Mesko couldn't see blocked punt coming


Mesko couldn't see blocked punt coming

FOXBORO -- The blocked punt surprised Zoltan Mesko, too.
"Really what I see is the ball; I concentrate on the ball. There's things that I can control, there's the punting part, and there's things that I can't. But I felt like the operation, the rhythm went alright. Maybe just the protection -- I believe on the left side -- broke down."
That is exactly what happened.
Third quarter. New England is up on Arizona, 9-6. Mesko prepares to punt from the Patriots end zone. The ball is snapped, but ask Mesko is preparing for his drop, Cardinals linebacker Quentin Groves springs up out of his stance and brushes off New England rookie Nate Ebner like lint on a lapel.
Mesko's punt was blocked -- the first time in his three-year career.
It's clear, when watching replays of Groves diving between Mesko's hurdling legs, he didn't even see it coming.
"It's kind of a peripheral thing where you have to have trust in your teammates to get him out of the way," he explained in the post game. "Just like Tom Brady has to wait until the last second sometimes, and then they'll wash him out. It just happened that way.
"It happened so fast. The double tap? (Mesko's foot hitting the ball and the ball hitting Groves) It sounded like one. I didn't know it was blocked. I thought I was going to get another roughing penalty. up until I saw the ball out of the corner of my left eye."
The Cardinals are pesky that way. They've lead the NFL in blocked field goal attempts in each of the last three seasons. Last week against Seattle, Calais Campbell blocked a 50-yard FGA on the Seahawks' first offensive possession of the game.
During last week's preparation, Bill Belichick devoted several sentences to praising Arizona's kick and punt coverage groups, saying "They're a very good special teams unit that we have to worry about every time they're on the field."
Little did he know.
It took the Cardinals 49 seconds after Mesko's blocked punt to cover the two yards needed for a touchdown -- and the lead.
But not unlike teammate Stephen Gostkowski, who missed the 42-yard game-winning kick in the final five seconds, Mesko isn't planning to dwell on what went wrong.
No specialist can afford that luxury.
"Steve put it best: We wouldn't be out there if we didn't know that we risk failure every time. It's on us and how to bounce back, and how we handle it, and that's our job."

BC's ACC losing streak reaches 12 after 28-20 loss to Syracuse


BC's ACC losing streak reaches 12 after 28-20 loss to Syracuse

BOSTON - Eric Dungey threw for three touchdowns, Ervin Phillips had a pair of scores and Syracuse beat Boston College 28-20 on Saturday, sending the Eagles to their 12th straight Atlantic Coast Conference loss.

Dungey went 32 for 38 for 434 yards. He also ran 17 times for 54 yards for the Orange (4-4, 2-2 ACC).

Last week, he became the first player in school history to throw for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 in an upset victory over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech.

Patrick Towles went 4 of 14 for 45 yards for Boston College (3-4, 0-4) but did run 75 yards for a touchdown. He was taken out of the game early in the fourth quarter and appeared to be favoring his right leg.

Back-up Darius Wade drove the Eagles deep into Syracuse territory, but was sacked and then threw incomplete on fourth-and-14 with just under 2 minutes left.

The Orange went 86 yards for a score to make it 21-10 after an interception by linebacker Parris Bennett inside their own 5.

Receiver Steve Ishmael made an 11-yard TD catch along the side of the end zone, making a leaping grab and getting one foot to touch before he was knocked out of bounds.

One play later, Towles broke around left end and went down the sideline for his score on the final play of the third quarter. Mike Knoll's second field goal - a 39-yarder - cut it to 21-20.

Dungey's third TD toss - a 68-yarder to Amba Etta-Tawo - made it 28-20.

BC's Myles Willis had an 89-yard kickoff return for a TD.


SYRACSE: The Orange didn't play smooth offensively, collecting a handful of false start penalties and turning the ball over three times, but they go into a bye week with a pair of key victories.

BC: The Eagles can't make key plays when the game's close. They were driving for a possible go-ahead score late in the third when wide-open receiver Michael Walker bobbled a pass - with the ball flying into the air and into the hands of linebacker Bennett.


SYRACUSE: Travels to No. 4 Clemson on Nov. 5.

BC: Faces North Carolina State on the road next Saturday.

© 2016 by STATS & The Associated Press.

Spooner to jump back in for Bruins, knows he 'wasn't good enough'


Spooner to jump back in for Bruins, knows he 'wasn't good enough'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – After serving as a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s home opener, Ryan Spooner will be back in the lineup manning the left wing position alongside David Krejci and David Backes as that line looks for an offensive breakthrough.

Spooner will also be looking to change his early season storyline as it’s clear that Claude Julien is looking for more from a player that looked a little too passive on the puck to start the season.

Spooner wasn’t really utilizing his speed to put pressure on opponents, he wasn’t creating enough on the power play and there were a couple of instances where his mistakes led to directly to goals against. That’s not a good combination from a B’s perspective with a player who has showed plenty of game-breaking talent while posting 13 goals and 49 points last season.

“I have to take [the scratch] as a message that I wasn’t the player that I can be,” said Spooner. “I have to use it as motivation and just go out there and play.”

The speedy, skilled forward had just a single assist in three games to start the season, but to be fair none of the three forwards on his line, Spooner, Krejci or rookie Danton Heinen, looked particularly good once Backes was moved to fill in for the injured Patrice Bergeron.

Instead, it looked like Krejci centering one player skating out of position (Spooner) and another young guy (Heinen) just trying to gain some confidence in the NHL and things looked much better for Krejci and Backes after being reunited on Thursday. Spooner’s speed and playmaking could be an asset there tonight vs. Montreal, and certainly could help a power play that is 1-for-14 through the first four games of the season.

“He just has to be better. That’s why we sat him out. He just wasn’t good enough and he’s capable of doing more,” said Claude Julien. “We expect more out of him. He’s a guy that can produce and can play the full game, and he’s shown that he can do it. It’s nothing something that he has to do, but it’s something that he can do. That’s what we want.”

So, Spooner was scratched for the home opener after totaling an assist and seven shots on net in the first three games, and knows that he needs to be better than he was in the early going.

“I wasn’t moving my feet. I think I was playing too much of a passive game. I need to use my speed a little more when I’m on the wing there,” said Spooner, who still hasn’t played much more than a couple dozen games at the wing over the course of his career. “The first two games I didn’t think I played good at all, and the last game against the Jets was just so-so. I don’t think it was good enough, so it needs to be better.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter which players I was playing with, the game I was playing just wasn’t good enough. That’s on me and I need to change that.”

Spooner will get a big chance to change that conversation when he suits up in a top-six winger role with Krejci and Backes on Saturday night while looking to provide a little more balanced scoring against Montreal.