Brady leads another offensive show, sets record

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Brady leads another offensive show, sets record

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

Add Buffalo to the list of Tom Brady's NFL casualties.

"I haven't seen anybody slow them down offensively," Bills coach Chan Gailey said of the Patriots last week. "They're just like a machine out there. It's been quite a show.''

After New England beat Buffalo 34-3 on Sunday, you almost had to wonder if Gailey felt like shrugging about the points allowed. Did he believe his Bills would be the team to shut Brady down? Probably not. The Patriots quarterback is having another MVP-caliber season.

On Sunday, Brady threw three touchdown passes and set the record for attempts without an interception.

Gaily was aware of the tally before the Patriots rolled into Buffalo. "It's very amazing," he said of Bradys streak.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick -- who, by comparison, went 18-for-37 with three picks and zero touchdowns -- was equally awed.

"It's unbelievable,'' he said. "It's mind-boggling."

Hear that, Terrell Suggs?

Brady now has 319 straight passes without a pick, surpassing Bernie Kosar's previous mark of 308. And he's doing it in one season.

Kosar made his mark in Cleveland from 1990-91 and Bart Starr tallied 294 pickless pass attempts in Green Bay from 1964-65. Brady's thrown his total in a span of nine NFL weeks.

"The work he puts into it is second to none,'' teammate Logan Mankins said after the game. "He's a competitor and he just wants to get better and he just wants to win. You can tell that with how he prepares."

That's why it's not strange that the Bills sounded like they wanted to carry him into Ralph Wilson Stadium on a litter. Touting the talents of TB12 isn't about kissing butt or exchanging pleasantries, it's about numbers.

The Patriots scored 21 points off seven Bills turnovers.

Brady has thrown two or more TD passes with no interceptions in eight consecutive games, an NFL record.

New England scored 24 (or more) first-half points for the third time in four games, and the fourth time this year.

With 31 points against Buffalo, the Patriots have scored 30 or more points in seven straight games. This streak is the NFL's longest since 1970.

The Patriots have committed zero turnovers in those seven games, an NFL record.

The landscape has changed. There's no Corey Dillion, no more Brady-to-Moss, no Kevin Faulk on third down, and this Sunday there was hardly any Welker.

Wes Welker -- "Brady's Binky" as some call him -- had as many dropped balls as he did receptions against the Bills. He lost his grip on a short second-and-six screen pass the first time. The second, Brady looked short left but Welker bobbled the ball at the Buffalo 11 when crossing the middle on third-and-six and killed the drive. He had another in the third quarter.

And so Brady's quarterback rating dipped this weekend. That's right, he no longer leads the NFL with a 109.9 score. He now leads it at 109.8.

No matter. New England got it done in different ways.

Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski had a big day, catching two of Brady's three touchdown passes on the day. The second score, on a beautiful back-shoulder grab, was Gronkowski's ninth TD of the season, tying Ben Coates (1996) for most TDs by a Patriots TE in franchise history. (Yes, another record for one of Brady's boys.) Fellow TE Alge Crumpler had the other touchdown.

The ground game was gaudy: 217 rush yards largely gained from former free agents BenJarvus Green Ellis (104) and Danny Woodhead (93). Even there, Brady's teammates saw his fingerprints all over the ball

"Days like today when he's handing off a lot, he's making the right checks and all that, so . . . there's more to quarterback than just throwing," Mankins said.

The yardage might have been a gimmie against Buffalo's 32nd-ranked rush defense, but consider this: Brady and his offense are 7-2 against top 10 scoring defenses (fewest points allowed) this season. The Patriots are averaging 29.6 points per game when playing the league's stingiest defenses when the rest of the NFL is averaging 16.7 points.

"I don't think as a lineman we have any comprehension,'' center Dan Koppen said. "I know it's a tough job, what he has to do, how many reads he has to make and get the ball out. What he does to this point in his career is nothing shocking."

Imagine creating a standard so high that setting records is pedestrian. It's not that nobody's impressed as each throw carves Brady's name higher into the All-Time QB totem pole. It's that they've come to expect their quarterback to play at a Hall of Fame level every week.

"He's definitely what you expect, I mean what everyone says,'' Danny Woodhead said. "He does everything well and he pays the attention to detail that he has to. He's a great quarterback, like everyone's seen."

Would New England be 13-2 if Brady wasn't near-perfect? Think about that.

Would this offense have blood-lust if he wasn't screaming about penalties though padded with a 30-point lead? Would the 2010 Patriots have clinched the division and home-field advantage in the playoffs if Brady wasn't its nucleus? If he wasn't so boringly brilliant?

"It never gets old, I'll tell you that,'' the quarterback smiled postgame. "We never get tired of winning.''

Good thing. With the way he's playing, the Patriots aren't done winning yet.

Tom E. Curran contributed to this report.

