Tag Archives: Brandon Bolden

New England Patriots Training Camp Primer – Running Backs

Steve Balestrieri
June 25, 2018 at 8:30 am ET

 

Different Look, Better Production?

The Patriots head into training camp in just a few weeks and there should no shortage of competition at several spots, especially at the back end of the roster. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we’ll break down the positions and give our take on who is a lock, a near lock for the 53-man roster and who is on the bubble. Next up are the running backs.

The running back position will look very different in 2018. Dion Lewis is gone, He got a nice deal in free agency and will be in Tennessee this year. The team got back Rex Burkhead, James White returns but the big news is that the team invested a first-round draft pick to select Sony Michel (31st Overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The team is deep, talented and have four good players battling for two roster spots.

So… who’s locked in and who’s on the bubble?

Roster Locks: Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, James Develin

The Patriots did the very unPatriot-like decision to draft a running back in the first round under Bill Belichick.  But the selection of Sony Michel proves to be a very intriguing choice. He split the carries at Georgia with Nick Chubb, so playing in a New England backfield by committee won’t be a big exercise in adapting to the way the Patriots play.

But what stands out about Michel is that he’s a big-time playmaker and should be able to step in and contribute in both the running and passing games right away. He’s a different type of player than Lewis but the chiseled 5’11, 215-pound back has a boatload of potential.

Sony Michel after practice. (SBalestrieri photo)

Burkhead had a very good season in 2017 but appeared in only 10 games due to injuries. He’s back and can contribute in the running game, the passing game and on special teams. He’s a guy who will get about 500-600 combined yards rushing and receiving while being a solid contributor.

James Develin was just resigned to a two-year extension worth about $3.8 million with a $600,000 signing bonus. Develin played in about 30 percent of the Patriots offensive snaps a year ago and his value lies in his blocking. Rewatch the AFC Championship Game and look at the hole Develin blew open for Dion Lewis in the 4th quarter. That kind of smash-mouth football is invaluable in the running game.  

Near Roster Locks: James White

White remains the Patriots go-to third-down running back, especially in the passing game. In 2017, White only had 43 carries but caught 56 passes for 429 yards with 3 touchdowns. His Super Bowl performance against the Falcons shows how hot he can get when getting the favored matchups (6 carries 29 yards 2 TDs, 14 catches 110 yards 1 TD and a 2PT conversion).

 

James White hauls in a pass during practice. (SBalestrieri photo)

On the Bubble: Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee, Brandon Bolden

The Patriots invested in Gillislee last year and he ran okay but his lack of production in the passing game made him predictable while on the field and he was a healthy scratch in seven games.

Jeremy Hill was brought in because a change of scenery seemed like was needed for the veteran. He was an extremely productive running back in his first three seasons in the league, tallying up 27 TDs and 2700 yards rushing. But he fell out of favor in Cincinnati and is trying to restart his career here.

The Patriots could use a big physical back to churn up short yardage and be the closer in games. Could he be that guy? Possibly, but he’ll have to have a good summer and show that he still has some tread left on the tires.

Every year it seems, everyone has Brandon Bolden getting cut and every year, he’s back on the team and contributes a tremendous amount on Special Teams where he is a force out there. As a running back, he is a .260 hitter, he can run a bit and catch the odd pass here or there but is an excellent pass blocker. He will be either the 53rd player on the roster or the last guy cut.

Outside Looking in…. Longshots: Ralph Webb

The Patriots signed undrafted free agent Ralph Webb out of Vanderbilt. Webb is a straight-ahead power back with a lack of speed but with excellent vision to see where openings are. Webb is a lunch pail guy who is extremely durable, tough and consistent.

He’s not the biggest guy or the fastest but won’t be outworked. He was productive with 23 touchdowns the past two seasons. With a good summer, Webb could be looking at a practice squad slot and a chance to carve out a role for himself in the case of an injury in 2018 or in 2019.  

He reminds one of a slightly smaller BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He won’t make a lot of people miss but his feet never stop and you’ll get 100 percent on every snap.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots News 2-25, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
February 25, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 2-25, & AFC East Notes

During our weekly PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th and 2” this week, we took one last look at the curious benching of Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. The reaction to that, as one would imagine was decidedly mixed. Some listeners took our host Russ Goldman to task for, lack of a better term, beating a dead horse.

