Loss to Jets still eats at Patriots' Koppen

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Loss to Jets still eats at Patriots' Koppen

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

DALLAS - It couldn't have been fun for the three Patriots offensive linemen. From the DFW Airport to the downtown Dallas Convention Center, billboards praising the Steelers and Packers for their Super Bowl appearance were impossible to miss. And here were Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir on Thursday picking up an award from an acid reflux company for being named the best offensive line in the NFL.
Koppen had no plans to even sample the Super Bowl scene. He came down Wednesday night and will leave Thursday night. His wife is expecting their second son in three weeks. "We definitely would have liked to be here under different circumstances, but that's the way it works. That's the NFL," said Koppen. "We didn't earn our spot to be here. We'll just have to deal with that and learn from it and get better. It's bittersweet."Koppen hasn't yet watched the tape of that Divisional Playoff loss to the Jets but said, "I might have to watch it just to put it to rest."Asked if it's agitating to know the Patriots lost because of inefficiency rather than being overmatched, Koppen said, "We got to go out there and play the game on Sunday regardless of what we did in the past or the regular season. Come playoff time it's one and done, and we weren't the best team on the field that day and we have to deal with that." The Patriots offensive line could be in flux. Stephen Neal's annual shoulder injury came again. Matt Light's a free agent. Logan Mankins is unhappy he has no new deal and will probably be franchised. "I don't get paid to make decisions," said Koppen when asked about the possible transition on the left side of the line. "Matt's been a great player for us for a long time and I hope he continues to be a great player for us. I think he's a Patriots type of player. With Logan's deal, it's not unheard of. There's a lot of movement, coaches, players (note: I have no idea what he means there; just dropping words, apparently), but those are two guys we'd like to have."The looming battle between owners and players has Koppen's attention. "It's concerning," he admitted. "This is what we do. That being said, there are certain things theNFL wants and certain things the players want." As for the chore of keeping in shape if labor strife drags, Koppen said players normally take a month off and then start training on their own. "With whatever happens with that, if you're a professional athlete you need to be able to handle it by yourself," he said.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

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Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss the aftermath of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video. Curran interview Matt Light ahead of the AFC Championship. They dissect the press conferences of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and look at how to beat the Steelers.

SUBSCRIBE iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | AudioBoom

2:29 Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live aftermath

13:14 Stopping Le’Veon Bell

27:16 heywassyonumba? with Patrick Chung and Kyle Van Noy

32:30 Injury report updates for AFC Championship

36:51 Brady and Belichick’s press conferences

44:50 Matt Light interview

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round.