Jacoby Brissett

Phillip Dorsett: "Somebody had to step up" following Josh Gordon suspension

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USA Today Sports

Phillip Dorsett: "Somebody had to step up" following Josh Gordon suspension

The Patriots made waves earlier this season when they traded with the Cleveland Browns to acquire troubled and talented wide receiver Josh Gordon.

The trade was either a success or a failure, depending on how you look at it.

Gordon came to the Patriots following their Week 2 loss in Jacksonville, at a time when the team was in desperate need of receivers amid Julian Edelman's four-game suspension to start the season.

Gordon's athletic ability was apparent: He made highlight-reel catches and racked up 40 receptions for 720 yards during his 11 games with New England.

Patriots receiver Phillip Dorsett, meanwhile, took a backseat to Gordon, and only had four receptions on four targets between Weeks 10 and 16.

This number is telling, however: While Dorsett has not been on the field as much as some would prefer, he has been very effective when targeted.

This season, Dorsett has caught 37 of his 50 targets for a catch rate of nearly 80 percent.

Dorsett made an acrobatic touchdown catch in the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs despite a pass interference call against the defense.

But Dorsett knew all along he would be called on at some point to step up, and with Super Bowl LIII a couple of days away and Gordon in the rearview mirror following his December suspension, the Patriots will be counting on Dorsett to step up in a big way.

“I would just say I knew I had to step up, Dorsett told reporters at his Tuesday press conference, Via Zack Cox of NESN. "Because in order for us to be here, somebody had to step up. I knew my opportunity was going to have to come. They were going to call on me, and I just had to step up. And I was prepared for it. I prepared the whole time for it when I wasn’t playing, and at the end of the day, I was ready for it."

Dorsett was acquired by the Patriots in a 2017 trade with the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for rookie backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

He has been a very reliable receiver for the Patriots in his time with the team, delivering strong performances when called upon.

The Patriots will need a strong performance out of Dorsett once again Sunday, if the team hopes to win its sixth Super Bowl against the Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

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The Jacoby Brissett trade isn't despised nearly enough

The Jacoby Brissett trade isn't despised nearly enough

Ben Volin reported recently that the Seahawks offered the Colts a second-round pick for Jacoby Brissett and got turned down. 

You can debate whether either side should have made that trade, but it's just another reminder that the Patriots probably shouldn't have made last season's Brissett trade to begin with. 

That's right, folks. It's time for Part We'll-Soon-Lose-Count of The Jacoby Brissett Trade Stunk series.

Brissett was entering his second season when the Pats dealt him to Indianapolis for third-year receiver Phillip Dorsett. It was an admission that the Pats didn't see Brissett amounting to anything, as there's no way the smartest personnel guy in the league (Bill Belichick) would move a promising young quarterback with cheap years ahead of him for a speedy but unproductive receiver. 

But that's what happened, as Brissett's so-so sophomore season under center for the Colts boosted his stock enough that at least one team out there offered a second-round pick to land him. Think anyone's offering a second-round pick for Dorsett after his 12-reception season with the Pats? 

We question the Jimmy Garoppolo trade for good reason. A second-round pick for a 26-year-old starting quarterback is a dreadful return, but we've been over that enough. We don't spend nearly enough time on the Brissett trade. 

Even if the Pats weren't enamored with Brissett -- and clearly they weren't -- was a struggling receiver the best they could do? Brissett's stock was probably higher this offseason after starting for a year and there was no shot Brissett was going to start for the Pats. Still, it's not like Brissett tore it up in Indy -- he had 13 touchdowns and seven picks -- so it's conceivable that the Seahawks (or another interested party) might have been willing to part with at least the third-round pick the Pats initially spent on the QB. 

So, let's say the Pats didn't make that trade with the Colts (and also chose against cutting Brissett, which might have also been on the table). As you probably remember, they still had Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster at the time. They probably still would have traded Garoppolo, as they seemingly were uninterested in franchising Jimmy G at the end of his rookie deal. 

That would mean they would probably still have Brissett -- barring some other trade -- and would not have Dorsett or Brian Hoyer. Who knows, though? Maybe Indianapolis would have released Dorsett by now. He was drafted by their previous regime and at best was tracking to be the team's No. 3 receiver behind T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. 

Had the Pats kept Brissett, they would have had peace of mind regarding the future of the quarterback position in the final years (or perhaps year) of Tom Brady's career. That's more valuable than Dorsett if his production is anything like what it was last season. 

