Felger: Everything old is new again for Patriots

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Felger: Everything old is new again for Patriots

By Michael Felger

That was an old-school Patriots win.

Old school as in special teams carrying the day.

Old school as in undrafted andor unheralded players making game-winning plays.

Old school as in maintaining composure on the road.

Old school as in playing well in the second half.

Old school as in feeling disrespected and actually doing something about it.

Not that I'd recomend making travel plans to Dallas (site of the Super Bowl) for February just yet. But at least the next two weeks should be a pleasant stretch for the Patriots and their fans after Monday's 41-14 thumping of the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

There's nothing worse than spending two weeks bemoaning a loss. Instead, the Pats gave themselves something to build off while silencing their critics for at least the next 12 days.

Guess we'll have to spend the next two weeks ripping the Red Sox.

As for Monday, it was a vintage, 2001-era victory.

That's what was going through my head as I watched the Pats return a kickoff for a touchdown (Brandon Tate to open the second half), block a punt (by Patrick Chung) to set up a score, and block a field goal (again by Chung) to give them another touchdown return (by Kyle Arrington). Sort felt like the 2001 AFC title game in Pittsburgh. Remember?

That was also the feeling after witnessing the performances of Rob Ninkovich (two interceptions, sack), Danny Woodhead (36 rushing yards; 11-yard touchdown catch) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (76 rushing yards; touchdown). Future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, meanwhile, didn't even catch a single pass. It was fitting. Sort of felt like the days of David Patten, Bobby Hamilton and Jermaine Wiggins all over again.

When it comes to winning on the road and playing well in the clutch -- forget 2001. Coming up big in hostile environments was a hallmark of the Patriots right up through 2008.

And, finally, that element returned on Monday night, as the Pats outscored the Fish, 38-7, after halftime and recorded their biggest road win since beating the eventual AFC East champion Dolphins in Miami in November of 2008.

Remember, that game was under the direction of Matt Cassel.

For Tom Brady, you'd have to go back to Week 17 of 2007 for his last feel-good road win.

And you could tell he felt good about it. The shots ESPN got of Bill Belichick and Brady celebrating in the final two minutes constitute what I call Patriots porn for the footy-pajama crowd. It was quite a sight. And it was deserved. Belichick reportedly spent much of the past week letting his players know how much heat they were taking in the media, and the players were able to turn that around and use it as motivation.

The Pats used to do that, too. A lot.

Remember?

Felger's report card will post Wednesday. Email Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to Felger on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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