Foster has Patriots' scout team on the run


Foster has Patriots' scout team on the run

FOXBORO --New England's preparation for the Texans ground game is something like a symphony.
It starts with simulating Arian Foster.The running back's 351 rushing attempts and 15 touchdowns led the NFL in 2012's regular season.
"It comes down to a lot of film study," said Patriots rookie Brandon Bolden. "It sounds very boring, but it's just a lot of film study. We just try to give the defense the best look as possible, just try to imitate them as best as possible.
"Patience is a big part of his game. It's a very big part. He tries to set things up and he works around it. We're not him exactly, but we can try to do the stuff that he kind of likes to do."
"Shane Vereen, Woody Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, all of them. . . they're different than Foster, but it's close enough, certainly good enough for our defense to work against," said coach Bill Belichick. "Those guys make good cuts, they see holes well. I think our backs do a good job giving us the look on the scout team in the running game."
Houston's penchant for zone blocking can make things interesting.
The Texans' offensive linemen rely more on athleticism than muscle in creating running lanes. They are disciplined, coordinated. They will trick opponents, double-team them, cut block them.
Yet another challenge for the Patriots scout team.
"I think its harder actually to simulate, to get all the offensive linemen it doesnt matter who you play its usually harder to get them too, to get the blocking schemes kind of exactly the way the other team does it," Belichick noted. "Its probably easier for the runner than the overall blocking patterns, depending on how each team does it during the week. You have to try to get all those guys coordinated."
Defensive end Rob Ninkovich elaborated on the challenge of facing a fleet-footed offensive line.
"This team does a good job of all moving together," he said. "All the offensive linemen are athletic and they can move, so the challenge is, for us as a D-line, to play strong and be fast, kind of reset the line of scrimmage. That's your job, really, is to get those guys knocked back and not be run into the sideline."
For the Patriots, knocking O-lineman back starts with nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
"Playing cut blocks is always a big challenge when youre facing a team like this because it seems like I dont care if youre getting cut on the front side or the back side, that running back sees it and he hits it right off that cut block," said Wilfork. "So up front its going to be very important for us to try to stay on our feet and make sure that we are playing our blocks pretty good."
New England's defense held Foster to 46 rushing yards when the teams met December 10. Houston gained just 100 ground yards on the night.
The Patriots offense did its part by jumping out to a 28-0 lead, thereby forcing the Texans to air the ball out. Foster's 15 carries in Week 14 marked his third-lowest single game total of the season.
But Wilfork feels like the run defense can hold its own. The Patriots are preparing for, expecting Houston's best shot. They will be ready.
"Weve faced it, weve seen it a bunch of times, so we kind of know how we want to play this game. If we play it the way that we need to play it, well be okay."

Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'


Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'

Malcolm Butler didn't mean any disrespect. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 


When the Patriots corner picked off a Landry Jones pass in the first quarter -- one that was intended for receiver Antonio Brown -- Butler stood up in the end zone, faced the Heinz Field crowd, stuck one arm in the air But and gyrated like someone had attached jumper cables to his facemask. 

He was doing his best to mimick one of Brown's well-known touchdown dances.

"Me and Brown had conversation before," Butler said, "and it was a joke to him once I showed him how I do it. Much love for that guy. Nothing personal."

For Butler, it was the highlight of what was a productive afternoon. The third-year corner was asked to shadow Brown for much of the day, and he held Brown to five catches on nine targets for 94 yards. He also broke up a pair of passes intended for Brown's teammates.

“Stopping Antonio Brown, that’s impossible," Butler said. "You can’t stop him. You can only slow him down. I just went out there and tried to compete today . . . Great players are going to make plays but you have to match their intensity.”
Even on the longest throw from backup quarterback Landry Jones to Brown, a 51-yarder, it appeared as though Butler played the coverage called correctly. 

Butler lined up across from Brown and trailed him underneath as Brown worked his way from the left side of the field to the right. Butler was looking for some help over the top in that scenario, seemingly, but because Brown ran across the formation, it was hard for the back end of the defense to figure out who would be helping Butler. 

Coach Bill Belichick admitted as much after the game. 

"He was on [Brown] a lot the way we set it up," Belichick said. "Look, they've got great players. They're tough to cover. They hit us on a couple over routes, in cut where they kind of ran away from the coverage that we had. 

"The plays were well designed. Good scheme, good thorws and obviously good routes by Brown. They got us on a couple, but I thought we competed hard. We battled all the way. We battled on third down. We battled in the red area. They made some. We made some, but they're good. They have a lot of good players."

And Brown, in particular, is about as close as it gets to unstoppable in the NFL. Butler found that out in Week 1 of last year when he matched up with Brown in his first game as a starter, giving up 9 catches for 133 yards to the All-Pro wideout. 

Though Sunday might not have been perfect for Butler, it was better than that day about 14 months ago. And at times, it was worth dancing about. 

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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