Author Archives: Ian Logue

Ian Logue

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.

Gronkowski Was Definitely a Once in a Lifetime Player

Ian Logue
March 24, 2019 at 10:48 pm ET

It’s funny, moments like these are ones that you’re never really ready for.

With news floating out there that Gronkowski might have been returning in 2019, the idea that the Patriots would be without him this season seemed hard to fathom.

After all, his final reception of the year ended up being one of the most crucial of the game during the Patriots Super Bowl win over the Rams. With the score knotted at 3-3 in the fourth qaurter and New England driving, Gronkowski caught a 29-yard pass on a 2nd-and-3 from the Rams’ 31-yard line, hauling in a diving reception at the Los Angeles’ 2, just short of the goal line. One play later, rookie running back Sony Michel took the ball in for the touchdown. Putting the Patriots up 10-3 in a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as they won their sixth Super Bowl Championship.

Following the win, Gronkowski was all smiles and it seemed like the euphoria around this victory might have been enough to bring him back for one more run.

On Sunday night, he put the chances of that to rest after announcing his retirement on Instagram.

For any fan who has watched Gronkowski over the course of his career, you couldn’t have asked for a better player. He made an immediate impact from the time he was drafted in 2010 and his larger-than-life persona was apparent both off the field and on it, with the happy-go-lucky tight end always smiling in front of the camera while quietly working hard behind the scenes.

Both Bill Belichick and his teammates have always talked about his incredible football I.Q., along with the effort he put in day in and day out on the practice field. But what really made Gronkowski unique was how much of a complete player he was. Not only was he a dangerous threat in the passing game, he was a dominant force as a blocker and he seemingly took just as much enjoyment making a key block as he did in spiking the football after scoring touchdowns.

That’s rare in this day and age. Most players tend to focus more on their numbers and less on doing the little things, but Gronkowski was a complete player and took pride in doing all of it.

One of the biggest questions now will be where he’ll end up in his place in NFL history, with many wondering if he’ll someday end up in Canton. He leaves the game with the NFL record in receptions (81), receiving yards (1,163) and receiving touchdowns (12) by a tight end in playoff history. He’s also scored more touchdowns (79) than any other player since 2010, which given that he had several injury-shortened season over that span, is astounding.

The injuries are likely what played a role in the veteran announcing his retirement. He’s had knee injuries, several back surgeries, ankle injuries, his forearm injury, to name a few. Each time he went down, fans penciled him in for the following season likely not realizing the tremendous amount of rehabilitation and pain that went along with making it back to the football field.

The most memorable example of that was when he took a significant hit against the Broncos in Denver in 2015, with the tight end screaming and writhing around on the ground after he went down. What was tough about that moment is the reaction likely stemmed from the knowledge of having been through it in the past, with the obvious fear of his season ending and another offseason of rehab clearly on his mind during the time from when he hit the turf, to when the cart finally took him off the field.

Gronk’s injury scare in 2015 was a reminder of how tough it was on him.

Fortunately, it was just a scare and he avoided disaster. But it was a reminder that he’s only human and the frustration fans voiced at times about his injury history was nothing compared to what he endured personally each time he dealt with one.

Seeing him struggle this past season was a shocking reminder that all of those big hits he sustained over the years had seemingly finally taken their toll. He caught just 47 passes for 682-yards during the regular season, while still averaging 14.5 yards per reception. Of those 47 passes, 34 went for first downs and moved the chains.

In the playoffs, he was big. He was third on the team in receptions with 13 catches for 191-yards, including 4 receptions for – how fitting – 69-yards. The best players step up in key moments and even as hampered as he was, the fact he was able to come through when it mattered most is really a testament of just how good he really was.

Gronkowski’s final reception was a memorable one.

However, he wasn’t just a terrific player, he’s also a terrific person. Behind the scenes, he was known to spend a lot of time at children’s hospitals and other charities, giving up a lot of time to help put smiles on the faces of each person he spent time with. He’s taken his fair share of criticism over the years when it came to his fun-loving ways (his party bus was a target of that), but he was never involved in any off-the-field incidents and never garnered any negative attention.

He’s been pretty care free, with fans even seeing him pounding beers during championship parades. Some took it too far, even believing it was O.K. to treat him like an animal while firing cans at him during the most recent championship parade, causing him to suffer a pretty good cut on his eye. As usual, he took it in stride, despite the fact there were some of his teammates who seemingly took it harder than he did.

For Gronkowski, he goes out the way a player can only hope. He leaves the game with his final moments seeing him raise the Lombardi Trophy, knowing that he made the key play that helped his team get there. He leaves with the love and adoration of every player in the locker room and countless others who played with him and even the respect and appreciation from many more around the league. Opposing players might dislike the Patriots, but very few seemed to have anything negative to say about the veteran tight end.

But the biggest takeaway from this news is the fact it closes the door on an era of a player we’ll likely never see again, which will probably take a little while to sink in. Players like Gronkowski are rare and it’s even more surprising for a player of his caliber to have made it through his entire career with one football team. Fortunately, Patriots fans were able to see end enjoy every moment of his incredible career and as hard as it will be not to see #87 out there next season, every one of them should be thankful for the impact he had during this run.

While everything eventually comes to an end, it’s safe to say there won’t ever be another Rob Gronkowski. Whatever he decides to do next should be fun to watch, whether it be acting, professional wrestling, or whatever lies ahead as he walks away from the game.

But whatever he does next, it won’t be anywhere near as much fun as it was seeing him on the field. One thing you can likely bet is he’ll hit it just as hard as he has everything else, so here’s hoping he has a blast in retirement. He’s definitely earned it.

Six For Saturday: Some Patriots Thoughts Heading Into this Offseason

Ian Logue
March 9, 2019 at 1:07 pm ET

Some thoughts now that the page is about to officially turn heading into an offseason that will shape the 2019 version of this football team.

1) Patriots defacto defensive coordinator Brian Flores really did have a terrific season, showing another side of what this group was able to do defensively after a 2017 season where they weren’t anywhere close to as disruptive as they were in 2018. It was great to see and was a big reason behind their dominating performance against the Rams in their Super Bowl victory.

One thing that was obvious this season was that the players really seemed to respond to Flores’ intensity and personality, which may end up being a void that the Patriots will have a tough time filling next season. With Greg Schiano coming on board to replace him, it’s going to be interesting to see if Schiano will garner the same type of respect that Flores had with a group that really played well for him.

When Flores met with the Miami media following the Super Bowl, he sounded confident and said he has a plan that will involve some “bumps in the road” as he begins trying to turn the franchise around. The now-former Patriots coach made it clear that he didn’t accept the job on a whim, saying that he told the Dolphins that if the team didn’t share his beliefs, he wasn’t interested in the job.

“Our vision, and our core philosophy of how to build a team, they were aligned. That was one of the things [that sold] me,” Flores said via the Sun Sentinal. “I told every team this, ‘if our beliefs aren’t aligned then don’t hire me’ because if they aren’t aligned it’s not going to work.”

They have a long-term vision and he made it clear to the fans to expect some pain initially as he brings in guys who are “selfless” and put the team first.  Past coaches really haven’t had much of an opportunity to build a good group of players there due to inept coaches who didn’t have the support of the front office.  Dolphins GM Chris Grier knows Flores well during his time in New England and it’s obvious that he believes that he’ll be able to create a Patriot-like culture with Miami.

