Patriots

Turning Point: No apparent weakness as Patriots get Sam Darnold to see ghosts early

Turning Point: No apparent weakness as Patriots get Sam Darnold to see ghosts early

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- The "Turning Point" in the Week 7 matchup between the Jets and Patriots might've actually happened on Thursday. That's when Sam Darnold confidently stated that his offense would find the weakness in the Patriots defense and hammer away at it on Monday Night Football. 

Patriots players heard it. They didn't appreciate it. The second-year quarterback -- who was stating what the Jets and all offenses around the league try to do on a weekly basis -- ended up having his comments used as the centerpiece of Devin McCourty's pregame speech.

That might've been all the Patriots needed to make sure that they wouldn't overlook the Jets coming off of their first win of the season the week prior. After a 16-play offensive drive that resulted in the Patriots taking a 7-0 lead, the Patriots defense was on the field for just two snaps before Darnold threw one to McCourty, giving the Patriots the football at the home team's 16-yard line.

That pick, which led to a field goal and continued a run of 33 unanswered points in New England's rout of their division rival, is what we'll call the Turning Point. It was early, sure. But this one was over early. It fits. 

The Patriots showed an all-out blitz on a second-and-eight snap from the Jets 10-yard line. Aggressive, but that's what they did early on to Darnold's former teammate Luke Falk to get him flustered back in Week 3. The Patriots ended up dropping Duron Harmon from the line of scrimmage and into the short middle of the field to make it a six-man rush. Still, Darnold felt the heat. 

Both Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower came through the line unchecked, and Darnold flipped a pass toward the boundary in the direction of slot man Jamison Crowder. Darnold knew that Crowder was in one-on-one coverage -- with no safety in the middle of the field, the Patriots were in Cover-0, which is a man-to-man look -- but he didn't anticipate McCourty falling off his man to jump the route and make the pick. Because McCourty knew there was going to be pressure on Darnold early, he knew the ball had to come out quickly, and he capitalized. 

The Patriots continued to vary their pressure packages throughout the remainder of the game, toying with Darnold's mind. After throwing a pick to Harmon in the second quarter, Darnold came to the Jets sideline and admitted he was seeing "ghosts." On the Harmon pick, his second of four on the night, Darnold wasn't really pressured. The Patriots brought five, but he had a pocket from which to throw and didn't step up or into it. Multiple Darnold interceptions on the night came on throws off his back foot. 

Bill Belichick and his defense are 20-0 in their last 20 games against first or second-year quarterbacks. They held Darnold to 11-for-30 passing for 86 yards (a 2.9 yards per attempt average), four picks and a 5.6 quarterback rating. They'll see second-year passers Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson in the next two weeks. 

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Patriots release statement in response to Bengals' videotaping allegations

Patriots release statement in response to Bengals' videotaping allegations

The New England Patriots have released an official statement in response to the Cincinnati Bengals' allegations of videotaping their sideline.

The statement explains that a three-person video crew was sent to Cleveland for the Bengals-Browns game to film a feature on the Pats scouting department for Patriots.com's "Do Your Job" series.

The Patriots acknowledge that their failure to inform the Bengals of the taping was an "unintended oversight" and admit the video crew unknowingly broke league rules by filming the field from the press box. They also echoed head coach Bill Belichick's statement that the team is independent of the production crew.

Curran: Separating fact from fiction of NFL investigation into Patriots

Read the full statement below:

The NFL currently is investigating the matter, but this appears to be a giant misunderstanding based on what Belichick and the Patriots organization had to say.

The Patriots (10-3) will visit the Bengals (1-12) for their Week 15 matchup on Sunday.

Curran: Pats' resilience has to be their go-to going forward>>>

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Tom Brady addresses boos from Patriots fans: 'They have every right'

Tom Brady addresses boos from Patriots fans: 'They have every right'

It had been quite a while since the Gillette Stadium crowd booed their beloved New England Patriots. After all, the Pats rode a 21-game home win streak into Sunday's game vs. the Kansas CIty Chiefs.

But the boos were loud and clear at the end of the first half with the offensive sputtering and the Patriots trailing 20-7. In his Monday appearance on Westwood One with Jim Gray, quarterback Tom Brady shared his thoughts on the harsh reaction from the fans in Foxboro.

"Well that's part of being in sports is everybody's got a chance to cheer you or boo you," Brady told Gray. "There's been plenty of times where they've been cheering us and again, you take the good with the bad. They have every right to boo when we're not playing the way that we're capable.

"For me, I'm focused on what I've got to do to go in there and do a better job. We've been through it before, it won't be the last time and that's OK it doesn't hurt our feelings."

Does Brady hear the boos?

"Yeah, you have 70,000 people out there. It's pretty loud," Brady said with a laugh. "But, you know, that's what fans do."

If anyone understands the lofty expectations that come with playing in New England, it's No. 12.

The Patriots will visit the Cincinnati Bengals for their Week 15 matchup, so fortunately they won't have to worry about the boo birds from their own fans on Sunday. If they return home after falling to a 1-12 team, however, that'll be a different story.

Belichick responds to Bengals' videotaping allegations>>>

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