Banta-Cain's up-and-down final drive ends with sack


Banta-Cain's up-and-down final drive ends with sack

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick didn't praise his team or himself after Sunday night's 31-27 win over the Green Bay Packers. According to him, his Patriots "need to play better" or their season "won't last much longer."

That may be true. But at the end of the day, New England is now 12-2 after Sunday night's win, a win that was sealed thanks to Tully Banta-Cain's game-winning sack in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

The Patriots' linebacker made up for a penalty earlier in the drive that gave the ball back to Green Bay after Brandon Meriweather intercepted a Matt Flynn pass down the right sideline. The flag was thrown because Banta-Cain used his hands illegally, as he was rushing the quarterback from the outside.

The Packers got the ball back, and had a first down at the Patriots' 47-yard line. They drove down the 15-yard line, but, on 4th-and-1 from the 15, Banta-Cain secured the New England victory with a game-ending sack on Flynn.

"It felt great, because they were really pressing, and wesaw the clock ticking, so we knew it was down to one last play," said Banta-Cain. "Flynn startedscrambling to the right, came back to the left, and I was able to spin out. Itwas a great feeling to get that sack."

Especially after the penalty, which kept the drive alive.

"A flag was the last thing I expected to see, when I cameback, because I wanted to go congratulate Brandon Meriweather on the pick," Banta-Cain said. "The last thing I was thinking I was going to see was a yellow flag, so when Iran back and saw that, and they said, 'Hands to the face,' I mean, I wasbaffled."

He shouldn't have been; replays showed Banta-Cain clearly got his hands under the mask of a Packers offensive lineman as he rushed Flynn. Still, with the game on the line, he made up for the mistake.

"This is what we're paid to do," said Banta-Cain. "You've got to dig deep in these type of games. When it comes down to it, somebody has to make a play, and I just happened to be that guy today.

"Every week is a battle, and you can't expect to go out and blow out every team. But this is definitely a game where we're getting closer to playoff atmosphere, and it feels like every game is a one-game season. So this is definitely a big win for us, and hopefully we can play better as the games go on."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on

Belichick headlines big-name crowd in attendance at Ohio State pro day


Belichick headlines big-name crowd in attendance at Ohio State pro day

Bill Belichick has counted both Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano among the list of coaches he trusts. On Thursday, the Patriots coach was in attendance at Ohio State's pro day to watch players who've been coached by both. 

Belichick has been closely tied to both Meyer and Schiano over the years, drafting multiple players from their programs when Meyer was at the University of Florida and Schiano was at Rutgers University. The Schiano connection has been particularly strong in recent years as Belichick's son, Steve, played for Schiano, and the Patriots had three key players in their secondary -- Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan -- for the last four seasons who studied under Schiano. 

Now the head coach and associate head coach/defensive coordinator, respectively, Meyer and Schiano have tutored some of this year's top draft prospects. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the top-tier talent hailing from Columbus this year . . . 

Malik Hooker, safety: The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder is expected to be the first true free safety off the board. His impressive ball skills made him a turnover waiting to happen in the Big Ten. 

Marshon Lattimore, corner: With a 38.5-inch vertical and a 4.36-second 40-yard dash time, Lattimore is one of the best draft-eligible athletes this year. He was hampered by hamstring injuries in college, but he's still projected to be one of the first defensive backs taken. 

Gareon Conley, corner: Among the draft's fastest risers after putting together a strong combine (4.44 40-yard dash, 6.68-second three-cone), Conley will give his next team good size (6-feet, 195 pounds) and length (33-inch arms). He may not be as polished as Lattimore, but still could very well be a first-round pick.

Pat Elflein, center: This smart, hard-working pivot may not have the world's best footwork, but he should be among the first players taken at his position. Elflein (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) is a former wrestler who has experience at both center and guard. 

Curtis Samuel, receiver: A true all-purpose threat in college (AP All-American, first-team All-Big Ten), he could have trouble adapting to life as a full-time receiver in the NFL. At 5-11, 196 pounds that's probably where he'll end up.

Raekwon McMillan, linebacker: At 6-2, 240 pounds McMillan was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some concern as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level. The Patriots, as we've noted, have been looking at the linebacker position throughout the pre-draft process.

FBI returns Brady Super Bowl jerseys to Gillette

FBI returns Brady Super Bowl jerseys to Gillette

The FBI returned Tom Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LI jerseys to Gillete Stadium Thursday, days after recovering the stolen items. 

After the FBI’s visit, Robert Kraft issued the following statement:  

"We want to thank the FBI, the Mexican authorities and the many different local agencies that were involved in the investigation and ultimate recovery of Tom Brady's Super Bowl LI jersey. Working along with the Patriots and NFL security, those agencies collectively coordinated an investigation that also led to the recovery of Tom’s missing Super Bowl XLIX jersey. It was great to have both jerseys returned to Gillette Stadium today. I don’t know that any agency could have accomplished this independently, but collectively multiple agencies -- both in the U.S. and in Mexico -- worked together to achieve the goal of retrieving the stolen property. It is another example of the importance of teamwork and what can be accomplished when everyone works together. We appreciate the effort of everyone involved and look forward to returning these jerseys to Tom when he gets back to New England."

Brady’s jersey was reported missing shortly after the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI victory over the Falcons, with it being learned in recent days that Martin Mauricio Ortega Camberos of Mexican newspaper La Prensa was the culprit. Video emerged Tuesday of Ortega illegally entering the Patriots’ locker room and leaving with the jersey.