Patriots

Trip down memory lane: Belichick compares Amendola return to Brown's in 2001

patriots-100-plays-troy-brown-number-81.jpg

Trip down memory lane: Belichick compares Amendola return to Brown's in 2001

We're less than halfway into the 2017 season, but Bill Belichick has already put together two of the more entertaining "Belichick Breakdowns" in recent memory on Patriots.com. He's having some fun with these, it seems. 

Following his team's last-minute win over the Texans in Week 3, he highlighted an in-game adjustment made by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels that took advantage of a brief conversation had by a pair of Houston defensive backs. After beating the Bucs last week, one of his favorite plays from the game prompted him to take a quick trip down memory lane

Belichick first broke down a second-quarter punt return by Danny Amendola that went for 40 yards, explaining that "it always starts with getting the gunners and handling the ball." One Tampa Bay gunner was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty as he ran out of bounds down the field in pursuit of Amendola, adding onto what was already a good gain helped by blocks from Jonathan Jones, Johnson Bademosi, Patrick Chung, Jordan Richards. 

"There's actually some organization," Belichick said, "to the chaos that's going on."

It reminded Belichick of the punt return that Troy Brown took back for a touchdown in Pittsburgh during the 2001 AFC Championship Game.

On the snap prior to Brown's touchdown, the opposition had a player run out of bounds on a punt without being touched -- much like in Tampa -- which backed the Steelers up five yards and forced them to re-kick. On the subsequent punt, the Patriots dominated their blocking assignments. 

Larry Izzo and Patrick Pass sealed off their would-be tacklers, Ty Law pancaked the long-snapper, Matt Chatham never let his man get off the line of scrimmage, and Terrell Buckley and Antwan Harris smothered their gunner on a double-team.

By the end of the play, mauled by Harris and Buckley, the Steelers gunner was on his hands and knees in his own end zone after starting the play at the eight-yard line. 

"That's about as good as a gunner can be blocked right there," Belichick said. "These guys should be on the porch on the Hall of Fame just for that block alone."

During the segment with host Scott Zolak, Belichick also explained what went on during Dion Lewis' 31-yard run -- the team's first explosive run of the season, Belichick pointed out -- as well as a Devin McCourty tackle-for-loss and an Elandon Roberts third-down stop.

You can watch the entire video here.

Rex Burkhead, David Harris in uniform for Patriots vs. Falcons

patriots_rex_burkhead_081917.jpg

Rex Burkhead, David Harris in uniform for Patriots vs. Falcons

FOXBORO -- The Patriots went into Sunday night's game with only three corners available to them, and even one of those was questionable. Pitted against a Falcons attack that features the reigning MVP and one of the most physically-gifted receivers to ever play, that felt like a problem. 

It still might be, but that one questionable corner -- Johnson Bademosi (abdomen) -- will be in uniform to help thwart Julio Jones and Co. Patriots tight end Jacob Hollister (questionable with a chest injury) is also active and in uniform. 

The Patriots ruled out three players in the days leading up to the game: corners Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe and defensive end Harvey Langi. Joining them as inactive on Sunday night at Elandon Roberts (ankle), Geneo Grissom (healthy scratch), Cam Fleming (healthy scratch) and Cole Croston (healthy scratch). 

Running back Rex Burkhead will be available to the Patriots for the first time since Week 2 when he injured his ribs against the Saints. Though he's only seen a very limited number of snaps this season, when he was on the field through the first two weeks he was heavily involved. He's seen just 18 offensive snaps, but he's carried the ball five times and he's been targeted seven times in the passing game. 

Also in uniform will be veteran linebacker David Harris. He's played just seven snaps this season, but with Roberts out, maybe this is the week when he sees more playing time. He should slot in behind Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower as New England's off-the-ball 'backers. 

AFC: Steelers shut down Bengals to pull away for 29-14 win

steelers_bengals_102217.jpg

AFC: Steelers shut down Bengals to pull away for 29-14 win

PITTSBURGH - Ben Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell added 192 total yards and Pittsburgh's defense dominated the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half of a 29-14 victory on Sunday.

The Steelers (5-2) relied on their stars to take the lead and then on their reinvigorated defense to blunt Cincinnati's and give themselves a significant cushion over the rest of the underwhelming AFC North.

The Bengals (2-4) came in looking to add some street cred to their resurgence after their 0-3 start, but instead spent the second half reverting to the kind of ineffective offense that got Ken Zampese fired two weeks into the season. The Steelers picked off Andy Dalton twice and sacked him three times over the final two quarters to pull away.

Chris Boswell added five field goals for Pittsburgh, which posted its highest points total and appears to be rounding into form as Halloween nears.

Two weeks after openly questioning whether he still "had it," Roethlisberger put together easily his best half of the season. He hit Antonio Brown for a 7-yard touchdown to cap Pittsburgh's first drive, found a wide-open JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 31-yard score in the second quarter and threw a perfectly placed 23-yard deep out to Brown late in the second quarter to spark a drive that ended with a 24-yard Chris Boswell field goal that put the Steelers up 20-14 at the half.

Dalton and Cincinnati appeared ready to keep pace early. He connected with Brandon LaFell and Tyler Kroft with first-half touchdowns, but when the Steelers turned the pressure up, the Bengals crumbled while losing for the eighth time in their last nine meets with their longtime nemesis.

Cincinnati managed just one first down in the second half, much of which Dalton spent on the run or throwing picks. Joe Haden collected his first interception with Pittsburgh when he made a juggling grab that set up Boswell's field goal. William Gay added one later in the third quarter on an ugly overthrow by Dalton.

Dalton finished 17 of 30 for 144 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bengals had just 19 yards of total offense in the second half. Given one last desperate shot to get back in it with 5 minutes left trailing by 15, Dalton threw the ball away on fourth down, a microcosm of a forgettable afternoon.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE