Curran: Five first-half thoughts from Patriots-Packers


Curran: Five first-half thoughts from Patriots-Packers

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO - Just a little bit of luck heading the wrong way can change a game. And when Brandon Meriweather's bad angle on a ball thrown to James Jones and wiped out cornerback Devin McCourty, one of the many breaks going New England's way over the past two months fell to an opponent. Here's five keys from the first half of a game led -- shockingly -- 17-14 by Green Bay. 1. FLYNN EFFECTIVENESSThe assumed ineffectiveness of Matt Flynn hasn't yet come to pass. He went 11 of 17 for 143 yards.A huge chunk came on that 66-yard touchdown pass to James Jones, but he also engineered a drive in the second quarter that consumed 6:26 and included four third-down conversions before ending with a one-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. 2. PENALTIES EMERGEThe Patriots have five penalties for 37 yards in the first half. Entering the game, New England was the fourth-least penalized team in the NFL (55). Included in there, a pass interference that made it first-and-goal at the one, an offensive hold that led to a three-and-outand an offsides that turned a third-and-nine into a third-and-four.3. CONNOLLY ... UNSTOPPABLEThe explosiveness of Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly was on full display late in the half when he took a squibbed kickoff and returned it 71 yards past a seemingly confused Packers kick coverage team all the way down to the Green Bay 4. Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a touchdown. 4. DEFENSIVE STRIKESKyle Arrington, who explained to me last week the work he does during the week on his legs to keep them strong and live, showed that power during a 36-yard interception return for a score. It was the eighth return touchdown of the year for New England. 5. PATRIOTS KILLED IT ON GROUNDNew England hadeight carries for74 yards in the first half, a tremendous, eight yards per carry average. But they went away from it a bit in the second quarter.
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Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots


Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots

FOXBORO -- Seems as though the Bills don't quite have their stories straight. 

On the one hand, you have Bills players, who say that they won't hesitate to retaliate if a Patriots player gets near one of their pregame warmup drills, as Jacoby Brissett did in Week 4. 

On the other hand, you have the Bills coach, who sounded less eager for there to be any kind of scrap before this weekend's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

"No, I mean with us, just go out and warm up," Ryan said in a conference call Wednesday. "That’s what you do, but any of the extracurricular things, you know, there’s absolutely zero focus on that, and shouldn’t be any focus on that. It’s just about playing games.

"I mean if people want to show how tough they are, put the boxing gloves on and get in the ring or something. That might be more impressive -- I don’t want Gronk by the way.

"But I definitely don’t want to see that happen, and our focus is 100 percent on the game and doing the very best we possibly can."

It's an interesting comment from a coach who has made it very clear that he wanted to build a "bully" in Buffalo. His team shut out the Patriots after trying to intimidate New England's rookie quarterback before the game. Did his team not benefit somehow from what occurred before kickoff that day?

He doesn't think so.

"It had nothing to do with our team . . . Absolutely nothing," he said. "You know, those things happen every now and then but it was no big deal. It did absolutely nothing for us."

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Tom Brady has fans everywhere, apparently. Even in Pittsburgh. Even on the Steelers roster. 

Showtime's Inside the NFL caught video of Brady meeting with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Sunday's game between New England and Pittsburgh. 

The pair hugged near the 50-yard line at Heinz Field. Brady called Roethlisberger "big guy." Roethlisberger, who was out with a knee injury, told Brady he wanted to play "so bad."


Then Roethlisberger became a fan. And like many of them, he had a request. 

"Um, hey, listen," he said. "I've never done this before, but I would love to get a jersey at some point. It'd mean...There's not many I want to put in my office. You're the best, dude."

Brady was happy to oblige. Just not right at that moment. 

"Sure, I'd love to," Brady said. "I'll get you after the game."