Patriots

Belichick: Indianapolis makes you beat them

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Belichick: Indianapolis makes you beat them

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

The Patriots had better hope their Week 10 showing was no fluke. Bill Belichick said on Tuesday that his team will have zero margin for error against the Colts this weekend.

"They don't beat themselves,'' he said. "They force you to play a good football game against them. They're sound, they're tough. They have their own style of play and it's very effective. And we'll have to make adjustments to get in the mode and be able to handle that."

As for what that style is, Belichick credits the Colts' penchant for no-huddle offense, and their fleet-footed defense, as major strengths.

"They do a good job of checking and making changes," he said. "And defensively they're as fast as any team in the league, faster than most. They have a good mix of man and zone coverage with a real good pass rush. You've got to block speed and quickness compared to what we have to do a lot of other weeks."

New England ball carriers did just fine last Sunday. In Pittsburgh, the Patriots ran 24 times for over 100 yards against the Steeler's stifling rush 'D.' Indianapolis defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Jerry Hughes aren't putting up the kinds of numbers that some of the Steelers were. But Belichick is unnerved by the Colts in an interesting way.

"All their defensive lineman are pretty disruptive.'' the coach said. "It's kind of scary when you're watching film; their jerseys are on real tight, sometimes you can't get a good look at the numbers, and when you're my age your eyesight isn't so good. It's kind of scary when they're all that good and they all look the same.''

It wasn't a joke. Belichick knows exactly what he sees from the Colts and his Patriots have their work cut out for them.

"It's a real fast, athletic group. You certainly have to be aware of those guys. They can strip-sack you and ruin the game on one play if you aren't careful."

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, please step forward.

The Pats running back is far and away Tom Brady's go-to guy on the rush: 6 touchdowns and 112 carries for 472 yards. That's 64 more opportunities and almost twice the total gain as the next guy on the chart. But he's going to have a tough time racking up mileage against Indy.

BenJarvus should feel encouraged that he has his coach's confidence.

"He's been, three years, really consistent for us,'' Belichick said. "He's tough, makes positive running yards. I don't think it's been any one big thing or one day where the light came on, he's just been a consistent player who works really hard for us. He's got a great attitude and a great work ethic."

Too bad Peyton Manning's a pretty hard worker, too. There was no chance that Belichick could escape a conference call about the Colts without lauding the Super Bowl, Pro-Bowl, and MVP winning quarterback.

"It all starts with a great quarterback and Manning does an excellent job of getting them into good plays and keeping them out of bad plays. He doesn't turn the ball over,'' Belichick said.

He didn't care about Peyton's subpar performance (185-yards, 0 TD) on Sunday. Belichick's respect for the Colts QB couldn't even be swayed by stats. When asked about the fact that Manning has been sacked more times this year through Week 10 than the entire 2009 regular season, Belichick stood pat. You could imagine the coach shaking his head on his end of the phone call.

"Defenses don't get to him very often. sometimes plays happen where somebody comes free . . . but for the most part, when he has the chance, he doesn't take many bad plays," Belichick said. "I don't know about all those numbers but he's got to be one of those hardest quarterbacks to sack in football. Somebody might miss an assignment or something happens but I'm telling you, not very often.''

And look out if Peyton does get a pass off. Reggie Wayne, just one of Manning's targets, was tagged by Belichick as "one of the best wide receivers in football." The list didn't stop there.

"Tight end Jacob Tamme stepped in and has done a good job and they've gotten production from other receivers,'' Belichick continued. "Wideout Blair White has done a good job for them. They're definitely able to use their other tight ends. They're able to still continue to make the defense defend everything.''

It wasn't hard to figure out what's on Belichick's mind this week. It all came back to the phrase he kept repeating over and over: "They make you beat them."

Despite that big win over the Steelers on Sunday, practice might not be fun this week. There are dropped balls, missed coverage, and unnecessary penalties to go over. The Patriots won't be able to take their foot off the gas for a minute as they did in Pittsburgh.

"They don't make many mistakes,'' Belichick reiterated. "It doesn't take much of a slip up before they'll make you pay for it."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

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