We probably never will get the entire story, and as different players speak it gets more confusing. Devin McCourty said, the players knew all week that he wouldn’t start, but not play at all? And then Alan Branch reiterated that none of the players knew Butler was going to be benched. Anyway, thanks as always for the feedback, We’re on the NFL Combine.

Good Move By the Patriots to Bring Back Bolden:
One of our favorite guys to hear during the season is Brandon Bolden. While Bolden isn’t even close to being a starter on offense, he is and always has been an outstanding STs contributor as well as the occasional contributor with the offense, albeit with the games well in hand. But it doesn’t matter.

Brandon Bolden after practice in Foxboro in 2017. (SBalestrieri photo)

We sometimes forget these players are people too and Bolden is one of the outstanding ones. Always upbeat and positive, he’s a great, funny interview, as he had the media laughing last training camp in the rain when discussing his new baby girl.

Bolden got paid a very modest $800,000 with $170,000 in guarantees. Nonsensical reporting by foolish hot take artists aside, it was money well-spent. Bolden is a great locker room guy and a core ST’s player. And we’re glad to hear he’s coming back.

Second-Year Development By Hollister Could be Key For 2018:
There is a lot of uncertainty with the Patriots tight end position heading into 2018. Rob Gronkowski is contemplating retirement and heading off into the sunset with the WWE. Martellus Bennett was also considering retirement but now has said he’d like to return for the 2018 season. And last season’s primary backup, Dwayne Allen is slated to return but for the tidy sum of $5,000,000 in 2018.

The team wants Gronkowski back but will have to make decisions on both Bennett and Allen where the cap figures will no doubt play a key factor in whether or not they return. The team has Will Tye on the practice squad, but an under-the-radar player is TE Jacob Hollister.

Hollister made the team out of camp from Wyoming and although he played sparingly, he turned some heads in his limited body of work with the ability to attack the seams and hold onto the ball while taking some big hits.

The 6’4, 240-pound Hollister, caught five passes last year, four in the regular season and one in the playoffs and is more of a Move-TE and not the traditional end of the line tight end. His blocking will have to improve next season. But with a full year under his belt in the system and learning from the best with Gronkowski, he could see an uptick in snaps and production this season. He’s one of the guys we’ll be keeping an eye on this spring.

TE Jacob Hollister could be an under-the-radar guy in the team’s plans in 2018. (SBalestrieri photo)

Harris Retirement, Not Unexpected But Frees Up Another Slot At LB:
We saw that David Harris announced his retirement after 11 NFL season today (Friday) and it isn’t unexpected. Harris had lost a step and played very little over the course of the season and into the playoffs and the Patriots were expected to cut their ties to him before the March 1st deadline. His retirement saves the team about $1.65 million in salary cap space.

With James Harrison and Marquis Flowers free agents this spring it leaves the team (for now) with only three linebackers who were on the roster at the end of the year. Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and special teamer Nicholas Grisby. Dont’a Hightower and Shea McClellin, and top draft choice Derek Rivers ended the year on IR and Harvey Langi was placed on NFI due to a car accident.

We made our case for possibly pursuing Eagles free agent Nigel Bradham this spring. While not the outside linebacker that everyone is clamoring for, it would solidify the middle and allow those returning players and Van Noy to move between the OLB/DE spot on the edge.

Although he played a much smaller role on the field than envisioned, the Patriots praised his veteran presence and savvy and he was valuable in giving advice to the younger players on the roster. One of them, Van Noy, took to Twitter when Harris announced his retirement, calling for the Jets to put him in the Ring of Honor.

Will the Patriots to Pick Up 5th Year of Brown Contract?
Mike Reiss of ESPN wrote an interesting piece on former 1st round draft pick Malcom Brown this week on the benefits for the team to pick up the fifth-year option for Brown, which for the first-round draft picks in the collective bargaining agreement is allowed. If the Patriots decide to do that, which would put Brown under their control for the next two years, it would also be fully guaranteed due to injury.

