McCourty: 'My teammates saved my life'

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McCourty: 'My teammates saved my life'

FOXBORO - Had the Patriots lost to the New York Jets on Sunday, there's no doubt that Devin McCourty would have been criticized more for his fourth-quarter fumble, than he would have for his first-quarter touchdown.

It was quite a day for the Patriots cornerback, who played the entire game at safety.

In the opening minutes of the first quarter, McCourty answered a Jets 76-yard touchdown drive with a 104-yard kickoff return that tied the score at 7.

Still, after the Jets tied it at 23 with a little more than two minutes left in the game, McCourty fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and New York recovered, leading to another Jets field goal and a Jets 26-23 lead with 1:37 left to play.

New England's offense answered with a strong drive which led to a tying field goal of their own, sending the game to overtime, where the Patriots eventually won, 29-26.

"My teammates saved my life today," said McCourty. "I made a bad mistake in the fourth quarter. I've just got to do a better job holding onto the ball. Today was like a total team win. We just kept fighting Things didn't go our way the whole game. Today we made enough plays when we needed to, to get the win."

McCourty's early touchdown marked the first kickoff he returned for a score since his senior year of college at Rutgers. And it was just how you'd draw it up.

"It was kind of, I think, what a special teams coach would love to see," said McCourty. "I ran the ball, made one cut, and everyone else got blocked, except for the kicker. So, when your kickoff return team does that, and blocks everyone except for one guy, as a returner, you have to score right there.

"All our returners, we know if we get up to the kicker, we've got to beat him."

McCourty beat him, but it was old news once he fumbled on the kickoff in the final minutes of the game.

"The fourth quarter is so important," said McCourty. "My goal is to try to play mistake-free in the fourth quarter. That's a big one. It's not defensively, but it's something I really work on. I'm a big part of that kickoff return team. I think my teammates just did a great job, because on that touchdown, no one touched me. I just have to work on my responsibility, and that's holding onto the ball."

As he said, McCourty's teammates saved him. And more specifically, Rob Ninkovich saved him, sealing the deal on New England's win with a sack and a fumble recovery in overtime.

Because of the win, the Patriots won't focus on McCourty's fumble. They'll thank him for the early touchdown instead.

"It's tough, but I think that Dev's a great player for us," said Ninkovich. "And it's just a tough spot for him, obviously, because I know how much of a competitor Dev is. And we were alright. We bounced back from it. We had a touchdown that we wouldn't have had, if it wasn't for him."

Goodell statement calls Trump's comments 'divisive'

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Goodell statement calls Trump's comments 'divisive'

In separate statements Saturday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith each criticized President Donald Trump's verbal attack on NFL players. 

Goodell's statement: 

The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.  Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.

 

And Smith's statement: 

Whether or not Roger or the owners will speak for themselves about their views on player rights and their commitment to player safety remains to be seen. This union, however, will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks. 

 

NFLPA president Eric Winston, a tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, also tweeted a statement critical of the President:

At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he encouraged NFL fans to walk out of games in protest. 

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump told the rally. 

He also lamented that football has become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

President Trump responded again on Twitter Saturday afternoon, saying players who don't stand for the anthem should, "Find something else to do!"