For the first time since his appearance at Salem State College May 7th, and just the 2nd time since the Wells Report was released, Tom Brady spoke in front of an audience.
The Patriots quarterback made light of his offseason by cracking a "it's been such an enjoyable offseason” to laughter from those in attendance at the 2015 Patriots Premiere held at Gillette Stadium.
Brady’s response came when the event’s emcee, former Pats QB and the team’s current radio color commentator Scott Zolak, asked the quarterback and several of his teammates to name the one coolest thing they did that really allowed them to celebrate as Super Bowl Champs. Matthew Slater got married 6 days after the Pats beat the Seahawks, Devin McCourty got engaged and Rob Gronkowski gushed about how much he enjoyed celebrating the title while on the Duck Boats. Brady was then pressed about cliff diving before making that remark.
The Patriots quarterback still faces a four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate and what the NFL says is a lack of cooperation. There was hope a ruling would be made on his appeal earlier Tuesday by Judge Richard Berman, however that didn’t come to pass. Berman instead indicated an order might come late in the week. That would likely bleed into the Pats preparation for their regular season opener Thursday, September 10th versus the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Not an easy spot for the Pats nor Brady to be in, but the quarterback appeared to be in good spirits as he talked about his experiences in Foxboro and with this organization.
“The commitment the players make, and the commitment the coaches make to try to establish such a high level of play year in and year out is something I’ve really learned from being here,” said Brady. “I try to pass those things on to the next generation of great Patriot players, and sometimes they don’t listen very well, but you just keep saying it - just like I tell my kids - and you have to repeat it over and over and over again and hopefully maybe it sinks in.”
It should be noted that a one-hour passing clinic with Brady that included lunch and a tour of the locker room raised 85,000 dollars for the Patriots Charitable Foundation in the team’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
FOXBORO -- The Patriots went into Sunday night's game with only three corners available to them, and even one of those was questionable. Pitted against a Falcons attack that features the reigning MVP and one of the most physically-gifted receivers to ever play, that felt like a problem.
It still might be, but that one questionable corner -- Johnson Bademosi (abdomen) -- will be in uniform to help thwart Julio Jones and Co. Patriots tight end Jacob Hollister (questionable with a chest injury) is also active and in uniform.
The Patriots ruled out three players in the days leading up to the game: corners Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe and defensive end Harvey Langi. Joining them as inactive on Sunday night at Elandon Roberts (ankle), Geneo Grissom (healthy scratch), Cam Fleming (healthy scratch) and Cole Croston (healthy scratch).
Running back Rex Burkhead will be available to the Patriots for the first time since Week 2 when he injured his ribs against the Saints. Though he's only seen a very limited number of snaps this season, when he was on the field through the first two weeks he was heavily involved. He's seen just 18 offensive snaps, but he's carried the ball five times and he's been targeted seven times in the passing game.
Also in uniform will be veteran linebacker David Harris. He's played just seven snaps this season, but with Roberts out, maybe this is the week when he sees more playing time. He should slot in behind Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower as New England's off-the-ball 'backers.
PITTSBURGH - Ben Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell added 192 total yards and Pittsburgh's defense dominated the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half of a 29-14 victory on Sunday.
The Steelers (5-2) relied on their stars to take the lead and then on their reinvigorated defense to blunt Cincinnati's and give themselves a significant cushion over the rest of the underwhelming AFC North.
The Bengals (2-4) came in looking to add some street cred to their resurgence after their 0-3 start, but instead spent the second half reverting to the kind of ineffective offense that got Ken Zampese fired two weeks into the season. The Steelers picked off Andy Dalton twice and sacked him three times over the final two quarters to pull away.
Chris Boswell added five field goals for Pittsburgh, which posted its highest points total and appears to be rounding into form as Halloween nears.
Two weeks after openly questioning whether he still "had it," Roethlisberger put together easily his best half of the season. He hit Antonio Brown for a 7-yard touchdown to cap Pittsburgh's first drive, found a wide-open JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 31-yard score in the second quarter and threw a perfectly placed 23-yard deep out to Brown late in the second quarter to spark a drive that ended with a 24-yard Chris Boswell field goal that put the Steelers up 20-14 at the half.
Dalton and Cincinnati appeared ready to keep pace early. He connected with Brandon LaFell and Tyler Kroft with first-half touchdowns, but when the Steelers turned the pressure up, the Bengals crumbled while losing for the eighth time in their last nine meets with their longtime nemesis.
Cincinnati managed just one first down in the second half, much of which Dalton spent on the run or throwing picks. Joe Haden collected his first interception with Pittsburgh when he made a juggling grab that set up Boswell's field goal. William Gay added one later in the third quarter on an ugly overthrow by Dalton.
Dalton finished 17 of 30 for 144 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bengals had just 19 yards of total offense in the second half. Given one last desperate shot to get back in it with 5 minutes left trailing by 15, Dalton threw the ball away on fourth down, a microcosm of a forgettable afternoon.