After seeing what Flores accomplished in just one season, one thing is probably certain, for the first time in a while the Dolphins may finally, once again, become a thorn in the side for New England moving forward. 

Edelman was terrific in the Super Bowl against the Rams. (USA TODAY Images)

2) It’s not a surprise that most of the nation was displeased with the idea that the Patriots are again World Champions and Julian Edelman appeared to be the focus of their ire.

Edelman, who was obviously named Super Bowl MVP following his performance, ended up in the crosshairs of opposing fans who believed that he should never have even been on the field against Los Angeles to begin with thanks to his early season suspension for PEDs.

Baseball writers point to the fact that a player who was suspended for using PEDs isn’t permitted to play in the MLB postseason, which was the argument that made its way around the internet on Monday following New England’s victory.

The veteran receiver was big, catching 10 passes on 12 targets for 141 yards, with 8 of his receptions moving the chains.  He also caught 3 of Brady’s 6 third-down completions, all of which were for first downs.

It’s clearly a case of sour grapes among those who were unhappy to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick raise another Lombardi trophy.  However, it will be interesting to see if the anti-Patriot sentiment doesn’t potentially spark a discussion for a change this offseason. 

It wouldn’t be a surprise for the NFL to consider some sort of further penalty since this issue seems to come up among players throughout the league each year.  As we know, given the history of situations involving the Patriots, the league loves to make a rule change to try and save face to figure out a way to stop a team that just continues to dominate year in, and year out.

Roger Goodell loves this stuff.  The prospect of being ineligible for postseason play would obviously make players think twice before taking that type of risk, especially since missing the first four games of the year isn’t close to the damage that would be inflicted if a team’s key offensive (or defensive) weapon was sidelined during a playoff run.  

Needless to say, don’t be surprised if we hear about this again during the offseason.  But for now, it’s just noise and the fans made plenty of it in Boston when they celebrated during last month’s parade after an unbelievable year as New England won their sixth Lombardi trophy.

Andy Reid was out-coached again this postseason by Belichick. (USA TODAY Images)

3) While we’re on this topic, this nonsense with the Kansas City Chiefs complaining about the overtime rules is getting old, with the subject coming up again this week after the Chiefs submitted a proposal to end the scenario where a first-possession touchdown in overtime no longer ends the game in the postseason.

This is ridiculous. If anyone inside the NFL office is even leaning that way, they should take a good look in the mirror before they even consider making this change.  The Patriots have been a part of two incredible wins in overtime during the postseason in recent years, with both coming on opening drive touchdowns to earn the walk off victory.  To change it now would indicate the NFL wasn’t happy about the outcome and would be trying to prevent those situations going forward.

Let’s be serious.  The league already once changed this rule as it pertained to field goals, which you could sort of make the argument because offenses really only needed a couple of big plays on their first possession in overtime to kick a long field goal and win it.  Although given what we’ve seen from kickers in recent years, the difficulty surrounding that sequence doesn’t seem to garner the significance of pulling that off that people seem to think it does.  But “it is what it is” at this point and the rule has already been modified.

However, the idea now that an offense digging deep and driving the length of the field and scoring isn’t worthy enough of winning the game is ludicrous.  The worst part about this situation is the league already has a key example in the New Orleans Saints, who after coming up on the wrong end of a bad call in regulation, were unable to score on their opening drive in overtime, which opened the door to the Rams winning the football game and moving on to the Super Bowl.  That game more or less proved that scoring a touchdown isn’t a given, and the fact the Patriots wore down a terrible Chiefs defense and then executed at the critical point in the contest to win the game is a reminder this rule shouldn’t even be on the table for discussion.

We’ve seen enough from the NFL over the years to realize that New England’s dominance is a key frustration behind the scenes.  But if this rule goes through, it should set off a serious red flag that the league is just reaching at this point and reacting negatively to yet another incredible postseason run by this football team.

Brady extension is good news for the Patriots. (USA TODAY Images)

4) With our own Steve Balestrieri learning this week that a contract extension may be coming for Tom Brady, it’s good news for a team that will have essentially erased the narratives and speculation that would have surrounded his uncertainty heading into what would have been the final year of his deal.

While Brady isn’t necessarily coming off of his best season, it’s obvious that even with the injuries he battled through last season and his ability to eventually overcome Wade Phillips tough game plan in the Super Bowl, he’s still playing well enough to potentially do it a few more times before he finally walks away.  That’s a positive sign for the Patriots, who are still in need of grooming a successor and don’t have that person in the locker room at this time.

Last year’s late draft pick, Danny Etling, showed some promise in the preseason, but he’s no where near the level of where Jimmy Garoppolo was and while seeing a late-round pick become a starter isn’t necessarily out of the realm of possibility (ie: Brady), we haven’t seen that from him just yet.

This year’s draft will be interesting to watch from the standpoint of whether or not they view one of the guys coming out high enough to pass on another player in favor of taking a quarterback.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll target someone in the first round, since as we know, Garoppolo was a second round selection.  But given the timing of where Brady is, this would be the right time to find a player they believe in who could spend 3-4 years learning in this system and eventually emerge as a starting-caliber player.

That’s tougher than it sounds, especially knowing how hard it is to find an NFL-ready quarterback.  One other X-factor in all this is Josh McDaniels, who has done a pretty good job of developing quarterbacks during his tenure here in New England.  But if ever there was a time to hope that process was starting over again, this offseason would seem to be it.

The Patriots seemed to try and prepare for Flowers’ departure on Friday. (USA TODAY Images)

5) The addition of Michael Bennett reminds me of a couple of offseason scenarios over the years, which doesn’t make me feel overly confident in the future of defensive end Trey Flowers.

Bennett’s arrival mimics one of the more surprising moves, highlighted by the signing of Danny Amendola when Wes Welker was headed to the free agent market in 2013. At the time, it was obvious that the Patriots signing of Amendola looked like they felt like Welker wouldn’t be back. So Bill Belichick appeared to take the step to protect his team from losing an impact player, essentially moving on after feeling that Welker sign elsewhere.

Flowers seems poised to end up with a big payday, with the initial reports seeming to indicate that the veteran will hit the market and test the waters, which will likely spell trouble for the Patriots in terms of trying to keep him in the fold.

While it’s not impossible, it seems unlikely and it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone like Flores brings Flowers in to help start building Miami’s defense.  While Flowers’ numbers (7.5 sacks last season) aren’t among the NFL’s best, what’s scary to consider is the fact that those totals probably could have even been higher.  While New England’s defense was more aggressive last season than it’s been in a while, he still wasn’t used in that role as much as he could have been. 

But that’s not how this scheme works. The Patriots’ defense is much more disciplined and it prevented him from ending up on the highlight reel since most of his best work really came from the plays he made that flew under the radar.  For teams who take the time to look at that body of work, they may realize that Flowers is a complete player who has only scratched the surface of what he’s capable of.  The bad news for New England is, it likely means a payday much larger than what the Patriots can offer may be coming for him.

