Patriots

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski taken off Patriots injury report ahead of Week 14

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Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski taken off Patriots injury report ahead of Week 14

The New England Patriots injury report looks better than it did Wednesday after quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski were removed from Thursday's report following practice.

Here's the full Patriots-Dolphins injury report for Thursday. New England travels to Miami for a Week 14 showdown with the Dolphins on Sunday. 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Dwayne Allen (knee)
S Patrick Chung (shoulder)

REMOVED FROM LIST
QB Tom Brady (knee)
TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back)

MIAMI DOLPHINS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
C Jake Brendel (calf)
RB Frank Gore (not injury related)
CB Xavien Howard (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (knee)
RB Kenyan Drake (shoulder)
WR DeVante Parker (shoulder)
C Travis Swanson (ankle)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Cornell Armstrong (knee)
T Ja'Wuan James (knee)
S Reshad Jones (shoulder)
G Ted Larsen (neck)
CB Bobby McCain (knee)
QB Ryan Tannehill (right shoulder)
T Laremy Tunsil (knee)
DE Cameron Wake (not injury related)

Brady (knee) and Gronkowski (ankle/back) both were limited participants in practice Wednesday. 

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who leads the NFL with seven interceptions, did not practice for a second straight day.

The Patriots will win the AFC East if they beat or tie the Dolphins.

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AFC Playoff Picture: Patriots' first-round bye still very much in play

AFC Playoff Picture: Patriots' first-round bye still very much in play

There's more than enough to negativity to go around in New England right now. But we'd like to offer a little optimism.

The Patriots slipped to the No. 3 seed in the AFC on Sunday after losing 17-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They still haven't clinched the AFC East and currently are on track to play on Wild Card weekend for the first time since 2009.

A first-round playoff bye still is very much in reach for New England, though -- especially after what we saw Sunday night.

The Philadelphia Eagles took down the NFC-leading Los Angeles Rams on the road on "Sunday Night Football," earning their third win in four games and keeping their playoff hopes alive.

And guess who they play at home next Sunday? The AFC No. 2 seed Houston Texans.

Here's a look at the AFC standings through Week 15 and the remaining schedules for each club:

STANDINGS
*1. Chiefs 11-3
2. Texans 10-4
3. Patriots 9-5
4. Steelers 8-5-1
*5. Chargers 11-3
6. Ravens 8-6
*Clinched postseason berth

IN THE HUNT
Colts 8-6
Titans 8-6
Dolphins 7-7
Browns 6-7-1

REMAINING SCHEDULES

Chiefs:at Seahawks, vs. Raiders

Texans: at Eagles, vs. Jaguars

Patriots: vs. Bills, vs. Jets

Steelers: at Saints, vs. Bengals

Chargers: vs. Ravens, at Broncos

Ravens: at Chargers, vs. Browns

The No. 1 seed is all but out of the question now, but if the Patriots can bounce back to beat Buffalo and New York at home (they're undefeated in Foxboro this season) they'll be the No. 3 seed at worst.

And if the Texans lose just one more game (to the Eagles next Sunday, perhaps?), New England would overtake them for the No. 2 seed thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker, which the Patriots own after beating Houston in Week 1.

The Texans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. But their 10-game win streak was snapped in Week 14, and they face a desperate Philly team in Week 16 that essentially needs a win to stay in the playoff hunt.

So, Patriots fans will have to swallow their pride next Sunday and pull for the team that handed them Super Bowl heartbreak in February.

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Why did Patriots' final drive stall? Tom Brady explains thought process

Why did Patriots' final drive stall? Tom Brady explains thought process

New England Patriots fans had seen this script before. But Tom Brady wrote an unusually depressing ending.

With the Patriots needing a touchdown to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers late in the fourth quarter Sunday at Heinz Field, Brady quickly marched his team into the red zone -- only to throw four straight incompletions that sealed New England's 17-10 loss.

Following an offensive holding penalty on the first incompletion, Brady took three consecutive shots to the end zone from the Steelers' 21-yard line -- two to Rob Gronkowski and one to Julian Edelman -- that were all heavily defended.

So, why didn't Brady try to hit a checkdown target on one of those throws instead of chucking it deep three times in a row? The Patriots quarterback explained himself Monday morning during an interview on WEEI's "Mut & Callahan" radio show.

"You're fighting a couple things at that point. You're fighting the clock," Brady responded. "It's hard to throw the ball in the field of play, because you're not sure if you're going to get another play off.

"Even though we may have gotten maybe a first down, we didn't have enough time. So, they kind of sensed the goal line, and I was just telling guys, 'Try to find a place for me to get the ball.'

" ... It's a tough play any way you cut it. They had a lot of guys looking at the ball and your guys are trying to run vertical. They played it well."

To Brady's point, New England didn't have any timeouts remaining and had just 33 seconds to work with on its final three plays, which would have made it challenging to complete a pass inbounds, run up to the line and spike the ball.

As WEEI.com's Ryan Hannable points out, though, Brady probably could have pulled it off on third down to make fourth down more manageable.

But the 41-year-old quarterback wasn't interested in second-guessing, again crediting the Steelers' defense for putting New England in a tough spot.

"Again, at the time we were fighting the clock because any completion in bounds you’re scrambling to run plays," Brady said. "We threw the ball out of the back of the end zone. It was a tough situation and it takes a big-time play to get out of that, and again I think they played it pretty well.”

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