Patriots

Game notes: Record and near-records from Pats' 21-13 victory

Game notes: Record and near-records from Pats' 21-13 victory

FOXBORO -- Postgame notes from the Patriots' 21-13 victory over the Chargers, courtesy of the New England P.R. department:

NOT HALF BAD
The Patriots are now 6-2 this season, the 16th time in franchise history they've started a season with a record of 6-2 or better. It's also the fifth year in a row they've done so. The seasons with a 6-2 or better start: 1974, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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RARITY
When the Patriots recorded a safety by tackling Travis Benjamin in the end zone, it was the first time in an NFL game since 2003 that a safety was recorded during a punt return. In addition, Patriots special teams had not recorded a safety since Dec. 9, 1979, when the Jets fumbled a snap on a punt out of the end zone.

LAST-MINUTE EFFICIENCY
The Patriots scored in the final minute of the first half for the fifth straight game, and for the sixth time in eight games this season. Three of the scores have been touchdowns and three have been field goals, including today's (36-yard kick by Steven Gostkowski with 24 seconds left).

A WINNING STRATEGY
Tom Brady threw for 333 yards, his fifth 300-yard game of 2017 and the 81st of his career. The Pats are 67-14 when Brady throws for 300 or more yards.

HISTORIC PACE I
Brady has 2,541 yards passing through the first eight games and is on pace to finish with 5,082 yards. Brady owns one of the nine 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history and can join Drew Brees (5) as the only player with more than one 5,000-yard season. 

HISTORIC PACE II
James White had five receptions for 85 yards and now has 43 receptions for the year. He's on pace to finish the season with 86 receptions, which would break the franchise record for pass receptions by a running back in a single season (77, by Tony Collins in 1986).

HISTORIC PACE III
Rob Gronkowski now has 509 receiving yards and is on pace to finish the year with 1,018 yards. It would be his fourth 1,000-yard season and he would join Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten as the only NFL tight ends with four 1,000-yard seasons. 

MOVING UP THE LIST I
Brady and Gronkowski have now connected for 72 touchdown passes, tying them with Drew Brees/Marques Colston for fifth place on the all-time NFL list of quarterback/receiver touchdowns. Dan Marino and Mark Clayton are in fourth, with 79. The record is 112, by Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.

MOVING UP THE LIST II
Gronkowski now has 444 career points, enabling him to pass Tony Franklin (442) and move into fifth place on the Patriots' all-time scoring list. John Smith is next, with 692. The all-time is Gostkowski, with 1,537.

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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 . . . 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
C David Andrews (illness)
QB Tom Brady (Achilles)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)

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

MIAMI DOLPHINS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Stephone Anthony (quadriceps)
G Jermon Bushrod (foot)
QB Jay Cutler (concussion)
DE William Hayes (back)
T Laremy Tunsill (illness)

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

 

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

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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.

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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.