Belichick says Gronkowski 'deserved' TE record

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Belichick says Gronkowski 'deserved' TE record

FOXBORO -- With 90 seconds remaining and the Patriots ahead by 28, New England's Brian Hoyer dropped back and lofted a pass down the left sideline to the player who is arguably the team's offensive MVP. Rob Gronkowski hauled in the 22-yard reception and crashed to the ground with Bills corner Drayton Florence on top of him and teammate Ryan Mallett over both of them, exulting. The reception propelled Gronk past New Orleans' Jimmy Graham to set the record for receiving yards by a tight end. The record, previously held by Kellen Winslow (1,290), was held for a spell on Sunday by Graham, who finished his game against the Panthers with 1,310. Gronkowski needed five yards to pass Graham before the final reception. Given the disdain Bill Belichick regularly shows for yard-based statistics and the stress he puts on team accomplishments over individual stats, the pursuit of the record was fair evidence that records do indeed matter. "That last play, I had Billy O'Brien, the Patriots offensive coordinator call that because I wasn't sure exactly where Gronkowski was and I thought that he deserved a chance to go up and try and make another play," said Belichick. "He's had a great year and he's worked hard, I thought he deserved that. He made a nice play."The season finale has featured personal accomplishment pursuits in the past. From Doug Flutie's drop kick to Vinny Testaverde's touchdown pass to the team last year making sure BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a chance to get to 1,000 yards, Belichick has done it. I don't think he'd do it when a game was on the line, nor do I think he'd make repeated attempts to chase a record. For instance, if Gronkowski hadn't caught that ball, I'm not sure Belichick would have run another play solely to gain the yards. But there are clearly exceptions to the Belichick rules of stats being meaningless.

Gostkowski named AFC special teams player of week

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Gostkowski named AFC special teams player of week

FOXBORO -- It's been an uncharacteristically erratic season for Stephen Gostkowski, but on Sunday the Patriots Pro Bowl kicker was dialed in. And his four field-goal performance against Los Angeles earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. It is the second time this season and the fifth time in his career that Gostkowski has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, having also won the award after the first game of the season at Arizona. 

Gostkowski's missed four field goals so far this season. He hasn't missed four in a year since 2012 when he missed six field goals. He's also missed three extra points. While the Patriots were a little downcast about the inability of their offense to close out drives against the Rams, an ancillary benefit was undoubtedly Gostkowski having a day that should boost his confidence going forward. 

Belichick shares Pearl Harbor thoughts on 75th anniversary of the attack

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Belichick shares Pearl Harbor thoughts on 75th anniversary of the attack

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick's connection to the Navy has been well-chronicled in this space and others, and so it comes as little surprise that he gladly took the opportunity to discuss Pearl Harbor and its aftermath when given the opportunity during a press conference Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of the attack. 

"Yeah, pretty big day in our history," Belichick said. "Certainly in Naval history. But for me, the lesson on Pearl Harbor, and for us as a team and individually, I'd say, is not what happened on Dec. 7 -- although there was a lesson there -- but the response.

"What the response was from our nation, from our military, from our civilians, from our population, to battle the world on two fronts and win both of them. Think of what this country did under [President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt's leadership, as well as multiple military leaders, and then go fight in Europe and go fight in Southeast Asia and Japan, the response to what happened on Dec. 7, 1941 is pretty impressive.

"I remember my dad talking a lot about that, when it happened, when he found out, then when he went to the Navy and went to Great Lakes, and then eventually went to Europe and eventually went to Okinawa. It was a tough time for this country, but it was a great example of the Patriotism of our citizens, men, women, fighting together, pulling together and being victorious in a lot of different ways.

"It's special. Special day . . . Tough day for the Navy, though, but they responded. They bounced back. Battle of Midway, that was really a huge turning point. Had it not gone on the way it did. I don't know, it probably would've been a longer fight." 

Before delving into his response, Belichick mentioned that documentary filmmaker and former WJAR sports reporter Tim Gray, who once covered the Patriots, has done a great deal of work on World War II. Gray's latest documentary, "Remember Pearl Harbor," will debut on 125 PBS stations throughout the country today.