Patriots

Pats send Wilhite to IR; Belichick lauds Brady

191543.jpg

Pats send Wilhite to IR; Belichick lauds Brady

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - Jonathan Wilhite, whose moments of solid play in 2010 were somewhat lost in the shuffle, won't get another chance to shine this season. He was sent to injured reserve on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. His hip has also been a sore spot for him. A fourth-round pick out of Auburn in 2008, Wilhite worked his way up the depth chart to become a starter in 2009, but the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder's play was just OK as the Patriots defense as a whole struggled. This season he was supplanted by a few players - Devin McCourty, Darius Butler and Kyle Arrington among them - and became mostly an off-the-bench situational guy. "Jonathan's situation just wasnt improving the way that he hoped or we hoped it would, so we had to move along there," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots filled Wilhite's roster spot with a defensive lineman who most recently played with the Panthers, Louis Leonard. At 6-4, 325, Leonard is a product of the Fresno State program coached by Friend of Belichick, Pat Hill. "Leonard is a guy that has a little experience in the league; defensive lineman is a position that we're kind of short on; we just had five at the game last week," Belichick offered. "Hopefully he can give us a little depth there if he can get ready to go. I don't know; we'll see how it goes." The Patriots' most recent acquisition before Leonard was defensive end Eric Moore, who had consecutive impressive plays against the Bears (strip sack and a tackle for loss). Belichick explained that defensive line is a position players can quickly assimilate to. "Relative to other positions, there's not as much for a defensive lineman to know assignment-wise," Belichick explained. "The big thing for most of those guys, really defensive lineman is to be able to play with good technique, with good leverage, defeat run blocks or defeat pass blocks and rush the passer. So if you can play with good technique within the framework of assignments which, again, its not a massive assignment situation there. Jim Corbett of USA Today was in Foxboro to take the temperature of the NFL's hottest team. He posed a question to Belichick about Tom Brady's improvements that the coached warmed to. "Tom works hard on the little things," Belichick observed. "I think that's one thing as a coach that you really respect and admire about Tom. He's always working on the little things. It might be on one thing that could come up on one play and that one play might happen twice a season; who knows? He just continually prepares at a very high level, both the opponent and the opponents scheme and personnel. He continues to try to have a better understanding of our offense and what options there are on certain plays, certain situations, the way a team plays it."Brady'spayoff for that preparation,Belichickbelieves, islike unearthing little secrets. "He does a lot of things well, but he knows there are things he can improve on and he's always working to get better at those," said his coach. "Sooner or later, you'll see one come up in a game that maybe hasn't come up in a month or six weeks or a year. He'll be able to make a play on that. I think that's a very satisfying thing for him that he can say, 'Hey, this didnt happen when it happened a year ago or whatever and here we had a chance to get it and we got it.' You feel good about that. So, I think that's kind of what Tom Brady does. He does all the things that you expect him to do and a lot of the little things Somewhere along the line those little things help him make a play. It might be a long way back in the history books where you find, but there's a teaching lesson in there somewhere that he picked up on."Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

falcons_seahawks_matt_ryan_112017.jpg

Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

SEATTLE - Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons did enough through 3 1/2 quarters that even the best comeback attempt by Russell Wilson fell short this time.

A couple of yards short to be exact.

Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, Adrian Clayborn returned a fumble 10 yards for a score and the Falcons watched Blair Walsh's 52-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds fall short, holding off the Seattle Seahawks for a 34-31 win on Monday night.

Atlanta won its second straight to stay on the heels of New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South, and handed Seattle a second consecutive home loss.

"What an absolute team win from the guys tonight," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "Coming here, in this environment, with the crowd, we thought it would be two competitive, tough teams that were going to battle for it in the biggest way."

Ryan threw TDs to Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo, while Tevin Coleman added a 1-yard TD run on Atlanta's opening possession.

But it was Clayborn's fumble return that helped break the game open early in the second quarter and gave Atlanta a 21-7 lead. He scooped up a loose ball after Wilson was crunched by Takk McKinley and Courtney Upshaw.

"I think we're moving in the right direction. We keep proving we can finish games and beat guys. We have to take the momentum and keep rolling with it," Clayborn said.

