Patriots defense seeing red this season

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Patriots defense seeing red this season

FOXBORO Every week it seems a new team has their way with the New England Patriots defense . . . that is, until they enter the Red zone.

For all the criticism the Pats defense has taken this season, it's hard to imagine that their red-zone performance isn't all that different than what we've seen in recent years.

Teams this season have successfully converted 13 of their 24 red-zone trips against the Patriots, into touchdowns.

After a few finger punches on the old calculator, the screen spits out 54.17 as the rate in which opponents are scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, which ranks 20th in the NFL.

While that certainly leaves room for improvement, it's actually consistent with what New England has done in recent years.

Last year, opponents scored touchdowns 54 percent of the time they were in the red zone, which was down from 55 percent in 2009.

As much as the Patriots would love to shut teams down and limit their ball movement all game long, holding their own in the Red zone is critical to their team - any team for that matter - having a successful defense.

"You have to be able to win in the red area," said defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. "There's a difference from three points to seven points."

There is indeed a formula for success in the Red zone, a formula that changes from one game to the next.

"You have guys that go down there and want to run the ball in the red zone," Wilfork said. "You have guys that go down there and want to throw shots at the end zone. You have different set-ups down there, but we have to be able to defend it - defend it all."

Yes, red-zone defense often comes down to which team is more physical, able to control the line of scrimmage and win individual battles in the trenches.

But there's also a different mindset among defensive linemen inside the red zone, well aware that the margin for error is slim.

"Everything becomes tighter," said defensive lineman Shaun Ellis. "Plus the offense doesn't have that much field to work with."

The key, Ellis said, is communicating - something he believes he and the rest of the Patriots defensive line are doing a much better job at lately.

"It's starting to come together," Ellis said. "We just want to keep improving, and when the stretch comes, we're ready."

Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

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Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

When the topic of Deflategate was broached on HBO's Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which debuted this week, Ben Affleck became all kinds of fired up.

"What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone," Affleck said. "I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone . . . so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?"

Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and is a passionate Patriots fan. He made no attempts to hide his fandom, and his appreciation for Brady, as he and Simmons (also a Patriots fan) discussed the football-deflation controversy that has now lasted well over a year. 

Affleck, who said he would want to cast himself as Brady if ever a Deflategate movie was made, harped on the fact that the league wanted Brady to turn over his phone. 

"Maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman," Affleck said, "that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers."

Brady is waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision as to whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension issued by the league when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL, 2-1. 

Pro Football Talk wrote on Thursday that a decision from the Second Circuit could come at any time. If the rehearding request is denied, Brady could then take the case to the Supreme Court. Should the Second Circuit grant Brady a rehearing, his suspension would be delaed until the court reached a decision. In that case, Brady could potentially play the entire 2016 season before a decision came to pass. 

Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

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Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

Tom Brady wasn't always the most famous person in his family. Growing up, his sisters were the accomplished athletes in the household. 

For his latest Throwback Thursday style Facebook post, Brady published a pair of photos of an old high school essay that he wrote in the fall of his senior year in 1994. It was titled "The way my sisters influenced me."

I found an essay I wrote in 1994... I love my big sisters! #tbt. Thanks for the good grade Mr Stark!

Posted by Tom Brady on Thursday, June 23, 2016

In it, he discusses some of the difficulties of growing up with three older sisters and no brothers. Because Maureen, Julie and Nancy Brady had achieved so much in softball, basketball and soccer, Brady -- or "Tommy," as he signed his paper -- had trouble getting noticed. 

Of course, it wouldn't be long before Brady was headed from San Mateo, California to Ann Arbor, Michigan in order to play football for the Wolverines. He probably had no trouble garnering attention by then. Still, it's funny to read about how he felt overlooked in his youth. 

He closed the essay explaining that he knew his sisters would always provide him support throughout his life, adding, "hopefully, just maybe, one day people will walk up to them and say, 'Aren't you Tommy's sister?' or 'Hey where is your brother?' Maybe . . . "

If the Brady sisters didn't get those kinds of comments by the time the baby of the family was given an 'A' for his English assignment, it probably didn't take long before they did. About seven years later, he took over as the starting quarterback of the Patriots.