Patriots

Belichick on Peterson: 'I have a lot of respect for the way that he plays'

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Belichick on Peterson: 'I have a lot of respect for the way that he plays'

Bill Belichick and the Patriots were intent on finding running back help in the offseason as they moved on from LeGarrette Blount, who eventually settled with the Eagles in Philadelphia. 

Though Belichick and his front office eventually settled on deals with Rex Burkhead and restricted free-agent runner Mike Gillislee, they did have another name -- a much bigger name -- on their radar: Adrian Peterson.

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"We brought him in here this spring," Belichick said on a conference call Tuesday. "I've had some interaction with him. I have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect for the way that he plays. I have a lot of respect for how hard he works, how important the game is to him. Those are the things that I admire about Adrian."

The Patriots will now have a chance to see Peterson as an opponent after that meeting, which may have provided a little bit of information in terms of advance scouting. Along with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara, Peterson makes up a three-headed attack in the Saints backfield that Belichick believes is one of New Orleans' deeper offensive positions.

"They're all dangerous but they all have their different, I'd say, skill sets," Belichick said. "You see Kamara out of the backfield more than Peterson for example. Again, they're all productive and I'm sure that New Orleans will do a good job of trying to get those guys opportunities in the things that they are good at, things that they do well.

"They're all hard to tackle. Peterson and Ingram have a lot of power, really good balance, good lower body strength. Kamara's got that but maybe not quite as much but very elusive. No question - we're going to have to be alert for all of them and do a good job of handling each guy; the type of plays that might be specific to that player but also the skills that the player has."

Against the Vikings in their season-opener on Monday, Saints backs had trouble getting into gear. Peterson (six carries) and Kamara (seven carries) tied for the team lead in rushing yardage with just 18 yards apiece. Ingram ran for 17 yards on six attempts. 

Peterson played just nine snaps (compared to Kamara's 31 and Ingram's 26), and he acknowledged on Twitter after the game that he was suggesting play-calls to coach Sean Payton on the sidelines -- something that probably wouldn't go so well for him in New England, regardless of the respect he's earned from Belichick. 

"Big, strong runner who does an excellent job of really pressing the line of scrimmage before he gets his cut and gets downhill into the line of scrimmage,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said on Tuesday. "A guy like this can take the ball anywhere. He can go inside. He can go outside. He can cut it all the way back. He does a great job in space, does a great job with the stiff-arm, running through arm tackles, and really does a good job of taking minimal opportunities and trying to make them into big plays.”

The big-back role on the Patriots that Peterson was likely in the running for has been filled by Gillislee, who ran for three short-yardage scores in last week's loss to the Chiefs.

Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

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Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

SEATTLE - Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons did enough through 3 1/2 quarters that even the best comeback attempt by Russell Wilson fell short this time.

A couple of yards short to be exact.

Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, Adrian Clayborn returned a fumble 10 yards for a score and the Falcons watched Blair Walsh's 52-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds fall short, holding off the Seattle Seahawks for a 34-31 win on Monday night.

Atlanta won its second straight to stay on the heels of New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South, and handed Seattle a second consecutive home loss.

"What an absolute team win from the guys tonight," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "Coming here, in this environment, with the crowd, we thought it would be two competitive, tough teams that were going to battle for it in the biggest way."

Ryan threw TDs to Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo, while Tevin Coleman added a 1-yard TD run on Atlanta's opening possession.

But it was Clayborn's fumble return that helped break the game open early in the second quarter and gave Atlanta a 21-7 lead. He scooped up a loose ball after Wilson was crunched by Takk McKinley and Courtney Upshaw.

"I think we're moving in the right direction. We keep proving we can finish games and beat guys. We have to take the momentum and keep rolling with it," Clayborn said.

With Seattle down 11 points, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard TD with 3 minutes left and then threw to Jimmy Graham for the two-point conversion. Seattle got the ball back and moved in range for Walsh, whose attempt was on line but landed short of the crossbar.

