'I would have never taken Peyton over Brady'

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'I would have never taken Peyton over Brady'

Covering the NFL for almost 20 years allows you to make relationships with a bunch of people. So I thought I'd tap into some of those people for a series of topics we've been kicking around.

OTHER TOPICS:

The panel consists of one former Pats player still in the game, two scouts of AFC teams, one front-office member in the AFC, and one NFC scout. They all requested anonymity for obvious reasons (as the player said, "Hey, I might want to end up back there!"). I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had talking to these guys.

Today's topic: Tom Brady

Scout 1: “When he says he has all the answers to the test, he’s not lying. Some of those Rex Ryan defenses back in Rex’s Jets days were able to confuse him. Ditto for [when Ryan was defensive coordinator in] Baltimore. Now? I can’t really remember a time when you popped in the tape and said, ‘Shit, they fooled him for a series, or a half or a game.’ It’s like he refuses to let you beat him, wherever it is that you’d try to find that edge.”

Scout 2: “Who could have predicted this?  You wondered about his long-term viability several years ago when they drafted [Jimmy] Garoppolo. It looked like the end was near. Maybe it lit a fire. Sometimes even Tom Brady needs that push. Now what can you say?  He’s gotten here and you can’t deny . . . the [overall] results. Brady was the best QB a decade ago and he’s the best QB now. That’s not how it’s suppose to go when that QB is 40." (Brady turns 40 Thursday, Aug. 3.)

Scout 3: “I remember the debate, Manning versus Brady. From a sheer talent standpoint, I think it was Manning, right up until the arm strength decreased, but I would have never taken Peyton over Brady in any of those years. Brady has a way about him -- we’ve had former Pats come through here and they back my opinion -- that Manning didn’t have. Slows it down when Manning would seemingly let it speed up, especially in those big moments. I’m surprised we haven’t heard a Joe Montana-like story about him, the one from the Super Bowl, when Montana pointed out John Candy in the end zone. I just think while hyper-focused, he knows how to put his teammates at ease. We would love to find that in a QB. So would every other team.”

Former Patriot player: “I loved competing against him, and I loved pissing him off. It didn’t happen often, but he’s so [bleeping] intense that every 1-on-1, or 7-on-7, or team period, he wants to beat you. Thing about it was, you get him once, he might come back at you the very next time. I didn’t keep score, but I’d guess that he won way more of those matchups then I’d like to admit.

“You know those training-camp practices, when it’s hot and humid and the crowds start to get smaller? Those days are the worst. You’re sore and tired and everything hurts. Bill [Belichick] wants to make it hurt. They all do. It sucks. But Tom’s one of those guys that won’t let the practice get away from us. He’s yelling at himself. He’s screaming encouragement at Gronk or [Julian Edelman]. He starts chirping at us. Man, does he love to shit talk us. Pisses you off. And before you know it, your energy has gone up because he’s talking. Now practice is better. Then it’s over. That’s not an accident.”

Front office executive: “Tom personifies everything you want in that position: Leadership, intelligence, toughness, his teammates clearly love him and, let’s not forget, talent. He has loads and loads of talent. Who gets better at 38? 39? You can’t do that without skill. Plus, that speaks to his work ethic, as well. If someone with his resume is still battling his ass off every day, how can I not push myself the same way? He’s the perfect player and while we’ll all be happy when he finally retires, I admire him.”

A bunch of unnamed assistant coaches told Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report they thought the drop off was coming this year. What do you think?

“I think those coaches have very little to base that on. I’m not sure I’d want those [coaches] on my staff. Tell me they aren’t on my staff.”  

Football Outsiders said there was a decrease in arm strength as last season wore on.

“You think Bill and [Josh McDaniels] aren’t paying attention to what his arm looks like, how it responds? I think in some of those conditions, he still managed to cut it through the wind and the elements. He doesn’t have the arm of, say, a Blake Bortles or Aaron Rodgers, but it’s obviously more than good enough to win with. He’s done that better than anyone in league history.”

 

INTERCONFERENCE: Rodgers burns Bengals deep in OT, Packers win, 27-24

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INTERCONFERENCE: Rodgers burns Bengals deep in OT, Packers win, 27-24

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Aaron Rodgers burned another defense deep with a free play. The Cincinnati Bengals found their offense and a new way to lose.

