Belichick defends McCourty's late-game tackle


Belichick defends McCourty's late-game tackle

By Danny Picard Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO --A day after the Buffalo Bills 34-31 win over the Patriotson Sunday, New England coach Bill Belichick talked about what went wrong,re-iterating the fact that the Bills simply made more plays then they did.

They did a better job at executing some plays than we diddefending them, said Belichick in a press conference at Gillette Stadium onMonday. We made some plays. They made some. In the end, they made a few morethan we did. Weve just got to do a better job of coaching and playing.

Belichick said that there were still some positives to takeout of his teams first loss of the season, just as there were plenty of thingsto patch up after winning the first two.

Just because you win doesnt mean everythings right, saidBelichick. Just because you lose doesnt mean everythings wrong. You correctthe mistakes that you make, and you point out the things that are positive, andre-enforce those, and try to do them again or even maybe a little better thenext time. Thats what we do every week.

One aspect of Sundays game that Belichick refused tosecond-guess was cornerback Devin McCourtys tackle of Fred Jackson at the1-yard line, which was originally ruled a 39-yard touchdown reception in thefinal minutes of the game.

The play was overturned, and in essence, worked to theBills advantage, as they were able to run out the clock before kicking agame-winning field goal with no time left.

Devin McCourty made a good play of running him down,said Belichick. We just didnt play it well enough, obviously.

Belichick was asked again about the play, and whether or nothe would have liked to see Jacksons touchdown remain a touchdown. But still,the Patriots coach wasnt about to throw his second-year cornerback under thebus for making a big-time hustle play.

I think the way the play happened, that Devin McCourtydid what he instinctively would do, said Belichick. I wouldnt second-guesshim on that.

When asked if there are ever situations in which hed want ateam to score right away, so there would be more time on the clock, Belichickthen said, Yeah, of course.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.

Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers


Game notes: Patriots vs. Steelers

A quick look at the information you need to know about today's Patriots-Steelers game:

TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 5-1, Steelers 4- 2

GAME TIME: 4:25 p.m. EST


TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson


NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier and Troy West

LOCAL RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak


LAST MEETING: Patriots 28, Steelers 21 on Sept. 10, 2015 at Gillette Stadium

* * * *
-- The Patriots are 8-11 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in their history, but are 4-2 at Heinz Field. Included in those four Heinz Field victories are two in AFC Championship Games (in the 2001 and 2004 seasons).

-- Tom Brady is 8-2 against the Steelers in his career.

-- The last time Brady played the Steelers, in 2015, he set a Patriots franchise record with 19 consecutive pass completions.

-- The Patriots are 108-70 (.607) in road games since 1994, the best record in the NFL over that span. The Steelers (97- 82, .542) are second.

-- The Patriots have yet to throw an interception in 2016, setting a team record for consecutive games without an interception at the start of a season (6). The NFL record for consecutive games at the start of a season without a pick is 9, set by the 1960 Browns. The Patriots' franchise record for overall consecutive games with no interceptions is 8, set in 2010.

* * * *
-- Rob Gronkowski has 67 overall touchdowns and needs one to tie Stanley Morgan (68) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 66 receiving touchdowns and needs one to tie Morgan (67) for the franchise record.

-- Gronkowski has 22 100-yard receiving games, including two in 2016, and is tied with Jackie Smith for the third-most among all NFL tight ends. The only TEs who have more are Kellen Winslow (24) and Tony Gonzalez (31).