Box Score Bank: Long Live Marion Butts!

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Box Score Bank: Long Live Marion Butts!

Tuesday's a quiet day around the NFL. Every day's a quiet day for the Red Sox. Hockey's taking a nap. The NBA still a few weeks out. And here on Standing Room Only, that means three words: Box. Score. Bank.

I wanted to go with a Pats game today, so I started looking back through the years hoping to find a September 18th date that was worthy of some press. Here's what I found:

The last time the Pats played on 918 was way back in 2011, when they beat the Chargers in Week 2. (Think we'll skip that for now.) The last time before that? September 18, 2005 when the defending champs were upset by Stephen Davis and the Panthers. (No thanks.)

And the last time before that?

September 18, 1994.

Yes.

So let's set the Box Score Bank for 18 years ago today . . .

The Lion King was the top movie at the box office, narrowly edging Forrest Gump and not narrowly edging House Party 3. "I'll Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men was in the midst of its 14-week run atop the Billboard charts. A month earlier, Major League Ball called it quits on the '94 season. Two months later, the Jacksonville Jaguars were announced as the NFL's 30th franchise. Bill Parcells was in his second year as coach of the Patriots. Aaron Hernandez was four years old.

And over in Cincinnati, the Pats were riding high on the back of big 'ol Marion Butts.

Final Score: Patriots 31, Bengals 28

Butts probably shouldn't get all the credit. After all, Drew Bledsoe had a solid game, completing 30 of 50 passes for 350 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and patting the ball in the pocket an NFL record 117 times. The great Michael Timpson had a nice game with 10 catches for 125 yards and a TD. Not to be outdone, the Pats D picked up seven sacks on David Klinger. But mostly because his name is Marion Butts, I'm giving the game ball to Marion Butts, who ran for two touchdowns (including the clincher in the fourth) in the Pats big Week 3 win.

It was a season of streaks for the Pats back in '94. This win over Cincy broke a two-game drought. After that, they ran off three straight wins. That was followed by four straight losses. And finally, a seven-game winning streak that powered New England to a 10-6 record and their first playoff appearance since 1986.

There, they met the Cleveland Browns and a 42-year-old named Bill Belichick, in the first playoff game on head coaching career.

The Pats dropped that one, 20-13. Not so coincidentally? Marion Butts spent the entire game on the bench.

"Don't take any signals," Parcells said afterwards. "I was just doing what I thought for that particular game. It has nothing to do with Marion Butts."

Butts was gone the next year.

But he'll always have Cincinnati.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

NFL combine preview: Tight ends

NFL combine preview: Tight ends

With the NFL combine about to begin -- and the NFL Draft just about two months away -- we'll take a daily look at the collegiate talent available at positions where the Patriots might be looking for help. We start today with: Tight ends.

On Tuesday, players will arrive in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine, with on-field workouts beginning Friday. 

The second group to take the field is the tight end group, which should be worth watching for a number of reasons. For starters, Todd McShay says that this is “a good year to need a tight end” given that there could be three first-rounders in O.J. Howard, David Njoku and Jake Butt.

Furthermore, Martellus Bennett’s potential departure and Rob Gronkowski’s durability questions make tight end a position the Patriots could target early come April 27. 

Here’s a quick look at each of the 19 tight ends invited to the combine: 

O.J. Howard, Alabama, 6-foot-6, 249 pounds

- NFL.com describes him as an “exceptionally gifted athlete” and says that his “play speed resembles a wide receiver’s when the ball is in the air.” They add he “appears passive” as a blocker and “need more muscle and mass to be an in-line blocker as a pro.”

David Njoku, Miami, 6-foot-4, 245 pounds

- Not the biggest guy in the world at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, but is considered a top-end athlete. NFL.com says he “should annihilate the combine with monster numbers in speed and explosion.”

Jake Butt, Michigan, 6-foot-6, 250 pounds 

- Does everything well, but could stand to fill out his frame a bit more. 

Jordan Leggett, Clemson, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds

- Not considered a great blocker and has admitted that he’s played lazily. Could the Pats fix his motor? 

Gerald Everett, South Alabama, 6-foot-3, 227 pounds

- Very interesting prospect. Primarily a basketball player in high school who played just one year of football (insert Antonio Gates basketball reference), Everett played at Alabama-Birmingham before the school cut its football program. Upon transferring to South Alabama, Everett showed his skills as a pass-catching tight end. 

Evan Engram, Mississippi, 6-foot-3, 236 pounds

- Itty bitty for a tight end, and he doesn’t have the greatest hands either. Described as a “move tight end only who lacks dependability as a blocker.”   

He was one of five who for second in the nation among tight ends with eight touchdowns last season. Other guys in that group were Njoku, Hayden Plinke,  Cole Hikutini and UMass’ Adam Breneman.

Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech, 6-foot-7, 245 pounds

- Just your average quarterback-turned-tight-end. The lanky Hodges would be a good fit for the Patriots simply because it would give Julian Edelman a break from the constant mention during broadcasts that he used to be a QB. 

Cole Hikutini, Louisville, 6-foot-5, 248 pounds

- A good athlete who isn’t much of a blocker.

Adam Shaheen, Ashland, 6-foot-6, 277 pounds

- Former college basketball player transferred from Pittsburgh-Johnstown to Ashland to focus on football and eventually established himself as a dominant player at the Division II level. He’s certainly got the size and strength, but questions will persist about just how similarly he holds up going from Division II to the NFL. 

Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas, 6-foot-5, 265 pounds

- Big, physical tight end with a solid stiff arm. Sprinkle was suspended by Arkansas for the Belk Bowl because he stole from a Belk department store after each player had been given $450 to spend there. He was arrested for the incident, as he stole $260 worth of extra items.

Pharoh Brown, Oregon, 6-foot-6, 245 pounds

- Not considered the athlete he was prior to a 2014 injury that nearly resulted in his leg being amputated. 

Michael Roberts, Toledo, 6-foot-4, 261 pounds

- Huge hands, which he uses to catch better than block. He led all FBS tight ends with 16 touchdowns last season. 

Jonnu Smith, Florida International, 6-foot-3, 245 pounds

- College career was ended prematurely when his pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on him, resulting in severe burns throughout his upper body, including his head. He has good speed, but drops were an issue in college. 

Scott Orndoff, Pittsburgh, 6-foot-5, 256 pounds

- Figures to be a solid blocking tight end, but he also had five receiving touchdowns as a senior. 

Eric Saubert, Drake, 6-foot-5, 251 pounds

- Every draft pick is a gamble, but Saubert might be more so than others. An AFC regional scout says that Saubert is “body beautiful but he can’t catch. I don’t think it’s correctable, either.”

Cethan Carter, Nebraska, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds

- Elbow injuries figure to be a topic at the combine, and he had various injuries throughout his college career. 

Darrell Daniels, Washington, 6-foot-4, 246 pounds

- A scout told NFL.com that Daniels is "going to test through the roof and he's going to get overdrafted on the traits.” The Patriots don’t typically fall into such traps. 

George Kittle, Iowa, 6-foot-4, 250 pounds

- Only had one drop as a senior, but then again being believed to have had no drops in college doesn’t make a guy an NFL stud. 

Hayden Plinke, UTEP, 6-foot-4, 265 pounds

- Transferred twice in his college career, starting at Boise State, then Portland State and finally UTEP. Is considered a good blocker who grabbed eight touchdowns as a senior. 
 

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."