Belichick not celebrating past late-season success

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Belichick not celebrating past late-season success

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick can sound dispassionate about a lot of things. 
Want a taste? Ask the Patriots coach to reflect on his late-season success, especially that of the past. 
"I don't really concern myself too much with what happened in the past or what didn't happen in the past. Right now we're just worried about Miamiabout doing a good job in going down there and playing well Sunday."
It is for everyone else to be impressed, then. 
New England has gone 8-0 in the second halves of the last two years. 
"I don't think what our record was two years ago has anything to do with this week's game," Belichick said again. "We're just trying to focus on what we can do to play well this week."
The team has had perfect second half year records four times (2003, 2007, 2010, 2011) during Belichick's tenure, and gone 7-1 two other times (2001 and 2004). As of now, it looks like the Patriots are poised to do it again. 
"We can look back at other years and talk about them," the coach dared, sounding annoyed. "I don't know whether that's true this year or not. We'll see."
New England is currently on a five-game winning streak, going back to its 29-26 win over the Jets in Week 7.  While the road ahead isn't exactly bump-free -- the Texans and 49ers visit Gillette on back-to-back weekends in December -- it is a recent trend of this team to navigate adversity well as the season wears on. 
But that's another thing that bores Belichick. 
As the 38-year NFL veteran tells it, momentum doesn't really carry week to week. That New England has scored special teams touchdowns in the last two weeks, that Tom Brady has thrown six touchdowns and zero interceptions, that the defense has allowed just 21.5 average points -- it's all well and good. 
It just has nothing to do with the Miami Dolphins. 
"I think we've done some things well in the last couple of games. I don't think that really has any bearing on this game. Different team, different match ups, different schemes. It's all different. Whether we did or didn't last week, or some other week, or some other year, I don't think, any of it really matters."
Sunday's game against the 5-6 Dolphins isn't significant because New England can win the AFC East and clinch a playoff spot. 
It's significant because of basic math. 
"We all know the fewer games there are, the more important they become," the coach explained. "With each game, we play one less and each one becomes bigger. That's obvious. Sixteen games is sixteen games, but now there's five left so it's a five game season.
"We know it's a big game, Miami knows it's a big game. There's not many left. We've got two games left against a division rival. This is the first one down there and we know we've got to go there and play our best football this year. That's what we're looking to do." 

Friday, Jan. 20: Canes’ Bickell tries to carry on after MS diagnosis

Friday, Jan. 20: Canes’ Bickell tries to carry on after MS diagnosis

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while simply skating my lane today.

*A terrific piece on Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell getting on with his life after an MS diagnosis, and pushing to see if he can return to the ice.

*If the New York Islanders botch the hirings for people guiding the franchise, then John Tavares could be one of the next figures gone from Brooklyn.

*It’s been a rough go of it for St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen over the past few weeks and that continued on Thursday night.

*Top NHL Draft prospect Nolan Patrick’s value comes from his two-way play, and that’s what teams are focused on rather than the injury issues.

*Mike Babcock talks a wide range of subjects with James Duthie during a 1-on-1 with the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach.

*In his never-ending odyssey on the fringes of the NHL, Seth Griffith has been claimed by the Maple Leafs on waivers for the second time.

*Veteran forward Clarke MacArthur won’t be playing this season for the Ottawa Senators amid his concussion issues.

*For something completely different: Bill Belichick just being Bill Belichick at his press conference on Friday and that’s something we can all be reassured about.

 

Patriots have perfect attendance at final practice of AFC Championship week

Patriots have perfect attendance at final practice of AFC Championship week

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had perfect attendance at Friday's practice, meaning they had all 53 players on their active roster present and accounted for at all three practices this week. 

Contrast that with how things have gone for the Steelers this week, and there is a stark difference. Star running back Le'Veon Bell missed each of his team's first two on-the-field workouts this week, and several Steelers players are dealing with a bug that seems to have circulated the locker room. 

The Patriots could have an interesting game-day roster decision to make should Chris Hogan (thigh), Malcolm Mitchell (knee) and Danny Amendola (ankle) both be healthy enough to play on Sunday. They have not entered a game with five receivers in uniform this season but could potentially dress Mitchell, Amendola, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Michael Floyd.

Other players listed as limited participants in practice this week are Brandon Bolden (knee), Martellus Bennett (knee), Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) and Jabaal Sheard (knee).