Patriots

Facing Tom Brady the culmination of childhood dream for Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch

Facing Tom Brady the culmination of childhood dream for Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch

When Tom Brady and the Patriots beat the Rams to win Super Bowl XXXVI, Leighton Vander Esch was still a week away from celebrating his sixth birthday.

He was still in high school when Brady won his third Super Bowl MVP award when he rallied the Patriots past the Seahawks.

But on Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, the Cowboys linebacker gets to line up against the future Hall of Famer for the first time, marking the culmination of a childhood dream.

"I've been looking forward to it my whole entire life honestly," Vander Esch said, per ESPN's Todd Archer. "I thought about it all the time, even when I was in college, what it would be like to play against him in the NFL just because of his caliber, the reputation he has. Playing a game against guys like that makes you appreciate things."

One of the things Vander Esch has appreciated in watching Brady? His knowledge and how he sees the field, even if the Patriots' offense isn't firing on all cylinders right now.

"He knows exactly where he wants to go with the ball pretty much every time before he snaps the ball," said Vander Esch. "He's got the weapons around him to do it, to make plays. He can get the ball to the backs fast, and they can create something out of nothing. "

A first-round pick in last year's draft, Vander Esch plays a key role on a Dallas defense that ranks seventh this season against the pass. He ranks second on the Cowboys in tackles after finishing third in the NFL a season ago. 

So while facing Brady will be a dream come true, it remains to be seen if it'll end up being a nightmare for the 23-year-old.

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N'Keal Harry brings up missed TD call again while adopting Patriots mantra

N'Keal Harry brings up missed TD call again while adopting Patriots mantra

N'Keal Harry has moved on from his non-touchdown Sunday.

Well, almost.

The New England Patriots wide receiver had a score taken away from him in fourth quarter the Kansas City Chiefs when the referees incorrectly ruled him out of bounds at the 3-yard line.

The Patriots had no challenges remaining at the time, so the play stood as called despite "everybody" thinking it was a touchdown, as an exasperated Harry explained to reporters after New England's 23-16 loss.

On Monday morning, the rookie wide receiver reminded everybody of this fact by tweeting photo evidence of him staying in bounds on the play.

While the photos may have been one last parting jab at the officials, Harry's caption is straight out of the Patriots' "moving on" playbook.

New England famously adopted "On To Cincinnati" as a mantra after a brutal loss to Kansas City in 2014, and it worked, as the team rallied to win a Super Bowl.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dusted off that rallying cry Monday morning, as well.

The 1-12 Bengals do offer New England the perfect bounce-back opportunity in Week 15, but Brady and Co. still need more from Harry if they want to get their offense back on track.

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Tom Brady shares his side of beef with Chris Jones in Patriots-Chiefs

Tom Brady shares his side of beef with Chris Jones in Patriots-Chiefs

Chris Jones' respect for Tom Brady didn't stop him from getting all up in his grill Sunday.

The Chiefs defensive lineman had a heated exchange with the Patriots quarterback late in the second half after Kansas City's defense forced a New England incompletion on third down. (You can watch the exchange here.)

Jones later said he was trying to make Brady uncomfortable by getting into with the GOAT.

So, how did Brady feel about Jones' tactics?

"We were going at it for a little bit. He was pretty talkative out there, so I think there's a healthy rivalry," Brady told WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" on Monday.

Brady wouldn't reveal what Jones said to him -- "definitely nothing that I can really repeat" -- but admitted he took Jones' bait by engaging with the boisterous defensive lineman.

"I typically don't try to make the d-linemen any more angry than they probably already are with me, because they're the ones that get paid to hit me," Brady joked. "So, I don't really give them any incentive typically, but I couldn't really resist at certain points."

Perhaps Brady's back-and-forth with Jones was his way of venting his frustration with the Patriots' offense, which is averaging just 17.6 points per game over its last five contests and looked anemic in Sunday's 23-16 loss to Kansas City.

Jones played some role in New England's struggles, recording a sack, a tackle-for-loss and a QB hit on Brady. But the 42-year-old quarterback believes the Patriots' offense has plenty of room for improvement, regardless of what defense it faces.

"I wish there was one magic thing that you could do and it would just change everything, but there's not," Brady said. "It really comes down to all of us, 11 as a unit, executing well."

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