Patriots notes: Brady made 'smart' play to not kneel

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Patriots notes: Brady made 'smart' play to not kneel

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Deion Branch's 59-yard touchdown reception down the left sideline to end the first half in Sunday's 36-7 win over the Bears gave the Patriots a 33-0 lead. But as Branch pointed out after the game, the call from the sideline was a quarterback kneel, to run out the clock and head into halftime with a 27-0 lead.

Tom Brady was in the no-huddle, saw the clock winding down, and decided to go for one more big play. And it worked.

Coach Bill Belichick said Monday that Brady made a wise decision.

"We were in the no-huddle mode, and I thought that was a real smart play by Tom, at the end of the half, knowing that there was really only time for one more play," said Belichick. "And I think that when the ball was snapped, the three or four seconds left on the clock, it could have been the last play. So he took a shot down the field on a vertical pattern.

"Tom knew what he was doing, obviously, that he was just running the last play to have a shot to throw it down the field. If it was there, great. If it wasn't, then the half was over."

The Patriots held meetings on Monday at Gillette Stadium and cornerback Devin McCourty, who missed the second half of Sunday's game in Chicago with an apparent rib injury, was seen walking around with all smiles.

As expected, Belichick gave no update on the severity of McCourty's injury, but did show some confidence in Darius Butler, who has seen some more playing time as of late, after being benched in favor of Kyle Arrington earlier in the season.

"Whoever's out there on the field, if we don't have confidence in them, then we wouldn't put them out there," said Belichick.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' status for next Sunday night at Gillette Stadium is uncertain. He suffered his second concussion of the season on Sunday in a 7-3 loss to the Detroit Lions. His first concussion came in October against the Washington Redskins. He played the next week, which is why the Patriots aren't ruling him out, as they prepare for the Packers next Sunday night.

"Well, we always have to prepare for all the quarterbacks," said Belichick. "We know that this happened earlier in the year and he was back out there the next week. He's a great competitor and he's a terrific quarterback; I'm sure he'll do everything he can to be out there. Wherever that leads, and wherever that ends up, it ends up. It's out of our control. What we can control is our preparation."

Belichick said he's going to prepare for the Packers' backup quarterback, Matt Flynn, in case Rodgers doesn't make the start. But he won't draw up a completely different defensive game plan.

"Their offense is still their offense," said Belichick. "For them, if they change quarterbacks, it's not like they've got a hundred new plays that they haven't run before, just because they put one guy in there. They still run the plays that they run."

As for the Patriots players, they're being told to get ready for Rodgers, as of Monday.

"I don't know yet, but as far as what I've heard today, we're preparing for Aaron Rodgers," said Butler.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.