Paoletti: Following the routine on a night that was anything but


Paoletti: Following the routine on a night that was anything but

INDIANAPOLIS -- It ended so abruptly.

Tom Brady heaved that last Hail Mary into the end zone and nobody caught it. Game over. It felt like, four hours into the most ambitious, revealing conversation you've ever engaged in, your listener suddenly turned heel and walked away.

New England filed off the field, avoiding, beyond everything, the celebratory snowfall of confetti that precipitated for the New York football Giants. It was as if one glittery shred could have scalded Patriot skin.

The tradition that followed -- the media meet -- was hardly routine.

New England lost the Super Bowl. Again. Now the players had to talk about it. A job hazard. An obligation of both sides, every week, until the end.

Except there is no bright side at the end. No chance to correct mistakes, no chance to prove that the loss is not who you are, no chance to git 'em next week.

This truth was written on their faces.

One by one, the Patriots trickled into the makeshift "interview room." Black curtains partitioned the enormous space being occupied inside the bowels of Lucas Oil Stadium. Podiums dotted the slate gray floor in a horseshoe shape.

The players stepped up, sat down, and dared reporters to speak.

Sometimes, nobody did.

Jerod Mayo didn't even relieve himself of his uniform, so badly did he want the damn thing over with. He broke the silence first trying to expedite the process: "Let's go! Let's go!"

BenJarvus Green-Ellis barely moved his mouth to shape his words, as if that would soften their reality. "Football is a game that's played where everything's earned. Nothing is given to nobody. The Giants earned it." His is not a dynamic personality anyway; Sunday night, Green-Ellis looked broken.

James Ihedigbo took his corner podium like a wounded wolf. He bared his teeth on every answer, stubbornly refusing to show weakness. "I don't think there's one play they beat us out there," he growled.

Rob Gronkowski was heartbreakingly gracious. "We'll have more chances." The optimism betrayed his youth -- and his remarkable talent. Confidence, naivety -- both -- fueled his optimism. You wanted to believe him.

The rest ranged from near-tears regret (Wes Welker) to broad-minded determination. (Kyle Arrington). And all of it happened in startling proximity to the Super Bowl Champion Giants.

Figuratively, the teams were separated by an ocean of a designation: winners, losers. Literally, all that stood between them were those indifferent black curtains.

The PA system's boom of player announcements cut awkwardly into the Patriots' efforts. "I can't hear you," more than a few said.

Eli Manning's availability was pronounced too loud.

Finally, it was time to pack up and go home. Today they went to Gillette, packed up, and went home from 2011 for good.

Until the conversation can begin again.

Brady not concerned with Bills attempts at bullying this time around


Brady not concerned with Bills attempts at bullying this time around

FOXBORO -- The last time the Patriots and Bills met, things were feisty from the jump.

Patriots rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett was shoved by Bills defensive back Robert Blanton as Brissett jogged by Buffalo's warmups. That prompted Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell to stop and get in Blanton's face. From there, Patriots coaches did what they could to break it up, but there was continued shoving back and forth until the two sides could be separated. 

Days later, Blanton -- as well as corner Nickell Robey-Coleman and safety Aaron Williams -- were fined for unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct. 

Would that have occurred had Tom Brady not been suspended? Probably not. Brady was asked about that incident on Wednesday, and whether it spoke to the "bully" mentality that coach Rex Ryan has worked to foster during his tenure in Buffalo. 
"Yeah, I think it’s more so what we do when the game kicks off as opposed to what happens before the game or during the week," Brady replied. "You get into a bunch of trash talk and you know us, we’ve never got into that stuff because in the end, it’s just a big waste of energy.

"You focus on the things you need to do to help the team win, and that’s to play well and execute and spend your time on what’s going to happen from the point when the game kicks off to when it ends. That’s where our focus is, that’s where it always will be. We’ll go in there, we’ll be focused, we’ll be ready to go, and we’ll go out there and try to play a lot better than the last time we played them."

Brady's comments that the Patriots have "never got into" trash talk is a head-scratcher -- he's jawed back and forth with opponents on plenty of occasions during his career -- but his point stands: That stuff probably isn't helping anyone. 

Once the ball is kicked on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Brady will have to contend with a defense that shut out the shorthanded Patriots at Gillette Stadium for the first time in the building's history. He'll also have one of the more raucous crowds in the league buzzing in his earhole.
"They’re just into it," Brady said of Buffalo fans. "I mean, they’re into it from the first quarter all the way to the last; from pregame warmups to the end of the game. I think it challenges your communication, so we practice – and we played, last week was pretty loud. We’ve played in a lot of loud stadiums and Buffalo is definitely one of the tops.

"I think the thing that is most challenging is when they’re making plays and sacking the quarterback and turnovers like they’ve been getting a lot of this year. That’s what really kind of gets them amped up."


Lewis not at Patriots practice; Van Noy works out with linebackers


Lewis not at Patriots practice; Van Noy works out with linebackers

FOXBORO -- Though Dion Lewis is expected to practice this week, he was not on the field with teammates Wednesday.

Lewis was eligible to begin practicing last week but remained sidelined. On Wednesday morning, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported that the Patriots running back would be on the field this week. Once Lewis does begin practicing, the team will have three weeks to determine whether or not he is activated. 

Newly acquired Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy was present for his first practice in New England about 24 hours after being dealt by the Lions. The 6-foot-3, 243-pounder was working out with Patriots off-the-ball linebackers (Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts) to begin the session. 

The Patriots have parted ways with practice-squad offensive lineman Chase Farris, it appears. His spot on the 10-man practice-squad unit has been taken by defensive lineman Anthony Johnson.