FOXBORO - Robert Gallery said Thursday morning that it was a "goal" to play for the Patriots.
A "goal"? Why's that?
Well, it seems that after eight seasons of steady NFL disappointment, he needs something to look forward
"I knew a lot about this place when I was in college at Iowa withCoach Kirk Ferentz and his relationship with Bill Belichick," explained Gallery, the second overall pick in the 2004 draft. "It's a place that's run right andthe tradition's right and they're all about winning. Going through eight yearsof never having a winning season, that's something you really covet when youget to this point, so that's why I'm here."
Gallery spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Raiders. He spent last year with the Seahawks. He's never been part of a team that finished over .500. And when you are a 6-foot-7, 325-pound lineman who entered the league with "potential Hall of Famer" attached to your profile, the losing and the disappointment become a drag and you become a symbol of a team's malaise.
The 31-year-old Gallery, who signed as a free agent March 19, didn't take long to make up his mind on the one-year, 1 million deal he was offered.
"This was an easy decision," said Gallery, a player that the Patriots' organization thought very highly of since he was in college. "We heard from these guys first and it was a fastdecision for me because this has been a goal for a while and obviously whenthey reached out it was a done deal after we talked about it.
'It was a good fit for both of us, I was excitedwhen I got the call. It's a place I've known about since college and that I'vealways wanted to be a part of and it worked out.
"Winning is one of the big reasons that I came here because we've never had a winningseason in my eight years and obviously that's why you play this game and that'sa very big part of my deciding to come here."
The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory.
The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.
After conference record, it's the teams record in common games.
PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10
So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.
So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.
Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.
As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.
But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.
The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.
The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.
PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the New York Giants' winning streak with a familiar formula.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh's resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes in a dominant 24-14 win on Sunday.
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