Felger: Everything old is new again for Patriots

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Felger: Everything old is new again for Patriots

By Michael Felger

That was an old-school Patriots win.

Old school as in special teams carrying the day.

Old school as in undrafted andor unheralded players making game-winning plays.

Old school as in maintaining composure on the road.

Old school as in playing well in the second half.

Old school as in feeling disrespected and actually doing something about it.

Not that I'd recomend making travel plans to Dallas (site of the Super Bowl) for February just yet. But at least the next two weeks should be a pleasant stretch for the Patriots and their fans after Monday's 41-14 thumping of the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

There's nothing worse than spending two weeks bemoaning a loss. Instead, the Pats gave themselves something to build off while silencing their critics for at least the next 12 days.

Guess we'll have to spend the next two weeks ripping the Red Sox.

As for Monday, it was a vintage, 2001-era victory.

That's what was going through my head as I watched the Pats return a kickoff for a touchdown (Brandon Tate to open the second half), block a punt (by Patrick Chung) to set up a score, and block a field goal (again by Chung) to give them another touchdown return (by Kyle Arrington). Sort felt like the 2001 AFC title game in Pittsburgh. Remember?

That was also the feeling after witnessing the performances of Rob Ninkovich (two interceptions, sack), Danny Woodhead (36 rushing yards; 11-yard touchdown catch) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (76 rushing yards; touchdown). Future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, meanwhile, didn't even catch a single pass. It was fitting. Sort of felt like the days of David Patten, Bobby Hamilton and Jermaine Wiggins all over again.

When it comes to winning on the road and playing well in the clutch -- forget 2001. Coming up big in hostile environments was a hallmark of the Patriots right up through 2008.

And, finally, that element returned on Monday night, as the Pats outscored the Fish, 38-7, after halftime and recorded their biggest road win since beating the eventual AFC East champion Dolphins in Miami in November of 2008.

Remember, that game was under the direction of Matt Cassel.

For Tom Brady, you'd have to go back to Week 17 of 2007 for his last feel-good road win.

And you could tell he felt good about it. The shots ESPN got of Bill Belichick and Brady celebrating in the final two minutes constitute what I call Patriots porn for the footy-pajama crowd. It was quite a sight. And it was deserved. Belichick reportedly spent much of the past week letting his players know how much heat they were taking in the media, and the players were able to turn that around and use it as motivation.

The Pats used to do that, too. A lot.

Remember?

Felger's report card will post Wednesday. Email Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to Felger on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Brady to Amendola on Facebook: 'Paddle's fixed. Time for a rematch!'

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Brady to Amendola on Facebook: 'Paddle's fixed. Time for a rematch!'

When Danny Amendola told the world on Tuesday that he's better than Tom Brady at ping pong, the quarterback must have been listening. 

On his Facebook page, Brady published a snarling image of his face Photoshopped onto the body of a table tennis player. That paddle he broke after losing to Amendola three years ago? It's fixed, Brady explained in the caption. And he's ready for a rematch.

Talk about intimidation.

Wilfork embracing modeling, tells Brady to put him in touch with Gisele's people

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Wilfork embracing modeling, tells Brady to put him in touch with Gisele's people

Vince Wilfork will be one of many well-known athletes to strip down and pose nude for photographs in ESPN The Magazine's's Body issue, joining a group that includes Cubs pitcher Jake Arrietta, Broncos defensive end Von Miller and Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Judging by his latest tweet, the former Patriots defensive lineman -- who is listed at 325 pounds -- is getting pretty comfortable with the idea of becoming a model.

Now it's up to Tom Brady to play match-maker, it seems. Gisele retired from the runway last year so maybe her people are on the lookout for some new talent.

Belichick: Buddy Ryan a father to 'a great football family'

Belichick: Buddy Ryan a father to 'a great football family'

Bill Belichick released a statement on Buddy Ryan's passing Tuesday afternoon. 

"Today is a sad day in football due to the passing of Buddy Ryan," Belichick said. "It was always very challenging to compete against Coach Ryan, who was father to a great football family that carries on his coaching and defensive tradition. My condolences are with the Ryan Family."

Belichick is certainly very familiar with Ryan's legacy and the tradition Ryan passed down to his sons Rex and Rob. The Patriots coach has competed against all three.

Rex Ryan has squared off with Belichick during his time as head coach for the Jets (2009-14) and Bills (2015-present), and their matchups go back to Rex's days with the Ravens (1999-2008) when he was a defensive line coach and then defensive coordinator.

Rob Ryan, like his brother, got his first NFL break when his father was the head coach of the Cardinals in the mid-1990s. His second break, though, came from Belichick. He joined the Patriots staff during Belichick's first year as head coach in 2000 and coached linebackers for four seasons in New England. He has since competed against Belichick as a defensive coordinator for the Raiders, Browns, Cowboys and Saints. Rob joined Rex in Buffalo this year to serve as an assistant on the staff there. 

For Belichick's thoughts on the impact of Buddy Ryan's famous "46" defense, we dug up some of his comments from a 2012 press conference that you can find here. He called the combination of Ryan's scheme and the talented players Ryan had at his disposal as defensive coordinator of the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears "pretty unblockable."