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Kind words for Brady

---There’s been plenty of praise heaped on Tom Brady this week following his six-touchdown performance in New England’s 45-10 win over Denver and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is following suit calling Brady, “arguably one of the best two quarterbacks of all time.’’

“You’ve got your hands full from Day One, before you even step on the field with him, because it’s a film study game with him,’’ Lewis said. “He wants to [identify] everything that’s coming out and know what you’re in. Your job is to disguise and not show him all of that. It’s a chess match, almost. Like Peyton Manning, anytime you play Peyton Manning, it’s the same type of chess match. So we’ve got our hands full this week.’’

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

'Tuck Rule Game' turns 10

---Today marks the 10th anniversary of the “Tuck Rule Game’’ which saw referee Walt Coleman controversially overturn Tom Brady’s fumble to give the ball back to New England, setting up the Patriots’ 16-13 overtime victory over Oakland and igniting a dominant New England run

Oakland cornerback Charles Woodson stripped the ball from Brady in the fourth quarter and linebacker Greg Biekert recovered the fumble with less than two minutes remaining. But Coleman invoked the little-known Tuck Rule during a booth review and declared the play an incomplete pass because Brady’s arm had been moving forward. That gave the ball back to New England who forced the game into overtime on a 45-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri.

"I remember waiting in the snow waiting for Walt Coleman to come out and give us his ruling," former Pats great Tedy Bruschi said. "I was talking to (former Raider) Tim Brown out on the field because when replays are being discussed players will talk to other players on the other side of the ball and argue about this and that. I was talking to Tim Brown and I said, 'Tim, I think that's the Tuck Rule.' ''

Bruschi said he remembered a game earlier that season in a loss to the St. Louis Rams where the Tuck Rule went against New England on a fumble by quarterback Kurt Warner. Then Rams coach Mike Martz said afterwards that the Patriots were a Super Bowl caliber team.

Since that game, New England has captured eight AFC East championships, four AFC titles and three Super Bowls.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Rodney McKissic
News Sports Reporter

FOXBROUGH, Ma. – Quarterback Tom Brady returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday’s session with a sore left shoulder.

Brady said he used the time Wednesday for extra film study and treatment on his shoulder as New England prepares for the AFC Championship game against Baltimore on Sunday.

“”It’s just a matter of ultimately trying to be as prepared as we can for Sunday,’’ Brady said. “”I’m certainly going to be as prepared as I possibly can be.’’

Brady wouldn’t say if his shoulder was too painful to miss Wednesday’s session but that’s likely the case considering how much the All-Pro quarterback loves practice.

“”When Coach [Bill Belichick] feels its best that you do other things to get yourself ready, that’s what you do and you still use all that time very wisely,’’ Brady said. “”You don’t go lounging around taking naps or anything like that. You’re just putting in extra work and making sure you’re getting prepared.’’

Cornerback Kyle Arrington (foot), guard Dan Connolly (groin) and wide receiver Matt Slater (shoulder) all fully participated for New England while safety Ed Reed (ankle) was the only player limited for the Ravens.

****

The Ravens have finished with back-to-back 12-4 seasons as well as an AFC North championship but quarterback Joe Flacco said in order for the team to be considered special, they have to win the Super Bowl.

“”You can’t get to the playoffs and lose every year and expect to be considered a special team,’’ he said. “We are definitely a good football team. That is without question. To be a special team, you have to win championships. We are working towards that. That is why we are here right now. That is why we put ourselves in this position every year. If you are here every year, you give yourself a way higher percentage of getting to the Super Bowl and winning it.’’

However Flacco, now in his fourth season, said there isn’t a sense of desperation to win immediately but contending annually for championships is expected.

“”I don’t think you ever want to feel that way,’’ he said. “The bottom line is that getting to the playoffs and getting to this position is a rare thing. We have been spoiled around here, but that is because we are a good football team. You say teams are not in this position a lot or young guys don’t get used to this – you always hear that. Well, shoot, we should get used to it. We are a good … football team. Why shouldn’t we be here every year?’’

****

There’s been plenty of praise heaped on Tom Brady this week following his six-touchdown performance in New England’s 45-10 win over Denver and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is following suit calling Brady, “”arguably one of the best two quarterbacks of all time.’’

“”You’ve got your hands full from Day One, before you even step on the field with him, because it’s a film study game with him,’’ Lewis said. “”He wants to [identify] everything that’s coming out and know what you’re in. Your job is to disguise and not show him all of that. It’s a chess match, almost. Like Peyton Manning, anytime you play Peyton Manning, it’s the same type of chess match. So we’ve got our hands full this week.’’

****

Thursday marks the 10th anniversary of the “Tuck Rule Game’’ which saw referee Walt Coleman controversially overturn Tom Brady’s fumble to give the ball back to New England, setting up the Patriots’ 16-13 overtime victory over Oakland and igniting a dominant New England run.

