Patriots

Mayo picks up defense in the end

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Mayo picks up defense in the end

LANDOVER, Md. - Jerod Mayo had to wait 55 games before his first NFL interception found him. His second came in Game 56. At a very good time. Mayo sealed the Patriots' narrow win over Washington with an interception on third-and-goal from the Patriots 9 with just 30 seconds left. The play made sure that the biggest talking point from the 34-27 win over the Skins would be the Brady-O'Brien dustup.The story could havebeen abouta win that turned into a loss courtesy of uncharacteristically poor work by the quarterback and characteristically poor work by the defense. The Patriots - as they often do - bent, bent, bent, but Mayo and Tracy White made sure they didn't break. White was the linebacker that wrapped Santana Moss as Rex Grossman's short pass was arriving. The contact shot the ball toward the goal line where a diving Mayo got his hands under it. "My responsibility on that playwas to look back to the strong side of the field and Tracy made a great play on Moss and the ball just popped up and I was fortunate enough to make the catch," explained Mayo.The defense needed that?"Yeah, we did, and I was fortunate to come up with the ball," said Mayo, who had to wait while the play was reviewed for accuracy. The defensive captain knows, though, that living and dying through each game is no way to go through a season. "It was good enough today, but it probably won't be good enough on any other week," he said. "We know we're a better team than what we put out there today. We'll get back to the drawing board tomorrow and try to get better."The dynamic on this team is interesting right now. The offense is terrified of putting the game in the hands of the defense and - time and again - they are given reason to feel that way. There is no way Brady should ever have thrown the pass intended for Tiquan Underwood when, with a throw into the stands, the Patriots would go ahead by 10 on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. But he is in attack mode at all times, not given the luxury of playing with a defensive safety net. Maybe that need to get a red-zone attack that had sputtered on Sunday a positive vibe made him lock up and make a stupid decision. Either way, the Patriots' defense made him sweat and swear for the final minutes. Vince Wilfork says plays like the one Mayo made simply have to start coming sooner and from more player. "We can't kill ourselves," said Wilfork. "Mayo is making huge plays for this team. We need 'em going forward from everyone. Not just myself and Jerod. We need everyone to step up and start playing better football. That's our goal. We'll take this one in stride and try to get better and we'll have our hands full again next week with Denver."Yeah. Good thing they never play games that go down to the wire.

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

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EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

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Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."