With Seattle down 11 points, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard TD with 3 minutes left and then threw to Jimmy Graham for the two-point conversion. Seattle got the ball back and moved in range for Walsh, whose attempt was on line but landed short of the crossbar.

"That was in our range, and in hindsight I would have just driven it more," Walsh said. "I would have driven it more and not left it short. I was too accurate and didn't have enough on it."

Wilson again was the entirety of Seattle's offense, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another 86 yards and a TD.

But it was an awful night for the Seahawks, filled with more injuries and questionable decisions by coach Pete Carroll. He called for a fake field goal late in the first half rather than attempting a 35-yard kick. He also made a questionable challenge in the fourth quarter that didn't go his way and left Seattle with just one timeout.

That lack of timeouts came back to haunt Seattle on the final drive when seconds ticked away and rather than running one more play, Walsh was sent out to attempt the 52-yard kick. His long for the season is 49 yards.

The conclusion only amplified Carroll's baffling decision at the end of the first half, when Seattle ran a fake field goal rather than having Walsh attempt a 35-yarder that would have pulled Seattle within 24-20. Holder Jon Ryan completed his shovel pass to Luke Willson, but Grady Jarrett read the play and tackled Willson for a 4-yard loss.

Willson said Atlanta's defense on the play was different than what Seattle had seen on film.

"It would have been a really good call if we had made it," Carroll said. "Terrific opportunity right where we wanted it and the defensive tackle made a better play."

Seattle played a game for the first time since the end of the 2010 season without Richard Sherman. His streak of 99 consecutive starts in the regular season was snapped because of a torn Achilles tendon suffered against Arizona. The Seahawks were also without safety Kam Chancellor because of a neck injury, leaving their vaunted secondary with several new faces.

"Those two are phenomenal players. ... It was a lot different," Sanu said. "They did a lot of different things but we just had to take advantage of our routes."

MATTY ICE

Ryan was more than happy to pick on a defense without Sherman and Chancellor. He was 19 of 27 passing for 195 yards and rarely faced pressure. Seattle had one sack, and the Falcons went 9 of 14 on third-down conversions.

Sanu made a great one-handed grab for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Ryan found Toilolo on a 25-yard TD in the third quarter to give Atlanta a 31-20 lead. Matt Bryant added a 19-yard field goal with 3:49 left to put the Falcons ahead by 11, and Wilson's late heroics weren't enough.

Ryan's streak of 64 straight games passing for at least 200 yards was snapped.

INJURIES

Seattle's injury woes continued. The Seahawks lost rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a concussion on the second play of the game, forcing newly signed veteran Byron Maxwell into a more prominent role than expected.

Early in the second half, promising running back Mike Davis was lost to a groin injury after taking a screen pass 21 yards. Davis had two receptions and had carried six times for 18 yards before getting hurt. Seattle also lost starting guard Oday Aboushi in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

Atlanta got a scare when safety Keanu Neal was checked for a concussion in the first half. He was cleared to return.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday to open a three-game homestand.

Seahawks: Travel to division foe San Francisco on Sunday.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

EX-PATS PODCAST: How Belichick the perfectionist will find flaws in win vs. Raiders

ex-pats-podcast17.png

EX-PATS PODCAST: How Belichick the perfectionist will find flaws in win vs. Raiders

0:55 - Patriots playing great as they stream roll the Raiders but Koppen explains that Belichick will knock them down as he strives for perfection. Also talk about how it takes a couple months into the season for the coaches and players to learn each other again.

5:40 - Stephon Gilmore playing excellent lined up against Michael Crabtree. Malcolm Butler bounces back but gives up the only score to Amari Cooper. Koppen suggest Butler’s contract situation might be affecting his play. 

7:50 - All in on the Patriots defense yet? Giardi and Koppen discuss the defensive play and the upcoming offenses the Patriots will be facing.

10:30 - Dan Koppen talks about job security in the NFL and if he ever worried about somebody else taking his job, and the cutthroat nature of the Patriots. 

13:50 - Tom Brady picking apart the Raiders and Jack Del Rio’s defenses throughout his career. 

17:45 - A debate about Patriots backup quarterbacks and if Matt Cassel was actually a good NFL QB. 

21:20 - A few game notes: Rex Burkhead’s fumble vs. the Raiders, LaAdrian Waddle filling in for Marcus Cannon.