Hightower a key to stopping Denver's run game


Hightower a key to stopping Denver's run game

DENVER -- Bill Belichick says “stats are for losers.” But I suspect he might have changed his tune if you hit him with truth serum following that Week 12 loss to the Broncos.

Before Dont’a Hightower got hurt, the Broncos ground game was crawling, limited to 43 yards on 15 carries. It’s no surprise the Patriots were able to build an early lead, But when Hightower went down with a knee injury that has limited him to varying degrees since, the Broncos started bucking. They gashed the Pats for 136 yards and three scores the old-fashioned way, including the game-winning 48-yard romp by C.J. Anderson in overtime. Peyton Manning certainly understands just what Hightower means.

Peyton Manning certainly understands just what Hightower means.

“[Hightower's] an outstanding player,” said Manning, who missed that game with an injury. “He’s got great size. He moves extremely well, and you can tell he’s calling a lot of plays back there for them the quarterback, maybe if you will, of the defense. He definitely makes a difference when he’s in there.”

But while Manning has his head about him, it seems his two primary backs aren’t so quick to acknowledge what Hightower was bringing to the pats run defense.

“I don’t think anything really changed,” said Anderson. “They were still aggressive.”

Ronnie Hillman added: “I don’t know if it was because he came out. Our linemen buckled down and got settled in. He got hurt pretty early so I think it was more getting familiar with what they were doing at that time.”

Maybe. But it’s pretty evident for veteran Patriot watchers that Hightower’s strength, physicality, speed and intelligence drastically alter how Matt Patricia’s defense performs. In the aftermath of that defeat, several Pats defenders noted that weren’t always in the right spot, an indication that Hightower’s brains were missed as much as his brawn.

Just don’t expect Anderson and Hillman to talk up the fourth-year linebacker. Instead, they’re focusing on themselves.

“We have to run the ball for us to stay balanced and for us to be successful this week,” opined Hillman. “That’s what we’re going to do. That’s just what we do and everybody knows it. We just have to hit them in the mouth.”

“If you don’t have confidence playing in the AFC Championship Game, you’re in the wrong business,” said Anderson. “We are going to just try to do what we do, take care of business and have fun while we’re doing it.”

Tributes to Gil Santos pour in on social media

Tributes to Gil Santos pour in on social media

Gil Santos was as good as it gets in a broadcasting booth.

The entire New England Patriots community is coming together and compiling their favorite memories from his days working with the team.

Current play-by-play Patriots broadcaster Bob Socci has a thread dedicated to Santos.

Many other members of the local media, including former Patriots, have shared their favorite memories of Gil.


Legendary broadcaster Gil Santos passes away at the age of 80

Legendary broadcaster Gil Santos passes away at the age of 80

Legendary Patriots broadcaster Gil Santos passed away today on his birthday at the age of 80.

The long-time voice of the Pats served in the booth for a total of 36 years, mostly alongside former Patriots kicker Gino Cappelletti. Santos also served as the morning sports anchor for WBZ radio.

Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft released a statement on his passing:

Santos was in the booth for 743 Patriots games, 15 playoff runs and 6 Super Bowls. His signature call was of Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI, clinching the Patriots' first of five Super Bowl titles. 

He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2013, only the second non-player to earn that honor. 

The versatile Santos also called basketball games for the Celtics and Providence College, as well as college football games for Boston College and Penn State. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2009.

Gil Santos was born in Acushnet and spent most of his adult life living in the town of Raynham.