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."

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.