No Huddle: Patriots-Colts postgame sound

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No Huddle: Patriots-Colts postgame sound

FOXBORO -- How much stock do you put into New England's 59-24 win over the Colts? Are the Patriots truly gearing up in this four-game winning streak? Or was this one of those, when-they're-good-they're-really-good-but-they-could-be-bad-next-week Sundays?
For now, at least, we'll focus on the 'they're good' part. And when the Patriots give you reason to start with the defense, you start with the defense.

Here's what the players had to say.

Linebackerdefensive end Rob Ninkovich on if he enjoys the reputation he's developing as a defensive playmaker:

RN: Yeah, I mean Im not going to not take it. Obviously its everything that is helping the team out. Having our defense get a lot of turnovers is one of the best things we do. Obviously there are some things that you dont want to give upyardage and stuff like that. But when you can lead the league in turnovers that speaks a lot for what we do on defense."

Yeah, yeah, yeah -- the Patriots continue to lead the league in giveaway-takeaway ratio. But Ninkovich is having one hell of a year all his own.

>His third quarter forced fumble marked his fifth of the year, which is impressive considering he had only one in his six previous season. The play was a strip-sack of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and so also added to his sack stats (six) for 2012. Ninkovich is only half a quarterback takedown away from the career-high 6.5 he set last season. You can bet he'll reach that number, if not push beyond it.

Somebody give this guy a nickname.

Defensive back Alfonzo Dennard on if he was watching himself on the Jumbotron during his touchdown return:

AD: Yeah I was laughs. I was, though. Because I know Andrew Luck, hes a pretty fast quarterback, so I had to look at the Jumbotron to see if he was behind me.

The rookie was given a gift.

The pick came on Luck's very first snap of the fourth quarter. Receiver Reggie Wayne was the intended receiver on the out-pattern, but the QB waited to long to throw and Dennard had already looped around to intercept by the time the ball was released. Luck gave chase and nearly got a hand on the streaking cornerback. No dice; Dennard hit the sideline, put on a burst of speed, and made it in for a touchdown.

Speaking of fast quarterbacks, Tom Brady

Only kidding.

Luck on whether or not he introduced himself or talked to Brady before the game:

AL: "No, we didnt have a chance. Schedules, whatever."

An unfortunate circumstance.

Luck, in the days leading up to the game, said he has vivid memories of watching the Patriots-Colts, Brady-Manning rivalry when he was growing up. You'd think meeting a quarterback he admired as a kid would be a big moment in his career.

Or not.

On going against Brady:

AL: "It sucked tonight because we lost by however much. I dont know. Ive never been big into who the other quarterback is or who the other wide receiver is."

And then you grow up, right? The 23-year old Luck may have admired Brady at one time, but he knew exactly where he stood on Sunday -- on the opposite side of a battlefield. Not a bad thing at all.

Luck was competitive. He completed 27 of 50 passes for 334 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. Sunday marked the fifth time in his short career he's gone over 300 yards.

As for that other quarterback.

Offensive lineman Ryan Wendell on how easy Brady makes it for the offensive line:

RW: I wouldnt want anybody else. The biggest thing that Tom does is that he puts us in a position to keep him safe. Toms just as important in the protection as the offensive linemen.

It all works in concert. See below.

Bill Belichick on how the offensive line did protecting Tom Brady:

BB: "Better in protection probably overall than in the running game but we had a couple long runs on some outside plays. But really they did a good job stopping the run. I thought our line did a pretty good job protecting but again that really ties in with the receivers. If guys are open, the quarterback doesnt have to hold the ball, he can get rid of it and Tom Brady does a good job of that. That was something we really emphasized with the receivers this week, was that if they played a lot of man coverage, which they did, that wed have to get open quickly so we didnt have to stand back there and hold the ball and wait all day for them to get open. They did that so it was good; good complementary football all the way around."

You hear the Patriots talk all the time about how any guy needs to be ready to step up on any given day. There was call for that against the Colts. Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly were unavailable Sunday because of injuries, which left Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald to step in and play spot duty.

Both performed well enough that the offensive line held its ground: Indianapolis managed just two quarterback hits and not a single sack. Brady had an excellent night statistically, completing 24 of 35 passes for 331 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

It's also worth noting New England averaged a tremendous 9.5 yards per pass play.

Interim Colts coach Bruce Arians on if this the kind of game he tells his players to just burn from their memories:

BA: "No, you better remember it. You better damn remember it. Because you hope to be back here and you dont want to forget it. You dont throw things away in this business, you learn from them. We will watch this tape real hard tomorrow. We wont burn it and go to the next one. We will watch it and learn from it. Each guy individually and us collectively as a coaching staff and a group. And we will get better for it."

This is a fantastic answer by Arians. Indianapolis was 0-10 at this point last season. This year, behind a rookie quarterback, the Colts could make the playoffs. It's great to hear they're not settling for improvement.

Receiver Wes Welker on what the turnaround is like with a short week coming up:

WW: We will enjoy this for a few hours and then get ready for New York tomorrow and make sure were on top of everything. This is like a Wednesday night right now, so weve got to make sure we are getting ready for Thursday.

From Sunday to Wednesday in a matter of minutes.

It's nearly Thanksgiving.

This will be the first short week for New England and the team faces a divisional rival on the other side of it. No matter how terrible the Jets have looked at times, they won't likely roll over at home.

If they do, then they are who we think they are. It's almost been tougher to figure out who, exactly, the Patriots are. But this is when we find out.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."