Patriots

After Gronk play, Belichick makes another pitch for goal-line cameras

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After Gronk play, Belichick makes another pitch for goal-line cameras

DENVER -- Rob Gronkowski was hot after his team's win Sunday night at Sports Authority Field. The reason? He thought he had a touchdown -- or a "tug," as he calls it -- wiped off the board because of a missed call.

Late in the second quarter, it looked as though Gronkowski made a diving grab near the goal line, but it was immediately called incomplete. After the Patriots called a timeout, and after Gronkowski did some serious lobbying to Bill Belichick to challenge the ruling, the coach opted to toss his red challenge flag.

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"I went up to Coach, and he’s like, ‘Are you sure?’ And I’m like, ‘I’m sure, man.’ I would never say that if I wasn’t 100 percent sure, because you don’t want to lose that kind of trust," Gronkowski said after the game. "And I thought I caught it, man. I know I caught it. My fingers were underneath it.”

Yet after review, the call on the field stood. There was not enough video evidence to overturn. 

"I mean, I didn’t see any replays or anything like that, but did you guys see any time where the ball hit the ground? Because it didn’t, that’s why,” Gronkowski said. ”I put my hand underneath the ball. I know for sure I caught it. I just don’t understand why it wasn’t a tug. It didn’t show any evidence of it hitting the ground. I know it didn’t. My fingers were underneath it. It tilted up the ball, and I knew it was right there. And I brought it in, and it landed on my forearm when I brought it in, and I knew exactly."

Belichick said during a conference call on Monday that he wouldn't hold it against Gronkowski. Most players like to think they catch every pass sent their way, he explained. And it even after review, Belichick said, it looked like an incredibly close call. 

Because the topic of replay and goal-line calls was brought up, Belichick used the opportunity to once again make it known that he believes there should be more cameras in order to provide more angles for plays like that Gronkowski's. 

The play ended up not mattering because one snap later Dwayne Allen was in the end zone for an 11-yard score, but what if that was an end-of-the-game play? What if the score was tighter? Wouldn't you want more angles to know you got the call right? 

That's Belichick's point. It's one he's made before.

"It went the way it did and I understand that," Belichick said. "Again, not that it made any difference on that play, but again, I’ll take this opportunity to say that I just am all for trying to get these plays right. I think that would have been a good example of where a goal-line camera or a pylon camera would have been given a good opportunity. 

"I think we saw in the Kansas City-Oakland game a couple weeks ago the great shot that that camera gave, so again, I think this would be just another example. In the end, it didn’t make any difference in the game last night, but had that been the final play of the game or one of the final plays of the game in a close game, whichever side it was on, just want it to be right. Whether he caught it or didn’t catch it, just make sure that we make the right call."

The play Belichick was referencing occurred last month during a Thursday night game between the Chiefs and Raiders. Oakland tight end Jared Cooks appeared to get into the end zone for a game-tying touchdown, but thanks to a review, he was marked down at the 1. 

The Raiders eventually scored and won the game, but it was a good example of how a camera in that area of the field can be helpful. 

"It’s a tough call," Belichick said of Gronkowski's near-grab. "The official made the call. It’s a tough call. The official that made the call was standing pretty close to me on the sideline. He was probably 30 yards away. It was a close play. I saw it the same way he did. 

"It was really close, so maybe the league can find a way to finance that project and get a good quality shot of some of those goal line plays, like they had in the Oakland-Kansas City game."

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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

FOXBORO -- Brian Hoyer did his best Sgt, Schultz impression Thursday afternoon.

He saw nothing, he knows nothing and, had we asked him, Hoyer probably would have denied even Tom Brady’s existence. The Patriots backup quarterback has been thrust into the spotlight because of the right-hand injury Brady suffered in practice Wednesday. Though Brady appeared at the media access portion of today’s session, the team listed him on the injury report as not having participated. That would mean Hoyer -  as the team’s only healthy signal caller - had to get more reps than usual, right? 

“Define what is usual,” he said. “Since I’ve been here there’s been days where I’ve taken a lot of reps and days where I’ve taken any. I just do what’s asked of me.”

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So, you were asked to do more today?

“You’ll have to check the injury report. I don’t know if they put that on there or not.”

Okay then. This was just the beginning of a question-and-answer session that provided many of the former and almost none of the latter. Hoyer said he “wasn’t there” when the injury happened. When asked if Brady threw any passes today, the normally genial Hoyer paused before saying tersely, “you have to ask somebody else that question. I’m not going to answer that question.”

There were also a couple of “I’m not going to speak for him” or “you have to ask him” responses. Not unexpected given the nature of the queries but also handled better by every player we spoke to today, from Trey Flowers saying he’s not a hand doctor to James White joking the world will never know how Brady was injured to Kyle Van Noy saying of Brady: “He always looks good. He’s handsome”.

What Hoyer did have a good handle on was what he needs to do to be ready if his number does get called Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

“I prepare every week like I’m going to play,” he said. “Whether I do or don’t...that’s not really up to me. I did the one thing I can benefit from since I was the backup here - I played a lot of football. I’ve been a starter for three different teams. I know how to prepare as a starter. Whether I’m given those reps or not, each rep I’m not getting I take as a mental rep. I stand back there and I go through and I try to think who I’d go to, who would I’d make the Mike [middle linebacker] on this play. Whether I’m getting the reps or not I’m always preparing to play because you never know when your name is going to be called.”

The Patriots hope it doesn’t come to that. Hell, maybe even Hoyer hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“If I don’t play, that’s good for our team.”

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

FOXBORO -- You would have to be either supremely confident or supremely behind on current events to place a bet on the Patriots in this weekend's AFC title game. 

Tom Brady suffered a hand injury in Wednesday's practice and he was held out of Thursday's session (for all but the stretching portion), leaving him one final chance to practice on Friday before the Jaguars make their way to Gillette Stadium for a shot at a Super Bowl berth. 

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It's unclear how Brady's hand issue will impact his ability to play on Sunday. The expectation is that he will play, but his effectiveness . . . for now seems somewhat uncertain. And the line has moved as a result. 

The Patriots were once nine-point favorites at Caesars Palace, and they are now favored by 7.5 points. Westgate's line made the same move from Patriots -9 to Patriots -7.5. 

For those who feel as though Brady will be OK as he takes on the league's top-ranked passing defense, this represents a golden opportunity. For everyone else, this is probably a good time to focus your gambling efforts on the NFC Championship Game.