For Brown, who is due $1.472 million dollars in 2018 it wouldn’t be a long-term deal but would certainly be a nice payday increase. In selecting the fifth-year option, the Pats would have to pay him (32nd overall pick in 2015), an average of the 3rd through 25th highest salaries at the position. That would play out to around $7 million. It would be a nice raise for the player and guaranteed to keep Brown on the roster thru 2019.

Bennett Wants to Play in 2018 After All:
When Martellus Bennett was being released by the Packers, he stated he was probably going to have surgery on his ailing shoulder and then retire. But after coming back to the Patriots he seemed to have changed his tune. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that :

Despite publicly contemplating retirement last season, #Patriots TE Martellus Bennett does want to continue playing, I’m told. He’s due a $2M roster bonus on March 14, so New England has a decision… but his $6.2M cap hit isn’t bad.”

While the team may opt for Bennett to return in 2018, it probably will not be for the $6.2 million dollar cap hit that the team didn’t want to pay in 2017. He’s due a $2 million dollar roster bonus on March 14. If the team decides to cut him, they’d save $5.7 million from the salary cap.

The Patriots are going to probably push Rob Gronkowski for a decision during this time frame as their decision on Bennett may ultimately ride on whether Gronk decides to retire or return. Stay tuned.

TE Martellus Bennett hauls a Brady pass in. (SBalestrieri photo)

Patriots Receive 4th Round Compensatory Pick in the NFL Draft:
The NFL released the compensatory picks for the 2018 NFL Draft this season and the Patriots added a pick in the 4th round (#136). For the first time this season, compensatory picks are allowed to be traded.

The Patriots losses in free agency (Logan Ryan, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Jabaal Sheard, and Barkevious Mingo) were offset by the free agent signings (Stephon Gilmore, Rex Burkhead, and Lawrence Guy) and they ended up with the 4th round selection this year.

With the added selection, it brings their total draft picks to just six this season.
#31 (round 1)
#41 or 43 (round 2) depending on the coin flip
#63 (round 2)
#95 (round 3)
#136 (round 4)
#205 (round 6)

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Incognito Threatened By Former Teammate Martin:
Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito was threatened in a bizarre Instagram post by former Dolphins’ 2nd round draft pick Jonathan Martin along with Miami center Maurkice Pouncey as well as Martin’s high school.

His Instagram account posted a picture of a shotgun and shell casings spread around with words that read: “when you’re a bully victim and a coward, your options are suicide or revenge.” Superimposed were the Twitter addresses of Pouncey, Incognito, and the High School.

Pouncey and Incognito were accused by Martin of bullying him while a member of the Dolphins. Incognito sat out the 2014 season for it but then signed with Buffalo in 2015 and has since moved on successfully.

Shortly after the message was posted, the police were called to Martin’s home and took him for questioning. The high school in question was closed for the day on Friday over the incident. ESPN Sports Center reported early on Saturday morning that Martin was being held in a mental health facility undergoing an evaluation.

Dolphins Tag Landry, and Have Davis Back for a Visit:
The Miami Dolphins have designated wide receiver Jarvis Landry with their non-exclusive franchise tag which means, for the time being, he remains a Dolphin while they try to either work out a long-term deal or trade him.

The current salary for wide receivers getting the franchise tag this offseason is expected to be around $16.2 million, which is a nice raise for Landry, who made $894,000 last season. Because it is non-exclusive, Landry is free to sign an offer sheet with another team where the Dolphins have the right to match. That is now nearly moot. If the Dolphins refused to match, the other team would owe Miami two 1st round draft picks.

The Dolphins also had former 1st round draft pick Vontae Davis in for a free agent visit on Friday. Davis was drafted in 2009 before being traded in 2012. And he’s at least open to returning to the Dolphins if they can agree to a salary cap number that isn’t too exorbitant

Jets Expected to Release Wilkerson Before Deal Becomes Finalized:
The New York Jets once formidable run defense took a big step backward in 2017. They allowed the most yards rushing, 1887, on the ground since 2012. Their yards after contact allowed (951) was 29th in the league.

Part of the reason was the play and tackling of the defensive line. One of those players Muhammad Wilkerson is expected to be released when the league season opens in March. Wilkerson is due $16.8 million in salary on March 16 when it becomes fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster. They will save $11 million in cap room if they release him.

