Patriots believe in Flacco's skills

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Patriots believe in Flacco's skills

FOXBORO -- Last week the Ravens put their game against the Eagles in Joe Flacco's hands and lost. On a third-and-two, and with one of the best running backs in the NFL in Ray Rice in the backfield, Baltimore asked Flacco to pass for the game-saving first down. His throw went incomplete. On fourth down the Ravens lined up in a shotgun formation and put it on Flacco again. With pressure baring down on him, he flipped a pass too long for Rice and the game was over. Eagles won, 24-23.

The Ravens coaching staff reiterated its trust in its quarterback on Thursday.

"Joe Flacco Im going to have a ton of confidence in Joe," Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "It has nothing to do with lack of confidence in anyone else. I like our chances, and as you guys have seen with Joe Flacco, with his ability to get the ball to any of those other five receivers. And will we do that all the time? No, but in critical situations you are going to see that a lot.

Flacco carries a 60.8 percent completion percentage for his career. Last year that was down a bit to 57.6 percent. His career quarterback rating is 86.2 and his touchdown-to-interception ratio is slightly less than 2-1 (83 touchdowns to 47 picks). By the numbers, he's a middle-of-the-pack quarterback.

As last week showed, though, the Ravens trust him implicitly. And the Patriots believe he will cause them problems on Sunday night.

"He's always been a tough quarterback," Vince Wilfork said. "He's been playing very, very well this year. He's tough, physically. He's very physically tough, and mentally. He doesn't let much get to him, and that's a big time leader when you have a leader, especially the quarterback, who can be physically and mentally tough. It says a lot about that guy as an individual and as a player. He's definitely . . . he's playing lights out right now."

Flacco had a tough Week 2 in which he was 22-for-42 for 232 yards, a touchdown and an interception. In Week 1, he was, as Wilfork put it, lights out. Against the Bengals, Flacco was 21-for-29 for 299 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-13 win.

On Thursday it sounded like the Patriots were expecting the Flacco they saw in Week 1.

"Joe Flacco's a great player," said Chandler Jones. "I admire his game. I've been watching for a while because I've been watching my brother (Arthur) play for the Ravens. I'm real familiar with him and he's a great player."

While he may not have prolific passing numbers from week to week, Flacco will be the best and most experienced quarterback the Patriots have faced to this point in the season. He will likely be better than both Tennessee's Jake Locker and Arizona's Kevin Kolb, and will provide the Patriots with their biggest test this season.

He was a challenge last season in the AFC Championship Game. Had Ravens receiver Lee Evans held onto a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, Flacco would have been the hero and the Ravens would have likely gone to Super Bowl XLVI. Even without that completion, his numbers were good: 22-for-36, 306 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception.

As the Patriots prepare for Flacco this week, it sounds as though they're not thinking about his up-and-down career numbers, or his up-and-down start to this season. No, theirs is a selective memory where they hold onto the best of Flacco in the hopes that they're ready for it if it shows up on Sunday night.

"They're doing some amazing things," Wilfork said. "Defensively we have to be ready to bunker down and take everything that we're thrown out there because I'm they're going to give us everything they have."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.

05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.

10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati. 

16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.  

Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

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Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

This actually won’t be the first time that Danny Amendola had to wait to follow up a strong season-opener with the Pats. 

As the veteran receiver aims to return Sunday from a concussion and knee injury after leaving the Pats’ Week 1 loss early and missing Week 2 altogether, he’ll try to build a Week 1 performance that saw him lead the Pats with 100 yards on six receptions. 

The stop and start is somewhat reminiscent of Amendola’s first year with New England in 2013, when he had 10 receptions for 104 yards in the season-opener. He suffered a groin injury in that game, however, and didn’t play again until Week 5. At least the wait is shorter this time around. 

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“I mean, there’s going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s football, right?” Amendola said Friday. “But I feel really good today, feel strong, so get ready tomorrow and just continue to prepare.”

In that first game back in 2013, Amendola again led the Pats in receiving yards, but it was in a terrible offensive showing for New England. All it took was four receptions for 55 yards to be the Patriots’ best receiver in a 13-6 loss to Cincinnati in which Tom Brady had a rare scoreless game. 

If Amendola can pick up where he left off in Week 1, the Pats will be in good shape. They’re also expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan ready to go, but Amendola was Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the Chiefs game, even though Brandin Cooks made a bigger impact with two pass interference penalties drawn in the red zone. 

Not known for his durability towards the end of his time in St. Louis, this will be the fourth of Amendola’s five regular seasons in New England in which he didn’t play in all 16 games. He played the full season in 2014, 14 games in 2015 and 12 games in 2013 and 2016. 

With Julian Edelman out, Brady could certainly use Amendola’s services as often as possible. That’s especially if he plays the way he did in Week 1. 

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