 This year’s defense did a terrific job. (USA TODAY Images)

6) Watching this year’s defense over the final three postseason games was interesting from the standpoint of trying to ponder where they’ll someday sit in history when we reflect back on each of those players.

Think about it for a second.  At the time, none of us looked at players like Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, etc. in the way we look at them now.  After all, during that era, none of them were ever considered among the NFL’s elite because the Patriots weren’t really viewed that way back then.  Fans knew they were good players, but it wasn’t until Bill Belichick arrived and took Pete Carroll’s roster and turned them into champions that they really became who they were.

When you look at what New England did defensively this postseason, this isn’t exactly a group full of superstars.  You can put Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Trey Flowers and Stephon Gilmore in the group of potentially elite players, but the remainder of this group is simply filled with just really, solid football players.   The secondary was rounded out with guys like Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Keion Crossen, and Jason McCourty, along with safeties Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung.  None of them get anywhere near the amount of respect outside of New England as they do by fans who see them each week.

Up front, they had players like Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise, Malcolm Brown and Lawrence Guy, none of which would ever be on the radar of fans outside of this region.  The same can be said for linebackers like Elandon Roberts, John Simon, and Kyle Van Noy.  Honestly, even most casual Patriots fans don’t even know who these guys are.

Yet these are players who just put together one of the best defensive stretches in Patriots postseason history to capture the club’s sixth championship.

One of the things that made guys Law, McGinest and Bruschi so great was the fact they did it over a sustained period of time, which obviously sets them apart but again, people didn’t really appreciate how good they were until this team went through a rough stretch without them.  It’s like they say, you don’t appreciate guys like that until they’re not around anymore.

That’s why it’s going to be hard not to wonder how fans may someday view players like McCourty, Chung, Hightower, and Gilmore, with players like Van Noy even hopefully earning a little more appreciation after putting together a terrific showing to cap off a pretty terrific year. 

Either way, it’s an interesting notion.   What makes it even more curious is the fact that while many fans discussed how great they played defensively, the names didn’t seem to be joining the discussion of what they did on the field as they held one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses to 3 points. 

Oddly enough, even after a Super Bowl win, people still don’t seem to know who they are.  The key to changing that will be seeing if they can build on this performance heading into 2019.

If they can, maybe people will start paying attention.

One More Thought:

Is this the end for Gostkowski? (USA TODAY Images)

7) With the news that the Patriots weren’t using the franchise tag, the first player that came to mind was kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who appears to be headed to free agency.

When you take into consideration how many kickers struggled last year, Gostkowski looks like he’s in for a potential payday and it could mean that the Patriots might have to spend this offseason looking for a replacement.

For Gostkowski, there’s not much really left for him to prove. He’s already put together a Hall of Fame worthy career here in New England and there’s really nothing more positive that can come for him staying in Foxboro.

Gostkowski missed just one extra point during the regular season and five field goals total, missing two from 40-49yds and 3 from 50+. He was perfect from 20-39yds. In the postseason, he missed just one field goal and was perfect on all his extra points.

Yet, that didn’t stop the criticism and whispers that happened over the course of this season, as well as the year before when he hit a couple of bumps during an almost-championship season.

As a result, if I’m Gostkowski, I would follow Adam Vinatieri’s lead and target a dome team with a lot of money in need of a reliable kicker, which would likely extend his career. He still has a strong leg and doesn’t seem to have lost any of his power, which is a positive sign for a player who has been among the best in the league for a while now.

Gostkowski’s loss would be tough as he would mark the end of another solid career for another terrific kicker in Foxboro and leave the Patriots with some uncertainty at a position that he’s quietly been an afterthought since he’s been here. There have been people hoping for his departure not realizing how good he’s really been, which is unfortunate.

For now, this may be something to watch over the course of the offseason and if Gostkowski does move on, fans need to recognize just how special his run has been and how replacing him might be harder than some might think.

Eight Things We Learned From The Patriots Win Over the Rams

Ian Logue
February 4, 2019 at 9:48 am ET

It wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots defense put together a stellar effort after shutting down the Rams and carrying New England to their sixth Super Bowl Championship on Sunday night.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t have his best game, but he came up big when it mattered most as the Patriots took care of Los Angeles in a 13-3 win, capping off what will likely go down as one of the more memorable seasons given how tough it was to get this one.

Here are some thoughts on this one.

1) It wasn’t Brady’s best, but he was clutch when he needed to be – Expect the offseason to be dominated by the talking heads who will likely dissect Tom Brady’s Super Bowl performance, likely trying to pour water on the quarterback’s championship outing.

Give the Rams credit. They were disruptive and made things tough, including on the Patriots first drive of the game after they had driven down to the Rams 34-yard line. Brady was picked off on his first pass attempt of the night after he tried to throw outside to Chris Hogan without seeing a defender step into his lane. Hogan tried to bat the football down, but it ended up in the hands of Nickell Robey-Coleman, who had talked trash all week about Brady leading up to this game.

Overall, Brady finished the game 21-of-35 (60%) for 262-yards and the interception, including just 1-of-4 on third down in the second half.

However, he was big in the fourth quarter, hitting 4 of his five 5 passes (80%), including a perfect 4-of-4 for 67-yards during their lone scoring drive of the night.

Say what you want, but this game resembled his original Championship run against the St Louis Rams where he did just enough to win the game in what was also a solid defensive performance by New England. The Rams have a terrific defense, but save for Brady’s one miscue, the Patriots were clearly the more poised offense in this one and it ended up ultimately being the reason why they walked away with their sixth Lombardi Trophy.

As a result, Brady became the only quarterback in NFL history to win his sixth career championship. It may not have been easy, but the win obviously counts regardless of the score, with the Patriots being the ones who found a way to win.

Fortunately, for the sixth time, Brady was also one of the reasons they managed to do just that.

Flowers and Hightower introduce themselves to Goff. (USA TODAY Images)

2) What an effort by New England’s defense – For a group that took a lot of heat for much of the season, the Patriots defense had played arguably their best game of the year two weeks ago out in Kansas City.

On Sunday night, they proved they were far from finished. They took things even further against the Rams in what was the most dominant performances we’ve seen in recent memory, pitching a near shutout in a game that could have easily been a blowout had the offense performed better.

They completely dominated the Rams in the first half, holding them to just 2 first downs as Los Angeles went 0-for-6 on third down and were shut out through the first two quarters.

During that time they made quarterback Jared Goff completely miserable, forcing him out of the pocket and sacking him twice, while also knocking him around. Goff finished the first half just 5-of-12 for 52-yards, with the Patriots holding the football for nearly 20-minutes.

Those problems continued in the third quarter where Goff completed just 4-of-9 for 43-yards and it wasn’t until the final two drives where Goff was trying to answer the 10 points the Patriots had added that he had any real success.  However, after his second to last drive ended with an interception to Stephon Gilmore, it was simply too late.

One of the stats mentioned following this game was the fact the Rams failed to pick up a yard or lost yardage on 27 of their 60 offensive plays.  Here’s how that breaks down:

1) Jared Goff – 19 Incompletions

2) Jared Goff – Sacked 4 Times

3) Todd Gurley – Was stopped for no gain on a carry in the 3rd quarter.

4) Todd Gurley – Had a reception for a 1-yard loss early in the 4th quarter.

