Curran: Pats dodge bullet; Jets take Plax over Moss


Curran: Pats dodge bullet; Jets take Plax over Moss

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - It's been 33 months since (almost) 34-year-old Plaxico Burress caught a pass in an NFL game. In his final season with the Giants, he caught 10 balls for 133 yards in the season opener on September 14, 2008and five balls for 81 yards in the season's second game. He never caught more than four balls in a game after that and his high for receiving yards was 58. The biggest threat he posed was not to opposing defenses but his own offense and -- as it turned out, his quadriceps. On Sunday, the Jets secured the services of the once-dangerous receiver who went to jail for two years on a gun charge after pumping his own thigh full of lead in a New York City nightclub. Plax-Mania will ensue. But that's because of who he is, what he did and the fact that our media maw craves content and this is easy content. Did the New York Jets get profoundly better with the addition of Burress, a player on the slide downward before missing two seasons? I don't know how anyone could say "yes" with any kind of certainty. Good teams with smart people -- the Giants, Jets, Steelers, Eagles and Bucs -- were all interested in Burress. But the fact he ultimately signed for one year and 3 million shows that the offers expressed a reasonable level of skepticism. Burress isn't going to be a No. 1. He isn't going to take over games. What he can do for the Jets is command attention away from Santonio Holmes, help open things up for tight end Dustin Keller and give more room to the underrated Jerricho Cotchery. In the parlance of Randy Moss, the 6-foot-5 Plaxico can help "take the top offa defense."Which brings us to Moss. He introduced that phrase to the mainstream because he is the finest practitioner of that art. Even though 2010 was a disaster and his effort and attiude went totally in the tank after he left the Patriots (and neither were great before he left), at least he's played in the past two seasons. At least there's tape of him running fast and catching touchdowns. Burress is a very good player for his era. Moss is one of the all-time greats. Moss is already 34. How motivated Burress will be to apply himself to football fully after being away from his family while in jail is something to watch. Prison changes people, their priorities and their intensities. Moss' motivation, had the Jets pursued him fully, would have been to prove he was still Randy Moss. And that's always been a strong motivation for him. Plaxico Burress may make some plays for the Jets in 2011. But Randy Moss would have made a lot more. Recent history tells us who's got a better chance of being more productive. Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Patriots release DT Darius Kilgo, reportedly sign WR Griff Whalen

Patriots release DT Darius Kilgo, reportedly sign WR Griff Whalen

The New England Patriots have announced that they've released defensive tackle Darius Kilgo. 

The move creates an opening for wide receiver Griff Whalen, who they have reportedly signed to a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Kilgo, a sixth-round pick out of Maryland in 2015, did not make an appearance for the Patriots after being claimed off waivers from the Broncos last week. He played 81 snaps for Denver this season.

Whalen, 26, played in two games for San Diego in 2016 where he caught two passes for a total of 22 yards. 

The former Colts wideout is perhaps best remembered in New England for his part in Indianapolis' disasterous fake punt against the Patriots last season.




John Harbaugh: Ravens’ trickery different than Patriots ‘deceptive’ formation

John Harbaugh: Ravens’ trickery different than Patriots ‘deceptive’ formation

FOXBORO – John Harbaugh explained on Thursday the difference between the rules loophole his Ravens exploited recently and the one the Patriots exploited in the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoff Game that caused him to cry, “Foul.”

What it boiled down to? Everyone knew about the loophole the Ravens took advantage of when they committed an en masse holding penalty at the end of the game against the Bengals. 

Nobody had seen what the Patriots successfully pulled off when they made eligible receivers ineligible and vice versa and went on a touchdown drive that changed the tenor of the game.

“You’re right. I don’t want to get into all that,” Harbaugh said when I asked what the difference was. “That’s all been hashed out. I believe what I believe and I think it’s all been proven to be right.

“The point about [the punt hold] is, it’s been talked about, it’s been looked at, it’s been something that’s been used for 20 years so it’s nothing new,” he explained. “It’s nothing that hadn’t been addressed before by officials or the competition committee.”

Harbaugh said that, in Super Bowl 47, his Ravens used the tactic and his brother Jim, coach of the Niners, took it up with the Competition Committee. John Harbaugh supported the change, he said. The league declined.  

“Everybody knew about that so it didn’t create an unfair advantage for anybody,” said Harbaugh.

LISTEN: New Quick Slants podcast w/ more stories of Ravens antics

After the Patriots beat Baltimore in a tremendous game, Harbaugh was in a snit in his postgame press conference alleging the “nobody’s ever seen that [eligible-ineligible trickery] before.” He said the play was “illegal” and “deceptive.”

I mentioned that Alabama had run the play in a nationally televised game against LSU and that the Titans had done the same thing on a game-ending play against the Jets a few weeks earlier.

Aside from whether or not the information was accurately communicated by the officials, the tone of Harbaugh’s comments left little room for interpretation. He indicated the Patriots were underhanded and that his comments seemed to discredit New England.

“That was not the intent and if you go back and read my comments at the time and the tone of it anybody that takes it that way is taking it the wrong way,” said Harbaugh. “That was not the point of it at all. You had an eligible receiver that wasn’t identified and an ineligible receiver that wasn’t identified as such. The official had no way to identify that for the defense so there was no signal or any other way that they could do that. That was something that was addressed the very next week. If somebody wants to look at it some certain way, that’s not my concern.”

When I offered that referee Bill Vinovich not only identified Shane Vereen as being ineligible but added, “Don’t cover 34…” over the stadium mic, Harbaugh wasn’t having it.  

“That’s not something that had ever been gone over,” he insisted. “Players were never taught don’t cover that player. When you’re on the field, you can’t hear that microphone. That’s not something you can even hear or are listening for. The next week there was a tweak.”

Indeed there was. And not just with the officials then being on the hook to make more detailed announcements. The further tweak, perhaps spurred by the formation chicanery and Tom Brady’s recommendation that Baltimore “study the rules” came when the Ravens passed on intel to the Colts for the AFC Championship Game. One of the recommendations from Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg was to watch that the Patriots’ sideline staff didn’t monkey with the kicking balls. That was included in a letter to NFL Operations man Mike Kensil along with an allegation that it was “well known around the league” that the Patriots deflate footballs before the game and that the league needed to keep an eye on that.

Harbaugh hasn’t hidden from the fact he found Brady’s comment offensive.

"I was pissed off," he said this past summer. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed...So yeah, that should never have been said."

He has, however, disavowed any talk by his staff about the Patriots allegedly deflating footballs. "Any conversation that was had with the Colts had nothing to do with deflated footballs, which is what we've been saying since the very start," Harbaugh said in 2015. "I know that we've answered the questions from the beginning to the end very simply. Our yes is yes. Our no is no. We've answered questions directly and honestly and straightforward from the start."

Whether the Patriots’ formation plays and the Ravens response to it led to a $30M investigation that hijacked the NFL’s attention for 20 months and resulted in a four-game suspension for Brady is still not definitively known. Could Rosburg and the Colts equipment man have possibly discussed kicking ball chicanery without sharing notes on the belief the Patriots deflated footballs? Rosburg and former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Ravens coach Dean Pees were both spoken to by investigator Ted Wells. What did they offer

Just like everything else between Ravens and Patriots, it’s complicated.