Patriots

Patriots 'got to play to the last second' in win over Texans

Patriots 'got to play to the last second' in win over Texans

Tom Brady bailed the Patriots out again. With just 29 seconds left in Sunday’s game with Houston, the 40-year old quarterback/surgeon dropped back, froze the safety with his eyes and delivered the game-winning 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks. Gillette Stadium erupted.

“They were playing a two-high defense and we got Cookie (Brandin Cooks) behind the corner,” said Brady shortly after the game. “We had Danny (Amendola) going up the middle of the field, so I tried to stare down the middle and then put it up and didn't really see the end of it until I saw it on the scoreboard. It was close, and then they reviewed it. I'm glad we got the two-point play. It was a great win. Got to play to the last second.”

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The review was necessary because Cooks was awfully close to being out of bounds. But the third-year pro had the wherewithal to know his position on the field and what his feet and body needed to do.

“It’s one of those things you don’t really work on in practice,” said Cooks on keeping his feet inbounds. “It happens in practice but it’s more of a natural instinct.”

The effort was appreciated.

“It was awesome,” said Rob Gronkowski. “I was just jamming [on] that play. I saw Tom [Brady] release the ball and [Brandin] Cooks open. I was like, ‘Please have this complete for a touchdown’. I was like, ‘I see Cooks wide open,’ and it was a great throw.”

“Cooks, obviously, on the last play against Cover-2 down the sideline made a great catch there.” said Bill Belichick. He wasn’t smiling but you know he was - somewhere on the inside.

Of course, the ending almost didn’t come to fruition. The Pats had a couple of bad three-and-outs earlier in the 4th quarter, and then decided to add an extra 10 yards to what goes down in the record books as a 75-yard drive but actually covered 85 thanks to a David Andrews holding penalty.

“Yeah, we kept making it hard,” recalled Brady. “I mean, we had penalties and then the sack and the fumble and it just kept feeling like we were going backwards.”

“We played bad for a lot of the game,” admitted left tackle Nate Solder. “Not up to our standard, but when you win and pull off a win in tough circumstances, there’s something to be said for that. It’s building block.”

The drive didn’t have life until the first of two third down conversions. Brady hooking up with Gronkowski short of the sticks. Gronk willing his way to move the chains.

“I know a lot of people look up to me to get the drive going, to make the first play to get everyone rolling,” said the tight end. “It was about third-and-12 I would say and I just knew that – I saw the defense, I saw the coverage and I knew that I had to make a play there. Tom [Brady] read it pretty good and threw a really good pass and I just made the catch and I saw where the first down marker was and I knew I had to get it to get us rolling in that [two minute drill]. Everyone did their job from there on out.”

Brady then hit Cooks for 18 yards to move the ball past midfield. But then came the next roadblock. Brady was sacked and fumbled the ball. Andrews alertly recovered it, but now the Pats were operating from their own 48. An incomplete down the deep middle to Cooks on 2nd down had the Pats facing third-and-18 with just 54 seconds to play. Enter Danny Amendola. 

“They were playing kind of a deep man coverage/ zone that turned into man after 25 yards,” recalled Amendola. “I had a deeper route. Me and Hoagie {Chris Hogan} crossed. I came out the backdoor and it worked out.”

“Danny made a really awesome catch,” added Hogan.

That set the stage for Brady to Cooks. 

“Tommy Ice came out and did his thing,” said defensive end Cassius Marsh.

“I mean, that’s the way you write it,” said Hogan, smiling. “it was a great drive by everyone on that offense.”

Inevitable, it seemed, but the reality was far more difficult.

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Britt's actions should speak louder than Belichick's words

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Britt's actions should speak louder than Belichick's words

FOXBORO -- The Patriots bought low on a high-end talent this week in landing Kenny Britt on a two-year deal. 

Yet while the physical 2009 first-round pick could become a real weapon for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick’s words Friday suggested he’s waiting to see how it goes. 

“We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said. 

Here's the thing though: Britt is good. He's really good. He's better than Michael Floyd, a late-season pickup last season to whom Britt's been compared. Floyd's impact proved to be minimal, plus Floyd was dealing with a legal and personal issue coming off a DUI and subsequent release. Britt is coming off a personal issue in that he had to play for the Browns. 

Asked about Britt’s size, Belichick confirmed that the 6-foot-3, 223-pound Britt is now the biggest wide receiver on the Patriots’ roster. Really, he is by a wide margin. The next-biggest Patriots receiver is Chris Hogan at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds. 