5) C.J. Anderson was brought down for a 3-yard loss on a carry in the second quarter.

Overall, the Patriots also held the Rams to 3-of-13 on third down, with Goff completing just 3-of-10 over that span. For a group that had one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league, the Patriots made them look mediocre in front of a crowd that largely favored New England. Speaking of which…

3) The fans who were on hand were terrific – Considering all the problems this team has had away from Gillette Stadium at times this season, Sunday night allowed them to settle in as the crowd was clearly dominated by Patriots fans who were there to support the soon-to-be World Champions.

They were loud all night, with the crowd noise clearly audible in the broadcast. They seemingly helped force some pre-snap penalties and were deafening on multiple occasions on third down, including when the Rams were backed up in their own territory.

You couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. They were a big factor in key moments and the players commented after the game about how big of a difference they made.

Most reports said that Patriots fans vastly outnumbered Rams fans 4-1, which considering how many of these this football team has been to, it’s truly impressive. As Brady said, it certainly sounded like they were at Gillette Stadium, so kudos to those who were there who helped make them feel right at home.

4) Another gem for Michel – Patriots running back Sony Michel put together another solid outing on Sunday night, albeit the Rams defense certainly made him work for it.

The rookie carried 17 times for 92 yards including the game’s only touchdown, but played a key role in the final quarter as he rushed for 41 of those yards, including a 26-yard gain with under 3-minutes left to play that helped set up Stephen Gostkowski’s game-clinching 41-yard field goal with 1:16 left to go in the contest.

While he may not have necessarily been the player people wanted when the Patriots took him in the first round before the season, there’s no denying that the rookie played a clear role in the team’s championship run. He’s been a difference-maker all season and he did a great job once again in a game where they certainly needed it most.

Michel finishes the postseason with 71 carries for 336-yards and a team-leading 6 touchdowns.

Losing Chung was tough Sunday night.

5) Big Loss in This one After Chung Went Down – Patriots Safety Patrick Chung ended up a casualty of this game after the safety suffered an apparent broken arm in this game.

Chung went down on just the third play of the third quarter after coming up to make a tackle on Rams running back Todd Gurley. He went down immediately after the play, screaming in pain and clearly frustrated with the realization his night was over.

Trainers came onto the field and put the veteran’s arm in an air cast and also brought the cart out to take him off the field. However, Chung refused to get on it, opting instead to walk off the field under his own power. He later returned to the sideline with his arm in a sling.

That left his duties in the hand of Duron Harmon, who stepped up and played well in his absence.

Best wishes to Chung, who has been terrific all season and is a big part of this defense. Fortunately, thanks to his team closing this one out, he was spotted after the game looking like he’ll be just fine.

6) Terrific night by McCourty – It’s hard to believe in preseason there were so many people wondering whether or not Jason McCourty would even make the team, let alone be a potential difference-maker in one of the most important games of the season.

McCourty came up huge late in the third quarter, coming in at the last minute in what appeared to be a blown coverage to knock the football away from a wide-open Brandon Cooks in the end zone.

It was a brilliant play and at the time it forced the Rams to have to eventually settle for a 53-yard field goal, which tied the game at 3-3 with 2:11 left to go in the quarter. Had Cooks caught the touchdown, the Rams would have had the lead and potentially the momentum, which obviously could have seen this game turn out differently.

It was great to see as McCourty has been a quiet contributor all season and Devin has mentioned repeatedly what an incredible experience it’s been for him to finally have the opportunity to play on an NFL team with his brother.

Given how the game ended and how that play turned out, Patriots fans are certainly glad Jason was a part of this as well.

7) Ryan an unsung hero – Thanks to what turned into a defensive battle, the punters each ended up with an expanded role Sunday night and it was clear that Allen proved to be an incredibly important asset in this football game.

Allen really had a great night. He helped the Patriots win the field position battle and forced the Rams into multiple occasions where they were forced to start the game inside their own 10-yard line.

Ryan and fellow special-teamer Matthew Slater pinned the Rams inside their own 10 three times on the night, forcing the Rams to have to try and drive the length of the field each time after New England’s secondary did a good job of preventing the big play. That played right into their hands as Goff simply couldn’t do it, leaving them to exchange punts with the Patriots until Brady and the offense finally wore down their defense and scored their 10 points in the final quarter.

One small note on Ryan, he had his Super Bowl record 64-yard punt taken away after Rams punter Johnny Hekker hit a 65-yard punt of his own Sunday night, snatching the accolade away from Ryan. Ryan will likely take it, since he now has yet another Super Bowl ring to help him get over it.

8) There was context behind Gostkowski’s miss – Finally, our thoughts go out to Stephen Gostkowski, with Mike Reiss reporting that the kicker lost his grandfather on Saturday night.

That potentially adds context to the earlier first quarter miss by Gostkowski, who was clearly playing this one with a heavy heart and ended up pushing his first 46-yard field goal attempt of the night wide-left.

Fortunately, Gostkowski did manage to hit the most important kick of the game, after nailing the game-clinching field goal down the stretch, which made it a two-score game and put it out of reach and ruined any shot at a Rams comeback.

It was a huge kick, and it’s one of the big reasons why the Patriots will be bringing their sixth Lombardi Trophy back to New England this week.

Brady said after the game that he’s looking forward to going after another one in 2019.  Expect the Patriots to make some additional personnel moves this offseason to hopefully make them even more dangerous as they begin building the group that will hopefully help him get there next season.

Edelman Proves His Importance After Super Bowl MVP-Worthy Outing

Ian Logue
at 2:09 am ET

Whether or not Rob Gronkowski returns next season will likely be a problem the Patriots might eventually need to deal with, but Sunday night reminded us that having Julian Edelman around at least makes any issues they may have a little easier to deal with.

Edelman came up big on Sunday night, putting together one of his best performances when they needed it most, with the veteran receiver catching 10 passes on 12 targets for 141-yards, seven of which came in the first half.

He was a big key in this one, with Edelman coming up with several big plays, finishing with three catches of 25-yards or more. He was also big for Brady on third down, with the veteran targeting him 5 times with three receptions and three first downs.

It was another big night for Edelman, who was also an important part in each of their previous two recent Super Bowl victories, one of which came without Rob Gronkowski during the 2016/17 postseason. Edelman wasn’t part of last February’s loss to Philadelphia after missing it with a knee injury, with the Patriots now 3-0 in the last three Super Bowls where he’s been healthy.

The veteran also earned his first Super Bowl MVP thanks to his performance, but he credited the defense for the win after the incredible night they put together.

Nevertheless, it’s an honor that he can now add to his resume. With the parade now scheduled for Tuesday in Boston, Edelman is asking for “record numbers” now that “we just got six [championships]”.

Patriots Picked the Perfect Time to Put it All Together

Ian Logue
February 1, 2019 at 10:43 am ET

Most Patriots fans generally like to feel pretty good about their football team, but this year’s group has certainly challenged that faith at times this season.

It’s strange, despite their 11-5 finish, it’s safe to say it’s been a tough year. New England was a team who didn’t start off well and didn’t exactly finish the 2018 regular season in convincing fashion, which had most fans left with more questions than answers heading into the playoffs.

