Luck takes the blame for Colts loss to Patriots

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Luck takes the blame for Colts loss to Patriots

FOXBORO -- Andrew Luck angrily ripped at the chin strap of his helmet as he walked off the field. He had just thrown his second interception of the night, which was returned 87 yards for a score by Patriots rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

One play into the fourth quarter, New England led, 45-17, and the game was effectively over.

Luck would later add another a third interception to his list of blemishes, which included a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown by new Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, and a fumble that was recovered by the Patriots in the third quarter.

"Just blame myself for committing four turnovers on my part," Luck said after losing to the Patriots, 59-24. "And two of those for immediate touchdowns. But the Patriots did a good job."

New England's defense showed improvement in the win, but it was provided with opportunities to make big plays in large part because of the mistakes made by Indianapolis' rookie quarterback.

Luck's first interception, picked off by Talib, was an overthrow in the middle of the field. The Dennard interception was an out-pattern intended for Reggie Wayne that was thrown late.

Luck nearly caught Dennard during the return but dove and came up with nothing. On the sideline he was stopped by interim head coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for what looked like a pep talk for the crestfallen 23-year-old.

It wasn't.

"Fundamentals. I mean, you can't throw an out pattern late," Arians responded bluntly when asked about his conversation with Luck. "We talked about it, and he was mad at himself. That's the beauty of it. He'll come up and tell you exactly what he's thinking . . . It was something that he knew he couldn't do, and he did it anyway. I don't think he really thought that Reggie was gonna be there clean and he threw it out there. The throw was late and inside and you can't do that."

Arians did provide a glass-half-full perspective on Luck's day. He was the Colts quarterbacks coach in 1998 when rookie Peyton Manning played in Foxboro for the first time and threw three interceptions in a 29-6 loss.

"It was a lot better day than when Peyton Manning came up here for the first time," Arians said. "I was there that day."

Luck was 27-for-50 for 334 yards and two touchdowns. It was his fifth game of the season with 300 yards passing, breaking the record for 300-yard games as a rookie.

He also made a few plays that provided a glimpse into his potential, proof as to why he was selected with the first overall pick in this year's draft, and why he's so widely renowned through just 10 games as a professional.

In the first quarter, he made a pinpoint throw to TY Hilton in the middle of the field to beat Talib for a 14-yard touchdown. In the third quarter, he completed a 16-yard pass in a third-and-long situation with Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich draped on his back.

"Andrew has got all of the abilities, physical, mental, leadership-wise," said Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who has played with both Manning and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his career. "He is turning into a very good -- a very, very good -- quarterback, and he's gonna continue to grow and get better. He's fun to watch. Obviously we got a young team and we all make mistakes, but it's enjoyable watching him play because I know that at any given time he can go and put a bunch of points on the board. I love having him on my team."

The Colts can live with the plays that make Luck want to rip his chinstrap in half. But Luck had hoped to avoid them on Sunday, knowing he would have to be sharp to keep up with the Patriots.

Instead, Luck's first performance against Brady, a quarterback Luck has watched for years, was far from the dream scenario he might have conjured up as a kid.

"It sucked tonight," Luck said, "because we lost by however much."

Belichick convinces UDFA to sign, tells him to be in shape

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Belichick convinces UDFA to sign, tells him to be in shape

The moments following the final round of the NFL draft are always a whirlwind because the work done by those in their respective war rooms isn't finished. Every year, coaches and personnel staffers work their phones calling undrafted free-agents in order to round out their rosters with passed-over talent.

Arizona State receiver and running back D.J. Foster was one of those fielding calls on Saturday, giving his cell battery a workout. The Cardinals, Texans and Patriots all came calling, and he was leaning toward what he considered his hometown team in Arizona.

Then the Patriots deployed their top recruiting weapon: coach Bill Belichick.

You can watch Foster's draft day ordeal here with this video put together by 12News.com in Phoenix.

When he's made his decision he gets a call from one team employee telling him how "fired up" they are to have him on board. Then Belichick calls again, his mission accomplished, to first congratulate Foster and then order him to be in shape for rookie minicamp.

Foster was barely in elementary school when Belichick and Tom Brady helped the Patriots win their  first Super Bowl. Ever since, they've been one of the most consistently successful teams in football.

That track record couldn't have hurt Foster in his decision-making process, but it seems as though he was proposed the best financial deal by the Patriots. They're also a team that won't be afraid to try players at multiple positions. The fact that Foster considers himself both a running back and a receiver could be seen as beneficial in regards to him making the team. Being labeled a "'tweener" isn't always a detriment.