They could save $17 million by designating him a post-June 1st cut but then they’d have to carry his almost $20 million in cap charges. Kony Ealy is also a free agent although he’s expected back with the Jets next season.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots Re-Sign Brandon Bolden To One-Year Contract

Robert Alvarez
February 24, 2018 at 8:56 pm ET

Brandon Bolden is returning to the New England Patriots for a seventh season.

In news first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates on Saturday , Bolden signed a one-year contract extension for $880,000.

Bolden, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012, has spent most of the last two seasons on special teams after coming into the league as a running back. This past season, Bolden was with the kickoff coverage, kickoff return, punt coverage and punt return units, recording eight special teams tackles.

From 2012-2015, Bolden had over 200 carries with six touchdowns. In 2017, Bolden recorded just 13 carries for 67 yards but did score a touchdown during the Patriots AFC Divisional round victory over the Tennessee Titans.

In August 2017, head coach Bill Belichick spoke highly of Bolden’s contributions to the franchise over the years;

“Brandon’s played for us on all three downs. He’s played on early downs, he’s played in sub situations. He’s a smart player, has a good set of skills, He can run, he can catch, he can pass protect. He’s given us a lot of production and leadership in the kicking game.”

“He does a good job in the room – whether it be in the running back room or the special teams room – of being prepared, helping out the younger guys,” Belichick continued. “He’s a good communicator, so things on the punt team, punt return where things can happen pretty fast and you need to make some adjustments – he’s good with that. Very good in blitz pickup, and in his understanding of the passing game. He’s a four-down player – three-down offensive player with versatility in the kicking game and all different phases.”

With Bolden back in the fold for 2018, he adds depth to a thin running back group with James White, as Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead enter free agency.

Best Of Social Media: The New England Patriots Celebrate Valentines Day

Robert Alvarez
February 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm ET

As the 2018 offseason gets underway, members of the New England Patriots took time to share some heartfelt Valentines Day social media posts with their loved ones.

For the immediate future, many of the Patriots will now take some time away from the rigors of a football season and you can check out some of their getaway vacation locations below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfLy9NfBydF/?taken-by=tombrady

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfLrFBkHsTr/?taken-by=lindaholliday_

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfLjIRZBEa9/?hl=en&taken-by=edelman11

Tonight. My valentine ❤️

A post shared by Olivia Culpo (@oliviaculpo) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfMai9ThMAU/?hl=en&taken-by=mccourtytwins

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfNERvklAQ-/?taken-by=laadrianwaddle

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfMYHkMA9Cg/

Best Of Social Media: AFC Championship Jaguars vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
January 24, 2018 at 8:36 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered their seventh consecutive AFC Championship game against the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars seeking to advance to their third Super Bowl in four years.

The Jaguars, who won just three games the year before, were riding high with optimism heading into Gillette Stadium after their upset road win in Pittsburgh a week earlier.

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

⏳⌛️#itstime #letsgooooo

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

This was last year…..#gopats #patriots #patsnation

A post shared by Robert Ninkovich (@nink50) on

 

In the first quarter, it was the defenses that stepped up early, as the only scoring game from a Stephen Gostkowski field goal to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead.

In the second quarter, and for the second week in a row, the visitors found the end zone first against the Patriots, as Blake Bortles found longtime tight end Marcedes Lewis for a 7-3 lead.

https://twitter.com/BigCatCountry/status/955178673476374529

The Jaguars weren’t done, as the Patriots offense struggled to find a rhythm against a tough defense, Bortles and his offense weren’t afraid as the underdogs and opened up a stunning 14-3 lead following a Leonard Fournette four yard run up the middle at the seven minute mark in the second.

Needing an answer before halftime, Tom Brady continued his mastery of the two minute drill this season as James White tallied another postseason touchdown to cut the deficit to four heading into the half.

To open up the second half, the Patriots defense stiffened, but Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo continued his career year and nailed a 54 yard field goal to push the lead back up to 17-10.

https://twitter.com/tengland150/status/955196828814802944

After three quarters the Jaguars maintained their lead at 17-10.

Early in the fourth quarter, Lambo tacked on another lengthy field goal from 43 yards to open up a 10 point lead in Foxboro.

The Patriots found themselves needing to make plays soon and often, and quarterback Tom Brady looked to the direction of wide receiver Danny Amendola to get them back into this game.