In September, they struggled out of the gate after suffering defeats out in Jacksonville and Detroit, as well as dropping two big road games down in Miami and Pittsburgh down the stretch in December. That left most people wondering how they’d play when the postseason started.

Yet, they surprised most people with how terrific they looked in each of their two victories against clubs who many pundits predicted would end their season, largely because of how inconsistent the Patriots had been for most of the year.  They didn’t think they’d look anything like they did once the bright lights of the playoffs switched on.  

Meanwhile, the two teams New England beat to earn this trip to Atlanta, the Chargers and Chiefs, each came into the postseason on a relatively high note. The Chargers had won two out of three games, including getting past the Ravens in the Wild Card round with a hard-fought 23-17 win. The big question at the time was whether or not the Patriots had enough personnel to put up much of a fight, or if they were healthy enough to keep up with a Phillip Rivers lead offense that had been one of the best of his Chargers career.

Instead, the Chargers saw their defense let them down as Tom Brady sliced and diced it in a 41-28 victory that wasn’t anywhere near as close as  the final score would indicate.

The critics after the game blamed it on the failure by Los Angeles to adjust on defense, despite the fact New England was having their way with them. As a result, very few seemed to feel the Patriots would have that same success against the Chiefs.

Brady and the offense dominated the Chiefs in the AFC Championship.

But that ride continued, with the Patriots maintaining terrific execution as they dominated the time of possession by moving the chains and keeping Patrick Mahomes off the field. The offsides penalty by Dee Ford that nullified a game-sealing interception by Kansas City has been the topic of discussion all week, calling the Patriots lucky while believing New England shouldn’t have advanced.

However, one of the things that really has stood out during this run is the fact it really doesn’t matter how a team plays during the regular season, it’s more about getting hot at the right time.  And fortunately for the Patriots, they’ve been on fire.

Let’s be honest, New England wasn’t able to string together a consistent stretch all season, leading to some ups and downs that were frustrating. We didn’t know what to expect from one week to the next, and it was like that all the way up until the very end of the season.

The good news is, they’ve played their best football in the last two weeks, which is exactly why they’re still here, much the chagrin of the rest of the country.  All those opposing fans clearly hoped it would be Mahomes and Company. Thankfully, Brady and his teammates ended up writing a different script.

Most of that success came thanks to their turnaround on 3rd down, which was their Achilles Heel all year. During the regular season, they converted just 41% of their third down attempts, with Brady completing just 52.4% of his passes. In the playoffs, it’s been a completely different story. They’ve converted 60% of their third downs, with Brady completing a staggering 82% of his passes.

That’s the type of play they’ve been looking for all year, and it’s probably the first time during Bill Belichick’s tenure that he’s seen his club wait until it matters most to finally start playing their best football.

As the saying goes, better late than never. With just a couple of days to go before they battle the Rams, the timing certainly couldn’t be any better. With some still questioning nationally whether or not this Patriots team is for real, there’s clearly no shortage of motivation within that locker room with players who would love nothing more than to prove them wrong.

Brady is looking to prove the doubters wrong this weekend.

The Rams, meanwhile, are a team that joined the Chiefs as a club who could put up points in a hurry and many believe that coupled with their defense, are the team best suited to win this weekend. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has had success against Brady, with the quarterback having completed just 58% of his throws in his last six games against Phillips’ defense during his tenure with various teams. He’s also completed just 45% on third down over that same span.

But this year just feels different.  And in a completely different way than the “different” people were talking about earlier in the year when people thought they just didn’t have enough to end up where they are right now.

It’s funny how much things can change and a reminder that perceptions in September and October don’t really matter.  Even how they look in December isn’t necessarily an indication of what’s to come, either.

Fortunately, it all came together at the right time.  Brady is clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder and this team looks overall like as much of a tightly-knit group as we’ve seen in years, with both sides of the football executing better than they had all season.

Thankfully, it’s led to two memorable wins.  Hopefully, they’ll cap it off with a third on Sunday.

No, Salty Haters, the Overtime Rules Don’t Need to Be Changed

Ian Logue
January 22, 2019 at 10:54 am ET

Patriots players are used to the motto “ignore the noise” and there certainly is plenty of it out there following New England’s terrific overtime AFC Championship win over the Chiefs Sunday night.

One of the frustrating parts of Sunday’s game for Chiefs fans was the fact Patrick Mahomes was nothing more than a spectator during the overtime period, which saw Tom Brady march down the field and drive the dagger into their hearts with a walk-off touchdown drive.

That moment silenced the fans who had screamed their lungs out all night, with those who were still on hand forced to watch the Patriots celebrate on their home field as the Chiefs’ fairy-tale season came to an end.

It was a tough Monday.  They’re trying to grapple with the reality that any shot they had for a magical finish is over, which now sees them rooting against the Patriots with a vengeance alongside a Rams fanbase that will need all the help they can get after even their own supporters didn’t show up in force to cheer them on against the Cowboys two weeks ago.

Sunday’s loss is a gut punch, we know, we’ve been there.  You grasp at straws and intermittently even forget that there’s no time machine to bring the game back to a moment where they can possibly do it over and erase what just happened.

With Kansas City not touching the football in overtime, they’re upset that things came down to a coin flip, believing the sudden death rule of scoring a touchdown should be changed.  Many throughout the national media believe the same, with quite a few talking heads also hoping that that rule gets some consideration this offseason.

Just think, if the Chiefs had won, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Fans in New England would instead be evaluating all the plays they didn’t make and the missed opportunities.  Those would be the topics of conversation.  We’d be talking about the interception in the end zone in the second quarter that destroyed a key scoring opportunity for the Patriots, which played a part in allowing the Chiefs to get back into it.  We’d be talking about the missed fourth down conversions.  You know, things like that.

But the Patriots came out on top, so let’s skip things like logic and reason and let the “unfairness” begin.

It’s ridiculous.  They’re trying to make the argument (and they’re wrong) that the Chiefs should have gotten one more chance after squandering countless others all night to match New England’s touchdown.  However, when you have a defense who can’t stop anyone and a quarterback who was the real reason the Chiefs got as far as they did, you tend to freak out and join all the other opposing fans around the league and start beating the drum for a rule change.

Disagree?  Well, all you need to do is take one key factor into consideration and realize that what happened to close this one out is the reason why the NFL already made the right call when they decided to force teams to have to score a touchdown to win the game instead of a field goal to begin with.

Brady had to put together a 13-play drive to close Sunday’s game out.

In order to win this football game, the Patriots had to put together their second-longest drive of the night, with Brady forced to dig deep one last time and put together a 13-play sequence in order to punch it in for the game-winner.  They also had to convert three 3rd-and-10s along the way, each of which required precision throws and terrific plays by Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski to keep it going, with the Chiefs giving up plays of 20, 15 and 15 yards respectively.

It’s really simple.  When you give up plays of 15+ three times on third down in overtime, you deserve to lose.  That would be the narrative if the roles were reversed and Patriots fans know that better than anyone given past experience.

In the meantime, that won’t stop anyone from complaining about the outcome and the rule in place they feel took away their shot.  Maybe they can spend the offseason watching the film and realizing there were bigger reasons why they lost the game.   Maybe they’ll realize that had Kansas City managed to put up a single point with their high-powered offense in the first half, things might have turned out differently.

