we need everybody. Guys are banged up, but we need to keep pushing.”

(On what changed when they started being able to stop the Seahawks’ offense…) “I just think we understood what they were doing. We had an idea of what they were going to try to do coming in, but they just ran it with enough tempo and style. They were pretty consistent converting on third down. We just settled down and just played our responsibilities and did our jobs.”

(On how the defense was able to step up and overcome the Seahawks’ offense…) “Coach just made great adjustments. It wasn’t anything major. Guys started playing, playing better techniques, doing exactly what Coach has taught. That’s better than trying to do our own thing.”

(On how big of a play the sack on Seneca Wallace was for him personally…) “I think it was a bigger play for the team than it was for me. Personal glory for me really means nothing. The team winning and continuing to run for the playoffs means everything to me.”

(On how big it was for the team…) “I think you know. I think you know.”

(On how it felt to get a last-minute win in such an important game for the Patriots in terms of the playoff race…) “It was a relief, you know what I mean? We came out and started out slow, which is something we never want to do…We persevered together.”

(On whether he was thinking about the competition to win their divison…) “No…Hey, it’s looking good.”

(On how important it was for Junior Seau to play today…) “Junior? He played three [quarters]? How many plays? That tells you a lot about him. He’s a great dude. With him in the locker room, it just gives everybody a little more energy, a little more momentum. He just played lights-out, every play. Even though he’s the oldest guy on the team, he still plays with the most energy.”

(On whether he felt he was prepared to play…) “I figured I’d get a chance to get out there on the field. Things kind of changed early on, and the opportunity was there. I definitely feel it, but I feel better about it than my outlook was going in.”

(On whether the speed of the game was faster than he remembered…) “When Deion [Branch] took that long pass, yeah, but other than that, it was like riding a bike, you know? You just got to get back on the bike and then you got to get going. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might’ve been, or how I feel right now. So I’m excited. I’m definitely excited about the potential of where I can go, and if the opportunity continues to present itself, then hopefully I can go out and produce and help the team keep winning games.”

(On what it says about the Patriots that they were able to come back and win with so many players out…) “I’ve said for years that Bill [Belichick] is probably one of the best coaches in the league. I’ve been able to experience a couple different systems, and when you’re able to plug different guys in…I’ve been on teams where you’ve had injuries and there’s a decline, there’s a drop-off. But to continue to go out and be successful in all phases—special teams, offense and defense—is definitely a tribute, not just to the players, but the coaches as they continue to draw up schemes and put players in positions to make plays.”

(On how he handled having so many injured players on the roster…) “Keep playing. I’ve sat down a couple times and have had serious injuries in the past, and to have so many this year…I keep just thanking the Lord that I’m out there and that I can keep playing every down. I think it’s to the point right now where nobody is 100%. Not me, not any guy out there. And if you can play, we’re looking for you. We’re looking for you at every position. You might see me at rush end one day, man. But you know, we’re going to keep just chugging away, and if it takes a patchwork to get these victories, that’s what we’re going to do.”

(On looking weak at some points during the game, but very strong at others…) “From the outside, it looks like that. But from the inside, you’re not seeing guys that are down. You’re seeing guys that are trying to focus and trying to think, ‘What can I do that much more to go out there and make a play?’ I think that’s what you saw today. Everything didn’t go our way, and it definitely came down to the fourth quarter, and it was one of those things where guys just keep chipping away, and things are going to start falling your way. The game’s not going to always go 100% your way.”

(On what the outlook is looking at the AFC East in a 3-way tie for first place…) “We have a chance. All you want to ask for…Junior [Seau] put it simply before the game, how he wanted to see those players out there that didn’t know if they were going to get drafted or not, a bunch of rookies out there that are just playing on fire. That’s what it’s really coming down to the whole season. The last three games, everybody needs to play as if these are the last downs, because for this season, it is.”

(On the never-quit attitude of the team…) “Everyone in this locker room, no matter what the scoreboard says, we’re going to get everyone’s best. That’s something that we always pride ourselves in, and that’s something that we know we’re going to get from the guy next to us. So, that isn’t something that we even question. It’s just something that we just go out and do. We just forced them to make more plays than they did coming down the stretch.”

