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AFC Championship preview: Patriots at Broncos

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 19, 2014 06:00 AM

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have an opportunity to guide the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl berth together while trying to realize their fourth championship, a journey that has now spanned nine years since claiming their last title.

With the opportunity to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII on the line, all that stands in Brady and Belichick’s way is Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Denver Broncos, a team that has put together a record-breaking offense featuring an array of playmakers who have caused fits for opponents.

Patriots vs. Broncos: How they match up

Patriots-Broncos predictions But this is a game hyped for its two popular quarterbacks and the history they share.

Brady is 10-4 all-time against Manning, with Brady victorious in his last three games against the Denver quarterback. However the last time these two faced off with a Super Bowl berth on the line, Manning, then with the Indianapolis Colts, was the one who came away victorious, winning 38-34.

Denver has the top-ranked offense in the NFL, breaking the 2007 Patriots' record for most points in a season with 606, including 76 touchdowns (just one more than the ’07 Patriots). And the Broncos feature five players who scored 10 or more touchdowns in the regular season, breaking the previous NFL mark of three.

Manning was particularly stellar, passing for a record 55 touchdowns (breaking Brady’s record of 50) and 5,477 yards.

“I don’t really think about those things truthfully,” Brady told members of the press earlier in the week. “It’s just not where my mind is. He’s a great player, they’ve got a great team and one of the best offenses in history. I think what that means for us is we'd better be ready to score some points, because that’s what they do best. They outscore you and they can score quickly, they can run the ball like they did against us last time.”

Belichick and Denver coach John Fox have their own history as well, with Belichick leading his counterpart, 6-1. Belichick bested Fox while he was with the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

It is those matchup numbers that speak to a favorable outcome for the Patriots, who are 7-2 all-time in AFC Championship games. Manning, for his part, acknowledges that preparing for Belichick teams are some of his toughest games.

“It’s certainly a great challenge when you play against teams coached by Bill Belichick,” Manning said. “That goes back to my first couple of years when he was the defensive coordinator with the Jets, and then he gets the head job with the Patriots. His teams, his defenses when he was coordinator, like I said, [are] always well-coached, always well-disciplined, and you know it’s going to be a 60-minute fight.”

Manning helped guide the Broncos to a 24-point lead over the Patriots in Week 12 before seeing Brady and the Patriots chip away in the second half before walking away with a 34-31 loss on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal in overtime. The Broncos ran for 280 yards, with running back Knowshon Moreno tallying 224 yards on 37 carries. Patriots receiver Julian Edelman caught nine passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski caught seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.

But things have changed for both teams. The Patriots won’t have Gronkowski to help them over the middle of the field. Neither will they have linebacker Brandon Spikes to help stop the run game. It won’t be 22-degree weather (with a wind chill of 7) to affect game conditions. Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (65 receptions, 788 yards, 12 touchdowns) is back from a knee injury. Denver has lost linebacker Von Miller (torn ACL) and cornerback Chris Harris (torn ACL). All of that makes Sunday’s game a tossup with the Lamar Hunt trophy on the line.

Here are the details:

Kickoff: 3:05 p.m.

Records: Patriots 12-4 regular season (1-0 postseason); Broncos 13-3 regular season (1-0 postseason).

TV, radio: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak), Westwood One (Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts, Tim Ryan), Univision radio (Raul Stricker, Jr., Joaquin Duro).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

Patriots offense: WR Kenbrell Thompkins, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Danny Amendola.

Patriots defense: LE Rob Ninkovich, DT Sealver Siliga, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Dane Fletcher, LB Jamie Collins, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Broncos offense: WR Demaryius Thomas, LT Chris Clark, LG Zane Beadles, C Manny Ramirez, RG Louis Vasquez, RT Orlando Franklin, TE Julius Thomas, WR Eric Decker, WR Wes Welker, QB Peyton Manning, RB Knowshon Moreno.

Broncos defense: LDE Malik Jackson, DT Sylvester Williams, NT Terrance Knighton, RDE Shaun Phillips, SLB Nate Irving, MLB Wesley Woodyard, WLB Danny Trevathan, LCB Champ Bailey, RCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, SS Duke Ihenacho, FS Mike Adams.

Stay connected

- Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Preview: Patriots vs. Colts

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 11, 2014 03:13 AM

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Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be looking to make a run at their sixth Super Bowl starting Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. (Lynne Sladky / AP photo)

By Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots will open postseason play against the Indianapolis Colts Saturday, the start of another hopeful Super Bowl run for the NFL’s most experienced active head coach and playoff quarterback.

Bill Belichick, in his 39th season, will be seeking his 19th postseason victory against the Colts, a team that is led by the second-year tandem of head coach Chuck Pagano and quarterback Andrew Luck. The two are 0-1 against the Patriots, losing big last season in a regular season matchup, 59-24.

This Colts team has grown since that time.

“I think you’d have to say we’ve made progress,” Pagano told New England reporters. “Again, we’ve had some really good wins, and then we’ve had some disappointing losses this season. But the one thing that this group has done, and I think it’s because of players like Andrew and our veteran leadership, guys like Robert [Mathis] and Reggie [Wayne], even though Reggie’s been out since the Denver game, and Antoine Bethea and Adam Vinatieri and Cory Redding and all those guys. We’ve got great vets in the locker room, and whether it’s a big win or a disappointing loss, they’ve been sticking to the process and put it behind them and move on to the next game. So from that standpoint we’ve matured, and guys have a better understanding of what we want to get done in all three phases.”

The Patriots will have to go ahead without rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson. Dobson, who was seen in a walking boot this week, was ruled out Friday with a foot injury.

New England has played four games without Dobson this season, winning three of those contests. It’ll be another opportunity for top receivers Julian Edelman (105 receptions, 1056 yards) and Danny Amendola (54 receptions, 633 yards) as well as fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins (32 receptions, 466 yards), who was listed as questionable with a hip injury, to make their mark.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder) was listed as questionable while nine other Patriots players were listed as probable.

The Colts, coming off a stunning 45-44 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round, will be working without one of their top receivers as well. Darius Heyward-Bey was ruled out on Friday after missing the entire week of practice with a hamstring injury. Four other players, including safety LaRon Landry and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, were listed as probable.

This is the fourth time Brady has faced the Colts in the playoffs, winning two of three times. He’s 10-4 against Indianapolis all-time. Brady will be looking for his 18th playoff win. His 17 postseason victories are the most in NFL history for a starting quarterback.

Here are the details for the game:

Kickoff: 8:15 p.m.

Records: Patriots 12-4 regular season; Colts 11-5 regular season (1-0 postseason).

TV, radio: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf, Allie LaForce); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak); Westwood One (Ian Eagle, Trent Green, Tony Boselli).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

Patriots offense: WR Kenbrell Thompkins, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Danny Amendola.

Patriots defense: LE Rob Ninkovich, DT Sealver Siliga, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Dane Fletcher, LB Jamie Collins, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Colts offense: WR T.Y. Hilton, LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Hugh Thornton, C Samson Satale, RG Jeff Linkenbach, RT Gosder Cherilus, TE Coby Fleener, WR Da’Rick Rogers, QB Andrew Luck, FB Stanley Havili, RB Donald Brown.

Colts defense: DE Cory Redding, NT Aubrayo Franklin, DT Ricky Jean Francois, SLB Erik Walden, MLB Kelvin Sheppard, WLB Jerrell Freeman, RUSH Robert Mathis, LCB Darius Butler, SS Antoine Bethea, FS LaRon Landry, RCB Vontae Davis.

Get linked

- Which Patriots CB should be matched up on Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton? Well, Erik Frenz examined that very issue.

- As the Patriots face the Colts Saturday evening, see what play the Patriots are most likely going to run with our play-predictor.

- Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 16 preview: Bills at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 29, 2013 08:45 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- When the Patriots close out the regular season on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, their sights will be set on a first-round playoff bye.

With a win against the Bills (6-9), the Patriots will guarantee themselves a first-round bye and put the team in contention for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. They need the win and the Denver Broncos to fall to the Oakland Raiders to make that happen, though.

The Patriots beat the Bills 23-21 in the season opener with Stephen Gostkowski making a 35-yard game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

Tom Brady is 11-0 against the Bills at Gillette Stadium and the Patriots have won 19 of their past 20 games against Buffalo. Bill Belichick is 24-3 vs. the Bills while with the Patriots.

The Bills will be without starting quarterback E.J. Manuel, who has a knee injury. Backup Thad Lewis will get the start. He is 2-2 as a starter this season for the Bills.

Buffalo will also be without wide receiver Stevie Johnson (not injury related) and safety Aaron Williams (ribs).

The Patriots will make do without wide receiver Josh Boyce (ankle) while safety Devin McCourty (concussion) is listed as doubtful. McCourty has not practiced all week.

Here are the details for the game:

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

Records: Patriots 11-4; Bills 6-9.

TV, radio: CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

Patriots offense: WR Aaron Dobson, LT Logan Mankins, LG Josh Kline, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Danny Amendola.

Patriots defense: LE Rob Ninkovich, DT Sealver Siliga, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Jamie Collins, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Duron Harmon, S Steve Gregory.

Bills offense: WR Robert Woods, LT Cordy Glenn, LG Doug Legursky, C Eric Wood, RG Kraig Urbik, RT Erik Pears, TE Scott Chandler, QB Thad Lewis, RB Fred Jackson, FB Frank Summers, WR TJ Graham.

Bills defense: DE Alan Branch, DT Kyle Williams, DT Marcell Dareus, DE Mario Williams, SLB Manny Lawson, MLB Kiko Alonso, WLB Nigel Bradham, LCB Leodis McKelvin, SS Aaron Williams, FS Jairus Byrd, RCB Stephon Gilmore.

Get linked

- Here are the Week 17 playoff scenarios for the Patriots and the rest of the NFL.

- Erik Frenz scouted the Bills in Going Deep. He also writes that the Patriots should feed Stevan Ridley vs. the Bills.

- Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 15 preview: Patriots at Ravens

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 22, 2013 05:00 AM

The Patriots have an opportunity to exorcise some demons in Baltimore, facing a team that has bounced them from the playoffs two of the last four years and has taken two of the last three games in this rivalry.

Coming off a 24-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots can still clinch the AFC East with a win against the Ravens. But a loss is not a death blow. With a little help, particularly a Cincinnati loss to Minnesota, the Patriots can finally lock up a playoff spot.

There's also the possibility of getting a first-round bye with a win and some help. But the Patriots (10-4) have to go through a Ravens (8-6) team that has won four straight games, including a compelling 18-16 victory over the Detroit Lions last week on a game-winning 61-yard field goal by Justin Tucker.

The Ravens defense, the heart of the Ravens, has shown remarkable resolve despite notable departures from last season's Super Bowl team. Top rookie Matt Elam (61 tackles, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries) has taken over the free safety position and Daryl Smith has taken over the middle linebacker position (107 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 3 interceptions) in place of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. They've helped this team become the seventh ranked run defense (102.4 yards allowed per game) and 13th ranked pass defense (231.6 yards allowed per game). They've improved so much over the course of the season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said they appeared to be in championship form.

"They look like the championship team that they are," he said. "It will be a big challenge for us down there in Baltimore. [They're] playing well, they've made a lot of key plays at the end of the games when they needed to make them, on offense, defense, special teams -- whether it be kicks returned, stops, scores, moving the ball into field goal range -- whatever it happens to be. They've made a lot of consistent big plays and they're playing real well right now. It's a good football team. It will be a good test for us down there."

Elvis Dumervil, a key part of the Ravens' pass rushing attack, is questionable with an ankle injury. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is also questionable for Sunday's game with a knee injury. But he's expected to play with a brace over his knee.

The Patriots will have to go without rookie wide receiver Josh Boyce, who suffered an ankle injury last week against the Dolphins. Wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) is questionable to play. Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) was ruled out Saturday.

Here are the details for the game:

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

Records: Patriots 10-4; Ravens 8-6.

TV, radio: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Sports USA (Larry Kahn, Ross Tucker, Troy West).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

Patriots offense: WR Aaron Dobson, LT Logan Mankins, LG Josh Kline, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Danny Amendola.

Patriots defense: LE Rob Ninkovich, DT Sealver Siliga, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Jamie Collins, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Ravens offense: WR Torrey Smith, WR Jacoby Jones, LT Eugene Monroe, LG A.Q. Shipley, C Gino Gradkowski, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Michael Oher, TE Dennis Pitta, QB Joe Flacco, FB Vonta Leach, RB Ray Rice.

Ravens defense: DT Arthur Jones, NT Haloti Ngati, DE Chris Canty, OLB Terrell Suggs, WLB Jameel McClain, MLB Daryl Smith, SLB Courtney Upshaw, LCB Lardarius Webb, SS James Ihedigbo, FS Matt Elam, RCB Jimmy Smith.

Get linked

- Erik Frenz scouts the Ravens in Going Deep.

- My Week 16 NFL picks.

- Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 14 preview: Patriots at Dolphins

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 15, 2013 06:00 AM

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – In addition to being without tight end Rob Gronkowski for the remainder of the season, the Patriots will have to play Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins without wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson.

Both were downgraded to out Saturday evening. Thompkins, a Miami native, also missed last week's game with a hip injury. Dobson has missed the past two games with a foot injury.

The team will have only five wide receivers available, including Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce, Austin Collie, and Matthew Slater.

The Patriots (10-3) face the Dolphins (7-6) with a chance to clinch the AFC East title with a win, New England's fifth straight division title. But Miami has won four of its last six games, including last week's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-28, in the snow.

The weather will be much different setting than what either team has seen in the last week, though, with temperatures at Sun Life stadium expected to hit a high of 85 degrees. Scattered thunderstorms are expected in the region, with a 30 percent chance of rain in the afternoon.

Here are the details for the game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 10-3; Dolphins 7-6.

TV, radio: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Westwood One Sports (Tom McCarthy, Rod Woodson).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

Patriots offense: WR Kenbrell Thompkins, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Will Svitek, TE Matthew Mulligan, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, FB James Develin.

Patriots defense: LE Rob Ninkovich, DT Joe Vellano, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Jamie Collins, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Dolphins offense: WR Brian Hartline, LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Nate Garner, C Mike Pouncey, RG John Jerry, RT Tyson Clabo, WR Mike Wallace, WR Rishard Matthews, QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Lamar Miller.

Dolphins defense: LE Cameron Wake, DT Jared Odrick, DT Paul Soliai, RE Olivier Vernon, LB Philip Wheeler, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB Koa Misi, CB Brent Grimes, CB nolan Carroll, S Chris Clemons, S Reshad Jones.

Get linked

- Erik Frenz details how Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is becoming the jewel of the 2012 NFL draft class. He also has this week's scouting report on the Dolphins.

- My Week 15 NFL picks.

- Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 13 preview: Browns at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 8, 2013 10:35 AM

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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who has caught 64 passes for 1,249 yards this season, will be a player to watch. (David Richard / AP photo)

FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots can clinch the AFC East today with a win against the Cleveland Browns and a little help.

For the Patriots to take their fifth straight division title, they need a Miami Dolphins loss or tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots can clinch a playoff spot with a Baltimore Ravens loss or tie against the Minnesota Vikings.

FULL ENTRY

Game 12 preview: Patriots at Texans

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 1, 2013 09:06 AM

HOUSTON – The Patriots will have to keep their wits about them on Sunday, facing an opponent that hasn't won in nine straight games and is desperate to pull off an upset.

"We’re too familiar with the feeling after a loss this year," said Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. "After the game and on Monday, you’re extremely frustrated. You’re upset, you’re angry. And then Tuesday is kind of a transition day, I mean for myself, I can only speak for myself. The frustration and anger continues, but then as the day goes on you have to move on to the next week, because the negativity is not going to get you anywhere. You have to come back to work, and you have to put your best foot forward and give it everything you have for that next week, and so by the time Wednesday rolls around, you start that next practice week. You have to be fully locked in and focused, and that’s the way that we approach it and that’s the way that I approach it, is put every single thing that I have into the game plan this week and into practice and into the film study and the weight room, and then go out there on Sunday and give it everything you got."

The Texans (2-9) have lost six of their last nine games by an average of 3.6 points, giving credence to the notion their record belies the team's talent.

"I think that the football team looks a lot like last year’s football team," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "They’re very, very good on defense. They have a lot of good players. They’re very disruptive up front."

The Patriots (8-3) have a 3-1 record against the Texans in the regular season, including last season's 42-14 win at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots followed that with a 41-28 win over the Texans in the postseason last year.

Here are the details for the game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 8-3; Texans 2-9.

TV, radio: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Sports USA (Larry Kahn, Ross Tucker).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Will Svitek, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Kenbrell Thompkins.

Patriots defense: DT Joe Vellano, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Jamie Collins, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Texans offense: WR Andre Johnson, LT Duane Brown, LG Wade Smith, C Chris Myers, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Derek Newton, TE Garrett Graham, WR DeAndre Hopkins, QB Case Keenum, FB Greg Jones, RB Ben Tate.

Texans defense: DE J.J. Watt, NT Earl Mitchell, DE Antonio Smith, SLB Brooks Reed, MLB Darryl Sharpton, MLB Joe Mays, WLB Whitney Mercilus, LCB Kareem Jackson, RCB Johnathan Joseph, SS D.J. Swearinger, FS Shiloh Keo.

Get linked

- Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 11 preview: Broncos at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 24, 2013 12:00 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady is 9-4 all-time when facing a Peyton Manning quarterbacked team, including 7-3 in the regular season.

However, Brady is 4-6 all-time against the Denver Broncos and 3-5 against the Broncos in the regular season. He'll get an opportunity to improve upon those numbers Sunday night as the two veteran quarterbacks and division-leading teams square off in a nationally televised game.

Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, despite suffering a concussion last week, is expected to play in his first trip back to Foxborough. He played six seasons with the Patriots before unceremoniously signing with Denver as a free agent last summer.

The Patriots will have their night cut out for them against the Broncos' passing offense, which leads the NFL. The Broncos are throwing 350 yards a game. Manning has an NFL leading 34 touchdown passes. Meanwhile, four of their five core Patriots defensive backs are dealing with injuries. Aqib Talib (hip), Kyle Arrington (groin), Alfonzo Dennard (knee), and Steve Gregory (thumb) are all listed as questionable. Only Dennard is not expected to play.

The Patriots cut running back Leon Washington and signed defensive back Justin Green from the practice squad to provide depth in the secondary.

Here are the details for the game:

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m.

Records: Patriots 7-3; Broncos 9-1.

TV, radio: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Westwood One Radio (Kevin Kugler, James Lofton, Hub Arkush).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Aaron Dobson, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE James Develin.

Patriots defense: DT Joe Vellano, NT Isaac Sopoaga, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Broncos offense: WR Demaryius Thomas, LT Chris Clark, LG Zane Beadles, C Manny Ramirez, RG Louis Vasquez, RT Orlando Franklin, TE Julius Thomas, WR Eric Decker, WR Wes Welker, QB Peyton Manning, RB Knowshon Moreno.

Broncos defense: LDE Derek Wolfe, DT Kevin Vickerson, NT Terrance Knighton, RDE Shaun Phillips, SLB Von Miller, MLB Wesley Woodyard, WLB Danny Trevathan, LCB Champ Bailey, RCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, SS Duke Ihenacho, FS Mike Adams.

Read this, link that

- Erik Frenz writes that physicality is important to stopping Peyton Manning for the Patriots.

- Here's a rundown of the history of Peyton Manning versus the Patriots.

- Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 10 preview: Patriots at Panthers

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 18, 2013 05:13 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- That newfound Patriots offensive rhythm, discovered in Week 9 as the team piled on 55 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be put to the test against the Carolina Panthers.

With 15 days of rest and an opportunity to dissect their own issues as the year has progressed, the Patriots come into Monday night's game with the added pressure of facing a top-tier defense.

The Panthers have the second-best scoring defense in the NFL (12.8) and hold their opponents to the second-fewest yards per game (283.3). The cornerstones of their defense are linebacker Luke Kuechly, who played at Boston College, and defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy.

The Patriots will be boosted on offense by the return of running back Shane Vereen, who was activated to the 53-man roster after spending the past nine weeks on injured reserve with a designation for return. He suffered a broken wrist in Week 1 of the season against Buffalo. The shifty back can help bolster the team's passing game as well, working out of the backfield and in the slot.

Bill Belichick is 2-1 against the Panthers as coach of the Patriots. The team is 3-2 overall against Carolina.

Tom Brady is 13-4 on Monday nights.

With a win, the Patriots will have swept the NFC South.

Here are the details for the game:

Kickoff: 8:40 p.m.

Records: Patriots 7-2; Panthers 6-3.

TV, radio: ESPN, Ch. 5 (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Westwood One Radio (Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Mark Malone).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injury reports.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Aaron Dobson, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: DT Joe Vellano, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jamie Collins, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Duron Harmon.

Panthers offense: WR Steve Smith, LT Jordan Gross, LG Travelle Wharton, C Ryan Kalil, RG Geoff Hangartner, RT Bryon Bell, TE Greg Olsen, WR Brandon LaFell, QB Cam Newton, FB Mike Tolber, RB DeAngelo Williams.

Panthers defense: LDE Charles Johnson, LDT Dwan Edwards, RDT Star Lotulelei, RDE Greg Hardy, SLB Thomas Davis, MLB Luke Kuechly, WLB Jordan Senn, LCB Captain Munnerlyn, RCB Melvin White, SS Quintin Mikell, FS Mike Mitchell.

Read this, link that

- Erik Frenz breaks down the matchup between Patriots corner Aqib Talib and Panthers WR Steve Smith.

- Adam Kaufman writes that the hype over the Panthers is unrealistic.

- Follow the game and comment on the action in our live blog.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 9 preview: Steelers at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 3, 2013 07:26 AM

FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots are set to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, but they do so after yet another player has suffered a season-ending injury.

Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, placed on injured reserve Saturday with a knee injury, is the ninth Patriots player to be sidelined for the season. He joins starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who met his season-ending fate last week after injuring his knee against the Miami Dolphins, linebacker Jerod Mayo, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, and safety Adrian Wilson.

The Patriots also limp into Sunday's game with three players listed as questionable – cornerbacks Aqib Talib (hip) and Kyle Arrington (groin), and running back Leon Washington (ankle). Seven others are listed as probable.

The Steelers come into Sunday's game off a 21-18 loss to the Oakland Raiders despite holding quarterback Terrelle Pryor to 88 yards passing and forcing a season-high three turnovers. They are 2-5, winning against the New York Jets (19-6) and Baltimore Ravens (19-16).

Pittsburgh leads the all-time series with the Patriots 15-11 and the regular-season series 14-8, taking the last matchup Oct. 30, 2011 at Heinz Field 25-17.

But at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots are 2-1 against the black and gold. And Tom Brady is 6-2 overall vs. Pittsburgh.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

Records: Patriots 6-2; Steelers 2-5.

TV/Radio: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and ESPN Radio (Sean McDonough, Bill Polian, Ian Fitszimmons).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Aaron Dobson, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: DT Joe Vellano, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jamie Collins, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Alfonzo Dennard, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Steelers offense: WR Emmanuel Sanders, LT Kelvin Beachum, LG Ramon Foster, C Fernando Velasco, RG Cody Wallace, RT Marcus Gilbert, TE Heath Miller, RB Le'Veon Bell, FB Will Johnson, QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown.

Steelers defense: DE Cameron Heyward, NT Steve McLendon, DE Brett Keisel, LOLB LaMarr Woodley, LILB Vince Williams, RILB Lawrence Timmons, ROLB Jason Worilds, LCB William Gay, FS Ryan Clark, SS Troy Polamalu, RCB Ike Taylor.

Read this, link that

- The Patriots placed defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on injured reserve Saturday.

- Erik Frenz scouts the Steelers. He also takes a look at the matchup between Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon and Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around 2:30 p.m.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 8 preview: Dolphins at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 27, 2013 11:01 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots are looking to bounce back after a 30-27 overtime loss to their division rival New York Jets while hoping to continue the team's supremacy over another division foe in the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots (5-2) are 28-15 when facing the Dolphins (3-3) at home and are 17-9 against Miami since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 28-9 following a team's loss.

Miami is on a three-game losing streak after beginning the season 3-0, falling to the Buffalo Bills last week 23-21. They've lost their last two games by a combined five points.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 5-2; Dolphins 3-3.

TV/Radio: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and ESPN Radio (Ryan Ruocco, Bill Polian, Ian Fitzsimmons).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Aaron Dobson.

Patriots defense: DT Joe Vellano, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jamie Collins, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Alfonzo Dennard, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Dolphins offense: WR Brian Hartline, LT Jonathan Martin, LG Richie Incognito, C Mike Pouncey, RG John Jerry, RT Tyson Clabo, TE Charles Clay, WR Mike Wallace, WR Brandon Gibson, QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Lamar Miller.

Dolphins defense: LE Cameron Wake, DT Randy Starks, DT Paul Soliai, RE Olivier Vernon, LB Philip Wheeler, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB Koa Misi, CB Brent Grimes, CB Dimitri Patterson, S Chris Clemons, S Reshad Jones.

Read this, link that

- Erik Frenz breaks down the matchup between Patriots RT Sebastian Vollmer and Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake.

- In the latest Patscetera, I detail how the Patriots passing game needs identity.

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around 11:30 a.m.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 7 preview: Patriots at Jets

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 20, 2013 07:00 AM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Patriots visit the New York Jets in their second meeting of the season, but each team comes into the Week 7 matchup hobbled by injuries.

Unlike their Week 2 matchup, the Patriots will be without starters Aqib Talib (hip) and Tommy Kelly (knee) in addition to Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, who have been placed on season-ending injured reserve. Wide receiver Danny Amendola, out with a concussion and lingering groin injury, did not play in the teams' first meeting.

The Jets will be without wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) and former Patriot tight end Kellen Winslow (suspension), key components to the team's offense. The Jets have turned around and signed wide receivers David Nelson and Josh Cribbs.

However, the Patriots will likely be bolstered by the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) who has been cleared to play by his medical advisers, according to his agent. He could help the Patriots' 30th ranked offense in the red zone, which has scored a woeful 40.9 percent rate of touchdowns inside the 20.

"I don’t know if they were saving him for us, or whatever, but I had a funny feeling he was going to play," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "After that first game, I felt for sure he’d play against us the second game."

The Patriots have won their last six regular season meetings with the Jets, including a 13-10 victory on Sept. 12, and look to sweep their season series for the third straight year. Jets quarterback Geno Smith (59.5 completion rate, 7 TDs, 10 INTs, 1,490 yards) threw a pivotal interception to Talib in the Jets' first meeting with the Patriots, which sealed the win for the Patriots in the final moment of the game. He's averaging 2.16 turnovers per game.

Bill Belichick is 21-9 against the Jets while with the Patriots.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 5-1; Jets 3-3.

TV/Radio: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and ESPN Radio (Ryan Ruocco, Herm Edwards).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Marcus Cannon, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: DT Joe Vellano, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jamie Collins, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Alfonzo Dennard, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Jets offense: WR Stephen Hill, LT D'Brickshaw Ferguson, LG Brian Winters, C Nick Mangold, RG Willie Colon, RT Austin Howard, TE Jeff Cumberland, WR Jeremy Kerley, QB Geno Smith, FB Tommy Bohanon, RB Bilal Powell.

Jets defense: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NT Damon Harrison, DT Sheldon Richardson, OLB Quinton Coples, WLB Demario Davis, MLB David Harris, OLB Calvin Pace, CB Dee Milliner, CB Antonio Cromartie, S Antonio Allen, S Dawan Landry.

Read this, link that

- What, exactly, will Rob Gronkowski's impact be? Will he even play? We break it down in the latest Patscetera.

- Shalise Manza Young profiles rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins in the latest "Getting to know…" feature.

- In the New York Post, the Jets are apparently in a huff over not getting proper credit for the work its defense did against the Patriots in Week 2.

- In the New York Daily News, the Jets say they're ready for Gronkowski.

- In Newsday, the Jets see rematch with the Patriots as a must-win.

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around 11:30 a.m.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 6 preview: Saints at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 13, 2013 08:50 AM

FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots (4-1) hope to get back on track today with a win against the New Orleans Saints (5-0) after suffering a disappointing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5.

They'll have to do so without defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, who injured his knee in the fourth quarter against the Bengals. The Patriots brought up defensive lineman Marcus Forston from the practice squad to replace him. The team will have Forston, Joe Vellano and Chris Jones at defensive tackle after injuries to Kelly and Vince Wilfork.

However, New England is expected get a boost on offense with the return of running back Stevan Ridley (knee), who is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

The Saints will be without starting safety Roman Harper (knee), while wide receiver Lance Moore (hand) did not practice this week but is listed as questionable.

New Orleans features the NFL's fourth-ranked defense (14.6 points allowed per game), due in large part to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, a former Patriots linebackers coach. The Saints also have the second-best pass offense in the league (326.8 yards per game) and fourth overall offense (405.0 yards per game).

The Patriots lead the all-time series with the Saints, 8-4. The Saints took the last game between these two Nov. 30, 2009, 38-17, at the Louisiana Superdome. Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns in that Monday night game.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

Records: Patriots 4-1; Saints 5-0.

TV/Radio: FOX (Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Sports USA (Larry Kahn, Ross Tucker, Troy West).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, WR Danny Amendola, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: DT Joe Vellano, DT Chris Jones, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Saints offense: WR Marques Colston, LT Charles Brown, LG Ben Grubbs, C Brian de la Puente, RG Jahri Evans, RT Zach Strief, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Lance Moore, QB Drew Brees, FB Jed Collins, RB Pierre Thomas.

Saints defense: DE Akiem Hicks, NT Brodrick Bunkley, DE Cameron Jordan, OLB Junior Galette, ILB David Hawthorne, ILB Curtis Lofton, Parys Haralson, LCB Jabari Greer, S Kenny Vaccaro, S Malcolm Jenkins, RCB Keenan Lewis.

Read this, watch that

- From the New Orleans Advocate: Set free by the Saints, Rob Ninkovich is at home with the Patriots.

- From the Times-Picayune: Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan talks about his time with the Patriots in this video.

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around 2 p.m.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 5 preview: Patriots at Bengals

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 6, 2013 08:00 AM

CINCINNATI -- The Patriots are entertaining the possibility of starting the season 5-0 with a win Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, marking the first time since 2007 the team will have done so and the fourth time in team history.

But the game will come with its challenges.

The Patriots have to square with the loss of stalwart defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (placed on injured reserve) as well as a depleted running backs group with Stevan Ridley (knee) out for Sunday's game. And then there is the matter of the Bengals' offensive talent that has to be properly sized up, including leading wide receiver A.J. Green (26 receptions, 300 yards, 3 TDs).

Key Patriots are certainly expected to make sizable contributions given the circumstances, including defensive tackles Tommy Kelly and Joe Vellano to replace Wilfork, and running backs LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden to replace Ridley. Meanwhile Patriots star cornerback Aqib Talib (four interceptions) will likely be zeroing in on Green, making for one of the highlight matchups of the clash between these two conference powers.

The Bengals are coming off a 17-6 loss to the Browns, a disappointing effort for a talented team that has lacked consistency.

"We really haven’t performed to expectations totally throughout an entire football game," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told reporters earlier in the week. "We can play brilliantly and we can play with a lot of error, and the error gets you beat. So we have to do a better job of taking care of the football, we have to do a better job of converting third downs and we have to get takeaways on defense."

The Patriots are 14-8 all-time against the Bengals in the regular season and 4-0 with Tom Brady as the team's starting quarterback. The last time these two teams met in the regular season, Sept. 12, 2010, the Patriots won 38-24 with Brady throwing three touchdown passes. In the same game, wide receiver Brandon Tate, then with the Patriots and now with the Bengals, returned a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin) may return to the Patriots' lineup this week after reports surfaced Saturday he traveled with the team to Cincinnati. Those same reports indicated that all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) did not travel with the team. Both are listed as questionable.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 4-0; Bengals 2-2.

TV/Radio: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, FB James Develin, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: DT Tommy Kelly, DT Joe Vellano, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Bengals offense: WR Mohamed Sanu, LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Clint Boling, C Kyle Cook, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Andre Smith, TE Jermaine Gresham, WR A.J. Green, QB Andy Dalton, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, FB Orson Charles.

Bengals defense: DE Carlos Dunlap, NT Domato Peko, DT Geno Atkins, DE Michael Johnson, SLB James Harrison, MLB Rey Maualuga, WLB Vontaze Burfict, LCB Terence Newman, RCB Leon Hall, SS George Iloka, FS Reggie Nelson.

Read this

- Erik Frenz breaks downs the matchup between Patriots left tackle Nate Solder and Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson.

- 5 questions with Bengals beat writer Joe Reedy.

- From the Cincinnati Enquirer: The Patriots are always special for BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around noon.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Final: Patriots 30, Falcons 23

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 29, 2013 08:16 PM

In the end, it all came down to the Patriots' defense.

Aqib Talib broke up a fourth-down pass to Roddy White in the end zone with less than a minute remaining as the Patriots held on to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 30-23.

Matt Bryant nailed a 25-yard field goal to help the Falcons pull within seven, then Atlanta got the ball back when the Patriots botched the snap on fourth-and-inches to get a final shot.

Kenbrell Thompkins caught six passes for 127 yards and a touchdown and Brady threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots improved to 4-0.

Review Zuri Berry's in-game updates below.

Game 4 preview: Patriots at Falcons

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 29, 2013 08:00 AM

ATLANTA – The Patriots are looking to start the season with their fourth straight win and take their fourth straight game against the Atlanta Falcons, but they'll have to do so without any additional firepower Sunday night.

New England downgraded tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) and wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin) to out for Sunday night's game after both were listed as questionable on Friday's final practice report. Neither made the trip to Atlanta.

Amendola will miss his third straight game since tearing a groin muscle in Week 1, while Gronkowski has been out since Jan. 13 when he broke his forearm against the Houston Texans. Gronkowski has undergone four surgeries since then, three on his forearm and one on his back to fix a herniated disk.

The Patriots have made do without both. They're coming off a 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finding more offensive rhythm as the season has progressed.

They'll have a tough challenge in the Falcons, led by quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons are tied for 12th in offense (23.7 points per game) in the league while putting up 379.0 yards per game. Ryan has been prolific through three games, throwing for 909 yards and six touchdowns while sporting a 100.4 quarterback rating.

Falcons running back Steven Jackson (hamstring) is out for Sunday's game while four of his teammates are listed as questionable: offensive tackle Sam Baker (foot/knee), wide receiver Julio Jones (knee), wide receiver Roddy White (ankle), and former Patriot cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh).

The Patriots are tied with the Falcons in their all-time series, 6-6. But New England has captured the last three games, including a 26-10 win over the Falcons in 2009.

If the Patriots win, Bill Belichick (208-109) will tie Chuck Knoll (209-156-1) for fifth place all-time for most wins by an NFL coach and Tom Brady will become the fifth quarterback to reach the 140-win milestone behind Brett Favre (186), Peyton Manning (157), John Elway (148), and Dan Marino (147).

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m.

Records: Patriots 3-0; Falcons 1-2.

TV/Radio: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Westwood One Sports (Kevin Kugler, James Lofton).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Zach Sudfeld, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Falcons offense: WR Julio Jones, LT Sam Baker, LG Justin Blalock, C Peter Konz, RG Garrett Reynolds, RT Lamar Holmes, TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Roddy White, QB Matt Ryan, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, FB Patrick DiMarco.

Falcons defense: RE Osi Umenyiora, DT Corey Peters, DT Jonathan Babineaux, LE Jonathan Massaquoi, OLB Joplo Bartu, MLB Akeem Dent, OLB Stephen Nicholas, CB Desmond Trufant, CB Asante Samuel, S William Moore, S Thomas DeCoud.

Read this, watch that

- Tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola will not play against the Falcons.

- The Patriots are hoping to contain Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

- The Globe's Jim McBride provides his keys for the Patriots' win against the Falcons. (Subscription.)

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around 7 p.m.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Game 3 preview: Buccaneers at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 22, 2013 06:00 AM

If the Patriots can beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, they'll improve to 3-0 on the regular season for only the fourth time in Bill Belichick's tenure.

The team is coming off a 13-10 win over the New York Jets in Week 2 that was marred by offensive miscues, particularly from the team's young wide receivers (four drops). They'll be looking to clean up their performance Sunday against a more stringent set of defensive backs in Tampa Bay's secondary, including the universally respected Darrelle Revis and All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson.

Through two games, the Patriots have been particularly rough on third down (15 of 38) and despondent in the red zone (2 of 8).

The Buccaneers (0-2) have struggled on offense as well. They're coming off a close, 16-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints. A last-minute failed field goal attempt kept them out of the win column.

Quarterback Josh Freeman (24 of 53 for 335 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 63.0 QBB rating) has had a tough start with questions of discord surrounding him and coach Greg Schiano. The pair have said all is fine in the locker room despite reports to the contrary swirling around them. Improved chemistry, Schiano said, will be pivotal to the team's offense.

"Josh has struggled a little bit, but I don’t think it’s just Josh, it’s our whole offense," Schiano told reporters earlier this week. "We’ve been out of sync. We haven’t scored points, and in this league you need to score points. We’re working awfully hard, and Josh is working awfully hard. I think he’s got a much better grasp of what we’re doing. He’s got a better grasp on the defenses, and just the way he is handling himself. So that’s what makes it even more frustrating."

Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin (209 rushing yards, 1 TD) will be the focus of the Patriots' defense, which has allowed 265 yards rushing in the first two weeks.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 2-0; Buccaneers 0-2.

TV/Radio: Fox (Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Erin Andrews); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Zach Sudfeld, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Buccaneers offense: WR Vincent Jackson, LT Donald Penn, LG Carl Nicks, C Jeremy Zuttah, RG Davin Joseph, RT Demar Dotson, TE Luke Stocker, WR Mike Williams, QB Josh Freeman, RB Doug Martin, FB Erik Lorig.

Buccaneers defense: LE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Akeem Spence, RE Adrian Clayborn, SLB Dekoda Watson, MLB Mason Foster, WLB Lavonte David, LCB Darrelle Revis, RCB Leonard Johnson, SS Mark Barron, FS Dashon Goldson.

Read this, watch that

- Erik Frenz breaks down a key matchup, Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib vs. Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

- Adam Kaufman pontificates on what we can learn about the Patriots against the Bucs.

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around noon.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

Final: Patriots 13, Jets 10

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 12, 2013 08:55 PM
The Patriots scored a touchdown on their first possession and managed only two field goals the rest of the way, but it was enough to beat the Jets, 13-10, on Thursday at Gillette Stadium.

Aqib Talib had two interceptions, including one on the Jets' final possession, to lead the Patriots' defense.

Game 2 preview: Jets at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 12, 2013 08:00 AM

Just four days after opening their season against the Buffalo Bills, a 23-21 win, the Patriots welcome the New York Jets for their home opener at Gillette Stadium Thursday night in a nationally televised game on NFL Network.

The team enters Thursday's game with concerns over injuries at key positions on offense, including wide receivers Danny Amendola (groin) and Aaron Dobson (hamstring), as well as tight end Zach Sudfeld (hamstring). Amendola is listed as doubtful for Thursday's game after aggravating his injury against the Bills, despite finishing the game. Dobson and Sudfeld are listed as questionable.

The team will have to fill the gaping hole left by Shane Vereen, who operated as the team's third-down running back and filled in for starter Stevan Ridley when he was benched for fumbling. Vereen will miss the next eight weeks with a broken bone in his left wrist.

Former Jets running back Leon Washington could replace some of Vereen's snaps. But he's listed as questionable for the game with a thigh injury.

The Jets are coming off a season-opening 18-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kicker Nick Folk nailed a game-winning 48-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining to lift his team while rookie quarterback Geno Smith (24 of 38 for 256 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 47 yards rushing) made his debut.

The Patriot swept their season series with the Jets in 2012 for the second straight year and are 19-9 against their AFC East rival since Bill Belichick took the helm of the team. New England leads the all-time series 55-52-1 and are 28-5 at Gillette Stadium against division opponents.

Belichick is 6-2 when coaching on Thursday, including a 49-19 win over the Jets on Thanksgiving last year.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m.

Records: Patriots 1-0; Jets 1-0.

TV/Radio: NFL Network/WCVB-TV (Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flannagan); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Westwood One Sports (Ian Eagle, Trent Green, Ross Tucker).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Zach Sudfeld, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Jets offense: WR Stephen Hill, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Vladimir Ducasse, C Nick Mangold, RG Willie Colon, RT Austin Howard, TE Jef Cumberland, WR Santonio Holmes, QB Geno Smith, FB Tommy Bohanon, RB Bilal Powell.

Jets defense: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NT Kenrick Ellis, DT Sheldon Richardson, OLB Antwan Barnes, WLB Demario Davis, MLB David Harris, OLB Calvin Pace, CB Dee Milliner, CB Antonio Cromartie, S Antonio Allen, S Dawan Landry.

Read this, watch that

- Gronkowski and Amendola are listed as doubtful against the Jets.

- Patriots place Shane Vereen on injured reserve with a designation to return.

- Adam Kaufman writes that the Patriots must hand Stevan Ridley the ball.

- In Boston Sports Live, Chris Gasper and Gary Washburn discuss whether the Patriots are ready for the Jets on a short week.

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around 6 p.m.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Final: Patriots 23, Bills 21

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 8, 2013 12:56 PM
The Buffalo Bills had their moments to close the door on Tom Brady and the Patriots Sunday, with more than one opportunity to end New England’s nine-game season-opening win streak.

But rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel couldn’t move the offense when Buffalo needed it most, leaving Brady the one thing he needs: a chance. And Brady, as he’s done time and again, made the most of it, moving an otherwise shaky defense 49 yards in 12 plays, enough for Stephen Gostkowski to make a 35-yard field goal with just five seconds left in the game.

It gave New England the winning points for a 23-21 victory, the 10th consecutive season-opening win for the Patriots.

Read Shalise Manza Young's full game story here. Ben Volin's instant analysis is here.

Game 1 preview: Patriots at Bills

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 8, 2013 07:00 AM

090813cjspiller.jpg

The Patriots can expect to see a heavy dose of Bills running back C.J. Spiller. (Barry Chin / Globe file)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – If history is any indicator, the Patriots will wipe the floors with the Buffalo Bills today.

In nine straight season openers, the Patriots have come away with wins. In 18 of their last 20 games against the Bills, the Patriots have been victorious. The Patriots are 61-41-1 all-time against Buffalo. During Bill Belichick's reign, the Patriots are 23-3 when facing their AFC East foe, a lapdog opponent for more than a decade.

Yet today is the beginning of a new era for Buffalo. In an overhaul, the Bills hired a new coach (Doug Marrone), hired a top-tier defensive coordinator (Mike Pettine) cut their underperforming quarterback and drafted another (E.J. Manuel), and promoted a new general manager (Doug Whaley).

The team has named electric running back C.J. Spiller (1,244 yards, 6.0 ypc, 6 TDs in 2012) its starter over veteran Fred Jackson, drafted highly touted receiver Robert Woods, and gave the reins of the offense over to Manuel, the highest quarterback selected in this year's draft.

So while the Patriots are geared up for the start of the season, the Bills are eager to start a new phase of their team history.

The Patriots begin the season with a new wide receiver corps, including slot receiver Danny Amendola, Wes Welker's replacement, and undrafted wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who is expected to start as the team's outside receiver.

Rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld, also undrafted, is expected to start in place of the injured Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm), who continues to rehab from offseason surgery.

On defense, the Patriots come into 2013 with largely the same unit, upgrading only at defensive tackle with veteran Tommy Kelly (419 tackles, 34 career sacks).

For the opener, the Patriots will have to do without rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson (hamstring) and safety Duron Harmon (hamstring) who have been declared out. Also out: running back Brandon Bolden (knee), tackle Will Svitek (knee), and defensive back Nate Ebner (ankle).

The Bills will be without starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist). Safety Jairus Byrd is listed as doubtful.

Here are the details for Sunday's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 0-0; Bills 0-0.

TV/Radio: CBS (Greg Gumbell, Dan Dierdorf); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Zach Sudfeld, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Bills offense: WR Stevie Johnson, LT Cordy Glenn, LG Colin Brown, C Eric Wood, RG Kraig Urbik, RT Erik Pears, TE Scott Chandler, QB E.J. Manuel, RB C.J. Spiller, FB Frank Summers, WR T.J. Graham.

Bills defense: LDE Alex Carrington, DT Kyle Williams, DT Marcell Dareus, RDE Mario Williams, SLB Manny Lawson, MLB Kiko Alonso, WLB Nigel Bradham, LCB Leodis McKelvin, SS Aaron Williams, FS Jairus Byrd, RCB Ron Brooks.

Read this, link that

- Aaron Dobson is out for the opener.

- Have you read the Boston Globe's NFL preview section? You should.

- Tim Graham, the Bills beat writer for the Buffalo News, gives us a scouting report for today's game.

- Before the game, make sure you get up to speed on all of the Patriots' new receivers.

- In Globe 10.0, Kevin Paul Dupont and Scott Thurston debate who will win today's game. (Hint: It's not about Buffalo, it's about the spread.)

- Follow today's game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around 11 a.m. A mobile-optimized version can be found here.
Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Preseason Game 4: Giants at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2013 10:00 AM

The NFL will kick off its regular season in exactly one week, but the Patriots still have one more exhibition to complete before the games are meaningful again.

New England will host the New York Giants in the two teams' ninth straight meeting in the preseason and 23d overall. The Giants hold the edge in their preseason history, leading the series 14-8. New York has won the last three games, including last season's snoozer, a 6-3 loss for the Patriots.

Both franchises are expected to give their starters some playing time ahead of their regular season openers.

The Patriots are coming off an embarrassing 40-9 defeat to the Detroit Lions and will likely be looking for a chance for a more productive tuneup before facing the Buffalo Bills in Week 1.

The Giants are coming off a 24-21 loss to the New York Jets.

Here are the details for Thursday night’s game:

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 2-1; Giants 1-2.

TV/radio: WBZ-TV/Patriots Preseason Television Network/NFL Network (Dan Roche, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Steve Burton, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Will Svitek, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Jake Ballard, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Zach Sudfeld.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Adrian Wilson.

Giants offense: WR Hakeem Nicks, LT Will Beatty, LG Kevin Boothe, C Jim Cordle, RG Chris Snee, RT Justin Pugh, TE Brandon Myers, WR Louis Murphy, QB Eli Manning, FB Bear Pascoe.

Giants defense: DE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, DT Cullen Jenkins, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, SLB Keith Rivers, MLB Dan Connor, WLB Spencer Paysinger, LCB Corey Webster, SS Antrel Rolle, FS Ryan Mundy, RCB Prince Amukamara.

Read this, watch that

- Ben Volin has five things to watch in tonight's game.

- Patriots, Giants could get meaningful snaps.

- Watch: Volin on whether Tim Tebow makes the roster and tonight's game

- Boston.com's live game blog will feature updates, photos and your chance to discuss the game. It kicks off around 6 p.m.

Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Preseason Game 3: Patriots at Lions

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 22, 2013 05:00 AM

In the Patriots' third preseason game, the team is expecting to keep its starters on the field through at least three quarters, a dress rehearsal for what's to come this season.

But the team may very well be without new wide receiver Danny Amendola, who wasn't spotted at practice on Monday and Tuesday -- crucial days during a short week -- before the team traveled to Detroit on Wednesday for their tuneup against the Lions (1-1) Thursday night.

Amendola was hit in the back of the head after catching a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He left the field, but returned two plays later before calling it a night. In the last two seasons, Amendola has missed 20 of 32 regular season games while with the St. Louis Rams.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman will likely take Amendola's snaps as the team's slot receiver if he is unable to play.

Meanwhile, several Patriots will be making last-ditch efforts to make the roster, including quarterback Tim Tebow, who was 1 of 7 for minus-1 yard and an interception against the Buccaneers.

NFL teams will have to trim their rosters to 75 players on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Here are the details for Thursday night’s game:

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 2-0; Lions 1-1 preseason.

TV/radio: WBZ-TV/Patriots Preseason Television Network (Dan Roche, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Steve Burton, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Will Svitek, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Jake Ballard, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Zach Sudfeld.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Adrian Wilson.

Lions offense: WR Nate Burleson, LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Dylan Gandy, RT Jason Fox, TE Brandon Pettigrew, TE Tony SCheffler, WR Calvin Johnson, QB Matthew Stafford, RB Reggie Bush.

Lions defense: DE Ezekiel Ansah, DT Nick Fairley, DT Ndamukong Suh, DE Jason Jones, OLB Ashlee Palmer, MLB Stephen Tulloch, OLB Deandre Levy, LCB Chris Houston, RCB Ron Bartell, SS Glover Quin, FS Louis Delmas.

Watch this

- Ben Volin previews Patriots-Lions

- Should Tim Tebow make the roster?

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Final: Patriots 25, Buccaneers 21

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 16, 2013 07:15 PM

Follow live coverage of the Patriots' second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Preseason Game 2: Buccaneers at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 16, 2013 01:39 PM

The Patriots host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their preseason home opener at 8 p.m. Friday, their second of four preseason games before the NFL regular season kicks off in September.

All eyes will be focused on quarterback Tom Brady, who had to leave practice Wednesday after having his knee rolled on by left tackle Nate Solder and Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Brady returned to practice Thursday sporting a knee brace, which he is expected to wear during the game.

This is the third straight year the Patriots have played the Buccaneers in the preseason. They lost last season, 30-28, and are 2-8 all-time against the Bucs in preseason play.

The Buccaneers will play without new cornerback Darrelle Revis, the former Jet, who has been held out of contact drills. Revis missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

Here are the details for tonight’s game:

Kickoff: 8 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 1-0 preseason; Buccaneers 0-1 preseason.

TV/radio: Fox (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Will Svitek, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Jake Ballard, WR Aaron Dobson, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Adrian Wilson.

Buccaneers offense: WR Vincent Jackson, LT Donald Penn, LG Carl Nicks, C Jeremy Zuttah, RG Davin Joseph, RT Demar Dotson, TE Luke Stocker, WR Mike Williams, QB Josh Freeman, RB Doug Martin, FB Erik Lorig.

Buccaneers defense: DE Da'Quan Bowers, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Gary Gibson, DE Adrian Clayborn, SLB Dekoda Watson, MLB Mason Foster, WLB Lavonte David, CB Danny Gorrer, CB Leonard Johnson, SS Mark Barron, FS Dashon Goldson.

Read this

- 5 things to watch for in Friday's game by Ben Volin.

- Patscetera: Position battles are alive and well.

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Final: Patriots 31, Eagles 22

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 9, 2013 07:23 PM

The Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles to kick off the preseason 7:30 p.m. Friday. Follow along for live updates throughout the game and postgame coverage.

Preseason Game 1: Patriots at Eagles

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 9, 2013 10:05 AM

The 2013 preseason begins tonight for the Patriots and Eagles in Philadelphia.

It’s the first time the Patriots will be back in uniform since last season’s AFC title game loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the eventual Super Bowl champions.

This Patriots team will feature at least four new offensive starters, given offseason departures and injuries. New wide receiver Danny Amendola fills in for Wes Welker, who signed with the Denver Broncos, and rookie receiver Aaron Dobson will take Brandon Lloyd’s spot after he was cut.

The team figures to have a tight end and right guard in place tonight to to fill in for injuries to Rob Gronkowski (back) and Dan Connolly (shoulder).

The Patriots will also likely feature two new starters on defense in defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and strong safety Adrian Wilson, both free agent pickups.

This is the 21st preseason meeting between the two teams, including last year’s 27-17 Eagles victory. The all-time preseason series is split at 10 games apiece.

Here are the details for tonight’s game:

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 0-0 regular season; Eagles 0-0 regular season.

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV and the Patriots Preseason Television Network (Dan Roche, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Steve Burton, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Danny Amendola, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Will Svitek, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Jake Ballard, WR Aaron Dobson, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Adrian Wilson.

Eagles offense: WR Riley Cooper, LT Jason Peters, LG Evan Mathis, C Jason Kelce, RG Todd Herremans, RT Lane Johnson, TE Brent Celek, TE James Casey, WR DeSean Jackson, RB LeSean McCoy, QB Michael Vick.

Eagles defense: DE Cedric Thornton, NT Isaac Sopoaga, DE Fletcher Cox, OLB Connor Barwin, ILB DeMeco Ryans, ILB Mychal Kendricks, OLB Trent Cole, LCB Bradley Fletcher, RCB Cary Williams, SS Nate Allen, FS Patrick Chung.

Read this

- Patscetera: 10 things to watch in the Patriots’ first preseason game

- Ben Volin’s five things to watch tonight

- On football: What is Eagles coach Chip Kelly bringing to the NFL?

- Going Deep: Erik Frenz on what to watch in tonight’s game

Zuri Berry can be reached at zberry@boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.

Final: Ravens 28, Patriots 13

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 20, 2013 06:25 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady threw two interceptions and Stevan Ridley had a crucial fumble down the stretch as the Patriots were upset by the Baltimore Ravens, 28-13, in the AFC championship.

The Ravens will move on to play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

Brady finished 29 of 54 for 320 yards and a touchdown along with the two picks. He had a 62.3 quarterback rating. He had several miscues in the game, badly mismanaging the clock at the end of the first half, passing up an opportunity to scramble for a first down on a 4th-and-4 in the fourth quarter, and his last interception with a little more than a minute remaning, a desperation heave down the field to Brandon Lloyd in the end zone.

But he also missed open targets early, a deep pass to Wes Welker that would've opened the game up with a first-series touchdown.

The Patriots were outscored 21-0 in the second half.

Brady wasn't helped by Welker, who had a crucial drop in the third quarter on third down. Or by Ridley's fumble in the fourth quarter, a play in which Ridley was knocked unconscious by Ravens safety Bernard Pollard. He didn't return to the game.

And when the Patriots did get going on offense, they found themselves having trouble in the red zone. The Patriots were 1 for 3 when they got within 20 yards of the end zone.

"I'd say we came up a little short in every area," head coach Bill Belichick said.

After being down 13-7 at the half, Joe Flacco warmed up nicely for Baltimore. He finished 21 of 36 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. He had a QB rating of 106.2. Two of his touchdown passes went Anquan Boldin, who caught five passes for 60 yards.

The Patriots lost defensive tackle Kyle Love and cornerback Aqib Talib early in the game to injury. Talib injured his thigh and Love hurt his knee. Backup safety Patrick Chung was also shaken up in the game.

1:06 4th quarter: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- Tom Brady was picked off in the end zone by Cary Williams, sealing what is now an inevitable win by the Baltimore Ravens.

2:11 4th quarter: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- When the Patriots defense needed to get off the field quickly, it did -- once. But not on this series. The Ravens picked up two first downs running the ball before the Patriots forced a punt. But in doing so, they burned all three of their timeouts.

6:49 4th quarter: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- A Tom Brady pass was tipped by Pernell McPhee and intercepted by Dannell Ellerbe.

The Ravens now have an opportunity to wipe minutes off the clock and keep the game out of the Patriots' reach.

This is a crushing play.

7:34 4th quarter: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- The Patriots forced the Ravens into a three-and-out, with Rob Ninkovich coming up with two big plays on the series. He sacked Joe Flacco for a 1-yard loss and hurried him on third down into a bad pass.

The Patriots still have hope. They need a touchdown ASAP.

8:27 4th quarter: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- After a promising drive, the Patriots turned the ball over on downs after Tom Brady couldn't find an open receiver on fourth down. He had open field to run, but chose to throw it over the middle of the field where it was out of reach for Deion Branch.

This could be the failed drive that killed the Patriots' Super Bowl hopes.

10:34 4th quarter: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- Stevan Ridley has a head injury, according to the Patriots, and his return is questionable. He likely has a concussion.

11:13 4th quarter: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- Anquan Boldin beat Patriots corner Marquice Cole soundly up the seam and caught an 11-yard touchdown pass as the Ravens capitalized on the Stevan Ridley fumble.

Ridley went to the locker room. We'll have an update as soon as we know something concrete.

12:46 4th quarter: Ravens 21, Patriots 13 -- Ravens safety Bernard Pollard gave a crushing hit to Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, knocking him out cold and forcing what appeared to be a fumble. After review, the play was upheld as a fumble and was recovered by Arthur Jones. It was a scary moment for Ridley, who ended up walking off the field under his own power.

Pollard, if you recall, knocked out Tom Brady in 2008. He was also the closest guy on the field when Wes Welker went down with an ACL injury and took out Rob Gronkowski last season. He did so for three different teams.

14:56 4th quarter: Ravens 21, Patriots 13 -- Joe Flacco hit Anquan Boldin over the middle of the field for a 3-yard touchdown. Boldin grabbed the football over the top of Patriots safety Devin McCourty, who was matched up with Boldin in one-on-one coverage.

The touchdown capped a 10-play, 63-yard drive and put the Patriots down by more than a touchdown.

End of the 3d quarter: Ravens 14, Patriots 13 -- The Ravens, when leading after three quarters, are 107-11 since the year 2000. Since 2008, they're 49-9 when leading at the beginning of the fourth quarter. In 2012, they were 8-2 going into the fourth quarter with a lead.

4:46 3d quarter: Ravens 14, Patriots 13 -- A holding call on Nate Solder killed the Patriots' latest drive. On 3rd-and-12, Tom Brady threw behind Aaron Hernandez, forcing a Patriots punt.

Zoltan Mesko now has five punts on the game.

6:14 3d quarter: Ravens 14, Patriots 13 -- Dennis Pitta put a nice little shimmy on Patriots safety Steve Gregory to get open for a 5-yard touchdown reception as the Ravens re-took the lead.

Joe Flacco led the Ravens on a 10-play, 87-yard drive down the field, going no-huddle toward the end.

He completed three passes to Pitta for 32 yards. A play prior to the touchdown, he hit Pitta for another 5-yard gain. Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo crushed Pitta on the reception, but it didn't seem to faze the tight end.

10:03 3d quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 7 -- Wes Welker dropped a third down pass that hit him in his hands and his face mask as the Patriots were forced to punt in Ravens territory.

Zoltan Mesko's punt went 21 yards, just to give you an idea of how short a punt it was. And it was one of Welker's more egregious drops this season.

12:46 3d quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 7 -- The Patriots forced another Ravens punt, getting Joe Flacco to throw two incomplete passes in a row and stuffing Ray Rice on a run up the middle.

Brandon Spikes came up with the tackle for a loss and Alfonzo Dennard had tight coverage (maybe too tight) on Torrey Smith on the sideline. In a case of what appeared to be miscommunication, Flacco misfired to Smith on 3rd-and-12.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 7 -- The second half is now underway.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 7 -- Stephen Gostkowski chipped in a 25-yard field goal as time expired in the first half after Tom Brady failed to call timeout with enough time to take another shot at the end zone.

Brady scrambled for a 3-yard gain just the play prior to Gostkowski's field goal, and tried to get his teammates to the line of scrimmage to run another play as time was dwindling before he called the timeout.

At the half, Brady is 14 of 24 for 124 yards and a touchdown. Stevan Ridley has 13 carries for 46 yards. Aaron Hernandez has 7 catches for 67 yards.

2:43 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Ravens 7 -- Rob Ninkovich went right through left tackle Bryant McKinnie to take down Joe Flacco fora 4-yard sack on third down. It forced another three-and-out punt by the Ravens.

A couple of observations: The Patriots are sticking to their base defense more and more after the Aqib Talib injury. He's on the bench, but he hasn't returned to the game. Kyle Arrington has taken his place and has been matched up on Torrey Smith.

Chandler Jones, who was probable with an ankle injury, has only played a handful of snaps. We saw him on the goal line but Justin Francis took the start and has played a majority of the game.

4:18 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Ravens 7 -- Tom Brady threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker on a quick out.

The Ravens appeared confused on their coverage of the play. Welker was wide open.

The drive allowed the Patriots torespond fairly quickly to the Ravens' touchdown, spanning 11 plays, 79 yards, in 5:10.

Welker came up with another huge play on the drive, a 24-yard screen pass that he took into the red zone.

9:28 2d quarter: Ravens 7, Patriots 3 -- Ray Rice escaped to the outside, eluding a tackle from Patriots safety Patrick Chung, for a 2-yard touchdown as the Ravens took the lead in the second quarter.

Chung was shaken up on the play.

The Ravens marched down the field in 13 plays, 90 yards for the game's first touchdown. Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith for 25-yard pass and Dennis Pitta for a 17-yarder.

An update on Aqib Talib. He has a thigh injury and his return is questionable.

0:26 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- The Patriots went three-and-out. Tom Brady felt some strong pressure on first down, throwing it away, and then hit Aaron Hernandez for an 8-yard pass. On third down, he targeted Brandon Lloyd but the ball bounced off the receiver and was almost intercepted by Ravens LB Paul Kruger.

1:24 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- The Ravens got four more plays in and had to punt. Joe Flacco had tight end Dennis Pitta on a wheel route down the sideline, beating safety Steve Gregory, but overthrew him on third down.

Wes Welker had a great punt return for 28 yards.

2:48 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- Another punt by the Patriots after Brandon Lloyd stumbled on a route and couldn't recover to catch a third down pass from Tom Brady.

Aaron Hernandez took a licking on the drive, catching an 8-yard pass before getting hit by Ray Lewis. Lewis was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play.

5:00 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- Patriots corner Aqib Talib went back to the locker room. It appears he had some sort of issue with his right hamstring.

5:00 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- Patriots corner Aqib Talib recorded a pass defensed and was in coverage on another deep pass to Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin as the Patriots forced another Baltimore punt.

6:21 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal to cap a 13-play, 67-yard drive.

The Patriots tried to utilize their hurry-up offense again, but were unsuccessful in ripping off any lengthy quick snap runs. The Ravens were certainly on their toes.

We already saw one new wrinkle in the Patriots' play-calling, a reverse to receiver/tight end Aaron Hernandez. That went for 6 yards.

11:37 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- The Ravens were forced into a three-and-out after a failed screen pass to Ray Rice in the flat. We saw two runs and a pass from the Ravens.

It's already getting a little chippy on the field.

12:57 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- On a third-and-2, Tom Brady looked for Wes Welker, who was wide open, on a deep pass but led him too much for the veteran receiver to haul it in.

The Patriots got the Ravens to burn a timeout when they inserted Ryan Mallett in their punt unit. Wary of a fake punt, they called the timeout instead.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- The Ravens won the coin toss and elected to defer. The Patriots will receive to begin the game.

Let's go.

FOXBOROUGH -- We're about to get underway for the final game of the season at Gillette Stadium, the AFC championship between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots.

The winner advances to play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

As usual, I'll provide updates throughout the game, series by series, right here. Feel free to converse in the comments and analyze the game with me.

It's about 41 degrees right now with winds at 18 miles per hour, making it feel about 32 degrees, according to Weather.com. As you should already know, Tom Brady is a great quarterback in the cold. And the Patriots are 14-3 at home in the postseason.

Enjoy the game. It should be a great one.

@zuriberry

AFC Championship preview: Ravens at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 20, 2013 10:19 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- History is on the line. Tom Brady will become the first quarterback in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl six times if the Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens today in the AFC championship.

If the Patriots win, Bill Belichick will move into a tie with Don Shula for the most Super Bowl berths for a head coach.

With a victory, it will be the franchise's eighth Super Bowl trip, tying a league high with the Cowboys and Steelers.

It won't come easy.

Patriots statistics

Ravens statistics The Ravens come into today's game after beating the No. 1-seeded Denver Broncos, 38-35, in double overtime, setting up a rematch from last season's AFC title game. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 38 seconds left to tie the Broncos in regulation before Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal to win it for Baltimore in the game's second overtime. Flacco threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns in the win. His ability to throw the ball deep is cause for concern for a Patriots team that still has issues with consistency in its secondary.

In a 31-30 loss to the Ravens in September, Flacco threw nine passes of 20 yards or more, highlighting the Patriots' defensive woes.

Since that Week 3 loss, the Patriots have revamped, adding cornerback Aqib Talib and moving Devin McCourty to safety.

The Ravens went 10-6 during the regular season and the team's postseason play has been inspired by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, who has announced this will be his final season. The 17-year pro has tallied 30 tackles in the Ravens' two playoff games thus far, energizing a defense that has been knocked for its age. Lewis, along with the stellar play of Flacco, has been joined by a host of Ravens who have had turned in big games, including wide receiver Anquan Boldin (6 catches, 71 yards), receiver Torrey Smith (3 catches, 98 yards, 2 TDs), and running back Ray Rice (30 carries, 131 yards, 1 TD) on offense last week. Paul Kruger, praised by Patriots coach Bill Belichick this week, has performed solidly. And that's not even including Ravens stars Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs.

Despite the loss to the Ravens in September, Brady is 4-1 against the Ravens. He'll be without one of his biggest weapons on Sunday after tight end Rob Gronkowski was placed on injured reserve. Gronkowski broke his left forearm again, an injury he originally suffered in Week 11 of the regular season against the Indianapolis Colts.

Backup tight end and fullback Michael Hoomanawanui will likely fill the void. Tight end Daniel Fells will also likely see some action.

Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones suffered an ankle injury last week against the Texans in the AFC divisional round, but has practiced all week and is probable for Sunday's game. Running back Danny Woodhead, who suffered a thumb injury on the Patriots' first offensive series, is also listed as probable for Sunday's game after practicing all week.

The Patriots are 7-1 in AFC championships and 14-3 at home during the postseason. One of the team's three losses in the playoffs came at the hands of the Ravens in the 2009 AFC wild card, 33-14.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 6:30 p.m.

Records: Patriots 12-4 regular season, 1-0 postseason; Ravens 10-6 regular season, 2-0 postseason.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Steve Tasker, Solomon Wilcots); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak); Dial Global Sports radio (Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts, Mark Malone).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Aaron Hernandez, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Brandon Deaderick, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Ravens offense: WR Torrey Smith, WR Anquan Boldin, LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Matt Birk, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Michael Oher, TE Dennis Pitta, QB Joe Flacco, FB Vonta Leach, RB Ray Rice.

Ravens defense: DT Haloti Ngata, NT Terrence Cody, DE Pernell McPhee, LB Terrell Suggs, WLB Dannell Ellerbe, MLB Ray Lewis, SLB Courtney Upshaw, LCB Corey Graham, SS Bernard Pollard, FS Ed Reed, RCB Cary Williams.

@zuriberry

Final: Patriots 41, Texans 28

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 13, 2013 04:22 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots got a surprise performance from backup running back Shane Vereen, who totalled three touchdowns, en route to a 41-28 win over the Houston Texans Sunday to advance to the AFC championship against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Patriots will host the AFC championship 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20.

Vereen tallied 124 total yards, including 83 receiving yards on five catches while filling in for the injured Danny Woodhead. Woodhead got hurt in the first quarter on the Patriots' first offensive series. He went on to catch two touchdowns and run for another as the team's no-huddle running back.

Tom Brady was solid, earning his 17th playoff victory. He now has the most wins ever for a quarterback in the postseason, breaking a tie with Joe Montana. He finished 25 of 40 for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

Brady's favorite target was Wes Welker, who finished with eight catches for 131 yards. Welker now has the most postseason receptions (61) in Patriots franchise history.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was back for his second game after missing six weeks with a broken forearm, suffered the same injury in the first quarter of Sunday's game trying to haul in a deep pass from Brady. He's out for the rest of the playoffs.

Texans quarterback Matt Schaub finished with 343 yards on 34 of 51 passing. He had two touchdowns and an interception.

The Texans were 4 of 15 on third down.

Texans running back Arian Foster had 90 yards rushing on 22 carries and a touchdown.

1:14 4th quarter: Patriots 41, Texans 28 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 38-yard field goal as the Patriots took up a sufficient amount of time to hold off a Texans rally.

5:11 4th quarter: Patriots 38, Texans 28 -- Matt Schaub threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Arian Foster and then a 2-point conversion pass to Andre Johnson as the Texans closed the gap to 10 points.

9:58 4th quarter: Patriots 38, Texans 20 -- Aaron Hernandez was flagged for offensive pass interference and the Patriots' series subsequently went nowhere.

11:35 4th quarter: Patriots 38, Texans 20 -- It turns out Houston receiver DeVier Posey did come down with an amazing catch. Matt Schaub hit Posey for a 25-yard touchdown pass that he bobbled near the sideline of the end zone, but after review the incomplete call on the field was overturned.

It was a fast drive for the Texans, going 1:32 in five plays and 37 yards.

Posey beat Alfonzo Dennard in coverage.

13:07 4th quarter: Patriots 38, Texans 13 -- On the Patriots very first play after getting the ball back at the Texans' 33-yard line, Tom Brady threw a deep touchdown pass to Shane Vereen down the sideline. Vereen made a great catch.

The backup running back now has three touchdowns on the day.

13:13 4th quarter: Patriots 31, Texans 13 -- Matt Schaub was looking for receiver DeVier Posey on fourth and 1 down the field, but he missed him by a mile. The Texans turned it over on downs at their own 33-yard line.

1:21 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Texans 13 -- Stevan Ridley busted off a 23-yard run down the Texans' 5-yard line. The Patriots moved fast, lining up before the Texans were ready as Tom Brady hit Brandon Lloyd for a quick 5-yard touchdown pass in a one-on-one situation. It was a 6-play, 63-yard drive.

4:14 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Texans 13 -- Rob Ninkovich intercepted a Matt Schaub pass. Ninkovich had dropped back from the line into a zone, catching Schaub off guard.

It was Ninkovich's first postseason interception.

8:57 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Texans 13 -- Two straight incomplete passes and the Patriots were forced to punt after going three-and-out.

9:47 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Texans 13 -- The Texans got away with one. What appeared to be a fumble by Owen Daniels was overturned after referee Terry Corrente ruled that Daniels was down on forward progress before the ball came out. On the next play, a third down, Matt Schaub threw it away as the Texans were forced to punt.

11:30 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Texans 13 -- Texans safety Glover Quinn fell down trying to cover Aaron Hernandez, allowing for the speedy tight end to get loose in the open field for a 40-yard reception.

Two plays later, Stevan Ridley ran in an 8-yard touchdown as the Patriots pushed their lead to 11 points. It was a 7-play, 69-yard drive in 3:30.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Texans 13 -- The second half is about to get underway. Here's some stats from the first half:

Tom Brady - 14-24, 210 yards, 1 TD, 101.0 QB rating
Shane Vereen - 6 carries, 40 yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions, 45 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Stevan Ridley - 5 carries, 19 yards
Wes Welker - 6 receptions, 120 yards
Aaron Hernandez - 3 receptions, 25 yards

Matt Schaub - 14-23, 146 yards, 79.3 QB rating
Arian Foster - 11 carries, 57 yards, 1 TD, 2 receptions, 25 receiving yards
Andre Johnson - 4 receptions, 54 yards
Owen Daniels - 4 receptions, 31 yards

The Texans were 1 for 6 on third down in the first half, continuing a trend from the first game.

End of first half: Patriots 17, Texans 13 -- Texans kicker Shayne Graham nailed a 55-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

Matt Schaub connected with tight end Owen Daniels on three passes for 25 yards in just 24 seconds to get Graham into field goal range.

The Texans are keeping the game close.

0:31 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Texans 10 -- The Patriots went three-and-out after Tom Brady's arm was hit during his throwing motion by Texans LB Connor Barwin.

1:15 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Texans 10 -- Texans running back Arian Foster broke off two runs of 21 and 19 yards before punching in a 1-yard touchdown up the gut of the Patriots' defense. The play went under review and was upheld.

Foster now has 57 yards on 11 carries.

3:38 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Texans 3 -- Tom Brady threw a 47-yard bomb to Wes Welker down the sideline -- marking a postseason record for Welker with the Patriots for receptions. One play later, Brady hit an open Shane Vereen in the flat for an 8-yard touchdown.

It was a 7-play, 80-yard drive in only 2:56. Welker now has 59 career postseason receptions for a franchise record and has six catches for 120 yards, a personal best in the playoffs.

6:42 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Texans 3 -- We saw a couple of good plays from Steve Gregory in the open field. He broke up a pass to Texans tight end Owen Daniels and he wrapped up backup tight end Garrett Graham on a third down throw from Matt Schaub well before the first down marker.

The Texans were forced to punt again.

10:16 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Texans 3 -- We're getting a strong dose of Shane Vereen. He's now rushed for 36 yards and caught two passes for 37 more. But a questionable call on Brandon Lloyd for unsportsmanlike conduct (throwing the ball at an official) ruined the rythym of the Patriots' drive. They settled for a 37-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. The drive was 11 plays, 65 yards in 3:51.

14:14 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 3 -- The Patriots forced another Texans punt, helped in part by great coverage in the secondary. Vince Wilfork is again dominating up front and Chandler Jones has been able to get pressure, flushing Matt Schaub from the pocket on third down. It's definitely not Schaub's preference to throw on the run. He's just not that good at it.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 3 -- First quarter comes to a close and the Patriots have suffered a couple of injuries, including tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Danny Woodhead.

Gronkowski appeared to favor his arm and returned to the locker room with the medical staff. Woodhead suffered a thumb injury. Both of them are questionable to return.

1:28 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 3 -- Shane Vereen caught a pass from Tom Brady and raced down the sideline for a 25-yard reception. He followed up two plays later with a 1-yard touchdown as the Patriots took the lead.

It was a 6-play, 65-yard drive that spanned 3:01.

Stevan Ridley broke off a 14-yard run on the drive.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski officially has an arm injury and his return is questionable.

4:29 1st quarter: Texans 3, Patriots 0 -- Patriots defensive backs are making some plays now. Aqib Talib broke up a pass to Texans WR Andre Johnson and Devin McCourty tracked down Arian Foster before he found some open field on a cutback run.

The Patriots forced another punt.

4:52 1st quarter: Texans 3, Patriots 0 -- Rob Gronkowski has gone to the locker room with the medical staff. It appears his left arm was injured.

6:01 1st quarter: Texans 3, Patriots 0 -- Wes Welker dropped a third down pass as the Texans forced another Patriots punt to start the game.

Welker took a big hit after catching an 11-yard pass on third down earlier in the seven-play series. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt shared a sack with teammate Brooks Reed on Tom Brady.

Danny Woodhead has a thumb injury, which is why Shane Vereen has been in the game. Woodhead's return is questionable.

9:43 1st quarter: Texans 3, Patriots 0 -- Texans quarterback Matt Schaub went 4 of 5 on the last drive, but his third down pass to tight end Owen Daniels was well short of a first down.

Vince Wilfork is already making impact plays. He stuffed Arian Foster for a 1-yard loss on the series. Patriots take over at their 12 after a good punt by the Texans' Donnie Jones.

12:48 1st quarter: Texans 3, Patriots 0 -- The Texans held the Patriots to a three-and-out on their first defensive series. They stuffed Danny Woodhead, who left the game with what looked like a left hand injury, and then cornerback Johnathan Joseph was able to blanket Brandon Lloyd on a 3d-and-2 pass from Tom Brady.

13:57 1st quarter: Texans 3, Patriots 0 -- Danieal Manning returned the opening kickoff 94 yards but the Patriots held the Texans to a 27-yard field goal by Shayne Graham.

Fullback James Casey dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone from Matt Schaub and and Schaub threw over Andre Johnson's head.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Texans 0 -- The Texans won the coin toss and elected to receive. We'll see if this strategy pays off in their favor.

Obviously if they don't score right away, it could hurt them going up against the league's No. 1 offense.

Pregame: It's 51 degrees in Foxborough as the Patriots get ready to take on the Houston Texans in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs.

We've got two relatively healthy squads -- all starters are active -- and a lot of hype that is finally coming to a close.

We'll have the coin toss shortly and then kickoff. Stay right here for series-by-series updates throughout the game and for postgame notes and analysis afterward. I hope this one is as enjoyable to watch as the past three games we've seen this weekend.

@zuriberry

Game preview: Texans at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 13, 2013 07:22 AM

The Patriots are 9-2 at Gillette Stadium in the playoffs, a mark of both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's excellence the past 12 years. They'll each get an opportunity to put another notch on their belts with a win in their AFC divisional playoff matchup with the Houston Texans.

With a win, Belichick would move out of a tie for third place all-time in postseason victories as a coach with 18. Brady would break a tie with his boyhood hero, Joe Montana, for the most playoff victories by a quarterback. He has 16. But they'll have to do so against a Houston team that is hell-bent on upsetting New England after an embarrassing 42-14 loss a month ago in the regular season.

Texans quarterback Matt Schaub played poorly in his first game against the Patriots. He had a 68.8 quarterback rating after finishing 19 of 32 for 232 yards and an interception. But most troubling for the Texans, they were 4 of 14 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down. The Patriots' defense was able to get stops when it mattered most, and Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed, 1 tackle for loss) dominated the line of scrimmage.

It didn't help Houston in that first meeting that they went down 21-0 in the first half and 28-0 at the top of the third quarter. The Texans are looking to change all of that by working through some of the defensive miscues they brought upon themselves, but also by feeding running back Arian Foster. Foster had 140 yards rushing last week against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Texans' 19-13 wild-card win. The Texans are 8-0 this season when Foster eclipses the 100-yard mark.

This time around, the Patriots are much healthier. Fifteen players were removed from the team's injury report this week, leaving five who were listed as probable for today's game. That includes tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the first game and is likely to cause matchup problems for the Texans on defense.

The Texans will have backup tight end Garrett Graham and linebacker Brooks Reed available after missing the first game last month. Graham is a key player in the Texans' passing game.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 4:30 p.m.

Records: Patriots 12-4; Texans 12-4, 1-0 postseason.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak); Dial Global Sports radio (Ian Eagle, Trent Green, Lewis Johnson).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Texans offense: WR Andre Johnson, LT Duane Brown, LG Wade Smith, C Chris Myers, RG Ben Jones, RT Derek Newton, TE Owen Daniels, WR Kevin Walter, QB Matt Schaub, FB James Casey, RB Arian Foster.

Texans defense: DE J.J. Watt, NT Shaun Cody, DE Antonio Smith, SLB Brooks Reed, MLB Bradie James, MLB Barrett Ruud, WLB Connor Barwin, LCB Kareem Jackson, RCB Johnathan Joseph, SS Danieal Manning, FS Glover Quinn.

@zuriberry

Final: Patriots 28, Dolphins 0

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 30, 2012 04:19 PM

Final: Patriots 35, Dolphins 0 -- The Patriots wrapped up the Miami Dolphins quickly with Stevan Ridley punching in two second-quarter touchdowns in a 28-0 win Sunday to end the regular season.

With the win, the Patriots clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs, assuring the team a week off with a first-round playoff bye.

Ridley finished with 74 yards on 20 carries.

Tom Brady was 22 of 36 for 284 yards passing with two touchdowns.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had suffered a broken left forearm Nov. 18, returned to much fanfare, catching two passes for 42 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown. Gronkowski still appeared apprehensive with his arm, refusing to use that limb to engage defenders. But he managed to catch both passes over the middle.

Wes Welker caught eight passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.

6:30 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Dolphins 0 -- Justin Francis is cleaning up for the Patriots. He got his third sack of the game. Pretty good for a rookie free agent. Defensive back Derrick Martin also got a sack on the Dolphins' last series, marking seven sacks in the game for the Patriots, a season high.

9:20 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Dolphins 0 -- The fans were awoken from their slumber with another monstrous spike by Rob Gronkowski. They hadn't seen one of those in more than a month.

Tom Brady found Gronkowski over the middle of the field for a 23-yard touchdown to cap a 6-play, 47-yard drive. Fans at Gillette Stadium celebrated by throwing snow up in the air.

Just a play prior, Brady hit Wes Welker for a 7-yard catch on fourth down to extend the Patriots' drive.

11:47 4th quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- Armon Binns dropped a pass on fourth down as the Dolphins turned the ball over on downs. Sort of represents the Dolphins' whole day. They can't get back to the beach fast enough.

13:33 4th quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- The Patriots just went three-and-out, with Tom Brady targeting Danny Woodhead twice after getting a pass tipped on first down. Not a good drive.

End of 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- I think both teams want to get out of this game at this point without any injuries. The Patriots for playoff purposes, and the Dolphins to properly enjoy their soon-to-be extended vacation.

Tom Brady is 17 of 29 for 231 yards and one touchdown.