Mason Crosby kicked a 27-yard field goal with 6:26 left in overtime set up by Rodgers' 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison, and the Green Bay Packers rallied to beat Cincinnati 27-24 on Sunday.

Crosby's kick completed the Packers' comeback from a 21-7 halftime deficit.

On third-and-10 from his 21, Rodgers took advantage of yet another free play after defensive end Michael Johnson was whistled for offside. Officials let the play continue and the two-time NFL MVP found Allison on about a 40-yard pass before the receiver beat a couple defenders for more yards.

"Luckily I put it in a good spot and G-Mo did the rest," Rodgers said.

Crosby, a veteran kicker, finished it off for the Packers (2-1).

The winless Bengals (0-3) won the toss in overtime but went three-and-out on their opening drive. It was so loud at Lambeau Field that they had to call timeout before their first overtime snap.

Rodgers thrived under the pressure.

He connected with Jordy Nelson for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 24. Cornerback Dre Kilpatrick narrowly missed batting away the bullet thrown by the quarterback into the front right corner of the end zone.

"We rushed the quarterback, keeping him in. We did a lot, but when we broke down, (Rodgers) made plays," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

Rodgers finished 28 of 42 for 313 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Allison had six catches for 122 yards.

"I thought Aaron played one of his best games," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought he was tremendous today."

The Packers flipped the script after the Bengals controlled the first half.

A.J. Green caught a 10-yard scoring pass on the game's opening drive for Cincinnati's first touchdown after two frustrating weeks for the offense. Bill Lazor made his debut as offensive coordinator for the fired Ken Zampese.

Andy Dalton was 21 of 27 for 212 yards and two scores. The Bengals were desperate to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2008. But they couldn't finish the Packers off in the second half.

"A disappointment is not finishing a football game now," Lewis said.

Green Bay's defense generated a little more pressure on Dalton in the second half, and rookie safety Josh Jones gave the injury-laden defense a boost with two sacks and 12 tackles.

Rodgers shook off his early struggles to guide the Packers to another win. He was sacked six times, mostly against just the Bengals' four-man rush, though the protection shored up after halftime.

Rodgers threw just his second career pick-six - and his first at home - when William Jackson returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown for a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.

"Oh, we took a step as a football team," McCarthy said. "This always pays forward when you go through adversity and you have success."

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INTERCONFERENCE: Titans score 21 straight points in 3rd, beat Seahawks, 33-27

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INTERCONFERENCE: Titans score 21 straight points in 3rd, beat Seahawks, 33-27

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Marcus Mariota threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns, and the Tennessee Titans scored 21 straight points in rallying to beat the Seattle Seahawks 33-27 Sunday.

Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray rushed for 115 yards, including a 75-yard TD run . Ryan Succop also kicked four field goals as Tennessee (2-1) scored at least 30 points for a second straight week.

The Seahawks (1-2) finally scored a bunch of touchdowns with Russell Wilson throwing for 373 yards and four TDs. His second TD, a 10-yarder to Chris Carson , put Seattle up 14-9 in the third quarter.

Then the Titans took control with Mariota answering with TDs on the next two drives for Tennessee.

Mariota tossed a screen to Rishard Matthews, who ran 55 yards to the end zone for a 16-14 lead midway through the third. Matthews and tight end Jonnu Smith celebrated taking pretend selfies in the end zone.

On the next possession, Mariota found a wide-open Jonnu Smith for a 24-yard TD and a 23-14 lead.

Murray's TD gave Tennessee a 30-14 lead late in the quarter, and Tennessee finished with 195 yards rushing.

Wilson pulled Seattle within 33-27 with his fourth TD, an 8-yarder to Paul Richardson with 1:50 left. But Titans tight end Delanie Walker recovered Seattle's onside kick.

The Seahawks had one last chance with the Titans lined up to punt on fourth-and-3 with 11 seconds left. Then officials flagged the Seahawks for 12 men in the formation, giving Tennessee the clinching first down.

Both teams chose not to take the field for the national anthem on a day of protests around the NFL. Meghan Linsey, a runner-up in "The Voice," took a knee when she finished singing.

Then Wilson locked arms with center Justin Britt, followed by his teammates as the Seahawks walked onto the field. In the other corner, Mariota locked arms with Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker and linebacker Wesley Woodyard, defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and linebacker Brian Orakpo as the Titans walked out.