(On how he feels about the three-way tie in their division going down the stretch…) “Well, like I said, all we can do is take it one game at a time. A lot of people say, ‘Well, you’ve got to win,’ but we don’t know what we have to do yet. I think that our goal right now is just to go in and get a win in Oakland, and let the chips fall where they may. We can’t control what some other team does. Like I said, it’s always a tough situation when you have to depend on other people, other teams, to beat this team, or [think], ‘This team needs to win.’ You never want to be in a situation like that, where you have to depend on somebody else. I think we have an opportunity in front of us, and it’s up to us to take advantage of it.”

(On the sack and forced fumble on Seneca Wallace at the end of the game…) “Well, you know, it was a diamond front, where we were coming with some pressure. The guards came out…and the safety came up, Brandon came up and made a good, heads-up play, and he got the ball out and we were just able to recover it and it kind of sealed the deal for us. It was a big play for us on defense, something that we haven’t had in a long time, so it felt good to get off the field. In the second half, I thought we played better on third downs.”

LB Junior Seau
(On the play by Deion Branch…) That was a great play! Branch did a heck of a job throwing me a little fake. I went surfing and that was it.

(On how quickly he was to transition back into the game…) I have been playing this game for like 19 years. It shouldn’t be a big surprise. The guys in here did a heck of a job of protecting me and doing the things that we needed to do out there and obviously we came out with a win.

(On how he is feeling…) Physically I will let you know tomorrow. Obviously there is going to be some kind of aches and pains, that is expected.

(On if this game was the biggest of the year…) Well it’s one game at a time. Trust me if we don’t take care of this game there is no tomorrow for us. We know that and next week is no different. We have to get back to the drawing board and figure it out. We have some injuries obviously but for the most part the guys went out there and played a great game in terms of perservering and pulling out a win.

(On how it felt to play in a familiar scheme…) It felt great obviously there is some wrinkles here but for the most part the calls are the same and that is my training camp.

(On how it felt to be in a playoff push…) We are not looking at the playoffs. If we take care of our job one week at a time we will figure it out later.

(On if he ever felt that it was tough being thrown into the mix so quickly…) No there is no time to think that. The job is when I left my kids going to the volleyball games and football games with the kids and coming over here, that stuff was over. It is time to play football. I expected to be thrown in there later on in the game but obviously with the injuries that we had I was rushed to it.

Patriots Game Notes

Posted on December 7, 2008 
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are some notes in the wake of today’s New England-Seattle game:

Wes Welker had 12 receptions for 134 yards, recording his highest reception total of the season and the second-highest reception total of his career. In addition to his 12 receptions, Welker also caught a 2-point conversion pass to give the Patriots a 24-21 fourth-quarter lead. Welker’s 12 receptions trail only his career-high 13-catch performance against Philadelphia on Nov. 25, 2007. His 12 receptions tie the fifth-highest single-game total in team history, behind Troy Brown’s team-record 16 catches on Sept. 22, 2002 and three 13-catch performances (Welker, 11/25/07; Deion Branch, 9/29/02; Terry Glenn, 10/3/99).

Wes Welker had 134 receiving yards, the highest single-game total by a Patriot this season and the highest total for a Patriots player since Randy Moss also had 135 receiving yards against Pittsburgh on Dec. 9, 2007.

Sammy Morris plunged into the end zone on a 1-yard scoring run to give the Patriots their first lead of the game with 2:44 left in the contest. Following a 2-point conversion, the Patriots held a 24-21 lead. The touchdown was Morris’s second in as many weeks, his sixth rushing score of the season and the 23rd rushing touchdown of his career.

Brandon Meriweather ran up the middle and sacked Seneca Wallace for a 5-yard loss, forcing him to fumble on the first play following the 2-minute warning. Jarvis Green recovered the ball, returning possession back to the Patriots and allowing New England to run out the clock on a 24-21 win. Seattle had a second-and-11 at the Patriots’ 44-yard line and was driving for a possible game-tying field goal or a go-ahead touchdown. The sack was the first of Meriweather’s career.

Bill Belichick recorded his 150th career victory as a head coach, including 135 regular-season wins and 15 playoff victories. Following the win, Belichick’s career record stands at 150-90 (.625). Belichick is the 17th head coach in NFL history to record 150 or more wins. His winning percentage of .625 ranks fourth among all coaches with 150 or more wins, trailing only George Halas (324-151-31, .671), Don Shula (347-173-6, .665) and Joe Gibbs (171-101-0, .629).

