Curran: Pats manhandled by Lions

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Curran: Pats manhandled by Lions

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran DETROIT - A porous offensive line and a permissive secondary were a bad combination for the Patriots in Detroit Saturday night. In what's normally the showcase preseason - or at least the one taken most seriously - the Lions riddled New England's secondary for 272 first-half passing yards and took a 27-10 lead into halftime en route to a 34-10 whipping of the Pats. Matthew Stafford went 12-for-14 for 200 yards with two touchdown passes and backup Shaun Hill came on to go 5-of-9 for 80 yards and another touchdown. And it wasn't all Calvin Johnson. He had one catch for 30 yards. The rest of the Lions wideouts took advantage of a muted Patriots pass rush, some brilliantly placed throws by Stafford and some miscommunications and bad play in the secondary. Corner Kyle Arrington was beaten for two scores - one on a missed jam on tight end Tony Scheffler, another on a slant to Nate Burleson. Corner Devin McCourty was beaten three times on completions (one was a terrific adjustment by Johnson) and was also beaten on an end-zone fade that was dropped. Linebacker Jerod Mayo got beaten on back-to-back completions at the end of the half. The first, he was singled up on a running back. On the second, he appeared to think safety Patrick Chung should have been giving support. Bad as the secondary was, the work of the Patriots offensive line was more troubling. It was a half-long jailbreak in front of Tom Brady who went 11 of 20 for 142 yards and one 44-yard touchdown to Wes Welker. Brady was sacked twice and hit several other times. Right guard Sebastian Vollmer had a loooong half dealing with a rotation of rushers off the right side. Nate Solder, in at left tackle after Matt Light got the start, got bull-rushed and tossed at Brady's feet on the quarterback's one pick. Brady had no time to complete any passes to outside receivers. Chad Ochocinco was targeted once. That was the pick. Deion Branch saw no passes his way. Taylor Price had two balls thrown to him. Welker actually appeared to suffer a shoulder or neck injury when making the tackle after the pick. Trainers checked him out when he came to the sidelines. Welker didn't make it back in the second half with what was described as a neck injury. It wasn't a great half for Ocho who also had an offensive hold that wiped out a 15-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski. He also had a drop in the third quarter on a simple in-cut thrown by Brian Hoyer who came on in the third. Even when not pressured, Brady wasn't especially sharp. He missed Welker on a seam route that he normally makes with ease. Right guard Dan Connolly left after two series with an apparent injury. His replacement, Rich Ohrnberger was turnstiled time after time. Among the missing for the Patriots on Saturday night were corners Leigh Bodden and Ras-I Dowling, defensive linemen Mike Wright, Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis, linebackers Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher and running back Shane Vereen. Brandon Tate, back after missing last week's game in Tampa, had two kickoff returns for a total of 27 yards. James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather got the start at the safety spots. The Patriots opened with a 4-2 set with five defensive backs.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

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Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

Five-time Super Bowl champions. Seven-time AFC champs. Fourteen-time AFC East champs. Now, Bill Belichick's Patriots have another title.

NFL's most "badass" team.

The Tampa Bay Times polled a panel of 43 NFL writers and asked them for the top three most "badass" teams and players in the NFL.

MORE PATRIOTS

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots came out on top with 29 top-three votes. 

Here's a sampling of the panelists' comments:

"They keep winning in a league designed to discourage dynasties." -Terez A. Paylor, Kansas City Star

"Hands down. They take a three-touchdown lead and keep throwing, and throwing, and don't give a damn what anybody thinks." -Tyler Dunne, Bleacher Report

"For a decade they've been toying with and laughing at the rest of the league. The biggest bullies on the block." — Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

"Behind the glitz and glamour of having the game's greatest quarterback, the Patriots ranked among the league's top 10 scoring defenses each of the past five seasons, including No. 1 in 2016." — Ryan Wood, Green Bay Press-Gazette

The most badass player? Veteran Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The highest-ranked Patriot on the list? Tom Brady at No. 6. Rob Gronkowski was tied with Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 8. Julian Edelman was among the others receiving votes. 

Here are the full rankings: 

MOST BADASS TEAM 

1. Patriots (29 votes)

2. Seahawks (27)

3. Steelers (18)

4. Raiders (9)

5. Ravens (8)

6t. Broncos (6)

6t. Cowboys (6)

8. Bengals (4)

9t. Cardinals (2)

9t. Packers (2)

9t. Panthers (2)

9t. Texans (2)

Also receiving votes: Chiefs, Falcons, Rams, Titans (1 each)

MOST BADASS PLAYER

1. James Harrison, Steelers LB (14 votes)

2t. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB (10)

2t. J.J. Watt, Texans DE (10)

4t. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks S (8)

4t. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins DT (8)

6. Tom Brady, Patriots QB (7)

7. Von Miller, Broncos LB (6)

8t. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (5)

8t. Khalil Mack, Raiders LB (5)

10. Aaron Donald, Rams DT (4)