Patriots

Brady's Pats look just like Niners of 80s and 90s

Brady's Pats look just like Niners of 80s and 90s

FOXBORO Before getting swamped by the Patriots Monday night, the Houston Texans described their game with New England as the biggest in franchise history.
 
After the game, Patriots guard Logan Mankins said, I know the team we play next week. Its not the biggest game in their franchise history.
 
Not by a long shot. Next up for the Patriots? The San Francisco 49ers.
 
While this years model of the Niners is still making strides to be an elite team, the storied history of the franchise remains fresh and nowhere does that history reverberate more strongly than in New England.
 
When owner Robert Kraft bought the Patriots in 1993, he made it clear the franchise he would emulate was the 49ers, the NFLs gold standard of the 80s and 90s.
 
If it isnt mission accomplished, its pretty close.
 
The Patriots are the most successful franchise of the 2000s with five Super Bowl appearances in 12 seasons, three Super Bowl titles, a perfect regular season in 2007 and a Hall of Fame quarterbackhead coach combination in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.  
 
The Niners, with their 5-0 Super Bowl record and 16 consecutive seasons of 10-or-more wins from 1983 to 1998 are the only team New England is chasing when it comes to sustained, unstinting excellence over more than a decade. The win over Houston brought the Patriots to 10 consecutive 10-win seasons.
 
In the Super Bowl Era, not even the Steelers were able to sustain the same level season after season for as long as the Niners did and the Patriots have.
 
Throw in the personal.
 
Tom Brady, grew up in San Mateo, California, went to the 1981 NFC Championship game where Dwight Clark made The Catch, idolized Joe Montana and is now mentioned in the same breath as Montana as perhaps the greatest ever.
 
Bill Belichicks coaching idol, Paul Brown, was the man under whom Bill Walsh learned what became the West Coast offense. And Belichicks Giant defenses banged helmets for NFC supremacy with Walshs Niners for a decade in the 80s.
 
Contemporary linkage? The 2012 Niners executed a quarterback switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick that hearkens back just a little to the switch Belichick made from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady in 2001. There are some differences Bledsoe was the Patriots franchise hood ornament while the Niners have been gearing up to replace Smith for years; Brady proved over several games to be better than Bledsoe, while Kaepernick made his bones in practice and cameos. But the comparison mostly stands.
 
Yet all that is window dressing to a game that could be could be a prelude to another meeting in New Orleans in early February.
 
The Patriots are in the midst of their annual December crescendo. Theyve won seven straight games and the three blemishes on their 10-3 record came by a total of four points.
 
The Niners are 5-1-1 over their last seven and are in the midst of a crushing late-season schedule that has them on the road for four out of five games.
 
Both teams are the No. 2 seed in their respective conferences. Both have designs on getting home field for the playoffs. Neither can afford to stub their toe down the stretch and miss out on a first-round bye.
 
Its a short week for us; we dont know them very well, Belichick said Wednesday. We havent played them in quite awhile and theyve made a lot of changes since the last time we did play them. We really have to do a good job of trying to catch up preparation-wise this week. Hopefully we can do that, but these guys do a lot of things well.
 
Having Brady, whos in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, helps New England make up the stagger a little bit.
 
Brady said Wednesday he began working on San Francisco on Thanksgiving night after a 49-19 prime-time win over the Jets.
 
Harbaugh was asked how hed slow Brady down.
 
Well, we'd sure like to find the answer to that and then implement it, he confessed. But it is really difficult. They're tough to do that against. They have a really good scheme, really good play calling, and then great individual effort at each position. The great ability that they have to play as a team. We could talk for hours about how good they are."
 
The Niners, meanwhile, remain an impressive work in progress. Kaepernicks been the anointed starter for four games. He brings a dimension to their offense that former starter Alex Smith didnt the ability to threaten a defense in multiple ways and create but hes an NFL embryo compared to someone like Brady.
 
Context? Kaepernicks thrown 134 passes in the NFL. Bradys thrown 6,609. Including playoffs.
 
So on Sunday night, the former gold standard will face the current gold standard. And it may not be for the last time.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Wentz tosses 4 TDs, Eagles beat Redskins, 34-24

PHILADELPHIA - Carson Wentz tossed four touchdown passes, and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame losing nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters in a 34-24 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.

Wentz threw for 268 yards and ran for a career-best 63 after a shaky start to lead the NFL-best Eagles (6-1) to their fifth straight win. But the victory was costly because Peters was carted off the field with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Kirk Cousins had 303 yards passing and three TDs for the Redskins (3-3).

The Eagles went three-and-out three times in their first four drives and had only 57 total yards before Wentz hit Mack Hollins in stride with a perfect 64-yard TD pass to tie it at 10.

That got the offense rolling.

Wentz connected with Zach Ertz for 46 yards on the next series and found him again for a 4-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

After getting the second-half kickoff, the Eagles drove 86 yards for another touchdown. Peters was injured during the series, and fans chanted his name while teammates surrounded the cart.

Wentz finished the drive off with a play that Peters would appreciate.

While being hit by two defenders and falling forward, Wentz lofted a 9-yard TD pass to Corey Clement.

Wentz fired a 10-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor to expand the lead to 31-17. Wentz kept that drive alive by escaping a sack and running 17 yards on third-and-8.

Cousins tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Thompson to give the Redskins a 10-3 lead. He connected with Jordan Reed on a 5-yard TD to cut the deficit to 24-17 and threw a 12-yard pass to Reed to cap the scoring.

The Eagles were penalized on four straight plays to start their first possession before Wentz was intercepted by Quinton Dunbar on a deep pass to Torrey Smith on second-and-31.

Philadelphia swept Washington for the first time since 2013 and has a commanding lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys and Redskins are tied for second place.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Are Patriots' defensive problems solved?

0:41 - Tom Giles, Michael Holley, and Tom Curran react to the Patriots’ 23-7 win over the Falcons on Sunday night and whether the Patriots deserve to be considered Super Bowl favorites.

6:09 - Is Johnson Bademosi an upgrade over Stephon Gilmore at cornerback for the Patriots? Michael Hurley joins BST to debate with Tom Curran, Michael Holley, and Kayce Smith. They also discuss the defense’s overall improvement in Sunday night’s win.

14:37 - NBC Sports Boston’s Red Sox insider Evan Drellich joins the show to talk about the Red Sox hiring Alex Cora to be their new manager, whether it was the right choice, and how his presence will affect the Red Sox clubhouse.

22:14 - Kayce Smith and Tom Curran discuss Kyrie Irving’s vulgar response to a Philadelphia fan yelling “Where’s LeBron?” at him on Friday night.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE