Patriots

Roethlisberger says he wanted to clock it, but Haley told him not to

Roethlisberger says he wanted to clock it, but Haley told him not to

Maybe this was just Ben Roethlisberger taking a page from coach Mike Tomlin and doing his "professional due diligence." 

The Steelers quarterback was asked a question after throwing an interception at the goal line to seal Sunday's loss to the Patriots, and he answered it. But in the process, he threw his offensive coordinator under the bus. 

After the game, Roethlisberger was asked about the final play, when it looked like he was going to spike the football to stop the clock but instead threw into traffic to Eli Rogers. The pass was tipped by Eric Rowe and picked by Duron Harmon. The game was over, and the Patriots leaped into the No. 1 seed in the AFC. 

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What transpired immediately before the final snap was hectic, and Roethlisberger said that his inclination was to spike the football.

"It wasn't a fake spike," said Roethlisberger, according to NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala. "I was yelling 'clock it' because I felt that was the thing to do, to clock it and get yourself one play. And it came from the sideline: 'Don't clock it, don't clock it.' "

"From the sideline" in that instance means from Haley, who could communicate with Roethlisberger through the coach-to-quarterback communication system. 

"Well, at that time I'm already -- everyone thinks it's clocked," Roethlisberger said, "so you don't have time to try and get everyone lined up . . . Eli saw and he ran kind of a quick slant in there, and at that time you just gotta try to make a play."

The question is . . . Do you? Do you "gotta try to make a play" if the play is to throw into double or triple-coverage?

Had Roethlisberger thrown the football out of the back of the end zone when he saw the numbers in coverage weren't in his favor, the Steelers may have had the opportunity to kick a game-tying field goal.

Haley may have made the call, but it's a perfectly fine call if Roethlisberger makes a decision that doesn't hand the ball to the opponent. There's no throw-this-or-else mandate from the sidelines on any call. Certainly not for a quarterback of Roethlisberger's stature. And certainly not in that situation. 

Now both will have to live with the consequences of a play that will be dissected again and again and may only be forgotten if they can dispose of the Patriots in the playoffs -- a game that, if it happens, would now occur in Foxboro if the seedings hold true.

Patriots now have three practice squad openings after these departures

Patriots now have three practice squad openings after these departures

The New England Patriots have some more space available on their practice squad.

The recent departures of center Tyler Gauthier and defensive back Nate Brooks have opened two new spots, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.

These moves bring the number of open spots on the Patriots practice squad to three. 

Brooks spent the last 13 weeks on the Patriots practice squad. His new head coach with the Miami Dolphins is Brian Flores, who was the Patriots' linebackers coach from 2016 through 2018. Gauthier signed with the Patriots in May as an undrafted free agent but never played in a game for New England.

Huggins was signed by the Patriots last week but was released this past weekend when the team needed to make room on the 53-man roster to add kicker Nick Folk.

Reiss also reported Tuesday that New England worked out former University of Georgia defensive back Jayson Stanley.

The Patriots play the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Week 15 matchup is their final road game of the 2019 regular season.

Here's how the Patriots can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday>>>

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NFL's latest 2020 salary cap projection is good news for Patriots

NFL's latest 2020 salary cap projection is good news for Patriots

NFL teams could have as much as $8-13 million more in salary cap space for roster building next season.

The latest projection for the 2020 salary cap was told to all 32 teams Tuesday at the December league meeting, and it could be as high as $201.2 million.

The extra cap space is a huge benefit to teams with important players to re-sign, including the New England Patriots.

The defending Super Bowl champions have several veterans to consider re-signing. The list is highlighted by quarterback Tom Brady, and it also includes safety Devin McCourty, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, special teams ace Matthew Slater, left guard Joe Thuney and linebacker Jamie Collins, among others.

The Patriots are projected to have about $49 million in cap space in 2020, according to OverTheCap.com, although that number is based on a cap of $200 million. Two of the Patriots' rivals, the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins, could have as much as $100 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.

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