Mayo picks up defense in the end


Mayo picks up defense in the end

LANDOVER, Md. - Jerod Mayo had to wait 55 games before his first NFL interception found him. His second came in Game 56. At a very good time. Mayo sealed the Patriots' narrow win over Washington with an interception on third-and-goal from the Patriots 9 with just 30 seconds left. The play made sure that the biggest talking point from the 34-27 win over the Skins would be the Brady-O'Brien dustup.The story could havebeen abouta win that turned into a loss courtesy of uncharacteristically poor work by the quarterback and characteristically poor work by the defense. The Patriots - as they often do - bent, bent, bent, but Mayo and Tracy White made sure they didn't break. White was the linebacker that wrapped Santana Moss as Rex Grossman's short pass was arriving. The contact shot the ball toward the goal line where a diving Mayo got his hands under it. "My responsibility on that playwas to look back to the strong side of the field and Tracy made a great play on Moss and the ball just popped up and I was fortunate enough to make the catch," explained Mayo.The defense needed that?"Yeah, we did, and I was fortunate to come up with the ball," said Mayo, who had to wait while the play was reviewed for accuracy. The defensive captain knows, though, that living and dying through each game is no way to go through a season. "It was good enough today, but it probably won't be good enough on any other week," he said. "We know we're a better team than what we put out there today. We'll get back to the drawing board tomorrow and try to get better."The dynamic on this team is interesting right now. The offense is terrified of putting the game in the hands of the defense and - time and again - they are given reason to feel that way. There is no way Brady should ever have thrown the pass intended for Tiquan Underwood when, with a throw into the stands, the Patriots would go ahead by 10 on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. But he is in attack mode at all times, not given the luxury of playing with a defensive safety net. Maybe that need to get a red-zone attack that had sputtered on Sunday a positive vibe made him lock up and make a stupid decision. Either way, the Patriots' defense made him sweat and swear for the final minutes. Vince Wilfork says plays like the one Mayo made simply have to start coming sooner and from more player. "We can't kill ourselves," said Wilfork. "Mayo is making huge plays for this team. We need 'em going forward from everyone. Not just myself and Jerod. We need everyone to step up and start playing better football. That's our goal. We'll take this one in stride and try to get better and we'll have our hands full again next week with Denver."Yeah. Good thing they never play games that go down to the wire.

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."


It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade


It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.