"That was in our range, and in hindsight I would have just driven it more," Walsh said. "I would have driven it more and not left it short. I was too accurate and didn't have enough on it."

Wilson again was the entirety of Seattle's offense, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another 86 yards and a TD.

But it was an awful night for the Seahawks, filled with more injuries and questionable decisions by coach Pete Carroll. He called for a fake field goal late in the first half rather than attempting a 35-yard kick. He also made a questionable challenge in the fourth quarter that didn't go his way and left Seattle with just one timeout.

That lack of timeouts came back to haunt Seattle on the final drive when seconds ticked away and rather than running one more play, Walsh was sent out to attempt the 52-yard kick. His long for the season is 49 yards.

The conclusion only amplified Carroll's baffling decision at the end of the first half, when Seattle ran a fake field goal rather than having Walsh attempt a 35-yarder that would have pulled Seattle within 24-20. Holder Jon Ryan completed his shovel pass to Luke Willson, but Grady Jarrett read the play and tackled Willson for a 4-yard loss.

Willson said Atlanta's defense on the play was different than what Seattle had seen on film.

"It would have been a really good call if we had made it," Carroll said. "Terrific opportunity right where we wanted it and the defensive tackle made a better play."

Seattle played a game for the first time since the end of the 2010 season without Richard Sherman. His streak of 99 consecutive starts in the regular season was snapped because of a torn Achilles tendon suffered against Arizona. The Seahawks were also without safety Kam Chancellor because of a neck injury, leaving their vaunted secondary with several new faces.

"Those two are phenomenal players. ... It was a lot different," Sanu said. "They did a lot of different things but we just had to take advantage of our routes."

MATTY ICE

Ryan was more than happy to pick on a defense without Sherman and Chancellor. He was 19 of 27 passing for 195 yards and rarely faced pressure. Seattle had one sack, and the Falcons went 9 of 14 on third-down conversions.

Sanu made a great one-handed grab for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Ryan found Toilolo on a 25-yard TD in the third quarter to give Atlanta a 31-20 lead. Matt Bryant added a 19-yard field goal with 3:49 left to put the Falcons ahead by 11, and Wilson's late heroics weren't enough.

Ryan's streak of 64 straight games passing for at least 200 yards was snapped.

INJURIES

Seattle's injury woes continued. The Seahawks lost rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a concussion on the second play of the game, forcing newly signed veteran Byron Maxwell into a more prominent role than expected.

Early in the second half, promising running back Mike Davis was lost to a groin injury after taking a screen pass 21 yards. Davis had two receptions and had carried six times for 18 yards before getting hurt. Seattle also lost starting guard Oday Aboushi in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

Atlanta got a scare when safety Keanu Neal was checked for a concussion in the first half. He was cleared to return.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday to open a three-game homestand.

Seahawks: Travel to division foe San Francisco on Sunday.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

EX-PATS PODCAST: How Belichick the perfectionist will find flaws in win vs. Raiders

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EX-PATS PODCAST: How Belichick the perfectionist will find flaws in win vs. Raiders

0:55 - Patriots playing great as they stream roll the Raiders but Koppen explains that Belichick will knock them down as he strives for perfection. Also talk about how it takes a couple months into the season for the coaches and players to learn each other again.

5:40 - Stephon Gilmore playing excellent lined up against Michael Crabtree. Malcolm Butler bounces back but gives up the only score to Amari Cooper. Koppen suggest Butler’s contract situation might be affecting his play. 

7:50 - All in on the Patriots defense yet? Giardi and Koppen discuss the defensive play and the upcoming offenses the Patriots will be facing.

10:30 - Dan Koppen talks about job security in the NFL and if he ever worried about somebody else taking his job, and the cutthroat nature of the Patriots. 

13:50 - Tom Brady picking apart the Raiders and Jack Del Rio’s defenses throughout his career. 

17:45 - A debate about Patriots backup quarterbacks and if Matt Cassel was actually a good NFL QB. 

21:20 - A few game notes: Rex Burkhead’s fumble vs. the Raiders, LaAdrian Waddle filling in for Marcus Cannon.