Curran: Pats' D goes from awful to awesome

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Curran: Pats' D goes from awful to awesome

DENVER - At 4:45 p.m. EST, it was looking like the Patriots locker room figured to be a pretty dour place. The Broncos were ripping off yards on New England like a 3-year-old tearing through Christmas wrapping. An incredible 167 yards on the ground on just 15 carries. By 7:45 p.m. EST, Jerod Mayo was walking into the locker room demanding his AFC East champion hat and t-shirt. The turnabout came thanks to a scheme tweaking by secondary coach and de-facto defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who altered the game plan the team hatched to stop Tim Tebow and the Denver offense. The first incarnation didn't work so good. The second, much better. Denver still finished the day with 252 yards on the ground, but scored just 10 points after that first-quarter embarrassment, with the lone touchdown coming after the Patriots had expanded their lead to 34-16. Coming into Sunday's game, you figured New England would have something creative hatched to stop Tebow and the Broncos rushing attack. The week previous, the Patriots played a lot of 3-4 defense against the Redskins - a departure from what they'd done most of the year before. But New England came out with its 4-3 alignment again and got gashed. The change was subtle. In addition to going to a three-man line, the Patriots did a better job controlling the edge of the field and turning plays back in. Their tackling improved. They, quite simply, settled down. Bill Belichick wouldn't go into detail on all the changes made by Patricia but he said, "(the 3-4) changed our spacing. So whether its an odd spacing or an even spacing, theres some advantages to each. So we were in a little more odd spacing try to keep better leverage on the formation. They gave us a lot of shifting early in the game, a lot of shifting, motion change, formations, so we were able to settle down for a combination of reasons, but one of them was to try and balance out the defense and I think that helped us a little bit.Jerod Mayo went into some more detail. "In odd (three-man line), the linebackers have to play the 'bubbles' and in even (four-man line), the defensive linemen have to play the so-called 'bubbles'. The first quarter was tough but as soon as we went to the sideline, Matty P made all those adjustments and it was sort of good just to show the different looks and see how they would attack us.The reality of trying to tackle Tim Tebow was different from the film as linebacker Rob Ninkovich found out when hewas shucked aside by Tebow on the first Denver touchdown. "You can't get a look (in the classroom) as far as Tebow and the offensive line are concerned," Mayo explained. "It was pretty difficult but once we settled down, we were all right."Keeping composurein the face of getting embarassedcan't be easy. But Mayo said the sideline was tame. "It was very important (to keep their wits)," said Mayo. "It's easy for guys to just shut it down and say, 'Okay, well, we lost this game.' But everybody showed mental toughness including the coaches and we got through."That composure, said veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren, was critical. "Don't panic. Be accountable so if you knew you messed up on the field, come onto the sideline and say so and we can fix it," explaned Warren. "It takes a real man to admit when he made a mistake. We can run around and not say anything and then we won't know what to address or what to fix." "Our coaching staff made great adjustments and we played assignment football," said safety James Ihedigbo. "We knew we had to settle down and play. There were things we practiced this week where we said, 'OK, these are going to help us win.' Sometimes you go into a game and it's a different story, and they start doing things differently and you have to adjust. It's a part of it. We had to get rid of some things and put some new things in."The things Patricia put in worked. To a T.

Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

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Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

When the topic of Deflategate was broached on HBO's Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which debuted this week, Ben Affleck became all kinds of fired up.

"What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone," Affleck said. "I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone . . . so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?"

Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and is a passionate Patriots fan. He made no attempts to hide his fandom, and his appreciation for Brady, as he and Simmons (also a Patriots fan) discussed the football-deflation controversy that has now lasted well over a year. 

Affleck, who said he would want to cast himself as Brady if ever a Deflategate movie was made, harped on the fact that the league wanted Brady to turn over his phone. 

"Maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman," Affleck said, "that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers."

Brady is waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision as to whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension issued by the league when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL, 2-1. 

Pro Football Talk wrote on Thursday that a decision from the Second Circuit could come at any time. If the rehearding request is denied, Brady could then take the case to the Supreme Court. Should the Second Circuit grant Brady a rehearing, his suspension would be delaed until the court reached a decision. In that case, Brady could potentially play the entire 2016 season before a decision came to pass. 

Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

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Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

Tom Brady wasn't always the most famous person in his family. Growing up, his sisters were the accomplished athletes in the household. 

For his latest Throwback Thursday style Facebook post, Brady published a pair of photos of an old high school essay that he wrote in the fall of his senior year in 1994. It was titled "The way my sisters influenced me."

I found an essay I wrote in 1994... I love my big sisters! #tbt. Thanks for the good grade Mr Stark!

Posted by Tom Brady on Thursday, June 23, 2016

In it, he discusses some of the difficulties of growing up with three older sisters and no brothers. Because Maureen, Julie and Nancy Brady had achieved so much in softball, basketball and soccer, Brady -- or "Tommy," as he signed his paper -- had trouble getting noticed. 

Of course, it wouldn't be long before Brady was headed from San Mateo, California to Ann Arbor, Michigan in order to play football for the Wolverines. He probably had no trouble garnering attention by then. Still, it's funny to read about how he felt overlooked in his youth. 

He closed the essay explaining that he knew his sisters would always provide him support throughout his life, adding, "hopefully, just maybe, one day people will walk up to them and say, 'Aren't you Tommy's sister?' or 'Hey where is your brother?' Maybe . . . "

If the Brady sisters didn't get those kinds of comments by the time the baby of the family was given an 'A' for his English assignment, it probably didn't take long before they did. About seven years later, he took over as the starting quarterback of the Patriots.