0:24 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- Justin Francis got his second sack of the day, taking down Ryan Tannehill for a 1-yard loss as the Patriots forced the Dolphins' fourth punt of the night.

1:18 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- Despite a 20-yard pass to Wes Welker, and what appeared to be another catch he made in between his legs, the Patriots were unable to get their second drive of the third quarter past the 50.

A Tom Brady pass to Welker, that appeared to be caught in between his legs as he rolled over, was picked up by a Miami defender and returned for a touchdown. But after reviewing the play, Welker never made the catch and the play was overturned.

4:13 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. The Dolphins wer marching down the field on their best drive of the game, before Ryan Tannehill fumbled at the Patriots 3-yard line with Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower recovering.

Miami has slept through half of this game, but it looked like they were serious about making this competitive for at least one drive. That just went up in smoke.

7:49 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- Miami's Bryan McCann got loose on a cornerback blitz and picked up an 8-yard sack on Tom Brady to force the Patriots' second punt of the game.

The Patriots appeared to come out lethargic in the second half. Let's see if they pick it up.


Daniel Fells, who left the game with a hand injury, has returned.

11:48 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- Back to back sacks by Vince Wilfork and Trevor Scott forced the Dolphins to punt on their opening drive of the second half.

Ryan Tannehill did complete a 19-yard pass to Reggie Bush. But Jerod Mayo tracked him down before he could get far.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- The first half comes to a close with the Patriots holding a firm lead over the Dolphins.

Tom Brady is 14 of 22 for 193 yards and a touchdown. Stevan Ridley has 10 rushes for 30 yards and two touchdowns.

The Dolphins have picked up eight first downs in the game have only 22 rushing yards. Ryan Tannehill is 7 of 13 for 95 yards with an interception.

1:00 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- Stevan Ridley punched in a 2-yard touchdown run as the Patriots have now taken a three-touchdown lead over the Dolphins.

The touchdown capped a 14-play drive that ate up 5:25 of game clock.

1:53 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 0 -- Rob Ninkovich has a hip injury and his return is questionable. It was not a leg injury, as I previously indicated.

Also, Daniel Fells has a hand injury. His return is also questionable.

6:28 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 0 -- Rob Ninkovich is being helped off the field after the Patriots forced a 41-yard field goal try by the Dolphins' Nate Kaeding that was wide left.

It looks like Ninkovich suffered a left leg injury. We'll keep you posted with any updates.

10:26 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 0 -- On fourth-and-goal, at the Dolphins' 1-yard line, Stevan Ridley punched in the touchdown as the Patriots took a two-touchdown lead over the Dolphins.

The Patriots finished a 13-play, 92-yard drive that spanned 7:28. There were a couple of big plays to Danny Woodhead (25 yards) and Wes Welker (23 yards) on the drive.

After the Patriots scored, fans in the stadium picked up the snow near their seats and began throwing it up in the air to celebrate. Definitely one of the more awesome scenes we've seen at Gillette all year.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Dolphins 0 -- After one quarter of play, Tom Brady is 9 of 14 for 140 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins have managed only three first downs with Ryan Tannehill tossing an interception, picked off by safety Steve Gregory.

The Patriots went up on a 9-yard touchdown by Brady to Wes Welker. Rob Gronkowski has a catch for 19 yards. He still looks a bit ginger, but better than he did in Super Bowl XLVI when he was coming off the ankle injury.

2:40 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Dolphins 0 -- Patriots defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick sacked Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill for a 7-yard loss as the Patriots forced the Dolphins to punt again.

It was Deaderick's first sack of the season.

6:40 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Dolphins 0 -- It took only two plays to capitalize on Ryan Tannehill's interception.

First, Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 19-yard pass across the middle. Then Brady followed it up with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker over the middle. Welker was wide open.

7:15 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Dolphins 0 -- Patriots safety Steve Gregory intercepted a Ryan Tannehill pass that was thrown right into coverage. The Patriots took over at the Dolphins' 28-yard line.

8:27 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Dolphins 0 -- Tom Brady looks a little off, unable to connect on a number of passes today already. He missed normally easy throws to Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd and then a pass to Aaron Hernandez on third down was broken up by Dolphins safety Jimmy Wilson leading to a 25-yard punt by Zoltan Mesko. Brady is 4 of 9 for 54 yards.

Because of the wind at Gillette Stadium today, expected to average 25 miles per hour, the Patriots have already made a couple of questionable calls in regard to the kicking game. They passed up on field goal opportunity on their first series to go for it on fourth down and then punted at the Dolphins 33.

10:35 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Dolphins 0 -- Patriots defensive lineman Justin Francis came up with a coverage sack, a loss of four yards, on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill as Miami went three-and-out on their first drive.

Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington started at corner for the Patriots. Aqib Talib was not spotted on the first defensive series.

11:43 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Dolphins 0 -- Tom Brady threw two straight incompletions as the Patriots turned the ball over on downs just outside the Dolphins' red zone.

Stevan Ridley, who rushed for 19 yards on four carries, crossed the 1,200-yard threshold on the season. He's the fifth Patriots running back to reach 1,200.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Dolphins 0 -- The Dolphins won the coin toss and elected to defer until the second half. The Patriots will receive the opening kickoff.

Game on!

Pregame: We're about to get underway here at Gillette Stadium for the Patriots' final game of the regular season.

With the Indianapolis Colts win over the Houston Texans earlier this afternoon, the Patriots can clinch a first-round playoff bye with a win.

It's 28 degrees here in Foxborough with temperatures expected to fall to 18 degrees. Wind is supposed to averaged 25 to 26 miles per hour, so that will definitely be a factor.

Stay tuned right here for all the updates, series by series.

@zuriberry

Game 16 preview: Dolphins at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 30, 2012 12:53 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Not only will the Patriots' seeding in the AFC playoffs be determined after Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, with a legitimate chance at a first-round bye, but the Patriots can also sweep the AFC East, a feat the team has only accomplished once, in 2007.

The Patriots faced the Dolphins at the beginning of December, winning 23-16 in a more contested affair than the odds had foreseen. Tom Brady led a fourth quarter drive that ate up seven minutes of game clock and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a game-clinching field goal.

The Dolphins have won their last two games and are fighting to finish the season at .500 with a win today. They'll be without wide receiver Davone Bess, who is suffering from a back injury.

The Patriots' Rob Gronkowski could return today. He's been limited in practice the past two weeks after suffering a broken forearm on Nov. 18. He had surgery the following day.

New England can hit a number of milestones today. Stevan Ridley needs 11 yards to become the fifth Patriots player to reach 1,200 yards in a season. The Patriots need one more first down to break an NFL record for first downs in a season. They currently have 416.

The game will be dedicated in part to broadcasters Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti. This is Santos's final season with Patriots before he retires and Cappelletti retired before the season started.

It will be Santos' 743rd game called. Both Santos and Cappelletti will be introduced to fans before the game and will call the first series together.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

Records: Patriots 11-4; Dolphins 7-8.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Mike Rivera, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Dolphins offense: WR Brian Hartline, LT Jonathan Martin, LG Richie Incognito, C Mike Pouncey, RG John Jerry, RT Nate Garner, TE Anthony Fasano, WR Marlon Moore, QB Ryan Tannehill, FB Jorvorskie Lane, RB Reggie Bush.

Dolphins defense: LE Jared Odrick, DT Randy Starks, DT Paul Soliai, RE Cameron Wake, LB Kevin Burnett, LB Karlos Dansby, LB Koa Misi, CB Sean Smith, CB Nolan Carroll, S Chris Clemons, S Reshad Jones.

Inactives
(more to come)

Patriots: TBA

Dolphins: WR Davone Bess (back).

@zuriberry

Final: Patriots 23, Jaguars 16

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 23, 2012 12:53 PM

Patrick Chung picked off two passes, including one as time was expiring in the end zone, to preserve a 23-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tom Brady was 24 of 41 on the day with 267 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. His two interceptions both came in the first quarter, allowing the Jaguars to build a 13-3 lead before the Patriots scored 20 unanswered points.

Wes Welker caught 10 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown and Stevan Ridley had 18 carries for 84 yards. Danny Woodhead had two catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne threw for 348 yards on 29 of 51 passing, including a touchdown. But an injured Patriots secondary picked him off three times, including twice by Chung, who was filling in because Aqib Talib was limited and Alfonzo Dennard was out. Marquice Cole, playing as a nickel defensive back, also picked off Henne.

Henne led the Jaguars down to the Patriots' 12-yard line with eight seconds left in the game, with a chance to tie. But with pressure in his face, he tossed up a pass in a free for all that Chung came down with.

The play made up for a 15-yard unnecessary penalty on Chung, who delivered a vicious hit on Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts's head that took him out of the game with less than a minute left.

1:09 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jaguars 16 -- Tom Brady was sacked on third down by the Jaguars' Tyson Alualu, forcing a Patriots punt with a little more than a minute remaining in the game.

Jacksonville has no timeouts remaining.

3:14 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jaguars 16 -- On fourth down at the Patriots' 10-yard line, Chandler Jones hit Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne as he was throwing the ball, affecting his throw enough for Patrick Chung to intercept and return the pass for 27 yards.

The interception killed an 11-play drive by the Jaguars to help the Patriots seal the game.

7:48 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jaguars 16 -- The Patriots went three-and-out, giving the Jaguars an opportunity to tie the game.

A first down pass to Brandon Lloyd looked like a catch, but was bobbled when Lloyd went to the ground and ruled incomplete. On 3d-and-6, Tom Brady couldn't hit Aaron Hernandez as he was making his way toward the sideline.

8:42 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jaguars 16 -- The Jaguars cut the Patriots' lead down to a touchdown with a 42-yard field goal by Josh Scobee, his third field goal of the game.

The Patriots can seal the game with a lengthy touchdown drive to follow.

14:15 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jaguars 13 -- Wes Welker caught a magnificent 25-yard pass from Tom Brady over the middle of the field. Brady led him enough where he had to practically dive for it even though he was wide open. Brady came back to Welker for a 2-yard touchdown as the Patriots opened a 10-point lead on the Jaguars in the fourth quarter.

It was a 9-play, 59-yard drive where Welker touched the ball three times, including a 9-yard reverse.

3:42 3d quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 13 -- Brandon Deaderick deflected a Chad Henne pass on third down as the Patriots forced the Jaguars punt after three plays.

5:04 3d quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 13 -- Tom Brady was sacked twice in a row, the first of which was a 15-yard helmet-to-helmet penalty on Jeremy Mincey. But the 7-yard loss on the next play proved to be too much for the Patriots to salvage the drive. Brady couldn't connect with Wes Welker on a 3d-and-10 after a toss to Brandon Lloyd to get back to the original line of scrimmage.

Russell Allen and C.J. Mosley were credited with the other sack on Brady.

6:45 3d quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 13 -- Sitting back in zone coverage, Patriots cornerback Marquice Cole was able to step in front of a Jaguars receiver for a an interception.

8:51 3d quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 13 -- The Jaguars just held the Patriots to their second three-and-out of the game. Tom Brady was pressured on third down and threw an incomplete pass to Deion Branch.

9:40 3d quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 13 -- Trevor Scott and Rob Ninkovich got pressure on Chad Henne to force another Jacksonville punt in the third quarter and give the Patriots a chance to extend their lead.

Kyle Arrington was flagged for pass interference on the drive, giving the Jaguars five yards on a third down.

11:44 3d quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 13 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked his third field goal of the day, a 38-yard attempt, as the Patriots took the lead over the Jaguars.

Tom Brady completed three passes to Brandon Lloyd for 39 yards on the drive.

A tipped pass attempt to Danny Woodhead by the Jaguars' Jeremy Mincey prevented a Patriots touchdown on third down.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 13, Jaguars 13 -- The first half comes to a close with the game knotted after four field goals and a couple of touchdowns.

The Patriots' two turnovers, both Tom Brady interceptions, turned into two Josh Scobee field goals for the Jaguars. Chad Henne threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon to start the game and Tom Brady tied it up with a 14-yard TD pass to Danny Woodhead.

Brady is 14 of 24 for 124 yards and a touchdown. He has a 58.0 quarterback rating right now. Henne is 15 of 24 for 210 yards and a touchdown. He has a 104.5 quarterback rating.

Wes Welker has six catches for 51 yards.

0:18 2d quarter: Patriots 13, Jaguars 13 -- Tom Brady orchestrated a 10-play, 66-yard drive, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead in the flat.

It was another quick drive, only 3:31. But most importantly, it tied the ball game up.

Brady threw four passes to Wes Welker on the drive to help move the chains.

The touchdown pass marked the 47th consecutive game Brady has thrown a touchdown pass, tying Johnny Unitas for 2d all-time in NFL history.

3:59 2d quarter: Jaguars 13, Patriots 6 -- A first down holding call on the Jaguars' Mercedes Lewis helped the Patriots hold the Jaguars to four plays before forcing a punt.

Cornerback Aqib Talib appears to be favoring his hip on every play. He was listed with a hip injury this week.

5:25 2d quarter: Jaguars 13, Patriots 6 -- Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 49-yard field goal following an 11-play, 52-yard drive.

The Patriots' drive was stalled by an illegal motion penalty by Aaron Hernandez on third down. On 3d and 13, Tom Brady was pressured and while attempting a pass to Danny Woodhead had the ball swiped at by Jacksonville's Jeremy Mincey to cause the incompletion.

10:48 2d quarter: Jaguars 13, Patriots 3 -- Chad Henne missed a wide open pass to Jordan Shipley as the Jaguars went three-and-out as well.

12:19 2d quarter: Jaguars 13, Patriots 3 -- The Jaguars have held the Patriots to a three-and-out. Tom Brady was pressure twice on second and third downs, with Jason Babin getting to him both times.

13:11 2d quarter: Jaguars 13, Patriots 3 -- Montell Owens caught a Chad Henne pass in the flat and raced away for a 53-yard gain as the Jaguars put themselves in position to score again. Josh Scobee finished the drive with a 35-yard field goal as the Jaguars capitalized on the Patriots' second turnover of the game.

End of 1st quarter: Jaguars 10, Patriots 3 -- The Jaguars had a franchise record for yards with 202. That should say it all about this game so far. But again, the turnovers are killing the Patriots.

0:16 1st quarter: Jaguars 10, Patriots 3 -- Tom Brady was picked off for the second time of the game. Derek Cox jumped in front of a pass intended for Brandon Lloyd over the middle of the field. That's three Tom Brady interceptions in the last two weeks.

1:15 1st quarter: Jaguars 10, Patriots 3 -- Josh Scobee was wide right on a field goal attempt as the Patriots take over.

Chad Henne had thrown a 36-yard pass to Jordan Shipley to get the Jaguars into field goal range.

3:18 1st quarter: Jaguars 10, Patriots 3 -- The Patriots revved it up on offense, going 73 yards in 2:28 before being held to a 25-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

Stevan Ridley got four straight rushes for 41 yards and Tom Brady completed a 32-yard pass to Michael Hoomanawanui.

5:43 1st quarter: Jaguars 10, Patriots 0 -- The Jaguars were able to capitalize on the Patriots' turnover. Josh Scobee nailed a 41-yard field goal attempt after the Jaguars went 31 yards on seven plays.

Marquice Cole had a nice tackle for a loss on a slot corner blitz, forcing a 3d-and13 the Jaguars couldn't convert.

8:49 1st quarter: Jaguars 7, Patriots 0 -- Tom Brady was eyeing Stevan Ridley, who started the game after fumbling last week, on a wheel route but the pass was bobbled and then tipped into the hands of Jaguars safety Chris Prosinski. It was Brady's first ever interception against Jacksonville.

9:34 1st quarter: Jaguars 7, Patriots 0 -- Chad Henne went 6 of 6 on the opening drive of the game, finishing with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon in the back of the end zone as the Jaguars cured their red zone woes with a first quarter touchdown.

Blackmon beat Devin McCourty, who started at cornerback, for the touchdown. Patrick Chung started at safety.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Jaguars 0 -- The Patriots won the coin toss and have elected to defer until the second half. The Jaguars will receive to begin the game.

Let's go.

Pregame: We're getting ready for the game to start. It's 60 degrees in Jacksonville and should remain that way through 4 p.m. hour, according to Weather.com.

It looks like Trevor Scott will start at defensive end and Rob Ninkovich will move to outside linebacker to take Brandon Spikes' (ankle, knee) place.

Kyle Arrington will be the starter at cornerback with Alfonzo Dennard (knee) out for today's game.

Stay right here for all the updates, series by series. Enjoy the game.

@zuriberry

Game 15 preview: Patriots at Jaguars

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 23, 2012 10:58 AM

Don't let the record fool you, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been competitive with Chad Henne under center and you shouldn't overlook them.

That's the message Patriots coach Bill Belichick has no doubt drummed into his players' heads. Henne, who is 1-3 in his four games as the Jaguars' starter (and 1-4 in his career against the Patriots) has been able to move the chains for Jacksonville in a way that Blaine Gabbert could not. But the Jaguars still have issues getting into the end zone.

Henne began his tenure as the Jaguars' starter with a 24-19 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars followed with a 34-18 loss to the Buffalo Bills, a 17-10 loss to the New York Jets, and a 24-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins last week. He also had solid games in relief against the Houston Texans, a 43-37 OT loss, and the Indianapolis Colts, a 27-10 loss. Henne has thrown for 1,438 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions and has a 75.7 quarterback rating.

The last time Henne faced the Patriots, he was a member of the Miami Dolphins. On Monday Night Football, he went 30 of 49 passing for 416 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. He also ran for 59 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots won in the game in a shootout, with Tom Brady throwing for 517 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-24 win.

Bill Belichick had nothing but kind words for Henne earlier in the week.

"With Henne, you really got to defend everything," Belichick said. "You gotta defend all the receivers, you gotta defend the short balls, you gotta defend the play-action, the deep balls, a little bit of scrambling. I think he does a pretty good job of everything. And that's really the hardest thing for a defense is when you gotta defend everything as opposed to just nailing it down to this is what he likes to do and it's this small thing that they're pretty good at but it's just that one thing.

"You just can't say that about Henne. He does a nice job of distributing the ball and getting it to places where the defense is light. That's really what I think a quarterback should do. He's certainly done it well against us. He's had some of his best games against us. So we got a lot of respect for him."

With Maurice Jones-Drew out for the ninth straight game, and Rashad Jennings out with a concussion, the Patriots will likely see a large dose of running back Montell Owens, who played college ball at Maine. Owens has led the Jaguars in carries the past two weeks. He has 32 carries this season for 167 yards and one touchdown. The Jaguars also feature talented rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon (51 catches, 707 yards, 3 touchdowns) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (41 catches, 410 yards, 4 touchdowns).

The Patriots will be looking to rebound from their 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a game in which they turned the ball over four times and went down 31-3 at one point in the third quarter. They'll have to do without linebacker Brandon Spikes, who was ruled out Saturday with knee and ankle injuries, as well as cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who suffered a knee injury against the 49ers. Both players practiced during the week.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m

Records: Patriots 10-4; Jaguars 2-12.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcot); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Mike Rivera, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Jaguars offense: WR Cecil Shorts III, LT Eugene Monroe, LG Austin Pasztor, C Brad Meester, RG Uche Nwaneri, RT Cameron Bradfield, TE Marcedes Lewis, WR Justin Blackmon, QB Chad Henne, FB Greg Jones, RB Montell Owens.

Jaguars defense: LDE Jason Babin, DT Tyson Alualu, C.J. Mosley, RDE Jeremy Mincey, OLB Julian Stanford, MLB Paul Posluszny, OLB Russell Allen, LCB Mike Harris, RCB Derek Cox, SS Dawan Landry, FS Dwight Lowery.

Inactives
(more to come)

Patriots: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm, hip), LB Brandon Spikes (knee, ankle), Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring, knee).

Jaguars: RB Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion).

@zuriberry

Final: 49ers 41, Patriots 34

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 16, 2012 08:17 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Despite coming back from a 31-3 deficit to tie the game, the Patriots couldn't come up with two yards when they needed it most.

On a 4th-and-1 with 2:24 left in the game, Tom Brady couldn't connect with a leaping Danny Woodhead to keep the team's drive alive and any chance to win Sunday's game.

The 49ers kicked an insurance field goal with 1:56 left, going on to win 41-34 and drop the Patriots to 10-4 on the season.

The Patriots had four turnovers in the game. Brady threw two interceptions -- a rarity -- and was sacked twice. He threw for 443 yards and a touchdown. He broke his record for pass attempts in a game with 65, completing 36.

Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 14 of 25 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns, including a hitch to Michael Crabtree that he turned into a 38-yard score, putting the 49ers up 38-31 with a little more than six minutes remaining in the game.

David Akers added a 28-yard field goal with less than two minutes to hold off the Patriots.

Danny Woodhead had 12 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns.

0:38 4th quarter: 49ers 41, Patriots 34 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 41-yard field goal as the Patriots raced down field to keep the game within reach. An onside attempt is up next.

1:56 4th quarter: 49ers 41, Patriots 31 -- David Akers seals it with a 28-yard field goal against the Patriots, putting the game out of reach.

2:45 4th quarter: 49ers 38, Patriots 31 -- Tom Brady couldn't connect with Danny Woodhead on 4th-and-2 as the Patriots turned it over on downs.

If the 49ers even kick a field goal, they'll put the game out of reach.

3:09 4th quarter: 49ers 38, Patriots 31 -- On three straight runs, the Patriots held the 49ers to only seven yards, forcing the punt and what will surely be the pivotal game-tying drive.

Stay in your seats for this one.

4:59 4th quarter: 49ers 38, Patriots 31 -- Tom Brady was sacked two times in a row, once by a helmet-less Ray McDonald and then again by Ricky Jean Francois who replaced Justin Smith on the 49ers' defensive line. The Patriots were forced to punt.

6:25 4th quarter: 49ers 38, Patriots 31 -- The 49ers' LaMichael James returned the kickoff 62 yards and on the very next play Colin Kaepernick threw a quick hitch to Michael Crabtree who turned it up field and ran away for a 38-yard touchdown with the Patriots' Kyle Arrington in pursuit.

The 49ers just wrested the lead right back. But the Patriots' offense seems to be clicking right now. This game is far from over.

6:43 4th quarter: Patriots 31, 49ers 31 -- After being down 31-3, the Patriots have roared back to tie the game. Tom Brady hit Brandon Lloyd on a 53-yard pass to get into 49ers territory and Danny Woodhead ran in a 1-yard touchdown to even up the score.

This will be considered an epic collapse by the 49ers.

9:56 4th quarter: 49ers 31, Patriots 24 -- The Patriots defense held up again, helped in part by a self-destructing 49ers team. The 49ers were flagged for an illegal hands to the face by G Alex Boone, forcing the team into a desperate 3d-and-22 situation. They went four plays before punting.

The Patriots can now tie the game up.

12:13 4th quarter: 49ers 31, Patriots 24 -- Helped by a pass interference call on the 49ers' Tarrell Brown, Tom Brady threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez after driving 66 yards in 1:04.

Brady showed a little fire earlier, yelling at referee Ed Hochuli for allowing a 49ers timeout in the middle of his no-huddle offense.

It's now a one-touchdown game.

13:27 4th quarter: 49ers 31, Patriots 17 -- This could be the makings of a comeback. The Patriots held the 49ers to a three-and-out. Colin Kaepernick couldn't connect with LaMichael James on a third down pass as San Francisco was forced to punt.

The 49ers' Justin Smith has an elbow injury. His return is questionable.

14:58 4th quarter: 49ers 31, Patriots 17 -- The Patriots spread out the 49ers on the goal line and called a QB sneak for Tom Brady who dove in for a 1-yard touchdown.

The Patriots surely needed it. They're now down two touchdowns with a whole quarter of play left. The drive was 9 plays, 86 yards, in 3:41.

It was Brady's fourth rushing touchdown of the season, a career high.

End of the 3d quarter: 49ers 31, Patriots 10 -- A 41-yard pass by Tom Brady to Michael Hoomanawanui has the Patriots within the 49ers' 5-yard line.

They'll be attempting for a touchdown on fourth and goal at the 1.

Alfonzo Dennard is jogging on the sideline, trying to get ready to come back to the game. We'll see if he can.

The 49ers' Justin Smith just walked off to the locker room with an ailment.

3:39 3d quarter: 49ers 31, Patriots 10 -- The Patriots defense woke up. They held the 49ers to only four plays. It helped that Colin Kaepernick sailed a pass to Michael Crabtree on third down. But the Patriots will take whatever they can get at this point.

5:59 3d quarter: 49ers 31, Patriots 10 -- Danny Woodhead has taken over the rushing duties for the night. Woodhead touched the ball five times, including four rushes, before running in a 6-yard touchdown -- the Patriots' first touchdown of the game.

The Patriots ran a harried 13-play, 73-yard drive in 4:22.

10:26 3d quarter: 49ers 31, Patriots 3 -- Tom Brady threw an improbable interception to Aldon Smith after attempting a screen pass to Aaron Hernandez. The ball popped right out of Hernandez's hands after he was hit and right into the clutches of Smith, who returned it six yards.

On the very next play, Colin Kaepernick threw a 27-yard touchdown down the seam to Michael Crabtree.

10:44 3d quarter: 49ers 24, Patriots 3 -- Another fumble by Stevan Ridley recovered by the 49ers' Dashon Goldson. On the very next play, Frank Gore runs in a 3-yard touchdown on a botched play.

Goldson returned the fumble and raced 66 yards before being knocked out of bounds by Aaron Hernandez.

Donte Whitner forced the fumble.

11:37 3d quarter: 49ers 17, Patriots 3 -- On a deep pass intended for Randy Moss, Devin McCourty stepped in and intercepted the pass from Colin Kaepernick to end the 49ers' second-half opening drive.

15:00 3d quarter: 49ers 17, Patriots 3 -- The third quarter is about to get underway. The 49ers are receiving to start the half.

End of the 2d quarter: 49ers 17, Patriots 3 -- 49ers kicker David Akers chipped in a 20-yard field goal s the first half came to a close.

The 49ers went 64 yards on 15 plays to close out the half.

This is a stunner for the Patriots. They're not used to such a poor offensive output in a half. This is the first time they've been held to 3 points in a first half this season.

Tom Brady is 10 of 19 for 76 yards and an interception, Shane Vereen fumbled on a screen pass, and the team has punted four times already.

Colin Kaepernick has led the 49ers on 8 of 15 passing for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. He hit Randy Moss for a 24-yard TD and tight end Delanie Walker for a 34-yard score.

Niners running back Frank Gore has 15 carries for 73 yards.

6:04 2d quarter: 49ers 14, Patriots 3 -- The Patriots went three-and-out with Tom Brady failing to connect on two passes to Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd dropped one and the other was too low.

On the punt, it looked like 49ers returner Ted Ginn Jr. had the ball hit his shin and was recovered by the Patriots. The officials spent a good amount of time discussing the play before ruling it was in fact not touched. The Patriots challenged the play and it was upheld.

6:59 2d quarter: 49ers 14, Patriots 3 -- Colin Kaepernick hit a wide open Delanie Walker for a 34-yard touchdown.

The drive was spurred along in part by a questionable pass interference call on Patriots corner Aqib Talib that gifted the 49ers 35 yards. It went only three plays and covered 80 yards.

8:32 2d quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 3 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 32-yard field as the Patriots finally got on the board.

Tom Brady was sacked on third down at the 49ers' 7-yard line, finishing a the Patriots' most promising drive of the night so far. The Pats went 62 yards on 16 plays and converted on a fourth down to get into the 49ers' red zone. But Ray McDonald managed to get loose in the Patriots' backfield to take down Brady for a six-yard loss.

14:55 2d quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- On a fourth and 1, Colin Kaepernick's quarterback sneak went for no gain as the Patriots took over on downs.

The 49ers' Vernon Davis dropped a wide open touchdown in the end zone.

If the 49ers had elected to kick a field goal on fourth down, David Akers would've attempted a 43-yarder.

End of 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- The quarter comes to a close and I'm sure the Patriots already want to put it behind them. They've punted the ball three times and turned it over twice. The 49ers are driving, looking to add to their lead.

1:00 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- Shane Vereen fumbled a screen pass from Tom Brady. The fumble was forced by the 49ers' NaVorro Bowman and recovered by Chris Culliver at the sideline.

This is wacky game in which the Patriots haven't been able to get anything going. This 49ers defense is proving to be worth the hype.

2:14 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- A fake punt by the 49ers caught the Patriots by surprise. Safety Dashon Goldson rushed for 31 yards on fourth down. The 49ers weren't able to capitalize on it though. David Akers missed a 39-yard field goal in the drizzly weather at Gillette Stadium.

6:13 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- The Patriots take the gift of a fumble and go three-and-out. Tough start for the Tom Brady led offense.

7:15 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- Two plays into their new drive deep in the Patriots red zone, a Colin Kaepernick pass is fumbled by Delanie Walker after being forced by Steve Gregory. Aqib Talib recovers and the Patriots take over. What a frantic start to this game.

7:45 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- Tom Brady was intercepted by Carlos Rodgers on a deep pass to Wes Welker. Rodgers returned it 53 yards.

8:02 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- A fumble by Colin Kaepernick at the line of scrimmage on third down, helped the Patriots force a punt by the 49ers after three plays.

9:54 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- Aldon Smith got a hit on Tom Brady and hurried him on another play as the 49ers forced the Patriots to punt after four plays.

Brady did connect with Brandon Lloyd on a 23-yard pass down the sideline.

10:55 1st quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0 -- 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss after guiding his team down the field seamlessly. Kaepernick was 4 of 5 on the drive as the 49ers went 63 yards in six plays.

The 49ers did seem to get away with a fumble by LaMichael James. The play was not reviewed.

With the touchdown catch, Moss now has 15,219 yards in his career. That's the third most all-time in the league.

13:35 1st quarter: Patriots 0, 49ers 0 -- Stevan Ridley was hit in the backfield for a 2-yard loss on third down by 49ers LB Navorro Bowman as the Patriots punted.

14:23 1st quarter: Patriots 0, 49ers 0 -- On the Patriots' second play, Steven Ridley appeared to fumble after a gain of 2 yard. But upon further review, the ball had come loose after he had already hit the ground. It was a lucky review for the Patriots, because the 49ers would've taken over a little outside of the red zone.

14:53 1st quarter: Patriots 0, 49ers 0 -- We're underway here with Devin McCourty returning the opening kick 13 yards to the 15-yard line.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, 49ers 0 -- The 49ers won the coin toss and have elected to defer to the second half.

A moment of silence was held for the victims of Newtown, Conn.

Pregame: We're close to getting underway here at Gillette Stadium with the Patriots hosting the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football.

Because of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., President Barack Obama's remarks from tonight's vigil will be televised on NBC. The network will cut back to game coverage after his remarks.

It's 34 degrees out and there's a light rain. The elements will definitely be a factor. Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick is not wearing gloves or sleeves. We'll see how that goes with a Patriots' defense that has an NFL best +24 in takeaways.

Stay here for game updates throughout.

@zuriberry

Game 14 preview: 49ers at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 16, 2012 12:58 PM

For the second week in a row, the Patriots have an opportunity to polish their standing in the NFL on national TV with another marquee matchup.

The Patriots host the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15 for only the second time the two team's will have played at Gillette Stadium and 12th time in the history of the two franchises, a series in which the 49ers lead 7-4.

The last time the two teams played each other was Oct. 5, 2008. Matt Cassel filled in for an injured Tom Brady as the Patriots won 31-21 at Candlestick Park.

Four years later, this 49ers team poses a much different threat under the helm of second-year coach Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers feature the league's leader in sacks in Aldon Smith (19.5), the second best defense in the NFL, and the second best running game (161.5 yards per game). The Patriots match up well, holding opponents to an eighth best low in yards per game rushing (100.8), sporting an offense that leads the league in scoring (36.3), and an offensive line that has allowed only 20 sacks on the quarterback.

San Francisco is coming off a 27-13 win over the Miami Dolphins in which second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick was 18 of 23 passing for 183 yards in his fourth start of the season. He took over for veteran Alex Smith after Smith suffered a concussion against the St. Louis Rams in Week 10. Kaepernick is getting his fifth start and this will be his sixth game with significant action. The University of Nevada product has a strong arm and can run the ball well. He broke off a 50-yard touchdown run, the longest in 49ers franchise history, against the Dolphins. The 49ers liked to run the option with Kaepernick even before he took over for Smith, subbing him in during five games early in the season for just that reason.

The Patriots offense, No. 1 in the NFL, will have to deal with a physical defense led by Pro Bowl players Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, and Dashon Goldson, representing a cross section of the unit's position groups. San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman is sixth in the NFL with 116 tackles. New England will have to do without tight end Rob Gronkowski for another week. He's still sidelined while rehabbing a broken forearm despite practicing this week.

The 49ers will be without wide receiver Mario Manningham, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury. Randy Moss, who played with the Patriots from 2007 to 2010 and scored 50 touchdowns with the team, will likely start in Manningham's place. Moss has been a nominal piece in the 49ers' run-heavy offense. He has caught 21 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. By comparison, 49ers running back Frank Gore has caught 23 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. Gore leads the team with 1,035 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 8:20 p.m

Records: Patriots 10-3; 49ers 9-3-1.

TV/Radio info: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak); Dial Global Radio Sports (Dave Sims, James Lofton, Steve Tasker).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

49ers offense: WR Michael Crabtree, LT Joe Staley, LG Mike Iupati, C Jonathan Goodwin, RG Alex Boone, RT Anthony Davis, TE Vernon Davis, WR Randy Moss, FB Bruce Miller, RB Frank Gore, QB Colin Kaepernick.

49ers defense: DT Ray McDonald, NT Isaac Sopoaga, DT Justin Smith, OLB Ahmad Brooks, ILB NaVorro Bowman, ILB Patrick Willis, OLB Aldon Smith, LCB Carlos Rogers, RCB Tarell Brown, FS Dashon Goldson, SS Donte Whitner.

Inactives
(more to come)

Patriots: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm).

49ers: WR Mario Manningham (shoulder)

Final: Patriots 42, Texans 14

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 10, 2012 08:27 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- On the biggest stage possible for the Patriots this season, Tom Brady led his team to a resounding 42-14 win over the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium.

Brady was 21 of 35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns, including two scoring strikes to Aaron Hernandez.

The Patriots held the Texans to 100 yards rushing and Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster to 46 as the defense proved to be a difference maker in the game. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork accounted for four tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss, a pass defensed, and a fumble forced. Devin McCourty had an early interception to help stunt the Texans' offense as the Patriots jumped to a 21-0.

New Patriots Donte' Stallworth caught a 63-yard touchdown and Brandon Lloyd scored twice, catching a 37-yard TD pass and recovering a Danny Woodhead fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

Running back Stevan Ridley rushed 18 times for 72 yards and a score.

The Patriots move on to 10-3 and drop the Texans to 11-2.

2:00 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Texans 7 -- Texans backup quarterback T.J. Yates took advantage of the turnover by the Patriots and punched in a 1-yard TD on a quarterback sneak.

3:10 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Texans 7 -- Ryan Mallett threw an interception on his first pass, a ball that was tipped into the air and caught by the Texans' Shiloh Keo. Mallett had taken over for Tom Brady as the game was out of reach. Brandon Bolden also made an appearance, carrying the ball three times on the short drive.

5:10 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Texans 7 -- Another four-play drive by the Texans as the Patriots hold Houston to their seventh punt of the game.

7:23 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Texans 7 -- Stevan Ridley broke off a 14-yard touchdown run to cap a 10-play, 68-yard drive that was relatively slow for the Patriots tonight. The drive took 4:24, with the Patriots favoring eight running plays.

11:52 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Texans 7 -- The Texans ran four times in a row, with the Patriots holding them on 3rd-and-1 to force a punt as Houston's ability to come back and make this game competitive was severely diminished.

14:15 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Texans 7 -- A nifty catch and run by Danny Woodhead, turned into a miraculous touchdown for Brandon Lloyd. Woodhead had the ball punched out by J.J. Watt as he was running toward the end zone and Lloyd dove on it for a touchdown as the ball bounced forward. It was a 16-yard catch before it was a fumble forced by Watt and a fumble recovery by Lloyd.

End of 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 7 -- A six-yard run by Tom Brady ends the third quarter with him all pumped up. A short "M-V-P" chant rang out afterward. The Patriots are at the Texans' 27 to start the fourth.

3:35 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 7 -- Kyle Arrington broke up a pass to Keshawn Martin as the Patriots held the Texans to a three-and-out.

5:18 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 7 -- Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus sacked Tom Brady for a 5-yard loss on third down. It's the first sack the Patriots have given up today. The Patriots punted after only three plays.

6:12 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 7 -- Helped by a pass interference on Kyle Arrington, the Texans finally got on the board after a 7-play, 88-yard drive in 3:37. Arian Foster punched in a touchdown at the goal line.

Matt Schaub hit a critical pass to fullback James Casey for 30 yards to get the Texans into the red zone.

9:49 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Texans 0 -- Tom Brady threw a bomb to Donte' Stallworth and the new (and old) Patriot took it 63 yards for a touchdown.

Stallworth made a play and then dragged Houston's Quintin Demps the final five yards into the end zone. Talk about making an impact in your first game back with the team after being cut in training camp.

Also of note, Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib has a hip injury. His return to the game is questionable.

11:03 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Patriots held the Texans to a three-and-out. Matt Schaub hit Andre Johnson for an 8-yard completion on third down, a yard shy of the first down marker. The Patriots stuffed Arian Foster on second down for a 2-yard loss. Brandon Deaderick was credited with the tackle for the loss.

13:13 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- Donte' Stallworth may not be on the same page as Tom Brady yet, despite their history with each other. Brady and Stallworth couldn't connect on a 3rd-and-8 pass as the Patriots were forced to punt for the fourth possession in a row.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The second half is about to get underway with the Patriots receiving the ball. We'll see if things get more competitive after those first two quarters.

End of 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- Vince Wilfork has dominated for the Patriots, tallying a sack for 20 yards, a forced fumble, a tackle for a loss, and a pass defensed. He certainly has set the tone for the Patriots.

Along with Devin McCourty, the defense has held up well against the Texans. Houston has gone 2 of 8 on third downs and is 0 for 2 on fourth down attempts.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady is 13 of 19 at half for 165 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Aaron Hernandez twice and Brandon Lloyd for another.

Cornerback Aqib Talib took a bit of a spill, breaking up a pass to Andre Johnson. There's no word on him yet. He appeared to be favoring his left side.

0:41 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Patriots went three-and-out on their drive. Tom Brady went deep to Aaron Hernandez on third down but the play was broken up by Glover Quinn.

1:52 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- Jerod Mayo went untouched to lay a hit on Matt Schaub and force a turnover on downs after another Houston fourth down attempt.

3:33 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- J.J. Watt made himself big, interfering with a Tom Brady pass on 3rd-and-16, to cause an incompletion.

The Texans have now strung together a couple of defensive stops on the Patriots.

4:44 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- On a fourth down, Kevin Walter couldn't hold on to a Matt Schaub pass as the Texans turned the ball over on downs.

Kyle Arrington was credited with a pass defensed.

8:38 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Texans defense got its first stop on the Patriots. Some pressure on Tom Brady on third down forced the punt.

9:51 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Patriots held the Texans to a three-and-out, with Vince Wilfork batting down a Matt Schaub pass on third down intended for Kevin Walter.

Wilfork might have been mad about all the hype about J.J. Watt. He's already got a sack, forced fumble, pass defensed, and tackle for loss.

11:01 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Texans 0 -- The Patriots are now sticking it to the Texans, who aren't helping themselves. Danieal Manning was flagged for a pass interference on Wes Welker three plays before failing to get in Aaron Hernandez's face, allowing Tom Brady to throw a quick 4-yard touchdown pass as the Patriots took a three-touchdown lead.

Welker had two catches on the drive.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Texans 0 -- The first quarter comes to a close with the Texans almost coughing up the ball again. Matt Schaub, scrambling to evade pressure, had the ball knocked from his hand as he was escaping the pocket. The Texans recovered and were forced to punt on a 4th-and-32.

Vince Wilfork was credited with a 20-yard sack and a forced fumble. He's having a great game.

The Patriots will get the ball to start the second quarter at their 30.

2:49 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Texans 0 -- Giving a little bit of Houston medicine, the Patriots utilized a play-action stretch pass to Brandon Lloyd for a 37-yard touchdown, capitalizing on Devin McCourty's interception.

It was a quick, 6-play, 82-yard drive over 2:41.

The play-action touchdown followed another impressive play-action pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez. Brady is 6 of 8 for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

5:30 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 0 -- Devin McCourty picked off Texans QB Matt Schaub on a throw to Kevin Walter, killing a Texans drive that had gone 79 yards.

Patriots take over at their own 18-yard line.

9:27 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Texans 0 -- The Patriots are going to prove that mistakes and lost opportunities will kill the Texans. Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for 7-yard touchdown pass a play after Stevan Ridley coughed up the ball. The Texans had a chance to recover, but Hernandez hit the turf and got to it first.

The Texans' Quintin Demps was also flagged for holding on the drive, extending the Patriots' lifeline on a 3rd-and-6.

12:39 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Texans 0 -- After giving up a 16-yard run to Arian Foster, the Patriots hold the Texans to only three more. Vince Wilfork tripped Foster up in the backfield for a loss of 2 and Texans QB Matt Schaub couldn't connect with receiver Lestar Jean on a deep pass as the Patriots took over.

Wes Welker had a nice punt return in Julian Edelman's place.

On defense, the Patriots favored Trevor Scott over Chandler Jones and Brandon Deaderick over Kyle Love. We'll see if that holds.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Texans 0 -- Patriots win the coin toss and defer. The Texans will receive to start the game. According to Dan Shaughnessy, the game is already over.

Game on.

Pregame: The game is about to get underway here at Gillette Stadium. Despite the rain earlier today, it's a great crowd here with a playoff vibe hanging heavy in the air.

It's 59 degrees here in Foxborough, with winds traveling at 7 miles per hour southwest. It will be a warm New England evening for December, with a 10 to 15 percent chance to rain again before midnight.

I'll have all the updates for the game right here. Stick around and share your comments and thoughts. Enjoy the game.

@zuriberry

Game 13 preview: Texans at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 10, 2012 10:52 AM

The lights shine the brightest on Monday Night Football.

For the NFL's grand stage of the regular season, the prime time slot has finally landed a marquee game worthy of its pedigree.

In only the fourth matchup between the two franchises, the Patriots and Houston Texans will fight for a shot at a first-round bye and ultimately home field advantage in the NFL playoffs. The winner will have a leg up on which team claims the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

This is the first game the Patriots have faced an opponent that is ranked in the top 10 of the league in both offense and defense since Week 5 against the Denver Broncos. The Texans come into Monday's game on a six-game winning streak, sporting the NFL's No. 5 offense (389.6 yards per game) and No. 6 defense (322.6 yards allowed per game).

With a trio of offensive stars, the Texans' Arian Foster (1,102 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns) leads the way for Houston. Foster has helped the Texans to a sixth best 142.5 rushing yards per game in the NFL. He's backed up by two stalwart runners in Ben Tate and Justin Forsett, allowing the the Texans to have a steady play-action based offense quarterbacked by Matt Schaub (94.5 quarterback rating, 3,062 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 9 interceptions).

The Patriots will match new cornerback Aqib Talib, playing his fourth game for New England, against Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson (74 catches, 1,114 yards, 3 touchdowns).

The Texans will be boosted on defense by the return of cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Joseph missed the past two games with hamstring and groin injuries. He'll be tasked with slowing down the Patriots top-ranked offense.

For Tom Brady and company, this game provides a measuring stick against one of the NFL's elite teams. They'll do it without utility player Julian Edelman, who was placed on injured reserve with a leg injury.

Brady (102.6 quarterback rating, 3,537 yards, 25 touchdowns, 4 interceptions) will be looking to Wes Welker (92 catches, 1,064 yards, 4 touchdowns) who is vying for his fifth 100-reception season, an NFL record. Brady is 12-4 on Monday night. The last time he was on Monday night, he put up 517 yards passing against the Miami Dolphins in the 2011 regular season opener.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m

Records: Patriots 9-3; Texans 11-1.

TV/Radio info: ESPN/WCVB-TV Ch. 5 (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak); Dial Global Radio Sports (Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Mark Malone).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Donald Thomas, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Daniel Fells, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Texans offense: WR Andre Johnson, LT Duane Brown, LG Wade Smith, C Chris Myers, RG Ben Jones, RT Ryan Harris, TE Owen Daniels, WR Kevin Walter, QB Mat Schaub, FB James Casey, RB Arian Foster.

Texans defense: DE J.J. Watt, NT Shaun Cody, DE Antonio Smith, SLB Connor Barwin, MLB Tim Dobbins, MLB Bradie James, WLB WHitney Mercilus, LCB Kareem Jackson, RCB Johnathan Joseph, SS Danieal Manning, FS Glover Quin.

Inactives
(more to come)

Patriots: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm).

Texans: T Derek Newton (knee), OLB Brooks Reed (groin).

Patriots hang on to beat Dolphins, 23-16

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff December 2, 2012 04:10 PM

dolphinsfinalwin.jpg

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The skies opened up shortly after Stephen Gostkowski kicked off to the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium Sunday afternoon, sending a mixed crowd of Patriots and Dolphins fans scattering toward the nearest overhang. The rain shower was brief -- and you wouldn't have been wrong to think it was also metaphoric -- as the Patriots scored their first touchdown just over three minutes later.

But instead of a deluge, the New England offense operated at a slow trickle for the remainder of the game, doing just enough to beat the Dolphins, 23-16, and clinch the AFC East title.

Tom Brady struggled for much of the game and finished with 238 yards, one touchdown, and one pick. He came alive on New England's final drive, leading a surgical 16-play, 77-yard drive that ran 7:18 off the clock and put the game away. There wasn't a lot of pretty here. The teams combined for six punts on six possessions in the third quarter.

Wes Welker was the game's offensive standout, catching 12 passes for 103 yards and a touchdowns. He tied Jerry Rice's NFL record for 10-plus reception games in his career with 17. Stevan Ridley topped the 1,000-yard mark on the season with 71 yards on 19 carries. Brady extended his streak of consecutive games with a passing touchdown to 44, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The Patriots host the Houston Texans in a Monday night game at Gillette Stadium in Week 14.

Final: Patriots 23-16: Brandon Lloyd in on the hands team, safely secures the onsides kick to end the game.

0:31 4th quarter, Patriots 23-16: Dolphins kick the field goal and will now try to get the ball back.

1:10 4th quarter, Patriots 23-13: Gostkowski kicks a 20-yard field goal to make this a two-score game. Masterful drive by the Patriots there: 16 plays, 77 yards, 7:18 off the clock.

4:00 4th quarter, Patriots 20-13: The Patriots are running the clock down here on what they hope is a scoring drive to put this game away.

8:50 4th quarter, Patriots 20-13: Jerod Mayo comes in untouched and sacks Tannehill to force the field goal. It's a one-score game. Miami goes 65 yards on 12 plays in 4:48 to inch closer.

8:53 4th quarter, Patriots 20-10: Two injury updates:

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman left the game in the fourth quarter with a foot injury and is questionable to return, according to the team.

Patriots lineman Dan Connolly left the game at the end of the first quarter with a back injury and will not return, according to the team.

13:38 4th quarter, Patriots 20-10: The Patriots waste a 31-yard-completion to Aaron Hernandez and settle for a field goal. Miami sacks Brady twice after New England had the ball down near the goal line. Stephen Gostkowski caps the scoring drive with a 32-yard field goal.

End 3d quarter, Patriots 17-10: No scoring in the third. The Patriots have a third-and-one coming up on Miami's 35.

3:00 3d quarter, Patriots 17-10: The air has gone out of the building here as six possessions have gone by, each ending in a punt.

4:21 3d quarter, Patriots 17-10: Nothing doing for the Patriots offense. They've run for just 34 yards. Brandon Lloyd does not have a single target.

10:30 3d quarter, Patriots 17-10: Cameron Wake abuses Sebastian Vollmer and gets to Tom Brady for a vicious sack on third down. Vollmer's been struggling. Brady has thrown for just 156 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

11:57 3d quarter, Patriots 17-10: Shane Vereen streaks down the sideline and draws a pass interference call on Karlos Dansby on a ball that was questionably catch-able. Patriots catch a break there.

12:46 3d quarter, Patriots 17-10: The Dolphins don't do much better on their first try. Brandon Spikes made a play in pass coverage to knock down a pass intended for Anthony Fasano. He's been all over the field today.

13:44 3d quarter, Patriots 17-10: No score for the Patriots right after halftime. They go three-and-out and give the ball back to Miami.

Halftime, Patriots 17-10: No funny business before the half. Patriots play it safe and will start the second half with the ball.

25 seconds 2d quarter, Patriots 17-10: The Dolphins come close to running out the second quarter on a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive. The home team isn't out of this game despite their poor play.

6:53 2d quarter, Patriots 17-3: Gostkowski makes this one, from 43 yards out, to pad New England's lead.

7:54 2d quarter, Patriots 14-3: Vince Wilfork recovers a Tannehill fumble forced by Trevor Scott. Patriots take over. Wilfork is having a monster game.

9:21 2d quarter, Patriots 14-3: You just knew the opportunistic Patriots were going to capitalize here. Brady finds Welker for a seven-yard touchdown to make the penalty hurt (given the hit he took and the area in which he took it, Mesko may be hurting right now as well). The Patriots go 75 yards on 14 plays. Welker has nine catches/.

13:04 2d quarter, Patriots 7-3: The Dolphins force the Patriots to punt, then commit a boneheaded penalty when Jimmy Wilson runs into punter Zoltan Mesko. Patriots get the ball back with another chance.

End 1st quarter, Patriots 7-3: The Dolphins go eight yards on six plays after the penalty and settle for a 44-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter. Patriots will start the second quarter with the ball on their own 25.

Also: Dan Connolly has a back injury. His return is questionable.

3:03 1st quarter, Patriots 7-0: Brady is intercepted by Reshad Jones, who returns the ball for a touchdown that gets called back by a penalty. No score for the Dolphins, but the turnover is big considering the Patriots don't give it away often. It's only Brady's fourth interception of the season.

One note: Miami's Jake Long was taken to the locker room with a triceps injury. His status is questionable.

ridleydolphinstd.jpg4:30 1st quarter, Patriots 7-0: Tannehill has not looked sharp. He just air-mailed a pass on third down. New England will get the ball again, though this time the punt team does their job. Patriots will start on their own three.

5:31 1st quarter, Patriots 7-0: Brian Hartline had two Patriots defenders beaten on his way to the end zone but Ryan Tannehill's pass leads him a little too much.

6:50 1st quarter, Patriots 7-0: The penalty hurts, stopping what was a successful drive. Stephen Gostkowski misses a 49-yard-field goal. He's missed three of his last four attempts.

8:26 1st quarter, Patriots 7-0: Sebastian Vollmer called for holding, puts gives the Patriots their second first-and-20 of the day.

10:40 1st quarter, Patriots 7-0: That was quick. The Dolphins go three-and-out again. Miami completes the punt this time. The Pats will start with the ball on their own 26.

11:53 1st quarter, Patriots 7-0: Stevan Ridley runs in for a two-yard touchdown as the Patriots capitalize on the early turnover. New England overcomes an offensive holding penalty on their first offensive play and punches it in.

14:04 1st quarter, Patriots 0, Dolphins 0: The Dolphins go three-and-out on their first drive after starting at the 17-yard-line. Dolphins fumble the snap on the punt attempt, Matthew Slater makes the tackle. Pats get the ball on Miami's 12-yard-line.

Pregame: There's a mix of sun and clouds here as the official pregame festivities wind down here at Sun Life Stadium. Beautiful day for a football game. The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a win.

Patriots call tails and win the toss. They elect to defer. There are a lot of Patriots fans in the building. Should make for a fun atmosphere.

Final: Patriots 49, Jets 19

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff November 22, 2012 10:10 PM

They don't need no stinkin' Gronk. At least tonight they didn't.

It was a Thanksgiving night blowout in the Meadowlands as the Patriots crushed the Jets 49-19 at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots passing game got off to a slow start without Gronkowski in the mix, but the offense turned it on in the second quarter and the Jets did their part to hurt themselves along the way with five turnovers on the night.

This game was essentially over at halftime when the score was already 35-3 in favor of the Patriots.

After a scoreless first quarter, Brady found wide receiver Wes Welker wide open in the corner of the end zone for a three-yard touchdown to get on the board.

Another defensive breakdown for the Jets led to the Patriots second score as no one was within 10 yards of running back Shane Vereen on a sideline pass and the Vereen scrambled 83 yards down the sideline for the score.

A broken play resulted in another second quarter touchdown for New England as Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ran right into the back of Jets lineman Brandon Moore and coughed up the ball in the process. Patriots safety Steve Gregory picked up the loose ball and scrambled into the end zone.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Jets' Joe McKnight fumbled and Julian Edelman picked up the loose ball and scored another New England touchdown.

Then came the back-breaker as Brady found Julian Edelman wide open on another coverage breakdown by the Jets. Edelman scrambled 56 yards down the left sideline for the Patriots fifth touchdown of the half.

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Live blog recap:

Patriots 49, Jets 12: 2:21, 4th quarter Garbage time touchdown for the Jets as Sanchez connected with tight end Dustin Keller on a one-yard TD pass. The scoring drive was 80 yards, in 6 plays. This just in: Ryan Mallett into the game to replace Tom Brady.

4:01, 4th quarter In case you were wondering, Tim Tebow has injured ribs and was not a viable option for the Jets much to the chagrin of Fireman Ed and Co. Jets have the ball back as nearly everyone is just waiting for the final bell in this knockout.

9:36, 4th quarter The Jets wasted no time in punting the ball back to New England. Tom Brady is still in there and now the Patriots look to be trying to run the game out. 455 total yards of offense tonight for New England. Four turnovers on defense and one on special teams sealed the deal early on this one.

Patriots 49, Jets 12: 11:45, 4th quarter Same old Jets. Fumble by Chaz Schilens, after being hit by Alfonzo Dennard on the kickoff, was recovered by who else but Rob Ninkovich. 38 seconds later Ridley walked into the end zone for another Patriots TD. There are less than 10,000 people left in the stadium.

Patriots 42, Jets 12: 12:02, 4th quarter Tom Brady punches it in from the one yard line for another Patriots touchdown. The drive was 87 yards in 17 plays eating 7:39 off the clock. Aaron Hernandez was called for offensive pass interference in the end zone on the drive but it didn't matter as the Patriots grinded their way in. Injury update: Edelman is out for the game with a head injury.

0:00, 3d quarter The Patriots air show is back in swing as Brady hit tight end Daniel Fells for 24 yards and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd for nine yards as the Patriots are inside the Jets 35.

Patriots 35, Jets 12: 5:59, 3d quarter Jets RB Bilal Powell busts in for the touchdown from the four yard line. Play of the night for Sanchez was a 39 yard pass to Jeff Cumberland in which Dont'a Hightower never turned back to see the ball as Cumberland ran past him. Jets scoring drive: 71 yards on four plays.

Patriots 35, Jets 5: 6:47, 3d quarter Well that's one way to score. Jets get 2 on the safety after Stevan Ridley was called for a chop block in the end zone. Jets will get the ball back.

6:52, 3d quarter Jets can't do anything right tonight. Shonn Greene stuffed by Brandon Spikes on fourth down at the one foot line. The Patriots take over. Stop me if you've heard this, but more fans are flocking to the exits. Injury update: Julian Edelman's return questionable with a head injury.

8:43, 3d quarter Jets in the red zone as they find some magic in the connection between Sanchez and tight end Dustin Keller. Keller fumbled on his last reception but Stephen Hill recovered it and the drive continues. Injury update: Jets wide receiver Clyde Gates is out of the game with a head injury.

10:34, 3d quarter The Patriots tried to get fancy with an end around pitch to Edelman but he was laid out on a helmet-to-helmet hit by LaRon Landry and fumbled the ball back to New York.

12:42, 3d quarter The Jets had the ball to start to the second half... but that didn't last long as they stalled after getting a first down and the Patriots offense is ready to go to work from their own 25 after the punt. Jets fans continue to flow toward the exits here. And the boos are growing louder from those that remain.

Patriots 35, Jets 3: halftime The Jets are on the scoreboard. Nick Folk kicked a 32-yard field goal after the Jets looked like they'd march into the end zone. The refs had trouble getting the ball down after a 4th-down completion to Hill and Sanchez found himself with just :07 seconds left after spiking the ball. The fans first mock cheered the field goal then after the kickoff they lustily booed the Jets as they headed to the locker room down by 32 points. Jets RB Joe McKnight was seen getting in Julian Edelman's face as the second quarter ended. Stay tuned for Greg Bedard's halftime analysis coming up... along with Lenny Kravitz.

1:17, 2d quarter Don't look now but Stephen Hill just caught his first pass in three weeks and the Jets are moving down the field into Patriots territory.

2:00, 2d quarter Wondering if the Jets had their turkey right before the game and the tryptophan started kicking in early, forcing them to nap on the field. More fans heading toward the exits at the two minute warning. A large Patriots fan with a Gronkowski jersey was just tossed out for acting up in the stands. He gave the salute the Jets loyalists on his way out the door.

Patriots 35, Jets 0: 3:08, 2d quarter Julian Edelman WIDE OPEN on the left sideline as LaRon Landry blew the coverage one play after stuffing Stevan Ridley and Brady hits the wide receiver for the Patriots fifth touchdown of the half. Another coverage breakdown for the Jets defense. Scoring drive: 73 yards, 4 plays, in 1:53.

5:01, 2d quarter Flo Rida's "I cry just a little" belting over the speakers here. No signs of tears in Rex Ryan's eyes just yet...

5:01, 2d quarter They're calling for Tim Tebow here in East Rutherford as it's been a disastrous first have for Gang Green. The lastest debacle for NY saw Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo rush Sanchez untouched for the sack on a third down play. Ball back in Brady's hands.

7:42, 2d quarter The Jets have to take to the air if they hope to get back into this game. The boo birds are out at MetLife because the men in green have been playing like turkeys since the opening bell. Jets moving near midfield.

Patriots 28, Jets 0: 8:51, 2d quarter It's become a comedy of errors for the Jets as Joe McKnight coughed up the kickoff and Julian Edelman picked up the loose ball and scored another New England touchdown. Immediately after the score, some Jets fans were seen hitting the exits early.

Patriots 21, Jets 0: 9:00, 2d quarter A broken play results in another TD for New England as Mark Sanchez ran right into the back of Jets lineman Brandon Moore and coughed up the ball in the process. Star of the game thus far Steve Gregory picked up the loose ball and scrambled into the end zone. That was the 10th fumble of the season for Sanchez.

Patriots 14, Jets 0: 9:43, 2d quarter A defensive meltdown for the Jets as no one was within 10 yards of Shane Vereen on the outside and the Patriots back took the pass and scrambled 83 yards down the sideline for the score. One play, 13 seconds on the drive.

9:56, 2d quarter The Jets go for it on fourth-and-one but Shonn Green was stuffed by Jerod Mayo and then fumbled the ball and Steve Gregory recovered for the Patriots. The Jets were grinding away with the running game as Bilal Powell led the way, but the drive stalled deep in Patriots territory and Rex Ryan's decision to go for it backfired.

Patriots 7, Jets 0: 14:54, 2d quarter Brady finds Welker wide open in the end zone. Jets cornerback Ellis Lankster looked confused on the play as Welker was left alone in the corner of the endzone for the 3-yard TD pass. The drive: 84 yards on 15 plays, in 6:01.

Patriots 0, Jets 0, end of first quarter Patriots, in the red zone, seem content on pounding the ball in. Tom Brady only 4-for10 passing for 44 yards so far. Ball on the Jets 4-yard line to start the second quarter. Ridley has 39 yards on the ground. Vereen has 26.

2:14, first quarter The Patriots, helped by a neutral zone infraction by the Jets, are marching down the field, at the Jets 31. Brady throws another incompletion to Welker. Not having Rob Gronkowski looks to be an issue for Tom Brady in the early going.

4:28, first quarterA counter toss pitchout to Shane Vereen results in a first down for the Patriots who are now near midfield. Brady missed Wes Welker earlier when LaRon Landry made a great tip play to break up the pass.

5:55, first quarter The Jets turn it over as Patriots safety Steve Gregory was on the receiving end of a Mark Sanchez pass, an easy pick, stopping the Jets momentum after they had a strong drive going deep into New England territory.

8:20, first quarter The Jets are getting their running game going after Vince Wilfork was called for encroachment. Jets QB Mark Sanchez comes back to his tight end Jeff Cumberland and the Jets are in Patriots territory.

10:05, first quarterThe problems for Stephen Gostkowski continue. The Patirots kicker missed left from 39 yards out. Patriots went to the no-huddle on the drive that stalled after a big play to Aaron Hernandez. Rob Ninkovich is back on the sidelines.

11:16, first quarter Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich was seen heading into the tunnel. We'll update his status as it becomes available.

12:18, first quarter The Jets go three-and-out in their first drive as well. Key play was a sack by Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Julian Edleman returned the punt for 30 yards and the Patriots will start at their own 36 yard line.

13:28, first quarter For only the 10th time in 113 times this season, the Patriots have gone three-and-out in their first drive as Zoltan Mesko was forced to punt.

14:48, first quarter Not a good start for the Patriots as Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson forced Tom Brady into an intentional grounding situation.

---

We're just about to kick off here at relatively balmy (46 degrees, calm winds) MetLife Stadium.

The Jets have won the coin toss and have deferred, so the Patriots will get the ball to start the game.

MetLife Stadium looks to be about 80 percent capacity right now. The stadium holds 82,500 for football.

The National Anthem was performed by the Newark Boys Chorus.

Final: Patriots 59, Colts 24

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 18, 2012 04:14 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots, spurred along by two defensive touchdowns and a special teams score, burned the Indianapolis Colts for 59-24 drubbing at Gillette Stadium, tying the franchise record for the most points it has scored in a game.

New cornerback Aqib Talib intercepted Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown, Julian Edelman returned a a punt 68 yards for a touchdown and Alfonzo Dennard picked off another Luck pass and returned it 87 yards for a score to fuel the blowout.

Tom Brady was a sterling 24 of 35 passing for 331 yards and three touchdowns while Edelman racked up 222 all-purpose yards in the win.

Luck finished with three interceptions, throwing 27 of 50 passing for 334 yards and two touchdowns.

Rob Gronkowski caught seven passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He's the first tight end in NFL history to record three straight seasons with at least 10 touchdowns.

Final: Patriots 59, Colts 24

2:17 4th quarter: Patriots 59, Colts 24 -- A deflected pass from Colts QB Andrew Luck was intercepted by Patriots safety Tavon Wilson. It was Luck's third interception of the game. Kyle Arrington tipped the pass.

3:55 4th quarter: Patriots 59, Colts 24 -- Shane Vereen ran in untouched for a 4-yard touchdown as the Patriots went up by 35 points against the Colts.

With eight extra points today, Stephen Gostkowski tied a franchise record. The team tied a franchise record for most points scored with 59.

7:52 4th quarter: Patriots 52, Colts 24 -- The Patriots forced a punt after a three-and-out, and Julian Edelman returned the punt 57 yards, threatening another touchdown.

9:05 4th quarter: Patriots 52, Colts 24 -- Julian Edelman took a reverse and ran 47 yards before Stevan Ridley punched in a 3-yard touchdown.

Tom Brady eclipsed the 300-yard mark on the drive. He's now tied with Dan Fouts for the sixth most 300-yard passing games in NFL history. It was a seven-play, 80-yard drive over 3:27.

Edelman's run was the longest of his career.

12:32 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Colts 24 -- Andrew Luck threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton on a quick 5-play, 2:15 drive going 74 yards.

Hilton actually fended off a Aqib Talib, who was flagged for pass interference on the play, to get loose for the touchdown. It's a 21-point game again.

14:47 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Colts 17 -- Alfonzo Dennard intercepted Colts QB Andrew Luck and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown, making it the second pick-six of the game. The last time the Patriots did that was in 2002.

Dennard went untouched on his return, with only Luck close enough to even chase him.

End of the third quarter: Patriots 38, Colts 17 -- The third quarter comes to a close with the Patriots with a 21-point lead. Tom Brady has thrown for 282 yards and three touchdowns, including two to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski has six catches for 126 yards.

3:22 3d quarter: Patriots 38, Colts 17 -- Rob Ninkovich gets a strip sack on Andrew Luck, recovering the fumble. One play later, Tom Brady hits Rob Gronkowski for a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it a three-touchdown game.

Gronkowski has now become the first tight end in NFL history to record 10 touchdowns in three straight seasons.

4:53 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Colts 17 -- The Patriots were forced to punt for the first time today, getting four plays in their last drive, failing to complete a third down pass to Wes Welker in the flat.

7:20 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Colts 17 -- Vince Wilfork batted down his second pass of the game, forcing the Colts to punt for the second time of the game. This time, there was no return.

11:07 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Colts 17 -- Tom Brady gunned a 2-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman as the Patriots opened up a 14-point lead.

Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 31-yard pass on the drive. Gronkowski crossed the 100-yard threshold with that catch. It was a 10-play, 76-yard drive in 3:53.

It was also announced that Colts wide receiver Donnie Avery had suffered a concussion and would not return.

Chandler Jones, the Patriots defensive rookie, was not seen on the sideline after suffering an ankle injury in the first half.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Colts 17 -- The second half is underway. The Patriots have received the ball to start.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 24, Colts 17 -- Adam Vinatieri was wide left -- with plenty of distance -- on a 58-yard field goal try as time expired in the second quarter.

The Patriots go into the half with a 7-point lead, having scored in all three phases of the game. The last time they did that was Oct. 4, 2010.

Tom Brady is 13 of 20 for 181 yards and a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. Julian Edelman returned a punt 68 yards for a score and new cornerback Aqib Talib returned an interception 59 yards for a TD.

Gronkowski leads the team with four catches for 71 yards.

Colts rookie Andrew Luck is 15 of 27 for 159 yards with a touchdown and an interception.


1:58 2d quarter: Patriots 24, Colts 17 -- On his second attempt today, Stephen Gostkowski made good. He connected on a 31-yard field goal as the Patriots took a seven-point lead. It was a 10-play, 62-yard drive.

5:46 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Colts 17 -- Adam Vinatieri kicked a 47-yard field goal as the Colts managed to respond to the Patriots' 14-point swing in the second quarter.

Devin McCourty made two huge plays on defense, breaking up passes to Dwayne Allen and LaVon Brazill. The latter would've likely been a touchdown for the Colts.

10:59 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Colts 14 -- Aqib Talib has already paid off. The new Patriots cornerback intercepted a pass from Andrew Luck that was floated over the middle of the field and returned it 59 yards, criss-crossing across the field, for a touchdown as the Patriots took the lead.

Talib certainly got some nice blocks from his teammates on the play, but he showed some good return skills as well.

12:00 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Colts 14 -- Julian Edelman returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown. It was his third punt return for a TD in his career.

Afterward, he celebrated by pretending to reel in some fish during his end zone dance. Tie ball game.

12:14 2d quarter: Colts 14, Patriots 7 -- Vince Wilfork batted down a third down pass from Andrew Luck as the Colts went three-and-out. It's the game's first punt.

12:30 2d quarter: Colts 14, Patriots 7 -- Stephen Gostkowski missed a 37-yard field goal just slightly wide right. It snapped a streak of 11 consecutive field goals he had made in a row.

The missed field goal killed the momentum of a 12-play drive. Nate Solder was called for holding twice, but the second penalty was declined after a third-down incomplete pass to Wes Welker.

End of 1st quarter: Colts 14, Patriots 7 -- That was a fast first quarter. Brady is 7 of 10 for 110 yards and a touchdown already.

1:44 1st quarter: Colts 14, Patriots 7 -- Colts QB Andrew Luck threw a dart to T.Y. Hilton for a 14-yard touchdown as the Colts recaptured the lead.

Luck had a key pass to LaVon Brazill for 25 yards on the drive. He hit Brazill's back shoulder on the pass as he was covered by Aqib Talib.

Vick Ballard also broke off a 15-yard run before Luck's touchdown toss. It was a 10-play, 84-yard drive in 5:23.

7:07 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Colts 7 -- Rob Gronkowski made his mark early in this game. He caught a three passes, including 36-yarder and a 16-yarder before catching a 4-yard touchdown to tie the game up on the Patriots' first drive.

Gronkowski's spike on the score almost hit the official in the end zone. It was a fast 8-play, 81-yard drive in 3:42.

10:49 1st quarter: Colts 7, Patriots 0 -- The Colts got off to a fast start against the Patriots. Kyle Arrington was flagged for pass interference, giving the Colts a 1st-and-goal at the Patriots' 6. Two plays later, Delone Carter ran in a 1-yard touchdown.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who previously played for the Patriots, was booed by the home crowd.

It was a 7-play, 80-yard drive in 4:11.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Colts 0 -- The Patriots won the coin toss and deferred till the second half. Game on.

Pregame: We're about to get underway here at Gillette Stadium, as the Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts in a matchup billed as the old vs. the new. (I'm sure Tom Brady would take offense to that.)

We've got clear skies and cool conditions. It's 42 degrees out. There are winds from the north, northeast coming in at 14 miles per hour. With the wind chill, it's about 35 degrees. Perfect day for football.

Aqib Talib was announced as the starting cornerback for the Patriots, while Visanthe Shiancoe and Julian Edelman will get the start on offense.

Stay right here for updates throughout the game. I'll be here until the final whistle.

@zuriberry

Game 10: Colts at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 18, 2012 09:27 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- It may feel familiar, but it's not.

The Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, marking the 15th time the two teams have played since 2001 when Tom Brady took over as quarterback.

The two teams have played in the playoffs three times during that span, all of which were epic battles against a Peyton Manning-led team. However, quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots have the edge in those games, 2-1, and Brady is 9-4 all-time against the Colts.

Patriots-Colts rivalry history But these Colts are under different leadership. After finishing 2-14 last year, the Colts drafted No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck (2,631 yards, 10 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 79.1 QB rating) and have ridden the rookie quarterback to a 6-3 record. Of the old guard still remaining, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis register on the name recognition chart, while most of the roster has seen a significant measure of turnover. Former Patriots Darius Butler and Sergio Brown are now with the Colts, along with clutch kicker Adam Vinatieri.

And as the Patriots face the Colts in Week 11, the team is going through its own set of changes. The Patriots activated new cornerback Aqib Talib, whom the team traded a fourth round draft pick for a little less than two weeks ago. It remains to be seen if Talib will have an immediate impact and whether or not he'll be inserted into the starting lineup.

The team also waived veteran wide receiver Deion Branch, who was on his third tenure with the Patriots. In doing so, the team activated practice squad receiver Greg Salas, who spent time with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in St. Louis last season. The second-year pro had 27 receptions for 264 yards in his rookie year.

The Patriots are on a three-game winning streak following a 37-31 squeaker against the Buffalo Bills. The Colts are coming off a 27-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and are on a four-game win streak.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

Records: Patriots 6-3; Colts 6-3.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Donald Thomas, C Ryan Wendell, RG Nick McDonald, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Patrick Chung, S Steve Gregory.

Colts offense: WR Reggie Wayne, LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Joe Reitz, C Samson Satele, RG Mike McGlynn, RT Winston Justice, TE Coby Fleener, WR Donnie Avery, QB Andrew Luck, F Dwayne Allen, RB Donald Brown.

Colts defense: DE Cory Redding, NT Antonio Johnson, DT Fili Moala, SLB Robert Mathis, MLB Kavell Conner, WLB Jerrell Freeman, RUSH Dwight Freeney, LCB Cassius Vaughn, SS Tom Zbikowski, FS Antoine Bethea, RCB Darius Butler.

Inactives
(more to come)

Patriots: TBA

Colts: Vontae Davis (knee), Coby Fleener (shoulder).

Final: Patriots 37, Bills 31

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 11, 2012 12:53 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Despite a leaky defense and a penalty-riddled opponent, the Patriots found themselves on what appeared to be the throes of a game-winning Buffalo Bills drive.

That's until Devin McCourty stepped up and intercepted a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass with 23 seconds left in the game, as the Patriots held on for a 37-31 win over their AFC East opponent.

Fitzpatrick passed for 337 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots. His team was hindered by 14 penalties for 148 yards.

The Patriots run defense wasn't much better, giving up a season-high 162 yards in the win, with McCourty's interception as the only gauze available for the bleeding.

Tom Brady was 23 of 38 for 237 yards and two touchdowns in the game as the Patriots moved on to 6-3 on the year and 2-0 against Buffalo.

FINAL: Patriots 37, Bills 31 -- Devin McCourty intercepted a pass intended for Bill receiver T.J. Graham in the end zone with 23 seconds left in the game to help the Patriots seal the win.

2:06 4th quarter: Patriots 37, Bills 31 -- On a third-and-goal at the Buffalo 9-yard line, feeling pressure, Tom Brady couldn't connect with Danny Woodhead in the flat. That led to a 27-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski to extend the Patriots' lead to six points.

The Patriots' 14-play, 59-yard drive that spanned 5:41 gives the Bills a little more than two minutes to come up with a possible game-winning drive.

7:47 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 24 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick fired a pass over the middle of the field for a 2-yard touchdown pass to Donald Jones.

It was a quick drive for the Bills against the Patriots, going 45 yards on five plays in 1:29, putting the Patriots in a score-or-risk-losing-the-lead situation. The Bills have scored on two of their last three drives.

The Patriots have given up a season-high 161 yards rushing.

9:16 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 24 -- The Patriots went three-and-out after the turnover. Wes Welker dropped a pass from Tom Brady on second down.

9:35 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 24 -- Devin McCourty forced a Fred Jackson at the 1-yard line as the Patriots came up with a critical turnover. The play was initially ruled as down on contact, but after review it was reversed.

14:10 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 24 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 48-yard field goal as the Patriots went up by 10 against the Bills.

It was a seven-play, 50-yard drive that spanned 2:27. On 3rd-and-8, Tom Brady connected with Brandon Lloyd on a 6-yard pass.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 24 -- The third quarter comes to a close with the Patriots in a pivotal stretch to keep the Bills at a distance.

1:37 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 24 -- The Bills are trying to stick around. Fred Jackson ran in a 1-yard touchdown, capitalizing on an 11-play, 84-yard drive in which the team converted on a 4th-and-4 to keep the drive alive.

Ryan Fitzpatrick completed three passes to Stevie Johnson on the drive, totaling 44 yards. Fitzpatrick found Donald Jones for a 6-yard pass to get the Bills down to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Jackson ran it in.

7:06 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 17 -- Tom Brady escaped the Bills pass rush and dumped off a pass to Danny Woodhead, who scampered 18 yards for a touchdown. The play was reviewed and upheld, showing Woodhead had just crossed the goal line by a whisker.

It was a quick, four-play drive that lasted 1:38.

This is the first time Woodhead has scored more than one touchdown in an NFL game.

8:44 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Jermaine Cunningham came up with another huge sack, as the Patriots forced the Bills to punt after four plays.

Dan Connolly has a back injury. He was was announced as questionable to return. The Patriots have subbed in Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald in place of Connolly and Logan Mankins.

10:53 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Tom Brady was sacked on a 3rd-and-5 by the Bills' Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, forcing the Patriots to punt on their opening drive of the third quarter.

On the same play, Logan Mankins appeared to be shaken up. He walked off the field gingerly with the help of the team's trainers.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Second half is underway.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- The first half comes to a close with the Patriots allowing the Bills to scratch their way back into the game.

It's not like the Patriots haven't been getting any help, especially with the number of penalties the Bills have racked up. The Bills have been flagged 10 times for 119 yards, a mesmerizing display of ineffectiveness. Meanwhile, the Bills have rushed for 88 yards in the first half alone. The Patriots have held opponents to 88.6 rushing yards coming into today's game.

Tom Brady is 11 of 17 for 114 yards and a touchdown while Stevan Ridley has rushed 10 times for 22 yards and a score. Danny Woodhead ripped off a 15-yard run for the Patriots.

Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the Bills with 13 of 17 passing for 153 yards and a touchdown.

0:31 2d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with a wide open Scott Chandler as the Buffalo Bills closed the gap to seven points with less than a minute to go in the first half.

The Bills drove 80 yards on 11 plays, with Fitzpatrick making key throws to Chandler and Donald Jones to get into the red zone.

Patriots corner Alfonzo Dennard was flagged for unnecessary roughness for hitting Fitzpatrick as he was scrambling to the sideline.

3:54 2d quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 10 -- The Patriots benefited greatly from three more penalties by the Bills, including a dumbfounding pass interference call on a Tom Brady pass that sailed past the end zone. Two plays later, Brady hit a diving Rob Gronkowski for a 2-yard touchdown.

The Bills' three penalties cost them 67 yards. The pass interference, which was called on Stephon Gilmore who was guarding Brandon Lloyd, was for 37 yards.

6:03 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Bills 10 -- Bills running back Fred Jackson bounced off three Patriots defenders en route to a 14-yard touchdown run.

The Bills took only six plays to march 80 yards and make it a one score game. Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with tight end Scott Chandler on two passes for 23 and 17 yards while C.J. Spiller had three rushes for 26 yards.

9:09 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Bills 3 -- The Patriots are moving fast and their torrid pace is starting to affect the Bills defense. Danny Woodhead ripped off a 15-yard touchdown run practically untouched after the Bills were slow to set up on defense.

The Patriots went 83 yards on eight plays in 2:58 seconds.

12:07 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Bills 3 -- Rob Ninkovich sacked QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, finishing him off after being hurried by Chandler Jones on third down, as the Patriots held the Bills to a 41-yard field goal by Ryan Lindell.

It was an 11-play, 57-yard drive by the Bills, their first sustained attack of the game.

A couple of defensive notes for the Patriots: It looks like rookie safety Tavon Wilson has fallen out of favor. Devin McCourty is at safety with Steve Gregory, with Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington at the cornerbacks. Marquice Cole is the third cornerback off the sidelines for nickel and dime packages. It's looking harder and harder for Wilson to get on the field as Patriots become healthy.

Also, Jermaine Cunningham has found himself become a huge part of the rotation. He drew a holding penalty against the Bills in the red zone.

End of the 1st quarter: Patriots 10, Bills 0 -- The Bills have finally gotten over their penalty bug. They've put together their first potential scoring drive as Ryan Fitzpatrick has completed a 22-yard pass to Donald Jones and a 15-yarder to Fred Jackson.

Patriots DL Justin Francis has gotten his first significant play, getting a hit on Fitzpatrick. Also, Devin McCourty appears to be playing safety over rookie Tavon Wilson. Alfonzo Dennard has taken his snaps at cornerback.

3:54 1st quarter: Patriots 10, Bills 0 -- Two pass interference calls on the Bills' George Wilson following the fumble recovery for the Patriots allowed Stevan Ridley to get two chances from the 1-yard line. He punched it in on the second try as the Patriots scored their first touchdown of the game.

Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe got in on his first play for the Patriots, playing in the goal line package.

5:24 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Bills 0 -- Vince Wilfork sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick, forcing the Bills quarterback to fumble. Jermaine Cunningham recovered as the Patriots took over on the Bills' 13-yard line.

6:04 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Bills 0 -- Wes Welker dropped a potential touchdown and the Patriots ended up settling for a 43-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to get on the board first.

It was a quick first drive for the Patriots, going 48 yards on 13 plays in 4:27. But the drive was marked by two drops, Welker's and another by Deion Branch that could have been an interception had it not been dropped by the Bills' Leodis McKelvin.

10:31 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bills 0 -- The Bills start off by shooting themselves in the foot. A quick first down, followed up by getting to a 3rd-and-1 and then the wheels fell off. They committed three straight penalties to push them back to a 3rd-and-21. The Patriots' first defensive series is a success, forcing the punt.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bills 0 -- The Patriots won the toss and deferred till the second half. Buffalo will receive the opening kick. Game on!

Pregame: The Patriots and Bills have a beautiful day for football upon them. It's sunny, 60 degrees out, with winds south and southwest at 12 miles per hour.

We're getting close to the coin flip. We'll have all the game updates right here. Stick around for all the fun.

Enjoy the game.

@zuriberry

Game 9: Bills at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 11, 2012 10:15 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- Coming off the bye week, the Patriots are historically good. They're 9-3 under the tutelage of Bill Belichick following the bye.

