McDaniels explains Lloyd's shaky Sunday

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McDaniels explains Lloyd's shaky Sunday

Brandon Lloyd didn't have a normal Sunday. In fact, he was as quiet as he's been since the 2008 season when he was a spare part on the Chicago Bears.

The Patriots outside-the-numbers wideout had one catch for 6 yards. He was targeted on eight Tom Brady throws. Three of the incompletions could be classified as drops since they were on Lloyd's hands or body and not hauled in.

Earlier this year, Lloyd had a three-catch, 34-yard day against the Broncos. Last year, he had a a three-catch, 29-yard day when he was targeted 12 times for the Rams. In 2010, while with Denver, Lloyd had two catches on 11 targets for 31 yards. But you have to go back to December 2008 when Lloyd failed to catch the only pass he was thrown in a game between the Bears and Jaguars to find a less impactful day.

Asked about Lloyd failing to answer the bell, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained Lloyd's role was "having an opportunity to go down the field on some of those different play-action plays."

On the three missed connections with Tom Brady, Lloyd slid and took it off the chest on a deep in-cut; he also dove and had a ball slide out of his normally vise-like grip. Finally, Brady hit him in the throat with a bomb down the sideline with a possible game-ender that Lloyd bumbled away.

"A couple of those catches would have been great catches and the funny thing is that we always anticipate that he is gonna do it because he has so many times previously," said McDaniels. "I think he will going forward. I think it was a matter of one of those days where we were close on some of those deep throws, there were some missed opportunities there and I'm sure Brandon would like to make some of those plays."

Lloyd has not been a disappointment on the field. He's got 35 catches for 407 yards and a touchdown. You can quibble with the yards after catch numbers (not very many since Lloyd goes down faster than a metal balloon when he makes a catch in traffic). You can quibble with his yards per catch average (11.6, which is less than the Patriots slot receiver and one of their tight ends). But you can't argue he hasn't been an outside upgrade.

Practice, said McDaniels, is where the down-the-field progress must be made.

"We gotta work hard in practice," said McDaniels. "I think that's where the timing and chemistry (blossoms) and then those deep throws that obviously have a lower percentage chance of working. You really gotta work hard in practice as much as you can in those couple of days during practice each week to try and master some of those things to improve it as best we can."

The mercurial Lloyd hasn't been available much after games. Entreaties to speak after the Seattle loss and during the past week were met with icy, wordless stares.

McDaniels said the Patriots need to continue to be diverse in where they throw to loosen up room for Lloyd on the edges.

"I don't think that's been a normal thing for Brandon to go like that and have one catch on so many different targets but it's not just him we have some other things we can do better to help some of those plays and situations," said McDaniels. "We have to do a good job of making sure that everybody's targeted inside the numbers, outside the numbers, down the field and put as much stress as we can on the field."

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.
 

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