McCourty: 'My teammates saved my life'

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McCourty: 'My teammates saved my life'

FOXBORO - Had the Patriots lost to the New York Jets on Sunday, there's no doubt that Devin McCourty would have been criticized more for his fourth-quarter fumble, than he would have for his first-quarter touchdown.

It was quite a day for the Patriots cornerback, who played the entire game at safety.

In the opening minutes of the first quarter, McCourty answered a Jets 76-yard touchdown drive with a 104-yard kickoff return that tied the score at 7.

Still, after the Jets tied it at 23 with a little more than two minutes left in the game, McCourty fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and New York recovered, leading to another Jets field goal and a Jets 26-23 lead with 1:37 left to play.

New England's offense answered with a strong drive which led to a tying field goal of their own, sending the game to overtime, where the Patriots eventually won, 29-26.

"My teammates saved my life today," said McCourty. "I made a bad mistake in the fourth quarter. I've just got to do a better job holding onto the ball. Today was like a total team win. We just kept fighting Things didn't go our way the whole game. Today we made enough plays when we needed to, to get the win."

McCourty's early touchdown marked the first kickoff he returned for a score since his senior year of college at Rutgers. And it was just how you'd draw it up.

"It was kind of, I think, what a special teams coach would love to see," said McCourty. "I ran the ball, made one cut, and everyone else got blocked, except for the kicker. So, when your kickoff return team does that, and blocks everyone except for one guy, as a returner, you have to score right there.

"All our returners, we know if we get up to the kicker, we've got to beat him."

McCourty beat him, but it was old news once he fumbled on the kickoff in the final minutes of the game.

"The fourth quarter is so important," said McCourty. "My goal is to try to play mistake-free in the fourth quarter. That's a big one. It's not defensively, but it's something I really work on. I'm a big part of that kickoff return team. I think my teammates just did a great job, because on that touchdown, no one touched me. I just have to work on my responsibility, and that's holding onto the ball."

As he said, McCourty's teammates saved him. And more specifically, Rob Ninkovich saved him, sealing the deal on New England's win with a sack and a fumble recovery in overtime.

Because of the win, the Patriots won't focus on McCourty's fumble. They'll thank him for the early touchdown instead.

"It's tough, but I think that Dev's a great player for us," said Ninkovich. "And it's just a tough spot for him, obviously, because I know how much of a competitor Dev is. And we were alright. We bounced back from it. We had a touchdown that we wouldn't have had, if it wasn't for him."

Patriots players got a refresher on NFL social media policy because of Brown

Patriots players got a refresher on NFL social media policy because of Brown

FOXBORO -- Antonio Brown's live stream of coach Mike Tomlin's postgame speech on Sunday had a ripple effect that traveled all the way to New England: Just in case Patriots players weren't familiar with the league's social-media policy, they were reminded of it this week. 

"We were reminded of that," receiver Chris Hogan said. "I’m not sure what the timing is, but obviously, I don’t think we’ll see guys doing that in the locker room."

Players are prohibited from using social media in the locker room until media outlets have been given an opportunity to talk to players following games. Brown's Facebook Live video, which garnered national attention almost as soon as it went online, was shot well before the visitor's locker room at Arrowhead Stadium opened following Pittsburgh's win over Kansas City.

"We have a team policy on that," special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "Strictly enforced. We go from there."

Of course part of the reason the video became as widely disseminated as it did was because it caught Tomlin calling the Patriots "a--holes."

"I have a lot of respect for Coach Tomlin," Slater said when asked about Tomlin's speech. "I appreciate the way he prepares his team. I’ve had a good working relationship with him over the years, and it will continue to be that way."

Both Slater and Hogan insisted that their focus will be trained solely on preparing for what Tomlin and his players will do when they arrive to Gillette Stadium Sunday night -- not what they say leading up to kickoff.

"You come in here, you're automatically bought into what we preach here, what coach [Bill] Belichick preaches," Hogan said. "It's football. We're 100 percent football here. It's not about anything outside. Between the media or whatever it is outside of football, whatever we're doing. When we come here, it's 100 percent football. That's all we're focused on is the opponent we're playing that week."

Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

Whether Goodell visits Foxboro or not, Patriots players say they don't care

FOXBORO -- Roger Goodell will reportedly be in Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game this weekend and therefore will miss the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. His absence will mean he hasn't been to a Patriots game in more than two years, when he was present for the AFC title game in 2015 -- the birth of Deflategate. 

It's news that broke on Tuesday and sent some Patriots fans into an uproar. Patriots players, though, sound like they're having a hard time caring one way or the other.

"He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Monday. "If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come."

In the Patriots locker room on Tuesday, others struck a similar tone.

"I could not care less," said Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. "I'm focused on Pittsburgh and their defense and studying them as much as I can this week, watching them as much as I can so that I can go out there on Sunday and be prepared."

Special teams captain Matthew Slater was similarly disinterested in the discussion.

"The game's going to be played," he said. "Whoever's in attendance is in attendance. We'll just worry about trying to play well."