Patriots re-write history with second half


Patriots re-write history with second half

A few thousand years from now, Internet archaeologists will stumble upon a moment in virtual time that defies explanation and logic.

September 30, 2012, 1:30 2:30 pm: A string of panicked tweets surrounding the New England Patriots Week 4 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Long, ugly message board threads burying Tom Brady, calling for Bill Belichicks head and mourning the Pats 1-3 start. E-mail chains, Facebook posts and more than enough sufficient evidence to support the idea of a Bills victory.

They'll be dumb-founded. What the hell is this?" they'll ask. "Our records show that the Pats started 2-2. They beat the Bills by more than three touchdowns!. But this . . . this is so real.

At this point, theyll hop in their time machine and head straight for Buffalo, wondering if they just uncovered a new channel on the space-time continuum.

Instead, theyll get there just in time to witness one of the most dominant halves in NFL history.

For those of us who were actually there, it's almost impossible to recreate the reality of New England's 1-3 start. But we all know it happened. Whether it was on the heels of Rob Gronkowski's fumble, Wes Welker's fumble, either of Stephen Gostkowski's missed field goals, Donald Jones' touchdown or any number of plays over the first two and a half quarters of yesterday's game, at one point, we all felt 1-3. We all saw the season slipping away.

But like I said, this morning those feelings are more foreign than Darko Milicic.

The Pats are done?

Hell no. They're just getting started.

Tom Brady's re-focused on Gronk, finding a rhythm with Brandon Lloyd and hasn't thrown an interception since his first attempt against Arizona. Wes Welker's back among the NFL leaders in receptions and receiving yards. The offensive line, even without Logan Mankins, shut down Super Mario and the most prolific pass rush in the division. And the running game? Forget Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden suddenly looks like the guy Laurence Maroney was supposed to be. (In terms of scoring points, the only real concern is Gostkowski, who's threatening to dethrone Daniel Bard as Boston's resident mental patient, but there's too much history to give up on him yet.)

On defense, things still aren't perfect, but there's more reason to believe that the Pats can compensate for those imperfections.

Devin McCourty answered the call after last week's disaster with two interceptions against Ryan Fitzpatrick. Say what you will about the quality of the passes, but the bottom line is that McCourty found himself in a position to make a play, and made it. Twice.

There's no doubt that McCourty and friends were helped by the existence of a Patriots pass rush. Last Sunday night, Joe Flacco had all day to pick apart the secondary. Yesterday, Fitzpatrick was constantly under pressure. By the end of the day, Crimson was not only his alma mater but also the color of his underwear.

In the middle, Brandon Spikes continues to prove himself as the perfect complement to Jerod Mayo and the number one impact player on this Patriots defense. Of course, Spikes is still a wild card, based on the fact that he's out of his mind. He might pick up a sack and force two more fumbles next week against the Broncos. He might throw his helmet at a ref. Who knows? But as long as he's on the field, the Patriots 'D' is on another level.

Speaking of which, Vince Wilfork turns 31 next month. He's played in more than 125 NFL games. Yet he continuous to play with the energy and passion of a rookie. He's in his ninth NFL season, and still impacts games in a way that guys his size just aren't supposed to: Tipping passes, recovering fumbles, fading back into coverage to deliver the most entertaining hit of the season.

By the way, did you notice that the Pats were only called for one penalty against the Bills?


And it came on a punt.

So, to quickly summarize: Yesterday, the Pats went on the road. Within the division. Scored 52 points. Forced six turnovers. Surrendered only one sack. And were called for only one penalty.

Think about that for a second.

What a performance.

Now think back to about two o'clock yesterday afternoon.

How was that even real?

It's a question they'll be asking for at least another few thousand years.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Curran's Patriots-Bills preview


Curran's Patriots-Bills preview

Click here for the gallery.

FOXBORO  – Four quarters left in Tom Brady’s suspension, an undetermined (but also dwindling) number of days remaining in Rex Ryan’s tenure as a head coach, this game is intriguing for a lot of reasons. The Patriots can close out a remarkable quarter-season performance without Brady and put him back in the driver’s seat with a three-game edge over the Bills simply by taking out Rex. How they manage that – and which quarterback manages that – is the question that’s swirled all week.
Traditionally, the Patriots have thrown over and around the Bills’ front-seven with great success. Tom Brady’s good at that. Jimmy Garoppolo, with a bad shoulder, or Jacoby Brissett, with limited experience, may not be able to pull off the same act. Which means this could be a day for LeGarrette Blount who so far is leading the league in rushing. Many of those yards have come at the closeout juncture of games. This week, he may asked to do the damage early. The Bills have allowed five touchdowns on the grounds this season but only 3.4 yards per carry.
Without Sammy Watkins and dealing with issues at left tackle, the Bills are going to have to get a productive, 25-to-30-touch game out of running back LeSean McCoy. He’s handled the ball 59 times so far in three games (11 catches) and has been by far the focal point of the Bills offense. But with the Patriots having the chance to fixate on McCoy, Buffalo and newly-minted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn better have a backup plan if and when the Patriots send multiple players to dog him. The Bills’ will be in a position where it’s on Tyrod Taylor to figure something out. The Patriots aren’t going to aggressively rush him. If the rush gets past him, it was done by mistake. Force Taylor to be a passer, find Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and  ailing tight end Charles Clay. Meanwhile, the Patriots figure to have Donta Hightower back to help with quarterbacking the defense. The Patriots are in a position defensively to really put the screws to a Bills team that doesn’t seem to have a lot of options.
Old friend Brandon Tate is the Bills’ return guy on both punts and kickoffs. He’ll get a good test from the Patriots special teams corps which has been a major story this season. Ryan Allen had a career game last week against Houston with six punts inside the 20 and one sitting on the 20. There were no return yards. The Patriots kick coverage created two turnovers last game against Houston and hasn’t allowed a return past the 25.
QUESTIONABLE: QB Jacoby Brissett (thumb), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (calf), G Jonathan Cooper (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee), CB Eric Rowe
OUT: WR Sammy Watkins (foot), T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee) and WR Greg Salas (groin) QUESTIONABLE: S Colt Anderson (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder), S Jonathan Meeks(foot) and S Aaron Williams (ankle)

The speed with which Buffalo adjusts to the Patriots offensive game plan and whether or not the Patriots have an adjustment to the adjustment. The uncertainty of the Patriots quarterback situation has been a distraction for the Bills and Rex Ryan this week and – given the Bills leaky pass defense – how Buffalo decides to deploy will matter a lot depending on who’s at quarterback.
Jannyris Edeldolagan. That’s just an amalgamation of the three wideouts of similar talent, pallor and quickness that kill defenses in the receiver shell game the Patriots play every week. Just when a defense thinks it’s got it figured out on a key third down and has set itself to take away Edelman, for instance, the dagger gets inserted by Amendola or Hogan. It’s like a shell game.
LeSean McCoy. That’s the whole damn game. Cuz you. Don’t wanna mess with Shady. Cuz Shady. Will … cause big problems.
“I fly around every day. You can’t land this jet, you know what I’m saying? It’s like having a private plane, wherever I want to go, I just go. I don’t have to worry about no jet fuel. I would say Gatorade but they don’t sponsor me so I’ll just go get me some good ole’ something to drink, and Gatorade can have the plug.” – Martellus Bennett, Patriots tight end, on the team flying around in September.
“It’s more of a ‘this is still a game.’ It’s a billion dollar industry and things but it’s still a game and you’ve got to be true to yourself and I’m true to myself. To me it’s just a thing where, you know, I enjoy Belichick’s press conferences and everything else because he’s true to himself and he does a great job. It’s pretty funny to me because you guys can never get anything out of him and I just think it’s great. It’s kind of funny that way. I pulled it knowing that every question is going to be about who’s the quarterback and all that. One thing I know for sure is that Tom Brady is not the quarterback and I feel good about that.” – Simple Rex, after being asked why he mimicked Bill Belichick during his week-opening press conference
Patriots 23, Bills 13

Report: Ex-Raiders FB Marcel Reece works out for Patriots


Report: Ex-Raiders FB Marcel Reece works out for Patriots

Fullback Marcel Reece, cut by the Oakland Raiders earlier this week, was one of five players who worked out Friday for the Patriots, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported

Reece, a seven-year NFL veteran, all with the Raiders, was suspended last December for the final game of the 2015 season and the first three games of this season for violating the NFL performance enhancing drug policy. 

Reiss reported that guards Jake Bernstein and Chase Farris, center Robert Kugler and tight end Greg Scruggs also worked out for the Patriots on Friday.

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