For Pats, road to Dallas now paved Black and Gold

For Pats, road to Dallas now paved Black and Gold

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com
Start ordering those party platters for February 6. The Patriots chances of playing in the Super Bowl increased exponentially Saturday night. Ableak week of Ray Rice, revenge, reviling Ray Lewis and the revolting mug of Terrell Suggs we won't have to deal with. Instead, weget Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall, Polamalu's salad and the blitz schemes of Dick LeBeau.
Once the Patriots take care of business against the New York Jets as they ought to on Sunday, the Steelers come next. And the Steelers can't beat the Patriots in a conference championship game. Just doesn't work. Had it been the Ravens, the swagger would have been de-swagged. The Patriots needed OT to beat Baltimore in Week 5, got crushed by them in last season's playoffs, barely hung on during the 2009 regular season and barely hung on during the 2007 regular season. The Ravens defense is nasty. And Suggs was playing like a force of nature. But the fact Baltimore has a better-than-average-but-not-by-much quarterback like Joe Flacco playing for them means they are going home. Once they stop bitching about the officials. Pittsburgh? In Roethlisberger, they have a legitimate "elite" quarterback, a guy who's got twice as many Super Bowl rings as Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. You wouldn't want to see him show up in your driveway to pick up your daughter, but you would love to have Big Ben playing quarterback for you. Against most teams. But not New England. In Week 9, the Patriots beat Pittsburgh 39-26 and the stats Roethlisberger compiled (30 for 49 for 387 yards, 3 TDs and an INT)were a shining example of why QB passing stats are bogus. Roethlisberger took five sacks for 38 yards and the pick he threw was returned for a touchdown. He started 7 for 20 for 90 yards and took three sacks. After the score got to 29-10 early in the fourth (after the pick-6 by James Sanders), Big Ben went 14 for 16 (one was a spike) for 203 yards in chasing down a lost cause. When the game was a contest, he was 16 for 33 for 184 yards. Roethlisberger is 2-4 against the Patriots. He's 0-1 in the playoffs (the 2004 41-27 beatdown at Pittsburgh. He won his first start against the Pats in 2004 (the day Ty Law and Matt Light went down) and beat the Cassel-led Pats in 2008. Generally, the Patriots take care of business against Roethlisberger by lying back and making him process coverages. Eventually, he makes a wild throw because he's not terribly accurate. As for the Steelers defense, they can be a beast but not to Tom Brady. He's 6-1 against the Steelers lifetime. He toys with them. We've got plenty more to plow through on this matchup once it becomes a reality. Until then, treat yourself to some of this.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

BYU's Harvey Langi ready to prove why Patriots showed him the money

BYU's Harvey Langi ready to prove why Patriots showed him the money

FOXBORO -- Harvey Langi played multiple positions across multiple colleges. Bill Belichick made sure the undrafted linebacker’s next move was to New England. 

After the Patriots made just four draft picks, they gave the BYU product a contract that guaranteed $100,000 of his base salary along with a $15,000 signing bonus; by comparison, most of the Patriots’ undrafted free agent signings this offseason have gotten guarantees of around $20,000 or less. 

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Since the Patriots paid Langi like a draft pick -- basically like a fifth-rounder -- why didn’t they just draft him? They had the opportunity, as they entered the final two rounds with a sixth-round pick and a seventh remaining. They packaged both to move up in the sixth and take UCLA tackle Conor McDermott, ending their draft.

Seeing the Patriots finish picking early must have been disheartening for Langi, as New England had shown ample interest in him ahead of the draft. Then again, there’s more than one way to guarantee you get the player, and the Pats did that with Langi’s contract. 

“With all that, it’s in the past now,” Langi said this week. “They showed interest. I was, of course, interested in anyone and everyone, but when the Patriots were looking at me, I was super pumped because of the program that is run here. It was awesome.”

A native of South Jordan, Utah, Langi landed at BYU after beginning his college career as a running back for the University of Utah. While at Utah, Langi ran for 70 yards on 13 careers. Following his transfer to BYU, Langi moved around positionally, but was primarily a linebacker and defensive end. He continued to see reps as a running back, rushing for two touchdowns last season as a senior. 

As far as his candidacy for the NFL goes, the 6-foot-2, 251-pounder looks to be best cut-out for linebacker. Specifically, an NFC West scout said that BYU did him a “real disservice” by playing him on the edge and that he should be used at middle linebacker. As a senior, he had 57 tackles, five for a loss and two sacks.  

Langi will have company in the middle, but that’s where being an undrafted player comes in. There is no immediate pressure for him to be any sort of game-breaker, but if he can use his athleticism to make the 53-man roster as a special-teamer and one of Dont’a Hightower’s backups, he’ll have the opportunity to try to develop into someone worthy of defensive snaps. 

For now, it’s a new start for Langi, but one he feels could be the start of something promising. 

“Those first steps are just steps,” Langi said. “That’s what I’m trying to do, is just keep taking more steps. When I did take a step in the building, the feeling was just like, ‘Gosh.’ Ever since you’ve been a kid, this program and how coach runs his program and how everything is done here in New England, it was an amazing feeling walking through those doors, for sure. Surreal.”