·The Patriots won their 14th consecutive regular-season game against an NFC club. The Patriots have not lost a regular-season game to an NFC team since Sept. 18, 2005 at Carolina. New England is 3-0 against the NFC this season.
·The Patriots improved to 18-1 in games following a loss since the beginning of the 2003 season.
·The Patriots improved to 21-2 in the month of December since 2003. New England has won nine straight December games.

·Jabar Gaffney’s 28-yard reception from Matt Cassel on third-and-10 in the third quarter was the 250th reception of his career and his longest catch of the season.

Matt Cassel directed his second career fourth-quarter comeback, helping to rally the Patriots to a 24-21 victory following a 21-13 deficit entering the fourth quarter. He also led a fourth-quarter comeback against St. Louis on Oct. 26, leading the Patriots to a 23-16 win following a 16-13 fourth-quarter deficit. Against the Seahawks, the Patriots trailed 21-13 and got the ball with 41 seconds left in the third quarter. Cassel directed a 10-play, 68-yad drive that ended in a 27-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski that cut the Seattle lead to 21-16 with 12:19 left in the game. Following a Seattle punt, Cassel then led the Patriots on a 14-play, 71-yard drive that took 6:03 off the clock to give the Patriots a 24-21 lead with 2:44 left (their first lead of the game), following a Sammy Morris touchdown run and a 2-point conversion pass from Cassel to Wes Welker.

On an 11-yard completion to Kevin Faulk in the fourth quarter, Matt Cassel exceeded 3,000 passing yards for the season, becoming the seventh player in Patriots history to throw for 3,000 yards or more in a campaign. Cassel joined Babe Parilli, Steve Grogan, Tony Eason, Hugh Millen, Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady as the only Patriots players to achieve the feat. Following his fourth-quarter completion to Faulk, Cassel had 3,003 passing yards on the season.

Stephen Gostkowski hit a 50-yard field goal to cut the Seattle lead to 7-3 with 48 seconds left in the first quarter. The kick was Gostkowski’s longest of the season (topping his 49-yard boot at San Francisco on Oct. 5), and was the second longest boot of his regular-season career, trailing only a 52-yarder against Chicago at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 26, 2006. In his regular-season and playoff career, Gostkowski is a perfect 3-for-3 from 50 yards or longer, having also nailed a 50-yard kick in the 2006 divisional playoffs at San Diego on Jan. 14, 2007.

On 13-yard reception in the second quarter, Randy Moss became the 11th player in NFL history to record at least 13,000 career receiving yards. Following that reception, Moss had 13,001 receiving yards in his 11-year career. Moss entered the game averaging 78.2 receiving yards per game, a mark that ranks second in NFL history (Torry Holt, 80.5).

Ellis Hobbs returned a second-quarter kickoff 55 yards to the Seattle 43-yard line, setting up a Patriots touchdown drive that ended in a 2-yard scoring reception by Benjamin Watson. The return was Hobbs’s fourth of 50 yards or longer this season and was his sixth of 40 yards or longer. In his 60-game NFL career, Hobbs has now totaled seven kickoff returns of 50 yards or longer and 10 returns of 40 yards or longer.

Benjamin Watson cut the Seattle lead to 14-10 with a 2-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. The score was Watson’s second touchdown catch of the season and the 15th scoring grab of his career. Watson’s other touchdown this season came against the New York Jets on Nov. 13. Watson’s 15 career touchdown catches tie Don Hasselbeck for 18th on the Patriots’ all-time touchdown receptions list. Watson and Hasselbeck are tied for fifth among Patriots tight ends, trailing only Ben Coates (50), Russ Francis (28), Jim Whalen (17) and Daniel Graham (17).

Wes Welker’s 5-yard catch late in the first quarter was his 200th reception since joining the Patriots via trade prior to the 2007 season. Welker entered the game leading the NFL in receptions since the beginning of the 2007 campaign. He is the 15th player in Patriots history to reach the 200-catch milestone. Welker tied for the NFL lead with a franchise-record 112 receptions last season and entered this week’s action ranked second in the league with 84 catches this season.

Veteran linebackers Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin each made their 2008 debuts on a second-and-six play with 13:43 left in the second quarter. Colvin was signed by the Patriots on Wednesday, Dec. 3 and Seau was signed on Friday, Dec. 5.

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