And even if they didn't love Brissett, a tradeable piece that could get you a mid-round pick or early pick is still a better asset than Dorsett. Brissett could very well never amount to anything, but if the same goes for Dorsett, the Pats will have lost that trade just based on what else they could have gotten for the quarterback. 

It isn't that the Patriots shouldn't have traded Brissett. Bill Belichick knows that roster better than any of us. Where he went wrong is the return for the young quarterback. The Pats did that twice last season. 

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Osweiler carries Broncos over Colts

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Osweiler carries Broncos over Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler played like a relaxed reliever on Thursday.

He couldn't have picked a better time.

With Paxton Lynch inactive and Trevor Siemian out after two series, Osweiler trotted onto the field, ran for one touchdown and threw for two more to lead the Broncos past Indianapolis 25-13 for their first road win of the season.

"I was just a little kid having fun tonight," Osweiler said. "That's really what it was. I've been on a little bit of a rollercoaster ride for about two years. Just to go out there, Thursday Night Football, with my teammates, I was just having fun."

The difference was obvious.

Osweiler played more like the guy Denver (5-9) took in the second round of the 2012 draft and the guy Broncos fans remember filling in for the injured Peyton Manning during the 2015 Super Bowl season.

He wound up 12 of 17 with 194 yards and no turnovers and ran for an 18-yard TD, too. C.J. Anderson ran 30 times for a season-high 158 yards.

Denver may need Osweiler to keep playing this way a couple more times after Siemian was diagnosed with a sprained left shoulder. Coach Vance Joseph couldn't say whether he'd have his starting quarterback against Washington.

If Siemian can't go, Osweiler may get another shot.

"He played with great poise," Joseph said. "He played great, clean football and it led to a win."

That's two wins in five days - and the Broncos' first outside the Mile High City since Dec. 4, 2016. The victory assures Denver of avoiding its first winless season on the road since 1964.

But it sure wasn't easy, and at times, it was downright rugged.

Siemian was taken to the locker room after being driven into the ground by Colts linebacker Barkevious Mingo late in the first quarter.

A much scarier scene played out with 14:01 left in the second when Denver linebacker Deiontrez Mount appeared to make helmet-to-helmet contact with Colts tight end Brandon Williams on punt protection. Williams was knocked over backward and stayed on the ground as trainers and doctors strap him to a backboard and removed his facemask.

When Williams was lifted onto a cart, his teammates came over to offer support.

Coach Chuck Pagano said Williams had a concussion and had returned to the team's training room after initially being taken to a local hospital.

"We erred on the side of caution and, rightfully so, taking care of him," Pagano said. "But he's back here, he's doing well."

Indianapolis' struggles continue, though. The Colts (3-11) have lost five straight, the longest skid in Pagano's six-year tenure, and will post their first losing season at home since 2011.

The game pretty much went as expected.

Jacoby Brissett scored on a 7-yard run and Adam Vinatieri gave Indy a 10-0 lead with a 45-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. All Indy could muster the rest of the night was a 39-yard field goal early in the third.

Osweiler, meanwhile, rallied the Broncos.

His touchdown run just before halftime made it 10-7. He gave Denver the lead with a 22-yard TD pass to Cody Latimer with 4:16 left in the third and then added a 54-yard TD strike to Jeff Heuerman to make it 22-13 following a 2-point conversion toss to Latimer.

"We had a really good rhythm offensively and we were able to mix the run and the pass," Osweiler said. "I was going to lay it all out there."

KEY NUMBERS

Broncos: Osweiler's TD pass to Heuerman ended the team's 18-game regular-season streak without a play of 50 more yards. ... Emanuel Sanders had seven catches for 68 yards and Demaryius Thomas had five catches for 69 yards.

Colts: Brissett was 17 of 30 with 158 yards and was sacked once. ... Indy had 228 yards in offense. ... T.Y. Hilton caught five passes for 41 yards.

GORED

Colts running back Frank Gore added another milestone on a night it looked like he might not finish the game.

The 34-year-old running back left during the second quarter with a knee injury. But when he returned in the second half, he quickly became the second player in league history to post 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 12 consecutive seasons. Only Emmitt Smith (13) has more.

INJURY REPORT

Broncos: With the exception of Siemian, Denver stayed relatively healthy. The only other significant concern was an ankle injury that didn't allow Sanders to finish the game.

Colts: In addition to Williams, the Colts lost right tackle Denzelle Good (knee) and linebackers Jeremiah George (neck) and Jon Bostic (knee) in the second half.

UP NEXT

Broncos: Play their road finale Dec. 24 at Washington.

Colts: Head to Baltimore on Dec. 23 in their final road game of the season.