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

Ex-Patriot Ridley signs with Colts

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Ex-Patriot Ridley signs with Colts

After being cut from the Detriot Lions last week, Stevan Ridely has signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

The running back played for the Patriots for four seasons (2011-2014), averaging 4.3 yards per carry while scoring 22 touchdowns in 52 games. He only played in six game in his final year with New England as a result of a torn ACL and MCL.

Ridley played for the AFC-East rival New York Jets in 2015 with a limited role in the nine games he played.

 

Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

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Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

Bill Belichick knows the data. Knows the risk involved in exposing a player to a waiver claim at this time of the year and long ago came to the uneasy truce that you can’t keep ‘em all and somebody else might snag ‘em.

This summer, the Patriots don’t have a mass of easy releases, especially among their rookies and first-year players.

There are a lot of very intriguing players who’ve looked good either in practices, games or both. Good enough to make the Pats think twice about whether they want to leave them exposed.

Top of mind for me there are corners Jonathan Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc, linebacker Elandon Roberts, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton and running back D.J. Foster who appear to be right on the roster bubble but are impressive.

“It’s something you take into consideration, it’s a hard thing to predict,” Belichick said when asked about weighing the risk of a released player the Patriots would like to re-sign to their practice squad getting claimed. “There’s going to be, I don’t know, certainly going to be a lot of players, probably over 1,000 players that will be exposed to waivers in the next eight calendar days or whatever it’ll be. I think the average claim is somewhere in the high 20s there…so that’s what the odds are. We’ve had years where we haven’t had any of our players claimed and we’ve had years where we’ve had multiple players claimed. I think at the end you just have to do what you think is best for your team.”

Belichick has given us terrific insight this week into how he and Nick Caserio strategize their roster decisions. When asked about the team’s releases in advance of the cutdown deadlines, Belichick mentioned the team wanted to have the ability to accommodate new players who may come available.

Enter the Barkevious.

He also got into projecting young players against established performance levels of veterans and weighing current contributions against future ones.

"That’s the $64,000 question," Belichick said on Tuesday. "That’s what it is. It’s been like that since the day I got into this league. From all of the personnel meetings I’ve ever been in it’s a [matter of] a player who’s more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that’s not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity?

"That’s what it’s about, trying to balance now with later. We’re going to field a team in November, we’re going to field a team next year, we’re going to field a team in 2018. Not that we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we’re going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They’re all things that you really have to think about."

As is the risk of having a player scooped.

“It’s pretty hard to predict what’s going to happen when you put players on the wire because in all honesty, you don’t know what the other [31] teams are going to do and who they’re going to put on the wire,” Belichick explained. “Even though you put a player out there that you don’t want to lose, if another team happens to put a player out there that may be a team that needs that position and would be better with your player, your player gets claimed. Sometimes we waive players that we didn’t think would get claimed and they were, so that’s really hard to predict.

“In the end, you’ve got to make the decision that you feel like is best for your football team, and if you really want that player and you just can’t bear to live without them, then you shouldn’t be exposing them to the wire,” he concluded. “That’s the reality of it. We keep an eye on them, but I don’t think it’s an overriding factor. If you’re prepared to waive them, then you’ve got to be prepared to lose them. That’s just the way it is.”

Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

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Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

Back in May, when the Patriots drafted Cyrus Jones in the second round, Patriots director of player personel Nick Caserio made it very clear: Jones' ability to return punts is what made him their favorite player available at pick No. 60.

"I think the thing that tipped the scales in Cyrus’ favor a little bit," Caserio said at the time, "was his overall versatility -- punt return -- that’s a huge component of what we do and we thought he had the ability."

Jones broke out with a 60-yard return on Friday against the Panthers, flashing the kind of explosion in the kicking game that the Patriots anticipated when they made him their first selection this year. 

Though Jones has admitted he has had his share of issues securing the football during punt-return periods in practice, he has not dropped a punt in a preseason game. And in a conference call on Saturday, Bill Belichick acknowledged that Jones could be the team's primary punt returner in Week 1 even though the team employs two accomplished players who have performed that well in the past. 

"Yeah, I think that’s a consideration," Belichick said of using Jones as the No. 1 returner. "Obviously, Danny [Amendola] and Julian [Edelman] have a lot of experience returning punts for us as well as kickoffs in the past. We’ll see how it goes, but we have good depth at that position and that’s always a good thing to have.

"We have confidence in all of those guys back there. Last night we even had D.J. [Foster] who got a chance to handle the ball. We’ll see how it goes going forward, but I think we have good competition and good depth at that position."

Saving Edelman and Amendola from further wear-and-tear could help extend the careers of both 30-year-old receivers. Not long after Jones was drafted, we took a look at how many hits Edelman and/or Amendola could be saved on a weekly basis by using Jones in the kicking game.