He didn’t disappoint, even on a crucial third and 18.

After the big third down conversion, another AFC Championship game flea flicker made an appearance, Brady to Phillip Dorsett.

The big pass setup an Amendola touchdown, and the Patriots were back within four.

The Patriots defense would make some clutch stops of the Jaguars offense, providing Tom Brady with enough time to complete yet another playoff game comeback, with Danny Amendola again providing the big touchdowns. 24-20 Patriots.

https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/955212917720326144

The Jaguars took over for the final drive, and on a fourth and long, cornerback Stephon Gillmore thwarted any chance of a response with a big pass breakup to turn the ball over on downs. The Patriots, who trailed by 10 early in the fourth quarter, would hold on for the 24-20 victory and win their second consecutive AFC title.

#superbowlcuts

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Call it a comeback. #NotDone

A post shared by New England Patriots (@patriots) on

https://twitter.com/LawyerMilloy/status/955219040099647488

https://www.instagram.com/p/BePEQdoBXyh/?taken-by=tombrady

“We’re going to the Super Bbbboooowwwlllllllll!!!!!!!” #patriotnation

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

@tombrady really is the storm.

A post shared by New England Patriots (@patriots) on

sly I thought we had an understanding here… #gopats

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeP2qn_neBc/?taken-by=lindaholliday_

AFC CHAMPIONSHIPS #OneMore

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeUAJTcFCw5/?taken-by=iii_flowers

https://twitter.com/wilfork75/status/955214879069175810

AFC CHAMPS…Nuggy was turned up at the house LOL-Dmac

A post shared by Jason+Devin McCourty (@mccourtytwins) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeO4vlFhbuY/?hl=en&taken-by=bumpnrungilmore

https://www.instagram.com/p/BePKRJiAMd0/?taken-by=thearcher14

Back to back!! My baby/My rider/My love! We coming for it all….. #notdone

A post shared by Kyle Van Noy (@realkylevannoy) on

#afcchampions

A post shared by James White (@sweetfeet) on

Super bowl bound

A post shared by Lawrence Guy (@thatlguy) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeQkLREAC4_/?hl=en&taken-by=bbhulksmash

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeO1nIjAjbP/?hl=en&taken-by=jhharrison92

https://twitter.com/JoeGiza/status/955656110689673216

https://twitter.com/TheRealVRVJ/status/955237219333111808

https://twitter.com/Jason72King/status/955234268858535940

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeOzayLH8mw/?hl=en&taken-by=williemcginest

Best Of Social Media: AFC Divisional Playoffs Titans vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
January 14, 2018 at 10:56 pm ET

The Patriots entered the 2017 Divisional Playoffs as heavy favorites over the upstart Tennessee Titans, but were seeking to advance to their seventh consecutive AFC championship game.

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

See you tonight #PATSNATION #NOTDONE #LETSGOO #UNDRAFTED @todaysathletes

A post shared by Chris Hogan (@chrishogan_15) on

(Check out the follow up to this Tweet with a story by WBZ-TV HERE)

https://twitter.com/dtheis10/status/952353651946860544

In the first quarter, it was the Titans who drew first blood, as Marcus Mariota found an unlikely target for his first touchdown, rookie Corey Davis who got his first career NFL touchdown reception in the most important of games. An incredible one handed highlight grab to stun the Foxboro faithful early on.

Seeking a response after struggling to find a rhythm in the first quarter, the Patriots opened the second with a long drive that resulted in the game tying score on a quick catch and run by James White.

Two drives later, same guy, same result. The Patriots would jump ahead 14-7 for their first lead of the game, they would not relinquish it.

Chris Hogan, who battled injuries throughout 2017 that resulted in him missing seven of the final eight regular season games, only caught one pass in this game, but made it count. 21-7 Patriots heading into halftime.

In the second half, with running back depth thin due to the absence of Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, Brandon Bolden saw surprise action against the Titans, and scored his first touchdown since 2015. 28-7 Patriots.

The Patriots opened up a 28-7 lead after three quarters and the rout was on.

Seeking to put the finishing touches on yet another divisional round victory, Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski, and of course, a Gronk spike ensued.

