Steelers' Clark: Patriots want to play basketball


Steelers' Clark: Patriots want to play basketball

PITTSBURGH - Steelers safety Ryan Clark is one of the team's most outspoken players.

Leading into Sunday's game, he said he believes the Patriots have been given too much respect by his team with not enough in return.

Those days, Clark said, were over.

And when the game came, the Steelers backed up Clark's stance.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau scrapped the zone coverages he normally uses in his package and went man-to-man all over the field with his defensive backs and linebackers playing tight and physical at the line of scrimmage. It worked.

"New England likes to make things 7-on-7," Clark explained. "(If) they go 7-on-7, they got the best quarterback out there. We wanted to throw off some timing, play some press coverage, really try to be aggressive in our zones and it worked today. Its not basketball. Turn it into a football game. Because if its basketball, we cant beat em. I think we were able to do that."

They were.

Monday, Bill Belichick said the Patriots saw more man from the Steelers than New England is accustomed to seeing from them.

"It wasnt anything that I would say we hadnt really seen before, but probably a little higher percentage than what theyve shown in other games," said Belichick. We worked on it. Again, we just have to do a better job in those situations protecting, getting open, having plays that maybe could make everything happen a little bit quicker, a little bit cleaner. Again, I dont want to get into that everything was a self-inflicted wound. I think they played well, I think they did a lot of things well. We had some plays, not as many as they did and thats why the result was what it was."

Belichick went on to add that the Patriots have seen some man coverage from a few opponents. After Sunday's game, though, they can expect to see more.

Down in Florham Park, New Jersey, Rex Ryan lauded the "formula" the Steelers used.

And why not?

For the second straight game, Wes Welker was made to look mortal by an opposing DB who dogged him everywhere. This time is was Ike Taylor. Against the Cowboys it was Orlando Scandrick.

Welker had six catches in each of the last two games for 45 and 39 yards respectively. He had 499 yards in the three games previous.

It's important to remember what we're talking about here. This isn't a crisis like the Patriots have on defense. They can adjust and most likely will. They have the planet's best quarterback and more gadgety weapons than offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien knows what to do with.

But the gadgets they have are similar in the areas they work. Zero to 18 yards downfield. That makes it easier to creep safeties up and challenge at the line of scrimmage. When you have Deion Branch working outs and dig routes, Wes Welker running option routes in the middle of the field, Kevin Faulk or Danny Woodhead heading to the flat and Gronknandez working a little deeper in the seam, there's just not that much vertical space to worry about.

The easiest way to get a team out of stifling man coverage is to stretch the field. And the Patriots don't have a guy to strike fear in a defense. Matthew Slater has been their most potent downfield guy. He's not the answer. Chad Ochocinco? Please. Taylor Price? Long way to go before anyone stays up worrying about him becoming a field-stretcher.

The guy who could do it doesn't live here anymore but you can, for the first time, imagine Belichick dialing his number and debating on whether or not to hit "send."

Because the Patriots have to score. A lot. After the Jets and Cowboys let them off the hook by not throwing all over their corners, only a coordinator trying to get fired would pass on passing against them considering what Pittsburgh did.

The Patriots are going to have to counter the counter that defenses are going to use against them now. Who's going to help them do it?

Clark believes they'll think of something.

"We got him today," Clark said of Brady. "But we know that guys going to go to the lab and be back. We feel if we want to get to the Super Bowl, New England is the team you have to go through so were excited about the win today but no celebrations."

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski both sat out of the entirety of Wednesday's practice at Gillette Stadium. 

Brady is dealing with an Achilles injury, per the injury report released by the Patriots. The Boston Herald has reported that Brady will play despite the issue. It's unclear when exactly Brady suffered the injury, but Brady was hit low by Raiders pass-rusher Khalil Mack in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and Mack was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Gronkowski, like teammate David Andrews, is dealing with an illness. Patrick Chung, who left Sunday's game briefly, has an ankle issue. 

Here's the full injury report for both the Patriots and Dolphins . . . 


C David Andrews (illness)
QB Tom Brady (Achilles)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)

WR Danny Amendola (knee)
TE Marellus Bennett (shoulder/hamstring)
DT Malcom Brown (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)


LB Stephone Anthony (quadriceps)
G Jermon Bushrod (foot)
QB Jay Cutler (concussion)
DE William Hayes (back)
T Laremy Tunsill (illness)

RB Senorise Perry (knee)
S Michael Thomas (knee)


Curran: Randy Moss better not have to wait for Hall call


Curran: Randy Moss better not have to wait for Hall call

If you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer. The notion that a great player’s candidacy has to have some kind of gestation period before it can be deemed induction-worthy is just plain cruel.

