Tom Brady had plenty to celebrate as he had his best game of the season Sunday night against the Bengals. (AP Photo/Steven Senne

What a difference a week makes. After all the doom and gloom from the media that the Patriots were meeting their demise, Tom Brady was too old, and Bill Belichick wasn’t the same coach, the Patriots came out in prime time and handled the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL. If it wasn’t for the 12 penalties for 114 yards called on the Patriots, Sunday night’s game wouldn’t be as close as it was. The Patriots came out with fire and intensity and never relinquished the controls. A showing like Sunday night was exactly what the Patriots needed to reassure all the quaking media members, but it was expected from those who have seen what this team has done over the past 13 years after an embarrassing loss the week before.

- Through the early part of the season the offensive line has warranted some concern. Sunday night the Patriots started their third different offensive line combination in as many games. This combination was undoubtedly the best all season. Left to right the starters were Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell, and Sebastian Vollmer. The veterans of Connolly and Wendell provided the best guard play that the Patriots have seen all year. Solder looked like his old self and kept the pressure away from Brady’s blind-side. The rookie Stork looked good as well, creating holes in the run game and keeping the middle of the pocket clean. Of course this is just one game but Sunday’s game was the first positive sign the offensive line has given us all year so we’ll take it. Continue reading Notes and Observations Week 5: Patriots Return to Form, Blow Out Bengals 43-17 »

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1. Patriots:

MISC

* Talking about shutting us up with a quality game – game plan excellent, intensity and crowd was as loud as I’ve ever heard it

* James Devlin blocks, runs, catches and is now assigned to giving Tom Brady high fives

* I don’t want to see Revis go down the Talib Stairs anymore

* Great games – Wright, Vereen, Wilfork, Offensive Line, Ridley, Bolden on special teams (played with fire – like a guy who wants to stay on the team), Gostkowski

* Bad games – Dennard, Ninkovich, Easley,

* I like they were picking each other up off the ground and had each other’s back Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Quiet Critics (Including Me) »

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Tom Brady surpasses 50,000 yards for his career and leads the Patriots to a 20-3 halftime lead against the Cincinnati Bengals. (USA Today)

“Brady! Brady! Brady!”

That chant by the home crowd at Gillette Stadium tells you all you need to know about the first half of the Sunday Night Football contest between the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals.

After getting trampled last Monday night by the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots have been a completely different team so far on Sunday night, jumping out to a 20-3 lead at halftime. The offense already has 16 first downs, three more than in four quarters in Week 4, and 256 total yards, nearly as much as last week. Tom Brady accounted for 153 yards in the air, including a 27-yard pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski to surpass 50,000 yards passing for his career.

Continue reading Halftime Report: Patriots Up 20-3 on Bengals as Brady Surpasses 50,000 Yards »

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The New England Patriots get set to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the Sunday Night Football spotlight, which for once I wish weren't the case. (Patriots.com)

Normally when the New England Patriots play in prime time, I get all revved up for a big game on the national stage.

Living in New York City, it means I get to watch the game in the quiet of my own apartment, which I can shatter with epithets and flying objects or (more ideally) overwrought celebrations. It means I get focused analysis of the Patriots on national television, as if my team, my fandom is important (it’s not).

Tonight, when the Patriots take in the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football on NBC, will not be one of those games.

Continue reading Patriots Preview: Why I Wish New England Wasn’t Playing the Bengals in Prime Time (Or At All, Really) »

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Nomar, Jeter and A-Rod at the All-Star game

Regardless of your stance on the appropriateness of Jeter’s farewell tour, you’d have to admit that watching the Red Sox organization showering Jeter with adoration last weekend was painful.  Not for the fact that is was obligatory and contrived or even the over-to-top theatrics, but that it reminds us of a short stop that we used to genuinely adore, Nomar Garciaparra.

Despite all the money he made, despite all the accolades he received, Nomar’s career, to me, and I think I speak for all Sox fans in this regard, will be recognized more for what it could have been, than what it was.

There was a time in which Nomar could accurately be described as a more complete player than Derek Jeter.  Of course, at that time, Alex Rodriguez was the best player in baseball (and would be for the next several years) but, between the three of them, they made baseball the best sport in America. In 2014, where the disparity in popularity between baseball and football grows every year, there appears to be something missing from the game that made it the favorite from Generation X to every generation dating back to the Civil War.  Each season, there seemed to be a single compelling narrative which captured the country’s fascination. Continue reading As Jeter Leaves, Let’s Reminisce on Nomar: What Could Have Been »

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Andrew Hendrix (Photo by Miami University Athletics)

Massachusetts, 41; Miami (OH), 42

Saturday was not the first time UMass has lost a lead this season, but the Minutemen’s collapse in a road loss to Miami (OH) (1-5) at Yager Stadium in a battle of winless Mid-American Conference teams was a debacle for the ages, featuring plenty of turnovers and a complete lack of confidence by the coaching staff in what has to be one of the worst kicking units the Football Bowl Subdivision has seen in a long time.

Massachusetts took the lead on its first offensive drive of the game with an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Frohnapfel to wide receiver Marken Michel. On their next possession, Frohnapfel and running back Shadrach Abrokwah led the Minutemen 71 yards on 12 plays, with the QB finding the RB for a three-yard TD pass and a 14-0 lead. Continue reading College Football Week 6 Roundup: UMass 0-6 After Second-Half Collapse »

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browner

Brandon Browner could see his first action as a Patriot this weekend after completing a four game suspension for a substance abuse violation.  At 6’4” and 221 pounds, Browner is hands down the biggest cornerback on the Patriots roster. He is also a strong, physical corner who produced at a high level while playing alongside Richard Sherman in Seattle. He is also an intimidating presence on the field which is something the Patriots have not had consistently since Rodney Harrison played his last snaps with the team in 2008.  Browner is presented with a similar situation in New England as he was in Seattle by getting the opportunity to play opposite Darrelle Revis.

There are two potential ways the Patriots could use Browner on defense. The first is to have Revis cover the opponent’s top receiver and Browner the number two. The Patriots could then have Devin McCourty provide help over the top to either one, choosing which corner to help more based on the match up. Revis’ elite skills as a cover corner, especially in press man coverage, would be able to be showcased and Browner’s physicality and intimidation would make the field that much smaller for the quarterback. Continue reading What to Expect From the Return of Brandon Browner »

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