The Patriots defense played a big role in keeping the Titans offense out of the end zone, allowing just two touchdowns all game, the second coming in garbage time when Mariota found Corey Davis again to bring the final score to 35-14.

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bd7pBG4BGZl/?taken-by=tombrady

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bd7-vhnnnUD/?hl=en&taken-by=gronk

Wrong place at the wrong time #notdone #ICameToFlex #duh #ItsNotRocketScience

A post shared by Dion Lewis (@d_lew33) on

Still going..

A post shared by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on

Those my dawgs fasho! #NotDone

A post shared by James White (@sweetfeet) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bd67C-WFEu6/?taken-by=deatrich

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bd6zchKB25s/?hl=en

Best Of Social Media: Week 15 Patriots vs Steelers

Robert Alvarez
December 20, 2017 at 8:49 pm ET

Entering Sunday’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the rivals squared off with the winner seeking the AFC’s number one seed and home field advantage for the playoffs with three games to go in the season. Tom Brady came into the game seeking to continue his dominance over the Steel City sporting a 7-2 regular season record.

gameday #LetsGooooo

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc0BGcUAh19/?hl=en&taken-by=bbhulksmash

In the first quarter, the Patriots struck first, with Brandin Cooks immediately rebounding from last weeks struggles as he hauled in a 43 yard deep ball from Tom Brady which help setup the games first touchdown. Running back Rex Burkhead would bang it in from the goal line for an early 7-0 lead.

https://twitter.com/patriots/status/942512190262669312

The Steelers dynamic offense wasted no time and quickly responded to tie the game at 7 when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found Eli Rogers on this 18 yard touchdown strike.

In the second quarter, both teams traded field goals to knot the score at 10, but Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski provided some highlights leading to the scores.

https://twitter.com/steelers/status/942515740527116288

With the clock winding down on the first half, the Steelers found the end zone for a second time when Roethlisberger found Bryant and the Patriots headed to the locker room trailing, but only by 7 at 17-10.

https://twitter.com/steelers/status/942524754916884480

The Patriots got the ball to open the second half, and in what would be a recurrence all night long, Gronkowski continued to haul in big yardage.

The reception would lead to Brady’s first touchdown pass of the game, but a Stephen Gostkowski extra point was missed, and the Patriots had to settle trailing by one at 17-16.

Like in the first quarter, the Steelers again responded as another member of the “Killer B’s” found the end zone when Le’veon Bell ran the ball in from the three, 24-16 Steelers after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, the Patriots defense began to tighten up for the first time all game despite third down struggles, and Tom Brady drove the Patriots into field goal range for Gostkowski to cut the deficit to five at 24-19.

With two minutes to go in the game, the Patriots were given one more opportunity to retake the  lead following a big third down stop. Brady and Gronkowski went to work.

https://twitter.com/zeus30hightower/status/942547720677543937

Courtesy of three big receptions for 69 yards, Gronkowski helped setup the go ahead score, an eight yard run by the former Pitt Panther Dion Lewis. 27-24 Patriots.

https://twitter.com/kvn_03/status/942550304314273793

The clock had just under a minute for Big Ben to try and rally, and his rookie wideout Juju Smith-Schuster provided instant life on an incredible 69 yard catch and run.

The play setup what appeared to be tight end Jesse James game winning touchdown, but the play was reviewed and ruled not a catch by the officals.

Despite the controversy that ensued the Steelers still had time for another play despite no timeouts, but instead of spiking the ball to setup a game tying field goal, Roethlisberger gambled with a pass, and the result was Duron “The Closer” Harmon.

An incredible goal line stand that brought back memories of Super Bowl XLIX, and the Patriots survived and won in Pittsburgh yet again while taking over the number 1 seed in the AFC and another division title.

A 27-24 final in a thriller and just two divisional games at home remain where the Patriots control their destiny for playoff positioning.

(.gifs h/t reddit and u/timnog)

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc5hur8hqDs/?taken-by=tombrady

https://twitter.com/barstooluofm/status/942566836931096576

https://twitter.com/danielrainge/status/942772339439226880

https://twitter.com/rayclayborn26/status/942550340095889408

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc01iBtAzMr/?taken-by=thearcher14

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc2agyWAT86/?taken-by=thearcher14

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc2OQTbnPpL/?taken-by=lindaholliday_

HAT AND T-SHIRTS!!!

