Jerod Mayo remains quietly consistent for Patriots 'D'


Jerod Mayo remains quietly consistent for Patriots 'D'

By Mary Paoletti

SAN DIEGO -- The New England Patriots have shown some on-the-field inconsistencies.

Jerod Mayo isn't one of them.

Coach Bill Belichick discussed his linebacker's skill set during the week leading up to the matchup with San Diego.

"Jerod has terrific instincts,'' he said. "He had those in college and I think that's one of the impressive things about watching him at Tennessee just the way he was able to sort plays out, find the ball, get over trash, get past guys that are around his feet or in the pile in the way and get past that to make the tackle.''

Mayo did his coach's words justice on Sunday, recording 10 tackles in New England's 23-20 win.

He got involved in four different hits on San Diego's second drive to set the tone, setting up shop on both the left and right sides of the field and bringing down whichever wideouts and running backs dared to pass.

Mayo's instincts really came up huge with under five minutes to play in the first quarter. Teammate Brandon Spikes broke up a third-and-15 pass between Chargers QB Philip Rivers and Kris Wilson. Mayo recovered the third-down fumble to set his team up on the San Diego 22.

Five plays later, Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for New England's first touchdown of the game.

Mayo only continued to make his presence felt.

On San Diego's sixth first-and-10 of its sole third-quarter drive, he went one-on-one with tough cover running back Darren Sproles. Mayo, though slower, couldn't be fooled. He swallowed Sproles up.

But it didn't matter if it was Sproles, Ryan Matthews, Patrick Crayton, Mike Tolbert or the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Buster Davis -- Mayo got his man.

Safety Brandon Meriweather acknowledged his fortune of playing behind such a talent.

"Mayo's a great player. He's a very good player,'' Meriweather said. "He runs the defense. He's the one who keeps all of us composed and does all the little things that count when you're in big games. It's great for me to look in front of me and see Mayo. It helps me relax.''

Mayo has 72 takedowns now at Week 7.

The stat makes him the NFL leader in tackles. It also puts him in position to be the first Patriot to have three 100-tackle seasons since Lawyer Milloy's five-straight between 1997-2001. Impressive company.

Unfortunately, Mayo's stellar play might continue to fly under the radar. The drama of losing to one division rival (Jets, Week 2), flattening another (Miami, Week 4), and come-from-behind overtime victories (23-20 over Baltimore last weekend) and San Diego can overshadow the guy who's just doing what he's supposed to. Even if he's doing a tremendous job.

But that's the New England way, right?

"Just trying to go what's asked of me,'' Mayo said. "You know I have to give that Patriots answer. I'm just trying to do what's asked of me. It's something differentevery week andI just want to win games."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks


Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!


THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.


THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.