Unified, energized Patriots head to Seattle as one


Unified, energized Patriots head to Seattle as one

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense won't be facing just 11 members of the Seattle Seahawks defense Sunday.

It will be closer to 70,000.

The Patriots all week have been pumping loud music through the speakers during practices to prepare for the hostile and rowdy Seattle fans set to pack into CenturyLink Field, one of three current NFL stadiums Brady has never played in.

Nonetheless, the quarterback knows exactly what to expect, and precisely what he wants to do.

``There probably aren't many that I haven't played in at this point. But this will be fun,'' Brady said. ``It's always nice when you take 53 guys on the road and you say, `This is all we've got and this is all we need and this is what we have to do.' And see 70,000 fans, if you can keep them quiet or turn them on their own team.

``I think that's an exciting part for road teams, is to see if you can get them booing their own players.''

Dealing with the Seahawks' much-improved defense is the first challenge, though.

Seattle leads the league in yards allowed, surrendering merely 258.6 a game, and ranks second in points allowed per game with 14, slightly behind San Francisco's stingy unit.

Green Bay and Dallas already experienced the wrath of this burgeoning unit. The pair of potent offenses posted just 12 and seven points, respectively, in their losses on the West Coast.

``They have a really good defense, the best one in the league,'' Brady said. ``Statistically, top five in almost every category.''

The crowd noise, though? That's an entirely different problem for New England.

The Seahawks are 53-29 at home since their stadium first opened in 2002, and are undeniably aided by their famed ``12th Man,'' known to routinely rattle opposing offenses and force them into false starts and other uncharacteristic penalties.

A ``12th Man'' flag is even raised before every home game, symbolizing the boisterous and blaring bunch. Traditionally, it riles them up even more - as if that was necessary.

``We know it's definitely an issue. We know what the numbers are and all that. We've talked about it. It just comes down to being mentally focused and concentrating, being mentally tough,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ``We know it's going to be loud. We can crank up the noise here as loud as you want to crank it up. In the end, Sunday, we're going to have to go out there and we know we're going to have to deal with it.

``It's not just offense, it's your punt protection, it's on the field goals, it's all those plays. We've played in a lot of loud stadiums before but there's none louder than Seattle. I think they're as loud as anybody. We'll just have to do a good job with our communication and just our mental alertness.''

Brady has yet to play at Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Seattle, as he was injured in 2008 when New England last trekked across the country to play the 49ers and Seahawks. When he last played the Buccaneers, it was in London in 2009. That said, crowd noise is nothing new to the three-time Super Bowl champion.

``I'm actually excited to get out there and play in a place I've never played,'' he said. ``I think what makes it loud is that they're very good. So, when they make plays, the crowd is into it and they get a lot of support.

``They've certainly been making a lot of (plays) at home. They beat two very good teams at home - Dallas and Green Bay. It's going to be a big challenge for us and I'm excited to go out there and see what we can do.''

Like Brady, Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty also is making his first visit to Seattle, yet isn't too concerned. He's already played a night game in Baltimore three weeks ago and routinely travels to New York to face the Jets.

Besides, whenever the Patriots are in town, the home crowd is ready to roll regardless of the venue.

``I think a lot of times for us, when we go on the road, we always know the crowd's always amped up,'' McCourty said. ``I've heard Seattle's probably one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, so I think it should be something that excites us, to go out there and play in a challenging environment and to go out there and try and produce.''


Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!