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With missed opportunities, Patriots drop to 3-3


With missed opportunities, Patriots drop to 3-3

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) A missed field goal in the final seconds against Arizona. A game-winning kick by the Ravens as the clock ran out. And now a 46-yard touchdown pass that gave the Seahawks the lead in the final minutes.

The Patriots are 3-3 after losing 24-23 to Seattle on Sunday, leaving the defending conference champions and favorites to repeat locked in a four-way tie in the AFC East. In all three losses, New England had a second-half lead - twice leading by two scores in the fourth quarter.

``When we really needed it, we weren't able to make the plays we needed to make,'' coach Bill Belichick said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. ``It's just disappointing. We've come up short in three games - not by very much but it's been enough.

``We have to find a way to perform better, both throughout the game and certainly in the critical game-changing situations at the end.''

The Patriots were on their way to a win that would have given them the lead in the division, leading Seattle 23-10 in the fourth after Stephen Gostkowski's field goal. But Russell Wilson hit Braylon Edwards on a 10-yard touchdown pass midway through the quarter and then connected with Sidney Rice for 46 yards to give Seattle a one-point lead with 78 seconds to play.

Having wasted two timeouts early in the half, the Patriots had none remaining by their final drive. Tom Brady was unable to lead them to a first down, and the Seahawks kneeled down for the victory.

``The end of the game is the most critical part of the game, and we need to do better,'' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Monday. ``I need to do better. We can prepare better and we can play better in those situations to try to finish the games out. ... We've been in it a few times and we need to be able to close out the games when we get that opportunity.''

New England also struggled to manage its timeouts at the end of the first half, using one to avoid a delay of game penalty on a fourth-and-1 from the Seattle 6 yard-line before sending Gostkowski out for a 25-yard field goal that made it 17-10 with 2:12 to go.

After Seattle punter Jon Ryan fumbled the snap and gave the Patriots the ball at the Seahawks' 24 with 40 seconds left in the half, Brady hit Wes Welker for 15 yards but used another timeout - and 21 seconds - before the next play.

The Patriots ran just one more play before calling their last timeout, leaving them with no way to stop the clock when Brady was called for intentional grounding - a penalty that requires a 10-second runoff - with 1 second left in the half.

Instead of seven points or an easy field goal, the Patriots went to the locker room with nothing.

``It's just one of those things were we just came up short in that instance and the one thing that probably couldn't have happened, happened,'' said Welker, who caught 10 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. ``And it's disappointing.''

The failure to finish teams off has been a disappointment all season.

In Week 2, the Patriots led the Cardinals 9-6 early in the third quarter but fell behind 20-9. New England cut it to eight points on a field goal and made it 20-18 on a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski; the 2-point conversion to tie it failed.

The Patriots got to the Cardinals' 18 before a false start and a loss of a yard left them with a 42-yard field goal attempt that Gostkowski missed.

Against Baltimore the next week, the Patriots led 30-21 early in the fourth before the Ravens scored a touchdown and then, as time expired, Baltimore's Justin Tucker put a 27-yard field goal over the right upright to win the game.

``When you get down to the end of the fourth quarter, then the whole game really now hinges on just a handful of plays or sometimes just one play,'' Belichick said. ``Not that all the rest of them don't matter; they do. But ... how well can you execute that, one, two or however many plays it is that are now going to determine the outcome of the game.

``Mental toughness, I think, is part of it. Awareness is part of it. Basic execution is part of it. Conditioning is part of it. Scheming and actual technique of the play, the way the play is set up - all those things are part of it.''


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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?