Ravens

Belichick not impressed by blowout win over Texans

Belichick not impressed by blowout win over Texans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) To hear Bill Belichick glumly address reporters on Monday, you'd think the Houston Texans blew New England out in the regular season - and not the other way around.

``There were several things in that game that went our way, but I don't think that's really that significant at this point,'' the Patriots coach said in a conference call. ``I don't think you can overanalyze that game.''

The Patriots beat the Texans 42-14 on Dec. 10, when Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes. The Patriots led 28-0 midway through the second quarter and held Arian Foster to 46 yards on 15 carries.

Still, Belichick did his best to dismiss any comparison between that game and the second-round playoff game on Sunday that will determine a berth in the AFC championship game.

``I don't think anybody cares right now whether he gained 145 yards or 45 yards,'' Belichick said of Foster. ``It's more about what we have to do as a defense to handle the plays that they run. ... The stats and the score and all that, I don't think anybody really cares about that.''

Houston lost three of its last four regular-season games to cede the No. 2 seed and the playoff bye to the Patriots. But the Texans beat the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 in the opening round of the playoffs to earn a rematch in New England.

Offensive lineman Logan Mankins said keeping the team from getting overconfident is one of Belichick's strengths.

``He's great at serving up humble pie,'' Mankins said on WEEI. ``I don't think Bill's overlooked any team ever. You know he's going to have us working hard this week and trying to get ready.''

Quarterback Tom Brady said in his weekly radio appearance on Monday that the Dec. 10 game won't have any bearing on what happens Sunday.

``It was a big win for our season; it was a big win at that time,'' he said during his weekly radio appearance on WEEI. ``But this game is going to be entirely different, and I think we've got to be able to put just as much preparation into the game as we did before.''

Brady said Belichick is sure to bring up the 2010 season, when the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3 in December in Foxborough but - despite having the NFL's best record - lost to them in the playoffs. The Patriots weren't overconfident; they just played badly, Brady said.

``I'm sure Coach will talk about that this week,'' he said. ``I think that's a great example. The reason we lost that game wasn't because we beat them, whatever, four weeks before. It was because we (stunk) in the game.''

Mankins said the loss to the Jets was a learning experience that should eliminate any danger of the Patriots becoming overconfident.

``We're definitely not taking this team lightly,'' he said. ``We know they're very good.

``If you've been around long enough and played enough teams multiple times in a season, you know the second time is always tough. They know you and you know them. They're going to know you're tendencies, you know theirs. The second time around is usually a dogfight. It's always a lot closer than the first game.''

The Patriots missed tight end Rob Gronkowski for the December game. But the Texans were also depleted by injuries: starting tackle Derek Newton, tight end Garrett Graham and linebacker Brooks Reed all sat out. But they played in the postseason win against the Bengals, and should be ready for this weekend.

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Lamar Jackson makes history with career day in win over the Bengals

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Lamar Jackson makes history with career day in win over the Bengals

BALTIMORE — Lamar Jackson set the tone for Sunday’s game on the Ravens' first drive of the afternoon. 

He rushed just twice, one of which went for a touchdown, but had 57 yards on the game-tying opening drive. 

Jackson finished with 152 yards on the ground — a career high — to carry the Ravens to a 23-17 win over the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. 

“I take advantage, like I said before, and I’m trying to win at the end of the day,” Jackson said after the game. “If I’ve got to run, I’ve got to do it and today that’s what it was. Sometimes I had to pass. Sometimes I had to run.”

He did throw for 236 yards and completed 21 of 33 passes, too. But the story was his legs, which kept the Bengals off-balance all day.

“Lamar was able to get out and run because of the way they were playing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They were playing kind of spill defense. They really didn’t want us to run the ball up inside with our running backs, and that opened up some other things."

Jackson now has 460 rushing yards on the season and is on pace for over 1,200. He’s also on pace for just over 4,000 passing yards.

His dual-threat ability has flummoxed nearly every team the Ravens have played this season. Jackson has had over 300 scrimmage yards in all but one (last week in against the Steelers) of the Ravens' games. 