And if you think “cruel” is an overstatement, consider Ken Stabler. Three times a Hall of Fame finalist, Snake had to croak before Pro Football Hall of Fame voters decided it was time to put him in Canton.

There are borderline guys whose candidacies need to marinate. There are players whose contributions to an era take on greater meaning as time passes. You could make the case Stabler was one of those.


You could also make the case that too many HOF voters in each of the major sports get caught up in a “guardian at the gate” mentality, puffing out birdlike chests until they align with swollen stomachs and declaring an athlete’s not getting inducted on HIS watch.

Or until said athlete’s served time in purgatory and either begs for induction or says, “F--- it, I don’t care if I get in at this point anyway.

Which brings me to Terrell Owens and how his HOF candidacy will impact Randy Moss.

Moss was a better player than T.O. Historic. The second he entered the league in 1998, he was probably one of the five best players in the league at any position. Owens took a while. He didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fifth NFL season.

Moss was a technician and a savant. Owens just wrestled the game to the ground with brute force.

When measuring what a player “means” to the NFL and its fans, a reasonable Moss comp is Allen Iverson. They were iconic. Owens? Dwight Howard. Where T.O. felt needy, desperate and narcissistic. Moss just didn’t GAF.

And that’s where some voters start to rub their hands together and scheme.

How can we exact revenge for perceived crimes against football and propriety? Make 'em sweat. Use incidents, moments and comments as cudgels and pound penance out of them.

Even though Moss was better than T.O., that doesn’t mean Owens is borderline. Owens is second in all-time yards (Moss is third), eighth in receptions (Moss is 15th), third in touchdowns (Moss is second) and was a five-time All-Pro (Moss was a four-time All-Pro).

The only justification for voters keeping T.O. out the past two years was that he was a prick.

Few – if any - of his ex-teammates say that he should be kept out of the HOF for that. But scores of people in the media, ex-players and league lobbyists do think he should be kept out. At least until he learns his lesson, or whatever.

Owens’ narcissism chewed at the fabric of franchises he was a part of, is the contention. That’s why he played for five teams. That’s why he only played in one Super Bowl. That’s why tears weren’t shed when he signed someplace else.

Moss also played for five teams. He also played in just one Super Bowl (like Owens, Moss’ ’07 Patriots lost though Moss – like Owens – did his part to win). And tears weren’t shed too often when Moss left either.

Check this Tom Brady quote from September 2010. It came just days before Moss began shooting his way out of New England because he was unhappy the team wouldn’t extend his deal.

"There's only one Randy Moss that will ever play this game," Brady said. "He's the greatest, probably, downfield receiver in the history of the NFL. Those catches that he makes, where you guys see he runs 65 yards down the field, you throw it and he just runs and catches it. That's impossible to do.And I ask him, 'How did you do that?' And he says, 'I don't know, man. I've been doing it for a long time.' He has some special skills that nobody's really gifted with." 

That weekend, Moss gave his “This probably will be my last year here as a Patriot…” press conference after a season-opening win over the Bengals. The next week, he caught two of 10 passes that Brady threw his way in a loss to the Jets. One of the passes was a touchdown pass where he blew past Darrelle Revis and made a one-handed pull. Two of the other passes were picked off and Moss was non-competitive. After that, he was effectively frozen out of the offense and was traded after Week 4, less than a month after Brady accurately described him as the greatest downfield receiver in the history of the NFL.

Stuff like that, nudging a traffic cop for a half-block with his car stating “I’ll play when I want to play…,” fake-mooning the Lambeau Stadium crowd, saying he still smoked weed “once in a blue moon” – all those occasions will be aggregated and used as cudgels used to beat down Moss’ candidacy just as the driveway situps are used to beat down T.O.’s.

Whole bunch of voters will hand-wring about what it all meeeaaaannnnnsssss if they sweep Moss in on the first ballot after keeping T.O. out. And then wonder if T.O. should go in before Moss, after Moss or with him. Meanwhile, they’ll rush to get Ray Lewis in line for his gold jacket with nary a word about disappearing white suits 

The whole “between the lines is all that matters” defense.

Randy Moss belongs in the Hall of Fame. ASAP.