Patriots

Brady gets hit, but hits back in leading Patriots over Dolphins

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Brady gets hit, but hits back in leading Patriots over Dolphins

FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting thoughts from the Patriots' 35-17 victory over the Dolphins Sunday:

PATRIOTS 35, DOLPHINS 17

1) The Dolphins defensive line got to Tom Brady enough in the first half that the threat of another blow may have helped force Brady into his third interception of the season. Ndamukong Suh got Brady on New England's second drive. Cameron Wake got him hip-to-hip in the second quarter, and later on the same drive Charles Harris got his lick in after getting to Brady unblocked. Late in the second quarter, Kiko Alonso got to Brady. Two plays later, Brady was picked by Bobby McCain when Brady wasn't able to step into his throw. Brady was hit seven times, four of which came courtesy of Wake. Despite the pounding, he threw for four touchdowns, including a quasi-handoff to Brandin Cooks in the fourth quarter. 

"They got some good shots on me," Brady acknowledged after the game.

2) For the second straight week, the Patriots defense got a key turnover deep in their own territory. Last week it was Marquis Flowers punching the football loose when Seth Roberts got careless near the goal line. This week it was Stephon Gilmore in the end zone, intercepting a Matt Moore floater intended for DeVante Parker. Gilmore was targeted just three times in the game and allowed one catch for five yards. 

3) Nate Ebner left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and he was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game. If he's forced to miss time moving forward, as it seems he will, the Patriots will have a significant void on their special-teams units. Ebner is widely regarded as one of the best in the business when it comes to his work in the kicking game. On the punt team, he serves as the personal protector, which is where he was just before he was injured. Fielding the direct snap from Joe Cardona, he ran around the right edge for a first down but was injured before he fell out of bounds. Jordan Richards replaced him as the personal protector. 

4) Dion Lewis continued to run effectively as the team's primary back, picking up a career-high 112 yards on 15 carries. He showed his typical blend of elusiveness near the line of scrimmage, and then once getting into the secondary, he finished strong, running through arm tackles. Mike Gillislee was a healthy scratch yet again in this one, and if Lewis remains healthy and continues to run this well, it may be hard for Gillislee to get back in. 

5) Ebner was the only injury the Patriots suffered on the day. Trey Flowers left the game in the third quarter with a rib injury. LaAdrian Waddle injured his ankle in the fourth and left the game. Trevor Reilly left the game after a violent collision on a kickoff, and Kyle Van Noy came out with a leg injury after recording a sack in the fourth quarter. The Patriots training staff had its hands full. 

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Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

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Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

Monday night, Cameron Wake will be trying to hurt Tom Brady. Pain – inflicting it, enduring it, the specter of it – is a football fact of life.

And no matter how hard the NFL tries to legislate out the danger of the game, it will always be inherent. Brady gets that better than Wake does. He’s been on the receiving end of it a lot longer than Wake’s been dishing it out. And while Brady’s gets to do his job with plenty of protections, he spends a lot more time prone and vulnerable than Wake does.

The Dolphins defensive end went deep last week talking about the nature of the game, the protections afforded, the risks players take and what he sees as the inconsistencies.

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Asked about the injury suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier last week, Wake said, “I’ve seen a lot of injuries so, unfortunately, that comes along with. This is my thing: I want to hurt everybody I play. I don’t want to injure anybody.

“I want you to be able to get up and go to the next play or feed your family and play next week but I want you to say ‘Man, Cameron Wake …’ ” Wake continued. “I don’t want you to be off the team or like not playing. I want you to obviously be physically defeated. I want to intimidate. I don’t want you to be harmed beyond tomorrow at all. It doesn’t always work that way.”

Continuing, Wake did a little math to make a very good point.

“We have 10 guys on IR or whatever? I’m sure every team has about that with 50 players on a team and then when you think about a 90-man roster … That’s a 20 percent chance every time you’re on the field, a 20 percent chance that whatever happens to you, you’re not going to play football this year.”

As appetizing as the NFL tries to make its product for the masses, the truth is that every single one of the players in the league has reconciled himself to the brutal, primitive nature of the game in which an opponent isn’t just defeated but beaten – literally.

Which means you will see a quarterback exhibit the fencing response as Tom Savage did Sunday, a linebacker unable to walk off the field because he can’t feel his legs as Shazier did last Monday or a well-liked tight end go barbaric on an opponent who made him mad as Rob Gronkowski did last Sunday.

Consumers, advertisers, social media and fans recoil. But violence is as much a part of the game as the football.

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss rest of the season and playoffs, coach Doug Pederson confirmed.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of the injury. Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter Sunday at Los Angeles. Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a 43-35 win over the Rams that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

The Eagles have overcome several key injuries and now have to move forward without their most indispensable player. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, return specialist/running back Darren Sproles, star linebacker Jordan Hicksand special teams captain Chris Maragos already went down for the season.

"If there's ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time," Pederson said. "You can't lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long."

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this year. He passed for 3,296 yards and set a franchise single-season record with 33 touchdown passes while only tossing seven interceptions.

Foles led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives against the Rams. He is 20-17 as a starter in six seasons with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs.

Pederson insisted the offense won't change with Foles.

"He's a highly intelligent football player," Pederson said.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback. Pederson said he hasn't spoken to personnel boss Howie Roseman about adding a third quarterback yet.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said after the win over the Rams. "I prepare every day."