A post shared by Jason+Devin McCourty (@mccourtytwins) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc07FUPhY8A/?taken-by=sweetfeet

Great team win tonight !!!!!!! #AFCEastChamps #DLine #GoPats

A post shared by KingWise (@deatrich) on

https://twitter.com/hollister_jacob/status/942574882545721344

AFC East champs! #patriots #bigboys #myguys #LFG

A post shared by LaAdrian Waddle (@laadrianwaddle) on

Best Of Social Media: Week 13 Patriots vs Bills

Robert Alvarez
December 7, 2017 at 10:44 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered their week 13 matchup with the Buffalo Bills seeking to get one step closer to locking up yet another AFC East division title and would continue a stretch of five divisional games in six weeks to round out the 2017 regular season.

let’s go boys #gameday

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcPnr_EAYdT/?hl=en&taken-by=bbhulksmash

In the first quarter it appeared the Bills would draw first, until a former teammate just recently released from their practice squad, came back to haunt his former team. New England, meet your new defensive end Eric Lee.

A red zone interception by Lee thwarted early Bills points.

Getting the ball back and an early momentum shift, it appeared the Patriots would make the Bills pay for their costly interception, but Tom Brady missed his recievers on third down and were forced to settle with an early field goal.

CBS cameras would catch Brady in a heated argument with offesnive coordinator Josh McDaniels over the missed connections downfield.

3-0 Patriots after a quarter.

Althought the Patriots still struggled to find a rhythm in the end zone, Eric Lee continued to punish his former team on defense.

In the second quarter, the Patriots running game stepped up, with Dion Lewis tallying the teams longest running play of the season.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcTCjKlgf8Y/?taken-by=d_lew33

Unfortunately the Patriots again would comeup short in the red zone and have to settle for a second field goal. 6-0 Patriots at the 6:20 mark of the second quarter.

The Bills would finally get on the board with a Stephen Hauscka field goal to cut the lead in half to 6-3 but the Patriots running game continued to shine, this time with Rex Burkhead.

The career long 31 yard run by Burkhead would setup a third Gostkowski field goal and the Patriots would go into the half surprisingly only up six with no touchdowns.

In the second half, the trio of Lewis and Burkhead continued their big day, and would finally setup the first touchdown of the game. Burkhead would find the end zone and a 16-3 Patriots lead.

Despite the lack of touchdowns, Buffalo native Rob Gronkowski also had a big day on the stat sheet,  nine receptions for 147 yards, including this ridiculous catch.

Unfortunately a short time later, it would all be overshadowed by an uncharacteristic dirty play by Gronkowski after losing his cool about being held with no flag.

Gronkowski dove onto Bills cornerback Tre’davious White well after a play was over that resulted in a Bills interception. Gronk earned a one game suspension as a result and heavy criticism from around the league.

 

Rex Burkhead continued his strong game with his second touchdown of the quarter, and the Patriots all but put away the Bills with a 23-3 lead that would stand as the final score.

The Patriots would earn their tenth win of 2017 and eighth in a row.

#tbtimes

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Great team win in Buffalo and @nfl weekend for #mycausemycleats @teamjackfoundation

A post shared by Rex Burkhead (@rbrex2022) on

Best Of Social Media: Week 8 Chargers vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
October 31, 2017 at 6:39 pm ET

Heading into Week 8’s matchup with the San Diego Chargers, quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots were seeking a fourth straight win before heading into their bye week.

Rise and shine…. #LETSGO

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Things got off to a rough start in the midway through the first quarter, as Chargers running back Melvin Gordon ran for the longest touchdown score ever allowed by a Bill Belichick defense.

Needing a response, the Patriots orchestrated a season high 14 play drive that culminated in a Rob Gronkowski Gronk spike to even the score at 7 early in the second.

https://twitter.com/giseleofficial/status/924691073984802816

Then the Travis Benjamin and the Chargers provided one of the worst special teams errors of recent memory, gifting the Patriots an additional two points on a safety.

In what would be an unfortunate theme for the the remainder of the football game, the Patriots struggled mightily in the red zone, and could only muster two field goals before halftime. They would head to the locker room up 15-7 but the Patriots running backs did provide a few highlights throughout the remainder of the game.

