Patriots stay grounded, despite past success against Jets

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Patriots stay grounded, despite past success against Jets

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO The last time the Patriots and Jets met, it really wasn't much of a meeting.

Led by Tom Brady's 310 passing yards, Wes Welker's 15 catches for 192 yards, and, yes, Laurence Maroney's 77 yards rushing to go with two touchdowns, the Pats' offense made somewhat easy work of the vaunted Jets D on their way to a 31-14 win.

Before practice on Thursday, that game was, predictably, a topic of conversation in the New England locker room. And just as predictably, the Pats were quick to write off the possibility of that prior success having any effect on what happens this Sunday at the Meadowlands.

"Sometimes you have one of those days where you're able to just get into a zone and make some plays," Welker said of last season's dominating performance, "and I'm sure they're gonna be coming up with something to take that away this time around."

"This is a different team," said Julian Edelman, who had three catches for 26 yards last time the two team met. "They drafted a new corner, and they're going to have different schemes, probably, so we're just out there preparing our best and doing whatever we can."

Perhaps the bigger story than the new corner the Jets drafted (Kyle Wilson, out of Boise State), is the one who they traded for former All-Pro Antonio Cromartie.

Cromartie, who measures at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and is one of the stronger, more physically gifted cornerbacks in the league, is expected to line up against Welker on Sunday.

"He's super fast," said Welker, who admits he's still not back at 100 percent after offseason knee surgery. "I don't think there's anyone faster in the league than that guy. His speed and his range and recovery and everything like that. And his size, he's a big guy. He's a rare combination of size and speed and definitely somebody that you have to stay on top of your routes and not get sloppy."

But if there's one spot where Welker does have a leg up in the match-up, it's with his quickness (even he's not yet fully recovered).

"It's usually bigger guys have more problems with that," he said, "so I'll try to use that to my advantage for sure."

He'll also have a little more help on Sunday than he did last week, thanks to the return of Edelman, who missed the Bengals game, and much of the preseason, because of an injured ankle.

"I'm real anxious to get back out there, he said. "I love playing the game and anytime you don't get to play with your teammates that you've been training so hard with, going through double-days and going through camp with, it's a little disappointing. So I'm chomping at the bit."

When asked if he learned anything from the 31-14 win?

"I don't even remember that, really," Edelman said. "When our offense is clicking, we're pretty tough. That's what I learned. But this is a different team."

The addition of Edelman, combined with the emergence of Brandon Tate, should help Welker offset what is undoubtedly the most hyped match-up of the afternoon.

Randy Moss vs. Revis Island.

With cornerback Darrelle Revis back from his holdout and already slinging trash talk the way of Moss, you can expect the two to go at each other all day. And while the Patriots have complete confidence in their star getting the best of Revis, they'll be ready to pick up the slack if Moss does in fact find himself stranded.

"Obviously, Revis and Randy are great players, and they're going to go at it," said Welker. "It just means he's gonna battle and do what he needs to do, and at the same time every else has to battle and make sure they're doing their job."

The defense also had their way with the Jets last November, intercepting rookie Mark Sanchez four times including a first-quarter pick six by Leigh Bodden and holding New York to barely 200 yards of total offense.

You'd think that that, combined with Sanchez's poor showing on Monday night against Baltimore, might have the Pats feeling overconfident. Okay, actually, you know that wouldn't happen, but either way, the Patriots made sure to express that they aren't taking anything for granted against the Jets offense on Sunday.

"I'm sure Sanchez has a chip on his shoulder, but that's not going to change how we prepare for the game and execute," said Darius Butler. "We're ready for the challenge. I'm sure he's a different player than he was last year."

"They have a quarterback who can get the ball down the field," said Jonathan Wilhite, "and receivers who can go get it, so we have to be ready to go."

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

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. 

Tomlin not letting up on Brown after ill-advised Facebook Live video

Tomlin not letting up on Brown after ill-advised Facebook Live video

FOXBORO – Mike Tomlin didn’t sidestep questions related to Antonio Brown’s ill-advised locker room broadcast.

Instead, Tomlin actually seemed to up the ante during a conference call with New England media. Asked whether Brown seemed to get the message that Tomlin delivered and take it seriously, Tomlin said, “I think time always tells those stories.”

Tomlin easily could have used a “we’re moving on” message or talked about how Brown simply made a youthful mistake but he opted not to. Which isn’t surprising.

The number one criticism of Tomlin is that the Steelers head coach runs a loose ship and that the lack of discipline and accountability is a big issue.

Seeing Brown run a live broadcast from the locker room while Tomlin’s trying to make a point doesn’t just keep that perception afloat, it advances it to a place it’s never been.

It’s not a stretch to say that Brown’s actions imperiled Tomlin’s reputation. There’s no wonder he isn’t willing to let Brown off the hook.

Brown addressed the controversy on Wednesday saying, “I absolutely regret the Facebook Live situation. It’s a total distraction to the organization. A total distraction to my teammates. Obviously disrespect to my coach. I’ve got utmost respect to my coach so I totally regret that.”

Tomlin on Tuesday went as far as to suggest other players doing team-distracting things like Brown wind up getting passed around the league despite their great talent. “That's often why you see great players move from team to team,” said Tomlin. “Don't want that to happen to Antonio Brown.

Tomlin expressed embarrassment that the language he used in the postgame in the privacy of his locker room was served up for public consumption.

“As a parent, I’m not into public displays of that type of language so I was more embarrassed about that aspect of it not necessarily the content or the message of the video,” said Tomlin.

As to referring to the Patriots as “those a*******,” Tomlin said, “Man, you could have applied that sentiment to any opponent. You could have made that tape two weeks earlier and applied it to that opponent. It’s not about the nameless great faces that we play, it’s about our overall preparation and that was the sentiment of the message that I was sending to the guys not necessarily about the New England Patriots, they just happened to be who we’re playing this week.”

Tomlin also addressed the time element he referenced in his postgame speech when he said the Patriots had a day-and-a-half head start on his team. 

“I was just trying to instill a sense of urgency in our group regarding preparation and I wanted them to understand that we didn’t have a lot of time to pat ourselves on the back based on the performance of the last game,” he explained. “That we needed to transition and transition quickly and start the preparation, whether it was actual preparation or just from a mentality standpoint.”

Because of Brown’s decision, it’s probably been a lot harder to make that transition than Tomlin ever hoped.