Against the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots are amazingly good. They're 10-0 at Gillette Stadium and have won 22 of their last 25 games, dating to 2000. Belichick sports a 22-4 record against the Bills; He's 22-3 against Buffalo with the Patriots.

The Patriots beat the Bills 52-28 in Week 4 after going down 21-7 midway through the third quarter. In that game, Tom Brady threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns while linebacker Brandon Spikes forced two crucial fumbles.

The Patriots will again be without tight end Aaron Hernandez, according to reports from the NFL Network and ESPN. Hernandez has been nursing the same ankle he injured in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.

This game will give the Patriots the opportunity to extend their lead in the AFC East. The Patriots are currently 2-0 against division opponents. They're 27-7 against the AFC East in the month of November.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 5-3; Bills 3-5.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Daniel Fells.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Patrick Chung, S Steve Gregory.

Bills offense: WR Stevie Johnson, LT Cordy Glenn, LG Andy Levitre, C Eric Wood, RG Kraig Urbik, RT Chris Hairston, TE Scott Chandler, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Donald Jones.

Bills defense: LDE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareus, DT Kyle Williams, RDE Chris Kelsay, SLB Nigel Bradham, MLB Kevin Sheppard, WLB Nick Barnett, LCB Leodis McKelvin, SS George Wilson, FS Jairus Byrd, RCB Stephon Gilmore.

Inactives
(more to come)

Patriots: Trevor Scott (hamstring), Tracy White (foot).

Bills: Mark Anderson (knee), Terrence McGee (knee), Erik Pears (hip), Aaron Williams (knee).

Final: Patriots 45, Rams 7

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 28, 2012 12:44 PM

The Patriots showed off their killer instinct Sunday in London, racing past the St. Louis Rams for a 45-7 victory at Wembley Stadium.

Tom Brady threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, including two apiece to Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski, and Stevan Ridley ran for 127 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown in the blowout victory.

Gronkowski finished the day with 146 yards receiving on eight catches.

1:25 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Rams 7 -- Tavon Wilson came up with an interception on Kellen Clemens at the goal line, racing back to St. Louis territory before sliding to a halt as the Patriots take over with the ability to run out the clock.

5:26 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Rams 7 -- Shane Vereen took a Ryan Mallett screen pass and went 17 yards to pick up a first down. But the Patriots' offense was unable to keep the drive going, with Mallett throwing two straight incomplete passes before Zoltan Mesko booted his second punt of the game.

8:21 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Rams 7 -- Patriots rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard came up with a goal-line interception and Ryan Mallett has entered the game for the Patriots. His first playing time of the season.

11:20 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Rams 7 -- Sporting a new, comical dance, Rob Gronkowski was back to utilizing his signature spike, catching a 14-yard touchdown from Tom Brady.

It was his second touchdown of the game. Gronkowski now has eight catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

14:51 4th quarter: Patriots 38, Rams 7 -- Rob Ninkovich recorded an 8-yard sack on 4th-and-6 for the Rams as the Patriots forced another turnover on downs. It was Ninkovich's fifth sack of the season.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 38, Rams 7 -- Third quarter comes to a close with the Patriots in a commanding lead. Both Stevan Ridley and Rob Gronkowski have passed the 100-yard threshold and Tom Brady is closing in on a 300-yard day.

2:40 3d quarter: Patriots 38, Rams 7 -- Zoltan Mesko punted for the first time today after a dismal drive by the Patriots, marked by two incomplete passes and a 7-yard loss on a run by Shane Vereen.

3:35 3d quarter: Patriots 38, Rams 7 -- Chandler Jones got his sixth sack of the season, tripping up Sam Bradford for a loss of 17 yards as the Patriots forced the Rams to punt for the fourth time Sunday.

6:55 3d quarter: Patriots 38, Rams 7 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 26-yard field goal.

The drive was spurred along by Stevan Ridley, who now has 119 yards rushing on the day. Ridley broke loose for a 41-yard run on the drive -- the longest for the Patriots this season -- and ran through Rams safety Craig Dahl for a 16-yard run.

11:48 3d quarter: Patriots 35, Rams 7 -- Four plays, two penalties, and two punts. The Patriots' defense has stiffened up against the Rams, with a bit of help from the Rams, too. An illegal forward pass by Sam Bradford and a holding call on St. Louis' first punt attempt, helped the Patriots get a little better field advantage after taking over after the Rams' disastrous drive.

12:34 3d quarter: Patriots 35, Rams 7 -- Tom Brady connected with Brandon Lloyd for a 9-yard touchdown, Lloyd's second touchdown of the game.

The Patriots made quick work of the Rams to start the third quarter, going 80 yards over six plays in 2:36.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Rams 7 -- The third quarter is underway.

0:14 2d quarter: Patriots 28, Rams 7 -- Stevan Ridley ran in a 1-yard touchdown following a pass interference on the Rams' Bradley Fletcher. It was the second pass interference on Fletcher of the drive that allowed the Patriots to extend their drive and punch in a touchdown before the half.

The Patriots will receive to start the third quarter.

The team went 56 yards over nine plays in 1:42 to capitalize on the Rams' turnover on downs.

1:46 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Rams 7 -- Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower dinged up St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford. On what looked like a broken play for the Rams, Bradford rolled out with Hightower in pursuit unblocked before tossing a pass to Daryl Richardson. Hightower dropped Bradford as he was throwing the ball, but Bradford came down hard on his left shoulder, which has been the source of much pain for the Rams quarterback.

The Rams burned a timeout after the play to bring Bradford back but were forced to attempt a 54-yard field goal. A bad snap on the play led to a turnover on downs.

4:09 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Rams 7 -- Tom Brady threw a 7-yard touchdown to Rob Gronkowski, who gave a rather enthusiastic spike for the London audience, as the Patriots took a two-touchdown lead.

Gronkowski has now gone over 100 yards receiving on the day, catching passes of 25, 25, 17, 32 and 7 yards. He has five catches for 106 yards.

10:13 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Rams 7 -- Patriots defensive back Marquice Cole had seemingly come up with a strip fumble on Rams receiver Steve Smith with Rob Ninkovich recovering.

After the play was reviewed, it was determined that Smith didn't have possession of the ball long enough to merit a catch. The Rams were forced to punt anyway after the third down play.

14:12 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Rams 7 -- On a gutsy call to go for it on fourth down at the 1-yard line, Shane Vereen punched in a touchdown as the Patriots took the lead.

Tom Brady had two key passes to Rob Gronkowski for 50 yards to get the Patriots into the red zone. The Rams were able to stuff Danny Woodhead on 3rd-and-goal at the 1 but were overpowered when Ridley went right behind right guard Dan Connolly for the touchdown.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Rams 7 -- First quarter comes to a close with Tom Brady completing all eight of his passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. Patriots on the 1, looking to score again.

3:43 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Rams 7 -- Kyle Arrington has left the game with a head injury and his return is questionable, according to the team.

4:43 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Rams 7 -- Brandon Spikes blitzed on third down, providing the pressure on St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, as the Patriots forced the Rams to punt.

Rams receiver Chris Givens, who caught a 50-yard touchdown earlier in the game, appeared to be hurt on the drive and went to the locker room.

7:50 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Rams 7 -- Tom Brady hit Brandon Lloyd for a 19-yard touchdown to tie up the game.

Lloyd ran a flag route to the corner of the end zone. The Patriots went 78 yards on eight plays. Brady found Danny Woodhead for a 24-yard gain to get into Rams territory.

Brady went 4 for 4 on the drive.

12:35 1st quarter: Rams 7, Patriots 0 -- As feared, the Rams' Chris Givens is a deep threat. Six plays into the game, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford went deep to Givens for a 50-yard touchdown pass.

Givens, a rookie, sped past safety Tavon Wilson before pulling down the touchdown catch. Givens has now set an NFL record with five straight games with a reception of at least 50 yards.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Rams 0 -- The Rams will receive the opening kickoff. Game on.

Pregame: The Patriots will be without Logan Mankins again so Donald Thomas will likely fill in for the all-pro guard. We're getting close to game time in London. We'll have all updates, series by series, right here.

Enjoy the game.

@zuriberry

Game 8: Patriots vs. Rams in London

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 28, 2012 11:23 AM

The Patriots help continue the NFL's foray into London Sunday, limping into their Week 8 contest against the St. Louis Rams in desperate need to get healthy.

The Patriots will be without starters Aaron Hernandez, Patrick Chung, and Steve Gregory, pressing on with a makeshift secondary. Devin McCourty and Tavon Wilson will man the safety positions for the second straight week while rookie Alfonzo Dennard will likely start in McCourty's place at cornerback.

The Patriots enter the week coming off a 29-26 overtime win over the New York Jets while the Rams are coming off two straight losses, including a 30-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers and a 17-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The Rams have beaten two previous opponents of the Patriots, including the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4 and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5. Both of those teams defeated the Patriots.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

Records: Patriots 4-3; Rams 3-4.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Daniel Fells.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Alfonzo Dennard, CB Kyle Arrington, S Tavon Wilson, S Devin McCourty.

Rams offense: WR Brandon Gibson, LT Joe Barksdale, LG Shelley Smith, C Rob Turner, RG Harvey Dahl, RT Barry Richardson, TE Lance Kendricks, WR Chris Givens, QB Sam Bradford, FB Brit Miller, HB Steven Jackson.

Rams defense: LDE Chris Long, LDT Kendall Langford, RDT Michael Brockers, RDE Robert Quinn, SLB Rocky McIntosh, MLB James Laurinaitis, WLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, LCB Cortland Finnegan, RCB Janoris Jenkins, FS Craig Dahl, SS Quintin Mikell.

Inactives

Patriots: Steve Gregory (hip), Brandon Bolden (knee), Tracy White (foot), Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Ras-I Dowling (injured reserve), Trevor Scott (hamstring), and Patrick Chung (shoulder).

Rams: TBA

Final: Patriots 29, Jets 26

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 21, 2012 04:14 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots needed its defense to come up big tonight. Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich came up with a huge sack and forced fumble in overtime as the Patriots held on for a 29-26 win over the New York Jets Sunday in overtime.

Devin McCourty returned a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown and later fumbled on kickoff return, leaving an opening for the Jets to take the lead. But the defense held the Jets to a 43-yard field goal by Jets kicker Nick Folk in the fourth quarter, giving the Patriots enough of an opening to come back and tie the game. Stephen Gostkowski hit a 43-yard field goal to tie the game and nailed a 48-yard attempt in overtime for the game-winner.

FINAL 7:28 OT: Patriots 29, Jets 26 -- Jermaine Cunningham sacked Mark Sanchez and Rob Ninkovich hit Sanchez up high, forcing a fumble. Ninkovich recovered the fumble as the Patriots held on to beat the Jets 29-26.

The Patriots are now 4-3 on the season.

11:07 OT: Patriots 29, Jets 26 -- Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 48-yard field goal.

The Patriots had trouble converting on a third down at the Jets' 34-yard line, setting up Gostkowski's field goal. Tom Brady was looking for Aaron Hernandez on the sideline for a quick first down, but he was draped by the Jets' Kyle Wilson. Wilson had been called for pass interference on the drive earlier for aggressive coverage of Hernandez on third down.

15:00 OT: Patriots 26, Jets 26 -- The Patriots receive the ball first in overtime.

End of regulation: Patriots 26, Jets 26 -- Stephen Gostkowski hit a last-second 43-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. The Patriots drove 54 yards to get Gostkowski in position.

Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead for two passes each to keep the chains moving.

1:42 4th quarter: Jets 26, Patriots 23 -- Nick Folk kicked his third field goal of the day as the Jets took a 3-point lead over the Patriots with 1:37 left in the game.

The Jets were able to capitalize on Devin McCourty's kickoff fumble, but have allowed the Patriots enough time to mount a game-winning comeback drive.

2:01 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 23 -- Devin McCourty, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown earlier in the game, fumbled after a 15-yard return after the Jets tied up the game. The Jets' Antonio Allen recovered the fumble. The Jets take over at the 18-yard line.

2:06 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 23 -- Jets receiver Stephen Hill dropped a huge third down pass that would've put New York in the red zone. Instead, the Jets' Nick Folk kicked a 43-yard field to tie the game up with a little more than two minutes remaining. It was a six-play, 40-yard drive for the Jets.

4:31 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 20 -- All it takes is one bad play to mess up the Patriots' mojo. Receiver Brandon Lloyd was flagged for offensive pass interference on the Patriots' first play of the drive and the drive was dead in the water. Tom Brady threw two incompletions and Stevan Ridley rushed for 4 yards as the Patriots punted for the sixth time of the game.

5:44 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 20 -- Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez orchestrated a 14-play, 92-yard drive in which he went 9 of 10 passing, hitting tight end Dustin Keller for a 7-yard touchdown to make it a one score game. The drive spanned 6:58.

13:01 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 13 -- Tom Brady threw a screen pass to Wes Welker that resulted in a loss of 2 yards and threw another screen to Danny Woodhead for a loss of 3 yards as the Patriots were forced to punt for the fifth time.

End of third quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 13 -- The Patriots are in prime position to put the game away, up by 10 and driving as the third quarter ends.

1:04 3d quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 13 -- The Patriots benefited from another penalty on the Jets, who were caught holding on a 3rd-and-6 that led to their third punt of the night.

3:26 3d quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 13 -- Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a 16-yard pass that got the Patriots down to the 1-yard line, but Hernandez appeared to fumble the ball. It was ruled a fumble on the play, but it was reviewed and overturned. Three plays later, Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a quick out for a 2-yard touchdown, capping a 15-play, 83 yard drive.

9:36 3d quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 13 -- Nick Folk kicked a 21-yard field goal to bring the Jets within three points of the Patriots.

The Patriots gave up their fourth passing play of 20 plus yards on a 23-yard throw from Mark Sanchez to Dustin Keller as the Jets drove 65 yards on 11 plays in 5:27.

Patriots cornerback Ras-I Dowling defended Jets receiver Chaz Schillens well on the goal line to force the field goal.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 10 -- The Patriots are set to kick off for the second half.

Halftime: Patriots 16, Jets 10 -- The Patriots were able to come up with two turnovers, including a safety against the Jets, but the team's offense is having a tough time. Tom Brady is 9 of 17 for 112 yards and Stevan Ridley has nine carries for 34 yards as the Patriots have been helped by cornerback Devin McCourty's 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to keep the lead. They've punted four times and the Jets were able to at least get a field goal before half.

Mark Sanchez is 12 of 21 for 138 yards and an interception for the Jets while Shonn Greene has rushed for 34 yards on nine carries. Jets receiver Jeremy Kerley has four catches for 77 yards.

0:02 2d quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 10 -- Jets kicker Nick Folk booted a 54-yard field goal after a 12-play, 59-yard drive by the Jets to bring the second quarter to a close.

5:15 2d quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 7 -- Rob Gronkowski dropped a pass on third-and-3 as the Patriots were forced to punt but were rewarded with a generous 15-yard face mask penalty on the Jets' Nick Bellore that kept the drive going. The Patriots were unable to do anything with it though, getting three more plays on the drive before being forced to punt for the fourth time of the game.

7:37 2d quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 7 -- Mark Sanchez threw a spectacularly under thrown ball to Stephen Hill that Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was able to intercept and give the Patriots the ball back on their own 2-yard line.

11:20 2d quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 7 -- Three straight runs by Stevan Ridley followed by a sack on Tom Brady on third-and-5. The Patriots gave the ball back to the Jets after the safety, with Quinton Coples getting the sack on Brady with some help from linebacker David Harris.

13:10 2d quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 7 -- Jets RB Shonn Greene fumbled on a handoff from Mark Sanchez, who kicked the ball out of the back of his end zone to prevent a Patriots recovery as the Jets were dinged with a safety on the miscue. The Patriots get the ball back on the Jets' error.

13:30 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Jets 7 -- Patriots guard Donald Thomas was flagged for holding on a second-and-10 as the Patriots were unable to come up with their third first down on their last drive to make up for it.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Jets 7 -- They've now credited the earlier sack to Kyle Love. Originally, it had been given to Jermaine Cunningham, then Chandler Jones. Each helped with the pressure on Mark Sanchez.

Patriots guard Dan Connolly is sick. That's why he's been in and out of today's game. His return is questionable.

2:55 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Jets 7 -- A false start on Jets guard Brandon Moore and a fumble by Jets running back Shonn Greene that was recovered by the Jets helped the Patriots stall the New York's last drive.

4:11 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Jets 7 -- When in doubt, throw it up to Rob Gronkowski. Tom Brady lobbed a 17-yard touchdown to Gronkowski over Jets safety LaRon Landry as the Patriots took the lead on a 7-play, 58-yard drive.

Gronkowski also caught a 19-yard pass on the drive.

6:37 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Jets 7 -- Chandler Jones was helped by Jermaine Cunningham and Kyle Love on a 4-yard sack of Mark Sanchez as the Patriots held the Jets to a three-and-out.

8:39 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Jets 7 -- Devin McCourty returned a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown, breaking free on the left side of the field before sprinting past Jets kicker Nick Folk for the score to tie the game.

It was McCourty's first touchdown in the NFL.

8:51 1st quarter: Jets 7, Patriots 0 -- Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez put together a 11-play, 76-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Shonn Greene.

The Patriots' secondary, which featured Devin McCourty at safety and Alfonzo Dennard at left corner, gave up two pass plays of 20 yards or more in the Jets' opening drive. Ras-I Dowling came in on a third down and was called for holding, allowing for another Jets first down on the drive.

Tim Tebow picked up a first down for the Jets in the red zone, rushing for three yards near the goal line.

13:47 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Jets 0 -- The Patriots started with Donald Thomas at left guard for Logan Mankins and Shane Vereen at running back for the first series. Vereen picked up two first downs before the Patriots' drive was stalled on back to back incomplete passes from Tom Brady to Brandon Lloyd.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Jets 0 -- The Jets won the coin toss and have elected to defer. The Patriots will receive to start the game.

Let's go.

Pregame: On a beautiful fall day in New England, the Patriots are set to take on the New York Jets. It's 60 degrees right now in Foxborough with temperatures going to dip into the 50s by the time the game is over. The wind is blowing at about 13 miles per hour.

I'll have updates here throughout the day for each series. Enjoy the game.

@zuriberry

Game 7: Jets at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 21, 2012 01:18 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots come into Sunday's game against the New York Jets hoping to break the gridlock in the AFC East and bounce back from a disappointing 24-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

It's possible the Patriots will get a boost with the return of linebacker Dont'a Hightower (hamstring) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (hand), who are both listed as questionable for today's game.

The Jets come into today's game off a 35-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts in which running back Shonn Green ran for 161 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries while Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez passed for a paltry 82 yards. For the Jets, in their three wins this season, Greene has averaged at least 26 carries. That will probably be a point of emphasis today for the Jets who sport a 30th-ranked pass offense, even against a Patriots team that allows 288.8 yards per game in the air.

The Patriots' fifth-ranked rushing defense (82.7 yards per game) will not only look to bottle up Greene, but possibly backup quarterback Tim Tebow, who may see time at halfback. Tebow most certainly will make an appearance as the wildcat quarterback in offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's offense.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

Records: Patriots 3-3; Jets 3-3.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, DE Jermaine Cunningham, LB Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Tavon Wilson, S Patrick Chung.

Jets offense: WR Stephen Hill, LT D'Brickshaw Ferguson, LG Matt Slauson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, RT Austin Howard, TE Dustin Keller, WR Jeremy Kerley, QB Mark Sanchez, FB John Connor, RB Shonn Greene.

Jets defense: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NT Sione Po'uha, DT Mike DeVito, OLB Bryan Thomas, WLB Bart Scott, MLB David Harris, OLB Calvin Pace, CB Kyle Wilson, CB Antonio Cromartie, S LaRon Landry, S Yeremiah Bell.

Inactives (more coming)

Patriots: Steve Gregory (hip), Brandon Bolden (knee), Tracy White (foot).

Jets: TBA

Final: Seahawks 24, Patriots 23

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 14, 2012 03:55 PM

Without any timeouts, and down by one point, the Patriots failed to move the ball down field and get in position to beat the Seattle Seahawks with a little less than a minute remaining, losing 24-23 Sunday after being up by as many as 13 points early in the fourth quarter.

Tom Brady was 36 of 58 passing on the night, throwing for 395 yards and two touchdowns. But he also threw two costly interceptions and was unable to connect with any of his receivers down the stretch in two straight drives, allowing the Seahawks to come back and win the game.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw two late touchdowns, a 10-yard back shoulder pass to Braylon Edwards and a 46-yard bomb to Sydney Rice to lead Seattle to victory.

1:18 4th quarter: Seahawks 24, Patriots 23 -- Russell Wilson threw a bomb to Sydney Rice, who was running a double route, for a 46-yard touchdown with a little more than a minute remaining. Rookie safety Tavon Wilson was in coverage. On the extra point, the Seahawks took the lead.

It was a four-play, 57-yard drive.

The Patriots don't have any more timeouts.

2:52 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Seahawks 17 -- On a third-and-8, Tom Brady was unable to connect with Deion Branch for a first down and burn some much needed clock. The Patriots were forced to punt after three plays.

3:02 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Seahawks 17 -- The Patriots forced another three-and-out by the Seahawks, giving them the ball back with a little more than three minutes remaining and an opportunity to shut the door on Seattle.

4:15 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Seahawks 17 -- Tom Brady was flagged for intentional grounding after being hurried in the pocket and and the Patriots were forced to punt after six plays. This is setting the Seahawks up with enough time to make a run at winning this game.

8:09 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Seahawks 17 -- A 51-yard pass to Golden Tate and a 10-yard back shoulder to Braylon Edwards for a touchdown have brought the Seahawks to within one touchdown's length of the Patriots.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hit Tate on a play-action pass with Devin McCourty in coverage for a long gain, and the 'Hawks were helped by a 15-yard penalty on Brandon Spikes after he delivered a blow to the quarterback's head with his elbow.

Four plays later, Wilson found Edwards who was covered by Alfonzo Dennard. Dennard was also called for pass interference on the play, but it appeared Edwards got away with a push himself.

Also, it appears Patrick Chung may have been injured on the drive. He left for the locker room. The team announced his return was questionable with a shoulder injury.

9:21 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Seahawks 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski nailed his third field goal try of the day, this time from 35 yards out.

The Patriots were unable to convert on a 3rd-and-2 before being forced to punt.

Tom Brady has thrown 49 passes today, completing 33. He has 359 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

12:31 4th quarter: Patriots 20, Seahawks 10 -- Jerod Mayo forced a fumble by Zach Miller and recovered it as Miller was going down. The play was reviewed and upheld.

13:43 4th quarter: Patriots 20, Seahawks 10 -- Tom Brady threw his second interception of the game and third of the season, giving the Seahawks the ball back at their 23 after Earl Thomas returned it for 26 yards out of the end zone.

End of 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Seahawks 10 -- Tom Brady took a shot to the head by the Seahawks' Jason Jones. The 'Hawks were flagged for unnecessary roughness, allowing the Patriots to continue their drive at the Seattle 30.

The Patriots offense seems to be dominating despite the lack of a run game and Brady has more than 300 yards passing on the day.

3:30 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Seahawks 10 -- The Patriots held the Seahawks to another three-and-out, as Seattle's offense has continued to sputter.

4:45 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Seahawks 10 -- Tom Brady just threw his second interception of the season, getting picked off by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman on a throw to Deion Branch.

Sherman is 6-3.

7:23 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Seahawks 10 -- Tavon Wilson broke up a pass on 3rd-and-20 and the Patriots forced the Seahawks to punt again. The Patriots were helped by a third down holding call on Seahawks lineman Breno Giacomini that negated a Russell Wilson scramble for a first down.

Also, the Patriots announced that Brandon Bolden had suffered a knee injury and his return is questionable.

9:21 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Seahawks 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked his second field goal of the game, a 35-yard attempt to extend the Patriots' lead by at least two scores.

The Patriots' drive was stunted by huge hit on Stevan Ridley for 3-yard loss by Bobby Wagner. Wagner got into the backfield almost untouched.

Daniel Fells caught his second pass of the season on the drive. This one was for 35 yards, only one yard shy of his career long.

13:30 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Seahawks 10 -- Brandon Spikes made another play in the backfield and Chandler Jones got his second sack of the day as the Patriots forced the Seahawks to go three-and-out on their opening drive of the half.

This is the first two-sack game of the rookie Jones' career.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Seahawks 10 -- The second half is underway.

End of 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Seahawks 10 -- The Patriots were unable to capitalize on Seattle punter Jon Ryan's gift. After Ryan bungled a punt in Seahawks territory, Tom Brady led the Patriots down to the Seattle 3-yard line. But after three straight incompletions, he was flagged for an intentional grounding, bringing the half to a close.

Despite the miscue, Brady is having another strong game. He's 21 of 30 passing for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Wes Welker is already over the century mark, catching seven passes for 102 yards.

One thing that's not going so well for the Patriots is the running game. Brandon Bolden limped off the field after a kickoff in the second quarter and Stevan Ridley has been unable to find any breathing room. He has eight yards on four carries.

0:40 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Seahawks 10 -- Seahawks punter Jon Ryan mishandled the snap and ended up with a 14-yard loss and a turnover on the downs for the Patriots.

The Patriots are within striking distance before the half.

2:15 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Seahawks 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 25-yard field goal to cap an 11-play, 41-yard drive after the turnover.

Patriots receiver Wes Welker took a huge hit on the drive, but returned to catch two more passes before the field goal. He has six catches for 87 yards already.

7:26 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Seahawks 10 -- Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones was able to strip Seahawks quarterback on 3rd-and-9 during his throwing motion, allowing for Rob Ninkovich to recover. The Patriots get the ball back at the Seattle 47.

10:33 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Seahawks 10 -- Tom Brady threw a fade to Aaron Hernandez on the goal-line for a 1-yard touchdown after a 15-play drive.

Brady went 8 of 9 on the drive, connecting with tight end Rob Gronkowski four times for 40 yards.

End of the 1st quarter: Seahawks 10, Patriots 7 -- After one quarter of play, the Patriots are seeing how hard this game is going to be and are already experiencing a bit of difficulty with the noise after a false start on Sebastian Vollmer.

1:50 1st quarter: Seahawks 10, Patriots 7 -- Russell Wilson made two huge throws to Doug Baldwin, connecting on a 50-yard pass (the longest of his career) and a 24-yard pass for a touchdown. Both were on Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington.

And both times, the Patriots were struggling to keep up with Wilson, whose escapability from the pocket is becoming more apparent. At one point, Wilson spun out of three tackles before scrambling for nine yards and a first down.

It was the first touchdown the Patriots had given up in the first quarter all season.

5:49 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Seahawks 3 -- Wes Welker caught a 46-yard touchdown pass over his head after breaking loose from the secondary, following up on another amazing grab by Brandon Lloyd on the sideline as the Patriots responded in six plays to take the lead.

Brady went 4 of 6 on the drive, hitting Welker twice and Hernandez for his second grab of the day.

With Welker's first catch, he now has a reception in 100 straight games.

7:46 1st quarter: Seahawks 3, Patriots 0 -- Seattle's Steven Hauschka kicked a 34-yard field goal, capping a nine-play, 68-yard drive for the first points of the game. Brandon Spikes helped keep the Seahawks from driving in the red zone, stuffing Marshawn Lynch on 3rd-and-1 for a 2-yard loss at the 9-yard line.

For the Patriots, they started Rob Ninkovich at linebacker for the injured Dont'a Hightower and brought in Jermaine Cunningham at defensive end.

13:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Seahawks 0 -- On the first play of the Patriots' first offensive drive, Tom Brady connected with tight end Aaron Hernandez for eight yards. The Patriots picked up a first down on a throw to Brandon Lloyd on the next play, but were forced to punt after two negligible runs and an incomplete pass to Deion Branch.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Seahawks 0 -- The Seahawks won the coin toss and have deferred to the second half. Game on.

Pregame: The game is getting ready to start at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

It's 64 degrees in the region with thunderstorms expected through the 9 p.m. hour. We'll see if that affects the game and whether the 12th man really is as influential as advertised.

Enjoy the game.

@zuriberry

Game 6: Patriots at Seahawks

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 14, 2012 10:57 AM

The Patriots are visiting the Seattle Seahawks in a stadium that is universally lauded for its deafening noise, but New England will also have to come to terms with a highly touted, yet underappreciated defense.

The Seahawks come into Sunday's game as the surprise No. 1 overall defense in the NFL, holding opponents to 258.6 yards per game and are second in points allowed (14.0). They have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 20 points in a game, and in wins against the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and Carolina Panthers, the Seahawks have given up a total of 31 points. The transition to the league's top defense is a huge jump from last season's No. 9 overall ranking, when Seattle held opponents to 332.2 yard per game.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, former head coach of the Patriots, has led the Seahawks to a 17-20 record since returning to the NFL coaching ranks in 2010. His team is coming off a 16-12 win over the Panthers. The team is led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson (79 of 125, 815 yards, 5 touchdowns, 6 interceptions) and defensive end Chris Clemons (5.5 sacks, 1 fumble forced).

The Patriots are coming off a blistering 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos in which the team's up-tempo, no-huddle offense kept the game out of Peyton Manning's reach. They'll attack the Seahawks with the No. 1 ranked offense in the NFL (439.4 yards per game), led by Tom Brady's passing attack and a newfound running game. In the last two games, the Patriots have rushed for 498 yards, led by back-to-back 100-yard games from Stevan Ridley.

The team will again be without safety Steve Gregory (hip), wide receiver Julian Edelman (hand), and rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower (hamstring).

Linebacker Tracy White (foot) is also out, leaving the Patriots' eighth-ranked run defense with only four linebackers available, including Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Bobby Carpenter, and Niko Koutouvides. Carpenter is likely to help the team in its base defense, coming out in sub packages for passing downs.

However, the team will likely be boosted by the return of tight end Aaron Hernandez, who made the trip to Seattle and is expected to play a limited number of snaps. Hernandez was injured in Week 2 of the season against the Arizona Cardinals.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET

Records: Patriots 3-2; Seahawks 3-2.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Bobby Carpenter, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Tavon Wilson, S Patrick Chung.

Seahawks offense: WR Sidney Rice, LT Russell Okung, LG James Carpenter, C Max Unger, RG Paul MCQuistan, RT Breno Giacomini, TE Zach Miller, WR Golden Tate, QB Russell Wilson, FB Michael Robinson, RB Marshawn Lynch.

Seahawks defense: LDE Red Bryant, LDT Alan Brnach, RDT BRandon Mebane, RDE Chris Clemons, OLB Leroy MLB Bobby Wagner, OLB K.J. Wright, LCB Richard Sherman, RCB Brandon Browner, SS Kam Chancellor, FS Earl Thomas.

Inactives (more coming)

Patriots: Julian Edelman (hand), Steve Gregory (hip), Dont'a Hightower (hamstring).

Seahawks: John Moffitt (knee).

Final: Patriots 31, Broncos 21

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 7, 2012 04:08 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots accumulated a franchise record 35 first downs Sunday, but it wasn't until Rob Ninkovich forced a fumble on running back Willis McGahee with 3:42 left in the game did they secure 31-21 win.

Tom Brady, battling rival Peyton Manning for the 13th time in his career, threw for 223 yards and a touchdown while running for another. Manning was 31 of 44 for 345 yards and three touchdowns.

Patriots running back Stevan Ridley ran for a career-high 151 yards and a touchdown, but also had a costly fumble that could have put the game within striking distance for Manning.

Wes Welker had 13 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.

3:42 4th quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 21 -- Willis McGahee fumbled on a rush at the Patriots' 14-yard line, forced by Rob Ninkovich, giving the Patriots the ball right back. The play could possibly seal the Patriots' win.

5:19 4th quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 21 -- Stevan Ridley broke off a 20-yard run. On the next play, he fumbled, giving the Broncos the ball back at a critical juncture in the game. It was forced by Von Miller.

6:43 4th quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 21 -- Peyton Manning threw a 5-yard touchdown to Brandon Stokley as the Broncos have now made it a two-score game.

The Broncos scoring drive was a quick 1:43, with Manning making two key throws to Willis McGahee and Eric Decker. Time is of the essence now for Denver. The Patriots can put this game out of reach with another touchdown or a lengthy drive.

8:10 4th quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 14 -- Going for it on fourth down didn't work out for the Patriots either. Wesley Woodyard strip-sacked Tom Brady for a 20-yard loss as the Broncos took over.

10:50 4th quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 14 -- Willis McGahee dropped a fourth down pass from Peyton Manning as the Patriots took over on their own 47-yard line.

13:00 4th quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 14 -- Two straight sacks on Tom Brady forces the Patriots to punt.

Derek Wolfe and Von Miller both got to Brady on the drive.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 14 -- Peyton Manning is having a good game for himself, despite his fumble that led to another Patriots touchdown. He's 21 of 28 for 230 yards and two touchdowns now. Demaryius Thomas has six catches for 147 yards. Thomas has proven he can beat Devin McCourty and Sterling Moore consistently.

1:08 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 14 -- Peyton Manning must have gotten some smelling salt after that fumble. He orchestrated a 10-play, 90-yard drive, culminated with a 2-yard back shoulder touchdown pass that Eric Decker had to pull off the turf.

4:42 3d quarter: Patriots 31, Broncos 7 -- Stevan Ridley took a pitch left and sprinted into the end zone, diving after contact, for an 8-yard touchdown to capitalize on the Broncos' turnover.

The play was challenged and upheld.

4:51 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Broncos 7 -- Rob Ninkovich sacked Peyton Manning and forced a fumble on the play, with Vince Wilfork recovering as the Patriots took over at the Broncos' 14-yard line.

5:00 3d quarter: Patriots 24, Broncos 7 -- Tom Brady jumped over the pile for a 1-yard touchdown run as the Patriots marched 80 yards in 16 plays and 6:24 for the team's third TD.

Stevan Ridley went over 100 yards rushing on the drive. He has 20 carries for 106 yards.

11:24 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Broncos 7 -- The Patriots held the Broncos to four plays before forcing a punt. The Broncos called a run up the middle on 3rd-and-4.

On the drive, Devin McCourty was replaced at right cornerback by Alfonzo Dennard. Tracy White went to the locker room. We'll update you on this as soon as we get more information.

13:44 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Broncos 7 -- On a 3rd-and-7, Tom Brady must have heard foot steps because he started ducking when there was no one around him. And then, just a moment later, he finally did get hit, sacked for a 3-yard loss by Von Miller to give the Broncos the ball in the second half for the first time.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Broncos 7 -- The third quarter is underway. Patriots receive the ball.

End of the first half: Patriots 17, Broncos 7 -- The Patriots offense is working at peak performance right now. Tom Brady is a cool 17 of 20 passing for 165 yards, rekindling an already sparkling relationship with Wes Welker. Welker has nine catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.

The running game seems to be a priority for the Patriots, too. Stevan Ridley has 13 carries for 70 yards while Brandon Bolden has seven rushes for 25 yards. Shane Vereen jumped in a for a 1-yard carry, scoring on his only touch so far.

On the other side, Peyton Manning is 13 of 18 for 137 yards and a touchdown. Broncos running back Willis McGahee has nine carries for 28 yards.

The Broncos have had a tough time dealing with the Patriots' hurry-up offense, especially with Wes Welker running routes over the middle of the field. Meanwhile, with the run plays coming fast and the first downs coming often (eight), the Broncos are having trouble staying on the field. The Patriots have owned the time of possession 17:04 to 12:56.

0:02 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Broncos 7 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 23-yard field goal to cap a 16-play drive that spanned 93 yards.

Running backs Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley did the majority of the damage, switching on and off as the Patriots rumbled along before the half.

5:13 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 7 -- In his first series of his career, Alfonzo Dennard made an impact. The rookie cornerback broke up a pass by Peyton Manning on 3rd-and-5 to force the Broncos to punt. Dennard replaced Sterling Moore in the nickel package of the series.

7:57 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 7 -- Shane Vereen pulled some cleanup duty for the Patriots, rushing in a 1-yard touchdown, after teammate Shane Ridley pulled the heavy workload on a 14-play, 80-yard drive.

Ridley rushed four times for 18 yards, getting two first downs, before Tom Brady connected on a 10-yard pass to Brandon Lloyd to get the Patriots down to the 1-yard line where Vereen scampered in untouched. Lloyd beat Champ Bailey one-on-one on the play.

14:05 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Broncos 7 -- A pass interference on Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty in the end zone on a throw to Denver's Eric Decker set up a 1-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Joel Dreessen.

The touchdown throw capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive in 4:03.

Bill Belichick challenged a rushing play on the drive that resulted in a first down. That play was upheld so the Patriots were charged a timeout.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Broncos 0 -- Through one quarter of play, Tom Brady is 7 of 8 passing for 58 yards and a touchdown. Stevan Ridley has 33 yards rushing on five carries.

The Broncos are currently driving in the Patriots' red zone.

3:08 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Broncos 0 -- Tom Brady faked a handoff to Brandon Bolden, faked a throw to his right, and then threw back to Wes Welker on his left for an 8-yard touchdown.

The Patriots drove 84 yards on 12 plays in 4:44, working mostly out of the team's hurry-up offense, before the touchdown pass. It was Brady's 37th straight game with a TD pass.

7:52 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Broncos 0 -- On a third-and-5, Jerod Mayo sacked Peyton Manning for a 7-yard loss to give the Patriots the ball right back. It was Mayo's first sack of the season.

11:18 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Broncos 0 - The Patriots punted after a four-play drive after a quick first down throw to Rob Gronkowski. One rush by Danny Woodhead in the hurry-up offense for five yards was all the Patriots could manage in their quick attack.

12:22 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Broncos 0 -- Peyton Manning completed a deep pass over the middle of the field to Demaryius Thomas for 43 yards but Thomas was stripped by Sterling Moore who recovered it and returned it for 14 yards.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Broncos 0 -- The Broncos won the coin toss and elected to receive. Kickoff is imminent. Get your popcorn.

Pregame: The Patriots, Broncos and fans are going to have to deal with the rain, which is still coming down here in Foxborough. According to Weather.com, the rain will probably drop off by the 6 p.m. hour.

This will be the first game Patriots rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard will be active. He essentially takes the place of Steve Gregory, who is out with a hip injury. Also active for today's game is running back Shane Vereen.

In pregame warmups, Tavon Wilson was in for Gregory at safety and Tracy White was in for Dont'a Hightower at linebacker. The team's starting offensive line was intact, including LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, and RT Sebastian Vollmer.

Stay here for in-game updates by each series.

Enjoy the game.

@zuriberry

Game 5: Broncos at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 7, 2012 12:20 PM

100712gillette-tarp.jpg

The field at Gillette Stadium is covered before the Patriots take on the Broncos. It's 55 degrees in Foxborough with a 40 percent chance of rain by game time.

FOXBOROUGH -- Of the 12 times Tom Brady and the Patriots have faced a Peyton Manning led team, the Patriots having been victorious in eight of those contests, including twice in the postseason.

But Sunday's game marks a new twist in the quarterback rivalry as Manning, strangely draped in navy and orange, leads the Denver Broncos into Gillette Stadium.

The Broncos are coming off a sterling 37-6 win over the Oakland Raiders in which Manning was 30 of 38 for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Whatever worries that were held about Manning's neck and his numerous surgeries after missing all of 2011 were evaporated.

The Broncos are 2-2 with Manning at the helm with a largely identical offense that he quarterbacked in Indianapolis for 13 seasons.

The Patriots come in to today's contest with probably the team's first serious absence on defense, having to go without safety Steve Gregory who is sidelined with a hip injury. The Patriots are also officially going without wide receiver Julian Edelman (hand), who was ruled out Friday with Gregory, and have 12 players who are listed as questionable, including Rob Gronkowski (hip), Aaron Hernandez (hip), Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), and Logan Mankins (calf/hip).

Mankins missed last week's 52-28 win over the Buffalo Bills, while Aaron Hernandez has missed the last two games after getting injured against Arizona in Week 2. With so many players up in the air, the Patriots will likely be mixing and mashing more than just its secondary and offensive line.

Also, the Patriots will also get a chance to get reacquainted with center Dan Koppen, who will make the start for the Broncos. He was released by the Patriots after training camp after spending the past nine seasons in New England.

Of course, this game's top matchup may be Brady vs. Manning, but there's also Gronkowski playing opposite his brother, Chris. Chris Gronkowski plays fullback for the Broncos.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

Records: Patriots 2-2; Broncos 2-2.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Daniel Fells.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Tavon Wilson, S Patrick Chung.

Broncos offense: WR Demaryius Thomas, LT Ryan Clady, LG Zane Beadles, C Dan Koppen, RG Chris Kuper, RT Orlando Franklin, TE Joel Dreessen, WR Eric Decker, QB Peyton Manning, FB Chris Gronkowski, RB Willis McGahee.

Broncos defense: LDE Derek Wolfe, DT Kevin Cikerson, NT Justin Bannan, RDE Elvis Dumervil, SLB Von Miller, MLB Joe Mays, WLB Wesley Woodyard, LCB Champ Bailey, RCB Tracy Porter, SS Mike Adams, FS Rahim Moore.

Inactives

Patriots: Julian Edelman (hand), Steve Gregory (hip), Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion), Dont'a Hightower (hamstring), Matt Tennant, Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Jake Bequette.

Broncos: Caleb Hanie, CJ Davis, Sealver Siligia, Steven Johnson, Duke Ihenacho, Julius Thomas, and Knowshon Moreno.

Final: Patriots 52, Bills 28

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 30, 2012 03:30 PM

The New England Patriots had a pair of 100-yard rushers and a pair of 100-yard receivers as they defeated the Buffalo Bills, 52-28, on Sunday in Orchard Park, NY.

Stevan Ridley (106 yards, two touchdowns) and Brandon Bolden (137 yards, one touchdown) paced the Patriots on the ground and Rob Gronkowski (104 yards, one touchdown) and Wes Welker (nine receptions, 129 yards) led the air attack as the Patriots evened their record at 2-2.

Quarterback Tom Brady passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for another score. The Patriots defense forced six turnovers.

The Patriots trailed 14-7 at halftime and 21-7 early in the third quarter after Buffalo's Donald Jones scored on a 68-yard pass play.

But Brady directed drives of 80 and 85 yards to tie the score. He capped the second with a 4-yard run for a touchdown.

The Patriots took the lead on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski, then went up 34-21 when Stevan Ridley scored his second touchdown in the fourth quarter.

In-game updates
1:56 4th quarter: Patriots 52, Bills 28 -- After missing two field goals earlier in the game, Stephen Gostkowski got a measure of redemption when he converted on a 30-yard attempt.

3:54 4th quarter: Patriots 49, Bills 28 -- Tavon Wilson records the sixth takeaway by the Patriots defense, intercepting Ryan Fitzpatrick and setting the Patriots up in Buffalo territory.

4:02 4th quarter: Patriots 49, Bills 28 -- Brandon Lloyd joins the touchdown party on a 25-yard strike from Tom Brady to cap a six-play drive that covered 48 yards.

6:32 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Bills 28 -- The Bills aren't going down without a fight. Brad Smith hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass to pull Buffalo with two scores.

10:29 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Bills 21 -- Brandon Bolden scores on a 7-yard run. Patriots in complete control now on both sides of the ball.

11:19 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Bills 21 -- The Patriots continue to make things happen on defense. Devin McCourty's second interception comes just moments after Vince Wilfork delivered a crushing blow to Buffalo's Donald Jones.

11:42 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Bills 21 -- Stevan Ridley scores his second touchdown to pad the lead for New England. Buffalo can't stop the Patriots on the ground, as Brandon Bolden and Ridley continue to find seams for big gainers.

13:26 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Bills 21 -- Brandon Spikes forced a fumble out of Fred Jackson -- Buffalo's fourth turnover -- and the Patriots recovered. They start this drive on Buffalo's 42.

14:55 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Bills 21 -- Tom Brady found a wide open Rob Gronkowski in the middle of the field for a 28-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter as the Patriots reclaimed the lead. It capped a five-play, 63-yard drive over 2:01.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 21 -- The Patriots end the third quarter on better footing than how they started it. Right now they're threatening to score and go up on the Bills.

2:09 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 21 -- After a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to Donald Jones for 22 yards, the Patriots clamped down on the Bills, forcing another punt after a Rob Ninkovich strip sack and tackle for loss.

3:53 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 21 -- Tom Brady, unable to find an open receiver, scrambled in for a 4-yard touchdown to knot the game at 21. The play was reviewed and upheld.

Brady connected with Wes Welker for three passes on the drive and Brandon Bolden broke off a 20-yard run to spur the Patriots along. It was an eight-play, 80-yard drive over 3:19.

7:20 3d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 14 -- The Patriots held the Bills to a three-and-out with Devin McCourty showing good coverage on a deep throw by Ryan Fitzpatrick.

8:10 3d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 14 -- Tom Brady escaped from the pocket and found Danny Woodhead who was able to scamper in for a 17-yard touchdown, capping an eight-play, 80-yard drive in 2:58 as the Patriots responded to Buffalo's touchdown.

Brandon Bolden rushed the ball twice on the drive, including a 27-yard scamper that put the Patriots in Bills territory.

11:08 2d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 7 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick found Donald Jones over the middle of the field and Patriots safety Steve Gregory took a bad angle as he raced away for a 68-yard touchdown.

The Bills went five plays, 83 yards, in 2:37.

13:54 3d quarter: Bills 14, Patriots 7 -- A possible touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski was broken up by Stephon Gilmore, who hit Gronkowski in the hands as he was pulling in the would-be catch.

The Patriots punted after a Brady pass was batted down by Kyle Williams at the line.

15:00 3d quarter: Bills 14, Patriots 7 -- The second half is underway with the Patriots receiving the kick.

End of the 2d quarter: Bills 14, Patriots 7 -- Two missed field goals, an inability to capitalize on two interceptions, and costly turnovers have the Bills leading the Patriots 14-7.

A fumble by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski led to a 24-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Scott Chandler and Stephen Gostkowski's second missed field led to another Fitzpatrick and Chandler hookup in the end zone.

The Patriots have three takeaways to their credit, with Devin McCourty intercepting an under thrown pass and Jerod Mayo intercepting another tipped ball, but have not been able to take advantage of those opportunities.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady is 10 of 18 for 141 yards while running back Stevan Ridley has 63 yards rushing on 11 attempts and one touchdown. Fitzpatrick leads the Bills with 13 of 19 passing for 178 yards.

1:11 2d quarter: Bills 14, Patriots 7 -- Brandon Spikes delivered a huge hit on Bills running back CJ Spiller, forcing a fumble on the goal line as Vince Wilfork recovered to give the Patriots the ball back.

2:15 2d quarter: Bills 14, Patriots 7 -- The Bills' Jairus Byrd forced another fumble, this time on Patriots receiver Wes Welker, and Bryan Scott recovered for Buffalo as the Patriots are seemingly stumped by this defense. The play was reviewed and upheld.

Tom Brady was sacked by Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams on the prior play.

The Bills take over at the Patriots' 21-yard line.

3:30 2d quarter: Bills 14, Patriots 7 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick hooked up with tight end Scott Chandler again, this time for 20-yard touchdown as the Bills took the lead.

The scoring strike was set up by a deep pass from Fitzpatrick to running back Fred Jackson, who was covered by Patriots LB Jerod Mayo, for 34 yards. The Bills went 68 yards over five plays in 2:12.

5:42 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 7 -- Stephen Gostkowski missed his second field goal of the game, this one a 42-yard attempt wide left.

Again, it appeared that Gostkowski didn't get much on the kick. Normally his kicks are powerful and these last two attempts are anything but that.

9:43 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 7 -- Scott Chandler went up and grabbed a 24-yard touchdown pass over Patriots safety Patrick Chung as the Bills capitalized on Rob Gronkowski's fumble.

9:51 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Rob Gronkowski was stripped on the Patriots first play after a reception. The fumble was forced and recovered by Jairus Byrd.

10:10 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Good coverage on Bills tight end Scott Chandler on third down and on TJ Graham on second down to give the Patriots the ball right back after only four plays.

11:16 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski missed a 49-yard field goal, wide right, appearing to not get much on the kick as the Patriots failed to capitalize on their second takeaway of the game.

Dont'a Hightower is officially listed with a hamstring injury and his return is questionable.

After sitting out a series, Rob Gronkowski returned to the playing field.

12:56 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick underthrew T.J. Graham after beating Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty, and McCourty took advantage of the opportunity, picking off Fitzpatrick. The Patriots take over in Bills territory.

14:04 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Tom Brady whiffed on a pass to Wes Welker and the Patriots had four plays on offense before being forced to punt.

Rob Gronkowski was noticeably absent on the last drive, not playing in the series. Prior to this series, he didn't play the last two snaps of the previous offensive series.

End of the first quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- The Patriots' fast start has been slowed a bit by the Bills. We're monitoring the Dont'a Hightower situation.

1:01 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Chandler Jones sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick after he was hurried from the pocket by Jermaine Cunningham as the Patriots held the Bills to four plays.

LB Dont'a Higtower, who left the field with a limp on the previous drive, was on a stationary bike on the sideline. He was replaced on defense by Tracy White.

3:26 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- The Patriots went three-and-out, with Tom Brady unable to connect with Brandon Lloyd on an out route on 3d-and-2.

4:06 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Vince Wilfork tipped a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass and Jerod Mayo intercepted it, giving the Patriots the ball at the Bills' 49-yard line.

LB Dont'a Hightower limped off the field for a play after chasing down Fitzpatrick just a down earlier. We'll monitor that.

6:49 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Stevan Ridley sliced through the left side of the defense for a 6-yard touchdown to cap a quick 7-play drive covering 90 yards in 3:07.

Tom Brady connected with tight end Rob Gronkowski twice, including a 41-yard reception, on the drive and got second-year running back Shane Vereen involved with a 5-yard pass, Vereen's first touch of the season. Brady also connected with tight end Daniel Fells on the drive for an 18-yard reception.

9:58 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bills 0 -- After the Patriots gave up four first downs, Chandler Jones managed to find his way in the Bills' backfield to stop Fred Jackson for a 3-yard loss and force a Buffalo punt.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bills 0 -- The Patriots won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Bills will receive the opening kick.

Pregame: We're about to get underway here at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The coin toss is coming up and then 60 minutes of Patriots and Bills action.

You can stay right here for all of the game updates, series by series.

It's 57 degrees here in Orchard Park, N.Y., with winds of 7 mile per hour. Chances of rain are at 10 percent as of 1 p.m., and will increase to 15 percent by the 3 p.m. hour, according to Weather.com.

Enjoy the game.

@zuriberry

Game 4: Patriots at Bills

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 30, 2012 10:36 AM

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Patriots have dominated the Buffalo Bills in years of late, winning 16 of their last 17 meetings. Tom Brady owns an 18-2 record against the Bills. Bill Belichick is 21-4 against the Bills. Coming off a 1-2 start to the season, the Bills would seem to be the right pick-me-up for the struggling Patriots. But nothing is given in the NFL.

Last season, the Patriots split their season series with Buffalo, losing the team's first meeting Sept. 25, 2011 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, 34-31. The loss snapped a 15-game winning streak for the Patriots against the Bills. The Patriots came back and won their second meeting,, 49-21, scoring 49 unanswered points after going down, 21-0, through one quarter of play on New Year's Day.

This season, the Bills come in 2-1, currently tied for the lead in the AFC East. They're coming off a 24-14 win over the Cleveland Browns.

The Patriots limp into today's contest after a brutal 31-30 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3. The team will be without All-Pro guard Logan Mankins, who is out with a hip injury.

Buffalo's third-ranked rushing offense, an offensive line that's only allowed one sack, and a revamped defensive line featuring Mario Williams and Mark Anderson that's totaled 9 sacks are all areas of concern for the Patriots. While Bills running back Fred Jackson is expected to play, both he and backup C.J. Spiller are questionable.

Here are the details for this afternoon's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 1-2; Bills 2-1.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Dan Connolly, C Ryan Wendell, RG Donald Thomas, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Wes Welker.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Steve Gregory, S Patrick Chung.

Bills offense: WR Stevie Johnson, LT Cordy Glenn, LG Andy Levitre, C Eric Wood, RG Kraig Urbik, RT Erik Pears, TE Scott Chandler, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Donald Johnson

Bills defense: LDE Mario Williams, DT Marcel Dareus, DT Kyle Williams, RDE Mark Anderson, SLB Arthur Moats, MLB Kelvin Sheppard, WLB Nick Barnett, LCB Aaron Williams, SS George WIlson, FS Jairus Byrd, RCB Stephon Gilmore.

Inactives

Patirots (one more to be announced): Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Julian Edelman (hand), Brandon Deaderick (ankle), Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), Justin Francis (ankle), Logan Mankins (hip).

Bills: Martin Ruvell (ankle).

Final: Ravens 31, Patriots 30

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 23, 2012 07:57 PM

BALTIMORE -- Justin Tucker kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired to give the Ravens a measure of revenge for last season's AFC Championship loss with a dramatic 31-30 victory Sunday night.

The Patriots fell to 1-2 as Joe Flacco orchestrated an eight-play, 70-yard drive with 1:55 left to set Tucker up for the winning field goal.

1:55 4th quarter: Patriots 30, Ravens 28 -- The fans here at M&T Bank Stadium have gone to a full-fledged explicit chant, unhappy with the officials after two costly penalties on the Ravens. CB Lardarius Webb was flagged for illegal contact on Wes Welker, negating an interception, and then the Ravens' bench was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after giving the officials too much lip service. A big sack on Tom Brady by Haloti Ngata and Dannell Ellerbee spurred the Patriots to punt. The Ravens have 80 yards of field to go with 1:55 left and one timeout.

4:01 4th quarter: Patriots 30, Ravens 28 -- Brandon Spikes was called for a crucial holding call within the Patriots' 10-yard line, giving the Ravens life on what would have been a huge sack by Kyle Love and Chandler Jones. On the very next play, Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 5-yard touchdown to cap an 8-play, 92-yard drive.

Flacco was 6 of 7 for 76 yards on the drive.

Kyle Arrington was shaken up on the drive, replaced for a few plays by Marquice Cole.

7:36 4th quarter: Patriots 30, Ravens 21 -- Brandon Lloyd limped off the field and was replaced by Matthew Slater on the Patriots' last drive. The Patriots were forced to punt after Dannell Ellerbe blew up a running play on a blitz for a 4-yard loss.

10:50 4th quarter: Patriots 30, Ravens 21 -- On a fourth-and-1 at the Patriots 34, Patrick Chung knifed through to the Ravens backfield and tackled Ray Rice for no gain, giving the Patriots the ball right back.

14:14 4th quarter: Patriots 30, Ravens 21 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 29-yard field goal as the Patriots went up nine points on the Ravens to start the fourth quarter.

The Patriots capitalized on a 13-play, 78-yard drive after forcing the Ravens to punt, likely putting this game out of reach for their AFC rivals.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 27, Ravens 21 -- The Patriots are marching toward what is possibly a game-winning drive after three quarters. Deion Branch took vicious hit to the head by Ed Reed. And Kellen Winslow caught his first pass as a Patriot. The Patriots are in the Ravens' red zone.

5:10 3d quarter: Patriots 27, Ravens 21 -- Devin McCourty broke up a deep pass to Torrey Smith on 3d-and-15 as the Patriots finally forced the Ravens to punt.

6:48 3d quarter: Patriots 27, Ravens 21 -- Danny Woodhead managed to plow his way to a 3-yard touchdown as the Patriots marched 80 yards in 4:48 on a 12-play drive to retake the lead.

Tom Brady connected with Brandon Lloyd twice for 19 yards on the drive while Woodhead rushed five times for 18 yards.

11:36 3d quarter: Ravens 21, Patriots 20 -- Ray Rice had a fairly large hole for a 7-yard touchdown run after Ravens QB Joe Flacco connected with Torrey Smith for two passes for 43 yards to get them into the red zone.

It was an 8-play, 80-yard drive to start the third quarter in only 3:24.

Also of note, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman went to the locker room with trainers due to a hand injury. His return is questionable.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Ravens 14 -- The third quarter is underway and the Ravens have the ball to start.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 20, Ravens 14 -- With a little less than two minutes to work with, Tom Brady methodically worked his magic, driving the Patriots 81 yards on nine plays, culminating with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman with two seconds left in the half. It was Edelman's second career touchdown reception.

The total drive spanned 1:45 with Brady connecting with Edelman, Deion Branch, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker.

1:47 2d quarter: Ravens 14, Patriots 13 -- After a streaker held up game play on the field (luckily he had briefs on), Joe Flaccoc couldn't connect with Anquan Boldin but found tight end Dennis Pitta for a 20-yard touchdown.

Pitta split two Patriots defenders and half hurdled Steve Gregory to get into the end zone and give the Ravens the lead.

6:36 2d quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 7 -- A direct snap to Danny Woodhead and a reverse to Julian Edelman resulted in a 13-yard loss and eventual punt for the Patriots.

Edelman got another carry on the drive, a reverse, for 8 yards. He also caught a pass for 18 yards and was flagged for false start.

10:07 2d quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 7 -- Ravens QB Joe Flacco threw a 25-yard touchdown pass over Kyle Arrington's head to cap a 13-play drive that was riddled with penalties.

Jerod Mayo was flagged for a pass interference, the Ravens were flagged for false start and holding, and the Ravens also benefited from a successful challenge on a Flacco throw to Anquan Boldin that gave them a first down.

End of the 1st quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 0 -- Devin McCourty almost had his first interception of the season after a Joe Flacco bomb sailed on him. As he was trying to pull it down, he was hit by Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, jarring it loose.

The Patriots look solid after one. They're beating the Ravens in total yards, 143 to 21. The Ravens have the ball headed into the second quarter.

0:38 1st quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski appears to be rebounding nicely. He just booted a 49-yard field goal to put the Patriots up 13-0.

Julian Edelman was flagged for an offensive pass interference on a catch while going up against Cary Williams. It would've been a first down with the Patriots a little more than 10 yards away from the end zone. Afterward, things got a little testy between the two.

Before that, Tom Brady scrambled and had Haloti Ngata lay on him as he slid. It caused a little bit of fracas between Logan Mankins and Ngata.

5:15 1st quarter: Patriots 10, Ravens 0 -- Another three-and-out for the Ravens, with Chandler Jones chasing Joe Flacco out of the pocket on third down.

7:09 1st quarter: Patriots 10, Ravens 0 -- The Patriots turned to rookie running back Brandon Bolden at the goal line following Steve Gregory's interception, with the Ole Miss product punching it in from two yards out. Michael Hoomanawanui also registered his first catch for the Patriots.

It should also be noted that on Tom Brady's throw to Wes Welker before the team's field goal, he passed Joe Montana for career passing yards.

7:31 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- On Joe Flacco's second pass for Baltimore, Patriots safety Steve Gregory picked him on an attempt to Dennis Pitta.

7:52 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 37-yard field goal to put the Patriots on the board first.

Ravens safety Ed Reed blew up Julian Edelman on a potential touchdown pass. The Patriots were helped down field by a 59-yard pass down the sideline to Wes Welker who appeared to be wide open before being dragged down by Bernard Pollard. It was an 8-play, 71-yard drive.

11:11 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- The Patriots held the Ravens to three-and-out after two runs by Ray Rice for four yards and a pass to Anquan Boldin for five.

12:53 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- A fumbled snap and a sack by Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbee on Tom Brady killed the Patriots' first drive.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- The Ravens won the coin toss and will defer to the second half. The Patriots will receive. Ravens safety and former Patriots James Ihedigbo served as a captain for the Ravens at the coin toss.

Pregame: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- Alright folks. It's time for the Sunday night special with the Patriots taking on the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. I'll be providing updates throughout the game. Feel free to join in on the conversation. Coin flip coming up soon.

@zuriberry

Game 3: Patriots at Ravens

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 23, 2012 10:25 AM

BALTIMORE -- At the end of the day, one of the AFC's top teams will inexplicably be 1-2, sporting an unlikely losing record for a marquee franchise of the NFL.

The Patriots hope that fate won't be theirs to hold, visiting the Baltimore Ravens today in the two teams' seventh regular season meeting and ninth overall.

The Patriots own a 6-0 record against the Ravens in the regular season, including two wins in Baltimore. The two have split their postseason matchups, including last season's AFC Championship 23-20 win for the Patriots, helped in part by now former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff's missed field goal in the waning moments and Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore's strip of Lee Evans to prevent a touchdown.

The Ravens are coming off a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, while the Patriots are nursing their wounds after a 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Both teams do a remarkable job of bouncing back after losses. Since 2008, the Patriots 14-2 -- best in the NFL -- after a loss, while the Ravens are 16-4.

It doesn't help the Patriots that the Ravens have won 11 straight at home. But both teams may not be at full strength.

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith's brother, Tevin, died in a motorcycle accident early Sunday morning. The Ravens have reportedly given Smith the option of playing in the game if he wants or staying with his family.

The Patriots will be without tight end Aaron Hernandez, who suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cardinals. They signed tight end Kellen Winslow on Tuesday, and he's expected to play today behind Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots will also see the return of Deion Branch. It's undetermined what his role may be.

Here are the details for tonight's game:

Kickoff: 8:20 p.m.

Records: Patriots 1-1; Ravens 1-1.

TV/Radio info: NBC WHDH-TV Ch. 7 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Donald Thomas, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Wes Welker.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Steve Gregory, S Patrick Chung.

Ravens offense: WR Torrey Smith, WR Anquan Boldin, LT Michael Oher, LG Ramon Harewood, C Matt Birk, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Kelechi Osemele, TE Dennis Pitta, QB Joe Flacco, FB Vonta Leach, RB Ray Rice.

Ravens defense: DT Haloti Ngata, NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu, DE Pernell McPhee, RUSH Albert McClellan, WLB Jameel McClain, MLB Ray Lewis, SLB Paul Kruger, LCB Lardarius Webb, SS Bernard Pollard, FS Ed Reed, RCB Cary Williams.

Inactives
TBA

Final: Cardinals 20, Patriots 18

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 16, 2012 12:51 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Despite four field goals on the day, including two from beyond 50 yards, Stephen Gostkowski's 42-yard attempt with seconds remaining in the game was wide left as the Patriots fell to the Arizona Cardinals 20-18.

It was the first time the Patriots had lost their home opener at Gillette Stadium, and the first time they had lost a home opener since 2001.

It was a huge emotional swing for the Patriots after the team's defense came up with a timely turnover with little more than a minute remaining in the game. Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes forced a fumble and Vince Wilfork recovered, giving the Patriots the ball at the Arizona 30-yard line.

1:01 4th quarter: Cardinals 20, Patriots 18 -- Brandon Spikes forced a fumble on Ryan Williams and it was recovered by Vince Wilfork, giving the Patriots the ball in Arizona territory.

2:06 4th quarter: Cardinals 20, Patriots 18 -- Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a 5-yard touchdown pass -- the team's first touchdown of the day -- as the Patriots edged closer to the Cardinals with time winding down. The Patriots went for the 2-point conversion, with Brady targeting Gronkowski again but unable to connect. Gronkowski was hit at the line and smother on an out route.

5:54 4th quarter: Cardinals 20, Patriots 12 -- The Patriots defense came up with a huge three-and out. Patrick Chung broke up a pass to Early Doucet and Devin McCourty had tight enough coverage on Larry Fitzgerald to keep him from getting a catch and first down in single coverage.

6:45 4th quarter: Cardinals 20, Patriots 12 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked his fourth field goal of the day, a 54-yarder, as the Patriots closed the lead to eight points.

Arizona defensive lineman Calais Campbell made his presence felt in the last series. He got hit on Tom Brady to hurry him into an incompletion and stuffed Danny Woodhead for no gain, leading to Gostkowski's 53-yard attempt.

7:56 4th quarter: Cardinals 20, Patriots 9 -- The Cardinals are trying to protect their lead now, running the ball four times before passing on a third-and-long for no gain.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, Vince Wilfork looked nicked up on the play. He lumbered to the sideline on his own, but was in obvious pain. The source looked to be his right leg.

12:07 4th quarter: Cardinals 20, Patriots 9 -- Tom Brady completed a 22-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski, two passes to Brandon Lloyd (one being reviewed and upheld), but couldn't convert on a third-down pass to Lloyd that was dropped. On third-and-1, Stevan Ridley was tackled in the backfield by Patrick Peterson before the Patriots punted.

14:00 4th quarter: Cardinals 20, Patriots 9 -- Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb snuck right up the middle for a 5-yard touchdown run. The Cardinals saw a solid drive from Kolb, who completed passes to Todd Heap, Early Doucet and Rob Housler before sneaking in of first-and-goal at the 5-yard line.

End of 3d quarter: Cardinals 13, Patriots 9 -- The Patriots defense is tripping itself up here. Two penalties on one play, including a rougher the passer on Brandon Spikes and hit out of bounds by Steve Gregory on top of a 28-yard completion from Kevin Kolb to Todd Heap. Arizona is in the red zone.

2:46 3d quarter: Cardinals 13, Patriots 9 -- Despite four first downs, the Patriots weren't able to respond to the Cardinals' touchdown in the third quarter. Danny Woodhead was tackled for a 9-yard loss on third down by Darnell Dockett and the Patriots were forced to punt for the fifth time today.

8:52 3d quarter: Cardinals 13, Patriots 9 -- Kevin Kolb threw a quick pass to Andre Roberts on a pick play, and Cardinals re-took the lead on the 2-yard touchdown.

It was a quick three-play drive, capitalizing on the blocked punt, an unusual mishap for the Patriots. It was the first time punter Zoltan Mesko had been blocked in his career.

9:41 3d quarter: Patriots 9, Cardinals 6 -- Cardinals LB Quentin Groves blocked Zoltan Mesko's punt and Arizona takes over at the Patriots' 2.

10:49 3d quarter: Patriots 9, Cardinals 6 -- Dont'a Hightower made a nice play to shed a block and tackle Cardinals RB Beanie Wells in the backfield. The Patriots held the Cardinals to four plays on offense before they were forced to punt.

12:58 3d quarter: Patriots 9, Cardinals 6 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 51-yard field goal as the Patriots took their first lead of the game.

Tom Brady connected with Wes Welker for a 36-yard pass to get the Patriots down field before the team's drive stalled. It was Gostkowski's third field goal.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6 -- We're about to kickoff for the second half.

End of 2d quarter: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6 -- At the half, the Patriots are clearly struggling to get their passing game going against the Arizona Cardinals. Tom Brady is 7 of 12 for 75 yards so far. We've seen Brady miss connections with Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski, leading both a little too much at times.

But on the bright side, we've seen the team's running game produce so far. Stevan Ridley has 11 carries for 54 yards. His longest was a 20-yarder in the second quarter.

With Aaron Hernandez going down with an ankle injury, we've certainly seen the offense change a little bit. We're seeing more Julian Edelman (who started), Wes Welker and TE Michael Hoomanawanui. Edelman it appears is taking a majority of the snaps while Welker has taken over for any receiving duties for Hernandez.

Chandler Jones has continued to impress on the defensive line. He has another forced fumble and has been a presence in the Cardinals' backfield. We're also seeing a good game out of Brandon Spikes, who had a terrific spin move to get in Kevin Kolb's face.

0:06 2d quarter: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6 -- Tom Brady hit Wes Welker for his first catch of the day, a 25-yard flag route in front of the safety's face. It was Welker's 558th catch as a Patriot, taking the franchise lead after being tied with Troy Brown. It was also Welker's first target of the day.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, their drive was stalled after an incomplete pass to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone and 0-yard sack by Arizona DL Calais Campbell on Brady. That'll take us into the half.

2:59 2d quarter: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6 -- The Patriots held the Cardinals to a three-and-out, with LB Brandon Spikes getting a first down tackle for loss on running back Beanie Wells.

4:35 2d quarter: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6 -- This was not the prettiest drive we've seen from the Patriots. Tom Brady was sacked twice, once by Arizona DT Sam Acho and once by LB Quintin Groves. Add in a false start, and the Patriots punted away mercifully.

6:04 2d quarter: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6 -- Arizona QB Kevin Kolb tried to scramble for a first down on third-and-6, but was stripped by Rob Ninkovich Chandler Jones and rookie safety Tavon Wilson caught the ball as it was coming right out of Kolb's hands.

9:08 2d quarter: Patriots 6, Cardinals 6 -- Stevan Ridley is continuing to impress with a strong game. He broke off runs for 12 and 10 yards, helping the Patriots to another field goal. This time, Stephen Gostkowkski kicked a 34-yarder, notching the game up at 6. He would've had a 27-yard field goal attempt, but the Patriots were flagged for a false start before the attempt. It was a seven-play, 30-yard drive.

12:53 2d quarter: Cardinals 6, Patriots 3 -- Chandler Jones drew a holding call on Arizona left tackle D'Anthony Batiste and the Patriots held the Cardinals to four plays, forcing them to punt again.

14:40 2d quarter: Cardinals 6, Patriots 3 -- After a strong run by Stevan Ridley for 20 yards, Tom Brady followed it up with two incomplete passes to Brandon Lloyd as the Patriots were forced to punt for the first time today.

End of 1st quarter: Cardinals 6, Patriots 3 -- The Patriots have announced that Aaron Hernandez's return to the game is questionable with a high right ankle injury.

Rob Ninkovich recorded his first sack of the season, getting to Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb before he could scramble away.

2:27 1st quarter: Cardinals 6, Patriots 3 -- Stephen Gostkowski with a 46-yard field goal as the Patriots finally get on the board. But a big hit for the Patriots was on the team's third offensive play of the game. Tight end Aaron Hernandez went down with what appeared to be a right ankle injury. He was helped off the field and taken to the locker room. More details to come as we get them.

7:42 1st quarter: Cardinals 6, Patriots 0 -- Jay Feely kicked his second field goal of the game, this time a 47-yarder, as the Cardinals capitalized on Tom Brady's interception.

The Cardinals only managed four plays this time around though in their second series. Kevin Kolb couldn't connect with Larry Fitzgerald and Todd Heap on the drive.

8:31 1st quarter: Cardinals 3, Patriots 0 -- Tom Brady was intercepted on a tipped pass by Arizona CB Patrick Peterson. The pass was tipped by DT Darnell Dockett.

8:42 1st quarter: Cardinals 3, Patriots 0 -- The Cardinals ate up a bunch of the clock in the first quarter, driving 60 yards on 13 plays before Jay Feely kicked in a 38-yard field goal.

We got to see CB Patrick Peterson in the wildcat for Arizona (17-yard rush) and Patriots corner Sterling Moore made his return, taking over duties for Ras-I Dowling in the nickel and dime packages.


15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Cardinals 0 -- The Patriots have won the coin toss and have deferred to the second half. They'll kickoff to start the game.

Pregame: Patriots 0, Cardinals 0 -- The game is about to kickoff. The Patriots and Cardinals have taken the field and we're getting ready for the coin toss.

It's a beautiful day for some football. Enjoy the game and stay with us right here for all game updates.

@zuriberry

Game 2: Cardinals at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 16, 2012 10:30 AM

091612gillette607.jpg

The view from the Gillette Stadium press box before the fans are allowed into the stadium for Sunday's Patriots home opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

FOXBOROUGH -- Good morning from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots get ready to take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 of the regular season, the Patriots' home opener.

The Patriots are the league's best team at home, winning 83 percent (67-13) of their regular season games since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. The team has won 15 of their last 17 home openers and all 10 at Gillette.

Arizona comes into today's game having beaten NFC West rival Seattle 20-16, holding the Seahawks on a pivotal fourth quarter drive in the red zone to win their season opener. Cardinals quarterback John Skelton was injured in the game. He's listed as doubtful. Kevin Kolb replaced Skelton, going 6 of 8 passing for 66 yards and a touchdown. He'll get the start today.

The Patriots come into the game 1-0 after beating the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, 34-13, led by running back Stevan Ridley, who rushed for 125 yards on 21 carries including one touchdown. Tom Brady was 23 of 31 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns, including scoring strikes to tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

However, the Patriots are a little nicked up. Dan Connolly suffered a head injury against the Titans, having limited participation in Thursday and Friday's practices. If he's unable to go, Donald Thomas will get his snaps at right guard in the starting lineup. He's listed as questionable. Also questionable are RT Sebastian Vollmer (back), who split time with second-year tackle Marcus Cannon. RB Shane Vereen (foot), CB Sterling Moore (knee), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), TE Daniel Feels (shin), and CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) are all listed as questionable, too.

Safety Patrick Chung is listed as probable with a shoulder injury he suffered in the preseason.

The series between these two franchises is split right down the middle, with the Patriots and Cardinals each taking six games. However, the last time these two teams played, the Patriots burned Arizona 47-7 at Gillette Stadium in 2008 before the Cardinals advanced to the Super Bowl, a loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was the only time the two teams had played at Gillette Stadium.

If the Patriots win today, Bill Belichick will earn his 194th career victory and move into sole possession of eighth place all time for NFL coaches. He's currently tied with Chuck Knox.

Brady needs 25 yards passing to pass Johnny Unitas (40,239) and move into 13th place all-time passing and he needs 337 yards to pass childhood hero Joe Montana (40,551) to move into 12th place.

Wes Welker needs one catch to pass Patriots hall of fame receiver Troy Brown on the franchise's all-time receptions list. He's currently tied with Brown with 557 catches.

Here are the game's details:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 1-0; Cardinals 1-0.

TV/Radio info: WFXT-TV Ch. 25 (Dick Stockton, John Lynch, Jennifer Hale); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Steve Gregory, S Patrick Chung.

Cardinals offense: WR Larry Fitzgerald, LT D'Anthony Batiste, LG Daryn Colledge, C Lyle Sendlein, RG Adam SNyder, RT Bobby Massie, TE Jeff King, WR Andre Roberts, QB Kevin Kolb, RB Beanie Wells, FB Anthony Sherman.

Cardinals defense: DE Calais Campbell, NT Dan Williams, DT Darnell Dockett, ROLB Sam Acho, ILB Paris Lenon, ILB Daryl Washington, LOLB O'Brien Schofield, LCB Patrick Peterson, RCB William Gay, SS Adrian Wilson, FS Kerry Rhodes.

Inactives
TBA

Final: Patriots 34, Titans 13

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 9, 2012 04:15 PM

Game over: The Patriots opened the season with a dominating 34-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. The Patriots fell behind 3-0, but then took control of the game to register an easy victory.
Tom Brady completed 23 of 31 passes for 236 yards, including one touchdown pass each to his dynamic tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Second-year running back Stevan Ridley had an outstanding game, rushing for 125 yards on 21 carries while showing a shiftiness that makes him dangerous and adds an element missing from last year's offense.
The Patriots defense took Titans running back Chris Johnson out of the game, holding him to a ridiculous four yards on 11 carries. Tennessee only gained 20 yards rushing.
Patriots first-round draft picks Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower combined on a big play that reflected their high selections. Jones sacked Titans quarterback Jake Locker and forced a fumble. Hightower scooped it up and returned it six yards for a touchdown that gave the Patriots a 14-3 lead.

:31 left in 4th quarter: After taking over on downs at Titans' 24, the Patriots kept the ball on the ground with Brandon Bolden, nearly running the clock out before Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 25-yard field goal.

4:15 left in 4th quarter: The Patriots ran 5:02 off the clock despite using some no-huddle offense and then Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 25-yard field. Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead carried the load for most of the drive. Ridley even had a 20-yard reception plus a nifty 16 yards. He now has 135 yards rushing.

9:17 left in 4th quarter: After retaining possession on the reversal of the turnover, the Titans, with Matt Hasselbeck replacing Locker at QB, drove to a first and goal at the one. Then a great play by Vince Wilfork, who dumped Chris Johnson for a five-yard loss, forced the Titans to kick a field goal.


Beginning of 4th quarter: A potentially disastrous turn of events for the Titans as Jake Locker completed a pass to Nate Washington at the Patriots 25 but Tavon Wilson and Jerod Mayo both hit him and knocked the ball loose. Patrick Chung picked up the ball and returned ti to the Titans' 25. He was tackled by Jake Locker who was also injured on the play. Titans training staff was all over the field.Then play was reversed and called incomplete on review.


End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Titans 10 -- After three, Stevan Ridley has his first 100-yard rushing game for the Patriots. He has 18 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.

1:04 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Titans 10 -- Stevan Ridley plowed into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown. Ridley broke off runs of 16 and 14 yards before the plunge into the end zone.

Ridley has 18 carries on the game for 106 yards and a touchdown now. He's having a phenomenal game.

3:59 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 10 -- A Devin McCourty interception was overturned -- rightfully so -- and a holding call on Titans offensive lineman Steve Hutchison killed Tennessee's drive and forced them to punt at the their own 2-yard line.

5:44 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 10 -- The Titans defense managed to get pressure on Tom Brady, forcing the team's fourth punt of the game.

10:17 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 10 -- With Chandler Jones hounding him down, Titans quarterback Jack Locker threw off balance and connected with Nate Washington for a 29-yard touchdown pass. It was Locker's first career touchdown pass.

The Titans drive was only four play, covering 80 yards in 1:30. Locker hit tight end Jared Cook for 35 yards to get things going. He's 18 of 24 passing for 206 yards, with an interception in his debut against the Patriots.

11:47 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 3 -- The Patriots' opening drive of the third quarter stalled after two incomplete passes, including a hopper to Julian Edelman that he tried to pass off as a reception.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 3 -- The second half is about to get underway. Stevan Ridley has nine rushes for 58 yards. That's a 6.4 yards per carry average. With 10 more yards, he'll be on pace for 1,000 on the season.

End of 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 3 -- Jermaine Cunningham got a big sack on Titans QB Jake Locker and Tennessee was forced to punt before Tom Brady kneeled to end the half.

2:00 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Titans 3 -- Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone on a play-action pass for two yards and his second touchdown pass of the day. The play was upheld after review.

The 2-yard scoring strike capped a 12-play, 67-yard drive.

Brady is now 10 of 13 for 123 yards and two TDs.

7:17 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Titans 3 -- Tom Brady has returned to the game without missing any action. He had a bloody nose and it has been bandaged.

7:33 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Titans 3 -- Despite letting Titans quarterback Jake Locker get loose for a 9-yard scramble and first down, the Patriots locked their opponents down. Only five plays for the Titans before they were forced to punt.

11:07 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Titans 3 -- Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones had a strip-sack on Titans QB Jake Locker in the end zone and fellow rookie Dont'a Hightower picked it up, avoided a would-be tackler, and romped into the end zone. It was a 6-yard return for Hightower. So far, good day for the rookies. Jones with a sack, Hightower with a fumble recovery and touchdown. And then Tavon Wilson with an interception.

11:55 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 -- The Patriots training staff is working with Tom Brady after he was sacked by Titans DE Kamerion Wimbley. He has a bloody nose. We'll keep you updated.

12:30 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 -- Titans DE Kamerion Wimbley went right around Patriots tackle Nate Solder and tracked down Tom Brady for a sack. It kill a drive that started with so much promise.

Three plays earlier, Brady found Brandon Lloyd on the sideline for a 27-yard reception. After a review, the play was upheld.

14:30 2d quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 -- Titans rookie QB threw it up long for Nate Washington, looking for a touchdown. But Kyle Arrington was having none of it. The veteran cornerback, battling with Washington, tipped the ball into the air, giving enough time for rookie safety Tavon Wilson to get over and catch the ball on a dive in the end zone. The Patriots took over at the 20.

End of the first quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 -- With the first quarter of the 2012 season in the books, we've already seen the Patriots go to their hurry-up offense and fire the ball deep to Brandon Lloyd. Tom Brady wasn't able to connect with Lloyd there, but he was able to find Aaron Hernandez for a 23-yard touchdown.

It was Brady's 301st career touchdown pass, breaking a tie with John Elway for fifth all-time in the NFL. Also, on his pass to Rob Gronkowski, he surpassed 40,000 yards passing in his career.

1:59 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Titans 3 -- Tom Brady stepped up in the pocket to avoid a sack and found Aaron Hernandez for a 23-yard touchdown strike to get on the board.

It was a 5-play, 67-yard drive that spanned only 2:06. The drive was marked by a huge connection with Rob Gronkowski for 28 yards in wide open field. And then Stevan Ridley broke off a run for 17 yards.