With the Patriots unable to put the game away in the second half, Benjamin redeemed his safety miscue with this touchdown reception to close the gap to within five at 18-13 in the fourth quarter.

With 1:08 to play in the fourth, Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 26 yarder to put the Patriots up eight at 21-13 but Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers was unable to drive down the field to force overtime.

The Patriots would hold on a win by a final score of 21-13 to head into the bye at 6-2 and sole possession of first place in the AFC East.

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

https://twitter.com/joegiza/status/924773505195012096

lil bros! #Reminiscing #RBU

A post shared by James White (@sweetfeet) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba41wulFNR9/?hl=en&taken-by=bbhulksmash

Great weekend seeing a bunch of friends and win for the team!

A post shared by Rex Burkhead (@rbrex2022) on

Best Of Social Media: Week 7 Falcons vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
October 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm ET

In one of the most anticipated games of the 2017 season, the New England Patriots prepared to welcome in the Atlanta Falcons for a Super Bowl rematch, and while Bill Belichicks team wasn’t taking the time to think about the past, it was hard to ignore the Gillette Stadium fans reminding both teams of the epic comeback during pregame.

As shared by NESN’s Zack Cox in the tweet below, Patriots long snapper and Naval officer Joe Cardona played a role in providing 200 tickets to men and women serving in the US Armed Services so they would be able to attend the evenings game.

Two Boston College legends met on the field before the game.

https://twitter.com/rayclayborn26/status/922259668306624515

Just before kickoff, the Patriots held a special on field tribute to cancer survivors as part of the NFL’s “Crucial Catch campaign that featured Tom Brady’s mother Galynn making her return to Foxboro.

https://twitter.com/nflnetwork/status/922100486127476737

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bak5D_iFFUG/?hl=en&taken-by=gisele

As for the game itself, the Patriots offense struggled early on to find a rhythm, but the defense stepped up, as Cassius Marsh swatted away three points from the Falcons and fired up the normally “all business” Bill Belichick.

https://twitter.com/patriots/status/922268439162392576

The Patriots would strike first in the second quarter, with Brandon Cooks following the blocking of Rob Gronkowski for a 7-0 lead.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BamHQwaACv-/?taken-by=thearcher14

Midway through the second, an errie fog settled in over the Gillette Stadoum field that would provide an interesting backdrop (and internet memes) for the remainder of the game.

After a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, the Patriots were on the move again, as James White provided even more Super Bowl flashbacks with a touchdown of his own just before halftime. 17-0 Patriots going into the half.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bam0f2EBBAX/?taken-by=sweetfeet

At halftime, the Patriots honored their three Pro Football Hall of Famers with a special ceremony awarding them ”rings of excellence”.

 

In the second half, the Patriots defense continued to stymie Matt Ryan’s offense as two more field goals put the Super Bowl champs ahead 23-0 midway through the fourth.

Falcons kicker Matt Bryant also did his best Nick Folk impression.

Kyle Van Noy provided a huge tackle on fourth down to again keep the Falcons off the scoreboard.

https://twitter.com/patriots/status/922302277624328192

https://twitter.com/marissa_vannoy/status/922470703697416192

With four minutes to go in the game, the Falcons at last broke through on the scoreboard after an incredible touchdown reception by Julio Jones after he jumped above Malcolm Butler.

Give credit where credit is due…. #OnToTheChargers

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

https://twitter.com/tombradysego/status/922541728049098752

That would be all the Falcons could muster as the Patriots improved to 5-2 in 2017 following an impressive complete performance on both sides of the ball. A 23-7 victory heading into a home matchup with the San Diego Chargers next week.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaotmofhQYE/?taken-by=tombrady

https://twitter.com/snfonnbc/status/922313223994593280

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bal4aaNhlv1/?taken-by=tombrady

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaotmofhQYE/?taken-by=tombrady

Great team win. On to the Chargers #SNF #pats

A post shared by Chris Hogan (@chrishogan_15) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BanMlanlySR/?hl=en&taken-by=bbhulksmash

Give credit where credit is due…. #OnToTheChargers

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

Great team win! Still hungry for more.

A post shared by Cassius Marsh (@cassiusmarsh) on