Patriots

Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

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Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss rest of the season and playoffs, coach Doug Pederson confirmed.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of the injury. Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter Sunday at Los Angeles. Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a 43-35 win over the Rams that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

The Eagles have overcome several key injuries and now have to move forward without their most indispensable player. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, return specialist/running back Darren Sproles, star linebacker Jordan Hicksand special teams captain Chris Maragos already went down for the season.

"If there's ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time," Pederson said. "You can't lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long."

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this year. He passed for 3,296 yards and set a franchise single-season record with 33 touchdown passes while only tossing seven interceptions.

Foles led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives against the Rams. He is 20-17 as a starter in six seasons with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs.

Pederson insisted the offense won't change with Foles.

"He's a highly intelligent football player," Pederson said.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback. Pederson said he hasn't spoken to personnel boss Howie Roseman about adding a third quarterback yet.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said after the win over the Rams. "I prepare every day."

Watch Devin McCourty fire up Patriots for playoffs with passionate speech

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Watch Devin McCourty fire up Patriots for playoffs with passionate speech

Devin McCourty is a New England Patriots captain and one of the leaders of the defense, so you know he's going to have his teammates ready to go for the NFL playoffs.

Step 1 in that process was firing up his teammates before Sunday's AFC Divisional Round playoff win against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium. Check out his passionate speech in the video below.

The Patriots defense certainly responded to McCourty's emotion. The unit dominated the Chargers, allowing just seven points through three quarters before L.A. scored three meaningless touchdowns in garbage time. The Pats tallied two sacks, forced two turnovers and made life miserable for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers all game long.

McCourty is one of the longest-tenured Patriots having been drafted in 2010. He knows what the "Patriot Way" is all about and his experience is very valuable to the defense. The veteran safety, judging by his comments after the Chargers game, also has been leading the charge in helping the Patriots embrace the underdog role entering Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

You can bet McCourty will give another passionate pep talk to his teammates before the Patriots face their toughest test of the season Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. 

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Bill Belichick knows defending the Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid combo is a challenge

Bill Belichick knows defending the Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid combo is a challenge

FOXBORO -- Get ready to hear that phrase you hear every so often whenever the Patriots play one of the best offenses in the league. You know the one. "Every blade of grass."

Never has that phrase been more pertinent than this week as the Patriots prepare to take on the Chiefs, Andy Reid's West Coast system, and likely league MVP Patrick Mahomes.

The marriage of Reid and Mahomes, who can take the coach's tried-and-true system and elevate it to new heights with his unique physical gifts and his willingness to create, is a particularly vexing combination.

"Look, he's an outstanding player in every facet of the game," Bill Belichick said on a conference call Tuesday. "He's got a strong arm. He can throw the ball the length of the field, but he's got a great touch. He's got the ability to read coverages, extend plays, make good decisions and make explosive plays without taking too much of a risk and putting his team in jeopardy. 

"He does all those things well. That's a credit to him. That's a credit to their team and certainly the coaching staff for being able to put together the variety and explosiveness and the complementary plays that they have that make it so difficult to defend them."

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The Chiefs can hit the Patriots in the screen game with Damien Williams. They can go four verticals with speed demon Tyreek Hill and tight-end-but-really-a-receiver Travis Kelce and threaten to score. They can attack with quick-hitting RPOs, high-low crossers, or the scramble-drill plays that are perhaps more dangerous than anything called in the huddle.

They're all problems, as the Patriots found out in their Week 6 matchup after the Chiefs quickly put up 31 points in the second half that night. Belichick, obviously, hasn't forgotten.

"You certainly have to defend the whole field with him," Belichick said. "Andy does a real good job of that anyway with the plays that they run. They attack you sideline to sideline at the line of scrimmage and behind the line of scrimmage on screen plays and things like that, to 60 yards downfield and all the spots in between. 

"Mahomes could make it even more of a problem by extending the play, scrambling around, which he's done many times, we've seen that many times on film. We've talked to our players about it, and we don't want that situation to come up, but I'm sure it will, probably more than once, and we'll have to deal with it then. 

"Very challenging. He can do a lot...We'll do the best we can this week to defend the things we can defend. There'll be some things that we have to, if we overcompensate one way then we'll be a little light somewhere else. If we're balanced we're balanced. We'll just have to decide how we want to try to deploy our players on different situations and so forth and see how that plays out."

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