Patriots defense lets down in fourth quarter

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Patriots defense lets down in fourth quarter

FOXBORO -- Jerod Mayo recorded his first NFL interception in the fourth quarter of the Patriots' 31-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

It was one of the only positives coming from a fourth quarter that saw New England outscored 21-0.

"I was just reading the quarterback and just broke on the ball," said Mayo about his diving interception over the middle. "I don't remember, to be honest with you. I'll have to go back and watch the film."

When Mayo -- and the rest of the Patriots' defense -- goes back and watches that film, chances are, they're going to look at a whole lot more than just Mayo's interception.

They're also going to take a look at Indianapolis' 88, 93, and 90-yard scoring drives from that fourth quarter, which turned a 31-3 Patriots lead into a 31-24 final.

"We played good for 45 minutes, and then didn't do anything offensively in the fourth quarter," said Tom Brady after the game. "So we'll hear about that tomorrow."

Brady wasn't about to throw his defense under the bus. But as bad as the offense looked putting up a goose egg in the final 15 minutes on Sunday, the defense looked worse.

"We started off fast, we just couldn't finish the game," said Mayo. "Those guys fought back and executed at the end of the game, and we couldn't put two halves together. Hopefully we do it next week.

"It's kind of disappointing, to be honest with you," added Mayo. "Even though it's a win, and it's hard to win games in the National Football League, you want to finish so much stronger than that."

So what was the reason for the poor finish?

"Poor execution, lack of execution, lack of focus," said Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington. "Got to really look at the film. It's hard to really tell right now. We'll go back, look it over, and take a hard look in the mirror and see how we can get better."

"I thought we did some good things out there today," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "We've obviously got to do a better job of finishing the game. That was disappointing, but we'll work on that. We'll get back to work here and get ready for Washington next week.

"I think we did some good things today," added Belichick. "There are other things we didn't do as well. That's the way it is every week."

Defensive lineman Andre Carter was a little more optimistic than others about the way New England finished defensively. The veteran sounded like a guy who believed some -- if not most -- of the let down at the end was more about human nature creeping into a 31-3 lead against a winless team, rather than a lack of skill.

"We just know that, in the end, as a team, we have the talent, and we have the mentality," said Carter. "We just have to finish strong. It's something that we have to communicate as a group and as a team, and move on from there.

"I think in general, it's a mindset," added Carter. "It's just knowing what you have to do, and going out there trying to execute. Unfortunately, towards the end, final stretch of the game, Indy was just able to make big plays. And that is something we have to eliminate."

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

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Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.

Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

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Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the Dan Patrick Show -- hosted by Ross Tucker on Monday -- to discuss the petition that was eventually filed to the Second Circuit requesting a rehearing for Tom Brady's case. 

During the discussion, Smith insisted that Brady made a settlement offer long ago that might've resolved things. But because the NFL wanted more, a deal was never struck. Now here we are, almost 500 days since the AFC Championship Game in January of 2015, and Deflategate is still a living, breathing thing. 

"Tom's a standup guy," Smith said. "And I think he made a settlement offer to resolve this. The league chose not to take it, and that's where we are . . . I don't want to go into details, but it was an incredibly generous offer to resolve this. The league asked for something that no man should agree to do."

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran explained on Monday's episode of Quick Slants that Brady was willing to accept a one-game suspension for a lack of cooperation at the outset of the investigation. But the league was looking for a face to take the blame, Curran explained. 

Both Jim McNally and John Jastremski were willing to take the heat off of Brady, but Brady insisted that he would not throw anyone else under the bus because he believed that there was no wrongdoing on his part or anyone else's when it came to the preparation of game footballs. 

With no one offered up to shoulder the blame, the NFL declined to agree to any proposal from Brady's camp. At that point, it would have been almost impossible to predict that this case would one day be only a step or two from getting the US Supreme Court involved. 

Yet here we are.