As for any impressions of Britt with the Pats, Belichick said “it’s only been a couple of days.” Britt will speak Friday afternoon. Word is he could have more to say than Belichick. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Osweiler carries Broncos over Colts

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Osweiler carries Broncos over Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler played like a relaxed reliever on Thursday.

He couldn't have picked a better time.

With Paxton Lynch inactive and Trevor Siemian out after two series, Osweiler trotted onto the field, ran for one touchdown and threw for two more to lead the Broncos past Indianapolis 25-13 for their first road win of the season.

"I was just a little kid having fun tonight," Osweiler said. "That's really what it was. I've been on a little bit of a rollercoaster ride for about two years. Just to go out there, Thursday Night Football, with my teammates, I was just having fun."

The difference was obvious.

Osweiler played more like the guy Denver (5-9) took in the second round of the 2012 draft and the guy Broncos fans remember filling in for the injured Peyton Manning during the 2015 Super Bowl season.

He wound up 12 of 17 with 194 yards and no turnovers and ran for an 18-yard TD, too. C.J. Anderson ran 30 times for a season-high 158 yards.

Denver may need Osweiler to keep playing this way a couple more times after Siemian was diagnosed with a sprained left shoulder. Coach Vance Joseph couldn't say whether he'd have his starting quarterback against Washington.

If Siemian can't go, Osweiler may get another shot.

"He played with great poise," Joseph said. "He played great, clean football and it led to a win."

That's two wins in five days - and the Broncos' first outside the Mile High City since Dec. 4, 2016. The victory assures Denver of avoiding its first winless season on the road since 1964.

But it sure wasn't easy, and at times, it was downright rugged.

Siemian was taken to the locker room after being driven into the ground by Colts linebacker Barkevious Mingo late in the first quarter.

A much scarier scene played out with 14:01 left in the second when Denver linebacker Deiontrez Mount appeared to make helmet-to-helmet contact with Colts tight end Brandon Williams on punt protection. Williams was knocked over backward and stayed on the ground as trainers and doctors strap him to a backboard and removed his facemask.

When Williams was lifted onto a cart, his teammates came over to offer support.

Coach Chuck Pagano said Williams had a concussion and had returned to the team's training room after initially being taken to a local hospital.

"We erred on the side of caution and, rightfully so, taking care of him," Pagano said. "But he's back here, he's doing well."

Indianapolis' struggles continue, though. The Colts (3-11) have lost five straight, the longest skid in Pagano's six-year tenure, and will post their first losing season at home since 2011.

The game pretty much went as expected.

Jacoby Brissett scored on a 7-yard run and Adam Vinatieri gave Indy a 10-0 lead with a 45-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. All Indy could muster the rest of the night was a 39-yard field goal early in the third.

Osweiler, meanwhile, rallied the Broncos.

His touchdown run just before halftime made it 10-7. He gave Denver the lead with a 22-yard TD pass to Cody Latimer with 4:16 left in the third and then added a 54-yard TD strike to Jeff Heuerman to make it 22-13 following a 2-point conversion toss to Latimer.

"We had a really good rhythm offensively and we were able to mix the run and the pass," Osweiler said. "I was going to lay it all out there."

KEY NUMBERS

Broncos: Osweiler's TD pass to Heuerman ended the team's 18-game regular-season streak without a play of 50 more yards. ... Emanuel Sanders had seven catches for 68 yards and Demaryius Thomas had five catches for 69 yards.

Colts: Brissett was 17 of 30 with 158 yards and was sacked once. ... Indy had 228 yards in offense. ... T.Y. Hilton caught five passes for 41 yards.

GORED

Colts running back Frank Gore added another milestone on a night it looked like he might not finish the game.

The 34-year-old running back left during the second quarter with a knee injury. But when he returned in the second half, he quickly became the second player in league history to post 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 12 consecutive seasons. Only Emmitt Smith (13) has more.

INJURY REPORT

Broncos: With the exception of Siemian, Denver stayed relatively healthy. The only other significant concern was an ankle injury that didn't allow Sanders to finish the game.

Colts: In addition to Williams, the Colts lost right tackle Denzelle Good (knee) and linebackers Jeremiah George (neck) and Jon Bostic (knee) in the second half.

UP NEXT

Broncos: Play their road finale Dec. 24 at Washington.

Colts: Head to Baltimore on Dec. 23 in their final road game of the season.