4:05 1st quarter: Titans 3, Patriots 0 -- The Patriots held the Titans to their first three-and-out after stuffing two straight runs from Chris Johnson.

6:29 1st quarter: Titans 3, Patriots 0 -- The Tom Brady and Brandon Lloyd connection appears to still need some work. Brady bombed it out to Lloyd on a double play-action pass but the two couldn't connect. Two plays later, Brady hit Wes Welker in his shoulder pad to end the drive after six plays. Stevan Ridley came up with a huge run for 17 yards on the drive.

8:43 1st quarter: Titans 3, Patriots 0 -- The Titans moved quickly down the field, getting into the red zone, after going 12 plays for 70 yards before Rob Bironas kicked a 28-yard field goal. The Patriots were aided on the defensive stand from a non-call on CB Devin McCourty, who bumped into WR Damian Williams on a potential pass interference.

Ras-I Dowling was flagged for pass interference on the drive and CB Kyle Arrington was beat for a 24-yard pass down the sideline to Nate Washington on a fourth-and-1.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Titans 0 -- We're moments away from kickoff here at LP Field in Nashville. The Titans won the coin toss and have elected to receive.

Stay right here on the blog for all game updates. You can also follow along on Twitter.

Some lineup changes for the Patriots. It appears Ryan Wendell will be starting at right guard instead of Donald Thomas. For the Titans, Kendall Wright is starting at wide receiver for Nate Washington. Defensive tackle Mike Martin will make the start for the injured Sen'Derrick Marks.

@zuriberry

Game 1: Patriots at Titans

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 9, 2012 09:13 AM

NASHVILLE -- The journey to New Orleans and Super Bowl XLVII begins today.

The Patriots begin their schedule against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville after an offseason of tinkering the team's roster following a heart-breaking loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

With a re-tooled defense, including two first-round picks and a revamped secondary, as well as a new wide receiver for Tom Brady to target, the Patriots have addressed last season's deficiencies while hoping to stave off any drop in productivity elsewhere. But questions remain.

How will the offensive line hold up with the absence of Brian Waters at right guard, with second-year pro Nate Solder at left tackle full-time, and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back) coming back from injury? Will the secondary be much improved with free-agent signee Steve Gregory and a healthy Patrick Chung at safety? Is Brandon Lloyd the deep threat the Patriots have been searching for since jettisoning Randy Moss?

All of those answers and more will come into a clearer focus today when the Patriots take on rookie quarterback Jake Locker, some fine receivers in Kenny Britt and Nate Washington, a formidable defensive line led by Kamerion Wimbley (42.5 career sacks in seven seasons), and stellar running back Chris Johnson.

The time for questions has come to an end.

This is the 39th time the Patriots have played the Titans franchise, with the Pats leading the overall series 22-16-1. The Patriots are 1-1 in Tennessee and the last time these two teams played it was a lopsided affair with Brady and company besting the Titans 59-0 on a snowy night, Oct. 18, 2009, at Gillette Stadium. It was a record-setting day for the Patriots for points, points in a half (45), net yards (619), passing yards in a half (345), and passing touchdowns in a game (six).

But that was almost three years ago.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 0-0 (Finished preseason 1-3); Titans 0-0 (Finished preseason 3-1).

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak); Sports USA radio network (Eli Gold, Ross Tucker).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Donald Thomas, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Steve Gregory, S Patrick Chung.

Titans offense: WR Nate Washington, TE Jared Cook, LT Michael Roos, LG Steve Hutchinson, C Fernand Velasco, RG Leroy Harris, RT David Stewart, TE/FB Craig Stevens, WR Kenny Britt, QB Jake Locker, RB Chris Johnson.

Titans defense: LDE Derrick Morgan, DT Karl Klug, DT Jurrell Casey, RDE Kamerion Wimbley, SLB Akem Ayers, MLB Colin McCarthy, WLB Wil Witherspoon, CB Jason McCourty, SS Jordan Babineaux, FS Michael Griffin, CB Alterraun Verner.

Injuries

Patriots: CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), RB Shane Vereen (foot).

Titans: T Mike Otto (finger/knee)

Inactives

TBA

Final: Giants 6, Patriots 3

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2012 07:01 PM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After 18 punts and three field goals, the Patriots preseason has come to an unremarkable end, with roster cuts looming over the team and the NFL later this week.

The Patriots lost to the Giants Wednesday night, 6-3, at MetLife Stadium, finishing the preseason 1-3.

Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes booted two field goals while the Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski had another as both teams struggled on offense.

The Patriots elected to rest their star players, giving the start at quarterback to Ryan Mallett who finished 8 of 15 for 40 yards. The Patriots mustered only 12 first downs.

Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko got plenty of practice. He had nine punts in the game, six of them pinned within the 20-yard line. His counterpart, the Giants' Steve Weatherford, also had nine punts The Giants offense managed 13 first downs.

Running back Brandon Bolden, who is battling for a roster spot, led the Patriots with 15 carries for 59 yards. Rookie running back Jeff Demps had six carries for 15 yards and three catches for 31 yards.

Defensively, linebacker Jermaine Cunningham accounted for two of the Patriots' four sacks on the night. Rookie free agent Justin Francis had one and Trevor Scott had the other.

The Patriots will have to trim their roster to 53 players on Friday.

1:03 4th quarter: Giants 6, Patriots 3 -- Lawrence Tynes kicked his second field goal of the night, a 32-yarder, as the Giants captured the lead following the game's first turnover.

2:25 4th quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- A huge turnover here in the Patriots red zone. Giants defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo had a strip-sack fumble on Brian Hoyer and in the scramble to get the ball the Giants' Marcus Thomas recovered at the New England 17. This game seems a field goal away from ending the preseason.

2:50 4th quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- The Patriots got a quarterback pressure and then a sack on David Carr, then broke up a screen to force the Giants into their ninth punt.

6:05 4th quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- Bill Belichick challenged a Jesse Holley catch that was called out of bounds but it was upheld. The Patriots punted for the ninth time of the night. Zoltan Mesko is getting plenty of practice.

6:48 4th quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard forced a fumble by Giants running back Andre Brown as the Patriots got the Giants to punt for the eighth time tonight.

8:30 4th quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- New Patriots receiver Kerry Taylor had a nice grab for 15 yards from Brian Hoyer that he had to go up and get. Hoyer was unfortunately taken down for a 7-yard sack later on in the drive as the offense stalled again.

13:38 4th quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- After considering a 54-yard field goal, the Giants went ahead and decided to punt. Steve Weatherford has seven punts on the night for the Giants. Yeah, it's been one of those kind of games.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- Giants backup QB David Carr escaped some pressure from defensive lineman Justin Francis and connected with Jerrel Jernigan for a 25-yard gain. It was one of the few moments that Patriots coach Bill Belichick became animated on the sideline, given the lack of plays by both teams. The game continues with the Giants driving toward the Patriots end zone.

5:11 3d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- Brian Hoyer and Jeff Demps have taken over for the Patriots offense in the second quarter. Hoyer connected with Demps out of the backfield and it's apparent that the Patriots want to get him in open space to utilize his speed. Hoyer took a 4-yard sack, though, and the team was forced to punt on the drive.

7:30 3d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 3 -- The Giants evened the score with a 34-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes following a 13-play, 64-yard drive. It was the Giants' lengthiest drive of the evening.

On defense, Patriots linebacker Mike Rivera made a couple of nice tackles, shedding blockers to do so. Niko Koutouvides appeared to injure his wrist on the drive. He left for the locker room.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 0 -- Third quarter is underway with the Giants receiving to start.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 0 -- Trevor Scott got a shoe-string sack on Giants QB David Carr and the Patriots were able to get through the first half without giving up any points and only four first downs.

Through the first half, the Patriots have fared only slightly better on offense with seven first downs.

Ryan Mallett is 8 of 15 for 40 yards and running back Brandon Bolden has 15 carries for 59 yards. Bolden also has three catches for 16 yards.

0:37 2d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 0 -- Ryan Mallett was sacked for a 6-yard loss with the Giants' Matt Broha making the hit. Mallett had a chance to extend the drive before the end of the half, but he couldn't connect with Jesse Holley on a deep pass over the middle and again on a slant at the first down marker.

3:19 2d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 0 -- The Giants offense is miserable with David Carr at the helm. Saddle up folks. This is going to be a long game. Another three-and-out.

4:44 2d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 0 -- In quick fashion, the Patriots gave the Giants the ball right back, going three-and-out with Ryan Mallett failing to connect with receiver Jesse Holley twice in the series.

6:08 2d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 0 -- After a lengthy delay thanks to the referees trying to figure out a penalty against the Giants for a special teams violation (illegal shift and then a face mask), Brandon Bolden muffed the punt, only to be saved by Jeff Demps. The same guy he's battling with for a roster spot. Oh the irony.

8:27 2d quarter: Patriots 3, Giants 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 20-yard field goal after a 12-play, 51-yard drive.

Brandon Bolden got three straight touches in the red zone, but was unable to punch in a touchdown. Former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich stuffed Bolden on third-and-goal at the 2-yard line.

13:20 2d quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- Patriots safety Nate Ebner got a hand on an Eli Manning pass -- almost picking it off -- as the Patriots held the Giants to yet another three-and-out.

So far, the Patriots' backup defense looks pretty good.

14:45 2d quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- Ryan Mallett was sacked on third down, forcing another three-and-out for the Patriots. It's getting repetitive for both offenses.

End of the first quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- Only two first downs in the first quarter for the Patriots.

1:07 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- Eli Manning underthrew a pass to Victor Cruz on third down -- a possible touchdown play -- and the Giants went three-and-out again. The Patriots backups are battling right now with the Giants first team.

2:47 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- The Patriots managed their first two first downs before a false start on tackle Marcus Cannon stalled the offense.

Running back Brandon Bolden put together a couple of nice runs, including a 15-yarder that tight end Daniel Fells helped spring. It's our first glimpse of Fells in game action after he was sidelined for most of training camp.

6:15 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- Jermaine Cunningham got leverage on Giants right guard Mitch Petrus and sacked Eli Manning for a 14-yard loss.

It was an impressive play for Cunningham, who has normally worked exclusively on the edge for the Patriots (at least in game situations) but found himself going up against an interior lineman. The Giants were forced to punt afterward.

9:29 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- A couple of passes to nowhere by Ryan Mallett and the Patriots find themselves with another three-and-out.

11:26 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- Niko Koutouvides was in on a nice stop in the backfield to force a three-and-out for the Giants. He's fighting for a spot on this team and that was a definite positive.

13:46 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- The Patriots went three-and-out with Ryan Mallett almost throwing an interception to Giants LB Jacquain Williams.

15:42 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- The Patriots won the toss and elected to receive with Jeff Demps back to return. Ryan Mallett gets the start at QB with Brandon Bolden starting at RB.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- The game is about to get started and it's almost assured that Tom Brady will not be playing. Instead, there will be heavy helpings of Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett at QB. The Globe's Greg Bedard is reporting that Hoyer will get the start. We'll find out soon enough.

Stay tuned throughout the game right here. We'll keep you updated throughout.

Preseason Game 4 preview: Patriots at Giants

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 29, 2012 03:31 PM

photo-2.JPG

It's the last preseason game before the real action starts and it's undetermined how much playing time the Patriots will give Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and the team's other stars.

But what we do know is that this is the last opportunity for about 20 players to make the 53-man roster. The Patriots have until Friday to trim 22 others from its rolls.

That puts a larger focus on the players in tonight's game who are in the margin -- RB Branden Bolden, CB Marquice Cole, DL Justin Francis, OL Darrion Weems, etc. -- and not on a superficial rematch of Super Bowl XLVI.

The Giants are coming off a 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears Aug. 24. Eli Manning was a cool 17 of 21 for 148 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Here's the details for tonight's game:

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Preseason records: Patriots 1-2 (Finished last season 13-3, AFC champions); Giants 1-2 (Finished last season 9-7, Super Bowl champions).

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Don Criqui, Randy Cross); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Steve Gregory, S Tavon Wilson.

Giants offense: WR Victor Cruz, LT Will Beatty, LG Kevin Boothe, C David Baas, RG Chris Snee, RT David Diehl, TE Bear Pascoe, WR Hakeem Nicks, QB Eli Manning, FB Henry Hynoski, RB Ahmad Bradshaw.

Giants defense: LDE Justin Tuck, LDT Linval Joseph, RDT Rocky Bernard, RDE Jason Pierre-Paul, SLB Mathias Kiwanuka, MLB Chase Blackburn, WLB Michael Boley, LCB Corey Webster, RCB Michael Coe, SS Kenny Phillips, FS Antrel Rolle.

Final: Buccaneers 30, Patriots 28

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 24, 2012 07:21 PM

The Patriots finished strong against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after falling into a 14-point hole, spurred along by two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter by Ryan Mallett and some impressive running and returning by new tailback Jeff Demps in a 30-28 loss Friday night.

Mallett finished 7 of 13 for 66 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots fell to 1-2 in the preseason, but the team got an opportunity to see extended play from its starting lineup.

Demps, who got an opportunity to run the ball and return kicks, had three carries for 41 yards in his debut.

Not everything was good. Tom Brady found himself hurried and harassed behind a shaky offensive line that saw the return of guard Logan Mankins. Brady was sacked twice, fumbled once, and hit several times. But as the game wore on, the line settled. In the third quarter, Brady was able to ride Stevan Ridley (16 carries, 87 yards) before hitting tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 16-yard touchdown.

"I don't think we did anything very well offensively," coach Bill Belichick said. "I was surprised that we could do anything."

The Buccaneers came out and scored on the opening drive of the game, going 68 yards on eight plays before Doug Martin punched in a 1-yard touchdown. They followed that by scoring on a tip-pass interception by Brady, with rookie safety Mark Barron returning it 23 yards for the score.

The Bucs got three field goals of 51 yards or more to help extend their lead. Kai Forbath had two.

Ridley scored a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter and showed some solid burst out of the backfield.

Bucs backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Stroughter in the fourth quarter before Mallett came in and hit rookie Jeremy Ebert for a 3-yard score and followed it up with a 4-yard strike to Jesse Holley in the back of the end zone.

Running back Shane Vereen hobbled off the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Safety Steve Gregory also was shaken up with a right leg injury. He walked off the field under his own power.

0:33 4th quarter: Bucs 30, Patriots 28 -- Ryan Mallett ran around, avoided a sack, and then found Jesse Holley for a 4-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to help the Patriots end this game on a strong note.

Mallett had key passes on the 12-play, 65-yard drive to Donte' Stallworth of 10 and 18 yards before hitting Holley in the end zone.

2:19 4th quarter: Bucs 30, Patriots 21 -- The Patriots held the Bucs to another three-and-out and Jeff Demps had an exciting looking punt return -- his first -- before the Pats were flagged for holding.

4:21 4th quarter: Bucs 30, Patriots 21 -- Jeff Demps made one cut and broke away for a 29-yard run that set up 3-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Mallett to Jeremy Ebert for the Patriots.

Demps definitely showed off his famous speed, hitting another gear after making a Tampa Bay defensive player miss before scooting along for those 29 yards. He did show some rookie tendencies though on his second series, taking a 3-yard run around the right end and hesitating -- instead of hitting the sideline -- before taking a huge hit. It'll be interesting to watch him develop after what he's shown.

7:35 4th quarter: Bucs 30, Patriots 14 -- Ryan Mallett has replaced Tom Brady at quarterback.

7:50 4th quarter: Bucs 30, Patriots 14 -- Dan Orlovsky threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Stroughter on a drag over the middle as the Bucs extended their lead. The drive was highlighted by running back Michael Smith, who touched the ball five times before giving way to Mossis Madu, who burst through the middle of the line for 19 yards.

A couple of negatives here for the Patriots. LB Niko Koutouvides bounced off Smith on a couple of tackle attempts and the defensive line is failing to get any leverage on the Bucs' line.

End of the 3d quarter: Bucs 23, Patriots 14 -- End of the third quarter and what sticks out is the solid play from running back Stevan Ridley. So far, 16 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown.

0:54 3d quarter: Bucs 23, Patriots 14 -- Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski for his second catch of the night, this one a 16-yard touchdown over the middle. The play finished an 8-play, 84-yard drive in 3:34.

Also on the drive, Jeff Demps, the silver medal sprinter at this year's Olympics, was called for false start on his first play on offense.

4:18 3d quarter: Bucs 23, Patriots 7 -- Jeff Demps made his debut, returning a kick for 23 yards.

4:30 3d quarter: Bucs 23, Patriots 7 -- Marquice Cole almost picked off a pass and the Patriots held the Bucs to five plays before Kai Forbath converted on a 55-yard field goal. It was his second field goal of the game of 50 yards or more, and the Bucs' third.

6:45 3d quarter: Bucs 20, Patriots 7 -- Patriots safety Steve Gregory went down with a right leg injury. He limped off under his own power.

7:45 3d quarter: Bucs 20, Patriots 7 -- Offensive lineman Dan Connolly was called for a costly 15-yard penalty on an illegal chop block, putting the Patriots in a third-and-25 situation. After a 3-yard Danny Woodhead draw, the Patriots punted again.

9:47 3d quarter: Bucs 20, Patriots 7 -- Chandler Jones has shown up to play in the third quarter. The rookie defensive end got a couple of hits on Bucs QB Josh Freeman, claiming a sack on the second while also drawing a holding penalty on the tackle facing him. After two more false start penalties, the Bucs were forced to punt.

13:09 3d quarter: Bucs 20, Patriots 7 -- Aaron Hernandez got whacked by Bucs corner Eric Wright and the Patriots went three-and-out to start the third quarter.

15:00 3d quarter: Bucs 20, Patriots 7 -- The second half is about to get underway and Tom Brady is warming up as if he's going to keep playing.

Some halftime stats and notes:

- Tom Brady is 9 of 14 for 80 yards and an interception.
- Stevan Ridley has rushed 10 times for 52 yards and a touchdown.
- Bucs QB Josh Freeman is 9 of 17 for 89 yards.
- Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson has three catches for 49 yards, all on the opening series
- Bucs running back Doug Martin has 10 carries, 42 yards, 1 touchdown.

What's really been surprising is the hits Brady has taken this game. He was walloped pretty good by Adam Hayward for sack and was popped by Michael Bennett in the first quarter for a sack and fumble. There's been some miscommunication and some poor play overall by the offensive line. We'll see if that improves at all.

End of the 2d quarter: Bucs 20, Patriots 7 -- Kai Forbath kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired in the first half -- the Bucs' second 50-plus yard field goal tonight.

1:52 2d quarter: Bucs 17, Patriots 7 -- The officials pick up a flag on a possible pass interference involving Brandon Lloyd. Instead, the Patriots punt after going three-and-out in their 2-minute drill.

2:08 2d quarter: Bucs 17, Patriots 7 -- Aaron Hernandez went back to receive the punt after the Bucs went three-and-out. That's a first for the Patriot. It was a 5-yard return filled with indecisiveness.

3:08 2d quarter: Bucs 17, Patriots 7 -- Tom Brady came back from an 11-yard sack and connected with Deion Branch for a 13-yard pass, but neither were able to help keep the drive going for long. A holding penalty on guard Donald Thomas took away a Stevan Ridley rush for a first down and several hurries had Brady throwing uncomfortably before the team was forced to punt.

5:40 2d quarter: Bucs 17, Patriots 7 -- The Bucs challenged whether Aaron Hernandez was down before fumbling on an 8-yard pass from Tom Brady and were unsuccessful. Brady, a play earlier, had been sacked for a loss of 11 yards after a what appears to be a failure of communication by left guard Donald Thomas and left tackle Nate Solder on the play, which allowed for Bucs backup middle linebacker to get an easy hit on Brady.

6:19 2d quarter: Bucs 17, Patriots 7 -- Connor Barth kicked a 56-yard field for the Tampa Bay Bucs after Josh Freeman misfired on a couple of passes. Patriots corner Kyle Arrington dropped a potential interception on one errant Freeman throw.

6:49 2d quarter: Bucs 14, Patriots 7 -- Shane Vereen (foot) and Spencer Larsen (knee) have both left the game. Their return is questionable.

7:43 2d quarter: Bucs 14, Patriots 7 -- The Patriots went for it on fourth down -- running the ball three straight times after getting a second-and-1 -- and failed to get a first down. Stevan Ridley was stopped before he could get across the marker.

9:39 2d quarter: Bucs 14, Patriots 7 -- Despite a pass interference call on rookie safety Tavon Wilson (holding tight end Dallas Clark), the Patriots kept the wraps on the Bucs offense, forcing them to punt after Josh Freeman was unable to connect with Preston Parker.

12:07 2d quarter: Bucs 14, Patriots 7 -- Stevan Ridley broke off a 29-yard run -- helped in part by great blocks from Rob Gronkowski and Donald Thomas -- and followed it up by punching it in the end zone after two strong runs. On the drive, Ridley rushed six times for 47 yards and caught a 4-yard pass. It was a 12-play, 81-yard drive for the Patriots that culminated with Ridley's 1-yard TD run.

End of the 1st quarter: Bucs 14, Patriots -- Shane Vereen tweaked his ankle on a running play before the first quarter ended. It doesn't look too serious. He was getting it checked on the sideline. In the last drive, Tom Brady has connected with Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd and we've seen Stevan Ridley break loose on an 11-yard run.

2:58 1st quarter: Bucs 14, Patriots 0 -- Marcus Cannon gave up his first sack of the night as Tom Brady got crushed, fumbling the ball. Luckily, Spencer Larsen recovered. A play later, a Brady pass to Rob Gronkowski was tipped and intercepted by Mark Barron and returned 22 yards for a touchdown. Not so lucky.

4:36 1st quarter: Bucs 7, Patriots 0 -- Bucs QB Josh Freeman connected with Dallas Clark for 12 yards and another Tampa Bay first down, but the Patriots managed to hold the Bucs to five plays before forcing a punt. Rookie safety Nate Ebner had a nice tackle to wrap up Bucs receiver Mike Williams before he could shake loose for more yardage.

7:30 1st quarter: Bucs 7, Patriots 0 -- The Patriots went three-and-out on their opening drive. Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for eight yards and then Stevan Ridley proceeded to get stuffed on consecutive plays.

Starting on the offensive line for the team were LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Donald Thomas, and RT Marcus Cannon.

9:36 1st quarter: Bucs 7, Patriots 0 -- The Bucs capitalized on a 39-yard kickoff return by Michael smith to drive 68 yards for an opening drive touchdown.

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman hooked up with new wide receiver Vincent Jackson for three passes for 49 yards before running back Doug Martin punched in a 1-yard TD.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bucs 0 -- The Patriots are kicking off and we're away.

--

It's getting close to game time and we'll be providing updates throughout the night right. Feel free to join the conversation in the comments.

Some things to immediately look out for:

- The offensive line -- We keep coming back here. But this time things will be different. Left guard Logan Mankins and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer will be making their debuts. Their presence should help shore up any worries fans have had about this position group's stability. But we'll also get a chance to see if there's any rust there between them.

- Tavon Wilson's extended look -- With Patrick Chung sidelined with what appears to be a shoulder injury, Wilson will get an opportunity to show what he can do for the Patriots in the starting lineup. As coach Bill Belichick has noted previously, the team will have plenty of time to play in its sub packages, allowing for more defensive backs. This game will be an opportunity for Wilson to show how much more he deserves to be on the field than, say, James Ihedigbo.

Enjoy the game everyone.

Preseason Game 3 preview: Patriots at Buccaneers

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 24, 2012 04:56 PM

Tonight marks the Patriots' third exhibition game, a matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium following two days of joint practices in Tampa.

The Patriots are coming off a 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Monday in which the team sat 26 players, including Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Vince Wilfork. Many of those players (except Welker, who did not appear to practice Thursday) are expected to get extended work in tonight's game.

Safety Patrick Chung, who left Monday's game with a shoulder injury, is expected to be replaced in tonight's starting lineup by rookie Tavon Wilson. Wilson will get an extended opportunity to show what he can do this season.

The Bucs last played a week ago, losing, 30-7, to the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots played the Bucs last year in the preseason and won, 31-14, scoring 21 points in the first quarter.

Here's the details on tonight's game:

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Records: Patriots 1-1 (Finished last season 13-3, AFC champions); Bucs 1-1 (Finished last season 4-12, 4th in NFC South).

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Don Criqui, Randy Cross); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Shane Vereen, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Steve Gregory, S Tavon Wilson.

Bucs offense: WR Vincent Jackson, LT Donald Penn, LG Carl Nicks, C Jeremy Zuttah, RG Davin Joseph, RT Jeremy Trueblood, TE Dallas Clark, WR Mike Williams, QB Josh Freeman, RB LeGarrette Blount, FB Erik Lorig.

Bucs defense: LDE Michael Bennett, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Roy Miller, RDE Adrian Clayborn, SLB Quincy BLack, MLB Mason Foster, WLB Lavonte David, LCB Aqib Talib, RCB Eric Wright, SS Mark Barron, FS Ronde Barber.

Final: Eagles 27, Patriots 17

Posted by Leonard Neslin August 20, 2012 07:47 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Faced with playing three games in 10 days, the Patriots had to choose when they wanted to give their starters the most work. It wasn't Monday night, as Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and many other Patriots stars didn't dress in a 27-17 loss to the Eagles at Gillette Stadium in their second preseason tune-up.

New England's defense sans Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo allowed 144 rushing yards. Eagles running back LeSean McCoy collected 30 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, but only five yards came from the legs of quarterback Michael Vick.

The Eagles intended to use Vick for three quarters, but that plan backfired with a jolt from Jermaine Cunningham to Vick's ribs in his second series. Kyle Love's pressure gave Cunningham an opening to Vick, who was nearly intercepted.

After the play, Vick walked to the locker room for X-rays on his ribs, which came back negative. Vick has missed three games because of rib injuries in each of the last two seasons.

Nick Foles (18 for 28) replaced Vick, throwing for 217 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Tight end Clay Harbor caught both TDs.

Rookie Ryan Mallett (10 for 20, 105 yards, TD) and 26-year-old Brian Hoyer (5 for 17, 55 yards) split time under center for the Patriots.

Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch made his preseason debut with three catches for 51 yards after behind held out of the Saints game 11 days ago. Running back Stevan Ridley led with 10 carries for 25 yards. Tight end Alex Silvestro caught New England's only touchdown, while Stephen Kostkowski kicked three field goals, including a 55-yarder.

The Patriots will likely give their starters some action Friday when they head to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers. Their preseason schedule concludes next Wednesday on the road against the New York Giants.

---
4th QUARTER:
2:00 -- Eagles 27, Patriots 17 -- Henery added another field goal -- this one from just 21 yards -- in a time-draining series. Drive summary: 10 plays, 50 yards, 5:36.

11:00 -- Eagles 24, Patriots 17 -- No change in score through the first four minutes of the fourth. Eagles are threatening now.

3d QUARTER:
0:33 -- Eagles 24, Patriots 17 -- Henery answered with a 42-yard field goal. Drive summary: 7 plays, 56 yards, 3:39.

4:12 -- Eagles 21, Patriots 17 -- Henery got schooled. Gostkowski drilled a 55-yard field goal within three minutes of Henery missing a 55-yarder. Drive summary: 6 plays, 18 yards, 2:03. Mallett completed a 14-yard pass to Branch for the key play of the series.

3d QUARTER:
6:15 -- Eagles 21, Patriots 14 -- Eagles kicker Alex Henery attempted a 55-yard field goal. Yes, of course, it came short. It didn't even make it through the end zone. Patriots take possession on their 45-yard line.

11:02 -- Eagles 21, Patriots 14 -- Harbor caught his second touchdown from three yards out. Drive summary: 8 plays, 80 yards, 3:58. Key play was the 40-yarder to Jackson. Foles has racked up 162 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT in Vick's absence. Vick's X-rays on his ribs came up negative.

11:35 -- Eagles 14, Patriots 14 -- Foles had plenty of time to complete a 40-yard pass to Jackson. Sterling Moore wrapped him up quickly, though, which isn't easy against Jacksonr. Eagles in the red zone on the first series of the second half.

2d QUARTER:
0:00 -- Eagles 14, Patriots 14 -- Despite a lack of pressure, Foles threw a pass to the hands of Patriots cornerback Nate Ebner instead of receiver Jeremy Maclin. Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson ended the return with an over-the-shoulder tackle. See you after halftime.

1:55 -- Eagles 14, Patriots 14 -- Hoyer just raised some eyebrows with a Brady-like move to avoid the rush and make a good throw on the run to Donte' Stallworth on the sideline. He's still completed less than 50 percent of his passes, though.

2:39 -- Eagles 14, Patriots 14 -- Bolden needs to learn this signal that prevents him from getting crushed on punt returns. He just got crushed again, but this time he was able to hold on to the ball after a hit by Stanley Havili. Bolden is a 22-year-old rookie out of Mississippi.

3:09 -- Eagles 14, Patriots 14 -- Gostkowski nailed a 35-yarder to tie it up at 14. Drive summary: 14 plays, 63 yards, 5:57. Key play: Another nice look to Branch, a 17-yard completion on third-and-13. Branch leads all receivers with 37 yards on two catches.

9:06 -- Eagles 14, Patriots 11 -- Foles hit a wide open Clay Harbor in the back corner of the end zone. Drive summary: 2 plays, 12 yards, 46 seconds. Could the Eagles go for an under-30-second TD next series? With another Patriots fumble, it could happen.

9:59 -- Patriots 11, Eagles 7 -- Another Patriots fumble? With Brian Hoyer in at QB, Eagles defensive end Phillip Hunt sacked and forced another turnover. And the Eagles have possession again at the 1-yard line.

10:07 -- Patriots 11, Eagles 7 -- LeSean McCoy pounded it in for the TD. Drive summary: 3 plays, 24 yards, 1:24. Never would have happened if Bolden called a fair catch.

11:31 -- Patriots 11, Eagles 0 -- Patriots punt returner Brandon Bolden should have called a fair catch. Eagles corner Brandon Boykin forced a fumble as soon as Bolden touched the ball. Eagles recovered and are now on the 1-yard line.

13:44 -- Patriots 11, Eagles 0 -- Patriots tight ends continue to get their way. It wasn't Rob Gronkowski. It wasn't Aaron Hernandez. It was Alex Silvestro, who caught a well-placed pass by Mallett on an out route. Running back Shane Vereen rushed off the left guard for the 2-point conversion.

1st QUARTER:
0:00 -- Patriots 3, Eagles 0 -- Mallett's 20-yard completion to Deion Branch on third down kept the Patriots' drive alive. It will continue on the other end at the start of the second quarter.

3:11 -- Patriots 3, Eagles 0 -- Mallett caught a break. He threw an interception to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but a roughing the passer call on Fletcher Cox negated the pick. First down Patriots.

Vick injury update: He went to the locker room for X-rays on his ribs -- right where Cunningham got him on the hit.

6:09 -- Patriots 3, Eagles 0 -- Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham leveled Michael Vick, nearly forcing an interception on a pass intended for DeSean Jackson. Vick not in for the next play, walking toward the locker room. He was replaced by Nick Foles.

6:15 -- Patriots 3, Eagles 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski got the Patriots on the board first with a 51-yard field goal. The field goal capped an 11-play drive that lasted 4:45. Key play was Mallett's 16-yard pass to Edelman on 3rd-and-8.

9:58 -- The Patriots got their first first down on a reception by Julian Edelman, who recovered his own fumble on the punt return.

Confirming pregame reports, Tom Brady was not on the field for the first series. Led by rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett, the Patriots went three-and-out.

PREGAME:
Olympic gold medalist gymnast Aly Raisman was honored on the field. She made her way up to the press box soon after.

Garrett Reid, the late son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, was also honored with a moment of silence.

The Patriots chose to receive. Houston, we have received confirmation that this is in fact a preseason game.

---
FOXBOROUGH -- Ladies and gents, welcome to Monday Night Football. Well, sort of. We're about to get underway here from Gillette Stadium for the Patriots' second preseason game.

The Patriots defeated the Saints, 7-6, 11 days ago. Starting with the Eagles tonight, the Patriots play their final three preseason games in the next 10 days.

We'll have in-game and postgame updates for you right here. Stay tuned, kickoff is set for 8 p.m.

Preseason Game 2 preview: Eagles at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 20, 2012 04:56 PM

082012gillette607.jpg

The view of the Gillette Stadium field from the press box. On the field, replacement referees get prepared for tonight's game.

FOXBOROUGH -- Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots get ready to host the Philadelphia Eagles in the both teams' second preseason matchup.

Today's game will likely see the Patriots starters play more snaps with the stars playing sparsely in the next couple of games because the team is playing three games in a span of 10 days. Eagles coach Andy Reid has said his team will likely play its starters for three quarters, so the Patriots defense will get a good sense of how to defend against quarterback Michael Vick and explosive running back LeSean McCoy.

The Eagles won their first preseason matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-23. Vick went a paltry 3 of 4 passing for six yards and the Eagles' offense was roundly criticized for their play despite netting 354 yards in the game.

The Patriots, who last played 11 days ago, are coming off a 7-6 win over the New Orleans Saints. Britt Davis, who scored the Patriots' only touchdown on a 3-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, was cut last week.

Here's the rundown on tonight's game.

Kickoff: 8 p.m.

Records: Patriots 1-0 (Finished last season 13-3, AFC champions); Eagles 1-0 (Finished last season 8-8, 2d in NFC East).

TV/Radio info: ESPN / WCVB-TV Ch. 5 (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Shane Vereen, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Steve Gregory, S Patrick Chung.

Eagles offense: WR Jeremy Maclin, LT King Dunlap, LG Evan Mathis, C Jason Kelce, RG Danny Watkins, RT Todd Herremans, TE Brent Celek, WR DeSean Jackson, FB Stanley Havili, RB LeSean McCoy, QB Michael Vick.

Eagles defense: LDE Jason Babin, LDT Cullen Jenkins, RDT Derek Landri, RDE Trent Cole, WILL Brian Rolle, MLB DeMeco Ryans, SAM Mychal Kendricks, LCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, RCB Nnamdi Asomugha, SS Nate Allen, FS Kurt Coleman,

Preseason Game 1 preview: Saints at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 9, 2012 06:52 AM

The lessons learned from tonight's preseason game between the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints will ultimately affect the jobs of 37 players for each team.

Tonight's game will give the Patriots, as well as every other NFL team, the first bits of knowledge necessary to evaluate players's capabilities in live action. So while fans may be clamoring to see Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Vince Wilfork, the reality is this is an audition for players in the margin, many of whom have a long shot of making the team. Those players will get the bulk of tonight's snaps. Those are the players whose jobs are on the line.

Here's a look at tonight's game, with some story lines to watch for.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Records: Patriots 0-0 (Finished last season 13-3, AFC champions); Saints 0-0 (Finished last season 13-3, NFC South champions).

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Don Criqui, Randy Cross); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Ryan Wendell, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork DT Kyle Love, RDE Chandler Jones, LB/DE Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Dane Fletcher, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Steve Gregory, S Patrick Chung.

Saints offense: WR Marques Colston, LT Jermon Bushrod, LG Ben Grubbs, C Brian de la Puente, RG Jahri Evans, RT Zach Strief, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Devery Henderson, QB Drew Brees, FB Jed Collins, RB Pierre Thomas

Saints defense: LDE Cameron Jordan, NT Brodrick Bunkley, DT Sedrick Ellis, RDE Will Smith, SLB Scott Shanle, MLB Curtis Lofton, WLB David Hawthorne, LCB Jabari Greer, SS Roman Harper, FS Malcolm Jenkins, RCB Patrick Robinson.

O-line worries? -- The Patriots offensive line is still without two of its penciled-in starters in Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer. Brian Waters also continues to be absent. Young tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon will take the field with veterans Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly, and Ryan Wendell. The team has shuffled -- and re-shuffled -- its lineup, but now is the time for the players to show what they can do. If joint practices are any indication of talent, it will be interesting to see who quickly falls into coach Bill Belichick's doghouse and who calms the team's worries up front.

Rookie development -- Pay close attention to rookie safety Tavon Wilson. He's had an up-and-down training camp, and it'll be interesting to see how he has developed over time and how that translates to his first game action. Rookies Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones will also have intriguing debuts. Hightower will likely shift back and forth from the strongside linebacker spot to middle linebacker. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the different positions. It would be nice to see if Jones shows off that strength he's built up since minicamp in June. But moreso, it'll be interesting to see if the Patriots utilize him in the elephant role, standing up as much as playing in a three-point stance.

Ryan Mallett's reps -- The Patriots have characterized backup quarterback Ryan Mallett as having a competition with Brian Hoyer. However, it's been clear in camp that Hoyer is firmly the team's No. 2 quarterback. On Tuesday, when the Patriots and Saints were holding joint practices for the first time and going full speed in 11-on-11s, Mallett didn't come off well in his one rep, underthrowing a receiver. He'll get plenty of opportunities to show the Saints what he can do tonight to make up for it. That'll give us all an opportunity to see if the hesitation he has shown throughout camp can be resolved or may become a larger issue in his development.

How will the secondary look? -- This is still one of the most sensitive areas for the Patriots, being that last year the team's defense ranked 31st in the NFL, largely because of its decimated secondary. Now, the team gets a chance to see how Ras-I Dowling looks healthy, how the communication between free agent signee Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung works, and whether or not Devin McCourty can regain his Pro Bowl form. There's no better test than Drew Brees and the Saints, even if it's only for a couple of series.

Who will surprise us? -- If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on rookie defensive end Justin Francis (No. 68 defense). He's been having a great camp and there's a strong expectation that he will do well and eventually make this team. Keep an eye out for him.

What will you be looking for? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on tonight's game.

Update (2:44 p.m.): 98.5-FM The Sports Hub has confirmed that Scott Zolak will be making his debut as the color commentator on tonight's broadcast. At the time of the Patriots-Saints preseason game release, his name was omitted.

Super Bowl final: Giants 21, Patriots 17

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff February 5, 2012 06:03 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- On one last Hail Mary try, Tom Brady heaved it up for his two star tight ends in the end zone. Neither Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez, who both got a hand in the play, could come down with it.

The New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI, the second time the Giants beat the Patriots in the last four years in the NFL's title game.

Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw scored the go-ahead touchdown with 0:57 left in the game.

0:35 4th quarter: Giants 21, Patriots 17 -- Justin Tuck just sacked Tom Brady on third-and-10. The Patriots are facing fourth down with second remaining.

0:57 4th quarter: Giants 21, Patriots 17 -- Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for a 6-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the game. The Patriots kept the Giants' D.J. Ware from getting in the end zone on the 2-point try.

Eli Manning completed five passes on the drive. It's crunch time for Tom Brady and the Patriots.

2:00 4th quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 15 -- With time in consideration, and down and distance to consider (first-and-10 at the Patriots' 18), the Giants are in a prime position to win this game. Eli Manning has completed three passes in the last drive to get the Giants to this point, including a 38-yarder to Mario Manningham down the sideline that was upheld after a Bill Belichick review.

3:53 4th quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 15 -- Tom Brady couldn't connect with a wide open Wes Welker, thorwing behind him before Welker spun around only to drop it. Then on third down, he couldn't hit Deion Branch while he was still open to keep the drive alive. The Giants have the ball with a little less than four minutes remaining.

9:24 4th quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 15 -- The Patriots defense finally got off the field thanks to Sterling Moore. The Patriots CB broke up a pass to Mario Manningham on third-and-10 after a lengthy Giants drive that saw Eli Manning convert three other third downs.

9:35 4th quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 15 -- The Giants are driving and have now blown their second timeout since taking possession. They've faced three third downs on this drive and have converted on them all.

14:17 4th quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 15 -- After getting away from a sack, Tom Brady heaved the ball up for Rob Gronkowski 40 yards down the field and was intercepted by Chase Blackburn who was in coverage.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 15 -- We're headed into the final quarter of the NFL season. The Patriots are driving. Tom Brady connected with Deion Branch for an 11-yard pass and BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed up the gut for a seven-yard gain. They'll start in the fourth quarter on 2-and-3 at the Patriots 38-yard line.

0:35 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 15 -- Lawrence Tynes kicked a 33-yard field goal, bringing the Giants within two points. Rob Ninkovich had a huge sack on Eli Manning on third down to force the kick. Ninkovich was one of only three Patriots rushing Manning on the play, as the rest dropped back into coverage.

5:57 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 12 -- Justin Tuck sacked Tom Brady on third down to force a Patriots punt and a three and out.

Brady's streak of completions ended at 16, tying his own postseason record and setting a new Super Bowl record.

6:43 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 12 -- Lawrence Tynes booted a 38-yard field goal as the Patriots' secondary came up with two big plays to hold the Giants.

Patrick Chung delivered a crushing hit to Hakeem Nicks to break up a pass and on the following play Sterling Moore smothered Giants receiver Mario Manningham before he could gain any extra yardage on third down.

11:20 3d quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 9 -- Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a 12-yard touchdown as the tight end bounced off two Giants defenders before ending up in the end zone upright.

Brady got things going with a 21-yard pass to Chad Ochocinco to open up the second half. Then BenJarvus Green-Ellis busted off a 16-yard run. Wes Welker caught two passes on the drive, including an eight-yard reception that set up Hernandez's touchdown.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 10, Giants 9 -- The third quarter is underway with the Giants kicking off to the Patriots.

Halftime: Patriots 10, Giants 9 -- Tom Brady is 15 of 18 for 147 yards and a touchdown at half. He got off to a rocky start, getting flagged for intentional grounding while standing in the end zone, resulting in a safety. But he bounced back, particularly in the second half. He completed 11 passes in the final drive of the first half, including a 4-yard touchdown to Danny Woodhead.

Eli Manning has done his best to put the Giants ahead. He completed his first nine passes, an NFL record, and threw a 2-yard touchdown to UMass alumnus Victor Cruz. Ahmad Bradshaw has been steady for the Giants with 44 yards on nine carries.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Giants 9 -- Tom Brady connected with Danny Woodhead for a 4-yard touchdown pass across the middle of the end zone after a rocky 96-yard drive over 14 plays with 8 seconds left in the half.

The drive tied for the longest in Super Bowl history. In completing 11 passes on the drive, Brady passed Brett Favre for most postseason completions in NFL history. Favre had 482 for his record.

2:00 2d quarter: Giants 9, Patriots 3 -- Rob Gronkowski has finally gotten on the board. He registered a 20-yard catch before the two-minute warning, a sign that he's more than a decoy in today's game. He had played in limited snaps up until this drive where he has taken part in the team's hurry up offense.

4:03 2d quarter: Giants 9, Patriots 3 -- Sterling Moore broke up a pass to Mario Manningham on third and 10 to force the Giants to punt.

The Patriots were helped on the drive by a holding call on OL Kevin Boothe that if not caught would have resulted in a first down on a run by Brandon Jacobs.

8:50 2d quarter: Giants 9, Patriots 3 -- Jason Pierre-Paul batted down another Tom Brady pass and a throw to Wes Welker was just shy of a first down as the Patriots went three and out.

Giants tight end Travis Beckum, who was injured on the Giants' previous drive, has a torn ACL and is out for the game.

10:20 2d quarter: Giants 9, Patriots 3 -- The Giants were whistled for 12 men in the huddle and Patrick Chung broke up a pass to Hakeem Nicks, forcing the Giants to punt and giving the Patriots a chance to tie or take the lead in the game.

Eli Manning had another huge throw on the drive though, completing a 17-yard pass to Nicks.

13:48 2d quarter: Giants 9, Patriots 3 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 29-yard field goal as the Patriots couldn't punch it into the end zone after a 9-play drive.

Tom Brady's pass on third down at the 11-yard line was deflected by the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.

It should be noted that Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski has played a very limited role in the game.

End of the 1st quarter: Giants 9, Patriots 0 -- The Patriots are just warming now as the game heads into the second quarter. A 15-yard pass from Tom Brady to Deion Branch and a 19-yard pass to Wes Welker has got the Patriots into the red zone.

3:24 1st quarter: Giants 9, Patriots 0 -- Two uncharacteristic mistakes by the Patriots have led to an early Giants lead. Giants QB Eli Manning hit WR Victor Cruz on slant for a 2-yard touchdown, as New York capitalized on a Tom Brady intentional grounding that resulted in a safety.

The Patriots appeared to hold the Giants in the red zone with CB Sterling Moore stripping receiver Hakeem Nicks on third down. But the Patriots were flagged for 12 men on the field, resulting in a first down at the Patriots' six-yard line for the Giants. Two plays later, Cruz was salsa dancing in the end zone. Patriots LB Jerod Mayo, who was in coverage on the play, didn't see as Manning's pass went behind his head to Cruz.

8:52 1st quarter: Giants 2, Patriots 0 -- Tom Brady dropped back on a play-action pass on the Patriots' first possession, and before getting hit in the pocket in the end zone, he fired the ball down field to no one in particular. He was called for intentional grounding, thus resulting in a safety for the Giants. The Giants will now receive a Patriots punt.

9:14 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- Mark Anderson sacked Eli Manning on third down and Brandon Deaderick added a sack on first down as the Patriots slowed down a steady attack from the Giants on their first drive of Super Bowl XLVI. Manning connected with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz to convert on two third downs for the Giants. After a Giants punt, the Patriots take over at their own 6-yard line.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Giants 0 -- The Patriots won the toss. They deferred and the Giants will receive to open the game. Game on!

--

Is all the hoopla over yet? Not quite. But it will be in the next 20 minutes or so. We'll have kickoff and then updates right here like we have had all year.

You can also take part in our fan chat at the Fan Zone on Boston.com and see all of the photos from Globe Staff and the wires right here.

Enjoy the game. And thanks for following along all year, right here.

-- Zuri Berry, Globe Staff

Preview: Patriots vs. Giants in Super Bowl XLVI

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff February 5, 2012 10:02 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -- With legacies on the line in Indianapolis, it's fitting that two teams with so much history, both this season and in the Super Bowl, face each other in the culmination of the 2011-12 season and playoffs.

Tom Brady can join Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as only the third quarterback in NFL history to win four Super Bowls if he can lead his New England Patriots to a win over the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium today.

Brady, who has 16 career postseason wins, would also pass Montana for most wins in the playoffs if he wins today.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who is tied with his brother Peyton Manning for NFL titles, can one-up his big brother with a win today, doing so on Peyton's home field.

But, even more important, this game gives Brady a chance to right what was wronged in February 2008, and Eli Manning a chance to solidify the serendipity that occurred in the desert that year.

Four years ago, at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Giants robbed the Patriots of a perfect 19-0 record, stealing the team's glory after a sensational 2007 season.

Every New Englander knows how it ended. Eli Manning miraculously escaped the Patriots' pass rush. David Tyree's supernatural helmet grab. Plaxico Burress in the corner of the end zone. The final score, 17-14.

Four years later, while the teams are the same, only some of the players remain. Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are back. Eli Manning and coach Tom Coughlin are back. And that qualifies this as a "revenge game," a theme that has had its drum beat loudly in the buildup to the 46th Super Bowl.

The Patriots are on a 10-game winning streak to get here, besting the Denver Broncos (45-10) and the Baltimore Ravens ( 23-20) in the divisional playoffs and AFC championship to reach the NFL title game. The last time the Patriots lost this season was to the Giants, 24-20, in Week 9 of the regular season. Brady threw for 342 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in that game, leading the Patriots on a fourth quarter drive that ended with a touchdown pass to TE Rob Gronkowski with 1:40 left in the game. But it was too much time for Manning to work with, and he drove 80 yards down the field in eight plays before hitting tight end Jake Ballard with a 1-yard strike to win the game.

The game eerily resembled Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots' 17-14 loss in Phoenix.

The Patriots are 3-3 in Super Bowls; the Giants are 3-1.

The Giants are on a five-game winning streak, beating the Atlanta Falcons (24-2), Green Bay Packers (37-20) and the San Francisco 49ers (20-17) in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. They finished the regular season 9-7, making them the third team since the introduction of the 16-game regular season to make the Super Bowl after losing seven games.

New York is 3-0 in Super Bowls against teams they faced in the regular season.

Kickoff: 6:29 p.m.

Records: Patriots 15-3 (AFC champions, home); Giants 12-7 (NFC champions, visitor).

TV/Radio info: NBC, WHDH-TV Channel 7 in Boston (Al Michaels, Cris Collinswoth, Michele Tafoya); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak); Westwood One Radio Sports (Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, James Lofton, Mark Malone).

Projected lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, injuries and the immediate past game's lineups for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: LDE Vince Wilfork, DT Brandon Deaderick, DT Kyle Love, RDE Mark Anderson, LB Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Patrick Chung.

Giants offense: WR Victor Cruz, LT David Diehl, LG Kevin Boothe, C David Baas, RG Chris Snee, RT Kareem McKenzie, TE Jake Ballard, WR Hakeem Nicks, QB Eli Manning, FB Bear Pascoe, RB Ahmad Bradshaw.

Giants defense: LE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, DT Chris Canty, RE Osi Umenyiora, OLB Mathias Kiwanuka, MLB CHase Blackburn, OLB Michael Boley, CB Corey Webster, CB Aaron Ross, SS Kenny Phillips, FS Antrel Rolle

Inactives TBA

Guessing game on Rob Gronkowski's ankle: Officially listed as questionable for today's game, Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski practiced for the second portion of Thursday's practice with the Patriots, and then joined the team on Friday for its walkthrough. The Patriots did not practice on Saturday. After suffering a high ankle sprain against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship two weeks ago, he's been taking it "day to day" in his rehabilitation. It's anyone's guess as to how effective he might be with the ankle injury. Against the Ravens, he managed to come back to the game despite the injury.

End of the trash talk?: All the chirping will come to an end at 6:29 p.m. The Giants have responded to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's gentle remarks about hoping for a bigger party than the team's sendoff last Sunday with gradually more bold boasts of their own. Giants DT Chris Canty said on Wednesday fans should "get ready for a parade on Tuesday." On the eve of the Super Bowl, the Giants' official website was hawking Giants Super Bowl championship gear. There appears to be enough bulletin board material for both sides, depending on how you spin it.

Final: Patriots 23, Ravens 20

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 22, 2012 03:02 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Lee Evans was stripped of a 14-yard touchdown pass by the Patriots Sterling Moore with 22 seconds left and Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff pushed a 32-yard field goal attempt wide left two plays later as the Patriots held on to beat the Ravens, 23-20, and advance to Super Bowl XLVI.

1:44 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 -- The Ravens held the Patriots to three-and-out, forcing a punt with less than two minutes remaining.

2:46 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 -- Vince Wilfork came up with two big plays for the Patriots. On third down, he stuffed Ravens RB Ray Rice for a 3-yard loss. On fourth-and-6, he pressured Ravens QB Joe Flacco into throwing the ball away. Patriots take over on downs at the Ravens' 33.

6:10 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 -- Tom Brady took a shot down field and paid for it. His pass was intended for Matthew Slater and was tipped by the Ravens' Bernard Pollard before being intercepted by Jimmy Smith in the end zone. Smith returned it 39 yards.

7:22 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 -- Brandon Spikes picked off Ravens QB Joe Flacco. It was the Ravens' first turnover of the game. The Patriots have the ball now with 50 yards of field in front of them.

11:29 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 -- Tom Brady jumped over both lines for a 1-yard touchdown after his previous 1-yard run off tackle for a TD -- right off Matt Light's side -- was overturnede. It was fourth-and-goal on the 1-yard line for the Patriots, who regained the lead with the score.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to the game on the play prior to the touchdown.

End of the 3rd quarter: Ravens 20, Patriots 16 -- Rob Gronkowski was hurt on a 23-yard pass from Tom Brady. He was taken down awkwardly by Ravens safety Bernard Pollard. After the play, he was walked to the locker room.

Pollard, if you recall, also injured Tom Brady's knee when he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 and also was involved in the play when Wes Welker injured his knee in the season finale a year later against the Houston Texans.

0:50 3rd quarter: Ravens 20, Patriots 16 -- James Ihedigbo sacked Ravens QB Joe Flacco and the Patriots held Baltimore to a field goal after giving them a short field on Danny Woodhead's fumble.

Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff kicked a 39-yard field goal.

3:09 3rd quarter: Ravens 17, Patriots 16 -- After Torrey Smith's 29-yard touchdown, the Patriots' Danny Woodhead fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff after a 32-yard return. It was recovered by Emanuel Cook for the Ravens.

3:38 3rd quarter: Ravens 17, Patriots 16 -- Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith on a 5-yard hitch and the Ravens receiver turned it up field, broke a tackle from Patriots CB Sterling Moore, and raced away for a 29-yard touchdown down the sideline. Smith fought off Patriots corner Devin McCourty as he dove into the end zone. The play was reviewed and upheld.

9:06 3rd quarter: Patriots 16, Ravens 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked his third field goal as the Patriots extended their lead to 6 points. Gostkowski's kick, a 24-yarder, capped a 14-play drive that opened the second half.

Key plays on the drive were a 12-yard pass from Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez -- who got in a couple of more rushes at running back -- and a 21-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski.

15:00 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 10 -- Third quarter is underway with the Patriots receiving.

End of 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 10 -- After one half of play, the Patriots are in a tug-of-war with the Ravens.

Tom Brady is currently 14 of 24 passing for 146 yards and an interception.

The big thing for the Patriots so far has been their running game and their defense. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has carried the ball eight times for 50 yards and a touchdown. Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork has been wreaking havoc on the Ravens offense, recording a sack, a tackle for a loss, and has pressured Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco on numerous occasions.

The Ravens haven't been gun shy in this game, going deep on three occasions to Torrey Smith. Flacco did complete one of those bombs to Smith for 42 yards. It led to a field goal. Flacco is currently 11 of 16 for 162 yards and a touchdown, connecting with tight end Dennis Pitta for a 6-yard score.

0:58 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 10 -- Patriots CB Kyle Arrington has an eye injury and his return is questionable.

3:00 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Ravens 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked his second field goal, this one a 35-yarder, to cap a 10-play drive.

The drive was a quick 3:03 with the Patriots still working in a hurry-up offense, something they've done all game. But the Ravens are doing their best to slow the Patriots, holding down receivers on the ground for as long as they can so they can get back in position.

6:03 2nd quarter: Patriots 10, Ravens 10 -- Joe Flacco connected with tight end Dennis Pitta for a 6-yard touchdown.

Patriots LB Brandon Spikes appeared to get into a tiff with Ravens FB Vonta Leach on the prior play. There were no flags on the play, but following the confusion Flacco came out and fired the touchdown strike to Pitta. It capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive that spanned 4:32.

10:35 2nd quarter: Patriots 10, Ravens 3 -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis found a hole up the gut and ran for a 7-yard touchdown to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive. Green-Ellis carried the ball five times on the drive.

14:21 2nd quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 3 -- Billy Cundiff kicked a 20-yard field goal to tie the game. The field goal topped an eight-play, 67-yard drive. The big play on the drive was Joe Flacco's 42-yard pass to Torrey Smith, who was wide open on the play.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- The first quarter comes to a close with the Ravens in the red zone. Joe Flacco completed a 42-yard pass to Torrey Smith. The Ravens are trying to capitalize on Tom Brady's interception.

3:46 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- The Ravens' Lardarius Webb intercepted Tom Brady on a pass to Julian Edelman.

4:30 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- Two big plays by Vince Wilfork on the last drive. Wilfork disrupted a run to Ricky Williams in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. He got a hand on Flacco for a sack on third down, forcing another Ravens punt.

5:49 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Ravens 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 29-yard field goal as the Patriots put the first points on the board of the AFC Championship. The field goal capped a 13-play, 50-yard drive that spanned 5:20.

Brady missed a wide-open Rob Gronkowski near the goal line -- a rare misfire for Brady -- and was sacked by Baltimore's Paul Kruger on the drive.

Julian Edelman got a rushing attempt on the drive.
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11:09 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- Patriots defensive lineman Mark Anderson sacked Ravens QB Joe Flacco for a seven-yard loss on third down, forcing a punt. Anderson was helped on the play by fellow lineman Vince Wilfork, who put pressure on Flacco in the pocket.

12:49 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- The Patriots held the Ravens to a three-and-out on their first possession only to follow up with a three-and-out of their own. Ravens safety Ed Reed broke up a Tom Brady pass intended for Deion Branch on third down.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Ravens 0 -- It's 29 degrees out, partly cloudy and winds are moving at 6 miles per hour. Great day for football.

The game is about to get underway and we'll have all the game updates right here through the final whistle -- and then some.

Among the other things Boston.com has going on for today's game, you can visit our virtual tail gate where we have a fan chat, tweets from our writers at the game and analysis from the Globe's Greg A. Bedard.

Enjoy the game.

Chad Ochocinco, Stevan Ridley inactive for AFC championship

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 22, 2012 01:30 PM

The Patriots have announced their inactive players for today's game and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who returned this morning from Florida after attending his father's funeral Saturday, is among the seven players who will not play today.

He is a healthy scratch.

Also a healthy scratch is running back Stevan Ridley, who fumbled twice in the last two games, starting in Week 17 over veteran back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Also inactive is OL Sebastian Vollmer, OL Donald Thomas, LB Gary Guyton, RB Shane Vereen and QB Ryan Mallett.

Inactive for the Ravens today is WR Tandon Doss, CB Chykie Brown, RB Anthony Allen, LB Josh Bynes, OL Justin Boren, NT Brandon McKinney and LB Sergio Kindle.

Preview: AFC Championship

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 22, 2012 12:07 PM

012212gillette.jpg

The view of Gillette Stadium from the press box. There are partly cloudy skies in Foxborough with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees.

FOXBOROUGH -- Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots get ready to host the Baltimore Ravens for a shot at Super Bowl XLVI.

The Patriots come into their eighth AFC Championship after trouncing the Denver Broncos 45-10. They're 6-1 all-time in AFC Championships, 3-0 at home and 2-0 at Gillette Stadium.

The Ravens come into today's game after beating the Houston Texans 20-13 in the AFC divisional playoff round.

In the Tom Brady era, the Patriots have led the series against the Ravens 4-1 with all four wins coming in regular season games. In the 2009 playoffs, the Patriots fell 33-14 to the Ravens without the aid of Wes Welker, who had suffered a knee injury prior to the playoffs. Since then, the Patriots have re-stocked the team's talent on offense, bringing back Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch, drafting tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and trading for receiver Chad Ochocinco.

This year, the Patriots featured the No. 2 offense in the NFL. They face a Ravens team that features the No. 3 defense in the league with highly touted veterans like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. The two teams have a clash of styles, with the more physical Ravens matching up well with the more finesse Patriots. The Ravens are 7-0 against playoff teams this season. The Patriots are 2-2 against playoff teams this year (both wins coming against the Broncos).

Kickoff: 3 p.m.

Records: Patriots 14-3 (AFC East champions, No. 1 seed); Ravens 14-3 (AFC North champions, No. 2 seed).

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak); Westwood One Radio Sports (Dave Sims, James Lofton, Tony Boselli).

Projected lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, injuries and the immediate past game's lineups for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: LDE Vince Wilfork, DT Brandon Deaderick, DT Kyle Love, RDE Mark Anderson, LB Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Patrick Chung.

Ravens offense: WR Torrey Smith, WR Anquan Boldin, LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Ben Grubbs, C Matt Birk, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Michael Oher, TE Ed Dickson, QB Joe Flacco, FB Vonta Leach, RB Ray Rice.

Ravens defense: DT Haloti Ngata, NT Terrence Cody, DE Cory Redding, LB Terrell Suggs, LB Jameel McClain, LB Ray Lewis, LB Jarret Johnson, CB Lardarius Webb, SS Bernard Pollard, FS Ed Reed, CB Cary Williams.

Inactives

Patriots: QB Ryan Mallett, RB Stevan Ridley, RB Shane Vereen, LB Gary Guyton, OL Donald Thomas, OL Sebastian Vollmer and WR Chad Ochocinco.

Ravens: WR Tandon Doss, CB Chykie Brown, RB Anthony Allen, LB Josh Bynes, OL Justin Boren, NT Brandon McKinney, LB Sergio Kindle.

Final: Patriots 45, Broncos 10

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 14, 2012 10:00 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady was deadly efficient and the Patriots were dominant defensively, beating the Denver Broncos 45-10 to shake off their playoff woes and advance to the AFC Championship.

Brady was 26 of 34 for 363 yards and six touchdowns. He broke franchise records for yards in a postseason game, touchdowns in a postseason game, and an NFL record with five touchdown passes in the first half. The Patriots amassed 509 yards of offense and faced only six third downs.

Rob Gronkowski recorded 10 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns.

The Patriots' defense was equally impressive. They held Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow to 9 of 26 passing for 136 yards and the Broncos team to 252 total yards.

2:35 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Broncos 10 -- Tom Brady had a 48-yard punt on third down (weird, right?) and then a rumble broke out with Denver's Von Miller in the middle of it. Multiple penalties on the play as the Broncos take over.

It was Brady's second career punt.

7:14 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Broncos 10 -- Tim Tebow completed his longest pass of the night, a 41-yarder to Demaryius Thomas that got some help from a spring block by Denver running back Lance Ball. But the drive fizzled as Tebow was unable to do anything from the Patriots 3-yard line, unable to complete four straight passes. Lots of pressure from LB Rob Ninkovich and DE Shaun Ellis on fourth down to force a turnover on downs.

12:39 4th quarter: Patriots 45, Broncos 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 20-yard field goal as the Patriots pushed their lead back to 35 points.

The kick capped an 11-play, 78-yard drive that featured two big passes from Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski. One for 20 yards and another for 28 to get the Patriots into the red zone. After three meaningless rushes from the 4- or 2-yard line, the Patriots settled for a field goal.

End of 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 10 -- Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has surpassed the 100-yard mark in the game. By the end of the third quarter, he has nine catches for 117 yards and three touchdowns.

Tom Brady is an efficient 24 of 32 for 321 yards and six touchdowns.

2:19 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 10 -- Denver's Matt Prater kicked a 41-yard field goal to cap a 14-play, 58-yard drive by the Broncos that spanned 6:16.

Patriots DE Shaun Ellis recorded a big hit and sack on Tim Tebow, which got the quarterback fired up. He was seen yelling at his offensive line, and then at nobody, all at the same time.

Patriots LB Brandon Spikes also recorded a sack on the drive, getting the help of some pressure from DL Brandon Deadrick.

8:30 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 7 -- Patriots RB Stevan Ridley fumbled after catching a pass from Tom Brady. The ball was recovered by Broncos DT Marcus Thomas.

10:35 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 7 -- The defensive dominance of the Broncos continues. Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich and NT Vince Wilfork shared a sack on Denver QB Tim Tebow as the Broncos went three-and-out again.

11:46 3d quarter: Patriots 42, Broncos 7 -- Tom Brady tied a postseason record with his sixth touchdown of the game, this time a 17-yard strike to tight end Aaron Hernandez who high stepped his way in on the last leg of the score.

13:39 3d quarter: Patriots 35, Broncos 7 -- Three quick plays, including an incompletion by Tim Tebow on third down and the Patriots have the ball back in the second half.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 35, Broncos 7 -- The first half comes to a close with the Patriots dominating this game on both ends of the field, holding the Broncos to 120 yards of offense and only 20 passing. Tim Tebow was 3 of 10 passing for 28 yards.

Tom Brady has thrown for five touchdowns already, an NFL postseason record. He's 18 of 25 passing for 246 yards and an interception.

0:05 2d quarter: Patriots 35, Broncos 7 -- Wasting no time with the ball in their hands, Tom Brady efficiently moved the ball down the field and hit Rob Gronkowski for a 19-yard touchdown.

Gronkowski now has the franchise record for receiving touchdowns in a game and is tied for the NFL postseason record with three. The drive was only five plays, 58 yards in 1:04.

1:16 2d quarter: Patriots 28, Broncos 7 -- The Broncos go three and out, with no help from its receiving corps. A drop from Demaryius Thomas and a drop from running back Lance Ball. Patriots take over.

1:57 2d quarter: Patriots 28, Broncos 7 -- Deion Branch still has some wheels left. The veteran wide receiver for the Patriots blew past Broncos cornerback Andre Goodman on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady.

Brady's fourth touchdown of the day marks a new postseason record for the team.

2:38 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork recorded a 4-yard sack on Denver QB Tim Tebow and defensive lineman Gerard Warren record a tackle for a 6-yard loss to force the Broncos into a 3d-and-20. The ended up punting.

4:52 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- It should be noted that with Tom Brady's third touchdown pass he took sole possession of third place in NFL history with 33 playoff touchdowns. Brady's three touchdowns and tight end Rob Gronkowski's two are both ties for franchise records.

5:44 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- Deion Branch had the pass downfield, but he couldn't pull in the catch as he tried to avoid a hit from Denver safety Rafael Bush on the third down pass. The Patriots were forced to punt.

6:44 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- Tim Tebow couldn't find an open receiver, even though he had a couple, leading to another Broncos punt. The Denver offense accumulated 1 yard on this last drive. CB Kyle Arrington got a nice pass defensed, a possible interception, on one Tebow throw.

7:42 2d quarter: Patriots 21, Broncos 7 -- Tom Brady has regained his accuracy, throwing three darts on the last drive, including a 12-yard strike to Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown as the Patriots go back up two scores.

Brady completed passes to Gronkowski, Deion Branch, and Gronkowski again to move the chains. He also got help from the Patriots' leading rusher, tight end Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez has 58 yards on the ground today, including 10 on the drive.

11:31 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 7 -- The Patriots got a good stop against the Broncos, holding Tim Tebow to a 1-yard rush on 3d-and-4. Jerod Mayo recorded the tackle on the play.

13:36 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 7 -- Tom Brady misfired on a couple of throws, almost getting picked off by Broncos LB Joe Mays. Instead, the Patriots escaped with a nice punt by Zoltan Mesko, pinning the Broncos at their 5-yard line.

14:54 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 7 -- Broncos running back Willis McGahee rushed right up the gut for a 5-yard touchdown. The touchdown was keyed by a 12-yard pass from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas and Tom Brady's interception.

McGahee has 51 yards rushing already on seven carries.

15:00 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 0 -- The first quarter comes to a close as the Broncos threaten to score in the red zone. They're trying to capitalize on a Tom Brady interception that gave them the ball only 24 yards away from paydirt. Brady is 9 of 11 on the game so far for 86 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.

2:00 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 0 -- Tom Brady threw an errant pass for an interception, picked off by the Broncos' Quinton Carter and returned to the Patriots' 24-yard line.

3:34 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 0 -- Tim Tebow was pressured from Patriots Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Deaderick and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas dropped a possible first down pass as the Broncos were forced to punt.

6:42 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Broncos 0 -- Rob Gronkowski has outdone himself. The burly tight end caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone, diving for the grab and pulling it in before sliding out of bounds. The play was reviewed and upheld.

The drive was another speedy seven plays for 59 yards in 3:25, capitalizing on Tim Tebow's fumble, forced by Rob Ninkovich.

10:07 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Broncos 0 -- Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich hit Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow for a 4-yard sack, jarring the ball loose and fellow linebacker Brandon Spikes recovered to give the Patriots the ball back with 59 yards of field ahead of them.

13:09 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Broncos 0 -- It took less than two minutes for the Patriots. Tom Brady hit Wes Welker across the middle of the field for a 7-yard touchdown. The scoring strike was set up by a 43-yard run by tight end Aaron Hernandez out of the backfield. The drive was a quick five plays, 80 yards in 1:51.

15:00 1st quarter: Broncos 0, Patriots 0 -- Denver deferred the opening kick and the Patriots will receive to being the game.

Game on.

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FOXBOROUGH -- We're getting ready to kick off at Gillette Stadium. The temperature has dropped to a chilly 27 degrees and it's not likely to get any warmer.

Stay right here for game updates. But we've also got a Virtual Tailgate party going on, with a chat, live game tweets, photos and the expert analysis from Globe NFL writer Greg A. Bedard will be featured. Check it out here.

For photos of tonight's game, expect them to be populated right here. There's already a number of pregame photos in there.

For photos from the playoff weekend, including the 49ers and Saints tonight, go here. We'll make sure some Patriots photos are in there for you too.

Enjoy the game.

Preview: Broncos at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 14, 2012 04:22 PM

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An early look at Gillette Stadium before the crowds are allowed to enter for Saturday night's AFC divisional playoff matchup between the Patriots and the Broncos.

FOXBOROUGH -- Good evening from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots prepare to host the Denver Broncos in an AFC Divisional playoff matchup.

FULL ENTRY

Inside the matchup: Broncos at Patriots

Posted by Greg A. Bedard January 14, 2012 02:16 PM

In an effort to get a little bit more inside the game, Alen Dumonjic, an x's and o's football junkie who blogs for The Score, will give us his insight on the intricacies of the game. Look for his analysis before each game.

BREAKING DOWN THE BRONCOS' OFFENSE

The Broncos offense hasn’t changed much since we submitted our analysis for Week 15. It still features two tight ends a significant amount of time as well as three tight ends, which has recently been heavily involved in the personnel packages. The third tight end is often aligned in the backfield as an H-back who is used in the passing game as an outlet or checkdown pass catcher for Tebow.

FULL ENTRY

Final: Patriots 49, Bills 21

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 1, 2012 02:29 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots scored 49 unanswered points, picked off Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick four times, beating the Bills, 49-21, to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Tom Brady, who finished 23 of 35 for 338 yards and three touchdowns, passed the 5,000-yard mark, becoming the third quarterback in NFL history to have done so. He finished with 5,235. He beat Dan Marino's 1984 record of 5,084 yards but now sits behind the Saints' Drew Brees, who finished the season 5,476.

Rob Gronkowski, who had eight catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns, broke the NFL record for yards in a season by a tight end with 1,327. Gronkowski finished with 18 touchdowns as well, good for second all-time in Patriots history.

1:30 4th quarter: Patriots 49, Bills 21 -- Antwaun Molden intercepted a floating Ryan Fitzpatrick pass, the Patriots' fourth pick of the Buffalo QB. Fitzpatrick equaled the number of interceptions Tom Brady threw in the teams' first meeting in Buffalo.

2:55 4th quarter: Patriots 49, Bills 21 -- Once is fine, but twice is nice. Sterling Moore recorded his second interception of the game and his career, returning it 21 yards for a touchdown.

The Patriots have now scored 49 unanswered points against the Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown three interceptions.

3:02 4th quarter: Patriots 42, Bills 21 -- Rob Gronkowski caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady for his second TD of the game.

It was Brady's 300th touchdown pass of his career and it gave Gronkowski 18 touchdowns on the year, second in franchise history behind Randy Moss's 23 in 2007.

Gronkowski also passed the NFL record mark set in 1980 by San Diego's Kellen Winslow for yards in a season by a tight end. He needed 72 yards to surpass it. He currently has 86 yards on seven catches.

11:16 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Bills 21 -- Aaron Hernandez's 44-yard catch-and-run set up a 3-yard touchdown run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Patriots capitalized on Devin McCourty's interception. They've now scored 35 unanswered points.

12:04 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Bills 21 -- Devin McCourty picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Patriots' second pick of the game. It is McCourty's second of the year. McCourty was playing free safety on the play after playing the last 15 games at left cornerback.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Bills 21 -- We've come to the end of the third quarter and the Patriots have scored 28 unanswered points since getting drubbed in the first quarter.

Gronkowski's third-quarter touchdown gave him 17 this season, tying Curtis Martin for second on the franchise list.

1:32 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Bills 21 -- The Patriots capitalized on Sterling Moore's interception, with Tom Brady connecting with TE Rob Gronkowski for a 17-yard touchdown pass. The Patriots went for 2, putting them up 7 points with Danny Woodhead punching in the extra deuce.

It was a five-play, 25-yard drive that spanned 2:22.

3:54 3d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 20 -- Sterling Moore picked off Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Patriots get the ball back at the Bills 25-yard line.

5:13 3d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 20 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 20-yard field goal after BenJarvus Green-Ellis set the Patriots up in the red zone, catching a screen pass and racing 53 yards to the 20-yard line.

Wes Welker caught a 15-yard pass on the drive, giving him 120 catches on the year. It's the second time he's had 120 catches in one season. The only other player to have 120 catches more than once in the NFL was Cris Carter, who did it for the Minnesota Vikings in 1994 and 1995.

8:45 3d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 17 -- Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick appears to have lost his touch, misfiring twice on the last drive to receivers en route to another Bills punt. Credit the Patriots' secondary and LB corps for throwing different coverage at him. The Bills continue to use a spread offense. Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are alternating at the safety positions, with Antwaun Molden and Sterling Moore at the outside corners. WR Julian Edelman is manning the slot, or star, corner.

12:19 3d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 17 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 47-yard field goal as the Patriots went 50 yards on nine plays to open the third quarter.

On a 13-yard run by Stevan Ridley, the Patriots surpassed a franchise record for total yards in a season.

15:00 3d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 14 -- The third quarter is underway and the Patriots have the ball at the 22.

End of 2d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 14 -- Brandon Coutu missed a 45-yard field goal and the Patriots escaped the first half without giving up another score after Tom Brady's interception.

Brady is 11 of 15 for 134 yards and a touchdown. Today's favorite target is Aaron Hernandez, who has four catches for 81 yards and a score.

Stevan Ridley has been the featured running back today. He has nine rushes for 48 yards. However, BenJarvus Green-Ellis punched in a 1-yard TD for the Patriots, diving over a goal-line pile for the Patriots' first score of the day.

The Bills have ridden the arm of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's completed 20 of 28 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns, including a 17-yard strike to Stevie Johnson and 15-yard score to C.J. Spiller.

0:51 2d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 14 -- Tom Brady was intercepted on third and 14, his pass intended to Wes Welker getting tipped. Bills LB Nick Barnett snagged the ball and returned it 33 yards.

Bills CB Drayton Florence was flagged for hitting Brady during the return.

2:25 2d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 14 -- On fourth and 12 at the Patriots 36, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was forced into a bad throw by safety Patrick Chung. It was the second stop by the Patriots' defense in a row.

5:42 2d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 14 -- Aaron Hernandez high-stepped his way into the end zone, completing a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to pull the Patriots within a touchdown.

On the TD, Tom Brady surpassed 5,000 yards passing. He's the third quarterback in NFL history to do so. Brady is 8 of 10 for 107 yards and touchdown now. He needed 103 yardsto pass 5,000.

8:59 2d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 7 -- Mark Anderson recorded his 10th sack of the year. It's the first time since 1985 that the Patriots have had two pass rushers with at least 10 sacks. Andre Carter, who is now on injured reserve, has 10 sacks. Anderson's sack on first down helped the Patriots to hold the Bills to a punt for the first time this game.

Devin McCourty continues to play at safety for the Patriots as the Bills utilize a spread offense. Patrick Chung, who returned after missing the past seven games, is playing corner in the slot in these situations.

11:58 2d quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 7 -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis jumped over a goal-line pile for a 1-yard touchdown run and the Patriots are on the board.

Stevan Ridley's 21-yard rush to the Bills' 2-yard line helped set up the score, as well as Tom Brady's 27-yard pass to Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots went 77 yards in nine plays in 3:50, utilizing their hurry-up offense.

It was Green-Ellis's 10th touchdown of the year.

End of 1st quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 0 -- Tom Brady completed two quick passes before the end of the first quarter. In this situation, you can typically expect the Patriots to go to their hurry-up offense. But then again, this is not a typical situation for the Patriots, being down, 21-0.

0:48 1st quarter: Bills 21, Patriots 0 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick completed all five of his passes, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to RB CJ Spiller out of the slot as the Bills have now gone up by three scores in the first quarter.

The Bills went 82 yards in six plays in 3:07.

Fitzpatrick is 13 of 16 for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

After the touchdown, Patriots fans at Gillette booed the players on the field.

3:55 1st quarter: Bills 14, Patriots 0 -- Tom Brady was sacked hard for a 10-yard loss on third down and the Patriots punted for the second drive in a row. Brady got up gingerly, not moving his left shoulder much. Keep an eye on that shoulder.

5:19 1st quarter: Bills 14, Patriots 0 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 17-yard touchdown to Stevie Johnson, topping off an 10-play drive that went 70 yards. The touchdown catch, which was a diving grab, was reviewed and upheld.

Johnson made up for a dropped pass on third down, coming right back and catching a pass on fourth and 4 to keep the Bills' drive alive. Two plays later he was in the end zone, showing off a T-shirt under his jersey that read "Happy New Year's'' that got him flagged for excessive celebration.

Patriots DT Kyle Love recorded a 3-yard sack on Fitzpatrick on the drive.

The Bills have opted to go with a five-receiver offense for most of the game, spreading the Patriots defenders out. We'll see if this trend continues.

10:00 1st quarter: Bills 7, Patriots 0 -- Tom Brady was hit on a throw to Wes Welker, an incomplete pass, and Stevan Ridley ran twice for two yards as the Patriots went three and out. Ridley got the start over BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Ryan Wendell got the start at left guard over Donald Thomas.

11:18 1st quarter: Bills 7, Patriots 0 -- Antwaun Molden was flagged for pass interference, giving 47 yards to the Bills. They capitalized with a 4-yard touchdown run by Tashard Choice. The Bills converted a fourth down with a direct snap to George Wilson to help set up the scoring drive. The Bills went 80 yards in eight plays and 3:42.

12:30 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bills 0 -- Patrick Chung has already made his presence felt in his first game since Week 9. He pummeled Bills receiver Stevie Johnson on a third and 6, keeping him from getting a first down. Also of note in the first series, Devin McCourty has lined up at safety a couple of times. Keep your eyes on him.

15:00 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Bills 0 -- The Patriots have deferred and the Bills will receive the opening kickoff. Game on.

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The Patriots are looking for revenge after a 34-31 loss in Week 3 to the Buffalo Bills in which Tom Brady threw four interceptions. They're now on a seven-game winning streak and the Bills are in their way for the top seed in the AFC. Stay right here for all of the game's updates. We'll also have playoff matchups on the blog later today when all the games have concluded.

It's 51 degrees out with sunny skies and warm (enough) conditions. Enjoy the game!

You can also follow along on our Twitter page. You can also join our fan chat.

Game 16 preview: Bills at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 1, 2012 11:24 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- Greetings and Happy New Year's from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots (12-3) get ready to host the Buffalo Bills (6-9) in their final regular season game.

With a win or tie over the Bills, the Patriots will clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC. After last week's win over the Miami Dolphins, 27-24, the Patriots clinched a first-round playoff bye. By the end of the day, the Patriots will know which teams it will possibly play after the wildcard round.

Also on the radar today is Tom Brady's quest for 5,000 passing yards. He currently has 4,897 and given his average of 326.4 yards thrown per game, he's a virtual lock to pass for more than the 103 yards needed to pass the threshold.

Rob Gronkowski, who has 1,219 yards receiving this year for a franchise record as a tight end, needs 72 yards to eclipse San Diego's Kellen Winslow's NFL record of 1,290 yards set in 1980.


Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Records: Patriots 12-3 (clinched AFC East, first-round bye); Bills (6-9)

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Don Crigui, Randy Cross); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak); Sports USA Radio Network (Tom McCarthy, Ross Tucker).

Projected lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, injuries and last week's lineups.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Donald Thomas, C Ryan Wendell, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB Danny Woodhead.

Patriots defense: LDE Shaun Ellis, DT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RDE Mark Anderson, LB Ron Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Patrick Chung.

Bills offense: WR David Nelson, LT Chris Hairston, LG Andy Levitre, C Colin Brown, RG Chad Rinehart, RT Erik Pears, TE Scott Chandler, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB C.J. Spiller, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Stevie Johnson.

Bills defense: LDE Alex Carrington, NT Marcell Dareus, RDE Dwan Edwards, LB Chris Kelsay, MLB Kelvin Sheppard, LB Nick Barnett, LB Spencer Johnson, CB Aaron Williams, SS George Wilson, FS, Jairus Byrd, CB Drayton Florence.

Inactives

Patriots: G Logan Mankins (knee), RB Kevin Faulk, DL Ron Brace, T Sebastian Vollmer, LB Tracy White, RB Shane Vereen and Ryan Mallett.

Bills: WR Brad Smith, DB Josh Nesbitt, OL Kraig Urbik, DL Jarron Gilbert, LT Demetrius Bell, WR Kamar Aiken and TE Fendi Onobun.

