No Huddle: Patriots-Dolphins postgame sound


No Huddle: Patriots-Dolphins postgame sound

MIAMI GARDENS, FL -- The Patriots had a subdued celebration Sunday night after beating Miami, 23-16.
The victory awarded New England the AFC East title, but at Week 13, there are still plenty of hurdles left to clear.
Hence the celebration-lite.
But let the quarterback tell you what it's all about.
Quarterback Tom Brady on the season starting now:
TB: "This is when the best teams really start to separate themselves. Your depth is challenged, your mental toughness is challenged, fighting through the bumps and bruises of a long season is a challenge and getting contributions from a lot of people is a challenge. That's what you need this time of year. You have to continue to get better, and better, and better and string games together so when you need it the most you have it in the bank."
New England does have a knack for getting better at the right time.
It's hard to believe this is the team that went 3-3 through its first six. That Week 2 loss to 4-8 Arizona looks even uglier in December's cold light. The Patriots haven't lost a game in the second half of the season since 2009. Have they had the AFC's No. 1 team and NFC's No. 2 team to play back-to-back in the last two years? No. But it's not like anybody knew how the chips would fall when the schedules were made.
It will be fun to see how this team handles the next two weeks.
On injured tight end Rob Gronkowski:
TB: "He hates being out. He's as competitive as anybody so it's hard to really match what he's able to do for us offensively, but the guys who have been in there have done a great job. They've really stepped up to the challenge. No one was quite sure what was going to happen or how we were going to react because it's the first time he's been out, but the guys have responded well. We need to continue that; we have as tough a game as we've played all year coming up next Monday night."
New England's 23-point output was its lowest since the 24-23 loss to Seattle in Week 6. But the team can still create offense, and Wes Welker is a big reason why. The receiver had 12 catches for 103 yards on Sunday. Last time he had double-digit receptions happens to be Week 6, by the way. When Brady needs someone he goes to Welker, and we were reminded of why this weekend.
Welker on if he still feels disrespected in the league despite his success:
WW: I dont know. I dont think about it or anything like that. I just go out there and do my job to the best of my ability.
It would probably be a better story if Welker played angry. And maybe, sometimes, he does. But when the receiver was asked about the size of the chip on his shoulder, he rolled his eyes ever so slightly. The story of Welker going undrafted in 2004, being picked up then discarded by the Chargers, helping Miami for two seasons before being traded to New England, and rising from those ashes to become one of the league's best has already been written. A couple of times. Probably even once by me.
But he's not the player people saw him as in 2004. There's no debating his production with the Patriots, like four seasons with plus-100 catches and five of plus-1,000 yards.
Know who didn't go off against Miami?
Head coach Bill Belichickon receiver Brandon Lloyd having only one catch despite NE being shorthanded at receiver:
BB: Ah no. No particular reason.
And there you have it -- a whole lot of nothing.
Lloyd had just one catch one one target against Miami. The week before, he had three catches on five targets. The week before that? Four on seven. I know you're smart enough to notice the trend: Less Lloyd of late. While offensive schemes change from game to game, this one might be worth keeping an eye on. Especially with Gronkowski out and more targets to go around.
Since we're talking about receivers...
Tight end Aaron Hernandez on if he felt like he was a little off after dropping a pass early in the game:
AH: No, its just frustrating at the time. You just want to make plays, especially just getting back into the groove, but drops happen and as a player you just have to forget about it and come back stronger.
Some of Brady's early throws to Hernandez felt a little forced.
On the season, Hernandez has caught 11 of the 14 passes he was targeted for. That's an almost 79-percent conversion rate. Sunday he had eight catches on 13 targets -- 61-percent converted. The difference isn't crazy, but the two drops Hernandez had were uncharacteristic. One was a potential touchdown ball on a corner route in the first quarter.
Running back Stevan Ridley on the game plan and running the ball well in the second half:
SR: The game plan was awesome. I love our coaches. I love what they do for us every Sunday and we just have to come out here and execute. You know it was a tough battle. They didnt want to just give it to us. We had to go out there and play for it and thats what we did today.
After Sunday's 19 carry, 71 yard performance, 23-year old Stevan Ridley eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards on the year. Not bad for 12 games. And not a bad follow-up to the 441 yards he gained his rookie season. He said he hoped to be "The Guy" once BenJarvus Green-Ellis was traded to Cincinnati. Well, "The Guy" he has become.
But back to the Dolphins game.
Ridley had just four rushing yards at the break; he had 46 on New England's final drive of the game. It was a fantastic series. With 8 minutes, 28 seconds left, the Patriots basically took their four-minute offense and doubled it. By the time Miami got the ball back -- after New England tacked a field goal onto its lead -- there were just 70 ticks on the clock and 10 points to make up. Great play-calling, great running.
Let's throw one in for the defense, shall we?
Linebacker Jerod Mayo on how he feels the defense is playing at this stage of the season:
JM: Obviously there is things that we could do better, but were getting the balls off the grass, trying to turn over the ball, trying to steal possessionswe still have a lot of work to do in the run game, in the pass game, getting off the field on third down, but were heading in the right direction.
They're making plays when they need to: Three sacks of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, including two from replacement DE Trevor Scott; seven tackles for loss; three forced fumbles (one recovered). Even more impressive was the defense holding Miami to a 23-percent conversion rate on third down.