Sunday night saw the Chiefs put together just two drives of more than five plays, relying on big plays to help put them in position to score.  On the other side, the Patriots offense consistently sustained drives, with 7 of their 12 drives lasting 8 plays or more, including four that went for 10+ as they ate up the clock and kept the football out of Mahomes’ hands.

Michel had a big night Sunday night.

Holding onto the football requires precision and execution to move the ball down the field and keep the chains moving. Sony Michel, who rushed for 113-yards on the night against the Chiefs defense, credited the Patriots offensive line for allowing them to put those drives together and set the tone early.

“We just went out there and executed our game plan,” said Michel after the game. “Guys did their jobs and it helped us drive the ball down the field. That’s what we needed. We needed a fast start and they kind of helped us.”

Meanwhile, despite Kansas City’s 24-point fourth quarter, New England held the ball for 11:47 compared to just 3:13 for the Chiefs.  While the Chiefs eventually made some big plays down the stretch, as explosive as they were, it came down to execution as the reason the Patriots came out on top.

Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford admitted as much after the game.

“They executed, and we didn’t at the end of the day,” said Ford. “Execution trumps everything, especially in overtime being what’s at stake at this time of the year.”

Good teams find a way to win in big moments.  Give the Chiefs credit, they forced this one to come down to the wire and gave the Patriots all they could handle.  Fortunately, Brady and the offense maintained their poise and executed at a championship level, especially when it mattered most.

And as much as it might hurt all the Patriots haters to admit, that, not the overtime rule, is the real reason why the Patriots are moving on to Atlanta.

Five Things We Learned From the Patriots AFC Championship Win Over the Chiefs

Ian Logue
January 21, 2019 at 10:15 am ET

Sunday night’s battle against the Chiefs was one for the ages, with the Patriots fortunately ending up on the right side of an improbable 37-31 victory over Kansas City to send them to Atlanta for their third-straight Super Bowl appearance.

Here’s a rundown of what we learned from this incredible win.

1) Terrific – and a little lucky – performance by Edelman – Julian Edelman put together a terrific outing against Kansas City and once again ended up being the difference-maker in a game where New England had to fight for every inch in a hostile environment.

He finished Sunday’s game with 7 receptions for 96-yards, with 4 of those seven receptions coming on third down at critical moments, two of which were during the Patriots’ game-winning drive in overtime.

Edelman did catch a break in what could have been a game-changer after making a mental error that he got a little lucky on in the fourth quarter where he initially waved off a punt, but then seemingly decided to try and field it at his own 31-yard line. Fortunately, the ball bounced just over his hands and past his arm, which at first glance the officials thought it touched him and Kansas City recovered. Replay confirmed he didn’t touch it and luckily, New England maintained possession.

The bad news was, two plays later, Edelman saw a pass thrown his way bounce off his hands and into the arms of safety Daniel Sorensen for the interception. The Chiefs turned that into a go-ahead touchdown, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes finding Damien Williams for a 23-yard scoring strike, which put them up 21-17 with just under eight minutes left to play.

That sequence aside, Edelman was a huge key to their win on Sunday as the Patriots managed to just enough to beat a Chiefs team that certainly didn’t make it easy.

Brady was terrific Sunday night against the Chiefs.

2) A Near Flawless Showing by Brady – Like Edelman, Brady had his one miscue of the night but overall was terrific and as usual, came up big when it mattered most.

He finished Sunday’s game 30-of-46 (65.2%) for 348 yards and a touchdown, but also had two interceptions, one of which was brutal. After opening the game by engineering a terrific 15-play, 80-yard drive which ate up over 8-minutes and ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Sony Michel, he had a rare mental error on the ensuing possession.

Following their opening touchdown drive, New England’s defense got the Chiefs off the field, with Brady and the offense ending up with terrific field position at the Chiefs’ 44-yard line. From there, Brady marched them down the field on 10-plays down to the Kansas City 1-yard line. However, the veteran quarterback then made an ill-advised throw after Rob Gronkowski got behind the Chiefs secondary but Brady fired it at him instead of lofting it up to him and linebacker Reggie Ragland picked it off in the end zone and killed the drive.

Fortunately, that was the only real mistake he made on the night and the biggest number that stands out was the fact the Patriots converted an unbelievable 13-of-19 (68%) on third down, and Brady was part of all but four of those conversions. He completed 9-of-11 (82%) on third down, all of which moved the chains, including a perfect 3-of-3 in overtime.

From the moment Matthew Slater called heads and the Patriots took the field, there was little doubt of what was about to unfold. 13 plays later, Rex Burkhead was in the end zone after Brady calmly took them down and put the dagger in the heart of every Kansas City fan in that stadium. They screamed all night and made things tough, but thanks to another incredible finish by the veteran quarterback, they quietly filed out when it was over and went home disappointed.

Great players come up big in key moments and Brady finished the evening with another one for the ages as he advances to an incredible ninth Super Bowl appearance.

New England’s defense was solid Sunday night.

3) Terrific showing by the defense – On a night where the offense played well, they still needed a little help on the other side of the football and the Patriots defense put together an incredible performance against a tough football team.

While this group will likely be criticized for the 24 fourth-quarter points they allowed, you have to give them credit for the fact they held down an explosive Chiefs team that struggled to sustain drives against them.

They shut them out in the first half and did a great job of getting pressure on Patrick Mahomes, harassing him for most of the night and made two big third-down sacks in the first half, one of which took away points. After a 42-yard play to Tyreek Hill got the Chiefs down to the Patriots 23-yard line, Trey Flowers made a huge sack on Mahomes as he tried to scramble away, which saw him lose 14-yards on the play. It was a key play by Flowers as it knocked the Chiefs out of field goal range and forced them to have to punt away the football. The Patriots then ended up putting together a touchdown drive on their ensuing possession that put them up 14-0.

Plays like that are the equivalent of a turnover and you have to give them credit for holding the Chiefs in check the way they did in front of their home crowd. Granted, Kansas City obviously had their moments, but luckily the Patriots ended up with more of them after knocking off the AFC’s top seed.

Gronkowski played well during the Patriots win.

4) Great to see Gronk doing Gronk-Like things – Like Edelman, Rob Gronkowski’s night wasn’t perfect but he was absolutely huge both in the passing game and in the running game.

The veteran tight end was quietly one of the big contributors to Sony Michel’s night running the football, making several key blocks in this game while also managing to make some key contributions catching the ball when it mattered most.

Gronkowski finished the evening with 6 receptions for 79-yards, his last of which came in overtime on a key 3rd-and-10 that went for 15-yards. That reception put them down to the Chiefs 15-yard line and helped set up Burkhead’s game-winning 2-yard touchdown run.

He was solid in this game, albeit a little lucky. He had a third down sequence that could have ended up significantly differently, which came with a minute left to play in the game.

Trailing 28-24, Brady threw a pass to Gronkowski to the right flat that went through the tight end’s hands and was picked off by Chiefs defensive back Charvarius Ward for what appeared to be a game-ending interception. However, Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford negated the play after he jumped offsides prior to the snap, taking away the the turnover. Gronkowski would catch a 25-yard pass on the next play, setting up New England’s go-ahead score thanks to a 4-yard touchdown run by Burkhead, putting them up 31-28 with 0:39 left to play in regulation.

Gronkowski appeared happy and relieved when this one was over and it was good to see him have such a terrific showing after what’s clearly been a difficult year for him. While he certainly doesn’t appear to be 100%, he’s been solid enough where the Patriots should like their chances if he can pull together one last big effort against the Rams.

Michel was outstanding Sunday night.

5) Michel was huge, again – For those people out there still resentful of the fact the Patriots spent a first-round pick on Michel, it’s hard not to appreciate the fact that the team wouldn’t be in this position without him.

Michel came up with another 100-yard rushing performance, totaling 113-yards on 29 carries along with two touchdowns, including a huge one on 4th down in the fourth-quarter. On the play, Michel broke away on a 4th-and-1 from the Chiefs’ 10-yard line, scampering into the end zone after he slipped past the defense.

That touchdown play was a critical moment, as it not only allowed the Patriots to re-take the lead, but they also took back the momentum after the Chiefs had scored the go-ahead touchdown on their previous possession following Brady’s interception.

On a night where the weather and the elements certainly played a factor, Michel’s performance wore down the Chiefs defense and allowed the Patriots to dominate the time-of-possession battle after New England held the ball for over 40 minutes, keeping the ball out of Mahomes hands and limiting what damage Kansas City was able to do offensively.

Without Michel, it’s hard to believe that the Patriots would have been able to have been as effective as they were and at this point, he’s more than held up his end of the deal as a first-round pick. Given that not everyone drafted in the first round is a guarantee in terms of their contributions, Michel has definitely given them a championship-caliber effort with the way he’s run the football.

For a team that seemed to be in tough shape earlier in the year offensively, thanks to Michel, this group appears to have finally figured out how to put it all together at just the right time. With the Rams up next, Michel could, again, be the difference in a game that will likely be another tough battle when they take the field again in two weeks.

McGinest: Frigid Playoff Game Against Titans Sent Players to the Hospital

Ian Logue
January 15, 2019 at 9:03 pm ET

With a severe cold front coming into Kansas City this weekend, there’s likely to be a fair amount of talk this week about the conditions being tough when the Patriots battle the Chiefs Sunday night.

The Patriots are no stranger to playing in the freezing cold in big games, with the AFC Divisional match-up against the Titans back during the 2003/04 playoff run being one of the most memorable.

That game was rough. Game time conditions at kickoff saw the temperature at a frigid 4-degrees, with the wind chill putting things at -10. But the Patriots managed to come away with a 17-14 win to advance to the AFC Championship Game, which ultimately led to their second Super Bowl championship in three years.

Former Patriots defensive end Willie McGinest, now an analyst for NFL Network, joined WEEI’s Dale and Keefe Tuesday and talked about that night and pointed out that a couple of teammates actually even had to make a trip to the hospital after it was over.

“It was brutal, man, it was cold,” said McGinest. “Of course the ground was a little different then. It had frozen and we didn’t have the heaters and things of that sort under the field at that time. Technology has changed a little bit more, but it was cold.”

“When you’re a receiver or somebody, you’re trying to catch a pass, or when you’re hitting people – which I was on defense so it was great for me – people were taking hits. We had a couple of guys that had to go to the hospital after the game because they had frostbite on their hands.”

“It was cold, man, but it was a good cold game for us because we were victorious.”

McGinest said that players who tend to be more affected by weather like that are the skilled players, with receivers and running backs generally the ones who have the tougher time in those conditions.

“I think so. I mean, I really think so,” said McGinest when asked about it. “Running backs as well because if it’s that cold, the ball gets a little numb in your hands and people swipe at it and hit you. And when you’re putting your helmet across the football. “

“Receivers, when you’re trying to catch a pass and the quarterback puts a little heat on it, your fingers, that’s the toughest part, in those types of games, it’s your fingers, trying to keep your hands warm.”

We tend to see crazy things in those games, with many players even still choosing to tough it out and not wear sleeves, despite the dangers that come with playing in the frigid elements. Former Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan once discussed what he thought of teammates who opted to go that route and said it never made any sense to him.

“Actually I’ve never figured out why anyone would want to do that,” said Grogan in a Grogan’s Grade edition back in 2013. “I recall back to my days when the linemen would do that on really bitterly cold days, and then they’d get in the shower afterward and as their body warmed up, their bruises would start to show. You couldn’t see them.”

“It was so cold, it was forcing the blood toward the inner part of their body and then when they got in the shower and warmed up, the blood came to the surface they were bruised and battered all over the place. So I just don’t understand personally why anyone would want to play that way.”

According to, the forecast for Sunday night’s game has the evening temperature at a paltry 6-degrees, which will likely recreate a similar evening for Patriots players.

Five Things We Learned From the Patriots Win Over the Chargers

Ian Logue
January 14, 2019 at 7:55 am ET

The Patriots spent two weeks listening to the doubters and came out on Sunday and made quite the statement, annihilating the Chargers 41-28 and sending a message to the world that it’s a little too early to write them off.

Here’s a look at what we learned as the Patriots advance to the AFC Championship game next weekend:

1) The Week off Served Brady Well – After having a week of rest, Tom Brady came out and had a terrific game, missing just six passes in the first half after completing 23-of-29 (79%) for 233-yards along with a touchdown over that span against a Chargers defense that simply couldn’t stop them. The Patriots offense marched up and down the field, converting on all five trips to the red zone as the offense built a 35-7 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

He was just as sharp in the second half, missing just four attempts as he completed 11-of-15 and helped keep the football away from Philip Rivers and Los Angeles’ offense. They held the ball for nearly 9 minutes in the third quarter and almost 10 minutes in the fourth quarter, stepping on the throat and ensuring the Chargers would never have enough time to get back into the game. He also hit 8-of-12 in the red zone for 43-yards and a touchdown.

Overall, Brady finished the afternoon 34-of-44 (77%) for 343-yards and a touchdown. He said after the game that getting ahead of Los Angeles was important and the fact they were able to execute as well as they did was a big key in their victory.

“They’re a good defense and I think they do a lot of things well and I thought we just did a good job executing,” said Brady. “Again, blocking great and running the ball well and guys made some great catches, converted early on third downs. It was really important. It was good to get ahead of that team. They have a lot of good skill players, a very good offense. They battle to the end. They’re a great football team. It’s good to win.”

Brady reached a milestone in this game, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to complete 227 consecutive passes in the postseason without an interception. Drew Brees had previously held that mark with 226.

Michel was key to their win yesterday. (USA TODAY Images)

2) Michel Showed His Value – So many critics seem to be undervaluing what Sony Michel brings to the table, but with one postseason game in the books, Michel proved just how important he is to this offense after a terrific performance on Sunday.

Michel scored 3 touchdowns on the afternoon, while also becoming the first Patriots rookie to rush for 100-yards in a playoff game. He got off to a fast start, with the former Georgia standout reaching that mark by halftime on Sunday. Almost half of that came on one carry after Michel broke off a career-high 40-yard run midway through the second quarter, eclipsing his 34-yard touchdown run from back in Week 5 against the Colts.