Final: Patriots 27, Dolphins 24

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff December 24, 2011 04:28 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady ran for two touchdowns and passed for another, Wes Welker had a 12 receptions for 138 yards and the Patriots overcame a 17-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Dolphins, 27-24, at Gillette Stadium.

With one regular season game remaining, the Patriots (12-3) remain positioned as the top seed in the AFC and have secured a first-round bye.

After dismal first half -- the Patriots had just 107 net yards of offense and Brady was 7 of 19 for 87 yards -- the Patriots needed just nine minutes and 22 seconds in the second half to erase the entire 17-point deficit.

Stephen Gostkowki's booted a 45-yard field goal at the 11:45 mark of the third quarter to cut Miami's lead to 17-3. Three plays later, Vince Wilfork recovered a Matt Moore fumble at the Miami 38 in what proved the pivotal play of the game.

The Patriots offense finally took advantage, with Brady capping a seven-play, 38-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch.

Less than five minutes later, Brady plunged in from a yard out to tie the score at 17.

The Patriots took the lead for good on Gostkowski's 42-yarder early in the fourth quarter, then built the lead to 10 on Brady's second rushing touchdown, a 1-yarder at the 2:55 mark of the fourth quarter.

Davone Bess scored the final touchdown, a 15-yard reception with little more than a minute remaining.

Brady finished 27 for 46 for 304 yards, with the three total touchdowns.

Reggie Bush ran for 113 yards for Miami, while Brandon Marshall had seven catches for 156 yards.

* * *

1:20: Brady. Welker. Six yards. First down.

1:35: Third and 5 for the Patriots from the 25 after Ridley runs for no gain. Miami uses it's second timeout.

1:48: Or maybe not -- the Dolphins kickoff and get the touchback. Patriots start at the 20.

1:48 fourth quarter, Patriots 27, Dolphins 24 Don't put this one in the win column just yet. Moore finds Davone Bess for 15 yards and a score, and Carpenter's extra point cuts it to three. Here comes the onside kick.

2:55 fourth quarter, Patriots 27, Dolphins 17: Brady plows in from a yard out, and this one's under the tree after 27 unanswered second half points.

5:32: Brady hits Welker for nine yards on third and 9 to the 37, then finds him for 22 yards on the next play. Welker now has 11 receptions for 132 yards. First and 10 at the Miami 15.

7:42: Miami's possession stalls out at their own 30 when Jerod Mayo sacks Moore. Patriots take over at their 41 after the punt.

8:55 fourth quarter, Patriots 20, Dolphins 17: Brady gets up muttering after he's sacked by Randy Starks, but Gostkowski gives the Patriots their first lead of the game with a 42-yard field goal.

10:13: Cornerback Vontae Davis, who had a strong first half, is out with an elbow injury and his return is questionable. Patriots facing third and 10 at the Miami 14. Welker is now over 100 yards on the day.

12:48: The play stands, but the Patriots get what amounts to a punt a play later when McCourty picks off Moore's pass from the NE 44 at the 2. The Patriots come out firing immediately, with Brady finding Gronkowski for 20 yards to the 22. Then after a 6-yard catch by Welker, Stevan Ridley rambles for 16 yards. A couple of plays later, Welker runs past Karlos Dansby and hauls in a 42-yarder before Tyrone Culver shoves him out at the 14.

12:48: Moore hits Hartline for a first down at the Patriots 44, but Belichick is challenging the spot.

13:04: Big play coming up -- Miami faces a third and 9 at their 46. The Gillette Stadium crowd is rocking.

End of the third quarter, Patriots 17, Dolphins 17: The Patriots' third quarter was as impressive as their first half was dismal, and after trailing 17-0 at the half, they're tied heading into the final 15 minutes. Brady is now 19 of 35 for 184 yards, with one passing and one rushing TD. (He's 16 for his last 21.) Reggie Bush is over 100 yards for the fourth straight game -- he has 20 carries for 105 yards.

2:17 third quarter, Patriots 17, Dolphins 17: Well, that lead went fast. Brady slips in from a yard out after a tough 7-yard run from Ridley, and it took the Patriots exactly nine minutes and 22 seconds to erase a 17-point deficit.

3:58: Brady hits Welker three times in a row to get to the 23, then, operating out of the no-huddle, he finds Hernandez for 10 more yards and another first down. Gronk time?

5:45: Great defensive series for the Patriots, with Ninkovich sacking Moore on third down at the 10. (The ball came loose but was recovered by Miami.) Kevin Faulk returns the 33-yard punt seven yards to the Dolphin 41.

6:57: Patriots' swarming kick coverage surrounds Gates at the 17, and on first down, Brandon Deaderick sacks Moore for a 10-yard loss. The momentum has shifted, but the Patriots' defensive backs have a way of giving it back.

7:10 third quarter, Dolphins 17, Patriots 10: Call on the field stands, Gostkowski kicks the extra point, and Wilfork's fumble recovery looms as large as No. 75 himself. Let's see if the D can deliver again. By the way, Brady has now thrown a TD pass in 31 straight games, extending his team record.

7:10: Hold on for one moment -- play is under review.

7:10 third quarter, Dolphins 17, Patriots 9: There's that ol' Brady-Branch chemistry, and the Patriots are back in it. Under instant pressure after taking the snap on third and goal from the 1, Brady steps left to elude the rush and finds Branch in the back of the end zone. Still don't know how Brady avoided the sack, and Branch did a remarkable job finding a seam in the coverage after Brady was forced to scramble.

8:28: On third and 2, Brady hits Hernandez for nine yards at the Miami 5. Within striking distance for sure.

10:42: Should the Patriots come back, the following could stand as the pivotal play. Moore fumbled the snap, Vince Wilfork came out of the pile with the football, and the Patriots have possession at the Miami 38. Let's see if the offense can do anything with the gift.

11:32: Gosktowski with the saving tackle on Clyde Gates's 33-yard return. Dolphins start at their 38.

11:39 third quarter, Dolphins 17, Patriots 3: Well, the zero is gone. The Patriots' promising drive ends with three points rather than seven, as Stephen Gostkowski moves into third place on the Patriots' all-time scoring list with a 45-yard field goal. The Patriots looked to be headed for more, but Brady and Branch couldn't connect on third and 5 at the Miami 28. The field goal completed an 11-play, 54-yard drive.

12:36: Brady sneak for 3 yards. First down.

12:49: Ridley just short of the first down on third and 1 at the Miami 34. They're going for it, and they should.

15:00, third quarter: Brady hits Gronkowski for 22 yards to the NE 42 on the first play following the kickoff. One play later, Brady hits Chad Ochocinco for 15 yards. He's throwing angry. (Vontae Davis nearly picks off his next throw, intende for Ochocinco, as we're posting this.)

Halftime, Dolphins 17, Patriots 0: If there's been a time during Tom Brady's run as the Patriots quarterback when the offense has looked so discombobulated, we'd appreciate the reminder. As evidenced by the scoreboard, it was a truly dismal first half for the Patriots, who had just five first downs and 107 net yards in the half. Brady is 7 of 19 for 87 yards -- and that's after starting 3 of 14. He's been sacked twice and hit relentlessly behind the makeshift offensive line, which is missing left tackle Matt Light (inactive) and lost Logan Mankins during the game. Danny Woodhead is the leading rusher ... with 20 yards. Deion Branch is the top receiver with 31 yards on one catch. Wes Welker has been targeted seven times, but has just two catches for 20 yards.

Defensively, their issues in pass coverage remain -- Brandon Marshall has 102 yards and a touchdown already -- and Reggie Bush has been effective in the running game with 16 carries for 81 yards. Hard to imagine it could get any worse in the second half.

:08: Stephen Gostkowski is wide left on a 51-yarder, and the first half concludes as one giant lump of coal for the Patriots. I'll be back with some halftime stats in a moment. Don't say I didn't warn you.

:12: After a first down on a Welker catch at their 32, Brady finds Branch for 30 yards down the left sideline. Branch cuts inside and gets tackled rather than going out of bounds -- there was a chance he could break it -- but the Patriots have to use their last time out.

:39: Dolphins go three-and-out. After the punt, Patriots start at their 19, and they will try to get into field goal range.

3:13: Brady is getting pounded, the receivers can't shake the coverage, and Cameron Wake's sack on third down brings on some louder boos. Brady is 3 of 14 for 37 yards.

4:08: Dolphins go three-and-out from their 19, with Moore's third-and-4 pass missing Hartline. Edelman's return of Brandon Field's 61-yard punt takes him to the NE 28.

6:06: Incomplete to a covered Deion Branch, Stevan Ridley for two yards, Brady off-target to Welker along the left sideline. Commence booing. Brady, Branch and Welker all chirping at the refs. The Dolphins are being physical in coverage, and it's working brilliantly.

6:24: Patriots start with excellent field position after Danny Woodhead's 37-yard kick return to the 39. Let's see if the line -- currently Solder, Thomas, Connolly, Waters, Cannon -- can give Brady enough time to do something with it.

6:31 second quarter, Dolphins 17, Patriots 0: Too easy. Moore hits fullback Charles Clay on a crossing pattern for a 1-yard touchdown, finishing up Miami's 11-play, 89-yard drive. What can you say? The Patriots defense has been atrocious, with two terrible pass interference plays on third down. And the offense for once hasn't been able to cover for them.

7:22: Here's a new one -- Rob Ninkovich is called for pass interference on the quarterback. Moore handed to Bush, then ran free down the left sideline. Bush stopped and threw a balloon in his direction, and Ninkovich whacked him before the pass arrived. First and goal, Miami, at the 3, and even Matt Moore is a deep threat against this pass defense.

8:22: Moore to Marshall, 26 yards. Marshall has three catches for 92 yards already. Moore attempts to go to him on the next play from the New England 27, but McCourty busts it up in the end zone.

10:44: Bush shows off an impressive vertical, hurdling Arrington on a 6-yard run, then fakes out James Ihedigbo twice while picking up the first down on a third-down reception. Sure looks like the Southern Cal version of himself today.

11:04: Just a horrible day for McCourty so far. He's hit with a pass interference penalty on third and 12, giving Miami a first down at their 27.

11:33: Mesko has been the one bright spot for the Patriots so far, which is probably something you never want to say when you're talking about the punter. He crushes a 55-yarder, pinning the Dolphins at their own 9.

12:38: And it ends on their 34 when Brady's third-and-1 pass intended for Welker is broken up by Sean Smith. The three-and-out is greeted by a smattering of boos. Can't call them Grinches based on the Patriots' sluggish performance so far.

13:49: Jake Long, the Dolphins huge left tackle, has left with an arm injury. His return is questionable. Patriots begin their possession at their 35.

13:45, second quarter, Dolphins 10, Patriots 0: One play later, Moore finds Marshall again for a 19-yard score -- Kyle Arrington stumbled in coverage -- which caps a five-play, 82-yard drive that was way too easy. By the way, McCourty has been beaten for two plays that each account for more yardage than the entire Patriots offense has compiled today.

Second quarter, 14:51: Moore surpasses the Patriots' total offense with one throw, hitting Brandon Marshall for a 47-yarder down to the New England 21. McCourty was lost in coverage.

End of the first quarter, Dolphins 3, Patriots 0: The first quarter couldn't have been uglier for the Patriots offense -- Brady has two completions, one to Welker and one to Hernandez -- and Danny Woodhead is the leading rusher with 20 yards. For Miami, which wasn't much more impressive, Reggie Bush has been their best weapon with 41 yards on seven carries. Matt Moore is 3 of 8 for 62 yards.

:50: Mesko booms a career-best-tying 65-yard punt. Bess fumbles, then returns it to their 18.

1:06: Another stalled drive, this time at the NE 29 when Brady's pass for Welker over the middle falls incomplete. Brady is 2 of 9 for 31 yards so far, and the Patriots have 48 total yards of offense. Worse, Mankins is on the bench getting his leg wrapped.

1:32: Brady hits Aaron Hernandez for 15 yards and a first down at their 25. Brady now has 31 passing yards.

2:09: Dolphins go three-and-out, and the Patriots take over at the 10 after Julian Edelman juggles and then recovers the punt.

2:53: Patriots trainers are looking at Mankins's leg after it appeared to get rolled up on the last offensive play. Any chance Bruce Armstrong is in the building?

3:17: Brady's pass on third and 10 to Welker arrives a little early, and the Patriots' second possession goes nowhere. Mesko's 55-yard punt ends with the Dolphins starting at their 37 after a 13-yard return by Bess.

3:50: Jason Taylor with the sack of Brady for a 4-yard loss. This is probably an appropriate time to note that Matt Light has had a very good year.

4:47: Bush picks up 12 on third down. The Dolphins needed 17. After the punt, the Patriots will begin at the 21.

5:24: McCourty with the pass breakup on second and 17. Straight out of last year's highlight reel.

6:20: Bush bounces outside for eight yards, putting him over 1,000 for the season, and for the first time in his six-year career. Kim Kardashian jokes inevitably ensue.

7:44: The Patriots' seemingly methodical first drive -- they converted a pair of third downs, including a 16-yard Brady-to-Wes Welker connection on third and 5 from their own 30 -- suddenly stalls when Brady is sacked by blitzing Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell on third and 5 near midfield, with Danny Woodhead barely a speedbump in blitz pickup. Zoltan Mesko boots a 42-yarder on fourth and 14 from the NE 42, and the Dolphins take possession at their own 16.


10:54, first quarter, Dolphins 3, Patriots 0: ... and it's good, capping a nine-play, 50-yard drive. Miami has to be pleased to come away with points on their first drive even though they did have first and 10 at the New England 30 at one point before sputtering.

11:04: Reversed. Point, Ernie Adams. Carpenter to attempt a 47-yard field goal . . .

12:32: Brian Hartline gets past the Patriots D for 39-yard catch -- Devin McCourty finally made the tackles. Miami picks up six more yards on three plays to get to the New England 24, but the Patriots challenge the call of a 6-yard completion to Devone Best as Dan Carpenter was lining up for a 42-yard field goal. Bill Belichick must be pretty certain it was incomplete to challenge it at this point in the game, though perhaps he feels 42 yards is in Carpenter's range while 48 yards is not.

13:16: Shaun Ellis with the sack. That's something we thought we'd write more often this season -- it's just his first of the season, actually.

13:57, first quarter: Reggie Bush picks up 10 yards on his first two carries. He's 28 shy of his Week 1 total after two carries, and 17 away from 1,000 on the year.

We're about to get underway here at Gillette Stadium. Stay right here for all your in-game updates. The Dolphins will get the ball first. Quick question: With the NFL's 29th- and 32d-ranked pass defenses on the field today, how many passing yards will Tom Brady and Matt Moore pile up? Brady and then-Dolphins QB Chad Henne combined for 933 in Week 1, a 38-24 Patriots win. Let's set the over/under at 750.

Final: Patriots down Broncos, 41-23

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff December 18, 2011 07:57 PM

DENVER -- This time, the Broncos dug a hole too deep for even Tim Tebow to haul them out of.

The Patriots capitalized on a string of Broncos' mistakes in the second quarter and turned them all into points as they defeated the Broncos, 41-23, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Patriots (11-3) clinched the AFC East title for the third straight season and ninth time in 11 years. They scored 20 points in the second quarter to turn an early deficit into a rout, converting a pair of fumbles into a touchdown and a field goal, then adding another field goal after the Broncos muffed a punt.

Chad Ochocinco and Danny Woodhead scored their first touchdowns of the season for the Patriots and Tebow, who had led the Broncos to six straight victories, could not save this one for Denver.

In-game scoring updates:

4th quarter, 4:10, Patriots 41-23: BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran 1-yard to cap a 9-play, 80-yard drive.

4th quarter, 8:41, Patriots 34-23: Tim Tebow ran 2 yards to cap an 89-yard drive and re-energize the hometown crowd.

3d quarter, 0:39, Patriots 34-16: Danny Woodhead ran 10 yards for his first touchdown of the season. The score capped an 8-play, 85 yards drive that took 3:28.

Halftime, Patriots 27-16: Another Broncos mistake led to more Patriots points. Quan Cosby muffed a punt with three seconds left in the second quarter and the Patriots converted that into a 34-yard field goal as time expired.

2d quarter, 1:12, Patriots 24-16: Brady plunged 1 yard for a touchdown, then Gronked the ball for emphasis, possibly because of some abuse he received at the bottom of the pileup at the goal line. After playing a miserable second quarter, the Patriots defense has now forced turnovers on Denver's last two possessions -- Brady's TD was set up when Mark Anderson forced and recovered a fumble by Tim Tebow.


2d quarter, 5:49, Patriots 17, Broncos 16: Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 21-yard field goal to give the Patriots the lead. Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich recovered a fumble by Lance Ball on the Broncos' 19 on Denver's first play after the Hernandez touchdown.

2d quarter, 8:43, Broncos 16-14: The Patriots pulled within 2 on a 1-yard TD pass from Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive. The Patriots went to the no-huddle throughout the drive and moved the ball efficiently. It had appeared Wes Welker had scored on a 19-yard strike after stretching out to haul in a pass over the middle, but he was ruled down at the 1.

2d quarter, 13:47, Broncos 16, Patriots 7: Matt Prater kicked a 26-yard field goal to add to the Broncos' lead after a drive stalled at the eight.

End 1st quarter: The Patriots defense has looked terrible, and it suffered a huge blow when DE Andre Carter was taken off the field on a cart with a left quad injury. The Broncos have already rushed for 167 yards, and that's setting up some play action. On one, Tebow missed a wide-open receiver with a badly underthrown pass.

1st quarter injury update:: Patriots DE Andre Carter was taken off on a cart after suffering a left quad injury. Carter put no weight whatsoever on the left leg when he was lifted from the ground.

1st quarter injury update: Press box announcer just said Broncos RB Willis McGahee is probable to return. Not in on current possession, though.

1st quarter, 5:01, Broncos 13-7: Shootout anyone? Lance Ball ran 32 yards through a gaping hole to put the Broncos ahead. Broncos went 82 yards in 4 plays in 2:22.

Broncos RB Willils McGahee was off to a great start with 59 yards on five carries, but came off the field holding the back of his leg and is currently receiving treatment on a trainer's table behind the Broncos' bench.

1st quarter, 7:24, Patriots 7-6: Ochocinco's first regular-season TD as a Patriot happened because of two things -- Ocho beat man-to-man coverage by Andre Goodman, and Brady hit Ocho in stride.

1st quarter, 7:24, Patriots 7-6: Chad Ochocinco hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to put New England on top. The key play on a short 5-play, 80-yard drive was a 46-yard catch-and-run by Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez.

1st quarter, 9:49, Broncos 6-0: Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich couldn't bring down Broncos QB Tim Tebow despite getting to him in the backfield, and Tebow ran 9 yards for a touchdown on Denver's opening possession. The Broncos botched the extra-point attempt. Broncos drive was nine plays, 80 yards.

Coin toss: Patriots have won the toss and deferred to the second half. As usual.

NFL_.jpgGood afternoon from Sports Authority Field at Mile High, where the Patriots will face the Broncos and the most popular player in football right now, Tim Tebow.

It's a warm and sunny day in Denver -- it'll be 63 degrees at kickoff but the temperature is expected to dip into the low 40s by game's end. Tebow was warming up in a sleeveless shirt, and many players are getting loose in shorts and light clothing. There is no wind -- the flags atop the field goal posts and hanging straight down.

The pregame warmups featured quite a display of field goal kicking. Broncos K Matt Prater, who has hit from 59 yards twice in his career, hit from 63 yards in warmups. And Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski hit the uprights from 64 yards, and then switched ends of the field and connected from 64 yards. Both kickers had the leg to go longer.

Today's officials are Mike Carey, referee; Chad Brown, umpire; Dana McKenzie, head linesman; Tim Podrazza, line judge; Mike Weir, field judge; Boris Cheek, side judge; and Kirk Dornan, back judge.

We'll have updates and postgame reaction right here in Extra Points, so stay tuned.

Follow Globe football reporters on Twitter at the following locations: Christopher L. Gasper (@cgasper); Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard); Shalise Manza Young (@ShaliseMYoung).

Final: Patriots 34, Redskins 27

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff December 11, 2011 02:51 PM
Landover, Md. – In a wild one in Washington today, the Patriots outlasted the surprising Redskins and came away with a 34-27 win at FedEx Field.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had another outstanding game, finishing 22 for 37 for 357 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception.

The receiving star for New England was once again Rob Gronkowski, who set an NFL season record for TD catches by a tight end with No. 14 in the first quarter, and added to his record by catching No. 15 in the third. Gronkowski finished with 160 yards receiving, running over Redskins defenders almost at will.

Wes Welker had the other touchdown catch for the Patriots, who improved to 10-3 with the win and are now tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans for the best record in the AFC.

The live blog game summary follows:

0:22 4th quarter: Game over. Interception by Jerod Mayo at the 7-yard line seals the deal. Mayo appeared to get some help from the ground on the interception but after review, the play stands and the Patriots win. Prior to the pick, the ball went back to the NE 15-yard line after Santana Moss caught a pass in the end zone, but was called for pushing off Julian Edelman. Earlier in the final drive by Washington, Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Deaderick teamed up to make a big stop after a 4-yard gain by Helu.

2:00 4th quarter: It's a first and goal from the NE 9-yard line after Redskins RB Roy Helu pounds the ball on two consecutive runs. We'll see if Washington has what it takes to get the ball into the end zone to tie it up again after the two-minute warning.

3:09 4th quarter: Just when you think Rex Grossman is done for the day, he comes up with a big play to keep the drive alive. Grossman hit a wide-open Jabar Gaffney for 23 yards to the NE 21. First down.

3:29 4th quarter: We're set up for a huge third-and-2 play for the Redskins from the Patriots 44-yard line.

6:30 4th quarter: With a chance to put the game away on third and goal, Tom Brady threw his first interception in 202 attempts when Josh Wilson ripped the ball away from WR Tiquan Underwood in the end zone. Brady had a sure TD on the previous play, but he threw a bit behind an open Wes Welker. Redskins still very much in this game. Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien got into a shouting match with Tom Brady on the sidelines after the interception. Bill Belichick was seen telling O'Brien to back off.

6:58 4th quarter: After a completion to the other tight end, a.k.a. Aaron Hernandez, gets the Patriots to the Redskins 18-yard line, the FedEx Faithful began to trickle to the gates to beat the traffic.

10:34 4th quarter: Another big hit by Devin McCourty, coupled with a killer holding penalty on a long Redskins pass play, stalls the Washington drive at their 20 and the Patriots get the ball back with a chance to extend the lead, starting at their 49-yard line. Redskins staffers are on the sidelines with cheesy signs that say "12th man" and "Louder" in an effort to get the 77,000 plus fans into the game for the home team.

12:43 4th quarter: BenJarvus Green-Ellis came up short on a third-and-1 for no gain at the NE 39-yard line and the Patriots have to kick it away. The scoring pace has finally slowed down for both teams as we enter the final quarter.

0:28 3d quarter: A big tip away by Devin McCourty and an incomplete third-down pass by Grossman results in the Redskins finally punting the ball away. New England takes over at their 18.

2:22 3d quarter: A new offensive weapon for Washington. Rookie running back Evan Royster is gaining some yards on the ground as it's the Redskins' turn to move the ball effortlessly down the field.

4:26 3d quarter, Patriots 34, Redskins 27: While you were blinking the Patriots scored again. This time it was Wes Welker on the receiving end of a 24-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady. Woeful Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall burned again. Brady 8 of 10 for 141 yards and two scores in the second half.

6:58 3d quarter, Patriots 27, Redskins 27: We've got ourselves a shootout in Washington. The Patriots defensive backfield has more holes than a pound of swiss cheese as James Ihedigbo and Devin McCourty were caught out of position after Redskins WR David Anderson snuck into a wide open corner of the end zone to grab a 6-yard touchdown catch to tie it up again.

9:21 3d quarter: Ouch. A late shot to the back of the head on RB Evan Royster by Vince Wilfork results in a 15-yard penalty and puts the fast-moving Redskins on the NE 18-yard line. Helu has gone over 100 yards rushing for the third consecutive week for Washington.

12:05 3d quarter, Patriots 27, Redskins 20: Gronkowski does it again, a touchdown catch for the tight end touchdown king, No. 15 on the season. Brady connected with Gronk on a 37-yard TD pass over the middle of the field where the Patriots tight end ran right over rookie outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. After the TD, Gronk jumped into the first row seats into the arms of a Patriots fan. The Washington fans didn't seem to get a kick out of the playfulness. That's five catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns for Gronkowski.

0:00 half time, Patriots 20, Redskins 20: A wild first half has just concluded with the Patriots unable to get the touchdown after being first and goal following the Fletcher foul. But Gostkowski hit a 24-yard field goal to tie it up. The drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, in 2:13. Stay tuned for some quick hits from the Globe's Greg Bedard shortly.

1:39 2d quarter: Ho-hum, just a 50-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski from Tom Brady has the Patriots inside the Redskins 20. Later in the drive, Redskins LB London Fletcher went too close to Tom Brady's head after a run and slide by the Patriots QB, picking up a controversial personal foul.

2:13 2d quarter, Redskins 20, Patriots 17: The Redskins couldn't punch it in but they take the lead on a 25-yard Gano field goal. The drive: 11 plays, 71 yards, in 6:41. Redskins RB Roy Helu looks like he will go over 100 yards for the third consecutive week; he's stepped it up on the second quarter and now has 80 yards rushing on 16 carries. In other stats, Grossman (9 for 15, 145 yards, 1 TD) is having a better day on paper than Tom Brady (8 for 18, 117 yards, 1 TD).

4:15 2d quarter: In what looks like a terrible call from here, an interception by Devin McCourty was called back after Andre Carter was called for hitting below the knee when he tried to wrap up Rex Grossman. A turnover turns into a Redskins first down at the 11-yard line.

7:43 2d quarter: Another big catch by Stallworth, who has three catches for 84 yards today. Washington moving into NE territory again, and the defensive backfield is having some problems with the Redskins' passing game.

8:58 2d quarter, Patriots 17, Redskins 17: Some red zone mishaps for the Patriots, most notable a drop by Aaron Hernandez in the end zone on a pass that was a bit behind him. But NE did tie it up on a 23-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. The drive: 16 plays, 72 yards, in 5:55.

10:53 2d quarter: Remember Chad Ochocinco? The seemingly forgotten wideout just pulled in a 15-yard third-down catch on his usual sideline route to get the ball to the Washington 24.

12:17 2d quarter: Patriots moving the ball. First and 10 from the Washington 39. A seemingly trapped Tom Brady scrambled around and turned and fired a tremendous 8-yard pass to old reliable Wes Welker to keep this drive going.

14:49 2d quarter, Redskins 17, Patriots 14: The old razzle-dazzle puts the Redskins on top. Grossman hands off to Helu, who gets it to wide receiver Brandon Banks, who heaved it to Santana Moss for a touchdown. Kyle Arrington was beaten on the play. The drive: 1 huge play covering 49 yards in 11 seconds. The Redskins have used big plays through the air to get themselves on top in this game.

0:00 1st quarter: Patriots forced to punt as Tom Brady was sacked for a 5-yard loss back to the NE 11 by Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield.

5:49 1st quarter, Patriots 14, Redskins 10: Old friend Jabar Gaffney scores his fourth touchdown of the season after a crushing pass interference call early in the drive on Devin McCourty. The Redskins drive: 8 plays, 84 yards, in 4:29.

5:49 1st quarter, Patriots 14, Redskins 3: The play stands. Gronk was not out of bounds or down on contact. And what does Gronk do next? Touchdown. Gronkowski's 14th touchdown reception of the season, and he is now in sole possession of the all-time record for tight ends in a season. The drive: 2 plays, 60 yards, in 0:53 seconds.

5:54 1st quarter: You can't stop Rob Gronkowski and the Redskins can't even contain him. Gronkowski caught a Brady pass and just ran over the Redskins defenders and scrambled all the way down to the 11-yard line with another highlight reel play. Washington challenges the ruling, thinking Gronk was down on contact after the catch. We'll see if it gets overturned.

6:42 1st quarter: Another mistake by Washington as kicker Graham Gano shanks the kickoff out of bounds after the field goal. Here come the Patriots with good field position near the 40.

6:42 1st quarter, Patriots 7, Redskins 3: Redskins have to settle for the field goal and Rex Grossman looked confused, and appears a little banged up after that series. The Redskins drive: 11 plays, 75 yards, in 5:24.

8:06 1st quarter: Redskins RB Roy Helu tried twice to bust it straight in with a run but Vince Wilfork and company has stuffed the Redskins on the goal line. Now Washington has a false start and the ball will move back to the NE 6 yard line for third down.

10:47 1st quarter: Rex Grossman needed a big play and he got it. A surprising 51 yard completion down the NE 14 after Grossman heaved it downfield to Donte Stallworth. McCourty got beat on the play. The longest pass this year by the Redskins.

12:06 1st quarter, Patriots 7, Washington 0: Andre Carter hit QB Rex Grossman from the blind side as Washington attempted to get a first down from their own 5-yard line. Grossman coughed up the ball and Vince Wilfork recovers in the end zone for a Patriots touchdown. Not a good start for the Redskins if they hope to be competitive in this game.

12:58 1st quarter: The Redskins will have to go a long way to score as Zoltan Mesko and the Patriots special teams defense has pinned Washington back to their 4-yard line to start.

13:30 1st quarter: The Patriots start strong with Brady coming out with five receivers, which resulted in a 24-yard completion to Aaron Hernandez and New England was on the move to the Redskins 40. But that's where the drive ended as Brady misfired on a couple of passes following the big gain to Hernandez.

13:52 1st quarter: The Redskins went three and out with the third-down pass nearly picked off by Devin McCourty. Vince Wilfork had a big stuff for the Patriots during the drive.

Washington will start at the 21-yard line.

The Redskins won the coin toss and will receive the ball.

In addition to commenting here, you can chat with other fans on Boston.com as well as follow the action via select reporters here.

Patriots at Redskins game preview

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff December 11, 2011 11:01 AM

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LANDOVER, Md. -- We're two hours from kickoff here at chilly (36 degrees) but sunny FedEx Field where the Patriots will be looking for their first ever win in Washington, the only NFL city where New England has never won on the road.

The field looks to be in fairly poor condition after being patched up following yesterday's Army-Navy game. The Globe's Chris Gasper just returned from the field and says it appears "chewed up." Some folks on the Redskins side describe it as looking like the old RFK Stadium. The words "NAVY" remain painted in the north end zone while "ARMY" remains in the south end zone as a salute to Military Appreciation Day here at FedEx Field. A new patch of sod with the Redskins logo is now in place at midfield.

The press box is located on the second level of the south end zone, which may make it difficult to see the action down on the north end of the field. With 85,000 seats, FedEx Field has the largest seating capacity in the NFL.

Four Patriots players were downgraded yesterday and will be out today: safety Patrick Chung (foot), center Dan Connolly (groin), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), and running back Shane Vereen (hamstring). This is the fifth game Chung will miss after suffering a right foot injury against the Giants. Offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer is out due to back/foot injuries. The Patriots also re-signed veteran DE Eric Moore and placed DE/LB Jermaine Cunningham on injured reserve last week and safety Sterling Moore was released yesterday.

Earlier this week, the Redskins signed tight end Dominique Byrd and elevated DT Chris Baker from the team's practice squad. Left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis will begin their four-game suspensions for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

The last meeting between the teams was on Oct. 28, 2007 when the Patriots dismantled Joe Gibbs and the Redskins, 52-7, at Gillette Stadium. The 'Skins lead the all-time series, 6-2.

Running back Roy Helu, who is coming off his second consecutive 100-yard performance last week vs. the Jets, leads the Washington offense. Quarterback Rex Grossman has passed for 200 yards in five consecutive games.

Patriots QB Tom Brady (3,916) remains on pace to throw for an NFL-record 5,221 yards. Dan Marino holds the NFL single-season passing record with 5,084 yards for the Dolphins in 1984. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has 13 touchdown receptions so far in 2011 to tie the NFL record (with Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates) for most touchdown receptions by a tight end in NFL history.

In the old friends department, Patriots defensive end Andre Carter (2006-10 in Washington) faces his former team while Washington wide receivers Jabar Gaffney (2006-08 with NE) and Donte Stallworth (2007 with NE) will face the Patriots.

At 9-3, the Patriots maintain a two-game lead over the New York Jets in the AFC East. The Redskins come into today at 4-8, tied for last in the NFC East with the Eagles. Washington has lost the last four games at home.

The Redskins are celebrating Military Appreciation Day today. Forty military members from the Office of the Secretary of Defense will be joining the cheerleaders to form the tunnel for the Redskins players and a group of wounded warriors will be honored before the game. Sgt. Vicki Golding of the US Army Marching Band will sing the national anthem.

Here are the details for today's matchup:

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 9-3; Redskins 4-8

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Greg Gumbel on play-by-play. Dan Dierdorf will provide the analysis); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Nick McDonald, RG Brian Waters, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Redskins offense: WR Santana Moss, LT Sean Locklear, LG Maurice Hurt, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus, TE Logan Paulsen, WR Jabar Gaffney, QB Rex Grossman, FB Darrel Young, RB Roy Helu

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, DT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, LB Rob Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dane Fletcher, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Sergio Brown

Redskins defense: LDE Adam Carriker, NT Barry Cofield, RDE Stephen Bowen, LOLB Ryan Kerrigan, MLB London Fletcher, JLB Perry Riley, ROLB Brian Orakpo, LCB DeAngelo Hall, RCB Josh Wilson, SS Reed Doughty, FS DeJon Gomes

Today's inactives:

Patriots inactives: QB Ryan Mallett, S Patrick Chung, C Dan Connolly, OL Sebastian Vollmer, RB Shane Vereen, DL Gerard Warren, and LB Brandon Spikes.

Redskins inactives: WR Terrence Austin, S LaRon Landry, RB Ryan Torain, LB Marcus White, LG Eric Cook, DL Chris Baker, and DE Kentwan Balmer.

Here's a list of Globe reporters to follow on Twitter during today's game:

Christopher L. Gasper (@cgasper); Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard); Shalise Manza Young (@ShaliseMYoung);

The Globe's Greg Bedard offers his five keys to today's game. And Alen Dumonjic goes deeper inside today's matchup and tells us what to watch for as well.

We also encourage you to check out Boston.com's Patriots Pulse section before, during, and after the game, and to tag your tweets #pulsepatriots to get them to show in this growing feature.

To take a look at the view from the Washington side, take a look at today's stories from Sunday's Washington Post.

Enjoy the game.

Week 13: Patriots 31, Colts 24

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff December 4, 2011 03:50 PM

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FOXBOROUGH -- Defensive backs have difficulty covering Rob Gronkowski, and this afternoon Gronkowski was almost able to cover a three-touchdown point spread by himself.

Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes and technically rushed for one more (the third play was ruled a lateral) as the Patriots downed Indianapolis, 31-24, Sunday afternoon in Foxborough. For most of the game, the Colts were every bit the 21-point underdogs they came here as.

In the end the Colts managed to defy the oddsmakers, and in the beginning it looked like they'd actually make it a game. For more than the first quarter of the game, Indianapolis kept the Patriots out of the end zone and leeched time off the clock with an offense predicated around a quarterback making his eighth career start in seven seasons. The Patriots got on the board first, 3-0, with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal at the 9:33 mark of the first quarter, but Dan Orlovsky led Indianapolis on a 19-play, 67-yard drive that resulted in a game-tying field goal. After two possessions in which neither team scored, the Patriots found themselves in a tie game at the 9:37 mark in the second quarter and with the ball at their own 14-yard line.

Enter Gronkowski. Tom Brady found the unstoppable tight end for an 11-yard score, making it 10-3 with 2:57 remaining in the first half. Less than three minutes later, a stop and a one-yard run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis gave the Patriots momentum and a two-touchdown lead.

They lost the coin toss but per their custom they would have deferred anyway, and the Patriots found themselves in the preferred position of having the ball to start the second half. They wasted no time, and after a seven-play drive that took 2:44, Brady found Gronkowski in the end zone again. Gronkowski's 13th touchdown of the season ties him with Vernon Davis (2009) and Antonio Gates (2004) for the most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history.

Gronkowski thought he had the record for himself, but a touchdown from Brady at the 4:17 mark of the third quarter was later ruled a lateral and a rushing touchdown, leaving Gronkowski tied for the moment with Gates and Davis.

After Gronkowski's third touchdown, the only drama remaining was whether or not the Patriots would cover one of the largest point spreads in league history. Orlovsky answered that question with a 33-yard bomb to Pierre Garcon with 2:12 remaining in the game. The Colts scored again with 36 seconds remaining to make the game interesting, at least on the scoreboard. Brian Hoyer finished the game for Brady, whose final line was 293 yards passing and two touchdowns.

The Patriots (9-3) play the first of two consecutive road games this Sunday vs. the Redskins. They're in Denver the following week before closing out the season with home games against the Dolphins and Bills. The loss drops the Colts to 0-12.

:35 Branch recovers. Barring Brady morphing into Joe Pisarcik, that should do it.

:36 seconds, Patriots 31, Colts 24: Orlovsky hits Garcon for 40 yards, then on the next play he finds him again for 12 yards and a score. The drive took five plays, covered 90 yards, took 1:07 off the clock, and made this onside kick coming up interesting.

1:43: Looks like the Patriots offense is done for the day. Mesko boots a 37-yard punt to the Colts 10.

2:10: Gronkowski recovers the onside kick. Kind of surprised he didn't take it all the way given how his afternoon has gone. Patriots take over at their own 47.

2:12 fourth quarter, Patriots 31, Colts 17: Orlovsky hits Garcon for a 33-yard score to cap an 11-play, 93-yard drive.

3:40: Have to give the Colts credit. Still putting up an effort despite the deficit -- Austin Collie converts a third and 2 with a nine-yard catch to move the ball to the Patriots 37.

6:27: Patriots possession stalls at the Colts 43 when Brady takes a big hit on an incomplete pass on third and 13. Hoyer on the next drive?

7:24: Orlovsky is going to end up with respectable numbers -- he's 18 of 24 for 177 yards. But he just threw his first interception when Jerod Mayo stepped in front of a pass over the middle and fell forward two yards to the Colts 38.

9:24: Patriots' possession stalls when a 3-yard pass to Welker on third and 4 comes up a yard short. Mesko's second punt carries 47 yards, with Pierre Garcon calling for a fair catch at the Colts 24.

10:24, Patriots 31, Colts 10: Brown caps a 15-play, 86-yard drive that took 8:49 with a 5-yard run into the right corner of the end zone.

10:47, fourth quarter: Colts are driving. Donald Brown's 3-yard run gives Indy a first and goal at the Patriots 5.

End of the third quarter, Patriots 31, Colts 3: Fifteen minutes left, and it's all Patriots. Only drama left, at least unrelated to Las Vegas, is whether Gronkowski gets a fourth touchdown and whether it's Brian Hoyer or Brady who throws it.

1:52: Colts have the football. We'll let you know if they do anything of note besides punt it. Currently second and 8 at their own 31. Orlovsky has gone over the 100-yard passing mark on this drive -- he's at 104, having completed 11 of 15 passes.

3:04: Well, it was fun while it lasted. Gronkowski's last touchdown was ruled a lateral, meaning he's still tied for the record. On the plus side, tight ends don't get rushing touchdowns every day, right?

4:13, Patriots 31, Colts 3: And there it is -- Brady to Gronkowski, 2 yards, touchdown. Gronkowski's third TD of the day -- this coming after he lined up in the backfield, then went in motion, making it almost look like a lateral -- is his 14th of the season, a single-season NFL record for a tight end. There are four games to go this season, people, and another quarter left in this game. Anyone think he gets to 20? Anyway, it's all about milestones now, because the rout is officially on.

5:46: Brady scrambles and slides for six yards and first down at the Colts 20. Chances are he stays in the game quite a bit longer, but I'd just as soon see Brian Hoyer should they score on this drive. (Brady to Gronk, first and goal at the Colts 3. How about a third TD for Gronk today?)

8:12: Matthew Slater seems to be taking to this safety thing, forcing a Delone Carter fumble after a 10-yard run. Kyle Arrington recovers at the Patriots 34. And we're getting a good look at the other reasons Indy is winless besides Manning's absence.

9:45: Delone Carter runs for seven yards to pick up a first down for the Colts at their own 31. The Colts have just 120 yards of total offense.

12:15, third quarter, Patriots 24, Colts 3: ... and on the seventh consecutive completion, Brady again helps prove what has become a truth in the NFL this season: You can't stop Rob Gronkowski, or even hope to contain him for that matter. The second-year tight end catches his second TD pass of the game -- this one a 21-yarder -- and his 13th of the season, tying the NFL single season record held by Antonio Gates (2004) and Vernon Davis (whose 2009 season I neglected to mention before). The TD pass is the 30th of the season for Brady, the third time he's hit that benchmark in his career, and his 291st touchdown ties him with Warren Moon for sixth all-time (291).

Start of the third quarter: After Julian Edelman's 27-yard return on the opening kickoff of the half, the Patriots come out in the no-huddle and pick the Colts apart. Brady hits six straight passes, including four to Welker, to march to the Colts 21.

Halftime: Patriots 17, Colts 3: Orlovsky takes a knee on the final play of the half, and the Patriots did anything but in the final few minutes, scoring two touchdowns in the final 2 minutes 57 seconds to take command heading into the break.

:13 second quarter, Patriots 17, Colts 3: And that's how you close out a half. BenJarvus Green-Ellis runs it in behind Logan Mankins and Matt Light from the 1, his eighth rushing touchdown of the season, and barring a big return by the Colts' Lefeger here, the Patriots will take a 14-point lead into the half. The drive covered 60 yards in eight plays, taking just 85 seconds.

1:10: How's this for an efficient sequence? Brady to Welker for 17 ... Brady to Branch for 13 ... Brady to Kevin Faulk for 23 ... Brady to Tiquan Underwood for 10 ... Brady to Welker for 9 . .. and that's how you end up on the 1 yard line with 18 seconds left in the half.

1:38: Three plays, minus-three yards, and just 1:06 off the clock for the Colts. Not what they were looking for there. After the punt, Patriots take over at their own 40 with 1:33 left.

2:57: Colts will start at their own 20 after another Goskowski touchback. In the meantime, a couple of milestones were achieved on the touchdown. Brady extended his record of touchdown passes in consecutive regular season games to 28; he also tied Johnny Unitas for seventh in career passing touchdowns at 290. And Gronkowski's 12th receiving touchdown of the season ties four other tight ends for the second-most in a single season in NFL history. Antonio Gates holds the record with 13, set in 2004.

2:57 second quarter, Patriots 10, Colts 3: Brady to Gronkowski, 11 yards, and ... GRONK SPIKE! Now that's a sustained drive: 16 plays, 86 yards, taking 6:40 off the clock.

3:37: Beautiful throw by Brady, who rolled left and, on the run, threw a dart between the 8 and 3 on Welker's jersey for an 18-yard gain. With the catch, Welker moved past Irving Fryar for third place on the Patriots' all-time receiving yardage list. If you had no idea Fryar was third ... I'm with you.

5:32: Chad Ochocinco, finally out of the shadow of Taylor Price, gets a rousing ovation after hauling in a 12-yard grab along the left sideline for a first down. Should note that there's no mockery whatsoever in the cheers -- fans genuinely seem to like Ocho even with his struggles.

6:35: There's that Brady-Branch chemistry. Brady hits him for seven yards on a comeback route along the left sideline on third and 5 to get to the Colts 43 and keep the drive alive.

9:02: Patriots offense looks uncharacteristically sluggish, but they avoid a three and out deep in their own territory when Brady hits Rob Gronkowki for 7 yards on third and 5 from the 14. Let's see whether they can turn this into a sustained scoring drive. The Patriots have just 88 total yards so far.

11:04: Zoltan Mesko's 51-yard punt is returned 21 yards by Joe Lefeged to the Colts 32-yard line. But the Colts go three and out when Orlovsky's pass intended for Reggie Wayne on third and 2 is broken up by Nate Jones (No. 23 in your program), who has made a couple of positive contributions already.

11:24: Injury update: Colts linebacker Pat Angerer, who leads the NFL in tackles with 112, has a knee injury and his return is questionable. Meanwhile, the Patriots drive stalls at their own 43 when the Colts' Chris Rucker breaks up a deep pass intended for Deion Branch down the left sideline.

12:35: Brady to Welker for nine yards on third and 5 to advance to their own 35.

14:11, second quarter, Patriots 3, Colts 3: Nice job by the Patriots defense of holding their ground after first and goal at the 1. Rob Ninkovich sacks Orlovsky for an eight-yard loss on third down, and Indy settles for a 31-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri to knot the score. We're going to pretend we didn't hear Vinatieri get booed there. It's worked out for the best, folks, and no matter what he accomplishes there, his legacy is as a Patriot. (Scolding over.)

14:35: False start on former Patriot Quinn Ojinnaka, who was in as an eligible receiver. Make it third and goal from the 5.

14:36: Ron Brace in for the Patriots in the goal line situation. The Patriots stop Addai on first down, Mayo deflects a pass intended for Jacob Tamme on second down ... and the Colts call time out facing third and goal from the 1.

End of first quarter, Patriots 3, Colts 0: Save for a stunning return to action by Peyton Manning, the first quarter couldn't have gone much better for the Colts ... and they're in position as the second quarter begins to take the lead.

0:28: Addai picks up the first down on third and 5 from the Patriots 6, setting up first and goal inside the 1. Jerod Mayo nearly had him at the line of scrimmage but Addai slipped his grasp.

1:30: Wilfork has been dominant inside and the Colts are getting nothing on the ground. Yet Orlovsky has taken the Colts to the Patriots 20, where they face third and 8 ... and convert the first down at the 11 when he hits Austin Collie over the middle for nine yards. First down at the Patriots 11.

5:57: Sound tackle by Nate Jones on a swing pass to Addai out of the backfield to hold him to two yards. But the Colts convert the third and 6 when Orlovsky hits Jacob Tamme for 20 yards to the Patriots 33.

7:30: After two runs by Joseph Addai gain just a yard, Orlovsky makes am on-the-money throw to Wayne for 12 yards and a first down at the Colts 43.

9:30: Two kickoffs, two touchbacks for Gostkowski. Orlovsky immediately hits Reggie Wayne -- now there's a familiar Colts name -- for 10 yards and a first down at the Colts 30.

9:33 first quarter, Patriots 3, Colts 0: Brady scrambles right but is sacked by Fili Moala at the line of scrimmage. (It appeared he had Gronkowski open for a first down near the 15-yard line.) Gostkowski hits a 39-yard field goal

10:06: Overturned. Faulk was down by contact after a 3-yard run. Patriots face a third and 2 at the Colts 21.

10:06: Now here's something we haven't said much the last 10 years or so: Kevin Faulk fumbles. The Colts recover, but it looks on the replay as if his elbow was down before the ball came out. Patriots are challenging.

11:01: Brady sneaks for 2 yards on third and 1 to convert the first down, then hits Wes Welker on the following play to get to the Colts 29. And no, the NFL.com in-game stat sheet is not correct -- Brian Hoyer is not starting at quarterback. Nick McDonald, however, is starting at center, with rookie Marcus Cannon at right tackle. Nate Solder has been used as the third tight end.

12:55: The Colts' first possession results in a net of minus-1 yard, with Vince Wilfork sacking Dan Orlovsky on third down and 4 to force a punt. Patriots take over on their 34 after a 47-yard punt by Pat McAfee.

14:55 first quarter: Julian Edelman isn't the only Patriots receiver to see time on the other side of the ball. Matthew Slater is starting at safety, alongside newcomer Nate Jones.

Pregame: Colts win the toss, will receive. Patriots will defend the south end zone. Colts will start at the 20 after Stephen Gostkowski's kickoff results in a touchdback.

* * *

Checking in live from Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots take on the Indianapolis Colts in a matchup that lacks the usual luster of the perennial AFC powers' matchups over the past decade, and for obvious reason.

The Colts have played without Peyton Manning, recovering from offseason neck surgery, the entire season. While a falloff might have been expected, it's hard to imagine anyone thought it would be this bad: the Colts, at 0-11, are yet to win a game without their franchise quarterback.

The Patriots, at 8-3 and leading the AFC East by two games (plus tiebreakers) over the Jets, are as much as a three-touchdown favorite. No doubt that's thrilling news to Bill Belichick, who took the opportunity this week to curtly dismiss the suggestion that there's little to gain by playing a winless team. For the third straight week, the Patriots will be playing a quarterback who began this season as a backup at best (KC's Tyler Palko, Philadelphia's Vince Young, and today, former UConn star Dan Orlovsky). But as Belichick noted, longtime Colts stalwarts such as Dwight Freeney and Reggie Wayne will be on the field today, so there should be some specific challenges for the Patriots.

Kickoff is a few moments away and the Patriots are about to take the field. Game time temperature is 51 degrees with winds from the south at 10 miles per hour. Lots of empty seats in every section. Could be a late-arriving crowd, though judging by the W-L record of the opponent and the much smaller crew of tailgaters in the parking lot during the pregame, this may be one some of the Gillette Stadium regulars give away their tickets and spend a Sunday at home.

Stay right here for all of your in-game updates and other news as it develops throughout the game.

Devin McCourty active vs. Colts

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff December 4, 2011 11:50 AM

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty is active for today's game vs. Indianapolis after separating his shoulder. Wide receiver Julian Edelman and RB Danny Woodhead will also play.

New England's inactives are LB Brandon Spikes, T Sebastian Vollmer, QB Ryan Mallett, RB RB Shane Vereen, OL Dan Connolly, LB Dane Fletcher, and S Patrick Chung.

Colts inactives are QB Peyton Manning, DE Kevin Thomas, TE Dallas Clark, FB Ryan Mahaffey, TE Brody Eldridge, DE Jerry Huges, and DT Drake Nevis.

Final: Patriots 38, Eagles 20

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff November 27, 2011 06:02 PM
PHILADELPHIA --The Eagles came out firing but it was the Patriots who put out the fire early as Tom Brady and Co. torched Philadelphia at the end of the day.

The Patriots are now 8-3 and remain two games ahead of the New York Jets.

The Eagles looked primed for the upset early as Vince Young was making fans forget about Michael Vick after two quick scores had Philadelphia on top 10-0 in the first quarter.

But then the Patriots went to work and as usual, it was an air show by Tom Brady that did most of the damage.

It started on the ground when BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the first Patriot to find the end zone on a 4-yard run after doing the bulk of the heavy lifting on the scoring drive.

On the Patriots second scoring drive, it looked like Super Bowl 39 all over again when Brady hit Deion Branch for a 63-yard gain to the Eagles 1 yard line. Green-Ellis punched it in for his second TD of the day to give New England a lead that was never threatened.

On the Patriots third score, Brady hit Wes Welker on a 41-yard pass play on a 76-yard drive that took just 1:45.

Welker finished the day with two touchdowns and 115 yards on 8 catches. Branch had 125 yards on 6 catches on the day.

Brady continued to march the Patriots down the field in the second half. The Patriots QB connected with Welker again and the wide receiver who dove for the corner and crossed the end zone plane to put New England up 31-13, and the game was basically over as Eagles fans poured out of the Linc and called for coach Andy Reid’s firing.

It's officially became a blowout after Brady hit all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski on a beautiful 24-yard slant to extend the Patriots lead while Eagles fans tripped over each other to get out of the stadium.

The live blog recap follows:

0:32 4th quarter, Patriots 38, Eagles 20: Jason Avant, who did not embarrass himself like most of the Eagles today, scores on a 1-yard TD pass from Vince Young. The too-late drive: 16 plays, 90 yards, in 4:35

1:22 4th quarter: First and 10 from the Patriots 40 after Young picked up a first down on a rare third down completion. Tick, tick, tick ...

3:14 4th quarter: The Eagles are just 1-for-9 on third down after another failed attempt. They got the ball back but we're basically just playing out the string here. The Eagles did just pick up a first down on fourth down play after a 7-yard pickup.

6:54 4th quarter: Brian Hoyer in the game at QB for New England. Hoyer hasn't thrown a ball all season. Brady finishes the day 24-for-34, 361 yards, 3 touchdowns. Everyone is getting into the ugly act for the Eagles. Punter Chas Henry just booted one off the side of his foot for an 18-yard kick.

7:39 4th quarter: Eagles still moving the ball. What looked like a Mark Anderson sack on Vince Young turned into a first down after DB Philip Adams picked up a penalty for illegal contact. It looks like Andy Reid may have taken DeSean Jackson out of the game, and not for any injury.

8:35 4th quarter, Patriots 38, Eagles 13: It's officially a blowout after Tom Brady hits all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski on a beautiful 24-yard slant to extend the Patriots lead. The drive: 14 plays, 75 yards, in 7:27. The Linc is more than half empty now as Eagles fans are tripping over each other to get out of this place. Brady's now 24-for-34 for 351 yards and three touchdowns. His elbow is bending pretty well today.

9:58 4th quarter: Patriots running back Shane Vereen is showing his skills on the ground. Vereen, who had only 8 carries coming into the game, just picked up a nice 8 yard gain, and now has 4 carries on the day.

14:06 4th quarter: Another first and 10 for the Patriots at midfield after a Rob Gronkowski catch for 14 yards, his third catch of the day. Both Welker and Branch have over 100 yards receiving on the day. Brady now over 300 yards passing.

0:00 3d quarter: More "FIRE ANDY" clap-clap... clap-clap-clap chants as the third quarter comes to a close. Brady and company in complete command as they will continue the current drive into the fourth quarter.

2:14 3d quarter: Jason Avant catches a 19-yard reception from Young that takes them to the NE 49. It was the first third-down conversion of the game for the Eagles. DeSean Jackson dropped a would-be TD, after earlier dropping a ball earlier in the drive when he was double covered by Julian Edelman and Molden.

3:20 3d quarter: A 55-yard punt by Zoltan Mesko pins the Eagles back to their 12 as the boos continue to rain down on the Eagles at the Linc. The Patriots last drive, starting deep in Eagles territory, stalled at the NE 33 yard line.

6:33 3d quarter: Philly fans are chanting "Fire Andy" and are starting to pour out of the Linc already after Young missed Celek in the corner of the end zone on a 4th-and-1 from the 2.

8:05 3d quarter: Still no room for LeSean McCoy to run as he has nowhere to go inside the Patriots 10, twice. Young found another possible weapon on offense earlier in tight end Clay Harbor who took the Eagles to the Patriots 11 on a 25 yard reception. "Zoomass" product James Ihedigbo was shaken up on the last play.

9:37 3d quarter: The Eagles found a weapon: wide receiver Jason Avant who caught two balls for 16 and a 22-yards in his first catches of the game.... except when Young went to find Avant a third time, he was hit square in the midsection from the blind side by Kyle Arrington. Avant dropped the ball and is being attended to by the Eagles training pass.

11:27 3d quarter, Patriots 31, Eagles 13: New England is officially pulling away. Brady hits Welker who dives for the corner post and the score (after review). It's a 9-yard TD reception. The drive: 8 plays, 69 yards, in 3:33.

11:34 3d quarter: The Linc is QUIET. Brady's working Branch and Welker and Hernandez for an 18-yard that has NE at first and goal from the 9 yard line. Brady on the run again for 8 more yards and the Patriots are driving into Philadelphia territory.

Halftime The Eagles fans, true to reputation, boo Vince Young and Co. off the field at the end of the first half. Brady finishes up the half with an efficient 13-for-20 for 213 yards and 1 TD. More importantly, the Patriots have taken control of a game that looked like it might get out of hand early. Wes Welker came on strong as the game progressed and finished with 84 yards, 1 TD, on 5 catches for the half. Biggest surprise on the Philadelphia side: Just 29 yards rushing for DeSean Jackson. Stay tuned for some quick halftime thoughts from the Globe's Greg Bedard coming up.

0:13 2d quarter: The Eagles are now 0-for-5 on third down attempts after Young threw it to no one after facing a third-and-11 from their own 19.

0:18 2d quarter, Patriots 24, Eagles 13: A 45-yard Gostkowski FG extends the Patriots lead. Brady misses Deion Branch on a third-and-10 from the Eagles 27. The Patriots are 3 for 6 in third down situations today. Brady was doing his best Michael Vick impersonation earlier as he's up to 19 yards on 2 carries.

2:11 2d quarter, Patriots 21, Eagles 13: Vince Young suddenly looking old after starting 4-for-5, he's 5-for-11 since. He missed DeSean Jackson in the end zone and the Eagles were forced to kick a 22-yard field goal when they looked like they would march into the end zone. The Eagles scoring drive: 10 plays, 78 yards in 4:58. Both Brady and Young have thrown for 190 yards so far.

3:22 2d quarter: Here come the Eagles. First and goal from the 5 yard line after a 24-yard completion to tight end Brent Celek.

7:01 2d quarter, Patriots 21, Eagles 10: Brady hits Welker on a 41-yard pass play. The drive: 5 plays for 76 yards in just 1:45. (We had some internet connection problems here at the Linc, apologies for the delay in updates)

10:20 2d quarter: Steven Gostkowski misses wide right on a 39-yard field goal attempt. Philly catches a break as the Patriots don't score on the turnover.

12:55 2d quarter: Patriots get the ball right back when Antwaun Molden picked off a poorly thrown pass by Vince Young. 27 yards on the return gets the ball inside the 30. The intended receiver, DeSean Jackson was looking for the flag, but didn't get it. The Patriots are already in scoring position and have taken it back to the ground with Woodhead and Stevan Ridley getting in on the action.

13:17 2d quarter, Patriots 14, Eagles 10: Looks like Super Bowl 39 all over again. Brady hit Deion Branch for a 63-yard gain to the Eagles 1 yard line. Green-Ellis punched it in for his second TD of the day. Prior to the score, Tiquan Underwood was wide open downfield but couldn't get his hands around the ball and dropped a big gainer. Before that, Brady was crushed on a sack by Eagles DT Mike Patterson who ran around Sebastian Vollmer. A quick score: 4 plays, 61 yards, 1 penalty, in just 1:33.

0:00 1st quarter: End of first quarter. The Eagles are about to punt. Their offense has slowed from the lightning pace they were on to start the game. Young is 5-for-9 for 137 yards. On the Patriots QB side, Tom Brady is 5-for-7 for 47 yards.

1:27 1st quarter, Eagles 10, Patriots 7: Green-Ellis scores on 4-yard run. It was a long, impressive drive by the Patriots: 12 plays, 2 penalties, 80 yards, in 6:52. Green-Ellis did the bulk of the work on the ground. Brady hit Aaron Hernandez on a 11-yard game to get it close. 42-yards on 10 carries for Green-Ellis.

6:04 1st quarter: Welker picks up a first down on a 10-yard pass making it first and 10 on the Eagles 36. Brady has taken it to the ground with a steady diet of Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis. Gronkowski caught a pass for a 16-yard gain and was hit hard by safety Kurt Coleman.

8:19 1st quarter, Eagles 10, Patriots 0: This time it's only 3, but the Eagles score again on a 43-yard field goal by Alex Henery after Young threw incomplete on a third and 10 play. The drive: 7 plays, 55 yards, in 2:17.

8:50 1st quarter: The Eagles are facing their first third down of the game, from the Patriots 25 and Vince Young took a timeout. The pass is incomplete after Before the game, Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan was surprised teams weren't taking better advantage of the Patriots patchwork backfield. Well, the Eagles are doing it today

9:35 1st quarter: Vince Young looks it. He takes to the air again hitting DeSean Jackson on a 37 yard bomb to the Patriots 37. Cornerback Antwaun Molden was beaten on the play. Eagles driving in quickly again. Young is 4-7 for 130 yards already.

10:36 1st quarter: The Patriots got off to a much slower start on offense. Brady hit Gronkowski on a short pass, and Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis picked up a first down deep in their own territory, but Brady threw incomplete to Wes Welker twice and the Patriots were forced to punt from their own 36 after picking up just one first down.

12:43 1st quarter, Eagles 7, Patriots 0: The Eagles came out throwing and scored. First Vince Young hit tight end Brent Celek for 22 yards. Two plays later Young hit wide receiver Riley Cooper with a 58-yard bomb to wide receiver Riley Cooper, who beat Kyle Arrington. LeSean McCoy ran it in two plays later for the TD. Ouch. It was the quickest score of the season for Philly. 84 yards on the drive in just 5 plays, eating up just 2:17 on the clock.

Pregame: It's a warm afternoon in Philly. Gametime temp at the Linc is 62 degrees, winds out of the south-southwest at 12 m.p.h., 56 percent humidity, and chance of rain is 10 percent.

The Patriots chose heads, the coin was tails, and Philadelphia will receive and defend the south goal.

Erica Appel sang the national anthem flawlessly.

Some brief daytime fireworks accompanied the Anthem and Eagles introductions.

"Fly Eagles fly... on the road to victory"... the tail end of the Eagles fight song just ended.

Former Eagles All-Pro defensive end Hugh Douglas served as Philadelphia's honorary captain.

Enjoy the action.

Patriots-Eagles game preview

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff November 27, 2011 02:15 PM

Lincoln Financial Field

PHILADELPHIA -- We're getting ready for some Patriots-Eagles football here at Lincoln Financial Field.

It's a balmy 62 degrees at the Linc, this morning's sunny skies have turned overcast. It's been a gorgeous, unseasonably warm weekend in the City of Brotherly Love. Patriots fans were popping up all around Philly and the autograph hounds were camped outside of the Patriots hotel last night looking for signatures. Philly fans, and a few Patriots diehards, were already winding up the tailgate scene at 11:30 this morning outside the sports complex.

Michael Vick is inactive for today as expected, so it will be Vince Young getting his second consecutive start for the Eagles. Vick, who broke two ribs against the Cardinals on Nov. 13, did not practice last week. He could return for Thursday night's Eagles game at Seattle. Philly wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and cornerback Rodgers-Cromartie are also out for the Eagles. Philly cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will start today after hyperextending his left knee Thursday.

Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will not be playing for the Patriots, out with a hamstring issue. Also out for New England today: safety Patrick Chung (foot), cornerback Devin McCourty (shoulder), Brandon Spikes (knee), Dane Fletcher (thumb), and offensive lineman Dan Connolly (groin).

Without McCourty, expect to see more of Antwaun Molden in the Patriots backfield. Ryan Wendell be at center in Connolly's absence. And wide receiver Taylor Price may see more time on offense with Ochocinco out.

Backup QBs Ryan Mallet and Brian Hoyer were the first out on the field playing catch for the visiting Patriots today.

At 7-3, the Patriots maintain a two-game lead in the AFC East. The Eagles, touted as the Dream Team before the season started, find themselves at 4-6, which puts them in third place in the AFC East.

Today's game is a rematch of the Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl 39 showdown in Jacksonville in 2004 where New England won their third championship in four years with a 24-21 win. Deion Branch, who recorded 133 receiving yards for the Patriots and tied the Super Bowl record with 11 catches, was named the Most Valuable Player. Old friend Asante Samuel is the only player on the Eagles roster who played in that game and will face his former team for the first time today.

The teams have met 11 times, with the Eagles leading the series 6-5. The Eagles are 5-1 when hosting. The Patriots will be looking for their third straight victory over Philly.

Here are the details for today's matchup:

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 6-3; Eagles 4-6

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Greg Gumbel on play-by-play. Dan Dierdorf will provide the analysis); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak) and nationally on Westwood One Radio Sports (Howard David and Tony Boselli).

Projected starting lineups:

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Brian Waters, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Eagles offense: WR Riley Cooper, LT Jason Peters, LG Evan Mathis, C Jason Kelse, RG Danny Watkins, RT Todd Herremans, TE Brent Celek, WR DeSean Jackson, FB Owen Schmitt, RB LeSean McCoy, QB Vince Young

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, DT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, LB Rob Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Antwaun Molden, CB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Sterling Moore

Eagles defense: DE Jason Babin, DT Cullen Jenkins, DT Mike Patterson, DE Trent Cole, LB Brian Rolle, LB Jamar Chaney, LB Akeem Jordan, CB Asante Samuel, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, S Kurt Coleman, S Nate Allen

Today's inactives:

Patriots inactives: QB Ryan Mallett, S Patrick Chung, CB Devin McCourty, LB Dane Fletcher, WR Chad Ochocinco, C Dan Connolly, and LB Brandon Spikes

Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian has been placed on IR by New England. He is replaced on the roster by WR Tiquan Underwood.

Eagles inactives: QB Michael Vick, WR Jeremy Maclin, LT King Dunlap, CB D. Rodgers-Cromartie, DE Philip Hunt, DE Brandon Graham, G Julian Vandervelde

Here's a list of Globe reporters to follow on Twitter during today's game:

Christopher L. Gasper (@cgasper); Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard); Shalise Manza Young (@ShaliseMYoung); Monique Walker (@monwalker);

The Globe's Greg Bedard has his five keys for a Patriots win today. Alen Dumonjic goes deeper inside today's matchup as well.

We also encourage you to check out Boston.com's Patriots Pulse section before, during, and after the game, and to tag your tweets #pulsepatriots to get them to show in this growing feature.

To take a look at the view from the Philadelphia side, take a look at today's stories from Sunday's Inquirer.

And fans can get in on the commentary on today's game in our live game chat.

Enjoy the game.

Final: Patriots 34, Chiefs 3

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff November 21, 2011 11:38 PM

edelmanbelichick.jpg

Final: Patriots 34-3: The tension started with Todd Haley using his timeouts and continued with the Patriots going for a passing touchdown up 27-3. The game ended with a handshake between Haley and Bill Belichick was nothing out of the ordinary. The Patriots win and go up by two games in the AFC East. Back with plenty more from Gillette Stadium shortly.

1:01 4th quarter, Patriots 34-3: Patriots run it in anyway. The Chiefs were unhappy that the Patriots went for it on the Hernandez pass. Patriots didn't let up. Will be interesting to see if anyone addresses it postgame in the KC locker room.

1:11 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: Aaron Hernandez gets a touchdown called back on a Patriots penalty.

2:00 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: We're at the two-minute mark and the stands are clearing out fast.

3:34 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: Tom Brady is still in the game. With Matt Light already injured in garbage time, some fans will surely be questioning the decision to leave Brady in. Of course, this is how Bill Belichick tends to do things.

4:57 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: Rookie Shane Vareen in the game as the ball carrier for the Patriots. Gets four yards on his first touch. Stevan Ridley does not have a carry in this game.

5:47 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: Matt Light being helped off the field after getting rolled up on his right leg. Not good for the Patriots, and an unfortunate result in what is essentially a meaningless conclusion to the game.

Marcus Cannon is in the game for the Patriots.

6:32 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: Nifty footwork by Palko, but the Chiefs turn the ball over on downs. Green-Ellis is in the backfield for the Pats as they try to close this game out.

9:39 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: The Patriots turn it over on downs. Zoltan Mesko hangs a 50-yard punt that's returned 26 yards. Chiefs start at New England's 48. Maybe their best chance to score here.

10:50 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: Ridiculous pass by Palko right into the hands of Phillip Adams, who holds on for the pick. Palko's pass was intended for Steve Breaston, who was triple-covered. Patriots D taking advantage of some poor decision-making by an inexperienced quarterback.

12:02 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: Antwaun Molden almost gets an interception in the end zone but drops the ball. The Chiefs keep their drive going.

13:09 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: The Chiefs have a little drive going here, and Kyle Arrington has come out of the game with a right arm injury.

13:50 4th quarter, Patriots 27-3: Mark Anderson sacks Palko for an eight-yard loss. That's three sacks now credited to the Patriots defense.

END 3d quarter, Patriots 27-3: Green-Ellis has a field day on a nine-play, 50-yard drive, but he can't get into the end zone, and the Patriots settle for a field goal.

4:47 3d quarter, Patriots 24-3: Palko throws a pass intended for Jonathan Baldwin that Baldwin is able to tip but can't hang onto. The ball deflects to Kyle Arrington, who has his second interception of the night. The Patriots are taking advantage of the young Chiefs quarterback.

5:23 3d quarter, Patriots 24-3: A heavy dose of Dexter McCluster here. He's been Kansas City's most effective running back tonight.

9:43 3d quarter, Patriots 24-3: Kansas City turns it over on downs, and Julian Edelman returns a 56-yard punt 72 yards for a touchdown. And just like that the Patriots have blown this game open. Just like that, the Chiefs are who we thought they were.

It's the second career punt return for a touchdown for Edelman, who shows on that play exactly what his value is on an NFL roster.

10:27 3d quarter, Patriots 17-3: Brady completes a 19-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski to get the Patriots started off right in the second half. That play was all Gronk, straddling the sideline and jumping over the defender to make a play only he could make. It's his 4th two-touchdown game of the season, and the sixth of his career.

Gronkowski looked a little wobbly after the play after landing awkwardly on his neck.

14:42 3d quarter, Patriots 10-3: Brady throws a 25-yard completion to Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Brady has now passed Boomer Esiason for 15th on the NFL's all-time passing yards list.

14:42 3d quarter, Patriots 10-3: Brady throws a 25-yard completion to Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Brady has now passed Boomer Esiason for 15th on the NFL's all-time passing yards list.

Halftime, Patriots 10-3: Brady throws a pass to Woodhead, but the ball is stripped in the end zone by linebacker Derrick Johnson for an incomplete pass. Patriots settle for a field goal after driving 51 yards in 1:51 and having a chance to get seven.

2:01 2d quarter, Patriots 7-3: Rob Ninkovich comes off the edge uncovered and hits Tyler Palko as he throws. Palko's pass intended for Steve Breaston is picked off by Kyle Arrington and returned for 28 yards.

Pressure on Palko gives the secondary all sorts of chances to make plays, no matter how thin they are back there. If the Pats don't get to the quarterback, turnovers won't happen.

4:14 2d quarter, Patriots 7-3: Patriots center Dan Connelly has a groin injury. His return is questionable. Ryan Wendell is in.

4:18 2d quarter, Patriots 7-3: Brady was under pressure but throws a strike to Rob Gronkowski anyway for a 52-yard touchdown pass.

After the play, Gronkowski kindly, gently spiked the ball, though there were no defenders nearby. Gronk has 19 touchdowns in 26 career games. This was the longest of his career. Brady has now thrown a touchdown pass in 26 straight regular season games.

8:14 2d quarter, Chiefs 3-0: Thomas Jones gets what would have been a first-down run negated by a holding call, and the Chiefs turn it over on downs after a short run. Now about that offense ...

9:59 2d quarter, Chiefs 3-0: Brady gets absolutely crushed by Tamba Hali and Justin Houston for a nine-yard sack. The Chiefs will get excellent field position again. Whatever the Chiefs are doing on defense, it's working. One fan chanting "Let's go Bruins" in stands. It's so quiet in here that you can hear him clearly.

12:11 2d quarter, Chiefs 3-0: Mark Anderson and Andre Carter get to Palko, sacking the quarterback for an eight-yard-loss and forcing a third-and-long that the Chiefs can't convert.

As James Sanders just tweeted, "Edelman playing defense ... this is crazy." Yup.

13:13 2d quarter, Chiefs 3-0: Palko finds Bowe for a 28-yard completion down the right sideline. That's going to be there all game if Palko can throw that ball.

14:45 2d quarter, Chiefs 3-0: Romeo Crennel is dialing up the defense against the Pats. Brady fumbles as the Patriots were driving. Tons of pressure and defenders in the pocket. Chiefs around Brady's feet brings back scary thoughts.

END 1st quarter, Chiefs 3-0: Not exactly how the Patriots drew it up, but they're driving to start the second quarter.

1:29 1st quarter, Chiefs 3-0: The Chiefs attempt an onsides kick, but it hits a Chief before traveling 10 yards. The Patriots get the ball on KC's 44-yard line.

1:30 1st quarter, Chiefs 3-0: No. 93 Andre Carter with an absolutely huge tackle on Tyler Palko to pin the Chiefs back at the 15-yard-line. Palko completes a seven-yard completion to Dwayne Bowe that falls short of the goal-line. Ryan Succop's field goal puts the Chiefs on the board. KC goes nine plays and 45 yards on that scoring drive.

The Patriots have shown solid defense in the red zone, but they've given up good field position in the kicking game and have let the Chiefs move down the field otherwise.

3:44 1st quarter, 0-0: Big 26-yard run for Thomas Jones puts the Chiefs in position at the five-yard line. First and goal.

6:55 1st quarter, 0-0: Well the Patriots get their first 1st down, but Rob Gronkowski drops a pass on 3d down as the Chiefs take over. A 25-yard return puts Kansas City at their 47-yard line to start this drive.

9:43 1st quarter, 0-0: Kansas City looked like it would go for it on 4th-and-1 on the Patriots' 36-yard line but took a delay of game. The Chiefs punt after moving the ball fairly well, using the no-huddle with some success. Let's see what the Patriots do here on this drive, pinned inside their own 10-yard line.

James Ihedigbo has a shoulder injury. His return to the game is questionable.

12:22 1st quarter, 0-0: Patriots safety James Ihedigbo stays down on the play after a short run by KC's Jackie Battle, but Ihedigbo runs off the field under his own power and goes straight to the locker room. Ross Ventrone comes in for New England. As you may have heard, the Patriots do not have a lot of depth at that position.

12:50 1st quarter, 0-0: Patriots go three-and-out as well on two incomplete passes and a short run. The Chiefs may not be much of an offensive threat on paper, but they're capable of making this a game if they can keep pressuring Brady.

13:48 1st quarter, 0-0: Chiefs go three-and-out after a pass to Dexter McCluster leaves them one yard short. Julian Edelman returns a punt nine yards and the Patriots will start on their own 34-yard line.

15:00 1st quarter, 0-0: Stephen Gostkowski kicks it into the end zone and we're underway. Chiefs will start at the 20-yard line.

Pregame: The Chiefs won the toss and have elected to receive. The Patriots will be defending the South goal.

As former Sports Illustrated hockey writer and BU professor Jack Falla used to say, we might be peaking a little early here. Nonetheless, this is your spot for game updates and for leaving your comments throughout tonight's Monday Night Football battle between the Patriots and Chiefs. Enjoy.

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Chung among Patriots inactives

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff November 21, 2011 06:58 PM

The Patriots have just released their list of inactive players for tonight's game. They are QB Ryan Mallett, S Patrick Chung, CB Devin McCourty, RB Kevin Faulk, LB Dane Fletcher, LB Jeff Tarpinian, and LB Brandon Spikes.

That means Marcus Cannon is active for tonight's game. Bill Belichick said earlier in the week he didn't know to what extent if any the Patriots would use Cannon. Wes Welker and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are also active for the Patriots.

Inactive players for the Chiefs are WR Keary Colbert, TE Anthony Becht, T Steve Maneri, DE Brandon Bair, DE Glenn Dorsey, LB Demorrio Williams, and S Jon McGraw.

The Chiefs also officially placed Matt Cassel on injured reserve tonight, ending his season. WR Jeremy Horne was added to the active roster.

Patriots-Chiefs game preview

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff November 21, 2011 05:34 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- We're getting closer to game time here at Gillette Stadium.

Rob Gronkowski was the first Patriot on the field for pregame warmups. He was followed by several Chiefs players, whose red sweats and white-and-red winter hats make them look jolly. It's a crisp, clear night in Foxborough, which is a nice thing to say when you're in a heated press box. Bring some mittens.

To recap a couple of bits of news from earlier tonight: Cornerback Devin McCourty will be out vs. the Chiefs. In addition, Ross Ventrone has been added to the 53-man roster for tonight's game. The Patriots released OL Donald Thomas.

The Patriots can put some distance between themselves and the rest of the AFC East if they beat the Chiefs. With a win they'd be two games up on the Jets (essentially three games since they hold the tiebreaker) and two up on the Bills, who they get to face again. It's premature to write off the Jets as a playoff team, but the division will go through New England if the Patriots can get to 7-3.

That fact in itself probably makes this an intriguing game, as does the fact that you can play the "this guy, that guy" game with Jon Gruden in the booth.

As promised, tonight's miscellany:

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 6-3; Chiefs 4-5

TV/Radio info: WCVB-TV Ch. 5 (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak) and nationally on Westwood One Radio Sports (Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason).

Projected starting lineups:

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Chiefs offense: WR Steve Breaston, LT Branden Albert, LG Ryan Lilja, C Casey Wiegmann, RG Jon Asamoah, RT Barry Richardson, TE Leonard Pope, WR Dwayne Bowe, QB Tyler Palko, FB Le'Ron McClain, RB Jackie Battle

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, DT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, OLB Gary Guyton, CB Antwaun Molden, CB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Sterling Moore.

Chiefs defense: DE Wallace Gillberry, NT Kelly Gregg, DE Tyson Jackson, LB Tamba Hall, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Jovan Belcher, LB Justin Houston, CB Brandon Carr, CB Brandon Flowers, S Kendrick Lewis, S Donald Washington.

Patriots inactives: QB Ryan Mallett, S Patrick Chung, CB Devin McCourty, RB Kevin Faulk, LB Dane Fletcher, LB Jeff Tarpinian, and LB Brandon Spikes.

Chiefs inactives: WR Keary Colbert, TE Anthony Becht, T Steve Maneri, DE Brandon Bair, DE Glenn Dorsey, LB Demorrio Williams, and S Jon McGraw.

Here's a list of Globe reporters to follow on Twitter during tonight's game:

Christopher L. Gasper (@cgasper); Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard); Shalise Manza Young (@ShaliseMYoung); Monique Walker (@monwalker); Gary Dzen (@GlobeGaryDzen)

The one-stop shopping page for these tweets is here. We also encourage you to check out Boston.com's Patriots Pulse section before, during, and after the game, and to tag your tweets #pulsepatriots to get them to show in this growing feature. Enjoy the game.

Final: Patriots 37, Jets 16

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 13, 2011 08:06 PM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J -- It wasn't the prettiest win, but the Patriots will take it.

Tom Brady threw for 329 yards on 26 of 39 passing and three touchdowns as the Patriots beat the New York Jets 37-16.

Rob Gronkowski caught eight passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. LB Rob Ninkovich picked off Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and returned it for a touchdown.

Patriots DE Andre Carter recorded a franchise record 4.5 sacks in the game.

7:45 4th quarter: Patriots 37, Jets 16 -- Rob Ninkovich intercepted Mark Sanchez again and broke loose for a pick six. It was a 12-yard return. The pass was intended LaDainian Tomlinson.

8:04 4th quarter: Patriots 30, Jets 16 -- Tom Brady went 7 of 7 for 65 yards, including an 8-yard TD pass to Deion Branch in the Patriots' last drive, relying on the team's patented hurry up offense.

The drive was 13 plays, 84 yards in 6:51.

14:55 4th quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 16 -- Mark Sanchez threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress over Patriots CB Antwaun Molden who replaced Devin McCourty.

The scoring strike capped 10-play, 71-yard drive.

End of the 3rd quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 9 -- Patriots safety James Ihedigbo went down with an injury before the third quarter came to a close.

4:44 3rd quarter: Patriots 23, Jets 9 -- Tom Brady threw another touchdown to Rob Gronkowski, this time a 5-yarder, capitalizing on Mark Sanchez' interception.

After the touchdown grab -- Gronkowski's second of the day -- he spiked the ball in Jets DB Donald Strickland's face. He was whistled for unsportsman-like conduct.

7:24 3rd quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 9 -- Rob Ninkovich intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass after it bounced off Shonn Greene's hands and then was tipped by Jerod Mayo before landing in his hands.

9:55 3rd quarter: Patriots 16, Jets 9 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 27-yard field goal as the Patriots increased their lead by a touchdown.

The Patriots did have a touchdown on the board, but it was called back after review because Rob Gronkowski stepped out of bounds before coming back to grab Tom Brady's pass.

The touchdown was set up by a muffed punt return by the Jets' Joe McKnight. Patriots LB Niko Koutouvides.

11:41 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Jets 9 -- After a three and out, the Jets fumble on the punt return. The Patriots recovered at the Jets 12-yard line.

12:57 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Jets 9 -- Three straight passes by Mark Sanchez and three straight incompletions. Kyle Arrington provided good defense on Plaxico Burress on 3rd and 10.

13:30 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Jets 9 -- A three and out for the Patriots on their opening drive of the second half. Tom Brady couldn't connect with Rob Gronkowski on third and seven.

14:54 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Jets 9 -- And we're back. Patriots with the ball.