Oakland cornerback Charles Woodson stripped the ball from Brady in the fourth quarter and linebacker Greg Biekert recovered the fumble with less than two minutes remaining. But Coleman invoked the little-known Tuck Rule during a booth review and declared the play an incomplete pass because Brady’s arm had been moving forward. That gave the ball back to New England who forced the game into overtime on a 45-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri.

“”I remember waiting in the snow waiting for Walt Coleman to come out and give us his ruling,’’ former Pats great Tedy Bruschi said. “”I was talking to (former Raider) Tim Brown out on the field because when replays are being discussed players will talk to other players on the other side of the ball and argue about this and that. I was talking to Tim Brown and I said, ‘Tim, I think that's the Tuck Rule.’ ’’

Bruschi said he remembered a game earlier that season in a loss to the St. Louis Rams where the Tuck Rule went against New England on a fumble by quarterback Kurt Warner. Then Rams coach Mike Martz said afterwards that the Patriots were a Super Bowl caliber team.

Since that game, New England has captured eight AFC East championships, four AFC titles and three Super Bowls.

“”There is no word to use except for impressive about making the right decision at all levels,’’ Bruschi said. “”Mr. [Bob] Kraft and his decision to build up the area, the new stadium and Patriot Place and bring in Coach [Bill] Belichick. Of course, I was there for Coach [Bill] Parcells and Coach [Pete] Carroll and Coach Belichick coming in. Then the decisions that Coach Belichick has made to which players come in, which players stay for a long time, which players you cut ties with and when to cut ties with them. He’s made the toughest of decisions and I admire him for that because a lot of head coaches or general managers, they won’t make those tough decisions that he makes, all the w6ay down to quarterbacks and kickers, making decisions on what they do and how they play. It’s really been a pleasure to be a part of and not even looking at it from analytical point of view, it’s just nice to see them continuing the way it’s been.’’

rmckissic@buffnews.com

Beaten to the punch

---When it comes to drafting tight ends, New England has already beaten Baltimore.

Like New England, the Ravens picked two tight ends high in the 2010 draft with Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta but any comparison to the Patriots Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez end there.

The Pats took Gronkowski, a native of Amherst, with the 42nd pick overall in the second round – one spot after the Buffalo Bills selected Torell Troup – while Baltimore took defensive end Sergio Kindle at 43. The Ravens picked Dickson in the third round with the 70th pick overall while the Patriots took Hernandez in the fourth round at 113th and the Baltimore drafted Pitta one pick later.

While Dickson and Pitta have played well, New England’s pair have attacked the record book, scoring a combined 44 touchdowns in two seasons. Dickson and Pitta have nine career TDs.

“All those touchdowns they’ve earned through their hard work, preparation and their ability mentally what we’re trying to do with them so they can be in position to catch those,’’ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “Both those guys have really worked hard put themselves in a position so they can be a big factor in our offense.’’

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Reed's comments not an issue for Flacco

---Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco thought Ed Reed’s comments that he was rattled in last Sunday’s playoff game against Houston were funny but admitted he was caught off guard.

Reed, who also noted that Flacco didn't look like he had a hold on the offense, made his comments Tuesday in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.

“I talked to Ed about it,’’ Flacco said. “It was a little funny to me. I was a little caught off guard. It is what it is. We talked about it. It’s really not that big of a deal.”

Flacco was out having dinner when heard Reed’s comments.

“When I first saw it, I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ ’’ Flacco said. “Like I said, we talked about it. We are a team around here. It’s not really that big of an issue. I don’t really take things that bad. It is Ed. It is what it is.”

Both Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs rushed to Flacco’s defense, but what was curious is that no one from the Ravens’ offense rushed to Flacco’s defense.

Flacco is certainly coming off a poor performance against Texans, who sacked him five times.

“I understand where Ed’s heart is,’’ Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “All of our guys, when they say things and you get a chance to talk about it … We’re together all the time.  We know each other.  We understand where each other is coming from.  I’m sure there are some things he would have like to have said a little better.  If you look at the whole context and hear the tone of his voice and the message he was trying to communicate, it’s a good message. But obviously, things could have been [said differently]. The way you read them and stuff like that, I’m sure he’s not really happy about that.”

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Dareus makes all-rookie team

It's no surprise that Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus made the NFL all-rookie team, picked by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers of America.