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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NBA Notes: League seems to be on upward surge in interest and ratings


NBA Notes: League seems to be on upward surge in interest and ratings

For so many years the NFL has had an almost impenetrable veneer in the way it has successfully pivoted away from a myriad of scandals that would have at the very least delivered a significant, noticeable blow to most professional leagues.

But that Teflon-tough image has taken a whacking of late with the league dealing with what has been for the most part an across-the-board ratings dip in its programming.

The NFL’s slide comes at a time when the NBA seems to be on a upward surge in terms of interest and ratings.

Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City and play for Golden State is a needle-mover across the NBA landscape. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to defend their NBA title – a phrase no one thought they would ever hear even when James signed on for a second tour of duty – will certainly generate tons of interest.

The Boston Celtics added Al Horford to a team that many believe will be among Cleveland’s stiffest challengers, in addition to being a team that has played Golden State as well as anyone the last couple of years.

There are many hands responsible for the NBA having such a strong position on the professional sports landscape, chief among them being former commissioner David Stern.

He was in town last week as part of the Shamrock Foundation’s annual Gala.

Stern gave a rundown of what he’s been up to since passing the commissioner’s torch to Adam Silver.

He said he has been a senior advisor to a venture capital firm, counsels several start-up companies and of course a senior advisor to the NBA.

But it’s what he’s not doing – negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the player’s union – that seemed to bring him the most joy.

“That’s when I got the least amount of sleep,” quipped Stern.

But those sleep-deprived marathon sessions with owners and union leaders, have helped bring the league to where it is today – thriving with its players and the profits both seem to be reaping.

That’s why the reports of the NBA and the player’s union being close to coming to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, make a lot of sense. The NBA or the player’s union can opt-out of the current CBA prior to Dec. 15, although that’s looking less likely to happen because of what should be a new deal that better reflects the economic changes that currently exist in the NBA.

This past summer saw the salary cap in the NBA balloon to $94.14 million after having been $70 million for the 2015-2016 season.

With both NBA players and owners profiting significantly from the new TV deal, most of the changes to come about (paying players on the rookie scale more money; increasing the dollar amounts for veteran’s minimum and team exception contracts) are just common sense rule changes that have both sides closer to getting something done sooner rather than later.

And while he’s not directly involved in any of the current dealings, what he accomplished prior to retiring as commissioner certainly laid the groundwork for what appears to be a relatively smooth negotiation period.

“I didn’t project anything other than I was leaving it in the most spectacular of hands with an All-Star executive cast and they would just do what’s right for the league and they have,” Stern said.

And as far as the current talks that have reportedly been ongoing for months, Stern understands all too well that the last CBA talks which led to a shortened, 66-game season led to changes that has both players and owners feeling better about current negotiations.

“I’m proud to say the league has gotten to a very good place in terms of the player’s share, the owner’s share and where they can all see this is something that pays to keep going,” Stern said. “It’s fun to watch from a distance and not be involved.”



So much for that logjam in the frontcourt for the Philadelphia 76ers. The latest big man to go down with an injury is Nerlens Noel who recently had “minor” surgery on his left knee that will sideline him for reportedly three-to-five weeks. Keep in mind that the Everett, Mass. native missed his entire rookie season following left knee surgery, although the Sixers indicate this was an arthroscopic procedure and is considered minor. He joins No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons who suffered a foot injury that’s expected to keep him out until at least January. That means a lot of the trade rumors involving Noel (and Jahlil Okafor to a certain extent too) should cool off for a little bit.



Signing with Toronto during the offseason was supposed to be Jared Sullinger's chance at a fresh start. Unfortunately for him, things are looking a lot like they did in his early days in Boston. Concerns about his back dropped his draft-day stock from a likely lottery (top-14) pick, to falling in the Celtics' lap at No. 21. During his rookie season, he played well but had to have season-ending back surgery. With the Raptors, it appears he will miss some time early on due to a foot injury that occurred in the team's first preseason game which has kept him out of action ever since.  

“May be a little while before he comes back,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters recently. “He may get checked out just to see what else is going on.”

Sullinger’s weight was an issue during his time with the Celtics. It’s unclear what impact if any, it had on his current injury or whether it’s a factor in the injury keeping him out indefinitely. 



We have seen Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) in lots of different basketball roles from hitting big shots to just hitting people.

But as a coach? That is reportedly being discussed by the Los Angeles Lakers brass as they try to trim their training camp roster down to 15 players.

MWP is likely on the outside of the 15-man roster now, but the Lakers still want him to be part of the organization. While it may seem a bit of a stretch at first, he does bring a wealth of basketball experience to the table, a player how has seen the highs and lows of the game in a way few players can fully understand or speak about with a great amount of credibility.



The LaMarcus Aldridge trade talk will be one of the storylines this NBA season. The Boston Celtics will continue to be discussed as a possibility, but the team to watch is the Phoenix Suns. They came close to convincing him when he left Portland for San Antonio. Phoenix provides him a team that can be built around him (which he wants), lots of shots (which he wants) and a team with no pressure on his back to lead them to major success (yup, he wants that too). … Michael Carter Williams’ stock seems to continue to tumble after winning the league’s rookie of the Year award. He’s going into his fourth season and he’s already on to his third team. … Multiple league executives believe Devin Booker is the best 20-and-under player in the NBA right now. He's good, but I'd probably take Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns.