Belichick: Thursday's score was deceiving


Belichick: Thursday's score was deceiving

By Danny Picard Follow @dannypicard
After getting a chance to evaluate the films the Patriots' 31-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers onThursday night, Bill Belichick came to what might seem, to some, a surprising conclusion.

The first half, in which the Pats built a 28-0 lead, wasn't as good as it looked, said Belichick. And the second half, in which they were outscored 14-3, wasn't as bad as it seemed.

I think the scores a little bit deceiving," Belichick said in a conference call Friday. "I think in thefirst half we still made a lot of mistakes. Theres a lot of things we needto do better.

"And in the second half, we did a lot of good things out there,but a lot of those were negated by a few bad things.

They did some good things in the first half, too.

I thought, overall last night, that we obviously got off toa good start, which was great, he said.We got some great field position, defensively, and our offense was able tocapitalize on that and put some points on the board, get some balls in the endzone, played good in the red area."

A few of those second-half bad things were an interception thrown by quarterback Ryan Mallett, which was returned for a touchdown, and another throw that should have been picked offand taken to the house but was dropped.

Belichick said that while nobodys rooting for thoseinterceptions, mistakes like that are just part of the everyday evaluation oftraining camp . . . both by the coaches, and the players themselves.

Of course you dont want to see negative plays happen, buteventually theyre going to happen in this league, said Belichick. And so,whether it was Tom Brady getting sacked in the two-minute drive, or Ryan throwing aninterception, or Ryan throwing an interception that the corner dropped thatwould have been brought back for a touchdown, you do want to see how playersrespond to those plays.

Belichick also got to see how rookie offensive linemanNate Solder performed in his second preseason game.

I think Nates had a couple good weeks, said Belichick.Im sure he learned a lot of things last night. He did some good things.

Hes making progress. Hes working hard. I think hescompetitive in every phase of the game, the running game, pass protection,playing against athletic guys, playing against power, bigger guys. I think hescompeting in all those levels. Just being a little more experience,consistency, working together with his teammates.

Belichick said defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, who's only practices once with the team, is day-to-day. When asked if Haynesworth was working out at Gillette Stadium, Belichick responded, All the players are here.

The Pats also placed rookie free agent linebacker Christian Cox on injured reserve because of a neck injury. Cox, 25, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on July 27 out of Utah.

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

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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Curran: End result vs. Steelers justifies Patriots 'bend but don't break' defense

Curran: End result vs. Steelers justifies Patriots 'bend but don't break' defense

PITTSBURGH – “This game isn’t about numbers,” said Rob Ninkovich. “Everyone thinks about sacks and all these things as huge markers for success but there are a lot of teams with a lot of sacks that aren’t winning. I’ll take the wins over the sacks any day.”

It was another win on Sunday for the Patriots – 27-16 over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. There were no sacks. There was no chaos, no befuddled young backup quarterback flushed and addled by a complex defense. In fact, Landry Jones looked real comfortable back there in throwing for 281 yards and a touchdown.

Like Carson Palmer lighting it up late or Ryan Tannehill throwing for 387 or Tyrod Taylor converting third downs with impunity, Jones on Sunday continued a trend of quarterbacks looking pretty good against a very talented defense that – nonetheless – walked away with a comfortable win.

The Patriots have allowed 107 points – the fewest in the AFC and fewer than all but three teams in the NFC and all three of those have played one fewer game.

But it’s hard to escape the feeling that they’re playing it too close to the bone.

Except, maybe, Bill Belichick who once said quite plainly, “Stats are for losers.”

Not all stats though. We hear it often – three stats matter more than the rest: red zone defense, turnovers and third-down efficiency.

And if you look at those numbers for the Patriots defense, they were all fairly gaudy.

Pittsburgh was in the Patriots’ red zone four times. They came away with 10 points. They were inside the Patriots’ 40 six times and finished with 16.

The Patriots yield yards but not points. And that’s by design, said Ninkovich.

“In an offense like that with a bunch of very explosive players, one slant can turn into a touchdown so you have to be really careful in your coverages,” said the veteran defensive end. "There’s not just one go-to guy. They got a running back that can catch it out of the backfield and make plays (Le’Veon Bell). (Antonio Brown) can catch it anywhere on the field and make plays. You just have to make sure with a guy like (Landry Jones) to have him make the throws. It’s hard in this league to be perfect. So to have him sit back there and try to make all the throws was what we chose and the secondary did a great job.”

The Patriots rushed three or four most of the game. When they ran a corner blitz with Malcolm Butler, he didn’t get home and Jones hit Bell for a decent gain.  

“You can’t just pin your ears back because that’s when you get in trouble,” Ninkovich explained. “And then next week, there’s a guy (Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor) who can move in the pocket so that’s another whole type of defense you run with a mobile quarterback.”

Last season’s game at Buffalo is a good example of why Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia don’t like the feeding frenzy approach to defense. New England had the game in hand, 37-13 entering the fourth. And then, with everyone wanting to get in on the rush, Buffalo scored 19 in the fourth quarter with Taylor breaking contain and making plays with his feet.

After that game (and really, for most of Belichick’s tenure here), the Patriots were more interested in seeing what a quarterback could do in terms of stringing plays together.

The Patriots like their chances in that realm.

“It’s 1-on-1 matchups, guys making plays on third down and in the red area,” said safety Devin McCourty. “Guys are gonna make great catches every once in a while. Guys are gonna make great throws. You gotta live with that. They’re in the NFL too. But if we’re consistent with how we’re playing we’ll make enough plays to do well.”

They certainly do that.  As unpleasant as it seemed when the Steelers made it 14-13 (and had skewered themselves in the first half with a missed field goal, an end zone pick and a hold that wiped out a touchdown), the Patriots walked out with another double-digit win.

It felt like the butt-kicking could have been more thorough, though.

How does McCourty think Bill Belichick, film critic, will view the performance?

“Honestly, you never know,” McCourty said. “There’s times we leave the field feeling like we played terrible and (Belichick says), ‘You fix a couple things and we’ll be all right.’ And there’s times where you feel like you played well and we go in there and get ripped.

“The things Bill focuses on and what he expects out of our defense is what he (keys on) every week,” McCourty stressed. “No matter what the media says, no matter what the stats say. If we don’t give up any points but there’s three third downs where we give up the wrong leverage, that’s a problem. Monday afternoon (after film breakdown) is always a mystery.”

The results for the Patriots haven’t been (with the exception of the opener) cliffhangers. But the feeling persists that one of these weeks, this defense that plays a style daring the opposing quarterback to not shoot himself in the foot will go up against a quarterback that actually doesn’t.