Here's the all-rookie squad: OFFENSE: QB: Cam Newton, Panthers. RB: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys; Roy Helu, Redskins. WR: A.J. Green, Bengals; Julio Jones, Falcons. TE: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings. C: Mike Pouncey, Dolphins. G: Stefen Wisniewski, Raiders; Danny Watkins, Eagles. OT: Tyron Smith, Cowboys
Nate Solder, Patriots. DEFENSE: DE: J.J. Watt, Texans; Jabaal Sheard, Browns. DT: Marcell Dareus, Bills; Phil Taylor, Browns. LB: Aldon Smith, 49ers; Von Miller, Broncos; Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins. CB: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals; Richard Sherman, Seahawks; S: Chris Conte, Bears; Chris Harris, Broncos. SPECIALISTS: K: Dan Bailey, Cowboys. P: Matt Bosher, Falcons. PR: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals. KR: Randall Cobb, Packers. ST: Akeem Dent, Falcons.

The link to the PFW site and its All-NFL teams: http://www.profootballweekly.com/

---Mark Gaughan

 



Pats overcame injury bug best

The teams still alive on Final Four weekend in the NFL tend to have weathered a minimal amount of injuries during the season.

That's not the case with the New England Patriots this year. Of the four conference finalists, the Pats sustained the most injuries, by far. New England lost 75 games to injury by players who opened the season as starters. The Pats have 14 players on injured reserve, also tops among the final four.

By comparison, the banged-up Buffalo Bills put 17 players on injured-reserve and lost 89 games to injury by season-opening staters. The key Pats who have gone down include center Dan Koppen, defensive tackle Mike Wright, cornerback Ras-I Dowling and safety Josh Barrett, all lost for all or most of the season. The Pats lost key pass rusher Andre Carter for the rest of the year after the 14th game.

San Francisco has only five players on injured reserve and only one is key - receiver Josh Morgan, who opened the season as a starter.The Niners have lost only 19 starter-games to injury.

Baltimore has lost only 33 starter-games, and none of their key starters have gone down for the year. The Ravens have seven on I.R.

The New York Giants have lost 33 starter games to injury, but they've overcome some key losses. Linebacker Jonathan Goff went down for the year. Cornerback Terrell Thomas and linebacker Clint Sintim went down for the year in the summer. Defensive line studs Osi Umenyiora (7 games) and Justin Tuck (4 games) missed time. New York has 10 on I.R.

---Mark Gaughan

FCC may move to end NFL blackouts

---The FCC on Thursday took a step that may lead to the elimination of all sports blackouts, of which the NFL’s are the most notable. The commission said it was seeking public comment on eliminating its own rules that have effectively backstopped league policies by prohibiting cable and satellite operators from carrying a game already blacked out by local broadcast stations.

Several public interest groups including Sports Fans Coalition, as well as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) had asked the agency to reconsider its rule in light of numerous NFL blackouts in cities around the country.

"This is a huge victory for sports fans around the country," Sports Fans Coalition executive director Brian Frederick said. "The government is now shining the light on the antiquated business of sports blackouts. It's time for fans to let the FCC know how unethical and counterproductive blackouts are."

The NFL’s blackout policy dictates that for a home game to be shown in the team’s market, it must be sold out 72 hours before kickoff. There were 16 blackouts in 2011, including the Bills final three home games. The Cincinnati Bengals led the league in blacked out games with six.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

Mark Gaughan's Friday NFL Chat

Report: QB coach Lee to Bills

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that highly respected quarterbacks coach David Lee will join Chan Gailey's staff in Buffalo as quarterbacks coach. Lee was offensive coordinator at the University of Mississippi in 2011. Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt resigned after the season. Lee was quarterbacks coach in Miami from 2008 to 2010. He helped bring the Wildcat to Miami in 2008. Lee was offensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2007. He was an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2006. Lee coached at Arkansas from 1984-87 under Ken Hatfield, who was a mentor to Gailey early in the career of the Bills coach.

---Mark Gaughan

On celebration penalties

From the department of catching up with the news of two weeks ago, we offer the following item on excessive celebration penalties in the NFL.

Exactly what rule did Bills receiver Stevie Johnson violate when he flashed his Happy New Year message on his undershirt in New England? We asked the NFL office, and got this response: He violated Rule 5, Section 4, Article 8 of the 2011 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League, which states that players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration.

What exactly is the penalty for that? Normally a player gets fined. For instance, Titans receiver Kenny Britt was fined $5,000 in 2010 for wearing a towel tucked into his pants that had the message "#10 VY" in support of injured quarterback Vince Young. There are lots of other examples.

The Bills' Johnson received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in New England. Reports an NFL spokesman: He was flagged on the field for unsportsmanlike conduct. Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 states that there shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct. This applies to any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship.

So by that standard, Johnson should have been penalized when he flashed a message in Cincinnati in 2010.

(UPDATE) I agree with the commenter below. Was it really unsportsmanlike? No. The NFL probably would say that once you start letting players display messages, every other TD celebration might include something like that. Of course, that's the reason a fine is in place.

---Mark Gaughan

 

 

 

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