Patriots

Brady: No 'magic dust' to beat Steelers

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Brady: No 'magic dust' to beat Steelers

FOXBORO Good defense, bad defense. It doesn't really matter.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense have been equal opportunity destroyers of defenses all season.

Even the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team whose defense has consistently been among the NFL's best for years, isn't immune to being lit up by the Brady bunch.

"It's just execution, guys getting open and us completing them," Brady said. "There's no special thing we do. There's no magic dust we put in our cereal in the morning, or anything like that. We just play really well, and that does pretty well against any defense."

Maybe so, but what makes New England's success so surprising is that much of it comes in the passing game -- an area where most teams struggle against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers come into Sunday's game with a defense ranked No. 3 in the NFL, and a pass defense that's giving up an NFL-low 171.9 yards through the air per game.

Meanwhile, New England counters with an aerial attack that's generating an NFL-best 350.5 yards per game.

And adding to the challenge will be the location: Heinz Field. It's a place where many a team has entered only to leave battered, bruised and defeated.

Brady admits that if the Patriots aren't careful, the crowd can become a factor.

"We always talk about, night before the game, in the meeting room, look around and say, 'This is all we got. This is all we need.' " Brady said. "If we make good plays, the crowd is not going to be a factor. If we don't, you better believe they'll be there all day long."

They certainly played a role in a 34-20 loss in 2004, the last time the Pats lost on Heinz Field.

"The better we play, the less factor they will be and there's less margin for error," Brady said. "You're playing in a place where you're very unfamiliar, and you're playing, they got their crowd noise, and they got a lot of energy is kind of, kind of focused on the home team."

As much as the Black and Gold fans will have their say, ultimately the game will be won -- or lost -- by the players on the field.

"Like in '08, we didn't play well and they kicked the crap out of us," Brady said. "In '04 they kicked the crap out of us. You gotta go in expecting to play our best game. If we don't, it's a long hard day. If we do, then we're confident we can get a win."

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

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Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.

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“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”

Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September. 

Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:

Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."