In the Patriots offense, there is room for a player with Foster's skill set. Perhaps he will work alongside Dion Lewis and James White as a "sub back," who specializes in the passing game and poses a threat either lined up in the backfield or out wide like a receiver. The other option would be for Foster to serve as a full-time receiver -- something he focused on last season -- who might be best suited for the slot. As an undrafted rookie, he'll also likely be expected to contribute in the kicking game in some way shape or form.

Patriots named Super Bowl LI favorites despite Brady suspension

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Patriots named Super Bowl LI favorites despite Brady suspension

Is the Patriots roster so loaded that Tom Brady can be suspended for four games, and they're still the favorites to win it all? 

Apparently so, according to odds released by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Not long after the completion of this year's draft, the Patriots were favored at 6-1 to win their fifth Lombardi Trophy even though their quarterback is scheduled to miss the first month of the season after his Deflategate punishment was recently reinstated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Brady plans to appeal that ruling. 

Next on the list of favorites are the Seahawks, Steelers and Packers, all of whom are tied at 8-1. The Panthers, who fell in Super Bowl 50 to the Broncos, have 9-1 odds to redeem themselves after last season's defeat and walk away winners. 

The Patriots are, of course, favored to win the AFC (3-1) and the AFC East (4-9), and their season win total projection has been set at 10.5.

Felger: Is the praise for Jacoby Brissett too good to be true?

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Felger: Is the praise for Jacoby Brissett too good to be true?

Three mid-week thoughts for your perusal . . . 

-- I was 100 percent behind the drafting of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. And then I read comments about the kid from Charlie Weis and Bill Parcells in Karen Guregian's excellent story in the Boston Herald on Tuesday.

Now I'm down to about 80 percent.

"He's a Curtis Martin-, Willie McGinest-, Troy Brown-type of player,'' said Parcells. "That's the kind of guy he is. That's what New England is getting. Those kind, those Tedy Bruschi types, those players who've been successful -- he's very similar in his personal life to those kinds of guys.''

"Let me tell you,'' added Weis, "this kid, from the time he was in high school, is the Pied Piper . . . He was definitely the leader of the pack. In the quarterback position, I think that's a critical factor. And that's what he was.''

Added Parcells: "He has zero personal issues.''

So why would glowing reports cause me to like the pick less? File under: Too good to be true.

I read those quotes and get the feeling I'm being sold something, which shakes my confidence a bit. Plus, it's a little too much on the intangible element. Character is certainly important at the position. In fact, it's crucial. But if intangibles were the only thing that mattered, Tim Tebow would have been an NFL QB. And we all know how that turned out.

Bottom line: I still like the pick. I still want the Pats drafting and developing quarterbacks. I just smell a bit of bull crap.

-- Chris Mannix nailed it regarding what it would take for the Celtics to lure Kevin Durant to Boston.

"Boston's ability to lure him is going to come down to who else they can get. You can't walk into a meeting with Kevin Durant and say, 'We've got Isiah Thomas and 97 draft picks; we're going to be good in a few years','' he told Toucher and Rich Tuesday morning. "Kevin doesn't want to hear that . . . What he wants to hear is that we're ready to win now . . . They have to come to the table with a Jimmy Butler, with a Bradley Beal, with an Al Horford. They can't just come with Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge and a bunch of draft picks.''

In other words, the pieces on the current roster aren't nearly as good as they looked in the regular season. And, no, Thomas is not a franchise player. And, finally, don't get too attached to those picks, no matter where the ping pong balls land.

-- I wonder if the Bruins look at the current landscape in net across the NHL playoffs and consider how wise it is to pay their goalie, Tuukka Rask, $7 million a year.

Still alive are guys like the Islanders' Thomas Greiss ($1.5 million cap hit), the Blues' Brian Ellliott ($2.5 million), the Sharks' Martin Jones ($3 million) and Penguins rookie Matt Murray ($620,000). Out are 8 of the top 10 highest-paid goalies in the league, a list including Henri Lundqvist, Carey Price, Cory Schneider, Ryan Miller and, of course, Rask.

Please note: No one is saying you can get away with shoddy goaltending in the playoffs. It's an unassailable fact that you need elite play in net to contend for Stanley Cups. The question is what you have to pay for it. 

And in that regard, this year is no aberration. Sometimes you have to pay through the nose for it, and sometimes it just falls in your lap.

Can the Bruins get away with trying to survive in that second camp? Good question. This much I know: Paying Rask $7 million a year to miss the playoffs two straight years isn't doing anyone any good.

Email Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.