The Patriots will unveil a new-look defense Monday night in Miami, attempting to improve on last season's uneven performance. Even though the team finished 14-2, the Pats' lack of a pass rush and inability to stop the opposition on third down are areas that need improvement.
"We're always trying to get better," said linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "I think that this year we've been working hard to change some of the things that weren't happening for us last year . . . Try to get after the quarterback a little bit and improve from last year."
Fellow linebacker Jerod Mayo is taking it as a challenge.
"We definitely have a chip on our shoulders as a defense," said Mayo. "We're trying to go out there each and every week and pitch a shutout. That's just our goal."
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.
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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
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.