Patriots

Patriots notes: Brady made 'smart' play to not kneel

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Patriots notes: Brady made 'smart' play to not kneel

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Deion Branch's 59-yard touchdown reception down the left sideline to end the first half in Sunday's 36-7 win over the Bears gave the Patriots a 33-0 lead. But as Branch pointed out after the game, the call from the sideline was a quarterback kneel, to run out the clock and head into halftime with a 27-0 lead.

Tom Brady was in the no-huddle, saw the clock winding down, and decided to go for one more big play. And it worked.

Coach Bill Belichick said Monday that Brady made a wise decision.

"We were in the no-huddle mode, and I thought that was a real smart play by Tom, at the end of the half, knowing that there was really only time for one more play," said Belichick. "And I think that when the ball was snapped, the three or four seconds left on the clock, it could have been the last play. So he took a shot down the field on a vertical pattern.

"Tom knew what he was doing, obviously, that he was just running the last play to have a shot to throw it down the field. If it was there, great. If it wasn't, then the half was over."

The Patriots held meetings on Monday at Gillette Stadium and cornerback Devin McCourty, who missed the second half of Sunday's game in Chicago with an apparent rib injury, was seen walking around with all smiles.

As expected, Belichick gave no update on the severity of McCourty's injury, but did show some confidence in Darius Butler, who has seen some more playing time as of late, after being benched in favor of Kyle Arrington earlier in the season.

"Whoever's out there on the field, if we don't have confidence in them, then we wouldn't put them out there," said Belichick.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' status for next Sunday night at Gillette Stadium is uncertain. He suffered his second concussion of the season on Sunday in a 7-3 loss to the Detroit Lions. His first concussion came in October against the Washington Redskins. He played the next week, which is why the Patriots aren't ruling him out, as they prepare for the Packers next Sunday night.

"Well, we always have to prepare for all the quarterbacks," said Belichick. "We know that this happened earlier in the year and he was back out there the next week. He's a great competitor and he's a terrific quarterback; I'm sure he'll do everything he can to be out there. Wherever that leads, and wherever that ends up, it ends up. It's out of our control. What we can control is our preparation."

Belichick said he's going to prepare for the Packers' backup quarterback, Matt Flynn, in case Rodgers doesn't make the start. But he won't draw up a completely different defensive game plan.

"Their offense is still their offense," said Belichick. "For them, if they change quarterbacks, it's not like they've got a hundred new plays that they haven't run before, just because they put one guy in there. They still run the plays that they run."

As for the Patriots players, they're being told to get ready for Rodgers, as of Monday.

"I don't know yet, but as far as what I've heard today, we're preparing for Aaron Rodgers," said Butler.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

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."