Patriots

Brady ratchets up the intensity in Patriots camp

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Brady ratchets up the intensity in Patriots camp

FOXBORO - Toward the tail end of practice on Sunday, the heat, the humidity and Tom Brady's competitive edge combined. One mistake too many led to offensive lineman Donald Thomas beginning a penalty lap with some loud Brady admonitions raining down on him from behind.

It doesn't start for real this week when the Saints roll into town. But it's the beginning of the beginning of real games.

And he wants it to be right sooner rather than later.

"You take six months off, so theres quite about a bit of time between February and when we start," Brady explained. "Theres a new group and youre doing new things and the communications different thats why were practicing. You get out here in this situation and its an important situation, were working on the two-minute and you cant afford mistakes, you know all 11 of us have to be on the same page. Thats why we do the two-minute at the end of practice, because youre tired, youre drenched in sweat and thats when your concentration needs to be at its best because thats when the game is on the line."

After a dozen days of practices, it's good to hear talk of "games" and not perfecting fundamentals and "just getting better every day."

It's an indication that the urgency of inter-team competition is about to take over.

Brady wouldn't go so far as to say he's looking forward to the Saints practices and preseason game as a measuring stick, though. It is, it seems, all about how the Patriots perform. The opponent is irrelevant.

"Well see how it goes," he said of the Saints practices, which begin Tuesday. "I think weve done it before, so hopefully we can get a lot out of it. Theyre the Saints a very good team. Its fun to have a game week and weve been trying to string practices together. Weve had some good ones, weve had some ones that havent been great and you try to learn from your mistakes and come back and not repeat them. So now you get to see a different set of defenses, opponents, matchups and personnel and were going to see where were at."

With the reduced amount of on-field practice time under the new CBA, there's been an adjustment in terms of preparation.

Brady addressed that, saying, "There hasnt been as much on-the-field work, but youve got to take advantage when youre on the field. Everyones really at the same spot. Were all playing by the same set of rules. Whoever maximizes their time on the field, their time on the walkthrough, is going to have an advantage. I think our coaches put a lot of emphasis on the walkthroughs and in the meeting rooms. Certainly when we get on the field were not expected to come out here and make a bunch of mistakes; because were only coming out here once a day weve got to bring the intensity and weve got to get things right."

And bringing his intensity is a priority.

"As an older player its not like I have to study my playbook a ton," he pointed out. "I mean I know what were doing, I know why were doing it and I know the calls. Its more mentally making sure that you bring emotion and energy and making sure that you have the enthusiasm and the execution is good.

"Everyone is working on something. Its not like you can just go through the motions out here or else you dont improve. Im competing just like everybody else. Im competing for my role and my spot and trying to be a good leader and trying to set a good example as a quarterback. I think thats my challenge: to come out here every day and bring everything that I have to try to make us a better team. "

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.