End of the 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Jets 9 -- Tom Brady is 12 of 22 for 194 yards and a touchdown through the first half. His favorite target so far has been TE Rob Gronkowski, who has five catches for 79 yards and was on the receiving end of Brady's touchdown throw.

Also of note, Chad Ochocinco has two catches for 65 yards.

0:09 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Jets 9 -- Tom Brady threw a 18-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski.

The Patriots were helped by a 15-yard face mask call on the Jets' Eric Smith and a holding call on CB Darrelle Revis.

The Patriots went 80 yards in 1:11, including Brady's touchdown pass to Gronkowski.

1:20 2nd quarter: Jets 9, Patriots 6 -- Mark Sanchez took a quarterback draw two yards for a touchdown as the Jets overtook the Patriots.

Key plays on the drive were a Sanchez pass to Patrick Turner for 22 yards and a LaDainian Tomlinson run for 15 yards.

After the PAT, Vince Wilfork was in the middle of scrum, getting whistled for a penalty for unnecessary roughness to be assessed on the kickoff.

4:44 2nd quarter: Patriots 6, Jets 2 -- Tom Brady was whistled for an intentional grounding resulting in a safety after Jets LB Jamaal Westerman hit the Patriots QB in the end zone.

Devin McCourty has a shoulder injury and his return is questionable.

5:22 2nd quarter: Patriots 6, Jets 0 -- Patriots CB Devin McCourty was injured after he was hit by teammate Sterling Moore while defending a pass to Plaxico Burress. He went to the locker room.

6:59 2nd quarter: Patriots 6, Jets 0 -- A holding call on Logan Mankins, disrupted the Patriots' drive before it got started. The team ran four plays before punting the ball away.

9:12 2nd quarter: Patriots 6, Jets 0 -- Andre Carter pressured Mark Sanchez into making an intentional grounding and Mark Anderson took the hurried Jets QB down from behind to force a punt.

This is the third game this season that Carter has two sacks in a game.

12:59 2nd quarter: Patriots 6, Jets 0 -- Tom Brady missed three straight passes as the Patriots drive stalled in the second quarter.

13:53 2nd quarter: Patriots 6, Jets 0 -- A pass interference call on Plaxico Burress killed the Jets' drive. From replays, it didn't appear that Burress pushed off on Devin McCourty to get open for a reception on third down. The Jets ended up punting anyways.

End of the 1st quarter: Patriots 6, Jets 0 -- Andre Carter now has two sacks for the Patriots today, disrupting the Jets offense.

2:31 1st quarter: Patriots 6, Jets 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked his second field goal of the first quarter, this one a 36-yarder, to up the Patriots' lead.

The scoring play was keyed by a Tom Brady pass to Chad Ochocinco for 53 yards.

Stephen Ridley had three carries for two yards on the drive.

RG Brian Waters returned to the game.

5:34 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Jets 0 -- Andre Carter sacked Jets QB Mark Sanchez for a loss of seven yards to kill New York's drive.

It didn't help that Sanchez sailed a pass over Dustin Keller's head a play earlier to set up a third and long situation.

8:10 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Jets 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 50-yard field goal to put the Patriots on the board first.

According to the Patriots, that was his first attempt from 50 yards or more this year. He's 5 of 7 from 50+ yards deep in his career.

We got a Chad Ochocinco sighting. Brady connected with the receiver for a 12-yard reception.

The Patriots' drive was stalled with rush for a loss by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, an incomplete pass to Wes Welker and a pass batted down by the Jets' Kyle Wilson.

Patriots OL Brian Waters was hurt on the drive. He was replaced by Ryan Wendell at right guard.

11:38 1st quarter -- Jets kicker Nick Folk missed a 24-yard field goal attempt wide left in the game's opening drive.

What we've learned from the Jets' first drive: They're going to pass the ball. Mark Sanchez connected with Santonio Holmes twice for 43 yards. He even got Plaxico Burress involved on the first drive, hitting him for 11 yards. But the Jets ran up against a stingy red zone defense from the Patriots.

15:00 1st quarter -- The Patriots won the toss and deferred. The New York Jets receive. Game on!

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- We're about to get underway here at MetLife Stadium with the Jets hosting the Patriots. Stay here for updates throughout the game.

For Tweets from Globe and NFL writers at today's game, check out our Twitter post in the blog. We've also got a chat going on for fans right now. Check it out here.

Enjoy the game.

Game preview: Patriots at Jets

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 13, 2011 04:41 PM

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A look at MetLife Stadium before Jets fans are let into the building. (Zuri Berry / Globe Staff)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Patriots hope to end a two-game skid today and win a key matchup against their AFC East rival the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots are coming off a disappointing loss to the New York Giants, falling 24-20 after a game-winning touchdown drive orchestrated by Eli Manning. Before that, the Patriots lost 25-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Jets are coming off a 27-11 win over the Buffalo Bills. They're on a three-game winning streak, with their last loss coming against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, 30-21 in Week 5.

In their previous meeting, Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the hero. Green-Ellis carried the ball 27 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Patriots control the clock. The Jets had a tough time converting on third down, securing first downs on 3 of 11 tries. The Jets compiled only 255 net yards.

Kickoff: 8:20 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 5-3; Jets 5-3

TV/Radio info: WHDH-TV NBC Channel 7 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsowrth, Michele Tafoya); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak) and nationally on Westwood One Radio Sports (Dave Sims, James Lofton, Kevin Kiley).

Projected starting lineups*
(Based on pregame material distributed to media, last week's starting lineup and the injury report.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Jets offense: WR Plaxico Burress, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Matt Slauson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, RT Wayne Hunter, TE Dustin Keller, WR Santonio Holmes, QB Mark Sanchez, FB John Conner, RB Shonn Greene.

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, DT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, OLB Gary Guyton, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Patrick Chung.

Jets defense: E Muhammad Wilkerson, NT Sione Pouha, T Mike DeVito, OLB Jamaal Westerman, LB Bart Scott, LB David Harris OLB Calvin Pace, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, S Eric Smith, S Jim Leonhard.

Out/Inactive

Patriots: LB Dane Fletcher (thumb), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), QB Ryan Mallett, WR Taylor Price (hamstring), S Patrick Chung (foot), RB Shane Vereen, OL Donald Thomas.

Jets: QB Kevin O'Connell, WR Eron Riley, S Brodney Pool, RB Bilal Powell, TE Shawn Nelson, DT Kenrick Ellis, DT Martin Tevaseu.

The worry is secondary: Injuries are starting to pile up in the Patriots secondary. S Patrick Chung and CB Kyle Arrington are both listed as questionable for today's game. With S Josh Barrett being put on injured reserve a week ago, and the mix of Sergio Brown and James Ihedigbo struggling opposite Chung, the Patriots have signed S Ross Ventrone to the 53-man roster. Ventrone has been a regular practice squad player but has also played in four games this year, mainly on special teams. The Patriots pass defense is ranked 32d in the NFL, allowing 314 yards per game. The Green Bay Packers, the 31st ranked pass defense, allows 299.6 yards per game.

What's on the line: There's a lot of games left, but suffice it to say it's better to sweep the series with the Jets than to split. A second loss within the division does not bode well for the Patriots down the road. The two teams are tied at 5-3 and have to watch the Bills (5-4) -- despite Sunday's loss -- in their rear view mirror.

Final: Giants 24, Patriots 20

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 6, 2011 05:47 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Eli Manning orchestrated a game-winning touchdown drive, throwing a 1-yard TD pass to Jake Ballard with 15 seconds left as the Giants beat the Patriots, 24-20.

Manning was 20 of 39 for 250 yards and two touchdowns, besting Tom Brady, who had put the Patriots ahead with 1:36 remaining on a 14-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski.

Brady finished 28 of 49 for 342 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Patriots fell to 5-3 and into a tie for first with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.


0:15 4th quarter: Giants 24, Patriots 20 -- Eli Manning threw a 1-yard TD pass with 15 seconds left to put the Giants went ahead.

The play capped an 80-yard drive that took 1:21.

The key play was Patriots safety Sergio Brown's pass interference on Giants receiver Victor Cruz that gave the Giants the ball at the Patriots 2.

1:36 4th quarter: Patriots 20, Giants 17 -- Tom Brady threw a 14-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski as the Patriots reclaimed the lead.

The Patriots' drive lasted only 1:27, carving up the Giants' secondary.

3:03 4th quarter: Giants 17, Patriots 13 -- Eli Manning threw a 10-yard TD pass to Mario Manningham in the corner of the end zone, giving the Giants the lead right back.

The Giants were helped on the drive by a 35-yard pass interference call on Patriots CB Kyle Arrington.

7:08 4th quarter: Patriots 13, Giants 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski added his second field goal of the game, this one a 45-yarder, as the Patriots took their first lead of the game. It capped a nine-play, 53-yard drive.

Tom Brady targeted Chad Ochocinco twice on the drive, but couldn't connect. Brady did connect with Rob Gronkowski for 27 yards.

11:03 4th quarter: Patriots 10, Giants 10 -- Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love managed to make a big stop on Giants RB D.J. Ware in the backfield, and then the Patriots got pressure on Eli Manning to force another Giants punt.

14:28 4th quarter: Patriots 10, Giants 10 -- Tom Brady threw a 5-yard TD pass to Aaron Hernandez, who made a Giants tackler miss before diving into the end zone.

The score capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive that spanned 2:41. It more closely resembled the Patriots offense we've seen throughout the year, with darting passes to Wes Welker and Hernandez. Welker caught passes of 27 and 28 yards on the drive.

End of the 3rd quarter: Giants 10, Patriots 3 -- Wes Welker now has eight grabs for 127 yards in the game. He's got the Patriots in the red zone going into the fourth quarter. It's the 20th 100-yard game for Welker in his career.

2:09 3rd quarter: Giants 10, Patriots 3 -- Patriots CB Kyle Arrington picked off Eli Manning in the back of the end zone to give the Patriots the ball back.

3:54 3rd quarter: Giants 10, Patriots 3 -- Another three and out for the Giants. Unfortunately for the Patriots, Julian Edelman fumbled on the ensuing punt return.

5:29 3rd quarter: Giants 10, Patriots 3 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 32-yard field goal as the Patriots capitalized on the Giants' turnover.

8:30 3rd quarter: Giants 10, Patriots 0 -- After an incomplete pass on third down to Danny Woodhead, Zoltan Mesko's punt was muffed by the Giants' Aaron Ross. The Patriots' Rob Ninkovich recovered.

9:10 3rd quarter: Giants 10, Patriots 0 -- Brandon Jacobs ran in a 10-yard TD for the Giants on the first play after a sack and strip of Brady. Brady was sacked by LB Michael Boley trying to throw. The ball came free and LB Jacquian Williams snatched it out of the air.

10:09 3rd quarter: Giants 3, Patriots 0 -- Lawrence Tynes kicked a 22-yard field goal as the Giants put the first points of the day on the board. The field goal finished off a seven-play, 57-yard drive that spanned 3:29. The Giants took shots across the middle of the field, with Eli Manning completing a 30-yard pass to TE Jake Ballard and finding WR Victor Cruz toward the the sideline for 18 yards.

13:38 3rd quarter -- Tom Brady was intercepted for the second time, this one by Giants safety Deon Grant. This time, he was aiming for Rob Gronkowski in the seam and didn't get enough height on the pass to avoid Grant.

15:00 3rd quarter -- We're back underway here at Gillette Stadium. Patriots receive.

End of 2nd quarter -- Stephen Gostkowski missed a 27-yard field goal, after an 11-play drive that took the Patriots to the Giants 8-yard line.

Tom Brady also missed an outstretched Aaron Hernandez on third down, narrowly missing a TD.

The Patriots punted four times in the first half.

1:13 2nd quarter -- Wes Welker went down on the field for a moment after taking an awkward hit and fall from Giants LB Michael Boley.

3:20 2nd quarter -- Another three and out for the Giants. The Patriots secondary is not giving Eli Manning any easy reads to make.

4:49 2nd quarter -- The Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Tom Brady for a 4-yard loss on third down, forcing the Patriots' fourth punt of the game. Afterward, a scuffle ensued.

6:28 2nd quarter -- The Giants followed with a fumbled snap of their own to kill their drive, along with a holding penalty, and their fifth punt of the game.

10:59 2nd quarter -- Tom Brady almost fumbled a snap from C Dan Connolly in the shotgun, but managed to hold on. Unfortunately, it allowed for some quick pressure from Giants end Dave Tollefson. Brady fired off a pass to Danny Woodhead while avoiding the sack, but it was incomplete. Another punt for the Patriots.

13:14 2nd quarter -- Patriots DE Mark Anderson is now making plays outside the trenches. He tipped an Eli Manning pass to force a punt.

14:52 2nd quarter -- A Tom Brady pass was tipped by Giants LB Michael Boley and then intercepted by Mathias Kiwanuka for the game's first turnover. It stunted the Patriots' best drive today after eight plays.

End of the 1st quarter -- The Patriots are driving at the end of the quarter, keyed by a 25-yard pass from Tom Brady to Wes Welker. Brady also scrambled 5 yards for a first down.

3:59 1st quarter -- Gerard Warren and Vince Wilfork got pressure on Eli Manning on third down and the Giants went three and out.

5:24 1st quarter -- The Giants' Chris Canty disrupted the Patriots on third and 1, tripping up Tom Brady on his handoff to Danny Woodhead and the RB was wrapped up by safety Deon Grant for a 1-yard loss. It was a three and out for the Pats.

7:12 1st quarter -- Patriots LB Brandon Spikes blew up Giants TE Jake Ballard on third and 9.

The Patriots defense came up with two good plays on the Giants' second drive. LB Rob Ninkovich helped break up a pass to Ballard two plays prior to Spikes leveling him.

10:58 1st quarter -- The Patriots open with three straight runs to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, including an 18-yarder on the team's first offensive play. But on third and 5, Tom Brady's pass to Aaron Hernandez only comes up with four yards, forcing a punt.

13:23 1st quarter -- The Patriots' pass defense showed some life on the first drive. Devin McCourty had good coverage on Giants receiver Mario Manningham on third and 2 to force a punt after four plays. Manningham dropped an earlier pass on the drivel.

15:00 1st quarter -- The Patriots won the opening coin toss and elected to kick. Game on.

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FOXBOROUGH -- We're about to get underway here at Gillette Stadium with the Patriots hosting the New York Giants. Stay right here for game updates.

We also have a fan chat for today's game.

It's sunny skies, cool conditions. Game time temperature is 54 degrees with winds south by south west at nine miles per hour.

Enjoy the game folks.

Game preview: Giants at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff November 6, 2011 01:55 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- It's Week 9 of the NFL season and the New England Patriots are playing the New York Giants for the first time since Super Bowl XLII after the 2007 season, a climatic ending to a memorable season that was stained with the Patriots' 17-14 loss.

The Patriots lead the regular season series 5-3, the last win also coming in 2007 at Giants Stadium, 38-35.

The New York Giants come into the game off a 20-17 win against the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 while the Patriots are coming off a 25-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There are a ton of connections to Massachusetts on the Giants side. Giants rookie LB Mark Herzlich attended Boston College. As did LB Mathias Kiwanuka and G Chris Snee. LB Zak DeOssie is from North Andover (Phillips Academy) and LB Jonathan Goff is from Peabody (St. John's Prep). Patriots coach Bill Belichick spent 12 seasons on the Giants' coaching staff. Giants special teams coach Larry Izzo was a special teams captain for the Patriots from 2001-2008.

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 5-2; Giants 5-2

TV/Radio info: WFXT-TV FOX Channel 25 (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak) and nationally on Sports USA Radio Network (Larry Kahn, Ross Tucker, Troy West).

Projected starting lineups*
(Based on pregame material distributed to media, last week's starting lineup and the injury report.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Giants offense: WR Mario Manningham, LT Will Beatty, LG David Diehl, C David Baas, RG Chris Snee, RT, Kareem McKenzie, TE Jake Ballard, WR Devin Thomas, QB Eli Manning, FB Henry Hynoski, RB Brandon Jacobs.

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jerod Mayo, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Patrick Chung.

Giants defense: LE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, DT Chris Canty, RE Osi Umenyiora, SLB Mathias Kiwanuka, MLB Greg Jones, WLB Michael Boley, LCB Corey Webster, RCB Aaron Ross, SS Kenny Phillips, FS Atrel Rolle.

Out/Inactive

Patriots: LB Dane Fletcher (thumb), QB Ryan Mallett, WR Taylor Price (hamstring), RB Kevin Faulk (knee), OL Donald Thomas, DE Shaun Ellis (rib), LB Jermaine Cunningham.

Giants: RB Ashmad Bradshaw (foot), WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring), C David Baas (knee), T Stacy Andrews (back), CB Prince Amukamara, FB Henry Hynoski, T James Brewer.

Patriots Tweet of the day

This week's Tweet comes courtesy of @ochocinco (Chad Ochocinco).

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Final: Steelers 25, Patriots 17

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 30, 2011 07:58 PM

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers did to the Patriots what the Patriots had done to the rest of the league. They spread them out, and then diced them apart.

Ben Roethlisberger completed 36 of 50 passes for 365 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Steelers past New England, 25-17.

Tom Brady was 24 of 35 passing for 198 yards and two touchdowns, connecting on scoring passes to Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch.

Kevin Faulk, who made his return to the Patriots today, caught five passes for 20 yards and ran for 32 yards on six carries as the starting running back.

Roethlisberger put the Steelers up 7-0 on Pittsburgh's first drive of the game. He hit Mewelde Moore with a five-yard touchdown pass to cap an 11-play, 68-yard drive.

Shaun Suisham made it 10-0 for the Steelers with a 33-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter, capping a 16-play, 72-yard drive that consumed 7:47.

The Patriots cut the lead to 10-7 two plays after linebacker Gary Guyton intercepted a Roethlisberger pass and returned it to the eight yard line. Brady hit Deion Branch in the front corner of the end zone from two yards.

Antonio Brown caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to make it 17-7 with 2:41 left in the first half.

Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 46-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in the first half to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 17-10.

Suisham's second field goal, a 21-yarder to cap a 14-play, 70-yard drive, gave the Steelers a 20-10 lead early in the third quarter.

He added a 23-yard field goal to cap an 11-play, 63-yard drive with 11:30 left in the fourth quarter that made it 23-10.

Brady cut the lead to 23-17 with a one-yard touchdown pass to Hernandez with less than three minutes remaining. The score finished a 10-play, 66-yard drive.

The Steelers made the final score 25-17 when Brady was stripped and the ball went through the back of the end zone for a safety.

0:28 4th quarter: Steelers 23, Patriots 17 -- With two sacks by the Patriots on the Steelers, they have seconds remaining to tie or win this game.

2:35 4th quarter: Steelers 23, Patriots 17 -- Tom Brady found Aaron Hernandez in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard TD pass. The Patriots managed to overcome a strong Steelers defense in the red zone. They benefited from a holding call on the Steelers' Ryan Mundy in the end zone. He held Rob Gronkowski one play prior to the touchdown pass. On a pass to Kevin Faulk at the goal line, the running back was denied the end zone by a swarm of tacklers, reminiscent of fourth and 2.

6:03 4th quarter: Steelers 23, Patriots 10 -- The Steelers' Shaun Suisham missed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide right. With 6:03 left, again, the Patriots are fight the Steelers and the clock.

8:48 4th quarter: Steelers 23, Patriots 10 -- The Patriots were forced to punt after seven plays.

11:26 4th quarter: Steelers 23, Patriots 10 -- Shaun Suisham kicked a 23-yard field goal to put the Steelers up by 13 points. The Steelers went 63 yards on 11 plays in 5:54. The Patriots are now fighting both the Steelers and the clock.

End of the 3rd quarter: Steelers 20, Patriots 10 -- Ben Roethlisberger has more than 300 yards passing already. He's 30 of 43 for 325 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. The Steelers are driving on the Patriots again.

2:20 3rd quarter: Steelers 20, Patriots 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski missed his first field goal of the year, hitting the right post on a 42-yard try. The Patriots' drive was stalled after a false start by Matt Light. Steelers LB Lamarr Woodley also suffered a hamstring injury on the drive. His return is questionable. He has two sacks today.

6:11 3rd quarter: Steelers 20, Patriots 10 -- Shaun Suisham kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend the Steelers' lead to 10 points.

The Steelers drove 70 yards on 14 plays in 7:06. Ben Roethlisberger had key passes to Emmanuel Sanders on the drive. But on third and three in the red zone, the Patriots blanketed Steelers receivers to force the field goal.

13:40 3rd quarter: Steelers 17, Patriots 10 -- The Patriots went three-and-out on their opening drive of the second half. Tom Brady was hurried on a throw and BenJarvus Green-Ellis was pummeled by LB Chris Carter on a run.

15:00 3rd quarter: Steelers 17, Patriots 10 -- The third quarter is getting underway with the Patriots receiving.

End of the 2nd quarter: Steelers 17, Patriots 10 -- The first half comes to a close with the Steelers doing their best to hold the Patriots offense down.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger leads the way for the opposition. He's 23 of 32 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He's been shredding the Patriots' secondary.

Tom Brady is a quiet 8 of 13 for 76 yards and touchdown. He's been sacked twice in the game by Steelers linebacker Lamarr Woodley.

0:29 2nd quarter: Steelers 17, Patriots 10 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 46-yard field goal to bring the Patriots within seven.

The drive was stalled after a seven-yard sack by Lamarr Woodley, his second of the day for the Steelers. Sebastian Vollmer, who has missed the last month, was beat on the outside by Woodley. Vollmer was substituting for the rookie Nate Solder.

2:41 2nd quarter: Steelers 17, Patriots 7 -- Ben Roethlisberger threw a 7-yard touchdown to Antonio Brown. It capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive that lasted 5:39.

The score was keyed by two big Roethlisberger passes on the drive, including a 26-yard throw to Emmanuel Sanders and 14-yarder to Mike Wallace.

7:55 2nd quarter: Steelers 10, Patriots 7 -- Shaun Ellis has a rib injury and his return is questionable.

8:20 2nd quarter: Steelers 10, Patriots 7 -- Tom Brady threw a 2-yard TD pass to Deion Branch. Kevin Faulk had a nice 6-yard run on the 2-play drive to set up the touchdown. The Patriots capitalized on LB Gary Guyton's 17-yard interception return.

8:53 2nd quarter: Steelers 10, Patriots 0 -- Gary Guyton faked a blitz, dropped back into coverage, and intercepted Ben Roethlisberger to give the Patriots the ball back.

10:19 2nd quarter: Steelers 10, Patriots 0 -- The Steelers' Lamarr Woodley recorded a 14-yard sack on Tom Brady, forcing the Patriots to punt. Logan Mankins was the nearest Patriots offensive lineman to Woodley.

14:55 2nd quarter: Steelers 10, Patriots 0 -- Ben Roethlisberger is shredding the Patriots' defense. Patriots NT Vince Wilfork was able to get a hand on him for a six-yard sack that forced a field goal from Shaun Suisham to extend the Steelers' lead to 10-0. Prior to that, Roethlisberger had been 7 of 10 on the drive. The Steelers' drive was 16 plays for 72 yards.

7:50 1st quarter: Steelers 7, Patriots 0 -- The Patriots go three-and-out on their first drive after Tom Brady couldn't connect with Deion Branch on third down with three yards to go.

9:08 1st quarter: Steelers 7, Patriots 0 -- Ben Roethlisberger threw a 5-yard TD pass to Mewelde Moore, capping an 11-play, 68-yard drive that spanned 5:52.

Roethlisberger hit tight end Heath Miller four times on the drive for 63 yards, including twice on third down when the Patriots could have stopped the Steelers' drive.

15:00 1st quarter -- The Patriots won the toss and deferred to the second half. Steelers receive. Game on.

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PITTSBURGH -- We're about to get underway over here at Heinz Field. We'll have all of the game updates right here, so stick around.

We've also got a live chat going on. You can find that here. And for instant updates from Globe NFL writers, see our Twitter post.

As always, enjoy the game folks.

Game preview: Patriots at Steelers

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 30, 2011 12:44 PM

103011heinzfield607.jpg

An empty Heinz Field stadium before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the New England Patriots.

PITTSBURGH -- Good afternoon from Heinz Field where the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the New England Patriots today.

It's currently 34 degrees in Pittsburgh, with a high 48 degrees expected during today's game and winds topping out at 10 miles per hour. It's partly cloudy with a 10 percent chance of rain.

The Patriots, coming off the bye week, are on a three-game winning streak, having bested the Dallas Cowboys most recently in Week 6, 20-16.

The Steelers are coming off a 32-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7 and are also on a three-game winning streak after starting the season 2-2.

The big news today for the Steelers is that veteran wide receiver Hines Ward is reportedly out for today's game. On Friday, he was reportedly 50-50 to play with an ankle injury. He missed the entire week of practice.

The Patriots, on the other hand, could use the reprieve. They're down to four cornerbacks after releasing Leigh Bodden Friday and putting rookie Ras-I Dowling on injured reserve Saturday. The team has been cycling through backup defensive backs all season. The team is currently ranked dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (322.2). The Green Bay Packers, who are second to last, allow 288.9 yards per game through the air.

The Steelers lead the regular season series with the Patriots 13-8. However, in the Tom Brady era, the Patriots are 4-1 in the regular season against Pittsburgh and 2-0 in the playoffs. Last season, the Patriots came to Heinz Field and captured a 39-26 win in which Brady threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns (all to TE Rob Gronkowski) and ran for another.

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 5-1; Steelers 5-2

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV CBS Channel 4 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak) and nationally on Westwood One Radio Sports (Kevin Kugler, Mark Malone).

Projected starting lineups*
(Based on pregame material distributed to media and last week's starting lineup.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Steelers offense: WR Emmanuel Sanders, LT Jonathan Scott, LG Chris Kemoeatu, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG Doug Legursky, RT Marcus Gilbert, TE Heath Miller, RB Rashard Mendenhall, FB David Johnson, QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Mike Wallace.

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Gary Guyton, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Patrick Chung.

Steelers defense: DE Ziggy Hood, NT Casey Hampton, DE Brett Keisel, OLB Lamarr Woodley, ILB Stevenson Sylvester, ILB Lawrence Timmons, OLB Chris Carter, LCB Bryant McFadden, FS Ryan Clark, SS Troy Polamalu, RCB Ike Taylor.

Out/Inactive*

Patriots: LB Dane Fletcher (thumb), WR Julian Edelman, QB Ryan Mallett, S Josh Barrett, RB Shane Vereen, OL Donald Thomas, LB Jermaine Cunningham.

Steelers: LB James Harrison, T Chris Hoke, G Doug Legursky, LB Jason Worilds, LB James Farrior, WR Hines Ward, QB Dennis Dixon.

Patriots Tweet of the day

Today's Tweet comes courtesy of defensive tackle Kyle Love. It's simple and to the point.

kylelovetweet.jpg

Final: Patriots 20, Cowboys 16

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 16, 2011 08:03 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady wasn't his usual self. Not until the Patriots went to their 2-minute offense. With 2:29 left on the clock, Brady and the Patriots drove 80 yards and the QB found Aaron Hernandez in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard TD for the game-winning touchdown.

Brady, who had two interceptions on the day, finished 27 of 41 for 289 yards and two touchdowns. He was an impressive 8 of 9 on the final drive.

0:22 4th quarter: Patriots 20, Cowboys 16 -- Tom Brady threw an 8-yard TD pass to Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give the Patriots the lead back.

The scoring strike culminated a 10-play, 80-yard drive that lasted only 2:09 on the clock.

Brady was an impressive 8 of 9 on the final drive for 78 yards.

2:31 4th quarter: Cowboys 16, Patriots 13 -- A penalty and three terrible plays later, the Patriots have the ball back with more than enough time for Tom Brady and company to make it down field and at the very least tie this game.

3:43 4th quarter: Cowboys 16, Patriots 13 -- A quick three-and-out for the Patriots. Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 9-yard pass but BenJarvus Green-Ellis rush for a loss and an incomplete pass after pressure on third down forced the Patriots to punt.

5:13 4th quarter: Cowboys 16, Patriots 13 -- The Cowboys take the lead on Dan Bailey 26-yard field goal, his third field goal of the day.

The Cowboys capitalized on a Tom Brady interception. The Patriots have four turnovers on the game.

The Cowboys drove 60 yards on nine plays in 3:55. But the Patriots' red zone defense is good, holding Dallas to the field goal. Brandon Spikes made a great play on a shovel pass from Tony Romo to Tashard Choice to force the field goal.

9:09 4th quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 13 -- Tom Brady was intercepted for the second time today, this time by Cowboys LB Sean Lee.

12:59 4th quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 13 -- Three straight incompletions by Tony Romo (including a drop by Miles Austin) and the Patriots have the ball back.

End of the third quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 13 -- A 16-play drive by the Patriots came to a close with another turnover. The Cowboys have the ball after an Aaron Hernandez fumble.

0:30 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 13 -- Aaron Hernandez was stripped of the ball by the Cowboys' Bradie James after a pass from Tom Brady. The fumble was recovered by Dallas CB Terrence Newman, who now has an interception and a fumble recovery today.

5:50 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 13 -- Dan Baily kicked a 22-yard field goal to tie the game up for the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots' Andre Carter sacked Tony Romo for a loss of 11 yards -- his second sack of the game -- to help keep the Cowboys out of the end zone.

11:56 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 10 -- DeMarcus Ware sacked Tom Brady for the second time today, forcing a third-and-long for the Patriots that they couldn't do anything with. The Patriots punted after six plays to open the second half.

15:00 3rd quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 10 -- We're underway in the third quarter.

End of the first half: Patriots 13, Cowboys 10 -- Despite two turnovers in the first quarter, the Patriots are leading the Cowboys after two field goals by Stephen Gostkowski and a 5-yard TD pass from Tom Brady to Wes Welker.

The Cowboys are on the board after a first quarter field goal by Dan Bailey for 48 yards and then 1-yard TD pass by Tony Romo to Jason Whitten late in the second quarter.

Brady is 10 of 14 for 138 yards with an interception. Deion Branch has two catches for 57 yards.

Romo is 13 of 19 for 138 yards. He also has an interception by the Patriots' Kyle Arrington. Arrington has four on the year now to lead the NFL.

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has four catches for 78 yards.

0:33 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 10 -- Tony Romo hit Jason Whitten for a 1-yard TD pass to cap an 11-play, 73-yard drive that ate up 7:01 on the clock.

Romo seemed to remember he had Dez Bryant on his team. He went to the receiver twice for gains of 33 and 16 yards to push the Cowboys' drive along. Bryant made Patriots safety Patrick Chung look bad on his 33-yard reception, juking and making him dive in the wrong direction of the play.

7:34 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Cowboys 3 -- Tom Brady connected with Wes Welker for a 5-yard TD pass. The play was initially called a 4-yard completion on the field, with Welker being forced out at the pylon. But after review, the refs called it a touchdown.

The drive was keyed by a couple of Brady plays. He hit Aaron Hernandez for a 16-yard reception and ran for eight yards on a keeper to get the Patriots a first-and-goal.

Brady is now in sole possession of eighth place in career touchdown passes. He has 276 in his career, moving out of a tie with Vinny Testaverde.

10:46 2nd quarter: Patriots 6, Cowboys 3 -- Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw three straight incompletions (one was a deflection by LB Rob Ninkovich) and his team was forced to punt.

Romo whiffed big time on a pass to Dez Bryant. So while credit should be given to the Patriots secondary, they're getting some help from some porous play.

12:07 2nd quarter: Patriots 6, Cowboys 3 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 26-yard field goal to extend the Patriots' lead after an 11-play, 72-yard drive.

The big play of the drive was Brady's third down throw to Deion Branch for 45 yards. Branch weaved his for 20+ yards in open field before being taken down.

End of 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Cowboys 3 -- The quarter comes to a close with two turnovers from each team. Patriots have the ball.

1:03 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Cowboys 3 -- Vince Wilfork forced a fumble on the Cowboys' Tashard Choice and DT Gerard Warren recovered as the Patriots defense saved the team after another critical turnover of its own.

2:38 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Cowboys 3 -- On the ensuing kickoff Matthew Slater fumbled on the return. Dallas recovered and are currently making their way into the red zone. Two uncharacteristic turnovers for the Patriots in the first quarter.

3:16 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Cowboys 3 -- Dan Bailey kicked a 48-yard field goal for the Cowboys to tie the game up.

The Patriots' Gerard Warren snuffed out a run on third-and-long for 3-yard loss on the drive.

4:47 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Cowboys 0 -- Terrence Newman of the Dallas Cowboys picks off Tom Brady on the first play of the Patriots drive.

4:53 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Cowboys 0 -- Andre Carter sacked Tony Romo for a 6-yard loss and Kyle Love had a tackle in the backfield as the Patriots defense forced another Cowboys punt.

8:41 1st quarter: Patriots 3, Cowboys 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal after Tom Brady was sacked by the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware in the red zone.

Still, the Patriots managed three points off the turnover. It was a nine-play drive for 34 yards in 3:22. The biggest play of which was Stevan Ridley's 16-yard rush.


12:03 1st quarter -- Kyle Arrington just picked off Cowboys QB Tony Romo. It was his fourth interception of the year for an NFL lead.

15:00 1st quarter -- The Patriots won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Cowboys will receive. Game on.

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FOXBOROUGH -- We're about to get underway here at Gillette Stadium. For game updates, stay right here and keep hitting that refresh button.

For Tweets from Globe and other NFL writers at the game, visit our Twitter page. For a live fan chat, go here.

Enjoy the game.

Game 6 preview: Cowboys at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 16, 2011 01:38 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots (4-1) prepare to host the Dallas Cowboys (2-2) in Week 6.

The Patriots are coming off a 30-21 win over the New York Jets while the Cowboys are coming off a bye week. Before the bye, the Cowboys lost 34-30 to the Detroit Lions.

It's the first time that the Patriots are playing the Cowboys since 2007, a 48-27 win for New England in which Tom Brady threw five touchdown passes and Wes Welker caught 11 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

However, the Cowboys lead the all-time regular season series 7-3.

With one touchdown pass, Brady will move into sole possession of eighth place in career TD passes. He's currently tied with Vinny Testaverde with 275 and sits behind No. 7 Johnny Unitas, who finished his career with 290.

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 4-1; Cowboys 2-2

TV/Radio info: WFXT-TV FOX Channel 25 (Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups*
(Based on pregame material distributed to media and last week's starting lineup.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Cowboys offense: WR Dez Bryant, LT Doug Free, LG Bill Nagy, C Phil Costa, RG Kyle Kosier, RT Tyron Smith, TE Jason Witten, WR Miles Austin, QB Tony Romo, FB Tony Fiammetta, RB Felix Jones.

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Gary Guyton, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Patrick Chung.

Cowboys defense: LE Kenyon Coleman, NT Jay Ratliff, RE Jason Hatcher, SLB Anthony Spencer, MLB Bradie James, WLB Sean Lee, JLB DeMarcus Ware, LCB Terence Newman, RCB Mike Jenkins, FS Gerald Sensabaugh, SS Abram Elam.

Out/Inactive*
Will be updated before game time.

Patriots: S Josh Barrett (thumb/hamstring), S Sergio Brown, CB Ras-I Dowling, WR Julian Edelman, QB Ryan Mallett, LB Jerod Mayo, OT Sebastian Vollmer.

Cowboys: K David Buehler (groin), G Derrick Dockery (knee), FB Tony Fiammetta (hamstring), DE Jason Hatcher (calf)

A different dynamic: Last week, the Patriots faced what amounted to the New York Jets' version of "ground and pound" and a defensive back heavy defense. The Patriots countered with strong ground game of their own and smothered the Jets. This week, they'll face a different offensive philosophy with the Cowboys. They'll likely see a ton of Tony Romo dropbacks in an attempt to attack the Patriots' vulnerable secondary. (The Patriots pass defense is ranked 32d in the NFL allowing 326.6 yards per game.) The Cowboys are the No. 3 passing offense in the NFL, behind only the Patriots and the New Orleans Saints.

Banged up: The Patriots have 12 players that are questionable for today's game due to injuries. The secondary is hurting the most. Leigh Bodden (thumb), Sergio Brown (chest) and Ras-I Dowling (hip) all have lingering issues while safety Josh Barrett has been ruled out with thumb and hamstring injures. Safety Patrick Chung (hand) is listed as probable for today's game.

Final: Patriots 30, Jets 21

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 9, 2011 04:06 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns, Stephen Gostkowski kicked three field goals and the Patriots bested the New York Jets 30-21.

The Patriots are now 4-1 on the year, while their AFC East rival Jets drop to 2-3.

The Patriots defense proved its mettle in the game, holding the Jets to seven three-and-outs in the game.

1:02 4th quarter: Patriots 30, Jets 21 -- Powered by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Patriots marched down the field -- while killing the clock -- and Stephen Gostkowski kicked his third field goal of the night to extend the Patriots' lead.

Green-Ellis ran the ball 10 times on the 13-play drive, picking up 62 yards. He has 136 yards on the night. It's the fourth 100-yard game of his career.

7:14 4th quarter: Patriots 27, Jets 21 -- Mark Sanchez found Santonio Holmes for a 21-yard touchdown.

The Jets drove 85 yards on 11 plays in 5:43. For every drive the Jets have not gone three-and-out, they've scored a touchdown now.

Sanchez had key passes to Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason on the drive. Mason went over 12,000 receiving yards in his career on a seven-yard catch.

Matthew Slater left the game earlier with a rib injury. His return is questionable.

12:57 4th quarter: Patriots 27, Jets 14 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 24-yard field goal -- his second field goal of the day -- and the Patriots capitalized on a good punt return by Wes Welker.

End of the third quarter: Patriots 24, Jets 14 -- The Patriots have held the Jets offense to seven three-and-outs in nine drives today. It's their best outing of the season.

0:26 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Jets 14 -- What looked like a completed pass from Jets QB Mark Sanchez to Plaxico Burress for 22 yards, was overturned after Bill Belichick's second challenge of the night. Burresss unfortunately couldn't get his second foot in bounds on the catch at the sideline. It was the Jets' seventh three-and-out.

1:32 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Jets 14 -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis added in another three-yard touchdown run as the Patriots went up 24-14.

Green-Ellis has 15 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns.

The Patriots' drive was 11 plays, 77 yards in 4:12.

5:32 3rd quarter: Patriots 17, Jets 14 -- Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington had a chance to sack Jets QB Mark Sanchez on third-and-10, but couldn't hold on. Despite the missed opportunity, Sanchez threw an incomplete pass giving the Jets six three-and-outs in the game. It's both a testament to the Patriots defense and Jets' foibles on offense.

7:19 3rd quarter: Patriots 17, Jets 14 -- Tom Brady continues to receive pressure. This time he was rushed into a throw on third-and-10 that he didn't complete. The Patriots punt to give the ball right back to the Jets.

8:13 3rd quarter: Patriots 17, Jets 14 -- The Patriots defense held the Jets to another three-and-out. James Ihedigbo, who started in place of Josh Barrett, got a nice tackle on Jets receiver Jeremy Kerley a couple yards shy of a first down to force New York to punt.

9:37 3rd quarter: Patriots 17, Jets 14 -- The Patriots go three-and-out after two runs and an incomplete pass intended for Wes Welker.

11:02 3rd quarter: Patriots 17, Jets 14 -- Thanks in large part to an 88-yard kickoff return by Joe McKnight, the Jets responded quickly to the Patriots with a touchdown of their own to open the second half. Mark Sanchez hit receiver Jeremy Kerley for a nine-yard TD pass after three plays.

13:15 3rd quarter: Patriots 17, Jets 7 -- Tom Brady hit Deion Branch for a 2-yard touchdown pass.

The touchdown pass, Brady's 275th of his career, tied Vinny Testaverde for eighth all-time in the NFL.

The Patriots drove 80 yards in four plays, thanks largely to a drive-opening 73-yard pass play to Wes Welker. Welker, currently with 120 yards receiving in the game, now has more receiving yards through five games than any other receiver in NFL history, according to the Patriots.

15:00 3rd quarter: Patriots 10, Jets 7 -- We're about underway in the second half. The Patriots are receiving.

End of the 2nd quarter: Patriots 10, Jets 7 -- A promising Patriots drive came to a close with a Tom Brady interception in the end zone by Antonio Cromartie. Brady's pass, intended for Aaron Hernandez, went right off the tight end's hands. Cromartie returned it 42 yards before being knocked out of bounds by Nate Solder.

Brady is 13 of 17 for 157 yards and an interception so far today. He's been sacked three times already in what surely isn't a good sign for top offense in the NFL.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been a bright spot for the Patriots though, rushing for 51 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

3:21 2nd quarter: Patriots 10, Jets 7 -- Shaun Greene punched in a 3-yard TD run to cap the Jets' first sustained drive.

Greene carried the ball eight times on the 13-play, 78-yard drive for 34 yards, showing that the Jets were willing to go back to their "ground and pound" image.

The Jets recorded four first downs on the drive after not recording one in their previous four drives.

11:15 2nd quarter: Patriots 10, Jets 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 44-yard field goal to extend the Patriots' lead.

The Patriots drive stalled after six plays and only 18 yards of offense.

End of the first quarter: Patriots 7, Jets 0 -- The first quarter comes to a close with the Patriots up 7-0 and the Jets offense unable to get a drive going. The Patriots defense has been helped a bit by key drops from Jets receivers, including Santonio Holmes who notably critiqued his quarterback last week.

0:56 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Jets 0 -- TE Aaron Hernandez's knee doesn't seem to be affecting his speed. Unfortunately, him outrunning the Jets secondary doesn't mean he'll always come down with a catch. Tom Brady overthrew Hernandez for the second time today to end the Patriots' drive. Brady was sacked on the drive by the Jets' Ropati Pitoitua for a six-yard loss. It was Pitoitua's first career sack.

6:15 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Jets 0 -- Mark Anderson and Rob Ninkovich split a sack on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez as New York goes three-and-out.

7:32 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Jets 0 -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis dragged a Jets defender for a 3-yard touchdown for the game's first score.

The drive saw a heavy dose of Green-Ellis. He had four rushes for 27 yards. The big play on the drive was Tom Brady's 32-yard pass to Wes Welker. The drive was 5 plays, 64 yards in 2:34.

12:03 1st quarter -- Tom Brady threw a deep pass for Aaron Hernandez on 3rd and 7, but he led him too much. The Patriots' first drive only lasted four plays.

13:55 1st quarter -- Leigh Bodden broke up a Mark Sanchez pass to Dustin Keller as the Jets went three-and-out on their opening drive.

15:00 1st quarter -- The Jets will receive. Game on.
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FOXBOROUGH -- We're getting ready to kick off here at Gillette Stadium with the Patriots hosting the New York Jets. Stay right here and keep hitting that refresh button for game updates.

You can also follow Globe reporters and select NFL writers covering the game on our Twitter page for instant updates. For readers that want to chat with other fans, we've got a chat going on today, too.

Sunny skies and warm conditions. It's 82 degrees with winds at 9 mph.

Enjoy the game.

Game 5 preview: Jets at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 9, 2011 12:43 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots (3-1) prepare to host the New York Jets (2-2) in Week 5 of the season.

The Patriots are coming off a 31-19 win over the Oakland Raiders while the Jets are coming off a 34-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Jets lead the all-time series between the two teams at 52-51-1.

Tom Brady is one touchdown away from tying Vinny Testaverde -- a former New York Jet and one-time Patriot -- for the eighth most touchdowns in NFL history. Brady currently has 274.

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 3-1; Jets 2-2

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Channel 4 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups*
(Based on pregame material distributed to media and last week's starting lineup.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB Stevan Ridley.

Jets offense: WR Plaxico Burress, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Matt Slauson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, RT Wayne Hunter, TE Dustin Keller, WR Santonio Holmes, QB Mark Sanchez, FB John Conner, RB Shonn Greene.

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Brandon Spikes, ILB Gary Guyton, OLB Dane Fletcher, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S Josh Barrett, S Patrick Chung.

Jets defense: E Muhammad Wilkerson, NT Sione Pouha, T Mike DeVito, OLB Bryan Thomas, LB Bart Scott, LB David Harris OLB Calvin Packe, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, S Eric Smith, S Jim Leonhard.

Out/Inactive*
Will be updated before game time.

Patriots: LB Jerod Mayo (knee), WR Julian Edelman (ankle), OT Sebastian Vollmer (back), RB Danny Woodhead (ankle), QB Ryan Mallett, DT Mike Wright (concussion).

Jets: LB Garrett McIntyre (concussion), WR Logan Payne (wrist), LB Bryan Thomas (achilles), QB Kevin O'Connell, RB Bilal Powell, FB/TE Josh Baker, C Colin Baxter and DT Kenrick Ellis.

Revenge on the mind: As usual, the Patriots shunned the brashness of the New York Jets and their loquacious coach Rex Ryan during this week's press conferences leading up to the game. But one must assume the Patriots have gone over in great detail last year's disappointing playoff exit, a 28-21 home loss to the Jets. And then gone on to compare the two teams' last regular season matchup, a 45-3 win for the Patriots. Surely there was something to glean, not necessarily in X's and O's, but in effort and intensity that fuels this rivalry. Whether that is a motivator for today's game, we'll see.

Final: Patriots 31, Raiders 13

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 2, 2011 06:24 PM

Patriots 31, Raiders 19 -- The Patriots bounced back from last week's loss at Buffalo with a steady performance in Oakland. Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and the rushed for 184 yards in the victory. Wes Welker had nine catches for 158 yards as the Patriots (3-1) kept the sloppy Raiders (2-2) in check for game. Next up for the Patriots is a home date against the New York Jets.

Patriots 31, Raiders 19 -- The Raiders get a garbage time touchdown pass from Jason Campbell to Denarious Moore for six yards. The try for two points failed. 28 seconds left in the game.

4th quarter: Patriots 31, Raiders 13 -- Vince Wilfolk gobbled up his second interception of the season. This time had a shorter return -- 19 yards. Raiders fans are heading towards the exit with 10:19 left in the game.


4th quarter: Patriots 31, Raiders 13 -- Tom Brady found Deion Branch in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard TD. He passes Joe Montana with 274 career TD passes with that one. He also has tied Peyton Manning for consecutive games with at least two touchdowns with 13.

The Patriots' drive was 80 yards in eight plays in 4:43.

End of the third quarter: Patriots 24, Raiders 13 -- The Patriots are leading with a more balanced game than usual this season. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Stevan Ridley have combined for 112 yards on 14 carries.

3:21 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Raiders 13 -- The Patriots defense managed to hold the Raiders to a 26-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski after a 15-play, 74-yard drive.

10:29 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Raiders 10 -- Kyle Love has returned to the game after an injury. Danny Woodhead, who left the game with two minutes left in the first half, has an ankle injury and his return is questionable.

11:07 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Raiders 10 -- Stevan Ridley showed a bit of a burst, running away from a litany of Oakland defenders en route to a 33-yard TD. It was his first career rushing touchdown in a regular season game.

Ridley's run capped an 81-yard drive that lasted seven plays in 3:53.

15:00 3rd quarter: Patriots 17, Raiders 10 -- Third quarter getting underway. Patriots receiving.

At half: Patriots 17, Raiders 10 -- Tom Brady is 8 of 17 for 121 yards and touchdown while BenJarvus Green-Ellis has eight rushes for 39 yards and one touchdown.

Wes Welker has three catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Oakland's Darren McFadden has eight carries for 57 yards.

End of the 2nd quarter: Patriots 17, Raiders 10 -- The Patriots went to their 2-minute offense with Tom Brady connecting twice with Chad Ochocinco to help the Patriots get down to the Raiders' 26-yard line. But three straight incompletions led to a 44-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

Jerod Mayo, who went down with an injury on the last Raiders drive, has a knee injury and his return is questionable.

Danny Woodhead, who is the typical 2-minute offense running back for the Patriots, also suffered an injury. BenJarvus Green-Ellis took his place to finish the half.

2:15 2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Raiders 10 -- The Raiders' Jason Campbell was looking in the end zone and apparently thought the Patriots' Patrick Chung was a Raider too. Chung got an easy interception on a play in which no Raider was anywhere nearby.

7:44 2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Raiders 10 -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran in a 1-yard TD as the Patriots retook the lead.

Key play of the drive was Tom Brady's back shoulder pass to Wes Welker for 21 yards, bringing the Patriots down to the Raiders' 1-yard line. At first, the catch was ruled out of bounds. But the referees made sure to get it right, reversing the call without much protest for Belichick and co.

The Patriots went 64 yards down the field in six plays in 2:36.

Green-Ellis' TD was the 21st of his career, tying Antowain Smith and Laurence Maroney for eighth in franchise history.

10:14 2nd quarter: Raiders 10, Patriots 7 -- Kyle Love has an ankle injury and his return is questionable.

10:20 2nd quarter: Raiders 10, Patriots 7 -- Michael Bush punched in a 1-yard TD after the Raiders raced down the field for 88 yards in six plays to take the lead.

Darren McFadden had a monster 41-yard run to get things started and then Jason Campbell followed up by scrambling 17 yards and hitting Kevin Boss for 23 yards.


13:44 2nd quarter: Patriots 7, Raiders 3 -- Richard Seymour is pretty pumped up for the Raiders. He jumped a count to get another hit on Tom Brady. Unfortunately for him, it was another flag on the Raiders. Stevan Ridley broke loose for a 22-yard gain. But the Raiders did a good enough job up front to cause problems for the Patriots and force them to punt after only six plays.

End of the 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Raiders 3 -- Shane Lechler pinned the Patriots at their own 4-yard line after the Raiders' offense was stumped. Raiders QB Jason Campbell tried to scramble for a first down but was stopped two yards short.

4:59 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Raiders 3 -- Kyle Love was injured on the last play. He was able to stand up on his own but walked gingerly off the field. We'll have to update you more about his status when we get more info.

6:07 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Raiders 3 -- An awkward takedown of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on a play that was blow dead spurred the Patriots' 80-yard drive that resulted in a 15-yard TD pass to Wes Welker.

The noise at O.co Coliseum is already affecting the Patriots. They had to burn a timeout after one play in the game. Also, former Patriots Richard Seymour recorded a pressure on Brady on the first play of the game.

Brady tied Joe Montana for TD passes with 273 in his career on the strike to Welker.

The drive spanned 4:19 in 80 yards over nine plays.

10:26 1st quarter: Raiders 3, Patriots 0 -- The Raiders moved down field pretty swimmingly. Raiders QB Jason Campbell made key passes to Darren McFadden, who was spread out wide, and tight end Kevin Boss. But a couple of nice defensive plays from Devin McCourty (a tackle in the backfield) and Antwaun Molden (coverage on Darius Heyward-Bey) helped quell the drive. The Raiders settled for a 28-yard FG from Sebastian Janikowski. The drive was 50 yards in 9 plays.

15:00 1st quarter -- The Patriots are kicking off to start. Game on.

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OAKLAND -- We're about to get underway here at O.co Coliseum with the Patriots visiting the Raiders. Keep it here for game updates and a quick recap when it's all over.

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Game 4 preview: Patriots at Raiders

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 2, 2011 02:23 PM

OAKLAND -- Good afternoon from O.co Coliseum where the New England Patriots (2-1) visit the Oakland Raiders (2-1) in Week 4.

The Patriots are coming off 34-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills in which Tom Brady threw four interceptions.

The Raiders are coming off a 34-24 win over the New York Jets. The Raiders' only loss also came against the Bills, 38-25 in Week 2.

Last time the Patriots played the Raiders, the Patriots were victorious in a 49-26 win at then Oakland Coliseum. Matt Cassel threw four touchdown passes in the game for the Patriots.

Brady, who has 272 career touchdown passes, is one TD pass away from tying his hero Joe Montana of 273 career passes for scores.

Of note, eight players on the Patriots are from California including three from the Bay Area. Tom Brady hails from San Mateo, Julian Edelman from Redwood City, and Andre Carter from San Jose.

It's 67 degrees and partly cloudy, a great day for football.

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 2-1; Raiders 2-1

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcotts); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups*


(Based on pregame material distributed to media and last week’s starting lineup.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB Danny Woodhead, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Raiders offense: WR Darius Heyward-Bey, LT Jared Veldheer, LG Stefen Wisniewski, C Samson Satele, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Khalif Barnes, TE Kevin Boss, WR Jacoby Ford, QB Jason Campbell, FB Marcel Reece, RB Darren McFadden.

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, LCB Devin MCCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S Josh Barrett, S Patrick Chung.

Raiders defense: DE Lamarr Houston, DT Richard Seymour, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Matt Shaughnessy, OLB Quentin Groves, MLB Rolando McClain, OLB Kamerion Wimbley, CB Stanford Routt, CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, FS Michael Huff, SS Tyvon Branch.

Inactives*:
Will be updated.

Patriots: DL Albert Haynesworth (back), Leigh Bodden (groin), CB Ras-I Dowling (hip), DT Mike Wright (concussion), OT Sebastian Vollmer (back) and TE Aaron Hernandez (knee), QB Ryan Mallet.

Raiders: CB Chris Johnson (hamstring), WR Louis Murphy (groin).

A banged up secondary: The Patriots are thin at corner with Leigh Bodden being downgraded to out yesterday due to a lingering groin injury and Ras-I Dowling ailing from a hip injury. This is the second week in a row Dowling has missed. Corners Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams will likely see increased time.

Bounce back?: The Patriots are notorious for having strong games after losses. Expect Tom Brady, who had four interceptions last week, to try and make up for it. He's been on a record-tear, leading a prolific Patriots offense while racking up a record 1,387 passing yards. We'll see if the reputation for bouncing back comes to fruition.

Final: Bills 34, Patriots 31

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 25, 2011 03:30 PM


Post-game: Bills 34, Patriots 31:
The quarterback comparison:

Tom Brady 30 of 45 for 387 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Ryan Fitzpatrick 27 of 40 for 369 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

For the Patriots, Wes Welker caught 16 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. The receptions and yardage at single-game, team records. Rob Gronkowski had seven catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

For the Bills, Stevie Johnson had eight catches for 94 yards and one touchdown.

Team stats:
The Bills rushed for 109 yards, the Patriots 79.
The Bills won time of possession, 31:15 to 28:45.


Post game: Bills 34, Patriots 31: The Bills fans cheered wildly as soon as the game ended and the Bills players came to the edge of the field to celebrate with them. The victory ended a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots. Ryan Fitzpatrick was interviewed on the field by network TV and then got a huge ovation as he left the field. "Sweet Caroline'' was played over the PA system in mocking fashion. The Bills fans have a long way to go to match Red Sox fans.



:00 4th quarter Bills 34, Patriots 31:
The Bills took another knee, the Patriots were penalized for unnessary roughness. The Bills had a false start the moved the ball back to the eight. Another knee on three down, put the ball on the 10 and the Bills ran the clock down to three seconds. Then Rian Lindell kicked the winning field goal.


3:25 4th quarter Bills 31, Patriots 31 Wes Welker caught a six-yard touchdown pass on a fourth and goal to scoring the tying touchdown.
Welker was incredible on a 71-yard drive, catching four passes including a leaping catch on a fourth and four to keep things going earlier in the drive. His 16 catches for 216 yards area both Patriots single game records.

10:21 4th quarter: Bills 31, Patriots 24 -- Tom Brady's pass was tipped by Marcel Darius and returned by Drayton Florence 27 yards for a Bills touchdown.

Fred Jackson had just tied the game on a 1-yard TD run for the Bills before Brady's interception.

14:51 4th quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Jairus Byrd broke up a Tom Brady pass, forcing the Patriots to punt early in the fourth quarter.

End of the third quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- Bills CB Aaron Williams suffered a chest injury and is out for the game. He was carted off the field.

2:20 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- The Bills' Aaron Williams was seriously injured and had to be carted off the field.

3:50 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- A three-and-out for the Bills. A bad pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick to Donald Jones and then a good play by Leigh Bodden on Stevie Johnson, followed up with a go-nowhere six-yard pass to Fred Jackson.

4:51 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 17 -- The Patriots went back to their hurry-up offense, culminating in a 23-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

Rob Gronkowski came up with another big catch, this one a 28-yarder. He now has six catches for 100 yards.

9:34 3rd quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 17 -- Standing in the end zone all alone, Scott Chandler caught a 3-yard TD from Ryan Fitzpatrick pulling the Bills within four.

The Bills were in an empty set, spreading the Patriots around. They had drove 39 yards in seven plays, keyed by a Fred Jackson 18-yard run. The elusive running back shook loose of three tackles on the run. Fitzpatrick also hit Stevie Johnson for a 24-yard gain on the drive.

13:10 3rd quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 10 -- Looking for Chad Ochocinco over the middle, Tom Brady threw an interception to the Bills' Leodis McKelvin. That's interception No. 2 for Brady.

15:00 3rd quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 10 -- Second half is getting underway.

To recap, Tom Brady is 16 of 22 for 222 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite receivers have been Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. Welker has seven catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. Gronkowski has five for 71 and two scores.

The Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pretty on point today. He's completed 20 of 28 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown. Stevie Johnson has seven catches for 85 yards and one score.

0:03 2nd quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 10 -- Rian Lindell kicked a 42-yard field goal for the Bills after Buffalo drove 66 yards in 1:02. The Bills' Fred Jackson caught a 27-yard screen pass and broke two tackles to get Buffalo into field goal range.

1:05 2nd quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 7 -- A Tom Brady pass intended for Danny Woodhead was intercepted by Bills safety Bryan Scott.

The ball bounced out of Woodhead's hands and was caught by a diving Scott.

Also on the play, Patriots guard Logan Mankins got into a scuffle with the Bills' Dwan Edwards. Mankins looked pretty upset, going after Edwards and pointedly yelling toward the Bills' sideline.

1:56 2nd quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 7 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Stevie Johnson for an 11-yard TD on a fade route to get the Bills on the board.

The Bills drove 94 yards on the drive in nine plays. There were big plays from the Bills' David Nelson, who caught a 26-yard pass and tight-roped the sideline and a 15-yarder that was part of a 30-yard play after a roughing the passer call on Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich.

6:01 2nd quarter: Patriots 21, Bills 0 -- Tom Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski twice for large gains, first for 21 yards and second for a 25-yard touchdown.

The drive was 5 plays, 65 yards in 1:32. The Patriots were again in their no-huddle offense.

07:33 2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 0 -- Rob Ninkovich got a good chip on Bills running back Fred Jackson and the Bills offense sputtered again with another penalty on center Eric Wood.

10:07 2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 0 -- A big penalty on Patriots offensive lineman Nate Solder offset a huge gain by Rob Gronkowski. Solder was flagged for illegal use of hands to the face, negating a 30-yard pickup by Gronkowski who Tom Brady had found in the seam.

12:27 2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 0 -- The Patriots defense came right back and forced the Bills to three-and-out.

14:41 2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 0 -- The Bills held the Patriots to a three-and-out. Tom Brady led Deion Branch too much toward the sideline on third down. Brady threw two incomplete passes on the drive.

End of the first quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 0 -- So far, the Patriots vs. Bills looks like the Patriots vs. Bills for the last 15 times these two teams played.

0:14 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 0 -- Kyle Arrington got his second interception of the day, this one coming on a fourth and long for the Bills as Ryan Fitzpatrick was throwing over the middle of the field.

The Bills' drive was stumped before that though with a 15-yard penalty on center Eric Wood for a chop block.

6:01 1st quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 0 -- Tom Brady found tight end Rob Gronkowski over the middle for a 1-yard TD as the Patriots took a 14-0 lead. The Patriots capitalized on a Bills turnover after Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Kyle Arrington.

Brady hit Wes Welker for a 24-yard completion to get the Patriots into the red zone.

The drive was six plays, 35 yards in 2:35.

8:46 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- A Ryan Fitzpatrick pass that went off Bills receiver Donald Jones hands, was picked out of the air by Kyle Arrington and returned 22 yards on the interception.

9:45 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 0 -- Tom Brady hooked up with Wes Welker for four catches for 67 yards on the opening drive, including a 14-yarder for a touchdown as the Patriots stormed the field.

The opening drive was nine plays, 80 yards in 5:15. The key play was a play-action pass to Welker for 33 yards.

15:00 1st quarter -- The Bills won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Patriots will receive. Game on.

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- We're about to get underway here at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Stay right here for game updates. You can also follow Globe staffers and other NFL writers along on Twitter on our Twitter page. Wanna chat with fans? You can do that right here.

Enjoy the game.

Game 3 preview: Patriots at Bills

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 25, 2011 11:12 AM

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Good morning from Ralph Wilson Stadium where the Patriots (2-0) will take on former Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills (2-0).

The Patriots have won 15 straight games against the Buffalo Bills. The last time these two teams met, the Patriots won 34-3 Dec. 26, 2010.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is 10-1 when traveling to Buffalo. As Patriots coach, he is 20-2 against the Bills.

Of note, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski grew up here locally in Williamsville, N.Y.

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 2-0; Bills 2-0

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Marv Albert, Rich Gannon); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti) and nationally on Compass Media Network (Chris Carrino and Brian Baldinger).

Projected starting lineups*
(Based on pregame material distributed to media and last week’s starting lineup.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB Danny Woodhead, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Bills offense: WR Donald Jones, LT Demetrius Bell, LG Andy Levitre, C Eric Wood, RG Chad Rinehart, RT Erik Pears, TE Scott Chandler, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Stevie Johnson.

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, LT Vince Wilfork, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Ras-I Dowling Leigh Bodden, S Josh Barrett, S Patrick Chung.

Bills defense: LDE Marcell Dareus, NT Kyle Williams, RDE Dwan Edwards, SLB Chris Kelsay, MLB Andra Davis, WLB Nick Barnett, JLB Shawne Merriman, LCB Drayton Florence, SS George Wilson, FS Jairus Byrd, RCB Leodis McKelvin.

Inactives:

Patriots: S Patrick Chung (hand), DL Albert Haynesworth (back), WR Taylor Price (hamstring), DT Mike Wright (concussion), OT Sebastian Vollmer (back), CB Ras-I Dowling (hip).

Bills: CB Terrence McGee (hamstring), LB Kirk Morrison (hamstring), WR Roscoe Parrish (ankle), G Kraig Urbik (knee), CB Justin Rogers, OL Sam Young, TE Lee Smith, NT Torell Troup.

Secondary issue: Pay close attention to how the secondary holds up today. Patriots safety Patrick Chung will be out with a thumb injury, which will give Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown the lead against a more than capable Buffalo wide receiver group that features Stevie Johnson (12 catches, 162 yards, 2 touchdowns), Donald Jones (6 catches, 27 yards, 1 touchdown) and David Nelson (14 catches, 149 yards, 1 touchdown). Plus, cornerbacks Ras-I Dowling (hip), Kyle Arrington (concussion) and Leigh Bodden (hand) have all been nicked up.

With Haynesworth out, what will the defense pressure look like?: Patriots defensive lineman Albert Haynseworth played 23 of 72 snaps on defense last week against the San Diego Chargers, according to ProFootballFocus.com. So suffice it to say, the Patriots defensive pass rush will not be entirely altered by his absence today because of a back injury. They'll likely depend on Kyle Love more, who will tag team with Vince Wilfork in the 4-3 as the tackles. But also Mark Anderson will likely get more reps. The Patriots still have Shaun Ellis, Andre Carter and Vince Wilfork to depend upon.

Final: Patriots 35, Chargers 21

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 18, 2011 06:20 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady followed up his stellar 500-yard outing in the season opener, with a 423-yard outing as the Patriots beat the Chargers 35-21 in their home opener.

Brady was 31 of 40 for 423 yards and three touchdowns. He's the first quarterback in NFL history to followup a 500-yard outing (517 yards against the Miami Dolphins) with a 400-yard outing.

1:02 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Chargers 21 -- The Patriots Mark Anderson gets a strip-sack with a little over a minute remaining. Kyle Love recovers the fumble.

1:54 4th quarter: Patriots 35, Chargers 21 -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis wants to get in on the action. He broke loose for a 16-yard touchdown with less than two minutes remaining as the Patriots put their lead back to 14 points.

The Patriots drive was nine plays, 80 yards in 3:46.

2:00 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Chargers 21 -- It's official. Tom Brady is the first quarterback in NFL history to follow a 500-yard game with a 400-yard outing.

5:40 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Chargers 21 -- Phillip Rivers hit Vincent Jackson for a 26-yard TD. It was Jackson's 10th reception of the game, a career high. He also sports 172 receiving yards on the day now and two scores.

The Chargers drove 80 yards in eight plays in only three minutes.

7:31 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Chargers 14 -- Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez has a knee injury and his return is probable.

8:40 4th quarter: Patriots 28, Chargers 14 -- Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 17-yard touchdown strike and Danny Woodhead punched in a two-point conversion run as the Patriots extended their lead to 14 points.

It was a quick drive for the Patriots. In only four plays, the team marched 61 yards in 1:41, spurred by the Chargers' turnover.

Deion Branch caught a couple of passes on the drive. He now has eight catches for 129 yards in the game.

9:47 4th quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 14 -- The Chargers' Mike Tolbert fumbled and the Patriots Rob Ninkovich recovered to give the Patriots the ball again. Jerod May was credited with the forced fumble.

11:41 4th quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 14 -- Tom Brady passed the 300-yard mark with a 14-yard completion to Aaron Hernandez. Of the 11 quarterbacks to throw for 500 yards in a game, he's the second to throw for 300 in the next. Drew Brees is the other.

Also, Patrick Chung returns to the game with a cast on his right hand. And Zoltan Mesko's return to the game is labeled probable.

13:33 4th quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 14 -- The Chargers' Phillip Rivers connected with Vincent Jackson for a 3-yard TD pass, capping a 10-play, 64-yard drive.

Jackson has seven catches for 114 yards on the day.

2:57 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 7 -- Patriots safety Patrick Chung has a hand injury. His return is questionable.

1:06 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 7 -- Albert Haynesworth and James Ihedigbo have both gotten hurt in the last few plays. Haynesworth looked like he just needed to be stretched out. No word on Ihedigbo.

3:36 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 7 -- Punter Zoltan Mesko was injured on the field after a 54-yard punt.

He came on the field after a Patriots three-and-out, their first of the game.

4:35 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 7 -- Patriots safety Sergio Brown intercepted a Phillip Rivers pass after the Chargers QB was pressured by Andre Carter and Shaun Ellis Brandon Spikes on the play. The interception killed the Chargers' 13-play drive the eating up the clock.

It was Brown's first career interception.

11:20 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 7 -- Zoltan Mesko punted for the first time today. He had being pleasantly neglected on the Patriots' bench. His punt of 31 yards ended a 7-play drive by the Patriots that stalled after a false start penalty on Dan Gronkowski and a Tom Brady incompletion.

The Chargers are pinned at their own 6-yard line.

13:39 3d quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 7 -- An update on Ras-I Dowling. He has a thigh injury and his return is questionable.

Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd has a groin injury and his return is also questionable.

End of the half: Some stats to think about before the third quarter starts.

Tom Brady is 20 of 23 for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Deion Branch has six catches for 85 yards while newbie Chad Ochocinco has two catches on two targets for 45 yards.

On the other end, Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson has four catches for 92 yards while Malcom Floyd has two catches for 59 yards.

We saw a few Patriots milestones in the first half: Vince Wilfork's first career interception; Tom Brady passed Jim Kelly for 17th all-time in passing; and Wes Welker has now caught a pass in 63 consecutive regular season games, tying a team record with former tight end Ben Coates.

End of the 2d quarter: Patriots 20, Chargers 7 -- After two quick passes by Tom Brady to Deion Branch, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 47-yard field goal right down the pipes as the Patriots took a 13-point lead. Vince Wilfork's 28-yard interception return keyed the quick scoring drive, which lasted all of 9 seconds.

0:09 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Chargers 7 -- Vince Wilfork tipped a Phillips Rivers pass to himself and rumbled for 28 yards on the return to kills the Chargers drive. It was Wilfork's first career interception.

He took the ball with him to the sideline.

1:42 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Chargers 7 -- CB Ras-I Dowling was injured on the last play. No word on what the problem is.

2:49 2d quarter: Patriots 17, Chargers 7 -- Tom Brady found tight end Rob Gronkowski for his second touchdown pass of the day, this time a 10-yarder over the middle. It capped a 10-play, 99-yard drive for 5:25.

Just a play prior, Brady completed a 19-yard pass to Deion Branch that gave him 35,473 yards passing in his career, good for 16th on the NFL's all-time passing list. He passed Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly (35,467).

9:01 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Chargers 7 -- Jerod Mayo came up with a huge tackle, taking down Mike Tolbert at the 1-yard line on fourth down. Definitely a plus for the defense, which stuffed the Chargers on four straight plays after giving up two big ones to get San Diego into the red zone.

13:20 2d quarter: Patriots 10, Chargers 7 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 22-yard field goal as the Patriots took the lead in the second quarter. It was a disappointing end to the drive despite the field goal. The Patriots had been on the 4-yard line and couldn't punch the ball into the end zone. Tom Brady sailed a pass to Aaron Hernandez, followed by a rush for no gain by Danny Woodhead and then another incomplete pass, this time over the head of Deion Branch.

The Patriots' drive was 14 plays, 59 yards in 4:35.


End of the 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Chargers 7 -- At the end of the first, the Patriots are driving toward the end zone. The Chargers' Shaun Phillips went down with what looked like a leg injury on the field, slowing the Patriots' no-huddle offense. The quickened pass has benefited Brady and company, pushing down to the Chargers' 23-yard line in less than three minutes.

2:55 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Chargers 7 -- The Chargers' Ryan Matthews burst through a gap on the left side for a 10-yard touchdown to cap a 7-play, 80 yard drive by San Diego.

The score was keyed by two Philip Rivers passes to Malcom Floyd, who came down with a 23-yard reception in traffic and then later a 36-yarder over Patriots CB Devin McCourty. One play later, Matthews rushed it in for the score.

6:16 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Chargers 0 -- Tom Brady connected with tight end Aaron Hernandez for a 14-yard touchdown. Hernandez leaped over the Chargers' Bob Sanders for the grab.

The Patriots had drove 92 yards in 12 plays in 5:47. On the drive, Wes Welker caught his 63 straight pass in a regular season game, tying a team record with Ben Coates.

Also, Chad Ochocinco made a nice catch on a slant route. He beat the Chargers' Antoine Cason for a 15-yard gain. Cason was also called for pass interference, but the penalty was declined. One play later, Brady hit Hernandez in the end zone.

12:11 1st quarter -- The Chargers first drive stalled after a miscommunication between quarterback Phillip Rivers and receiver Vincent Jackson. Just a few plays prior the two had hooked up for a 29-yard completion. The drive was 7 plays, highlighted by Rivers' connection with Jackson.

15:00 1st quarter -- The San Diego Chargers won the toss and will receive. Game on.

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We'll have game updates right here, so keep hitting that refresh button. You can also follow Globe Staffers during the game via Twitter, including @shalisemyoung, @monwalker, @GregABedard, @cgasper, @GlobeChadFinn and myself @zuriberry.

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Enjoy.

Game 2: Chargers at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 18, 2011 12:30 PM

gillette607.jpg

An empty Gillette Stadium quietly waits for this afternoon's game with the Patriots hosting the San Diego Chargers. (Zuri Berry / Boston.com Staff)

FOXBOROUGH – Good afternoon from Gillette Stadium. New England (1-0) is hosting the San Diego Chargers (1-0) in the Patriots’ home opener.

The last time the Patriots had their home opener against the Chargers was in 2007, a 38-14 win.

Interesting tidbit: This is the Patriots' 300th game since Robert Kraft purchased the team (including postseason) in 1994. The Patriots are 198-101 in that time span.

Since 2001, the Patriots are 3-3 in the regular season against the Chargers and 2-1 in the playoffs.

Also of note, Bill Belichick is 9-2 in home openers as the Patriots head coach.

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 1-0; Chargers 1-0

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti) and Sports USA Radio Network (Larry Kahn, Ross Tucker, Troy West).

Projected starting lineups*
(Based on pregame material distributed to media and last week’s starting lineup.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Connolly, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB Danny Woodhead, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Chargers offense: WR Malcom Floyd, LT Marcus McNeil, LG Kris Dielman, C Nick Hardwick, RG Louis Vasquez, RT Jeromey Clary, TE Antonio Gates, WR Vincent Jackson, QB Philip Rivers, FB Jacob Hester, RB Ryan Matthews.

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, LT Vince Wilfork, RT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, OLB Rob Ninkovich, OLB Jerod Mayo, ILB Gary Guyton Brandon Spikes, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Ras-I Dowling, S Josh Barrett, S Patrick Chung.

Chargers defense: RE Corey Liuget, DT Antonio Garay, LE Vaughn Martin, OLB Shaun Phillips, ILB Takeo Spikes, ILB Donald Butler, OLB Travis Laboy, RCB Antoine Cason, LCB Quentin Jammer, SS Bob Sanders, FS Eric Weddle.

Inactives:

Patriots: C Dan Koppen (fibula), DT Mike Wright (concussion), Ryan Mallett, Taylor Price, Shane Vereen, Gary Guyton and Ryan Wendell.

Chargers: DE Luis Castillo (tibia), ILB Jonas Mouton (shoulder), WR Patrick Crayton, B Shareece Wright, RB Jordan Todman, LB Darryl Gamble, WR Vincent Brown.

Chargers will test the secondary: Colleague Shalise Manza Young wrote about how the Chargers will likely test the Patriots’ secondary with 6-5 receivers Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson. It’ll be an interesting matchup with two of the bigger cornerbacks in the league, Devin McCourty and Ras-I Dowling defending along with safeties Josh Barrett and Patrick Chung. McCourty is in his second year, coming off of a Pro Bowl performance. But he was given fits last week against Miami’s Brandon Marshall, another large receiver at 6-4, 230 pounds. He finished with seven catches for 139 yards last week. But as colleague Greg A. Bedard points out, Chargers QB Philip Rivers favors his tight ends and running backs out of the back field.

How will the offensive line shape up?: As you’ve already heard, Dan Connolly will be taking over for Dan Koppen at center after Koppen injured his fibula against the Miami Dolphins. Brian Waters, who started at right guard, will probably stay in that spot and rookie Nate Solder will likely play in Sebastian Vollmer’s stead if the veteran is not ready to go. Vollmer practiced every day this week despite being limited. He’s listed as questionable.

Final: Patriots 38, Dolphins 24

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 12, 2011 06:55 PM

MIAMI -- Tom Brady shined in the Patriots' season opener against the Miami Dolphins, throwing for a franchise and Monday Night Football record 517 yards passing, powering the team with four touchdown strikes.

It was the 11th time a quarterback had thrown for more than 500 yards in NFL history.

3:37 4th quarter: Patriots 38, Dolphins 24 -- Reggie Bush caught a 2-yard TD pass from Chad Henne as the Dolphins cut the Patriots lead to 14. The Dolphins worked quickly after Tom Brady's 99-yard connection with Wes Welker. The Dolphins went 74 yards in 8 plays in 2:05.

3:52 4th quarter: Patriots 38, Dolphins 17 -- Just an update on Tom Brady. The 511 yards passing is the 11th 500-yard game in NFL history. That's the significance of the night.

5:44 4th quarter: Patriots 38, Dolphins 17 -- Were you watching? Tom Brady hit a streaking Wes Welker for a 99-yard touchdown after taking the ball over on downs from the Dolphins.

Brady is 31 of 46 for 511 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. The yards are a franchise and Monday Night Football record.

5:57 4th quarter: Patriots 31, Dolphins 17 -- Chad Henne found Davone Bess for a nice grab. It looked like Bess stretched out and touched the pylon for a touchdown, which was the ruling on the field. But after review, the replays confirmed he was down at the 1-yard line. On the next play, the Dolphins go for a fade to Brian Hartline that's unsuccessful.

4th quarter: Patriots 31, Dolphins 17 -- Did you know this is the ninth straight game the Patriots with 30+ points? It's the second longest streak in NFL history behind the Ram's 14 from 1999-2000.

4th quarter: Patriots 31, Dolphins 17 -- Stephen Gostkowski chipped in 20-yard field goal as the Patriots extended their lead to 14 points.

Tom Brady is now 30 of 43 for 412 yards, a career high in yards passing. It's only the second time he's passed for 400 yards. The last time he threw for 400 yards was Sept. 22, 2002 against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a 41-38 win that went to overtime.

End of the 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Dolphins 17 -- Tom Brady now has 35 career 300-yard passing games, good for 11th in NFL history. According to the Patriots, next up on the list are John Elway (36) and Drew Bledsoe (37).

Brady is 26 of 37 for 354 yards and three scores.

0:10 3d quarter: Patriots 28, Dolphins 17 -- Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a 30-yard completion. The play was originally called as a touchdown on the field, but was overturned on review. Brady came right back to Hernandez for a 1-yard TD pass as the Patriots extended their lead to 11 points.

The drive was 8 plays, 78 yards in 3:26.

A Brady pass to Deion Branch helped set up the play. He hit Branch for 24 yards in wide open field but Branch couldn't shake the Dolphin defender.

3:23 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 17 -- Chad Henne went to the right looking for Brandon Marshall and almost got picked off by Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. Next play, he goes to left looking for Marshall against the rookie Ras-I Dowling. No good there either. The 6-1 corner wasn't giving up much space to the 6-4 receiver. The Dolphins settled on a Dan Carpenter 20-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 87-yard drive in 4:47. Marshall had abused McCourty on two other receptions on the drive, both for 22 yards apiece.

8:23 3d quarter: Patriots 21, Dolphins 14 -- Tom Brady hit Wes Welker on a drag out for a 4-yard TD to give New England back the lead. The Patriots went 10 plays, 73 yards in 4:06 on that last drive.

Brady is now 20 of 31 passing for 279 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Branch was a key part of the last drive. He's coming up big.

11:20 3d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 14 -- Just a quick update on Dan Koppen. He's officially listed with an ankle injury and will not return to the game.

12:29 3d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 14 -- Chad Henne hit Brian Hartline for a 10-yard TD pass as the Dolphins tied the game. Jared Odrick's interception return set up the play.

13:13 3d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- On a busted screen play, Tom Brady throws an interception to the Dolphins Jared Odrick. He returned it 43 40 yards to the Patriots 9-yard line.

15:00 3d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- Third quarter underway.

End of the first half: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- With seven seconds on the clock, Stephen Gostkowski was wide right on a 48-yard field goal attempt on third down.

The Patriots have playing at a frantic pace, but their gameplay has been slowed by injuries. The Patriots lost center Dan Koppen (no word yet on him officially) and the Dolphins' Jason Taylor went down for some time with a leg injury. He was able to walk off the field.

Through the first half, Brady is 14 of 22 for 211 yards and one touchdown. His favorite target has been Rob Gronkowski who has five receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Chad Ochocinco recorded his first catch with the Patriots, a 14-yarder.

1:18 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- Center Dan Koppen appears to have been injured on Tom Brady's sneak up the middle. They brought out the cart for Koppen. Brady was taking snaps from Dan Connolly. It appeared to be his left leg. The Patriots were charged a timeout on the play. The team, without Koppen, has six available offensive linemen.

4:31 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- It looks like there was a mix up on the Patriots' third down as rookie Nate Solder passed up on a block but nobody picked up on the Dolphins defender. The ensuing pressure rushed Brady into a bad throw and incompletion to Wes Welker. The Patriots went three-and-out.

5:43 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- Rob Ninkovich got some good pressure on Chad Henne to force an incompletion. I'm sure he was looking for the safety, as the Dolphins were sitting on their own 5-yard line, but that was almost as good.

6:34 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- Tom Brady was eyeing Wes Welker in the end zone, but the two just couldn't connect. The Patriots drive stalled after nine plays.

10:34 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- Dan Fletcher made a heckuva tackle on Reggie Bush to nip the Dolphins' drive in the bud.

The Dolphins weren't playing when they told Bush he could be the featured back. He's already got 11 touches (seven carries and four catches).

14:09 2d quarter: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7 -- Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 10-yard TD to cap a 7-play, 65-yard drive that lasted 2:54.

Again, the key connections were Brady to Deion Branch (14 yards), Aaron Hernandez (16 yards) and Wes Welker (21 yards). Branch must be happy to touch the rock. He went the whole preseason without a grab.

On a side note, Chad Ochocinco was called for an illegal formation on the first play of the drive.

