Halftime: Patriots 10, Jets 7


Halftime: Patriots 10, Jets 7

By Art Martone

FOXBORO -- So what's that they say about opportunity wasted being opportunity lost?

The Patriots are going to test that theory in the second half.

The Pats missed a chance to take a 10-point lead over the Jets when, on the last play of the second quarter, Aaron Hernandez couldn't hold onto a sure touchdown pass from Tom Brady. The ball bounced out of his hands and into the waiting arms of Antonio Cromartie, who ran out the clock with a 42-yard return down the left sideline.

So instead of being ahead 17-7 -- or even 13-7, if they could have gotten a field goal from Stephen Gostkowski -- the Pats head to the locker room holding a slim 10-7 advantage.

The Patriots broke on top with a five-play, 64-yard drive in which BenJarvus Green-Ellis did the bulk of he work; he carried the last four plays and bulled in from the 3 for the score with 7:32 left in the first quarter. But Green-Ellis' journey to the end zone was set up by a 32-yard completion from Tom Brady to Wes Welker, which moved the ball from the Pats' 41 to the Jets' 27.

It was the highlight of an otherwise nondescript period for Brady and the Pats' offense, which was forced to punt on two of its three possessions.

But the Pats' defense more than held up its part of the bargain in the first quarter: New England held the Jets to 31 total yards, and actually stopped New York on all three of its third-down attempts.

That dominance continued early in the second quarter, when the Pats again stopped the Jets on third down. And when a 17-yard punt return by Welker was augmented by a 15-yard penalty for a late hit against New York's Nick Bellore, New England was in great shape to built its lead with a first down at the Jets 44.

But the Pats could only advance the ball to the 26, and had to settle for a 44-yard field goal by Gostkowski that increased their lead to 10-0.

At this point, the Jets finally got their offensive untracked . . . and it was their vaunted ground game that flipped the switch. When they took possession at their own 22, they had only rushed for 11 yards on 5 carries to that point in the game. But they proceeded to jam the ball down the Patriots' throats, running nine times (for 39 yards) during a 13-play, 78-yard drive that consumed nearly eight minutes and cut the Pats' advantage to 10-7 when Shonn Greene ran it in from the 3 with 3:21 left in the half.

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”