“That’s the most frustrating thing for a defense,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “You have a play covered, and he’s an elite athlete. We’ve played a couple of good athletes. He’s one of the rarest I’ve seen in person. Just one little crease and he’s got 30 yards on you.”

Cincinnati sold out to stop the interior run, and Jackson and the rest of the Baltimore running attack burned the Bengals on the outside. 

Jackson’s elusiveness was never more evident than on the Ravens' last full drive of the game. The Ravens received the ball with 13:32 left in the fourth quarter and a 20-10 lead. They didn’t give the ball back to the Bengals until there was just over three minutes to play.

“I catch myself on the sideline stretching because, you know, they’ll be holding the ball for a minute and we’ve got to stay warm,” Matthew Judon said. “He picks us up in crucial times and keeps getting first downs. It’s hard, man. You can’t cover everybody and keep a spy on him [at] all times.”

The nine minute, 46 second drive, highlighted by a 16-yard Jackson scramble on 3rd and 14, put away any realistic chance the Bengals had of pulling off an upset.

It capped off a historic day for Jackson and his place in the NFL record books. He became the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 150 yards and register at least 200 yards passing in a regular season game.

The Bengals sold out to stop interior rushes and mostly took away big passing plays from the Ravens. Jackson just made the Bengals pick their poison when it came to choosing what to stop. 

And Jackson made Cincinnati realized that whatever it chose was still poison.

“He was cutting it back, throwing outside and running around,” Bengals linebacker Preston Brown said. “He was just having fun on us, and that’s what you never want to have done.”

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From intelligence to 'work of art' route running, Terry McLaurin displayed it all in Miami

From intelligence to 'work of art' route running, Terry McLaurin displayed it all in Miami

Terry McLaurin's first touchdown against the Dolphins on Sunday wasn't just the result of one well-executed play.

Instead, it combined intelligent film study, superb route running and excellent speed, three of the qualities that McLaurin has shown off all season long as he's establishing himself as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate and one of the best picks in the 2019 Draft.

Earlier in the week, the 24-year-old saw Amari Cooper run a similar route versus Miami — one that starts off looking like a crosser before a change of direction turns it into a dash to the corner — and he took note of how the defender tried to undercut it. So, he know if he sold the crosser well, he'd break free once he planted his foot in the ground.

It's one step to put in that work, though. It's a whole other step to actually carry it out on the field. But that's what McLaurin did in Week 6, and it ended up as one absolutely tremendous highlight in an overall impressive afternoon.

No. 17 would go on to find the end zone a second time in the contest, as well as secure an important, long catch late that got the Redskins off of their own goal line. After the win, the team's first in six tries as well as the first of McLaurin's pro career, he was asked if he's surprised by how effective he's been.

"Not really," he said. "I want to be a guy you can come to on third down, the clutch situations, press man. I want to develop into that."

While at the postgame podium, Bill Callahan described the way McLaurin gets open as a "work of art." Case Keenum was just as complimentary.

"He's friendly on the eyes as a QB," Keenum told reporters. "Just the body language he gives in and out of breaks, I know where he's going to be at all times."

In five contests for the Burgundy and Gold, the wideout has 23 catches for 408 yards. He's averaging 17.7 yards a grab and has nabbed five scores. He's beating guys deep, he's beating guys over the middle and he's beating the guys in contested situations.

Yet the trait everyone keeps coming back to, from coaches to teammates to analysts, fans, is his route running. Callahan comparing it to art wasn't a stretch, and Keenum calling him "friendly on the eyes" is deserved. It's top-notch already. 

It's something McLaurin takes a ton of pride in, too.

"I think that's what separates good receivers from great receivers," he said. 

Now, the Redskins' Week 6 victory over the Dolphins was far from flawless. In fact, if it weren't for a dropped ball on a two-point conversion attempt, it very well could've been another loss. 

But while fans of the franchise may not take much comfort in the final score, they should find time to appreciate what McLaurin is doing. 

He's not just an emerging star in the organization, he's an emerging star in the entire sport, and covering his rookie campaign has been a treat so far. Well, for everyone covering him except opposing defenders, of course.

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