He’s been consistent all season, routinely finding openings and multiple times on Sunday showed terrific patience against a Chargers defense that was tough up front but he still broke through. It’s been these types of performances that have kept defenses off balance and allowed Brady and the offense more success in the passing game, which certainly came into play on Sunday.

Brady praised Michel’s performance after the game, crediting him for his hard work this season and for the type of person he is.

“He’s just had a great year,” said Brady. “He’s just battled and fought hard and I really love Sony as a person and his commitment to the team. He’s just been a lot of fun to be out there with. He’s making a lot of hard yards and he had a great game today. Great to see.”

One of the biggest things that stands out is the fact that the Patriots found themselves repeatedly in manageable third-down situations, largely because of Michel’s success on early downs that allowed them to convert 5-of-6 of their 3rd downs in the first half. 17 of his 24 carries all came on first down, helping the Patriots face just four third downs of 7-yards or more all afternoon.

Michel’s three touchdowns also highlighted a good day for the offense in the red zone, with his three touchdowns being key in allowing the Patriots to take control of the game and take the Chargers out of this one before they ever got started. Michel credited the effort by the guys up front, who worked hard and played a key role in his success.

“That’s one aspect of the game that we kind of focus on, red zone – very important,” Michel told reporters after the game. “We want to score when we get down there and I think we did a decent job. Guys executed, took pride in their jobs and we went out there and did our best.”

Edelman finds himself among the NFL’s elite after Sunday’s performance.

3) Edelman Comes Up Big – This is the time of year where you need your best players to step up and Julian Edelman did just that on Sunday against the Chargers.

The veteran receiver had a huge outing, finishing the afternoon catching 9 passes for 151 yards, averaging an impressive 16.8 yards per reception. Seven of his 9 receptions went for 11+ yards, including two of 20+.

That performance put him among the NFL’s elite, with the wideout now trailing just Jerry Rice all-time in playoff receptions. That’s pretty impressive for a former 7th round draft pick who has certainly come a long way over the course of his career.

“It’s pretty cool,’ said Edelman when asked about that accomplishment after the game. “I grew up in the Bay Area. I grew up close to that family and he’s the [Greatest of All-Time]. Anytime you’re in the same sentence with him, you pinch yourself. It’s pretty cool but it doesn’t mean anything unless you win, though.”

Edelman, who missed last season after suffering a season-ending knee injury in preseason, showed on Sunday that he remains the X-factor when it comes to how far this team will go. Brady praised Edelman’s performance after the game and admitted they’ll need more of the same next weekend.

“Yeah, he’s such a great player and just a great teammate, competitor and had a great game today,” said He came up big. We needed it and we’ll need it next week too.”

White was outstanding Sunday.

4) Record Afternoon for White – Another player who made history on Sunday was running back James White, who finished the Patriots’ win over the Chargers with 15 receptions on 17 targets for 97-yards.

His performance was big as it put him all alone in postseason history with at least 12 receptions in multiple games, with his most memorable one coming during the team’s historic come-from-behind win in Super Bowl LI.  Even Jerry Rice never accomplished that feat, nor did Rice ever catch 12 balls in one game during the playoffs.

Five of those catches came on New England’s opening drive, which helped set up Michel’s first touchdown of the afternoon. That was big as it helped jumpstart the offense, which allowed the Patriots to get the early momentum against a Chargers team that couldn’t quite seem to corral him.

White did most of the dirty work for the offense in the passing game, with 11 of his 15 receptions coming on first and second down, helping to mix things up with Michel and keeping Kansas City off balance. It was a game plan that worked well and White credited offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the guys around him for what ended up being a productive afternoon.

“Each week is different,” said White. “We attack each defense a different way. Coach [Josh] McDaniels does a great job of designing good game plans. The offensive line has been doing a great job for us all year long. Them, James Develin, Rob [Gronkowski], Dwayne [Allen], receivers – they’ve been opening up that running game for us. Sony [Michel] did a great job running, Rex [Burkhead] too. We just have a great offense and guys don’t care who gets the credit.”

Trey Flowers and the defense made Philip Rivers miserable Sunday.

5) Defense Made Rivers Miserable – As good as the offense was, it’s hard not to appreciate how well New England played defensively and how miserable they made Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

They harassed him all afternoon, with Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn putting pressure on him for most of the contest. They each finished with a sack against him, and also combined for 5 of the 7 quarterback hits the defense finished with.

With Rivers under duress, the secondary also did a terrific job. They finished with 8 passes defended, with Devin McCourty (2), Jason McCourty (1), Kyle Van Noy (1), J.C. Jackson (2) and Stephon Gilmore (2) each accounting for that total. Gilmore also had an interception.

Belichick said after the game he was impressed with the pass rush and was pleased with how tough they made things for Rivers and the Chargers offense.

“I thought we got good pressure on him but he still was able to step up and somehow avoid it and get the ball out,” said Belichick. “I thought our players rushed – our defense, we had a lot of guys – linebackers, d-linemen, in a couple cases DBs – but I thought we put constant pressure on him.”

“I thought he handled it well like he always does but we just kept battling. We got him a few times and he stepped up there and made some great throws under pressure. That’s what you’ve got to try and do. You’ve got to keep slugging it out with him in the pass rush and try to get the timing off a little bit. It’s hard but that’s what you’ve got to try and do.”

With Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes up next, they’ll need another effort like this next Sunday as they head into a hostile environment at Arrowhead Stadium. Most fans will likely remember what happened the last time they played there, which saw the Patriots lose 41-14 and inspired the “on to Cincinnati” press conference following the Monday Night loss.

The Patriots previously beat Mahomes and the Chiefs earlier in the year in a Sunday Night match-up at Gillette Stadium. That game went down to the end, with New England eventually coming away with a 43-40 victory. Beating a team twice in a season is never easy and Belichick knows they’ll have their work cut out for them.

“Yeah, well, they’re the number one seed in the AFC so they deserved it,” said Belichick. “They’re the best team. We’ll see how it goes. Well-coached, they have a lot of explosive players. We had a tremendous game with them here earlier. That was a long time ago. We’ll see where we are now, see where they are.”

The two teams will meet in the evening match-up at 6:40pm ET next Sunday night where it will be all on the line for a trip to Atlanta.

Brady Motivated By The Doubters Heading Into Chiefs Game

Ian Logue
January 13, 2019 at 11:46 pm ET

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might tell people he doesn’t hear the pundits who criticize both himself and the team, but he seemed to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder despite coming away with a huge win over the Chargers on Sunday.

The veteran quarterback did an interview after the game with CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson and admitted that he knows that few people had any faith in their chances this season and he’s looking forward to trying to see if he can’t prove them wrong.

“It will be a good game, they’re a good team,” said Brady, who finished Sunday’s game with 343-yards passing along with a touchdown during their 41-28 AFC Divisional win over the Chargers Sunday. “We played them earlier this year and I know, everyone thinks we suck and can’t win any games, so, we’ll see. It’ll be fun.”

There’s nothing more dangerous than a player with something to prove. With many in the media likely set to write stories this week about a potential changing of the guard while focusing on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, we’ll see if Brady will be able to remind the world he’s not quite done yet when he and the Patriots travel to Kansas City next weekend.