Patriots ready for possible Detroit trap

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Patriots ready for possible Detroit trap

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- A team tied for the best record in the NFL will have an impressive resume. New England does.

Going into Week 12, the Patriots are undefeated at home. They've beaten tough teams on the road (Miami, San Diego and Pittsburgh). They've come from behind to steal wins. They've preserved leads despite late opposition rallies.

So it's interesting that one of the few hurdles left for the Patriots to clear is winning the trap game.

The 2-8 Detroit Lions, sandwiched on the schedule between Indianapolis and the Jets, certainly have trap-door potential. But cornerback Kyle Arrington says the Patriots are dialed in to the Thanksgiving matchup.

"We have to take it one game at a time and the next game is the most important one,'' he said on Tuesday. "The goal this week is 60 minutes. We've played a lot of tough, competitive games and we've played a lot of games where we've had a lead in them as well. So the goal is just to finish every game that we play and there's no game like the present."

Tom Brady echoed Arrington's sentiment. The quarterback said the team isn't expecting to sweep through the short week on momentum won by beating the Colts last Sunday. The Patriots have moved on, but are pacing themselves.

"It always comes down to that nothing we did last week is going to help us this week, other than learning from mistakes. Weve got to put everything into this week,'' Brady said.

It would help to look back on the 34-14 loss to the Browns. The Patriots had beaten Minnesota 28-18 and had to go through Cleveland to get to Pittsburgh in Week 10. Say what you will about the Browns being scrappy, but the game was considered a lock for New England -- a gimmie-game at best and a speed bump at worst. That's why jaws were on the ground as time ticked down at the Dog Pound.

Nobody in the Patriots' locker room would say they underestimated the Browns, though. Of course not.

"I dont think thats the reason why we lost to Cleveland,'' Brady said. "I think the reason we lost to Cleveland is because we didnt play well. The reason we are going to win or lose this game is because we play well or we dont play well. We came in Monday and we didnt even talk about the Colts. We talked about the Lions and what we need to do to beat them.

"I don't think there was a letdown,'' Brady insisted. "We certainly didn't think that 'Man, we can't lose this game. We'll just run out there and run around for 60 minutes and come back and fly home victorious.' And I don't think we think that way against Detroit, either.''

He'd better hope not. He'll have to ignore the facts to do that, though. Like the fact that the Lions haven't won on Turkey Day since 2003. And the reality of the upcoming Jets game -- on Monday, December 6 -- may wind up being the most important of the season.

Rob Gronkowski maintains the Pats' current mindset has no Jets anywhere in sight.

"We haven't even talked about the Jets game one bit,'' the tight end said. "We just focus on Detroit. They're a great team, they're always playing hard and they've got great players. We've got to be ready.''

Why should you believe them? Poor play like in the loss to Cleveland -- whether as victims to the trap or a team that just couldn't get it together -- isn't likely to come from the Patriots again. But they won't have to sink too low for Detroit to keep it close anyway. And New England knows that.

"They're a great team, they're better than what their record says,'' Gronkowski continued. "Way better than what their record says. They're in every single game so we've got to go out there like it's one of our biggest games, which it is."

Five of Detroit's eight losses have been by five or fewer points. The top NFC North teams, Chicago and Green Bay, beat Detroit by five and two points, respectively. NFC East frontrunner Philly beat the Lions by three. The AFC East-leading Jets only won by three, in overtime no less. (The other close loss: By two, to just-as-lowly Buffalo.)

Nobody will argue that the bottom line runs under the way things stack up in that WinLoss column. At the same time, you've got to think that with the Lions coming so close so often, they'll hit that target eventually.

"We just have to prepare like we always prepare, that's what it always comes down to,'' Danny Woodhead said. "Anyone in the NFL can beat anyone. They're a great team and they just don't get the credit."

A win over New England would be a hell of a way to turn things around. Can't imagine it happening? Tom Brady can. For him, it would actually be deja vu of a particularly unfortunate milestone. In 2000, the quarterback made his NFL debut against the Lions at the Pontiac Silverdome on Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 23, 2000. The Lions gorged themselves on a 34-9 win.

Of course, a lot has changed for Brady and New England since then, but the Patriots don't need to go back that far. They just need to hope that things have changed since coming home from Cleveland and that their eyes stay wide for any traps.

"This team does a lot of good things they've been in a lot of close games against a lot of good teams,'' Brady repeated. "If you don't get it going early, that dome's gonna be rocking and we gotta get it going early."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

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.”