With the TD pass, Tom Brady now moves ahead of Dave Kreig into 10th place on the NFL's all-time list for touchdown passes with 262. He trails Joe Montana who finished his career with 273.

End of the first quarter: Dolphins 7, Patriots 7 -- The Patriots have quickened the pace here as the first quarter comes to a close. Tom Brady has made key connections with Aaron Hernandez(16 yards), Deion Branch (14 yards) and Wes Welker (21 yards) on the drive. They're in the red zone at the 8-yard line looking for paydirt.

2:11 1st quarter: Dolphins 7, Patriots 7 -- The Patriots defense just recorded its first three-and-out of the year. Albert Haynesworth made his presence felt with another tackle.

4:14 1st quarter: Dolphins 7, Patriots 7 -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis showed us some moves today. He hit a nice spin move to finish off a 5-yard run for a touchdown as the Patriots tied the game. Nate Solder had a solid block on the play.

The scoring play was set up by 46-yard reception by Matthew Slater from Tom Brady. Brady also hit Rob Gronkowski for 14 yards to get the ball down to the 5-yard line. The drive was 6 plays, 78 yards in 3:28.

On the drive, we also got to see the Patriots in their three tight end set a couple of times, with brothers Rob and Dan Gronkowski. New Gronkowski is fitting right in.

7:42 1st quarter: Dolphins 7, Patriots 0 -- Chad Henne scrambled up the middle for a 9-yard TD to cap a 12-play, 84-yard drive that lasted 7:18.

We got a chance to see the Patriots' new defensive line all playing at the same time on the drive. When the Patriots had the Dolphins at 4th-and-1, their line featured Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth, Vince Wilfork and Andre Carter. Lex Hilliard converted that fourth down for 2 yards.

It was Ched Henne's second career rushing TD.

9:15 1st quarter: The Dolphins have come out in spirited fashion. New feature running back Reggie Bush is already doing well and Chad Henne is tearing up the Patriots secondary. We're still in the first drive. However, the Dolphins have already burned two timeouts. Henne hit tight end Anthony Fasano for 22 yards to get the Dolphins down to the Patriots 2-yard line. It was a one-handed grab.

15:00 1st quarter: The Patriots won the toss and elected to kick. Game on.

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MIAMI -- We're getting ready to start here at Sun Life Stadium. It's 82 degrees, 73 percent humidity, partly cloudy skies and winds of 11 MPH northeast. Good football weather. Refresh right here to get the latest updates from the game.

Also, follow colleagues @shalisemyoung, @GregABedard, @monwalker, @cgasper and myself @zuriberry on Twitter.

Game 1: Patriots at Dolphins

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 12, 2011 04:50 PM

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The view from the press box at Sun Life Stadium. (Zuri Berry / Boston.com Staff)

MIAMI -- Greetings from Sun Life Stadium as the Patriots take on the host Miami Dolphins to open the season.

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 0-0; Dolphins 0-0


TV/Radio info: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti)

Projected starting lineups*

(Based on pregame material distributed to media.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB Danny Woodhead, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Dolphins offense: WR Brandon Marshall, LT Jake Long, LG Richie Incognito, C Mike Pouncey, RG Vernon Carey, RT Marc Colombo, TE Anthony Fasano, WR Brian Hartline, QB Chad Henne, RB Reggie Bush, FB Charles Clay.

Patriots defense: LE Albert Haynesworth, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Mike Wright, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Dane Fletcher, OLB Gary Guyton, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Leigh Bodden, S Sergio Brown, S Patrick Chung.

Dolphins defense: LE Kendall Langford, NT Paul Soliai, RE Randy Starks, SLB Koa Misi, ILB Karlos Dansby, ILB Kevin Burnett, WLB Cameron Wake, LCB Sean Smith, RCB Vontae Davis, FS Chris Clemons, SS Yeremiah Bell.

Inactives

Patriots: Jermaine Cunningham, Ryan Mallett, Taylor Price, Brandon Spikes, Shane Vereen, Sebastian Vollmer and Ryan Wendell.

Dolphins: Marlon Moore, Charles Clay, Daniel Thomas, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Ryan Cook, Will Yeatman, Ryan Baker.

Debuts for all: Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis, Andre Carter, Dan Gronkowski, a host of rookies and a revamped defense. Is that enough debut for ya? Lots to watch in this group and how they're deployed, particularly on the defensive line with Haynesworth and Ellis with holdovers like .

Worried about the offensive line, safeties?: We'll see. It's Game 1. Sergio Brown will have his opportunities and so will Josh Barrett. Nate Solder will play his part and by the end of the day, we'll all have a better picture of what this season is going to be like.

Patriots Fan Predictions Contest

Posted by Teresa Hanafin September 9, 2011 07:17 PM

Hey, Pats fans: We just launched our Patriots Fan Predictions Contest. To enter, all you have to do is visit the entry form link below, pick the outcome of each of the Patriots' 16 regular-season games, and answer a half-dozen tiebreakers.

If you win, not only will you get bragging rights, you'll also get a pretty cool prize pack:

> A $300 gift card for the Patriots Pro Shop, usable even if you're out of town and are ordering online

> An autographed photo of Tom Brady

> Lunch with Globe Patriots beat writer Greg Bedard after the season (including all playoff games) ends. You can pick his brain about the Pats and get the inside scoop on what players are like behind-the-scenes, whether Bill Belichick is always grumpy, and what the Patriots and their opponents' prospects are for next season.

We also have prizes for two runners-up: A $200 gift card to the Pro Shop for Second Place, and a $100 Pro shop gift card for Third Place.

The deadline is Monday, Sept. 12, the day of the Patriots' first game against the Dolphins, so enter soon -- and good luck!

COMPLETE RULES

CONTEST ENTRY FORM

FEEDBACK AND QUESTIONS


Final: Giants 18, Patriots 17

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 1, 2011 07:27 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- It was the final tuneup of the season for the Patriots, so there was quite a bit of incentive to see a number of players get some game action. Defensive linemen Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis both made their debuts while rookies Shane Vereen and Ras-I Dowling saw their first action as well.

The Patriots jumped to a 17-3 lead, but the New York Giants rallied for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take an 18-17 win tonight at Gillette Stadium.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for two 1-yard touchdowns to help the Patriots build their lead. After a Giants fumble on the first play of the game, Green-Ellis punched it in for a score. He pounded in another score after Tom Brady connected with receiver Matthew Slater for a 64-yard reception.

The Giants came alive in the fourth quarter with a 65-yard breakaway run by Da'Rel Scott. They took the lead on Derrick Martin's fumble recovery for a touchdown, followed by a 2-point conversion, with backup QB Ryan Perrilloux connecting with Jerrel Jernigan.

4th quarter, 4:10: Giants 18, Patriots 17 -- Ryan Mallett had an opportunity to show us something in the last drive. He threw an incompletion to Tiquan Underwood and was sacked for a loss on third down.

4th quarter, 5:26: Giants 18, Patriots 17 -- Brandon Meriweather made a nice open field tackle on Da'Rel Scott.

4th quarter, 7:51: Giants 18, Patriots 17 -- Ryan Mallett targets new receiver Tiquan Underwood three times on the last drive, only completing one for 14 yards. The guy is getting his looks before this Saturday's cutdown.

4th quarter, 9:40: Giants 18, Patriots 17 -- Just like that the Giants take the lead. The Patriots' Richard Medlin fumbled and the Giants' Derrick Martin recovered, returning it 11 yards for a touchdown. The Giants elected to go for the 2-point conversion, with backup QB Ryan Perrilloux connecting with WR Jerrel Jernigan for the score and the lead. Giants DB Brian Jackson was credited with the forced fumble.

4th quarter, 9:48: Patriots 17, Giants 10 -- Darryl Richard got himself a nice sack on Giants QB Ryan Perrilloux. The Patriots forced the Giants to punt again.

4th quarter, 14:40: Patriots 17, Giants 10 -- Ryan Mallett was sacked for an 11-yard loss by the Giants' Jacquian Williams and then overshot Brandon Tate on a pass as the Patriots' drive stalled. He did complete a 5-yard pass to Buddy Farnham.

4th quarter, 14:50: Patriots 17, Giants 10 -- The Giants' RB Da'Rel Scott broke loose for a 65-yard TD run to start the fourth quarter. The Giants' drive was 4 plays, 73 yards in 1:36. Rhys Lloyd was good on the extra point.

End of the 3rd quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- We're getting a decent look at rookie running back Shane Vereen. On defense, we're seeing defensive backs Ross Ventrone and Antwaun Molden get extensive play. Molden has already made a couple of nice plays at corner.

3rd quarter, 1:26: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- After a 3-yard loss by Shane Vereen, the Patriots turned it over on downs.

3rd quarter, 5:29: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- The Patriots' Ross Ventrone recorded a tackle for a loss. He's fighting for a spot on the team so that helps his cause.

3rd quarter, 7:21: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- We're starting to see a heavy offering of rookie Shane Vereen at running back now. He busted off a run of 14 yards on the last drive. But he also allowed a sack on Brian Hoyer to end the drive. Greg Jones was credited with the sack for a loss of 9 yards.

3rd quarter, 10:12: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- Rhys Lloyd missed his second field goal attempt, this one a 48-yarder as the Giants give the Patriots the ball back.

3rd quarter, 12:55: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- Brian Hoyer took a big hit and sack by the Giants' Tyler Sash. He fumbled on the play but was able to recover. Giants LB Greg Jones had an opportunity to pick it up but it looked like he couldn't decide whether to fall on it or use his hand, so he did kind of both. Patriots punted on the next play.

3rd quarter, 15:00: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- And the second half is underway.

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Albert Haynesworth in his first action for the Patriots against the New York Giants. (Jim Davis / Globe Staff)

End of 2nd quarter: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- The Giants' Rhys Lloyd was wide left on a 49-yard field goal try. Shaun Ellis recorded his first sack on the drive and Ricky Brown got a tackle for a loss.

The Patriots are in the driver's seat. Their edge so far has been helped by the Giants' th three turnovers. David Carr's pass to Domenik Hixon on the first play of the game resulted in a fumble, recovered by Patrick Chung and taken to the 1-yard line. BenJarvus Green-Ellis punched it in three seconds later. Devin McCourty then intercepted a Carr pass before Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski chipped in a 31-yard field goal. Green-Ellis scored the Patriots' second touchdown on another 1-yarder after a Tom Brady connection with Matthew Slater for 64 yards.

2nd quarter, 7:03: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- After a long drive, the Giants coughed up the ball again. This time, David Carr fumbled on the Patriots' 1-yard line, with Andre Carter recovering.

2nd quarter, 14:35: Patriots 17, Giants 3 -- After some confusion, the refs call BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 1-yard run a touchdown. The play was set up by Tom Brady's 64-yard pass to Matthew Slater that took the ball down to the 4-yard line. The drive was 5 plays, 90 yards in 3:11. Stephen Gostkowski converted the extra point.

1st quarter, 2:46: Patriots 10, Giants 3 -- Gary Guyton sacked David Carr for a loss of nine yards, forcing the Giants to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Rhys Lloyd. The Giants' drive was 5 plays, 16 yards, 1:59. Patriots rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling recorded his first tackle on the drive.

1st quarter, 6:55: Patriots 10, Giants 0 -- Albert Haynesworth recorded his first couple of tackles. He shared a tackle with Patrick Chung and then recorded a solo with a tackle of the Giants' Andre Brown. The Patriots forced the Giants to punt.

1st quarter, 10:18: Patriots 10, Giants 0 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 31-yard field goal to cap a 6-play, 20-yard drive that lasted 1:50. The Patriots have now scored off two straight Giants turnovers.

1st quarter, 12:04: Patriots 7, Giants 0 -- We've already got our second Giants turnover of the day. Devin McCourty intercepted David Carr to give the Patriots the ball right back. Two passes, two turnovers for the Giants.

1st quarter, 14:40: Patriots 7, Giants 0 -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis runs in the 1-yarder for a touchdown to capitalize on the Giants' early turnover. 1 play, 1 yard, 3 seconds on the drive.

1st quarter, 14:44 -- For the Giants' first play, David Carr connected with Domenik Hixon over the middle for 12 yards but the receiver fumbled on the play. Patrick Chung picked it up and rumbled 18 yards to the Giants' 1-yard line. The play was reviewed and upheld. Rob Ninkovich made the hit to force the fumble.

1st quarter, 15:00 -- The New York Giants won the toss and the Patriots will defend the South goal. Game on.

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FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots and Giants are getting ready to kickoff. We'll have updates right here throughout the game. So keep clicking on that refresh button.

You can also follow a number of my colleagues at the game on Twitter. Follow @shalisemyoung @GregABedard @monwalker @cgasper and me @zuriberry for all the latest updates and insights.

Enjoy the game.

Preseason Game 4: Giants at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff September 1, 2011 04:08 PM

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FOXBOROUGH -- The New England Patriots will close out the 2011 preseason against the New York Giants tonight at Gillette Stadium with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.

The Patriots are 2-1 in the preseason while the Giants come into their final preseason game at 1-2, losing on Monday to the New York Jets 17-3. The Patriots are coming off a 34-10 loss to the Detroit Lions.

This is the seventh straight season the Patriots have closed out the preseason against the Giants, losing last year 20-17 at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Tonight will be a special game for the Patriots as the team will honor the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. Former Patriots guard Joe Andruzzi along with his three New York City firefighter brothers and their father will be recognized on the field as honorary game captains and participate in the coin toss. The Andruzzzis were recognized on the field at Foxboro Stadium Sept. 23, 2001, just 12 days after the terrorist attacks that shook the nation. Also, all five branches of the United States military will be on hand as well local and state police along with local firefighters.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Preseason records: Patriots 2-1; Giants 1-2
TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Don Criqui, Randy Cross); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti)

Projected starting lineups*
(Based on pregame material distributed to media.)

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB Danny Woodhead, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Giants offense: WR Mario Manningham, LT Will Beatty, LG David Diehl, C David Baas, RG Chris Snee, RT Kareem McKenzie, TE Travis Beckum, WR Hakeem Nicks, QB Eli Manning, FB Bear Pascoe, RB Ahmad Bradshaw.

Patriots defense: LE Albert Haynesworth, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Mike Wright, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Leigh Bodden, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung.

Giants defense: LE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, DT Chris Canty, RE Jason Pierre-Paul, SLB Mathias Kiwanuka, MLB Jonathan Goff, WLB Michael Boley, LCB Corey Webster, RCB Aaron Ross, SS Kenny Phillips, FS Antrel Rolle.

Last-minute auditions: For the Patriots, they're still nailing down who they'll keep at key positions, including (but not limited to): receiver, running back, defensive line, inside linebacker and safety. It's expected that safeties Josh Barrett, James Ihedigbo and Ross Ventrone will get a good majority of the playing time, while special teams play will also be eyed closely for the inside linebackers.

Who will actually play: It's undetermined if we'll actually see Patriots newcomers Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis this week. Haynesworth, listed in the projected starting lineup above, has been listed as the projected starter since Week 1 of the preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Also, it's undetermined if Brandon Spikes, who has recently started practicing after coming back from an ankle injury, is going to play. The same can be said for Wes Welker after suffering a neck injury against the Detroit Lions and Dan Connolly who suffered an ankle injury against the Lions. On top of that, the Giants might sit all of their starters, according to the New York Post. Needless to say, take the projected starting lineups with a grain of salt. However, we are expecting to see Patriots rookie running back Shane Vereen and rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling make their debuts after practicing the past couple of weeks. Both have been hampered by injuries through training camp.

Final: Lions 34, Patriots 10

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff August 27, 2011 07:53 PM

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn't appear too happy against the Detroit Lions. (Leon Halip / Getty Images)

End of the game: Lions 34, Patriots 10: The Lions started fast, came with pressure on Tom Brady and never let up, giving the Patriots their first loss of the preseason.

"They handled us easily," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Tom Brady completed 12 of 22 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown while throwing an interception as well.

Wes Welker, who caught the Patriots' lone touchdown, walked off the field after Brady's last pass in which he was intercepted. Welker went for the tackle on the play and hurt his neck. He was listed as questionable to return and never did.

4th quarter, 3:43, Lions 34, Patriots 10: Brian Hoyer ended his night on a sour note. He failed to complete a pass to Matthew Slater on fourth down on what was a promising drive. He was replaced by rookie Ryan Mallett on the next drive. Hoyer finished the night completing 6 of 12 passes for 88 yards.

4th quarter, 6:05, Lions 34, Patriots 10: Drew Stanton threw a four-yard pass to Derrick Williams to cap a 12-play, 70-yard drive. The Lions are firmly in the lead at this point.

3rd quarter, 8:52, Patriots 10, Lions 27: Brian Hoyer is in the game. Brady is likely done for the night. Brady completes 12 of 22 passes for 145 yards. 1 TD, 1 INT.

3rd quarter, 9:11, Patriots 10, Lions 27: The Patriots announce Wes Welker has a neck injury and his return is questionable. The Patriots also are tending to CB Jonathan Wilhite who was hurt.

3rd quarter, Patriots 10, Detroit 27: Tom Brady comes out for the second half. But not much comes of it. He's sent back to the sideline three and out.

Halftime: Patriots 10, Detroit 27: If the Patriots needed a reality check, they're getting it. The players don't seem to be on the same page. Brady is struggling and he can't say much for his offensive line. He ends the first half 11 of 20 for 142 yards with 1 TD and 1INT.

2nd quarter, .12, Patriots 10, Detroit 27: Even Shaun Hill is getting in on this action. He completes a 9-yard TD pass to Aaron Brown that leaves Patrick Chung and Jerod Mayo yapping at each other. The drive took 26 seconds.

2nd quarter, 1:07, Patriots 10, Detroit 20: Hanson kicks a 46-yard field goal to cap an 8-play, 52-yard drive.

2nd quarter, 1:57, Patriots 10, Detroit 17: Stafford is out of the game. He completed 12 of 14 passes for 200 yards and 2 TDs. Shaun Hill is now in the game at QB for the Lions.

2nd quarter,3:58, Patriots 10, Detroit 17: Patriots put together a positive drive after getting chewed out. Brady finds Welker for 44-yard TD pass. Scoring drive: 2 plays, 46 yards, 0.42.

2nd quarter, 6:14, Patriots 3, Detroit 17: Bill Belichick and Bill O'Brien called over the entire team and let out a few choice words after that last drive.

2nd quarter, 8:46, Patriots 3, Detroit 17: Stafford fires a 22-yard pass to TE Tony Scheffler, who blew by Arrington right into the end zone. Scoring drive: 3 plays, 51 yards, 1:30.

2nd quarter, 11:40, Patriots 3, Detroit 10: Rookie Nate Solder enters the game in place of Matt Light at left tackle.

2nd quarter, 11:53, Patriots 3, Detroit 10: The Patriots finally get to Stafford as Kyle Arrington gets the sack (-8 yards) to force Detroit to punt.

2nd quarter, 14:12, Patriots 3, Detroit 10: The Patriots have announced Connolly has an ankle injury and his return is questionable. Bad news for an already thin offensive line.

2nd quarter, 14:56, Patriots 3, Detroit 10: Gostkowski kicks 33-yard field goal to cap 16-play drive.

1st quarter, 0:31, Patriots 0, Detroit 10: Patriots guard Dan Connolly appeared to injure his right leg and has headed to the locker room. There hasn't been an official report from the Patriots yet.

1st quarter, 7:27: Patriots 0, Detroit 10: Nice pass by Stafford to Nate Burleson that beats Kyle Arrington for a 9-yard touchdown. The Patriots are facing their biggest deficit of the preseason. Scoring drive is 4 plays, 57 yards, 1:43, Hanson kicks extra point.

1st quarter, 12:15: Patriots 0, Detroit 3: Brandon Tate returns the kick for 13 yards, it's his first return this preseason. Matt Light started at LT, getting his first snaps of the preseason.

1st quarter, 12:22, Patriots 0, Detroit 3: The Lions come out with an aggressive drive behind QB Matthew Stafford and the no-huddle. A dropped pass in the end zone forced the Lions to settle for Jason Hanson's 33-yard field goal.


Stephen Gostkowski handles the kickoff for the Patriots, which is the first time this preseason for him. He kicked it out of the end zone for the touchback.

DETROIT -- We're here at Ford Field for the third preseason game of the year for the Patriots. They'll be taking on the Detroit Lions, who will be without the following players: CB Alphonso Smith, HB Maurice Morris, HB Mike Bell, HB Jahvid Best, OT Jason Fox, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Nate Fairley.

The following Patriots have not been spotted for tonight's game: CB Ras-I Dowling, RB Stevan Ridley, CB Leigh Bodden, RB Shane Vereen, S Josh Barrett, RB Kevin Faulk, DB Malcolm Williams, LB Jeff Tarpinian, LB Dane Fletcher, LB Brandon Spikes, OL Marcus Cannon, DL Brandon Deaderick, DL Albert Haynesworth, DE Shaun Ellis, DE Jermaine Cunningham, DL Ron Brace and DL Mike Wright.

Final: Patriots 31, Buccaneers 14

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff August 18, 2011 07:19 PM

FINAL: Patriots 31, Buccaneers 14:

4th quarter, 1:20: Patriots 31, Buccaneers 14: Scary moment for the Patriots in the fourth quarter as Danny Woodhead is hit hard by Devin Holland after a punt. Woodhead was seen smiling on the bench after taking a moment to regain his balance.

3rd quarter, 3:17: Patriots 31, Buccaneers 7: Mallett recovered after a rough start to carry the Patriots down the field for Gostkowski's 44-yard field goal. 7 plays, 31 yards.

3rd quarter, 6:53: Patriots 28, Buccaneers 7: Things getting sloppy here. Ridley fumbled and the Buccaneers recovered. In the midst of the Buccaneer's drive Arrington grabbed an interception to get the ball back.

3rd quarter, 11:56: Patriots 28, Buccaneers 7: Ryan Mallett enters the game and then throws an interception on a floater that landed in the hands of Elbert Mack. Mack returned it 69 yards for the TD.

Halftime: Patriots 28, Buccaneers 0: The Buccaneers missed a 47-yard field goal to end the half. The Patriots had an impressive first half as LB Jerod Mayo had two sacks. Andre Carter also applied quite a bit of pressure.

Offensively, Brady played most of the first half, completing 11 of 19 passes for 118 yards and two TDs. Patriots also have 117 rushing yards.

2nd quarter, 0:41:Patriots 28, Buccaneers 0: The Patriots announce LB Dane Fletcher has a thumb injury and will not return.

2nd quarter, 2:12: Patriots 28, Buccaneers 0: The Patriots defense smells fresh meat. Mayo and crew have been smacking the TB QBs around all night.

2nd quarter, 5:51: Patriots 28, Buccaneers 0: Another TD for the Patriots as Green-Ellis runs in for 1-yard touchdown. Patriots drive 60 yards on nine plays.

2nd quarter, 10:04: Patriots 21, Buccaneers 0: Bret Locket is carted off the field after an apparent groin injury during while on punt coverage.

1st quarter, 0:06: Patriots 21, Buccaneers 0: Another possession and another TD for the Patriots. BenJarvus Green-Ellis forces his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run. He picked up 16 yards on the previous play behind a nice block from rookie tight end Will Yeatman. Scoring drive: 53 yards, 7 plays. Gostkowski converts the PAT.

On the drive, Belichick switched things up by suddenly putting Hoyer in the game. But Brady returned to finish the drive.

1st quarter, 6:49: Patriots 14, Buccaneers 0: Brady connects with Chad Ochocinco for the receivers first TD of the preseason. Earlier in the drive, Ochocinco got smashed by Mason Foster on a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Scoring drive: 61 yards, 8 plays, 3:15

1st quarter, 11:45 Patriots 7, Buccaneers 0: Brady sends 16-yard pass to Hernandez in the end zone. Brady, Ochocinco and Welker all start. Rookie Nate Solder also is in alongside Mankins.

Patriots drive 64 yards on five plays in 2 minutes, 08 seconds.

We're minutes away from kickoff here at Raymond James Stadium for the Patriots' second preseason game. We'll be posting updates here throughout the game.

If you would like instant analysis, follow @GlobePatsLive for NFL reporter Greg Bedard's observations.

Patriots starters are expected to play a decent amount tonight, which would mean the debut of Tom Brady and Chad Ochocinco. Also, Matt Light hasn't been seen in uniform, which means a good bit of time for first-round pick Nate Solder.

Albert Haynesworth also is not in uniform, which isn't a surprise as he has not practiced since the first week.

Final: Patriots 47, Jaguars 12

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff August 11, 2011 07:23 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- Rookie Stevan Ridley scored three touchdowns and backup quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett looked impressive as the Patriots opened the preseason with a 47-12 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.

Ridley, a rookie out of LSU, rushed 16 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught seven passes for 47 yards and another score.

With Tom Brady sitting out the game, Hoyer got the start. He played the first half, going 15 of 21 for 171 yards and a touchdown. Mallett played the second half, finishing 12 of 19 for 164 yards.

Taylor Price caught five passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.

2:00 4th quarter: Patriots 47, Jaguars 12 -- We've reached the two-minute warning here and the outcome is obvious. We'll update more after the game comes to a close.

6:34 4th quarter: Patriots 47, Jaguars 12 -- The Jaguars sputtered on their last drive with Todd Bouman throwing two incomplete passes that never had a chance of finding their destination.

The 47 points the Patriots scored is the most the team has scored in an exhibition game. The previous high was 45 in a win over Washington in 1977.

7:35 4th quarter: Patriots 47, Jaguars 12 -- Richard Medlin rushed six straight times for 31 yards, capping the Patriots' drive with a 2-yard TD run -- his second of the game.

10:11 4th quarter: Patriots 40, Jaguars 12 -- Well, if Buddy Farnham doesn't have a career as a wide receiver with the Patriots, he might as a defensive back. Farnham intercepted a Todd Bouman pass to give the Patriots another possession.

10:20 4th quarter: Patriots 40, Jaguars 12 -- Richard Medlin got some last-minute glory with 2-yard TD run -- his first carry of the game.

Meanwhile, Ryan Mallett has appeared to be one cool customer for the Patriots, guiding the second and third teams.

14:47 4th quarter: Patriots 33, Jaguars 12 -- Josh Scobee kicked a 31-yard field goal to cap 13-play, 74-yard drive for the Jaguars.

End of the third quarter: Patriots 33, Jaguars 9 -- Darryl Richard got his second sack, grabbing Jaguars third-stringer Todd Bouman for a 2-yard loss.

5:20 3rd quarter: Patriots 33, Jaguars 9 -- This is turning into the Stevan Ridley show. The rookie running back caught a 16-yard pass for a TD, his third. Earlier in the drive, he found a seam on an outside and exploded for 21 yards, finishing the run with a shoulder dip into a Jaguars defender.

Ridley has rushed 14 times for 50 yards and two touchdowns, and caught six passes for 41 yards and another score.

The drive went 67 yards in six plays in 2:08.

7:28 3rd quarter: Patriots 26, Jaguars 9 -- Taylor Price had a nice punt return negated after the Patriots were flagged for an illegal block in the back. He's shown flashes as both an explosive receiver and a returner.

8:52 3rd quarter: Patriots 26, Jaguars 9 -- Todd Bouman is now at quarterback for the Jaguars, finishing Blaine Gabbert's day. Gabbert finished 9 of 16 for 85 yards.

9:03 3rd quarter: Patriots 26, Jaguars 9 -- Stevan Ridley was not to be denied. After getting stopped initially, he bounced outside for a 1-yard TD -- his second of the game.

In Ryan Mallett's debut drive, he completed 6 of 8 passes for 79 yards. Gostkowski kicked the extra point.

The drive was 13 plays, 82 yards in 5:57.

Brian Hoyer finished with 15 of 21 completions for 171 yards and a TD with a QB rating of 111.4. His favorite target was Aaron Hernandez, who had six catches for 68 yards in the first half.

14:55 3rd quarter: Patriots 19, Jaguars 9 -- The third quarter is underway with rookie Ryan Mallett under center for the Patriots.

End of the second quarter: Patriots 19, Jaguars 9 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 43-yard field as the Patriots went into halftime with a 10-point lead.

Brian Hoyer led the Patriots on a 14-play, 62-yard drive. Key plays on the drive included a 20-yard pass to Taylor Price and Stevan Ridley juking two Jaguars for 8 yards and a first down.

2:00 2nd quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 9 -- Stevan Ridley made two Jaguars miss pretty badly on a catch out of the backfield. He's showing some versatility.

4:18 2nd quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 9 -- Patrick Chung dropped a gimme for an interception of a Blaine Gabbert pass.

7:35 2nd quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 9 -- A neutral zone infraction on the Patriots allowed the Jaguars to retain possession after they were set to punt. The Patriots' Darryl Richard got himself a sack on Blaine Gabbert for 7 yards.

9:40 2nd quarter: Patriots 16, Jaguars 9 -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 46-yard field goal -- showing he's in fine form -- to extend the Patriots' lead. The score was set up by a 43-yard pass from Brian Hoyer to receiver Matt Slater, who made a leaping grab over former Patriot cornerback Terrence Wheatley.

The drive was 6 plays, 49 yards in 2:33.

12:08 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Jaguars 9 -- Jaguars' Deji Karim returned the kickoff 84 yards before he was tracked down by the Patriots' Tracy White. But the Jaguars couldn't do anything with the field position and had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Josh Scobee, making it, 13-9.

The Jaguars drive was 4 plays, 7 yards in 2:07.

14:15 2nd quarter: Patriots 13, Jaguars 6 -- Taylor Price made a nice grab in the back of the end zone from Brian Hoyer for his first catch, upping the Patriots' lead. Hoyer's 19-yard pass to Aaron Hernandez helped set up the score.

Price's catch, an 11-yarder, was reviewed and upheld. The extra point attempt was botched.

End of the first quarter: Patriots 7, Jaguars 6 -- As the first quarter came to a close, Brian Hoyer completed a 19-yard pass to Aaron Hernandez who made a tough grab.

To recap, Patriots rookie Stevan Ridley had 1-yard TD at the 1:27 mark of the first while the Jaguars had a couple of field goals from two different kickers to make it 7-6.

0:13 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Jaguars 6 -- Matt Turk's 14-yard punt after a three-and-out gives the Patriots possession at the Jaguars' 49.

1:27 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Jaguars 6 -- Patriots rookie Stevan Ridley found the end zone for a 1-yard TD run. He showed some escapability on his first carry, taking an inside run outside for 6 yards.

The key play of the drive was a 20-yard pass from Brian Hoyer to Aaron Hernandez. Hoyer found Hernandez a second time in the red zone on a 9-yard completion that Hernandez fumbled but was able to recover. Ridley followed up with the 1-yard plunge.

The touchdown was reviewed and upheld.

The drive was 8 plays, 49 yards in 3:57. Stephen Gostkowski with the extra point, for those keeping track of which kickers the Patriots are using.

5:24 1st quarter: Jaguars 6, Patriots 0 -- Patriots defensive lineman Landon Cohen sacked Blaine Gabbert and Dane Fletcher got a nice tackle for a loss to force the Jaguars' first punt of the game after a three-and-out.

7:40 1st quarter: Jaguars 6, Patriots 0 -- The Patriots had a three-and-out, with Danny Woodhead getting his first couple of carries on the drive. Brian Hoyer couldn't connect with Julian Edelman on a pass.

8:38 1st quarter: Jaguars 6, Patriots 0 -- Sam Swank kicked a 40-yard field goal as the Jaguars capitalized on the Patriots' first drive turnover to make it 6-0. The drive was 4 plays, 3 yards.

9:32 1st quarter: Jaguars 3, Patriots 0 -- Brian Hoyer completed his first pass of the game to Aaron Hernandez. But Hernandez fumbled after a 7-yard gain. The Jaguars' David Jones Dawan Landry is credited with forcing the fumble.

9:47 1st quarter: Jaguars 3, Patriots 0 -- Josh Scobee kicked a 41-yard field goal to cap a 12-play 57-yard drive for the Jaguars to open the game. Blaine Gabbert completed 3 of 5 passes for 27 yards.

On the drive, Patriots LB Jermaine Cunningham got himself a sack for 7 yards.

13:38 1st quarter: Patriots 0, Jaguars 0 -- Blaine Gabbert has completed his first two passes for the Jaguars, both to Jason Hill.

--

We're about to get underway here at Gillette Stadium. We'll have key updates throughout the game right here. Feel free to add to the discussion. (You can check out photos of the game here.)

Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and running back Maurice Jones-Drew will not play. And, if you've been following along on Extra Points, Tom Brady is not expected to play for the Patriots.

We're looking at clear skies and a warm 74 degrees tonight.

Final: Jets 28, Patriots 21

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff January 16, 2011 06:54 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The New York Jets backed up their brash talk. And while their most notorious vow was aimed at one player rather than the team, in the end it proved prescient.

The Patriots' days are numbered.

The Jets stunned the Patriots, 28-21, this afternoon during the rivals' AFC Divisional Playoff matchup at Gillette Stadium. Coming barely a month after the Patriots blasted the Jets, 45-3, on the same turf, it was a devastating end to a surprisingly dominant season in which the Patriots went 14-2, won their final eight regular season games, and earned the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

The Jets iced secured the victory against the oddly sluggish Patriots with 1:41 left on Shonn Greene's 16-yard scoring run to give New York a 28-14 lead. A late 13-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Deion Branch proved too little, too late.

Oft-criticized Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez played a steady and efficient game, completing 16 of 25 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions or sacks. Brady was sacked five times and threw his first interception since Oct. 17, and while he finished with respectable numbers (29 of 45, 299 yards, two TDs, 1 INT), he was under siege all game (five sacks) and struggled to connect with his primary receivers until it was too late.

Alge Crumpler had the Patriots' other receiving touchdown, which cut the margin to 14-11 in the third quarter.

The Jets will head to Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship game, where they will face the second-seeded Steelers, needing two victories to back up their coach's preseason boast that they would be Super Bowl champions.

The Patriots, meanwhile, have lost three straight postseason games dating back to their Super Bowl XLII loss to the Giants.

0:00, JETS 28, PATRIOTS 21: And that's that. Braylon Edwards punctuates the victory with a backflip, Belichick shakes hands with Ryan, the Jets back up their bluster, and an enjoyable and entertaining Patriots season ends in stunning disappointment. We'll be back with a brief recap right here in a moment, and stick around Extra Points for all of your postgame coverage.

0:23: Eric Smith recovers the onside kick.

0:24, JETS 28, PATRIOTS 21: Brady to Branch for a 13-yard score.

1:41, JETS 28, PATRIOTS 14: Shonn Greene takes it in from 16 yards out, then rubs it in by putting the football on the ground and using it as a pillow. Good night, indeed.

1:52: So much for that. The Patriots have a shot at the onside kick, but it squibs through a group of players and Antonio Cromartie picks it up and returns in 23 yards to the Patriots 20. It's all over but the chest-thumping.

1:57, JETS 21, PATRIOTS 14: Graham boots it through, capping a seven-play, 26-yard drive that took 1:32.

2:00 Another extended television timeout as Shayne Graham lines up for a 35-yard field goal to cut it to seven.

2:56: Bart Scott has to be helped off the field. Patriots fans cheer.

3:29: Edelman zips up the left seam for a 41-yard return to the Jets 43.

3:42: Tomlinson is stopped for no gain on third and 6. Patriots use their first timeout. Julian Edelman is back to return the punt. If he takes it back . . . well, maybe. Still can't figure out why they were so nonchalant on their last drive.

4:33 And now the Jets try to run out the clock. Shonn Greene picks up two yards on first down, then four more on second.

5:15, 4th quarter: Brady misses Branch at the first down marker on the fourth down play. The ball deflected off Branch's hands. And that may do it. The fans are now heading to the exits. [Chad Finn takes it home from here, I'm off to the Rex Ryan postgame presser]

5:39, 4th quarter: Brady sacked again by Sione Pouha then follows that up with an incomplete pass on third down. It's now fourth and 13 from the Jets 34 yard line. Crunch time to say the least.

13;00, 4th quarter: Fans aren't exactly filing for the exits just yet, but it's not looking pretty here in Foxborough as Sanchez just hit Santonio Holmes on a 17-yard touchdown play. The scoring drive: 5 plays, covering 75 yards, in 2:13. Injury update: Ninkovich out with a knee injury, return questionable.

0:45, 3d quarter: Brady to Alge Crumpler, 2-yard touchdown. Patriots go for the two-point conversion and get in on a run by little-used Sammy Morris. An 80 yard drive in 8 plays covering 3:51 on the score. Brady moved around in the pocket long enough to spring Crumpler free in the end zone. Safety Eric Smith smashed Wes Welker on a short pass prior to that. BenJarvus Green-Ellis got them down to the 8 yard line on a power run after a false-start penalty set them back five yards.

2:51, 3d quarter: Big play finally. Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski for a badly-needed 37 yard gain. After a couple of plays that yielded one yard, Brady hit Deion Branch for another first down on third and nine. First reception of the game for Branch. Now Brady hits Branch again for a 16-yard completion. Patriots inside the Jets 15...

4:11, 3d quarter: Injury update: Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich is gingerly walking off the field with assistance after holding his left knee after the last play. Defensive lineman Eric Moore has a hamstring issue, his return is questionable.

5:40, 3d quarter: Jets running back Shonn Greene is having a big impact for Gang Green. Greene just busted out a 20-yard run after making a nine yard catch and a four yard run for a first down earlier in the drive. Jets are grinding down the clock, running, and hitting short passes... looking like the old 14-2 Patriots.

6:47, 3d quarter: Patriots punt again. Brady was hit and the Patriots recovered their own fumble at the 21 yard line, which could have been a game-breaker if the Jets came up with it. The play goes as a 12-yard sack for Jets linebacker Calvin Pace. Hernandez catches a four yard pass, not enough, on third down. Brady tried to hit Brandon Tate, Randy-Moss-style, deep down the field, but Tate could not come up with the catch earlier in the stalled drive. The Patriots tried another trick play, a snap to Woodhead who handed off to Julian Edelman for an 11-yard pickup. But there wasn't much else to the drive. And it's getting late. You can hear more boos.

8:44, 3d quarter: Patriots punt again. Brady was hit and the Patriots recovered their own fumble at the 21 yard line, which could have been a game-breaker if the Jets came up with it. The play goes as a 12-yard sack for Jets linebacker Calvin Pace. Hernandez catches a four yard pass, not enough, on third down. Brady tried to hit Brandon Tate, Randy-Moss-style, deep down the field, but Tate could not come up with the catch earlier in the stalled drive. The Patriots tried another trick play, a snap to Woodhead who handed off to Julian Edelman for an 11-yard pickup. But there wasn't much else to the drive. And it's getting late. You can hear more boos.

10:24, 3d quarter: Jets stopped. Patrick Chung stepped up and stopped LaDainian Tomlinson on a third and five from the Jets 45. Patriots have the ball again, and another chance to get some momentum going.

Halftime: You can hear the boos from the press box as the Patriots shuffle off the field at the end of a disappointing first half. Before the misery ended, Logan Mankins shoved Jets cornerback Marquice Cole and picked up a personal foul penalty. Prior to that, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis ripped the ball out of Deion Branch's hands after a long throw down the field by Tom Brady in an attempt to get the Patriots into scoring position before the half. A disappointing performance all-around for the Patriots in the first half.

0:50, 2d quarter: Panic time. Jets score. Sanchez to Braylon Edwards for a 15-yard touchdown catch. Edward was open and fought off Patriots defenders on his way to the end zone. The drive: 4 plays, covering 37 yards, in 33 seconds after the Patriots blew the fake punt attempt. We'll be taking about that punt play for a while if New England goes on to lose this. Oh, yes, and the air has been taken out of Gillette Stadium. The feet signs aren't so funny right now.

0:50, 2d quarter: Trick, but no treat for the Patriots. The Patriots faked the punt and did a short snap to safety Patrick Chung, who dropped the ball and was immediately tackled. Jets are now in a great position to score. Ball is now at the Patriots 20 and the Jets are driving.

1:27, 2d quarter: On third and three, Brady badly missed Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski wasn't looking for the ball which sailed out of bounds. Prior to the third down play, Brady handed off to Woodhead on second down for just a two-yard gain.

1:57, 2d quarter: Patriots moving the ball after Brady picked up a first down on a third-and-one quarterback sneak. The ball is at the Patriots 36, second down and six, when we come back from the two-minute warning break. Plenty of time for the Patriots offense to get into scoring position if they can get some receivers open.

3:02, 2d quarter: No guts, no glory. Jets punt on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots 41 yard line. The Jets aren't flying, but they were moving the ball until they were stopped on third and five with a four yard catch.

5:16, 2d quarter: The Patriots are challenging a complete catch call on a pass by Sanchez to Santonio Holmes, who bobbled the catch. The ball is at the New England 49 as we wait. Could be tough to overturn this call as it was called a catch on the field.

6:47, 2d quarter: Ouch. A third down incompletion by Sanchez turns into a first down on a pass interference call (questionable) on James Sanders. First and ten Jets from their own 40 yard line.

8:40, 2d quarter: A bright spot. The Jets had the Patriots punt again after a penalty on Sergio Brown, and the Jets lost 5 yards in the exchange. Jets backed up in side the 25.

10:24, 2d quarter: Touchdown Jets. Sanchez hit a wide open Tomlinson on a 7 yard pass for the score. The drive: 5 plays, 49 yards, in 1:56. The oh-so-big play: Sanchez fired the ball deep down the left side of the field to Braylon Edwards on third down; a 37-yard play. A great throw and an even better catch.

14:05, 2d quarter: Jets cornerback Drew Coleman flew in untouched and flew into Tom Brady for the third down sack. Prior to the sack, Brady threw incomplete to Welker who was well covered. Woodhead followed with a five yard run to set up the third down play. Third sack by the Jets today. The Patriots had 104 yards of offense in the first quarter, but only have the field goal to show for it.

14:05, 2d quarter: Jets punting. Sanchez tried to hit tight end Dustin Keller downfield. Keller was open, but Sanchez missed him on the third-and-seven attempt. Patriots get the ball back after the punt, will start the drive from their own 20 yard line.

0:00, first quarter: First and ten Jets at the Patriots 49 yard line as the first quarter ends. Sanchez may be gaining confidence after completing a 6-yard pass to Cotchery for the first down on this drive.

1:12, first quarter: Patriots score. 34-yard field goal by Shayne Graham. 11 play drive, 63 yards in 4:32. Brady was sacked for the second time at the 15 yard line. A nine yard drop by Shaun Ellis, his second.

2:02, first quarter: Brady finds another offensive weapon and hits tight end Alge Crumpler on a 28-yard play to get the Patriots inside the 10 yard line.

3:41, first quarter: BenJarvus Green-Ellis bust through with an 8-yard run to give the Patriots a first down at the Jets 40. Wes Welker is back for this drive, and makes a 10-yard catch to keep the drive moving.

5:01, first quarter: Facemask penalty on David Harris, 15 yard penalty gives the Patriots a first down. Tom Brady was sacked for the first time by defensive end Shaun Ellis. Patriots pushing towards mid-field.

6:30, first quarter: Nick Folk misses a 30 yard field goal, wide left, and the crowd goes wild. The Jets were at the 12, but got backed up on two plays before an 8 yard run by Tomlinson set up what looked like a fairly easy field goal. Patriots are fortunate to come out of the turnover unscathed. Still no score.

7:50, first quarter: A rare Brady interception. A pass intended for Green-Ellis was picked off by Jets LB David Harris who returned it 58 yards before Algie Crumpler took him down. Brady had 339 pass attempts without an interception to end the regular season, but a big turnover here.

10:00, first quarter:Gronkowski gets a third-down, 9-yard catch for a first down. Tom Brady's first pass to Deion Branch was broken up by Jets DB Darrell Revis.

11:31, first quarter: Patriots on the move. A first down end-around by Brandon Tate for an 11-yard first down at the 46 followed a 19-yard run by Danny Woodhead to open the offense for New England.

12:03, first quarter: Cotchery was wide open down the sidelines on a third down play but Mark Sanchez was in his usual Gillette form and missed the receiver. Jets forced to punt. A couple of short runs by Tomlinson and Joe McNight set up the third down play.

12:47, first quarter: Jets get a quick first down 16 yard completion by Mark Sanchez to Jerricho Cotchery. LaDainian Tomlinson started the drive with a 4 yard run.

15:00, first quarter: As Rex Ryan might say, it's time to walk the walk here in Foxborough where Gillette Stadium is banged-out full, loud, and proud. We are minutes from kickoff.

Game time temperature is a relatively mild 30 degrees, winds out of the northwest at 14 m.p.h. Sully sang the national anthem.

The Patriots have won the toss and will defer and defend the north goal to start. Jets taking the ball.

Wes Welker is not in the starting lineup, reportedly benched for his remarks the other day according to CBS. Chad Finn will have more on this in Extra Points shortly.

We'll have updates and analysis throughout the game here at Extra Points, so check back early and often . . .

Chad Finn contributed to this report.

AFC Divisional Playoff: Jets at Patriots

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff January 16, 2011 01:52 PM

Pregame warmups

All of the hype and buildup -- the blustery coach's must-watch press conferences, the productive (and re-productive) cornerback's name-calling, the linebacker's barely veiled threat of injury, the wide receiver's subversive references, all of it -- is just about done. Thank goodness, it's time for the main event, time action rather than more talk.

The Patriots and Jets will meet for the third time this season today, and if you've used any form of media this past week, you surely do not require a full rehash of this always entertaining rivalry. Few games, if any, in recent Patriots history have been as hyped as this one. Of course, in the teams' last meeting, Dec. 6 here at Gillette Stadium, the rivalry was not only entertaining, but lopsided -- the Patriots routed the Jets, 45-3.

Revenge is a motive for the Jets today, but the question is whether they are capable with erratic Mark Sanchez at quarterback. They will have to run the ball to beat the Patriots. They will have to force Tom Brady and the offense into a rare mistake -- the Patriots turned the ball over just 10 times this season, and Brady was intercepted just four times.

Two of those interceptions did come in Week 2 against the Jets, a 28-14 New York victory. But that was a different Patriots team. Danny Woodhead, let go by the Jets, had just been signed. Randy Moss was still around. Deion Branch was still a Seahawk. This is a different Patriots team, as they showed in the rematch.

Now it's time for the rubber match -- and not just for this season. The Patriots and Jets enter with 51-51-1 all-time records against each other. There's something appropriate about that, wouldn't you say?

Kickoff: 4:30 p.m.
Regular-season records: Patriots 14-2, AFC East champions, No. 1 seed; Jets 11-5, AFC wild card, No. 6 seed. The Jets beat the Colts, 17-16, at Indianapolis in the wild card round last Saturday
TV/radio: CBS (Channel 4). Jim Nantz is on play-by-play, with Phil Simms handling color. It is the eighth time the network's No. 1 broadcast team will call a Patriots game. As always, Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti have the call on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Projected starting lineups

Patriots offense:
WR Wes Welker, WR Deion Branch, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Alge Crumpler, RB Danny Woodhead, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, QB Tom Brady

Jets offense:
WR Jerricho Cotchery, WR Braylon Edwards, LT D'Brickawshaw Ferguson, LG Matt Slauson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, RT Wayne Hunter, TE Dustin Keller, RB Shonn Greene, FB Tony Richardson, QB Mark Sanchez

Patriots defense:
LE Gerard Warren, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Eric Moore, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung

Jets defense:
DE Shaun Ellis, NT Sione Pouha, T Mike DeVito, OLB Bryan Thomas, ILB Bart Scott, ILB MIKE David Harris, OLB Calvin Pace, CB Antonio Cromartie, S Eric Smith, S Brodney Pool, CB Darrelle Revis

Inactives DT Myron Pryor, RB Fred Taylor, OL Rich Ohrnberger, OL Mark LeVoir, WR Taylor Price, RB Thomas Clayton, LB Marques Murrell, DB Tony Carter.

All six of the players the Patriots listed as questionable -- including WR Deion Branch, TE Aaron Hernandez, and LB Tully Banta-Cain -- are active. Losing Pryor hurts their already thin depth on the defensive line, but he was listed as doubtful.


Jets WR/KR Brad Smith, FB John Conner, DE Vernon Gholston, DT Jarron Gilbert, TE Matt Mulligan, TE Jeff Cumberland, DT Marcus Dixon, Kellen Clemens is the third quarterback.

With Smith out, it's likely that the dangerous Antonio Cromartie returns kicks. He had a pivotal return late in their victory over the Colts last week.

Take it on the run: In the 45-3 loss to the Patriots, the Jets came out in a hurry-up offense, and it proved ineffective. Jets coach Rex Ryan admitted this week that it wasn't his best coaching decision, and with the erratic Sanchez at quarterback, it makes sense for the Jets to emphasize the run today, even if they fall behind early. Shonn Greene and veteran LaDainian Tomlinson (82 yards versus the Colts in the first round) are a capable tandem, and the Patriots have some issues on their defensive line beyond stellar Vince Wilford and dependable Gerard Warren. Mike Wright and Ron Brace both have been placed on injured reserve in recent weeks, and the Patriots will be depending on the unproven likes of Landon Cohen and Kyle Love to play significant time. One plus for the Patriots: rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes, a terrific tackler, is back from his four-game suspension for violating the league's banned substances policy.

The last word: Tom Brady says all the right things, but he's made a bait through the years of gaining his on-field revenge against opponents who bad-mouth the Patriots. (Anyone heard from Anthony Smith lately?) So it will be interesting to see if he targets Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie a time or two or three today. Cromartie said easrly this week that he didn't like Brady, punctuating his comments with an expletive. The talented but erratic cornerback was a weak link in the Dec. 6 game -- he struggles with quick receivers such as Deion Branch, and the Patriots exposed him early. There's no doubt, after this week's comments, that they'd love to do it again.

Final: Patriots 38, Dolphins 7

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff January 2, 2011 04:16 PM

Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes, extended a couple of records and milestones . . . and above all else, remained healthy as the Patriots' charge into the playoffs as the top seed in the AFC.

The Patriots won their eighth straight game -- they've scored at least 30 points in each -- in a 38-7 rout of the hapless Miami Dolphins today at Gillette Stadium.

With nothing at stake -- the Patriots clinched home-field advantage and a first-round bye last week -- Brady nonetheless played into the third quarter even as the Patriots built an insurmountable lead.

He finished 10 of 16 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. It was his ninth straight game with at least two touchdown passes without an interception, one of several records he set during a remarkable season in which he threw 36 touchdown passes to just four interceptions.

Brady also extended his record of passes without an interception to 335, and won his 28th straight regular-season start at home.

Brady's wasn't the only Patriot to set a record or achieve a milestone. BenJarvus Green-Ellis became the first Patriot since Corey Dillon in 2004 to run for 1,000 yards, finishing with 1,0088 after compiling 80 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

Julian Edelman set a team-record with a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining in the first half. The return, which gave the Patriots a 24-0 lead, broke the team record for longest punt return set by Mike Haynes in 1976.

As a team, the Patriots finished the regular season with just 10 turnovers, an NFL record.

Final score: Patriots 38, Dolphins 0: So there it is. The AFC East champion and top-seeded Patriots conclude the regular season with 38-7 rout of the Miami Dolphins, improving to 14-2 with their eighth straight victory. We'll be back with much more shortly, so stay right here at Extra Points.

2:11, Patriots 38, Dolphins 7: Thigpen hits Davone Bess in the left corner of the end zone for a 21-yard score.

2:22: Darius Butler is called for pass interference after a Thigpen heave sails over Marshall's head and Butler picks it off. Hard to see where the penalty occurred, but it's a 32-yard flag, and Miami has it at the Patriots 21.

4:08: Thomas Clayton runs for a gain of 4 yards. It's his first carry of the season with the Patriots, though he had one during a stint with the Browns.

6:55: Fred Taylor is getting a lot of work and keeps moving the pile. He has eight carries for 32 yards.

11:05: Hoyer hits Price for 17 yards. They've both been impressive. Price now has two catches for 35 yards.

12:40: Rob Ninkovich buries Henne on third down for his second sack of the day, and the Dolphins punt. Edelman's decision to field it doesn't pay off as he's tackled at the 7.

12:54: Miami takes its third and final timeout facing third and 10 at the Patriots 46.

14:27: . . . and there it is, with a 10-yard run on fourth down to the Miami 9. He is the Patriots' first 1,000-yard rusher since Corey Dillon in 2004. Green-Ellis immediately comes out of the game and hugs Belichick.

14:33, fourth quarter: Two yards for Green-Ellis, two to go . . .

:00, third quarter: The third quarter concludes with the Patriots facing third and 18 at the Miami 21. The only suspense remaining is whether -- or we should say, when -- Green-Ellis will get to 1,000 yards. He's four shy right now, with 68 yards on 18 carries.

1:54: Hoyer's no dummy -- he's targeting Gronkowski consistently, and the rookie tight end's sixth catch of the game, this one for 19 yards, puts him at 102 yards for the day. It's his first career 100-yard receiving game.

3:58: Green-Ellis plows ahead for 11 yards and a first down at the Miami 40. He's now 14 shy of 1,000 this season . . . and he picks up eight more on his next two carries, putting him at 994.

4:55: Thigpen hits McCourty in the hands on fourth and 3 from the Patriots 47. Could have easily been his eighth pick of the season, and McCourty jumps up and down in frustration after the drop.

8:27, Patriots 38, Dolphins 0: Beautiful throw by Hoyer under pressure, spectacular diving catch in the end zone by Brandon Tate, and the result as a 42-yard scoring pass, the first TD pass of Hoyer's career. He is now 260 behind Dave Kreig, and this is officially a rout.

6:58: Green-Ellis with back to back carries of 5 and 4 yards -- he now has 45, 27 shy of 1,000 for the season -- but Hoyer misfires on third and 1. Somewhat surprisingly, the Patriots go for from the Miami 47, and the Dolphins, who aren't exactly showing a knack for discipline today, oblige with an offsides penalty. The Dolphins' performance, or lack thereof, doesn't reflect well on what they think of Tony Sparano as their coach.


8:47: Hoyer hits Gronkowski for 10 yards and a first down. In the TV on in the background, Rich Gannon is comparing him to Tony Gonzalez in his ability to get open. It wasn't a bad draft this year, was it?

10:02: Hoyer, back in at quarterback, hits Taylor Price on first down for a 17-yard gain. It's Price's second catch of the day, and the second of his career.

10:26: Wilfork engulfs Henne again -- no penalty this time -- and the Dolphins are forced to punt.

11:02: Vince Wilfork gets a clean head-on shot at Henne (who is in instead of Thigpen) and smothers the Miami quarterback for a 9-yard loss . . . but it turns out to be a little too head-on, and WIlfork is called for a dubious personal foul penalty for supposedly hitting Henne in the helmet. Miami has it at their own 48.

11:30 third quarter, Patriots 31, Dolphins 0: Brady throws his second TD pass of the day, a 10-yard throw to Alge Crumpler, who graciously hands the football to a young fan in the front row. The TD pass is the 261st of Brady's career, tying him with Dave Kreig for 10th-place all-time. I know -- Dave Kreig is in 10th-place all-time? Who's ninth, Steve DeBerg?

12:42: Brandon Tate nearly finds his way to the end zone, catching a short pass from Brady, spinning away from three Miami tacklers and taking it down the right sideline, where he's tripped up form behind by Miami's Rashad Jones.

14:45: Not to continue to pummel the point . . . but we're going to pummel the point: Why is Brady still in? The starting line is out there, which is good, but is there anything to be gained by playing with backups at the skill positions? Or is this an indictment of how disorganized they looked during Hoyer's brief appearance in the first half? Is the risk really worth the reward (the reward here being a 26-yard completion to Gronkowski to their own 49).

15:00, third quarter: Patriots start the second half at their own 22 after a 23-yard kick return by Brandon Tate. Brady is still in. Fred Taylor is in at tailback and picks up five yards on his first carry.

Halftime, Patriots 24, Dolphins 0: Not a lot of drama in the first half for the Patriots, who appear well on their way to their 14th win. Brady completed 7 of 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 34 rushing yards on eight carries along with a touchdown. And Julian Edelman has had far and away his most encouraging game of the season, catching two passes for 62 yards while also returning a punt 94 yards for the score. For Miami, Chad Henne has thrown for 71 yards, Tyler Thigpen leads the running game with 21 yards, and neither has shown any indication that they are capable of leading the Miami offense next season.

0:18, Patriots 24, Dolphins 0: Guess the Dolphins haven't solved all of those special teams problems that plagued them in the teams' first meeting this season. Julian Edelman puts an appropriate bow on the first half, taking a punt 94 yards for a touchdown. The distance of the punt return is a franchise record, eclipsing an 89-yard return by Mike Haynes in '76. It is also the Patriots' ninth touchdown scored by either defense or special teams this season, tying the franchise mark set in 1961.

1:41, Patriots 17, Dolphins 0: Brady takes another hit from Wake -- who eluded Mark LeVoir, in for Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle -- while throwing an incomplete third-down pass toward Sammy Morris. Shayne Graham salvages the drive, which covered 49 yards in eight plays, with a 28-yard field goal.

2:21: After a 4-yard run by Green-Ellis, Brady hits Gronkowski again to pick up the first down at the Miami 14. With the completion, Brady passes former Cardinals quarterback Jim Hart for 19th place all-time in passing yardage. Hart threw for 34,655 yards in his career from 1966-84.

3:44: Brady -- yep, still in -- hits Gronkowski down the right side for a 28-yard gain to the Miami 24.

4:29: Ricky Williams coughs it up at the Patriots 41. Eric Moore, the UFL refugee who has been something of a revelation, forced the fumble, with Rob Ninkovich making the recovery.

6:10: Thigpen hits Moore down the middle for 29 yards. Dangerous throw, but a nice catch under siege by the rookie receiver from Fresno State.

8:18: Maybe we put that postmortem on Brady's regular season too soon. On third and 10, Brady returns to the field and immediately reminds us why his day should be over. With Cameron Wake bearing down on his right side, he steps up, throws incomplete in Sammy Morris's direction, and is hauled down hard by Randy Starks. Call. It. A. Day.

9:43 After picked up a first down, Tom Brady heads for the sideline, and Brian Hoyer enters. Odd timing -- the crowd here at Gillette didn't seem to notice. If Brady is done for the day, he finishes 5 of 8 for 89 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He now has 35 TD passes, four picks -- his last one coming in Week 6 -- and a streak of 327 passes without an interception. Nope, not a bad regular season at all.

10:43: Brady is still in there as the Patriots take over following the punt on their own 19. Interesting to see Taylor Price -- No. 17 in your program -- on the field. He's conversed with the coaches a couple of times before running onto the field.

12:10 Tyler Thigpen in at quarterback for Miami. On second and 8, he looks deep for Bess, but Patrick Chung breaks up the underthrown pass. His next pass, intended for Moore, is nearly picked off by Darius Butler at midfield. He's have been on the fast track to the end zone had he been able to haul it in, but it was just a bit behind him.

12:34: Green-Ellis has 23 rushing yards, meaning he needs 49 for 1,000.

12:50: Three-and-out for the Patriots. Is this it for Brady?

14:20 second quarter: On third and 7, Jerod Mayo sacks Henne at the New England 44 for a loss of seven yards. Henne is 5 of 12 for 51 yards with an interception. Might be a good time for the Dolphins to give a young quarterback a look. Unfortunately for them, that guy is Henne.

:00: Brandon Marshall picks up the first down with a 16-yard grab on third-and-13, Ricky Williams follows with a 3-yard run, and the quarter concludes with the Patriots right where they want to be. FYI, the carry was the 1.507th of Williams's Miami career, breaking Larry Csonka's team record for attempts. Pretty impressive given the peaks and valleys of Williams's fascinating career. Who ever thought he'd outlast fellow running back and 1998 first-round pick Edgerrin James?

1:22 The Patriots announce that Woodhead has a head injury and his return is questionable. Considering there's nothing at stake and he obviously got clobbered on the fumble, let's just say there's probably a better chance of seeing Randy Moss play for the Patriots today than a Woodhead return.

2:42: On third down, Henne hits Moore on a crossing pattern for 17 yards, and the Dolphins move to the Patriots 48.

4:12: Patriots 14, Dolphins 0: BenJarvus Green-Ellis plows in from a yard out for his 13th rushing touchdown of the season. With Woodhead still being looked at on the sideline, Green-Ellis and perhaps Fred Taylor should get plenty of carries going forward. Meanwhile, with two touchdowns in two drives, will Tom Brady be calling it a day soon?

4:43: Beautiful catch and run for 40 yards by Julian Edelman, his second big play of the drive. Edelman's struggled in his second season, with just four catches entering today, but today he looks like the promising Welker facsimile of a year ago.

6:03: Patriots trainers are talking to Woodhead as he sits on the bench with his head down, helmet on the ground. And now the trainer has taken away his helmet. Sure looks like the end of his day.

6:03: Adding insult to . . . well, insult, Dan Carpenter hooks a 39-yard field goal attempt left.

6:14: On third and 11 from the New England 22, Henne's pass in the far corner of the end zone intended for Marlon Moore is busted up effortlessly by McCourty. Probably not the best matchup for the Dolphins there.

8:20: A break for Miami. After a short run, Danny Woodhead fumbles for the first time since joining the Patriots in Week 2, and the Dolphins recover deep in Patriots territory.

10:17: Scenes from a frustrating season: After Henne misses badly on a throw to Marshall down the sideline, the Miami receiver stomps off the field and makes animated gestures on the sideline. Earlier this week, Marshall said he wasn't sure Henne should be the quarterback next season. Two plays after their latest miscommunication, the drive falters. After the punt, the Patriots take over at their own 34.

10:30: Dolphins start their second possession from their own 21 after a 20-yard return by Cobbs.

10:36, Patriots 7, Dolphins 0: Well, that was easy. On third and 2 from the Miami 13, Brady hits Rob Gronkowski for his 10th TD reception of the season, setting a franchise rookie record. The touchdown pass, which capped a 6-play, 47-yard drive and again reiterated this team's amazing knack for converting turnovers into points, was Brady's 35th of the season. He became the sixth quarterback in league history to throw a TD pass in every game of a season.

13:05: Ndamukong Suh will probably be named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. And it's hard to have a beef with that given the impact he's had on the lowly Lions. But man, Devin McCourty continues to make his case that he deserves consideration. He just collected his seventh interception of his outstanding season, stepping in front of intended receiver Brandon Marshall and picking off a telegraphed Chad Henne pass. With one more pick today, McCourty will tie the Patriots rookie record for interceptions of eight set by Mike Haynes in 1976.

13:33 On first down from the Miami 28, Jerod Mayo stuffs Ronnie Brown for a four-yard loss. Thirteen tackles to go for 200 for No. 51.

15:00, first quarter: The Patriots win the toss and defer, their usual strategy. Patrick Cobbs, who began his pro career in training camp with the Patriots in 2006, returns the kick 23 yards to the Miami 28.

We're just moments from the opening kickoff of the final regular season game of the Patriots season, though of course today's matchup with the 7-8 Miami Dolphins won't be the last football played at Gillette Stadium this year. Win or lose today, the Patriots have already secured home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

While the Patriots have talked of their desire to earn a 14th victory of the regular season today -- Bill Belichick would become the first coach in NFL history to win as many or more games in a season four times -- early indications are that they will tilt more toward caution than going all-out for a win that means little other than as a milestone.

The Patriots' inactives include receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch, as well as tight end Aaron Hernandez. They are the Patriots' top three receivers in that order, having combined for 179 catches. Considering the trio's absence, the logical question is to wonder how much Tom Brady will play today. All indications are that he will start, but with Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate starting at receiver and rookie Taylor Price set to make his NFL debut, it makes sense to believe that Brady's afternoon will be a short one, with backup Brian Hoyer taking the reins of the offense at some point.

One milestone to watch for: BenJarvus Green-Ellis needs 72 yards to reach 1,000 on the season. Given that he was an undrafted rookie free agent who has made the most of his opportunity his third season in the NFL, it would be nice to see him accomplish the feat. He's also tied with Minnesota's Adrian Peterson for second in the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns, trailing only Houston's Arian Foster (14).

So here we go. The Dolphins are on the field, and the Patriots are coming out of the tunnel right now, with No. 12 leading the way. Be sure to stay right here for constant updates throughout the game.

Game 16: Dolphins at Patriots

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff January 2, 2011 11:00 AM

The question isn't what there is to play for, because the Patriots settled all of those matters last Sunday at Buffalo. With their 34-3 victory, the Patriots clinched everything they needed to clinch, up to and including a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

What you should know about the Dolphins

Instead the question as they face the Miami Dolphins this afternoon at Gillette Stadium is this:

Exactly who will be playing?

With nothing at stake for the Patriots -- or for that matter, for the Dolphins, whose disappointing season ends today win or lose -- the most compelling question about today's game concerns the amount of playing time for quarterback Tom Brady and the rest of the starters.

With a week off between today and their first playoff game, there's a perception that Bill Belichick may give some of the starters relatively significant time today, if for no other reason than to prevent this well-oiled machine, which has won seven games in a row and 12 of 13, from accumulating rust during the time off.

Then again, there's risk, as evidenced by the regular season finale in Houston last season when wide receiver Wes Welker blew out his knee, and the inactives list suggests Belichick is taking no risks: Welker will sit out, along with Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez on offense. Defensively, Tully Banta-Cain and three defensive linemen are out. The hunch here is that Brady will play a quarter at the most, and then it becomes Brian Hoyer time. Notably, third-round pick Taylor Price will make his NFL debut at wide receiver with Branch and Welker out.

The Dolphins aren't quite in disarray, but there are public hints of tension as a disappointing season comes to a close. Receiver Brandon Marshall said this week that he's not sure Chad Henne is the answer at quarterback. There are reports coach Tony Sparano could be on the hot seat after a bizarre season in which Miami went 1-7 at home; he will meet with owner Stephen Ross in the next several days. And linebacker Karlos Dansby, their big-ticket free agent signing in the offseason, will miss the final game of his first season in Miami with a toe injury.

The 14th win of the season should be there for the taking for the Patriots, no matter who starts and who finishes the game.

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Records: Patriots 13-2; Dolphins 7-8
TV/radio: CBC (Channel 4). Bill Macatee is on play-by-play, with Rich Gannon handling color. They've called one other Patriots game this season -- their last loss Nov. 7 at Cleveland. Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti -- we could probably just go Gil and Gino and you'd know who we meant -- have the call on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Projected starting lineups

Patriots offense:
WR Brandon Tate, WR Julian Edelman, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Ryan Wendell, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Alge Crumpler, TE Rob Gronkowski, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, QB Tom Brady

Dolphins offense:
WR Brandon Marshall, WR Davone Bess, LT Jake Long, LG Richie Incognito, C Joe Berger, RG John Jerry, RT Matt Kopa, TE Mickey Shuler, RB Ronnie Brown, FB Lousaka Polite, QB Chad Henne

Patriots defense:
LE Gerard Warren, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Eric Moore, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Gary Guyton, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung

Dolphins defense:
LDE Kendall Langford, NT Paul Soliai, RDE Randy Starks, OLB Koa Misa, ILB Channing Crowder, ILB Tim Dobbins, LB Cameron Wake, LCB Vontae Davis, SS Yeremiah Bell, FS Chris Clemons, RCB Sean Smith

Inactives


    Patriots
    WR Deion Branch, WR Wes Welker, TE Aaron Hernandez, DL Mike Wright, DL Ron Brace, LB Tully Banta-Cain, DL Brandon Deaderick, OL Dan Connolly.


    Dolphins
    LB Karlos Dansby, TE Anthony Fasano, G Lydon Murtha, CB Nolan Carroll, WR Julius Pruitt, DE Ryan Baker, DT Chris Baker, T Allan Barbre, LB Mike Rivera.

Play it again: The teams' first meeting this season on Oct. 4 may be remembered when all is said and done as one of the more pivotal games in shaping the Patriots' season. The Patriots routed host Miami, 41-14, on Monday Night Football, becoming the first team in NFL history to score a touchdown five different ways (passing, rushing, kickoff return, blocked field goal, and interception) in the same game. Safety Patrick Chung had his coming-out party on national television, blocking a punt and a field-goal attempt as well as returning a Chad Henne pass for a touchdown. It was also the final appearance by Randy Moss in a Patriots uniform. He was traded to the Vikings two days later after catching not a single pass against the Dolphins.

There's no place like . . . With a victory today, the Patriots will complete a perfect 8-0 record at home. They were also undefeated at home last year in the regular season, but suffered a 33-14 loss during the playoffs to the Ravens on the Gillette turf. If you're looking for a positive harbinger related to a flawless home record, the Patriots also went 8-0 at home during the 2003, '04 and '07 seasons. They reached the Super Bowl all three years, winning the first two.

All the small things: There are a couple of milestones and streaks in play today. Tom Brady has won 27 consecutive regular-season home starts, an NFL record. He's also thrown a record 319 passes without an interception. His last came during the Week 6 win over the Ravens, when he threw two of his four this year . . . Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake leads the NFL with 14 sacks. If there's one reason to put a clipboard in Brady's hands early in the game today, it's the Pro Bowl linebacker's knack for getting to the quarterback and his desire to win the sack title . . . Rob Gronkowski needs one touchdown reception today to stand alone in second place with the most scoring catches by a rookie tight end in league history. Gronkowski has nine, which ties him with former Falcon Junior Miller behind Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, who had 12 as a rookie with the Bears . . . BenJarvis Green-Ellis needs 72 rushing yards for his first 1,000-yard season . . . Linebacker Jerrod Mayo needs 14 tackles to become the third player in Patriots history with 200 in a season . . . With 20 points today, the Patriots, the league's highest-scoring team, will reach 500 for the season . . . The only other time in their history that they've reached 500 was in 2007, when they set a league record of 589.

Final: Patriots 34, Bills 3

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 26, 2010 03:00 PM

609brady.jpgTom Brady threw three touchdown passes and set an NFL record for pass attempts without an interception as the Patriots defeated the Bills 34-3 and earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Brady broke a record set by Bernie Kosar in the 1990-91 seasons (308). Brady has now thrown 319 times without being picked off. Brady completed 15 of 27 attempts for 140 yards.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes from Brady, and Alge Crumpler caught another. The Patriots improved to 13-2, and will get an extra week to prepare for the playoffs. The wild-card round is Jan. 8-9, with the divisional games Jan. 15-16. The Patriots conclude the regular season next Sunday at home vs. the Dolphins.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 19 carries for 104 yards and Danny Woodhead ran 13 times for 93 yards and a touchdown.

The Bills had seven turnovers and fell to 4-11. It was the 15th consecutive time the Patriots have beaten the Bills.

3:44 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 3 Brady's day is done. Brian Hoyer in at QB for Patriots.

3:44 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 3 Patriots get the ball back after stopping the Bills when Dane Fletcher intercepted a tipped ball in the end zone.

10:07 4th quarter: Patriots 34, Bills 3 Shayne Graham kicked a 26-yard field goal to pad the lead. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is now over 100 yards rushing, and the Patriots are just having their way with the Bills.

End of the 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- The Patriots scored once more in the third quarter with Tom Brady hitting TE Rob Gronkowski for an 8-yard TD, his second of the game.

1:13 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- The Bills are stalling now, going three-and-out in their last drive.

2:51 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- The Patriots went three-and-out, unable to capitalize on the Bills' fifth turnover of the game.

4:56 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a nice run going for 15 yards before he ran into his own teammate and fumbled the ball. Patriots LB Eric Moore recovered. The Bills have five turnovers this game.

6:26 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- The Patriots turned the ball over on downs after accumulating two more penalties on the drive for minus 20 yards.

8:00 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- Bill Belichick knows when to throw that red flag. Bills running back C.J. Spiller looked like he let go of the ball after he hit the field but it was ruled a fumble after Belichick challenged the play on the field. It was the Bills' fourth turnover of the game. LB Dane Fletcher recovered the fumble.

8:20 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- The Patriots went three-and-out on their last drive as Tom Brady's third-down pass to Wes Welker was broken up by the Bills' Paul Posluszny. Posluszny blew up Welker on the play.

9:27 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- After a 40-yard pass from Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to Donald Jones, the Patriots locked the Bills down on the next four downs. Vince Wilfork batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage and Fitzpatrick overthrew Jones in the end zone as the Bills turned the ball over on downs.

11:27 3rd quarter: Patriots 31, Bills 3 -- Tom Brady threw another 8-yard TD pass to TE Rob Gronkowski. The drive was set up by an interception by Jarrad Page. Gronkowski is now tied with the most touchdowns by a tight end in Patriots history with nine. The drive was three plays, 11 yards in 44 seconds.

12:11 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 3 -- Jarrad Page picked off Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Patriots take over in the Bills red zone.

12:56 3rd quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 3 -- The Patriots managed only three plays after a penalty to start their opening third quarter drive. Zoltan Mesko punted the ball away to the Bills' 12-yard line.

End of the 2nd quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 3 -- The Patriots are continuing their winning ways against the Buffalo Bills so far today. Tom Brady has thrown two touchdown passes today. One to Rob Gronkowski and another to Alge Crumpler. Danny Woodhead broke loose for a 29-yard TD run and Shayne Graham kicked a 34-yard field goal for the Patriots.

Woodhead has 72 yards on eight carries today. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 66 yards on 10 carries.

Brady is 8 of 15 for 75 yards.

The Bills are led by Fred Jackson's 61 yards on eight carries. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is 9 of 19 for 125 yards with an interception and fumble.

The Patriots' Patrick Chung has an interception and LB Gary Guyton forced a fumble that Jerod Mayo recovered.

0:33 2nd quarter: Patriots 24, Bills 3 -- Tom Brady connected with TE Alge Crumpler for a 4-yard touchdown to extend the Patriots' lead to 21 points. It was a seven-play, 27-yard drive in 1:51. It was Crumpler's first touchdown of the season and the 38th of his career.

2:24 2nd quarter: Patriots 17, Bills 3 -- Patrick Chung intercepted a pass by Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to give the Patriots the ball on the Bills' 27-yard line.

3:57 2nd quarter: Patriots 17, Bills 3 -- Wes Welker dropped two passes before Shayne Graham kicked a 34-yard field goal to give the Patriots a two-touchdown lead.

7:32 2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 3 -- The Bills drove to the Patriots' 32-yard line but couldn't muster anything out of it. On fourth down, Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass and found receiver Steve Johnson. But he dropped the pass on a big hit by Jerod Mayo.

12:27 2nd quarter: Patriots 14, Bills 3 -- Tom Brady connected with TE Rob Gronkowski twice, the latter an 8-yard TD pass to put the Patriots up 14-3 over the Bills. Brady hit Gronkowski for a 23-yard pass to set up the score. Gronkowski made a nice catch on the play, reaching back with one hand for the grab. The scoring drive was nine plays, 80 yards in 4:25.

End of the 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 3 -- The Patriots go into the second quarter leading the Bills after a 29-yard touchdown by Danny Woodhead. The Bills struck first on their opening drive with a 26-yard field goal by Ryan Lindell.

1:52 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 3 -- Gary Guyton forced a fumble on a scrambling Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jerod Mayo recovered in the game's first turnover.

3:46 1st quarter: Patriots 7, Bills 3 -- Danny Woodhead found a crease and exploded for a 29-yard touchdown through the hole as the Patriots took over the lead. The Patriots' scoring drive was four plays for 48 yards in 1:48.

5:42 1st quarter: Bills 3, Patriots 0 -- The Patriots' Jerod Mayo broke up a pass to Bills running back Fred Jackson and Darius Butler followed up by breaking up a pass intended for receiver Donald Jones as the New England forced Buffalo to punt.

6:36 1st quarter: Bills 3, Patriots 0 -- Tom Brady misfired a couple of times for the Patriots, particularly missing a wide-open Rob Gronkowski on New England's first play. He went 1 for 4 on the drive as the Patriots were forced to punt.

10:08 1st quarter: Bills 3, Patriots 0 -- After reeling off six straight runs and accumulating three first downs, the Bills only managed a 26-yard field goal by Ryan Lindell on their opening drive. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick did look like he connected with receiver Steve Johnson in the end zone on a fade route, but it was ruled out of bounds after Johnson failed to get his second foot in. The drive was 10 plays, 64 yards in 4:57.

15:00 1st quarter -- Patriots set to kick off to start the game.

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- We're live for the Patriots-Bills game at Ralph Wilson stadium. Stay right here for all of the game's updates.

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Game 15: Patriots at Bills

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 26, 2010 10:45 AM

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Tom Brady walked off the field after pregame warmups at Ralph Wilson Stadium. He's recovered from the flu for today's game against the Buffalo Bills. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The New England Patriots (12-2) hope to clinch the AFC East with a win over the Buffalo Bills (4-10) today.

The Patriots can clinch the division title with a win or a New York Jets loss.

However, injuries and illness have taken a bite out of the Patriots who have had three players listed with flu-like symptoms this week including Tom Brady. Six players have been ruled out of today's game, with another three being listed as questionable.

The Patriots have beaten the Bills 14 straight times, including a 38-30 win Sept. 26 as Brady tossed three touchdowns to lead the team. New England leads the all-time series 60-40-1. It's the most wins by the Patriots against any other opponent.

The Bills come into the game on a two-game winning streak after losing their first eight games of the season.

Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Records: Patriots 12-2; Bills 4-10
TV info: CBS (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots)

Projected starting lineups

Patriots offense:
WR Wes Welker, WR Deion Branch, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Ryan Wendell, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Alge Crumpler, TE Rob Gronkowski, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, QB Tom Brady

Bills offense:
WR David Nelson, WR Steve Johnson, LT Demetrius Bell, LG Andy Levitre, C Geoff Hangartner, RG Eric Wood, RT Mansfield Wrotto, TE David Martin, RB Fred Jackson, FB Corey McIntyre, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

Patriots defense:
LE Gerard Warren, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Eric Moore, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Gary Guyton, OLB Tully Banta-Cain, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung

Bills defense:
LDE Marcus Stroud, NT Kyle Williams, RDE Spencer Johnson, SLB Chris Kelsay, MLB Akin Ayodele, WLB Paul Posluszny, LB Arthur Moats, LCB Terrence McGee, SS Donte Whitner, FS Jairus Byrd, RCB Drayton Florence

Inactives

Patriots: Dan Connolly, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Deaderick, Aaron Hernandez, Myron Pryor, Mike Wright, Taylor Price, Thomas Clayton

Bills: Jehuu Caulcrick, Geoff Hangartner, Ed Wang, Kellen Heard, Colin Brown, Mike Caussin and John McCargo

So this is the injury bug -- Tom Brady bounced back from the flu, getting back to practice on Thursday. But the bug, and possibly a shoulder injury, wiped out DL Brandon Deaderick who was downgraded to out Saturday night. While TE Aaron Hernandez, who has been an integral part of the Patriots' passing game, was also downgraded to out with a hip injury.

DL Mike Wright (concussion), NT Myron Pryor (back), LB Jermaine Cunningham (calf) and OL Dan Connolly (concussion) have all been ruled out.

Safety James Sanders also has the flu and was listed as questionable after not partaking in Friday's practice.

Four other Patriots are listed as probable for the game, including Brady (right shoulder/foot), CB Kyle Arrington (elbow), WR Deion Branch (knee) and CB Devin McCourty (rib).

Fitzpatrick strong of late -- Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, of local fame from his Harvard days, has been churning out a decent season. He's sporting an 85.9 quarterback rating, having tossed 23 touchdowns, 2,749 yards and 12 interceptions in 12 games this season. But in his last two games (2-0), he's 30 of 49 for 365 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He's having the best season of his career. It's a far cry from where this season started for his team with eight-game losing streak. It helps to have a talent like Bills receiver Steve Johnson (72 catches, 943 yards, 10 touchdowns).

Final: Patriots 31, Packers 27

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 19, 2010 11:35 PM

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Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez skipped into the end zone as he scored his second touchdown in the fourth quarter. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

FOXBOROUGH -- With time winding down and the game on the line, Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain came up huge for the Patriots, sacking Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn for an 8-yard loss as the Patriots held on to beat the Packers 31-27 at Gillette Stadium.

Banta-Cain, who all of two minutes prior, was flagged for illegal hands to the face, negating a game-sealing interception by safety Brandon Meriweather, got some personal redemption on the play. It was the fifth sack of the day for the Patriots' defense, including a 5-yard sack by Dane Fletcher on the final drive.

