FOXBORO - By halftime last January 16th, Tom Brady had been sacked three times by the New York Jets, he'd thrown an inexplicable pick, Patrick Chung had called for a fake punt that failed and that gaffe led to a Jets touchdown with 33 seconds left in the first half. The 14-3 deficit at the break? Too much to overcome. The year before, the Baltimore Ravens allowed late-arriving traffic on Route 1 to U-turn and head home as they built a 24-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. In neither of those games could the Patriots' starts be called "poised."So with the feature game of this weekend's playoff slate Saturday night, the Patriots are in a position once again where they must bring composure. Can they? Will they be able to the poise missing the last two playoff games? "Once that ball's kicked off, it's a game," said Tom Brady. "And it's the same game we've been playing all season. There's definitely a heightened sense of intensity because it's one game. There's no next week. It's a one-game season. Trying to control your emotions to a point where it doesn't interfere with your level of execution is important. But sometimes you can't control that. We'll see."That Brady candidly revealed his emotions are beyond control in big games is noteworthy. The fact they have gotten that way later in his career when, for the first 10 playoff games of his career (all wins), he was as cool as any quarterback had ever been in the cauldron of pressure. Urgency is important. But there's a line between urgency and desperation and for Brady, the desire to return to the summit - especially after doing the Icarus thing back in 2007 - seems almost desperate. "Every play is so important this time of year that you feel like you need to execute the best," said Brady. "When you play the best teams, the margin for error is less. They're gonna be playing well, they're gonna be ready to go. We have to match that. ...We got to go out there and try to play a good. Emotions will be running high, I'm sure the stadium will be very loud, playing on a Saturday night. It's special, man, it's the playoffs. That's why we work so hard to get to this point." Working somewhat in the Patriots' favor is the fact that a deficit is a common occurrence in 2011. Not just in the past two games where the Patriots were down 17-0 and 21-0 and still won, for a slew of games prior to that New England overcame opponents' leads. "Over the course of this whole year, this team has done a great job of keeping its poise," explained Vince Wilfork. "Through good times and bad times. I think we all kept a level head and it starts with the top first. It starts with Bill (Belichick). And Bill's probably one of the best at it. Don't get too high, don't get too low."We've seen the video of Bill O'Brien's meltdown at Washington when he butted into a Tom Brady-Tiquan Underwood discussion. But, Wilfork says, that's been an exception."Even when things went wrong and we lost, you never hear no fuss," Wilfork began. "Well, every now and then," he added. "But we coulda been arguing on the sideline and fussin' all the time a bunch but we didn't. Poise is everything and I think this team has a lot of it and that's what it's gonna take. We're going to have to be able to fight through some tough situtations, some tough calls some tough things you might not agree with or statements made at the time of the battle. Your job is to fight through those and perform well and I think for the most part we've done that."Playoff experience, Brady was asked. What's it mean?"It's a different team than played in '01, '03," Brady corrected. "How these teams are gonna attack us, we'll see. We'll see on Saturday night. ...I think that's why we're gonna show up and play. Nobody knows the answer to do those things. Experience is great when you win, then when you lose it means nothing.
If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen?
Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed.
Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again.
"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.
"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.
"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."
Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.
"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."
WALTHAM -- It appears Marcus Morris’ debut for the Celtics will be when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 30.
The 6-foot-9 forward confirmed to reporters on Monday that, for now, that’s the target date.
Morris spent time after practice playing some one-one-one against rookie Jayson Tatum.
“I’m trying to push on it a little more,” he said. “Felt pretty good beating the rook’s ass one-on-one.”
The addition of Morris to the lineup can’t come soon enough for the Celtics (1-2). They have already lost Gordon Hayward (ankle) for the season, and Marcus Smart (ankle) missed Friday’s win over Philadelphia. Smart said he would probably be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks.
Those injuries have forced the Celtics to dig deeper into their roster, resulting in several first-year players seeing action.
Having a veteran like Morris on the floor would bode well for the Celts in their quest to remain among the better teams in the East this season.
Morris, who went through the non-contact portion of practice on Monday, joined the Celtics on Oct. 5, shortly after he and his brother Markieff (who plays for Washington) were acquitted of assault charges involving an incident in Phoenix in January of 2015. He appeared in one preseason game, scoring seven points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field.
Coach Brad Stevens said Morris was having some knee discomfort when he showed up for training camp. That, combined with showing up late to training camp because of his court case in Phoenix, resulted in him not having the level of conditioning he’s used to at the start of training camp.
“It’s not that I’m in bad shape,” he told NBC Sports Boston earlier. “It’s just that I’m not where I expect myself to be conditioning-wise, right now.”
Morris echoed similar sentiments on Monday.
“I’m in great condition,” he said. “I just want to be a little better. My conditioning has never been the problem. It’s the soreness in my [left] knee. It’s gotten a lot better over the past 10 days, so I feel I can play now. But be cautious because it’s a long season.”
Morris was acquired in the summer by Boston from Detroit, in exchange for Avery Bradley. The move was done to not only ensure there was enough salary cap space to sign then-free agent Gordon Hayward, but also for the Celtics to add a versatile player who can play both forward positions.