Patriots

Broncos' distaste for Pats hasn't hampered preparations

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Broncos' distaste for Pats hasn't hampered preparations

DENVER -- Broncos running back C.J. Anderson has already played the disrespect card and, if you’re being honest, you can see where he’s coming from.

It’s rare that a No. 1 seed is actually the underdog in a conference championship game; it’s only happened seven times prior. But here Denver is, three-point dogs with the Patriots coming to Mile High.

"I hate everything about them,” said Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe. “They're always in my way. I got a ton of respect for them. I just hate them."

“I don’t hate em,” said safety T.J. Ward. “I dislike em. Hate is a strong word.”

But that underlying feeling of distaste, shall we call it, hasn’t seemed to impact the Broncos preparation this week.

“I really believe in this team this year,” said linebacker Danny Trevathan. “I really believe that our foot is in the right place; our head is in the right place. We came out here today and put together one of the best practices I’ve seen. It’s definitely going to carry over toward the game Sunday.”

“When we’re loud, we’re pretty good,” said coach Gary Kubiak after Friday’s practice. “I mean, we’ve got a lot of characters on this football team, but they’re very focused. They like to talk in practice. A lot of personalities. They’ve had it this week. They’ve worked hard. They’ve done the work. I told them today after practice, ‘All I can ask you to do is do the work to get ready to play,’ and they’ve done that.”

Kubiak has played a major role in what players say is a transformation here in Denver, not just from the team’s overall identity but in how they work and what they get out of it.

“Coach Kubiak has really encouraged that,” said Peyton Manning earlier in the week. “This is a special opportunity, a unique opportunity and the wrong thing is to just put blinders until Sunday at one o’clock. Enjoy these practices. Enjoy putting the game plan in. That’s what Coach encouraged us to do early in the week and I’m doing that. I think that our whole team is doing that as well. I think that’s a good thing.”

“He’s done a tremendous job,” said linebacker Brandon Marshall. “Gary, the whole staff -- [defensive coordinator] Wade [Phillips], [offensive coordinator Rick] Rico [Dennison] -- those guys have done a tremendous job. We had the talent, but I think every team has talent. I think they just refined the talent. They did awesome in my opinion, which is why we’re in the AFC Championship game.” 

This is Kubiak’s ninth AFC Championship Game appearance as a player or coach, but just his first as the head coach. His previous stop as the boss -- in Houston -- was a study in mediocrity. But he seems to have managed some delicate situations well, relying not just on X’s and O’s, but but putting his faith in his players.

“My message has always been, ‘Be yourself, but be your best you.’ That’s what we want them to do. I think they’ve done a good job of that.”

Now comes the ultimate test.

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