"We got a couple of good plays at the end from the defense," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "That's the way it was for all four quarters. We had some good plays, had some bad plays and had some good plays. That's the way it was all game."

Tom Brady connected with tight end Aaron Hernandez for two touchdowns and threw for 164 yards on 15 of 24 passing to lead the offense. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for a 33-yard touchdown and Shayne Graham booted a field goal for the Patriots.

Patriots defensive back Kyle Arrington returned an electrifying interception back for a 36-yard touchdown.

"Our defense has really made those plays all year," said Brady. "We've been in some close games and came out ahead. This was as much as we could handle."

Flynn, who was filling in for the injured Aaron Rodgers, completed 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards, three touchdowns and an interception (a pick-six by Arrington).

The Patriots improve to 12-2 on the season.

FULL ENTRY

Game 14: Packers at Patriots

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 19, 2010 05:21 PM

FOXBOROUGH -- The New England Patriots (11-2) enter the home stretch of their season hosting the Green Bay Packers (8-5) with three games to go.

The Patriots clinched a playoff spot last week against the Chicago Bears.

The Packers hobble into Gillette Stadium after getting beat by the Detroit Lions last week 7-3, losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the process to his second concussion of the season. He was officially declared out of the lineup Saturday. Matt Flynn will start in his stead.

The last time the Patriots played the Packers, New England won handily 35-0 Nov. 19, 2006. Tom Brady threw four touchdowns and posted a 128.2 quarterback rating. The two teams are tied in their regular season series at four wins apiece, playing a total of 10 times. In fact, the last time the Patriots lost at home against an NFC opponent, it was a 28-10 loss to the Packers Oct. 13, 2002. It's also the only home game at Gillette Stadium the Patriots have lost to an NFC opponent.

Kickoff: 8:20 p.m.
Records: Patriots 11-2; Packers 8-5
TV info: Ch. 7 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth)

Projected starting lineups

Patriots offense
WR Wes Welker, WR Deion Branch, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Alge Crumpler, TE Rob Gronkowski, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, QB Tom Brady.

Packers defense
LDE Ryan Picket, NT B.J. Raji, RDE Howard Green, LB Clay Matthews, LB A.J. Hawk, MLB Desmond Bishop, LB Erik Walden, CB Charles Woodson, CB Tramon Williams, SS Charlie Peprah, FS Nick Collins.

Patriots defense
LE Gerard Warren (questionable), NT Vince Wilfork, RE Brandon Deaderick, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Gary Guyton, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, CB Devin McCourty (questionable), CB Kyle Arrington, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung.

Packers offense
WR Greg Jennings, WR Donald Driver, LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, C Scott Wells, RG Josh Sitton, RT Bryan Bulaga, TE Andrew Quarless, RB Brandon Jackson, FB Korey Hall, QB Matt Flynn.

Inactives

Patriots: Taylor Price, Fred Taylor, Thomas Clayton, Rich Ohrnberger, Mark LeVoir, Myron Pryor, Ron Brace and Mike Wright.

Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Pat Lee, Josh Gordy, James Starks, Frank Zombo, Nick McDonald, Marshal Newhouse and Cullen Jenkins.

What will they ever do without Mr. Rodgers?
Can the Pack attack's offense formulate without Aaron Rodgers? After his second concussion last week, Rodgers (3,289 yards, 23 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 98.5 QB rating) gives way to third-year pro Matt Flynn out of Lousiana State University. In a 7-3 loss to the Detroit Lions after Rodgers' injury, Flynn completed 15 of 26 passes for 177 yards and one interception. Not bad, but definitely not good either. And make no mistake about it, the focus of attention will be on Flynn because the Packers do not run. The team is 24th in the NFL in rushing with Brandon Jackson (546 yards, 3 rushing TDs) taking over for the injured Ryan Grant in Week 1. Will Flynn have a tough time against the NFL's 31st ranked pass defense? Let's just hope Devin McCourty's ribs aren't too bruised.

The Pats are banged up
As mentioned above, cornerback Devin McCourty's ribs were hurt in last week's win against Chicago. He had limited participation in Thursday's and Friday's practices and is listed as questionable. Mike Wright is also listed as questionable with a lingering concussion, while defensive end Ron Brace (questionable) suffered a concussion last week. Tight end Aaron Hernandez appeared on the injury report Friday after missing practice due to the flu. While DE Gerard Warren had limited participation Friday after injuring his knee in last week's win. Myron Pryor (back) is listed as questionable. Kyle Arrington (elbow), Tom Brady (right shoulder/foot), Deion Branch (knee) and Darius Butler (thigh) are all listed as probable.

For the Twitterati, get insight and updates from our writers at Gillette Stadium throughout tonight's game:

Final: Patriots 36, Bears 7

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 12, 2010 06:38 PM

Despite snow and blustery wind, Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots crushed the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

The Patriots officially punched their ticket to the playoffs with the victory.

Brady was 27-for-40. Two receivers -- Deion Branch (151) and Wes Welker (115) -- had more than 100 yards receiving for the Patriots (11-2). BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried 21 times for 87 yards.

The Patriots scored 26 points in the second quarter. Brady was 13-for-21 for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as the Patriots built a 33-0 lead by halftime. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a 7-yard strike in the first quarter, and on the final play of the second quarter, connected with Branch on a 59-yard touchdown play.

Danny Woodhead added a 3-yard TD run, Gary Guyton returned a fumble 35 yards and Shayne Graham kicked field goals of 30 and 25 yards in the first half.

In-game updates:
4th quarter, 4:38 - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- After sailing a 28-yard pass down the sideline to Brandon Tate, Tom Brady's day is done. 369 yards, 2 TD passes, 27-for-40 for TB12. Brian Hoyer takes over at quarterback.

4th quarter, 6:31 - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- Brandon Meriweather intercepts Bears QB Jay Cutler in the end zone to snuff the Bears' threat. The Bears had driven to the Patriots' 10 before the turnover. Patriots take over on their own 20.

4th quarter, 9:12 - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- The Patriots held the ball for more than 5 minutes to open the final quarter, and drove as deep as the Chicago 25 before Brady was sacked and Zoltan Mesko came on to punt. The Bears take over on their own 20 following a touchback.

End of the third quarter - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- The Bears showed some life in the third quarter, scoring on second drive in the quarter.

3rd quarter 0:16 - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- Gary Guyton intercepted the Bears' Jay Cutler for his second takeaway of the day. Guyton has filled in nicely at inside linebacker for the suspended Brandon Spikes.

3rd quarter 0:32 - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- The Patriots' Darius Butler was called for pass interference while covering Johnny Knox. The play gave the Bears the ball on the Patriots' 36.

3rd quarter 2:40 - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- The Patriots turned the ball over on downs after putting together a somewhat impressive 11-play drive.

3rd quarter 3:30 - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- Deion Branch catches his seventh pass, giving him 143 yards on the day. It's a new career high for Branch in yardage.

3rd quarter 8:43 - Patriots 36, Bears 7 -- Chester Taylor runs in a 1-yard touchdown to put the Bears on the board. The scoring play was setup by Devin Hester's 61-yard kickoff return and a 30-yard pass from Jay Cutler to Matt Forte. The Bears went six plays, 35 yards in 2:13. The Patriots' Gary Guyton was the closest defender to Taylor, who made his way around the left end for the score.

3rd quarter 10:44 - Patriots 36, Bears 0 Rob Ninkovich just saved a touchdown as the Bears' Devin Hester returned the kickoff 61 yards.

3rd quarter 10:56 - Patriots 36, Bears 0 -- Shayne Graham kicked his third field goal of the night, this time for 29 yards to cap a 7-play, 52-yard drive.

3rd quarter 13:51 - Patriots 33, Bears 0 -- The Patriots forced another three-and-out on the Bears, who are having a dismal outing.

End of first half - Patriots 33, Bears 0 -- Tom Brady hit Deion Branch for a 59-yard touchdown as the Bears had busted coverage in a zone defense. The Patriots went 80 yards in five plays in 1:38. Shayne Graham was wide right on the PAT.

At half, the Patriots are doing great. Tom Brady is 13 of 21 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries. Deion Branch now has four catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. And Wes Welker, who is tied with Kevin Faulk for fourth all-time in Patriots history in catches, has six catches for 85 yards. Welker and Faulk both have 424 catches with the Patriots.

2nd quarter 1:38 - Patriots 27, Bears 0 -- Dane Fletcher gets called for a hold as Julian Edelman returned a punt to the house. It was a makeup for his last punt return in which he almost broke it. Still, no points.

2nd quarter 1:57 - Patriots 27, Bears 0 -- The boos are raining down now as Jay Cutler couldn't extend another Bears drive here in Chicago. The Patriots forced its second three-and-out. While the Bears have also coughed up the ball twice in this game with fumbles by Cutler and Johnny Knox.

2nd quarter 3:20 - Patriots 27, Bears 0 -- Shayne Graham kicked a 25-yard field goal after the Patriots recovered a fumble deep in Bears territory. The Patriots went four plays, for two yards in 1:01 before Graham's kick. Brady threw two incompletions in the drive.

2nd quarter 4:20 - Patriots 24, Bears 0 -- Eric Moore, who was just signed a week ago, forced a fumble on Jay Cutler and the Jerod Mayo recovered as the Patriots take over in the red zone.

2nd quarter 4:36 - Patriots 24, Bears 0 -- Shayne Graham kicked a 30-yard field goal against the wind to put an exclamation point on the Patriots' game so far. The Patriots drive was seven plays for 18 yards in 3:33.

2nd quarter 8:09 - Patriots 21, Bears 0 -- Julian Edelman had a nice punt return for 42 yards that almost everyone that he had for a touchdown. Not the case. The Patriots held the Bears to five plays before they punted it away.

2nd quarter 9:56 - Patriots 21, Bears 0 -- Devin McCourty forced a fumble on the Bears' Johnny Knox after catching pass and running a couple of steps. Gary Guyton recovered the fumble and raced away for a 35-yard touchdown return. The ruling on the field that it was a fumble is being challenged. Update: The play on the field stands. It's Guyton's second return for a touchdown this year.

2nd quarter - Patriots 14, Bears 0 -- Danny Woodhead banged his way through the hole and found a 3-yard touchdown to put the Patriots up by two scores. The scoring play was set up by a 17-yard romp by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Woodhead capped an 11-play, 87-yard drive in 4:44.

2nd quarter - Patriots 7, Bears 0 -- Patriots have started another strong drive with two straight first downs. They've now utilizing play-action passes four times this game and, as we're accustomed, Brady has been deadly accurate. He's 9-for-12 right now.

End of 1st quarter - Patriots 7, Bears 0 -- The Bears put together an 8-play drive before Jay Cutler started staring at McCourty island. Devin McCourty found himself defending another pass play and killing another Bears drive in the process. We head into the second quarter with the Bears favoring the run and the Patriots looking balanced.

1st quarter 5:47 - Patriots 7, Bears 0 -- Tom Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 7-yard TD right at the goal line. Gronkowski ran a quick curl and sat at the goal line waiting for Brady's pass. The Patriots finished that drive in 12 plays, going 85 yards in 5:16. Wes Welker caught three passes on the drive, proving the Patriots plan to throw in the snow as much as run.

Rob Gronkowski is tied for the third most touchdowns (7) for a tight end in his rookie season. The only rookie tight ends with more is Mike Ditka (12) and Junior Miller (9).

Globe correspondent Daniel I. Dorfman reports that Bears cornerback Tim Jennings missed several plays in the Patriots scoring drive because he was having snow removed from the shield on his helmet.

1st quarter 9:30 -- Tom Brady is already finding a strong connection with West Welker, hitting the receiver three times today. The last of which for 17 yard to keep this drive alive.

1st quarter 11:40 -- Devin McCourty gets a nice tackle in the backfield on Bears running back Matt Forte. The Bears ran three straight runs to the right to start the game before being forced to punt.

1st quarter 13:35 -- Tom Brady, after showing off some nifty moves, was sacked on third down as the Patriots went three-and-out on their first series of the game.

1st quarter 14:55 -- Patriots receive with Sammy Morris taking the opening kickoff.

--

CHICAGO -- It's officially our first snow game of the year. We're looking at temperatures in the mid to low 20s with wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour. (It was clocked at 34 miles per hour earlier.) I'll be providing the updates today via the blog. For the Twitterati, you can follow along via @Greg_A_Bedard, @shalisemyoung, @monwalker, @cgasper, @gleejr9472 and @adddisports (me).

Also

Local Chicago affiliate WBBM Radio reported Chicago Bear coach Lovie Smith, who is known for his low key demeanor, gave such an inspired speech at the team’s hotel last night that some of the players were left in tears. The focus of the speech was on teamwork and many players were convinced the Bears would come out playing with fire and determination when they took the field against the Patriots. -- By Daniel I. Dorfman

Game 13: Patriots at Bears

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff December 12, 2010 02:01 PM

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About three hours before game time, fans started lining up in front of Soldier Field stadium. (Barry Chin / Globe Staff)

Update, 3:16 p.m.: The tarp is off and the field is filled with snow. Workers are trying, to no avail, to clear the field. Game time is 59 minutes away.

CHICAGO -- We're about two hours from kickoff at Soldier Field and it's 30 degrees outside with 32 MPH winds and light snow falling. The tarp is still on the field as workers mill about looking to preserve the field.

A win or a tie in this game means the Patriots clinch a playoff spot. With a playoff spot more than likely on the menu, the focus instead can be shifted to locking up a bye week. A loss today would mean the Patriots lose the ground gained over the Jets after last week's big win, even if it's a non-division opponent.

Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.
Record: Patriots (10-2); Bears (9-3)
TV info: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)

Projected starting lineups

Patriots offense:
Wes Welker (WR), Deion Branch (WR), Matt Light (LT), Logan Mankins (LG), Dan Koppen (C), Dan Connolly (RG), Sebastian Vollmer (RT), Alge Crumpler (TE), Rob Gronkowski (TE), Tom Brady (QB), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB)

Bears offense:
Johnny Knox (WR), Devin Hester (WR), Frank Omiyale (LT), Chris WIlliams (LG), Olin Kreutz (C), Roberto Garza (RG), J'Marcus Webb (RT), Greg Olsen (TE), Jay Cutler (QB), Matt Forte (RB), (Brandon Manumaleuna (FB)

Patriots defense:
Gerard Warren (LE), Vince Wilfork (NT), Ron Brace (DL), Rob Ninkovich (OLB), Jerod Mayo (ILB), Gary Guyton (ILB), Jermaine Cunningham (OLB), Devin McCourty (CB), Kyle Arrington (CB), Brandon Meriweather (S), Patrick Chung (S)

Bears defense:
Israel Idonije (LE), Matt Toeaina (DT), Anthony Adams (NT), Julius Peppers (RE), Lance Briggs (WLB), Brian Urlacher (MLB), Nick Roach (SLB), Tim Jennings (CB), Charles Tillman (CB), Danieal Manning (SS), Chris Harris (FS)

Inactives

Patriots: Taylor Price, thomas Clayton, Jonathan Wilhite, Rich Ohrnberger, Mark LeVoir, Myron Pryor, Mike Wright and Chevis Jackson.

Bears: Josh Moore, Kahlil Bell, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Herman Johnson, Edwin Williams, Desmond Clark, Marcus Harrison and Caleb Hanie.

The loss of Brandon Spikes -- With Spikes out with a four-game suspension (his 71 tackles are the second most on the team according to the coaches), and with the weather likely favoring the run, we'll see an immediate impact at the inside linebacker position for good or bad. Even as a rookie, Spikes has made plays for the Patriots, especially when it comes to run support. Gary Guyton is the likely starter in his stead, but we could also see rookie Dane Fletcher get some action at the spot.

Brian Urlacher talks big -- Earlier in the week, Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was dismissive of the Patriots and particularly quarterback Tom Brady.

"New England is the best team in the NFL, record-wise," Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune. "But I feel like we're the best team, period. That's why I say record-wise. They have the best quarterback, numbers-wise. And everybody likes to go by numbers, right?"

Wrong. As Bill Belichick famously said, "stats are for losers."

It'll be interesting to see how Brady and the Patriots react to the statements. A little billboard material never hurts for motivation.

And for the record, Brady's numbers are phenomenal. He has a league-leading 109.5 quarterback rating after completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 3,029 yards, 27 touchdowns while only throwing four picks.

Final score: Patriots 45, Jets 3

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff December 6, 2010 08:24 PM

So much anticipation, so little drama.

Tom Brady threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots used a total team effort to silence their division rival New York Jets, 45-3, last night at Gillette Stadium.

It was a night of milestones for Brady, who set an NFL record with his 26th consecutive regular season win at home and moved past former teammate Drew Bledsoe into 13th place in NFL history with his 251st touchdown pass. He also had his 12th game with four touchdowns and no interceptions, and he went his seventh straight game without throwing an interception.

But it wasn't all about Brady. Danny Woodhead, who began the season with the Jets, had four reception for 104 yards, including a 50-yarder on a shovel pass in the third quarter. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for a pair of touchdowns, rookie Devin McCourty intercepted his sixth pass of the season, Wes Welker had seven catches for 84 yards and a score, Deion Branch had a 25-yard TD reception, and the list goes on.

Meanwhile, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, all coming on consecutive series in the second half, and finished just 17 of 33 for 164 yards against the NFL's 32d-ranked pass defense.

By winning the matchup of 9-2 division rivals, the Patriots now have the inside track to a division title, a No. 1 or No. 2 seeding in the AFC playoffs, and possibly a first-round bye.

FINAL SCORE: PATRIOTS 45, JETS 3: And that's a wrap on an absolute rout, from the first series to the final second. If there's any doubt who should be topping all of the power polls tomorrow morning, here's a hint: They just silenced the 9-2 Jets, won their 26th straight game at home, and now own a 10-2 record. We'll be back with a wrap briefly, and be sure to stick around Extra Points for many more postgame posts.

0:49: Joe McKnight runs for 11 yards. We mention that just to point out that he's the player the Jets kept over Danny Woodhead. That's gonna sting the Jets for awhile.


1:50: Gillette is clearing out with the Patriots holding a fairly secure 42-point lead.

2:48: Mesko in to punt. Maybe run a fake here? Kidding, but not really.

4:18: The Patriots pick up a first down after the Jets are penalized for having 12 men on the field. As my colleague Bob Ryan put it: "Well, can't blame 'em for trying."

5:44: Fred Taylor carries for no gain. It's his first carry since Week 3. He's been sidelined with a toe injury. On his second carry since Week 3, he picks up six yards. Good to see him out there again.

5:49: Sanchez throws behind Tomlinson on fourth and 5 at the Patriots 9, and the end zone remains out of reach for the Jets tonight.

6:58: Jets are moving the ball in garbage time, with Dustin Keller making a 14-yard grab for his third catch of the night. He's been a nuisance to the Patriots in recent years, but they did a nice job neutralizing him tonight with Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung.

9:20, PATRIOTS 45, JETS 3: This is a thumping, and feel free to choose a harsher word. Green-Ellis plows through the belly of the Jets defense for his second TD of the night, from five yards out. The Jets' proud defense is either vastly overrated, or Jim Leonhard meant more to the operation than anyone knew.

10:43: On fourth and 1 from the 15, Green-Ellis picks up 10. The message is being sent.

12:46: Sanchez hits James Sanders in the hands for 28 yards. Unfortunately for New York, the Sanders is a Patriots defensive back, and the 28 yards comes on his return, which ends at the Patriots 28. He's now been picked off on three straight drives. The tabloids are not going to be kind.

14:57, PATRIOTS 38, JETS 3: Brady to Hernandez, one yard, TD, and the lead is 35. Meanwhile, Gillette Stadium patrons are coming up with effective plays on New York's well-known J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets chant. Your first guess at to what the revised chant says would probably be correct.

0:01: And with the third quarter about to come to a close, the Patriots are on the Jets 1 with yet another effortless drive, the big play coming on a Brady pitch to Danny Woodhead that went for 50 yards. (The play was called a pass, putting Woodhead over 100 yards receiving against his former team.) What a thumping.

3:50: Is it safe to call it a rout yet? Sanchez's deep pass down the right sideline is picked off by Devin McCourty, the sixth interception of his rookie season. If you want evidence of just how well this kid is playing right now, he now has the second-most interceptions all-time among Patriots rookies, trailing only the eight collected by Mike Haynes in 1976. It should be noted that McCourty punctuated the pick by mimicking the Jets' "airplane" celebration. He'd better beware. Tomlinson is not going to like this.

4:40, PATRIOTS 31, JETS 3: Now that's what's known as a perfectly executed drive. The Patriots go 93 yards on eight plays, taking 4:35 off the clock, with Welker catching a quick out from Brady and carrying Eric Smith the final couple of yards into the end zone for an 18-yard score. The touchdown pass, the 251st of Brady's career, ties none other than Drew Bledsoe for 13th place on the all-time list. Next up is Dan Fouts at 254. We're going guess he's not going to get there tonight, but the way things are going . . .

5:34: Brady to Hernandez for 35 yards, with probably 20 coming after the catch, to reach the NY 24. He might be listed as a tight end, but those are wide receiver's moves. Brady is particularly animated after the play, appearing to give Hernandez a little extra encouragement.

6:18: Brady to Gronkowski for a first down. Patriots are suddenly taking their time and working the clock.

8:35: Brady gives the Patriots offense some breathing room, hitting Woodhead for 14 yards on first down to reach their own 21.

9:15: Receiver/quarterback Brad Smith trots into the locker room for the Jets. Maybe he's seen enough?

11:02, third quarter: The Jets begin the second half with what appears to be their best drive of the night. LaDainian Tomlinson does the brunt of the dirty work, passing Eric Dickerson for sixth on the all-time rushing list along the way. The Jets even convert on fourth and 1 at the Patriots 15 on a quick in-cut by Holmes to catch a short Sanchez throw. But again, it ends badly with Brandon Spikes collecting his first NFL interception to kill the drive inside the 10.

:00 second quarter, PATRIOTS 24, JETS 3: New York's bid to find the end zone before the half ends with Sanchez flinging the ball away while in Banta-Cain's grasp. Banta-Cain was credited with a sack, and the play seems like an apt metaphor for the first-half performance of the visitors, who were thoroughly dominated by the Patriots.

A couple of key stats while Robert Kraft and the franchise pay homage to Tedy Bruschi on the field. (Bruschi is putting on the No. 54 jersey one more time, as implored by Kraft. A very nice moment, enhanced more by Bruschi calling out the names of his former teammates as the crowd roars for each Harrison, Law, Vrabel and more. Class move.)

Total yards: Patriots 181, Jets 146.
Passing: Brady: 10 of 16 for 152 yards and a pair of TDs with no picks. Sanchez: 8 of 18 for 77 yards and no TDs or interceptions.

Rushing: Green-Ellis leads the Patriots with 37 yards and a TD on nine carries. Greene has 46 yards on eight attempts for the Jets.

Receiving: Wes Welker has four catches for 45 yards, while Branch has three for 64 and a score. Holmes leads the Jets with four receptions for 52 yards.

0:14: Sanchez escapes for an 11-yard gain after Tully Banta-Cain and another Patriots lineman let him slip from their grasp.

0:22: Jets advance to the Patriots 48 on a nice throw-and-catch from Sanchez to Holmes for 22 yards.

1:10: Patriots go three-and-out, with Brady getting sacked twice, by Smith and Harris. Jets start at their 17 after a Mesko 43-yard punt.

2:19: The Jets go three-and-out again -- we should note, without the aid of any drops by Edwards -- and Weatherford's 38-yard punt dies at midfield.

4:19: Zoltan Mesko makes his first appearance of the night for the Patriots after they go three-and-out in their own territory. Not only does he boom a 52-yard punt, but he also shows flawless form with a tackle preventing Santonio Holmes from possible going the distance. As it is, there's a block in the penalty call on the play, and the Jets are penalized back to the NY 12. So Mesko's tackle is just a memory, and not a statistic.

6:19: The Patriots earn another pelt on third down, forcing a Sanchez incompletion on third and 1 at the NY 46. Sanchez, who is 5 for 13 for 42 yards so far, rolled right and targeted Edwards. He's 0 for 3 looking his way tonight.

8:15, second quarter, PATRIOTS 24, JETS 3: The record will show that Tom Brady's 250th touching pass in his NFL career went for four yards to Brandon Tate. Tate got his left foot and left hand down before falling out of bounds, and Rex Ryan, perhaps shell-shocked by the 21-point deficit, decided not to throw the challenge flag on a play in which the officials hesitated for a few seconds before signaling touchdown. Tate's score finished off a seven-play, 67-yard drive that took 3:59.

9:04: Branch is called for offensive interference after giving Welker an obvious assist in getting open. Got caught that time.

9:45:Green-Ellis breaks it outside for 13 yards on first down, and the Patriots have a new set of downs at the NY 8.

10:10: Brady converts the first down on the QB sneak. He's a good as that as Drew (Falling Statue) Bledsoe was bad.

11:44: Danny Woodhead with a 35-yard catch and run to get to the NY 38. He must give Rex indigestion every time he sees him. Woodhead gets the ball on the next play, a 4-yard run, after which Jets linebacker David Harris was down for a moment with an apparent injury.

12:14 second quarter, PATRIOTS 17, JETS 3: Folk gets the Jets on the board, connecting on a 39-yard to complete an eight-play, 48-yard drive. The Jets had a chance to sustain the drive on third down, but Braylon Edwards had his second big drop of the night, this one with Kyle Arrington bearing down on him. FYI, google "Braylon Edwards drop" and you get roughly 13,000 options.

13:12, second quarter: Nice start in this game for Shonn Greene, who has picked up 46 yards on seven carries so far. Probably doesn't make it up to the fantasy football owners who drafted him in the first round, however. Jets have it at the Patriots 21, third and 3, with the Patriots mulling over their options after calling their second timeout of the half.

:00 The first quarter couldn't have gone any better for the Patriots, who have already surpassed their point total from these teams' Week 2 meeting. A key pass interference and a gacked punt lead to 14 points.

1:01, PATRIOTS 17, JETS 0: They went for it and . . . jackpot. Brady to Branch, who takes it the rest of the way for a 25-yard touchdown. Branch was freed up by Danny Woodhead pick that Kendrick Perkins would be proud of, and Woodhead also blocked Cromartie to help Branch finish off the run. If the knee problems Branch had in Seattle cost him a step, it sure isn't evident.

1:07: Brady finds Branch for 20 yards on third and 23, and the Patriots call a timeout to discuss their fourth-down options. The wind is at their back on what would be a 42-yard attempt for Graham. For now, the offensive unit is on the field.

2:01: Brady sacked on first down by James Ihedigbo for a loss of 12.

2:36: Hideous possession for the Jets. A first down run that gains three yards but looked like a fumble, a delay of game penalty, a drop by Braylon Edwards, an incomplete pass to Santonio Holmes (busted up nicely by Darius Butler), and a complete shank by punter Steve Weatherford that went 12 yards. Patriots take over on the Jets 32.

4:02, PATRIOTS 10, JETS 0: The penalty on Smith proves incredibly costly, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis runs it in from the 1 on second down. The play took six plays, covered 38 yards, and knocked 2:48 off the clock. Smith is the early leader for goat of the game.

4:41: The Jets officially miss Jim Leonhard, their injured safety. His replacement, Eric Smith, is flagged for a 38-yard pass interference penalty after hopelessly face-guarding Rob Gronkowski on a deep throw to the left corner of the end zone.

5:48: Unbelievable throw by Brady to Wes Welker on third and 7 to get to the Jets' 40. He looked off Hernandez, avoided a direct rush by Mike DeVito, stepped up and threaded it between a pair of defensive backs. There aren't three QBs in the league who make that throw.

7:08: Tomlinson for three, and it's another third down . . . and this time the Patriots, with six DBs on the field, force Sanchez into an incompletion on third and 7. Nick Folk on to attempt a 53-yarder . . . and it's wide left. Very wide left. Patriots take over at their 43. Given the cold conditions and Folk's struggles -- he's missed six of his last 11 -- that probably wasn't Ryan's smartest decision there. But he prides himself in winning those low-percentage gambles. When he wins them, that is.

8:23: Gutsy call by Ryan on fourth down, going for it at their own 46, and Shonn Greene rewards the call with a 2-yard gain. On the next play, LaDainian Tomlinson picks up 14 yards, and the Jets suddenly have momentum at the Patriots 38.

8:35: The ruling on the field stands. Rex is charged with a timeout.

8:35: Mark Sanchez is stopped on a sneak for no gain on third and 1 at their own 46. The Jets are challenging the spot.

10:22: Patriots open with five defensive backs, with Darius Butler in the slot. Two plays later, Butler is in coverage when Jerricho Cotchery catches a 7-yard pass for a first down. Can't reiterate this enough: It's imperative the Patriots get off the field on third down at a much better clip than they have this season, when they've allowed a league-worst 51 percent conversion rate.

10:49: Ron Brace, not Brandon Deaderick, is starting at defensive tackle in place of Mike Wright. This place right now is as loud as we've heard it all season.

10:49: Jets begin their first possession at their own 26 after a 25-yard return by Brad Smith.

10:57, PATRIOTS 3, JETS 0: The drives stalls with two incomplete passes in Branch's direction -- the first looked catchable and on the second Brady didn't see a wide-open Aaron Hernandez. But Shayne Graham salvages things, booting a 41-yard field goal to cap a nine-play, 52-yard drive that took 4:03.

11:43:Brady hits Deion Branch on a comeback route for a 20-yard gain to the New York 23. Take that, Cris Carter.

12:14: Danny Woodhead, who by the way began the season with the Jets, picks up a first down with a 7-yard run on a trap play.

13:30: Patriots advance to their own 46 after a 12-yard run by Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis. Alge Crumpler opened the hole with a vicious block on Jets linebacker David Harris.

14:54: As expected, Dan Connolly starts at right guard in place of Stephen Neal, who went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury this week.

15:00, first quarter: With Bruschi participating in the coin toss, the Jets win and defer. They will defend the north end zone.

Rene Rancourt gets it done with the National Anthem, finishing with the fist pump and a flex of the biceps. The gun show wasn't particularly visible from the press box, but the effort was outstanding.

We're less than 15 minutes from kickoff here at chilly Gillette Stadium, which could be downright frigid during the game since wind chill is expected to dip into single digits. Right now, it's 27 degrees with a wind chill of 15. We'll assume it's considerably warmer on your couch.

It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the weather has on the game; one potential situation where it may come into play is on special teams. The Jets lost starting safety Jim Leonhard to a leg injury on Friday. But his absence won't hurt them only on defense; he was a very sure-handed punt returner, and in his absence, they are expected to turn to receiver receiver Jerricho Cotchery or cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

The most notable inactive for the Patriots is defensive lineman Mike Wright, while Myron Pryor is also out. The Jets deactivated veteran receiver Lavernues Coles, who was signed this week when there was concern that Cotchery might not be able to play.

Also, a reminder: The Patriots will honor Tedy Bruschi at halftime. We presume the few flakes of snow falling here right now are in his honor.

We'll be back with updates all throughout the game, so be sure to hang with us here at Extra Points . . .

Game 12: Jets at Patriots

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff December 6, 2010 06:57 PM

At this point, you need any extra buildup for this one, you're probably watching "How I Met Your Mother" or something else anyway.

The hype for tonight's matchup between the 9-2 Patriots and 9-2 Jets at Gillette Stadium has been overwhelming since both teams last played on Thanksgiving. It's also been entirely justified. In a season in which the Patriots seem to play an accomplished opponent every other week, this is the one that matters most.

Not only is it a matchup with their greatest rival, but it will go a long way toward determining which team wins the AFC East and earns the possible No. 1 seed and a bye, and which team finishes with a wild card bid and begins the postseason on the road.

The Jets follow the approach of their brash, affable coach, Rex Ryan, telling everyone who will listen how good they are, and then most Sundays (or Thursdays, or Mondays) backing it up on the field. Thus far, they are every bit as good as they told us they would be during "Hard Knocks."

The Patriots, meanwhile, have continued to win in a fashion that is both workmanlike and flashy. Quarterback Tom Brady sometimes gets more notice for his hair and his endorsements than he has for his spectacular play; he has thrown 23 TD passes against just 4 interceptions, and he should be considered the leading candidate for the NFL Most Valuable Player award.

Defensively, the Jets are known for their blitzing, ferocious style, but with the injury to essential safety Jim Leonhard this week, it will be interesting to see if they temper their aggressiveness. The Patriots' defense has at times played like the old bend-but-don't-break units during the early dynasty years, but this group could have a fatal flaw: it's inability to get off the field on third down. The Patriots have allowed opposing offenses to convert 51 percent of their third downs, which over a full season would rank among the worst in the history of the NFL. If they are to win tonight, it's imperative that they stop Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense from prolonging drives with crucial conversions.

Below are some more game details and story lines. Stay tuned to Extra Points for in-game and postgame reaction and analysis from Team Globe here at Gillette Stadium.

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m.
Records: Jets 9-2; Patriots 9-2
TV/Radio: ESPN, Ch. 5. Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and Jon Gruden will call the game. Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti handle radio duties for 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Line: Patriots favored by 4

Inactives
Patriots:
WR Taylor Price, RB Thomas Clayton, DB Jonathan Wilhite, OL Rich Ohrnberger, T Mark LeVoir, DL Myron Pryor, DL Eric Moore, DL Mike Wright.
Jets: QB Kellen Clemens, LB Jamaal Westerman, OL Vladimir Ducasse, TE Matthew Mulligan, TE Jeff Cumberland, WR Laveranues Coles, DT Marcus Dixon, DL Matt Kroul.

Projected starting lineups (based on depth charts, injury reports and news reports)
Patriots offense:
WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Alge Crumpler, WR Brandon Tate, QB Tom Brady, RB Fred Taylor, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Jets offense: WR Jerricho Cotchery, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG Matt Slauson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, RT Damien Woody, TE Dustin Keller, WR Braylon Edwards, QB Mark Sanchez, FB Tony Richardson, RB Shonn Greene.

Patriots defense: LE Gerard Warren, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Brandon Deaderick, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung.

Jets defense: DE Shaun Ellis, NT Sione Pouha, T Mike DeVito, OLB Bryan Thomas, WILL Bart Scott, MIKE David Harris, OLB Calvin Pace, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, S Brodney Pool, DB Kyle Wilson.

What to watch for
Ch-ch-changes:
The Jets and Patriots both have made some alterations since their Week 2 meeting, a 28-14 New York win at the New Meadowlands, with the most notable changes coming at wide receiver. Santonio Holmes, who missed the previous game while serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, has teamed with Braylon Edwards to give QB Mark Sanchez a pair of outside threats. Holmes has 32 catches for 491 yards and four touchdowns.

For the Patriots, the wideout change is more drastic, with Randy Moss dealt to Minnesota and replaced by old friend Deion Branch, who was reacquired after four seasons in Seattle. Branch has given more balance and diversity to the Patriots' passing game.

Who replaces Leonhard: The Jets suffered a potentially damaging blow in practice Friday when dependable safety Jim Leonhard suffered a severe injury to his shin, ending his season. Leonhard was the glue of the Jets' defensive backfield, a hard hitter who called the defensive signals. The Jets are further burdened in that they may not have a capable replacement. Safety Brodney Pool has struggled in coverage, and rookie first-round pick Kyle Wilson -- chosen immediately after the Patriots selected standout Devin McCourty in the April draft -- has had a rookie season marked by peaks and valleys. The Jets have struggled to defend opposing tight ends even when Leonhard was healthy -- the Patriots' Aaron Hernandez burned them for 106 yards in Week 2 -- and this could be a night for Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, and perhaps even Alge Crumpler to do some damage in the middle of the field.

Icing the kickers: It's a cold one tonight in Foxborough, with temperatures expected to drop down into the 20s, and so the kicking game could be affected. If it comes down to the Jets' Nick Folk or the Patriots' Shayne Graham (who has performed ably while replacing the injured Stephen Gostkowski), they won't just be facing pressure, they'll be dealing with the elements.

What about Woody? The story has been told more than once in recent weeks as diminutive running back Danny Woodhead has emerged as a significant contributor to the Patriots' offense, but it probably bears repeating (at least if you are a Patriots fan who enjoys gloating from time to time) that he began the season with the Jets. Woodhead was let go when the Jets decided to keep draft pick Joe McKnight out of Southern Cal, and he was quickly snapped up by the Patriots before the Week 2 game. Turns out they had bigger plans for him than just intelligence on his former employer, and it would be a heck of a plot twist if the Chadron State product ends up as a key performer in a victory over the team that gave him his first shot in the NFL.

Final: Patriots 45, Lions 24

Posted by Scott Thurston, Globe Staff November 25, 2010 02:30 PM

It looked early on as if the typical "trap game'' warning would prove accurate, but the Patriots did what they always seem to do -- take advantage of one mistake by an opponent -- and eliminated any thoughts of a startingly upset by rolling up 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points and leaving Detroit with a 45-24 closer-than-you-think victory over the "we're-better-than-people-think'' Lions at Ford Field.

The game turned in the third quarter when Lions quarterback Shaun Hill (27 of 46, 285 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs), looking to build on a 7-point lead, forced a ball intended for the man-among-boys Calvin Johnson into double coverage that was picked off by Devin McCourty.

It only took Tom Brady (a statistically brilliant 21 of 27 for 341 yards and four TDs) four plays to take advantage as he hit Wes Welker (8 catches, 90 yards, 2 TDs) with a 5-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. Though the Lions would come back to score on their next possession, the Welker score delivered a deflating message: Don't make a mistake. Ever.

1:22: Patriots take over on downs at the 6 after Lions fail to convert on fourth down. Take a knee time.

3:14: After the extra point on the touchdown, a squirmish broke out at the line, which caused coach Bill Belichick to come on to the field and steer his players back to the sideline. The result was two flags on the Lions -- an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Suh and a personal foul on linebacker DeAndre Levy. As a result, Graham kicked off from the DETROIT 40.

3:14 fourth quarter: PATRIOTS 45, LIONS 24: Green-Ellis puts the icing on the victory with his second TD of the game, a 1-yard run, Drive: 4 plays, 12 yards in 2:29.

5:58: McCourty picks off Hill for the second time and returns it 50 yards, stepping out of bounds at the 12. It's the rookie's fifth interception of the season.

6:42, PATRIOTS 38, LIONS 24: The Lions had their chance...Brady, who is puting up great numbers, methodically moves the Patriots down field and throws his fourth TD pass, a 16-yarder to Welker. Drive: 7 plays, 84 yards, 4:25.

13:51 fourth quarter PATRIOTS 31, LIONS 24: Branch fittingly takes a bow -- and then hands the ball to a Patriots fan in the front row -- after hauling in his second TD of the game, this one from 22 yards. Drive: 5 plays, 64 yards in 2:15.

0:00: On the last play of the third quarter, a nice 26-yard catch by tight end Rob Gronkowski gives the Patriots a first and 10 at the Detroit 30.

1:06: Patriots dodge a bullet as Raynor misses a 46-yard field goal wide right.

5:12, third quarter PATRIOTS, 24, LIONS 24: An incredible effort by Deion Branch, who puts his hand up, hauls in a Brady pass and then turns Lions corner Alphonso Smith around like a top on his way to a 79-yard TD. Drive: 3 plays, 87 yards in 1:38. Last team to get the ball wins.

6:50, third quarter LIONS 24, PATRIOTS 17: If the Patriots didn't realize the Lions aren't just going to go away, they do now. On fourth and 1, Morris scores his second 1-yard TD of the game to put Detroit back in front by 7. Drive; 9 plays, 58 yards in 4:08.

11:06 third quarter PATRIOTS 17, LIONS 17: Sure enough, Brady makes the Lions pay as he takes advantage of the turnover and finds his favorite target, Welker, for a 5-yard TD. Drive: 4 plays, 26 yards in 2:08.

13:17 third quarter: Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty may have just given the Patriots the momentum they needed as he picks off a pass intended for Johnson and returns it 23 yards to the Detroit 26

0:00 second quarter LIONS 17, PATRIOTS 10: Patriots are vulnerable down the middle as Hill and the Lions answer right back. Dave Raynor's 44-yard field goal gives the Lions a 7-point lead at halftime, Drive: 7 plays, 41 yards in 0:45. Time for Thanksgiving indigestion, Patriots fans.

0:39: Safety Brandon Meriweather is down and then walks gingerly to the sideline after making a tackle on Aaron Brown. No cause for alarm, he's back...

0:45 second quarter LIONS 14, PATRIOTS 10: BenJarvus Green-Ellis shows some terrific power running, plowing straight ahead for a 15-yard touchdown run on second and 4. Drive: 10 plays, 83 yards in 5:13.

4:01: Brady has Brandon Tate open on a deep pass down the middle, but Tate can't hold on - a costly drop as the New England offense needs a spark.

5:58, second quarter LIONS 14, PATRIOTS 3: Backup running back Maurice Morris goes up and over for a 1-yard TD run that has the Ford Field faithful fired up. Drive: 13 plays, 63 yards in 6:24.

6:18 second quarter: Lions go for it on fourth and 1 from the 2, and Hill picks up the first down on a keeper.

0:00 first quarter LIONS 7, PATRIOTS 3: Detroit quarterback Shaun Hill displays some nifty foot work and escapability (two scrambles, 21 yards) and then puts the Lions ahead with his arm, hiting Calvin Johnson with a 19-yard touchdown pass. Drive: 11 plays, 71 yards in 5:00.

5:00 first quarter, PATRIOTS 3, LIONS 0: Brady gets in rhythm and gets the Patriots on the board, but have to settle for a chip-shot 19-yard field goal by Shayne Graham. Brady is 4 for 5 on the drive, including three to Wes Welker for 34 yards. Drive: 8 plays, 41 yards in 3:59.

We're under way at Ford Field: Patrots win the toss and, as usual, defer. After forcing an opening punt, Patriots begin the drive at the 19, but the drive is stalled by Ndamukong Suh's sack of Tom Brady at the 50.


Game 11: Patriots at Lions

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff November 25, 2010 08:00 AM

The Patriots are right back in the national spotlight just four days after beating the Colts in a revival of the NFL's best rivalry.

Today's matchup with the Lions is the Patriots' fourth Thanksgiving game, and first since 2002. The Patriots lost to the Cowboys 20-17 on Thanksgiving in 1984, lost to the Lions 34-9 in 2000, and beat the Lions 20-12 in 2002.

Photos: Five things to know about Lions

Video: Three keys for Patriots to beat Lions

Globe 10.0: Who will win the Lions-Patriots game?

The Lions have had a rough go of it pretty much since the mid-1990s, but there are signs of life despite another lousy record. They had narrow losses to the Eagles, Packers and Jets this season, and crushed the Rams and Redskins. So like the Cleveland game at the beginning of November, some view today as a trap for the Patriots, coming off the high of beating two of the league's best teams in the past two weeks -- the Steelers and the Colts.

Today will be the second and final time of the season New England will wear its 1985 throwback uniforms, with red jerseys, white pants, and white helmets with Pat Patriot logos.

Here are some game details and story lines. Stay tuned to Extra Points for in-game and postgame reaction and analysis from Team Globe in Detroit.

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.
Records: Patriots 8-2; Lions 2-8
TV/Radio: CBS (Ch. 4) Jim Nantz and Phil Simms again provide the play-by-play and analysis of the game. Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti call the game on radio for 98.5 FM (The Sports Hub).
Line: Patriots favored by 6.5

Projected starting lineups (based on depth charts, injury reports and news reports)
Patriots offense:
WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Stephen Neal, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Alge Crumpler, WR Brandon Tate, QB Tom Brady, RB Fred Taylor, RB Sammy Morris.

Lions offense: WR Nate Burleson, LT Jeff Backus, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Stephen Peterman, RT Gosder Cherilus, TE Brandon Pettigrew, WR Calvin Johnson, QB Shaun Hill, FB Jerome Felton, RB Jahvid Best.

Patriots defense: LE Gerard Warren, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Brandon Deaderick, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung.

Lions defense: LDE Cliff Avril, DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Corey Williams, RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch, OLB Ashlee Palmer, MLB DeAndre Levy, OLB Julian Peterson, LCB Chris Houston, RCB Alphonso Smith, SS C.C. Brown, FS Louis Delmas.

Story lines
Tale of the tape:
While the comparison of the two teams' season-long stats is largely a wash in terms of either team having a decided edge, two numbers jump out at you. First is penalties -- the Patriots have been penalized 55 times for 499 yards, while the Lions have accumulated a league-leading (tied with Oakland) 98 for 732.

The second is punts. The Patriots have punted away 38 times, the Lions 61. Think the Lions have trouble sustaining drives?

Series history: The Patriots lead 5-4. The last meeting was a 28-21 New England victory in 2006 at Gillette Stadium.

Milestone watch: A victory would give Patriots coach Bill Belichick 172 for his career and pull him out of a tie for 11th place in the NFL career coaching wins list with Joe Gibbs.

Final: Patriots 31, Colts 28

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff November 21, 2010 06:26 PM

Tom Brady has won 25 consecutive regular-season starts at home, tying Brett Favre's NFL record. But Peyton Manning and the Colts made him sweat it out until the final moments.

Brady completed 19 of 25 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and James Sanders's interception of a Manning pass deep in Patriots territory in the final minute secured the Patriots' thrilling 31-28 victory over their chief non-division rival today at Gillette Stadium.

Manning completed 38 of 52 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns as the Colts nearly rallied from a 28-14 deficit after three quarters, outscoring the Patriots 14-3 in the fourth.

But he also threw three interceptions, including Sanders's leaping, game-saving grab at the 6-yard-line with 31 seconds remaining.

The Patriots, now 8-2 and tied atop the AFC East with the New York Jets, got 96 yards rushing from BenJarvus Green-Ellis and 69 more from Danny Woodhead, while Deion Branch was the leading receiver with seven catches for 70 yards. The Colts dropped to 6-4 but lead the AFC South.

FINAL SCORE, PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 28: The Patriots run out the clock to secure their eighth win, and . . . exhale. Peyton Manning had the bigger statistical day, completing 38 of 52 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions, including the clincher to Sanders. Tom Brady improves to 9-4 against Manning and the Colts, and the Patriots improve to 8-2. We'll be back with much more shortly, to be sure to keep checking back in right here at Extra Points.

0:31: And the save goes to James Sanders. With the Colts at the Patriots 20 and seemed set to at least attempt a makeable tying field goal, Manning's pass intended for Garcon is picked off by the Patriots' safety with a leaping catch. In a game of numerous big plays, there's the biggest one right there. You can exhale now.

1:03: Second and 7 from the 49 after 5-yard penalty on Ryan Diem for a false start.

1:53: Donald Brown picks up eight up the middle. The Colts are at the 45. They probably need 15-20 more yards to be in Vinatieri's range. His long this year is 48. By the way, Manning has completed 12 of 14 passes this quarter.

2:00: The Colts, who have been rolling since going to the hurry-up, have the ball at the New England 47 after a 17-yard pass from Manning to Tamme. This would be a good time for Garcon to run another bad route.

2:33: The Patriots go three-and-out . . . and it could have been worse, actually. Brady's third-and-7 pass from their own 32 hits Colts linebacker Tyjuan Hagler in the midsection, but he can't hold on to the pass. Mesko is on to punt. Gulp.

4:45 fourth quarter, PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 28: And on the very next play after the penalty, Manning hits Blair White down the middle, and he makes an easy catch with Patrick Chung in coverage. That's two touchdowns in less than four minutes for the Colts. Hate to bring it up, but it's hard not to think about some of the Patriots' blown leads against the Colts in recent years, including last year and the 2006 AFC Championship game.

5:45: Vince Wilfork stops Brown for a 2-yard-loss on second down, bringing up a third and 9, but Manning finds Garcon -- who is in the right place this time -- at the Patriots 33, and the Colts get 15 more yards on an unneccessary roughness call on Tully Banta-Cain, moving the ball to the Patriots 18. Banta-Cain shoved down a Colts lineman after the whistle. It's the first time we recall Banta-Cain's name being called today.

6:48: Starting the Patriots 27, Manning immediately hits Jarvarris James for 18 yards, then they slip into Patriots territory with a 7-yard pass to Tamme. Patriots can't allow another sub-3-minute drive here.

7:17: The Patriots will punt it back to the Colts after Branch can't hold on to Brady's third and 4 pass at the 28.

7:33: Stoppage in play while the Colts' Jared Lacey is helped off the field.

7:57 fourth quarter, PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 21: Just what the Patriots didn't want to happen -- a quick Indy march to the end zone. Taking up just 2:26 on the clock, Manning finishes off a stunningly efficient 7-play, 73-yard drive with a 5-yard TD pass to Blair White. The 36-yard run by Brown was obviously the key play. Now the Patriots start their drive on their own 23.

9:19: Donald Brown breaks off a 36-yard run on third and 4 -- more than twice his total of 17 yards on 12 previous carries, and the Colts have a first down at the Patriots 12. Just when you think you've got 'em . . .

10:23, PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 14: A promising drive stalls at the Colts 7 when Brady's pass goes through the hands of Julian Edelman on third and 6, but Shayne Graham salvages things with a 25-yard field goal. McCourty's pick might stand as the pivotal play of the game so far.

14:38 fourth quarter: Green-Ellis rips off his longest run of the day, a 16-yarder off left tackle to get to the Indy 40. He now has 72 yards on 15 carries. Let's see if the Patriots, with a two-touchdown lead, try to take some time off the clock. Remember, Brady is pretty much pitching a perfect game, with 18 completions in 20 attempts.

0:18: Devin McCourty picks off his team-leading third pass of the season, making a leaping grab and staying inbounds along the sideline to give the Patriots the ball at their 39. Pretty good play for just a special teams player. For the second time today, it looked like Manning and Garcon read the play differently, with Garcon appearing to cut off his route 15 yards short of the throw. There was no receiver in the vicinity, though the announcement in the press box said it was Tamme.

1:11 third quarter, PATRIOTS 28, COLTS 14: Well, Danny Woodhead knows what to do in the open field, doesn't he? Cutting off right tackle after taking the handoff up the middle, he fakes Colts cornerback Aaron Franscisco out of his horseshoe helmet, breaks another tackle, and, escorted by Wes Welker, beats the Colts defense to the right pylon for the score. The 36-yard run is the Patriots' first of 25 or more yards in the past 20 games, and the lead is back to two touchdowns.

2:33: After a 7-yard pass to Brady for another first down, Brady is now 17 of 19 for 181 yards. That's an 88.9 percent completion percentage.

4:35: Make that 7 of 8 for the Patriots on third down, with Short-Yardage Sammy Morris charging ahead for 4 yards on third and 1. On the ensuing series of downs, Danny Woodhead's 9-yard reception provides the Patriots with another first down at their own 46.

6:01: Wait . . . they do get off the field on third down. Manning, who has been killing the Patriots by rolling right, throws deep down the sideline for Garcon, but McCourty is there in coverage, and the pass falls incomplete. Manning, looking for a flag on McCourty, shakes his head walking off the field (some have been known to call it the Manning Face). The Colts are now 7 of 10 on third down. It should be noted that the Patriots are 6 of 7.

7:15: Manning is picking the Patriots apart over the middle of the field. On third and 2, he completes a 14-yard pass to a wide-open Jacob Tamme to get the ball into Patriots territory at the 47. The Colts haven't been able to run the ball (20 yards on 15 carries), but he has all day to throw, and the Patriots can't get off the field on third down.

10:28:No such luck, with Donald Brown picking up the first down at the Patriots 20 with a 4-yard run on third and 1. He now has 12 yards on 10 carries.

11:54: A Patriots drive stalls for the first time today. Zoltan Mesko boots a 45-yarder that Brandon James returns for no gain, and after a penalty on the Colts on the punt is tacked on, Manning and Co. start at their own 7. The Patriots, who allowed five third-down conversions on their last drive, could really use a three-and-out here.

13:31: The Colts finally get to Brady, with Freeney all over the quarterback after he tries to set up following a play-action fake. Amazing how quick Freeney remains at age 30.

14:48: Patriots start at their own 27 after a 19-yard return by Tate, who looked headed for more before he tripped over blocker Rob Gronkowski's foot.

Halftime: The Patriots have to be both encouraged and frustrated heading into the locker room with a 21-14 lead. They've moved the ball at will against the injury-plagued Colts defense, finding the end zone on all three of their possessions. Brady has completed 12 of 14 passes for 131 yards and two TDs, and one of the incompletions was a drop of a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone by Branch.

Yet the seven-point margin is smaller than it feels like it should be based on the offense's efficient performance. Manning has completed 19 of 26 passes for 221 yards and a pair of scores, and he's yet to be sacked. There has to be frustration over failing to keep the Colts out of the end zone on their final possession; a seven-point lead against Manning, even with a depleted corps of receivers, is never comfortable and rarely safe. The Patriots have the ball to start the second half. Scoring a TD on a fourth consecutive possession wouldn't just be nice, it might also be necessary in a game that is suddenly looking like a shootout among arguably the NFL's two best quarterbacks.

:04 second quarter, PATRIOTS 21, COLTS 14: The Colts make the most of their opportunity, cutting the margin to 7 when Manning finds Wayne in the left corner of the end zone for an 11-yard TD. Perfect throw, and Wayne deftly got both feet down. Arrington was in coverage, with Meriweather arriving a step too late, but there wasn't much they could to about that. The score finished off a 12-play, 85-yard drive that took just 3:30.

0:35: Potentially costly missed tackle by Arrington, who allows Wayne to go 28 yards on third and 10, the last 20 or so coming after he slipped from the cornerback's grasp. Colts have it at the Pats 11.


0:58: Manning has the Colts on the move, picking up a first down with a 6-yard completion to White for a first down at the Patriots 49. The Patriots are in their nickel package, with safeties Chung, Meriweather, and James Sanders joining McCourty and Arrington in coverage.

2:00: Austin Collie, who has a team-high five catches for 60 yards for the Colts, has his pads off on the Indy sideline. Looks like his day is over.

3:34 second quarter, PATRIOTS 21, COLTS 0: The perception coming into the game is that the Colts, ranked 29th in the NFL in run defense, would be particularly vulnerable to the ground game today. The Patriots just confirmed that perception on their third score of the day, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis finishing off an 8-play, 65-yard answer-to-the-Colts-answer with a 5-yard touchdown run right up the gut of the Colts' defense. Green-Ellis now has 42 yards on 10 carries, and the Patriots have a touchdown on all three of their possessions. Meanwhile, the Colts have been held to seven yards on eight carries.

4:04: First and goal at the Indy 8 after a 3-yard gain by Woodhead.

4:56: Branch with an uncharacteristic drop in the left corner of the end zone. Perfect throw by Brady.

6:05: Brady to Rob Gronkowski for 25 . . . Brady to Branch for 16 more . . . and like that, the Patriots are at the Indy 10. Brady is currently 11 of 12 for 128 yards.

7:45: Quick note: Brady's second touchdown pass was the 244th of his career, tying John Hadl for 15th all-time. Also, the Patriots start this drive at their own 35 after a nifty 32-yard return by Brandon Tate, who looks like his usual self after missing practice time this week with the flu.

7:53 second quarter, PATRIOTS 14, COLTS 7: The Colts answer the Patriots' long drive with one not quite so long, but just as impressive. On third and goal from the 1, Manning finds Gijon Robinson (we've never heard of him either) on a well-executed play-action rollout in which Robinson was left wide open after Rob Ninkovich pursued Manning. The score, which came after two failed attempts to run it in by Donald Brown, capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 5:22 of the clock.

9:37: Manning with a little John Elway imitation, rolling right, taking the hit, and throwing across field to Donald Brown for a 25-yard gain. Risky throw, but he lofted it over Arrington's head and put enough zip on it to get it there before Meriweather could arrive. First and goal, Colts.

10:56: Manning, after some histrionics before the snap, keeps the drive alive with a 15-yard completion to Garcon on third and 5 to advance to the New England 33. Devin McCourty was in coverage.

12:36: A play after Collie -- perhaps hearing footsteps two weeks after suffering a concussion -- takes a power dribble on a Manning throw down the middle, the Colts go right back to him, and despite a big hit from Meriweather, he holds on for a 14-yard gain.

13:30 Starting at their own 31, Manning goes right at Arrington on the first play, and No. 27 holds his ground, breaking up a pass intended for Wayne.

13:09: Arrington was back on the field for the Colts' kick return. Bullet apparently dodged, and who'd have thought we'd have said that about Arrington a few months ago? He's been one of the revelations of the season.

13:15 second quarter, PATRIOTS 14, COLTS 0: Brady to Aaron Hernandez, eight yards for a score, and with the second quarter barely underway, the Patriots own a two-touchdown advantage. The touchdown, Hernandez's third in an impressive rookie season, came on a simple crossing route just in front of the goal line and capped a methodical 15-play, 82-yard drive that included a third and 1 conversion at the Indy 10.

End of first quarter, PATRIOTS 7, COLTS 0: Other than the possible Arrington injury, the first quarter couldn't have gone much better for the Patriots. Brady is making quick throws, which negates the effectiveness of speed rusher Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, and he's hit on 7 of 8 for 78 yards so far.

0:59: Patriots go with the hurry-up, with a Welker catch quickly followed by a 5-yard run for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Patriots avoid a Colts challenge on the Welker catch there, but you also have to wonder if the Patriots think they can wear down the depleted Indy defense.

3:10: Nice job of extending the drive by the Patriots offense, with Brady hitting Deion Branch for an 8-yard gain on third and 5 at their own 43. A play later . . . hey, why not go back to Branch again? Eighteen yards later, the Patriots have another first down on the Colts 32.

5:33: One bit of potentially worrisome news for the Patriots: Kyle Arrington, one of just three active cornerbacks for the Patriots today, was down on the field after the Colts' last possession and appeared to have twisted his ankle. Should he miss any time, the Patriots would have to turn to Darius Butler, who has plunged down the depth chart in his second season and was inactive last week against the Steelers. Not exactly the situation you want against Manning.

6:01: Nice boot by McAfee. Wes Welker calls for the fair catch, and the Patriots take over at their own 18.

6:46: Manning and his receivers don't seem to be on the same page of the playbook so far, at least with their usual precision. Jerod Mayo bats down a pass that was announced in the press box as intended for Reggie Wayne, but it appeared as though Garcon was the targeted receiver and broke the wrong way on his route. One play later, the Colts drive stalls at their own 35, and late-night swimming aficionado Pat McAfee is in to punt.

7:50: After a penalty on the kickoff, the Colts begin their second drive on their own 13. Devin McCourty, matched up against Pierre Garcon, nearly collects the Patriots' second pick on the day, but he can't pull in Manning's throw with a lunging one-handed grab.

8:00 first quarter, PATRIOTS 7, COLTS 0: It takes Tom Brady and friends exactly four plays to capitalize on the Indy turnover, with the quarterback finding Wes Welker for a 22-yard score on a first down. The TD, which capped a drive of 2 minutes 2 seconds, came on play after Sammy Morris picked up a first down on third and 1.

10:02: The Patriots' young defense is making a habit out of big plays lately, and Brandon Meriweather just delivered the latest, picking off a Manning throw on third and 6 at the Patriots 39 and returning it 39 yards to the Colts 32. It was a rare sight with Manning -- an overthrown pass -- and one has to wonder if young receiver Blair White, the intended target, wasn't quite where he was supposed to be.

11:17: And Collie has three catches, the third coming in the middle of the field for a 28-yard gain with nary a Patriot defensive back in sight.

First quarter, 13:33: . . . and Manning gets Collie involved immediately, catching a 9-yard pass on first down to get to the Colts 20, then coverting a first down on third and 3 with a diving grab.


The Patriots win the toss and defer, the Colts take the ball, and we're just about ready to here at Gillette Stadium. Of all the fascinating matchups in this game, we're most interesting to see how the Patriots, with just three active cornerbacks, defend the Colts passing game since Austin Collie, who was questionable to play, is in the starting lineup.

Be sure to continue to hit the refresh button as we will continue to update this post with news and observations as the game progresses.

Final: Patriots 39, Steelers 26

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff November 14, 2010 10:26 PM

PITTSBURGH -- One week after their worst performance of the season, the Patriots put on one of their best and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 39-26 at Heinz Field.

The Patriots couldn’t do much right in a loss to the 3-6 Cleveland Browns last week, but against the 6-3 Steelers tonight, the Patriots were firing on all cylinders. Tom Brady passed for 350 yards and three touchdowns and the Patriots sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times. Brady also ran for a touchdown.

“That was a good game. I’m tired,” Brady said. “That was an emotional win for us. It’s always fun to come in here and play well. We know what kind of team they have and what they’re all about, and I thought we showed what we’re all about, too. We fought hard, they fought hard. We made a bunch of plays that we needed to make. Everybody made the, and it was good to come out ahead.”

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who dropped several passes and had a costly fumble in the Cleveland game, rebounded with a big game. He caught all three of Brady’s touchdown passes and had five receptions for 72 yards.

“Rob does a good job, he works hard, he’s improved a lot over the course of the year,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

Wide receiver Wes Welker had eight catches for 89 yards.

“We did a lot of good things out there and we were able to move the ball. I think there were some frustrating times, too, where we’re up 10-0 and we want to put more points on the board, and we weren’t able to. It’s a little bit frustrating, the penalties and stuff kind of stopped us, but at the same time, we did some good things and we were able to move the ball. It’s just whenever we’d stop ourselves, we had trouble,” Welker said.

The game turned into a bit of a shootout at the end, but the Patriots recovered two onside kicks and scored both times to repel the Steelers' late charge.

Gronkowski’s third touchdown reception gave the Patriots a 36-18 lead with 4:23 left in the game. His 25-yard touchdown play was the Patriots’ response to the Steelers cutting the lead with a 25-yard touchdown strike from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace that made it 29-18 midway through the fourth.

Rookie Emmanuel Sanders caught a floater from Roethlisberger from six yards to cut the Patriots’ lead to 23-10 early in the fourth quarter. But after the Steelers forced a punt, Patriots safety James Sanders picked off a tipped pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown and a 29-10 lead with 8:32 left.

Brady ran three yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter to put New England up 23-3. His quarterback sneak capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive that came on the heels of a missed field goal attempt by the Steelers.

The Patriots increased their lead to 17-3 on their first possession of the second half. Gronkowski caught his second touchdown pass with 9:48 left to cap a 10-play, 78-yard drive.

Jeff Reed gave the Steelers their first points on a 22-yard field goal in the second quarter that cut the Patriots’ lead to 10-3.

Gronkowski put the Patriots ahead 7-0 in the first quarter when his 19-yard reception capped the Patriots’ first possession, an eight-play, 70-yard drive that used 4:07.

Shayne Graham’s first field goal attempt for New England – he was brought in to replace Stephen Gostkowski, who is out for the season with a leg injury – gave the Patriots a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Graham connected from 31 yards.

"It’s a good win, we got back on track here, and of course we’ve got a big one next week against Indy," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

The live blog recap follows:

Final: The Patriots repel the Steelers' final attempt and win 39-26. More coming shortly as we hit the locker room for postgame reaction.

4th quarter, 1:58: Shayne Graham hits a 35-yard field goal attempt. Patriots lead 39-26.

4th quarter, 1:58: Two-minute warning. Patriots have 4th-and-3 on the Steelers' 18.

4th quarter, 2:57: Patriots TE Alge Crumpler recovers the onside kick attempt.

4th quarter, 2:59: Roethlisberger hits Mike Wallace for a 33-yard touchdown as he beat James Sanders. The drive: 5 plays covers 80 yards in 1:24. Wallace has 8 catches for 136 yards tonight. The Steelers complete the 2-point conversion on the second effort after a penalty.

4th quarter, 4:23: Another Patriots touchdown. On a 3d-and-5, Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski on a 25-yard play, for his third touchdown of the night. The drive, 5 plays covering 41 yards in 2:21. 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on LaMarr Woodley after the touchdown pass. More seats than people in them here at Heinz Field now.

4th quarter, 5:36: Onside kick by the Steelers recovered by Patriots lineback Jerod Mayo, who had another solid game tonight. Patriots trying to wind down the clock now.

4th quarter, 6:44: Steelers score. Roethlisberger completes the 15-yard TD pass to third-year receiver from Old Miss Mike Wallace. Steelers complete the 2-point conversion on a rush from Mewelde Moore. The scoring drive was 53 yards in 5 plays in only 1:48. The Patriots celebration penalty gave the Steelers a short field to start the scoring drive.

4th quarter, 7:07: The diehards remain. The rest of the black and gold clad fans have run for the exits. Steelers going no huddle and moving down the field again.

4th quarter, 8:32: Interception > Touchdown. Pick 6 for James Sanders the nickle back, 32-yards for the score. Patrick Chung may have tipped it. Sanders first interception of the season. The Roethlisberger pass was intended for Antwaan Randle El. Patriots get a penalty for excessive celebration as a group after the TD. Patriots went for 2-point conversion. Incomplete. Brady took a shot from James Farrior after the conversion effort.

4th quarter, 9:12: BenJarvus Green-Ellis having himself a pretty nice evening here. 11 carries for 67 yards to go along with 4 catches for 36 yards. The Patriots drive stalls at midfield. The key play, an intentional grounding call on Tom Brady, who threw the ball way down the right side of the field, but there was not a Patriots receiver in sight. Steelers get the ball back needing two TDs for a win. They'll start at their own 11 after the punt.

4th quarter, 14:42: Patrick Chung was shaken up on the last play, a 20-yard completion to Heath Miller. For the Steelers, Lawrence Timmons has a hip injury, return questionable. Starting to see more empty yellow seats here at Heinz Field.

3d quarter, 00:52: Bad foot? Not so much. Tom Brady takes it in himself for the touchdown on a 3-yard run. A little skirmish after the play between the two teams. Logan Mankins involved. An 8-yard run by Green-Ellis and a 6-yard catch by by Branch were key after the big play to Tate. Oops. Graham shanked the extra point, wide right. The scoring drive, a lightning-quick 3:18, 7 plays covering 81 yards.

3d quarter, 2:59: Randy who? Tom Brady hits wide receiver Brandon Tate on a 45-yard deep post pattern and the Patriots are on the move again. Welker, on a 16-yard gain, has the Patriots inside the Pittsburgh 25 yard line.

3d quarter, 3:40: Reed misses the 26 yard field goal. The kicker just knuckled the ball. The Patriots take over at their own 20.

3d quarter, 4:30: Critical 38-yard pass interference play on Brandon Meriweather gives the Steelers a first down from the 8 yard line. The pass was intended for Mike Wallace and Meriweather was all over him. Heath Miller misses a pass in the end zone, then Roethlisberger missed Emmanuel Sanders, who wasn't even looking when the ball was thrown.

3d quarter, 6:41: Not a good drive by the Patriots. A holding call on Matt Light. A ball thrown near Wes Welker's feet. A -3 yard completion cross field to Welker. Incomplete to Woodhead... looked like a flashback to many of the drives vs. the Browns last week. Patriots punt.

3d quarter, 8:23: The Wright stuff. Ben Roethlisberger sacked for the fourth time tonight, a 10-yard loss on the Mike Wright sack, and the Steelers forced to punt. And the boo-birds are out at Heinz Field. None of the analysts and pregame pundits expected the Patriots to mount this much pressure on Big Ben tonight, but they've done it. Mike Wright has been in the thick of things in the middle all night.

3d quarter, 10:44: Touchdown Patriots. Brady to Gronkowski. The Patriots started the second half the way they started the game... driving down the field. Key plays: 13 yard run by Green-Ellis, a 16-yard completion to Green-Ellis, a 13-yard pass to Wes Welker, followed by a TD pass to Rob Grankowski in the flat, wide open on the right side for the 9 yard TD catch. The scoring drive: 10 plays covering 78 yards in 5:12... the Patriots never got to a third-down play on the drive. No signs of the Steeler faithful (64,359 total attendance tonight) leaving yet, but it's gotten awfully quiet out there...

Halftime: A tale of two quarterbacks. Patriots QB Tom Brady was 17-for-25 for 180 yards and a touchdown. QB rating: 102.1. Roethlisberger was just 7-for-20 for 90 yards. Sacked three times. No TDs. QB rating: 50.0.

Halftime: The Steelers made the final minute of the first half interesting. A short pass from Roethlisberger to Mewelde Moore resulted in a 29 yard gain after Moore bounced off Kyle Arrington and just kept running. But a Hail Mary pass with 00:01 second left went incomplete in the end zone and the Patriots, who seemed to outplay Pittsburgh for most of the first half, go into the locker room with just a 7 point lead. The Patriots and the Steelers each held the ball for 15:00 in the first half.

Second quarter, 00:34: A crushing offensive pass interference call on Rob Gronkowski pushed the Patriots back after they decided to go for it on fourth down instead of going for a long field goal with a new kicker. Steelers get the ball back on the punt for one more drive before the half ends.

Second quarter, 00:56: Patriots trying to get more points on the board before the half. After a 12-yard catch by Deion Branch, Brandon Tate dropped a perfect pass, then Brady later overthrew Welker, who was hit hard by Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Second quarter, 2:00: A penalty on fill in starter at LT Jonathan Scott has set the Steelers back into a 2nd and 12 situation from their own 16 yard line. Roethlisberger throws an incomplete pass to Antwaan Randle El down the field over the middle. Looked like and old Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swann play, but Swann would have had it. On third down, Ben R. throws incomplete to Heath Miller at the 37 yard line, Devin McCourty all over the play. Pittsburgh punts it away.

Second quarter, 3:00: Steelers defense is stepping up. Patriots forced to punt again. Wes Welker was wide open in the middle of the field but dropped a pass as he may have heard the footsteps of safety Ryan Clark coming at him. The Patriots are 3-of-5 in third down situations tonight.

Second quarter, 5:12: Steelers have to settle for three. Another dropped pass in the end zone, this one intended for Antwaan Randle El. Patrick Chung was right on top. It was a 10 play drive for Pittsburgh, covering 76 yards in 5:22, capped off by the 22 yard field goal by Jeff Reed.

Second quarter, 5:22: Looks like the Steelers are going to need to whole 60 minutes to pull this one out as Mike Wallace just lost control of what looked like a touchdown pass.

Second quarter, 5:30: Just after Ben Roethlisberger took the running game in to his own hands with a 12-yard scramble rush on third down, Rashard Mendenhall broke loose for a 34 yard gain. That was followed by an 18-yard pass to Heath Miller and the Steelers are on the 12 and closing in on pay dirt.

Second quarter, 10:30: The Patriots tried to blow it open on a fake reverse pass play to the end zone intended for Brandon Tate, but the play was slow to develop and broken up in the end zone by Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden. Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons followed by breaking up another Brady pass (intended for Aaron Hernandez) and the Patriots were forced to punt for the first time tonight.

Second quarter, 12:47: Patriots seemed to have made the right adjustments on their run defense compared to the debacle in Cleveland. Steelers just 14 yards rushing on 6 carries. And Big Ben has been sacked three times so far.

Second quarter, 12:47: Hines Ward neck injury, his return is questionable. Roethlisberger sacked by Banta-Cain on a 3d-and-10. Loss of 8 on the play. Steelers punt team is on. Cunningham came from one side and Banta-Cain came inside for the sack. Steelers offense continues to struggle.

Second quarter, 15:00: Roethlisberger finally hits speedy receiver Mike Wallace for 7 yards and the Steelers will start the second quarter with a first down. Patrick Chung laid a smashing hit on Wallace. The Patriots are not getting pushed around by the Steelers like they were by the Browns last week.

First quarter, 0:10: Scratch that. The Patriots wisely challenged the play and the call was reversed. Ward did not have possession of the ball as he hit the ground. Third down Steelers.

First quarter, 0:00: Hines Ward has now caught a pass in 187 straight games, a Steelers record, after a 6 yard reception that ended the first quarter. Ward was slow to get up and was limping of the field. Looks to be a left foot problem, but Ward was definitely shaken up on the hit by James Sanders. Ward receiving treatment on the Steelers bench.

First quarter, 00:57: Tom Brady is off to a good start. 10-for-12 passing for 107 yards and a TD. Big Ben is just 1-for-4 for 16 yards so far. Brady looks mobile and shows no signs of the foot sprain that hampered him last week.

First quarter, 1:03: Shayne Graham gets it done from 31 yards out. His first field goal as a member of the Patriots. It was a 10 play drive covering 46 yards in 5:26. The Patriots looked like they were marching in for another TD, but a couple of short yard runs, and the penalty, forced New England to settle for 3.

First quarter, 9:48: Touchdown Patriots, Brady to Gronkowski on 3d and 9. Tom Brady came out firing, the Patriots had four consecutive plays for first downs on the drive. Gronkowski caught passes for 7 yards and 12 yards before the 19 yard touchdown catch. Green-Ellis had a nice 17 yard run. 8 plays, 70 yards, 4:07 on the scoring drive. The Patriots made it look fairly easy on the first drive.

First quarter, 13:50: A quick 3-and-out for the Steelers. Gary Guyton broke up one pass, and Kyle Arrington broke up another play. The Steelers offensive line picked up the Patriots blitz, but it did not help them get a first down.

We're finally just a few minutes away from kickoff here at Heinz Field where there is a playoff atmosphere in the air. It's a packed house in the press box, the stands are nearly full for kickoff, and the Steeler fans are enthusiastically waiving the famous yellow Terrible Towels.

The game time temperature is 49 degrees and the rain has stopped; the field looks to be in good condition. Should be in the mid-40's by game end. Winds out of the southwest at 8 m.p.h.; 10 percent chance of precipitation tonight.

The Steelers are wearing their throwback uniforms tonight. They are 1-1 with the yellow helmets.

The Patriots have won the toss and will defer and take the ball to start the second half. The Steelers will defend the north goal to start.

Lynn Swann is in the house for as are a host of other former Pittsburgh players who are here for the annual Steelers Alumni Weekend. Rush Limbaugh is also here.

Be sure to continue to hit the refresh button as we will continue to update this post with news and observations as the game progresses.

Matt Pepin contributed to this report.

Week 10: Patriots at Steelers

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff November 14, 2010 06:11 PM
Steve Silva / Boston.com Staff The very early, rainy pregame scene at Heinz Field.

PITTSBURGH -- Greetings from cool and rainy Heinz Field, where the Patriots, in their second prime time game of the season, are looking to beat the always-tough Pittsburgh Steelers in a matchup of 6-2 teams. New England needs a win to keep pace with the Jets, who are now 7-2 after beating the Browns in overtime today. Tonight marks back-to-back road games for the Patriots, who were manhandled by Cleveland last Sunday, 34-14. We'll see if the soggy conditions have an impact on the game tonight.

Some of the other story lines to watch for tonight include Tom Brady's mobility, after being limited in practice this week with a sprained foot. Will he be able to elude the tenacious Steelers defense? Can the Patriots offense get untracked against the best defense in the league? Will an assortment of injuries prove costly to the shorthanded Steelers?

One good omen possibly: They're serving New England clam chowder in the press room here pregame.

We'll have updates throughout the night in Extra Points from the Globe's team of reporters. To get you ready for some football, here's a quick preview:

Kickoff: 8:20 p.m.
Records: Patriots 6-2; Steelers 6-2
TV: ESPN, WHDH-TV (Ch. 7); Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties with Cris Collingsworth as the analyst. Andrea Kremer will be the sideline reporter for this nationally televised game.
Line: Steelers favored by 4 ½ points

Projected starting lineups (based on depth charts):

  • Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Dan Koppen, RG Stephen Neal, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Alge Crumpler, WR Brandon Tate, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB Sammy Morris.
  • Steelers offense: WR Hines Ward, LT Jonathan Scott, LG Chris Kemoeatu, C Maurkice Pouncy, RG Trai Essex, RT Flozell Adams, TE Heath Miller, RB Rashard Mendenhall, QB Ben Roethlisberger, FB David Johnson, WR Mike Wallace
  • Patriots defense: LE Gerard Warren, NT Vince Wilfork, RE Mike Wright, OLB Rob Ninkovich, ILB Jerod Mayo, ILB Brandon Spikes, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, LCB Devin McCourty, RCB Kyle Arrington, S Brandon Meriweather, S Patrick Chung
  • Steelers defense: DE Ziggy Hood, NT Casey Hampton, DE Brett Keisel, LOLB Lamarr Woodley, LILB James Farrior, RILB Lawrence Timmons, ROLB James Harrison, RCB Ike Taylor, LCB Bryant McFadden, FS Ryan Clark, SS Troy Polamalu
  • Patriots inactives: WR Taylor Price, RB Fred Taylor, CB Darius Butler, S Jarred Page, OL Rich Ohrnberger, C Stephen Neal, OT Mark LeVoir, DL Myron Pryor
  • Steelers inactives:S Will Allen, RB Jonathan Dwyer, OT Chris Scott, OG Chris Kemoeatu, WR Antonio Brown, DE Aaron Smith, DE Brett Keisel, QB Charlie Batch
  • Keep and eye on Tom Brady's foot: Tom Brady was limited in practice this week with a foot strain. We'll see how much the injury affects his mobility in the pocket tonight. Brady has beaten Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger three straight times and is 3-1 all-time versus "Big Ben," including 2-0 in the postseason. Brady is 5-1 lifetime against the Steelers and has thrown for 11 touchdowns against just three interceptions. While not as banged up as the Steelers, the Patriots are also battling injuries with guard Stephen Neal (shoulder), running back Fred Taylor (toe) and nose tackle Myron Pryor all out tonight. Logan Mankins will now likely go a full game at left guard.

    Will the kicking game come into play?: As this is anticipated to be a tight battle of the two AFC titans, the kicking game could come into play. For the Patriots, that means newly-signed kicker Shayne Graham could find himself in the spotlight early. The good news: Graham has has success kicking against the Steelers in Heinz Field, having converted nine of 11 field-goal attempts in six games as a member of the Bengals. Graham's 81.8 percent field goal conversion rate is ranked fifth out of the six visiting kickers who have attempted at least six field goals at Heinz Field. On the flip side, Steelers kicker Jeff Reed has hit 12 of 13 field goals on attempts that were less than 45 yards.

    Steve Silva / Boston.com Steelers fans enter the gates early despite the weather.

    Playing records: Since the beginning of the 2003 season, the Patriots are 24-2 in games following a regular season loss and have an NFL-best 75-23 record in games played after Nov. 1, including playoff games. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has won 24 of his past 26 games following a loss. The Patriots are 14-3 all-time against the AFC North in the regular season since the division was founded in 2002. Prior to losing in Cleveland last weekend, the only AFC North losses for New England were to the Steelers, with a 34-20 loss at Pittsburgh in 2004 and a 33-10 loss to the Steelers in Foxborough in 2008. The Steelers lead the all-time series 13-7, but the Patriots have won six of the last 10 games.

    Nowhere to run for New England: There’s all kinds of size, strength, and talent on the Pittsburgh defensive line and at linebacker, which is why the Steelers lead the league in stopping the run, giving up just 58.3 yards per game -- the best of any NFL team since the Philadelphia Eagles gave up just 55.8 yards per game on the ground in 1944. While the Patriots have managed to sustain a workable running game with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead carrying the bulk of the load, they will be up against the best in the league. As Chris Gasper pointed out a few days ago, the Patriots are going to have to find a way to spread the ball around on offense and take advantage of their passing attack. The Steelers have allowed 240 yards per game through the air and rank 24th in the NFL in pass defense.

    Will Pittsburgh steal a page from Cleveland's book and pound the ball on the ground?: The Patriots gave up 230 yards on the ground to the Browns last Sunday -- its most since giving up 256 rush yards to the Dolphins on December 29, 2002. Browns RB Peyton Hillis had 184 yards on the ground, punishing New England all day. The Patriots' defense is allowing just 95.8 rush yards per game in their wins versus 183.0 per game in their losses this season. Keep your eye on third-year Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who has more than 700 yards on the season, ran for 99 yards on 22 carries against the Bengals Monday night.

    Will Wallace sprint past the Patriots?: Speedy Steelers wideout Mike Wallace had five receptions for 110 yards on Monday night against he Bengals -- his third career 100-yard receiving game overall. Wallace has five touchdown catches in his last six games and is averaging an NFL-high 23.0 yards per catch in 2010.

    Are the Steelers too banged up?: Outside linebacker James Harrison is the latest Steeler to join the walking wounded. Harrison, who leads the Steelers with seven sacks, is experiencing back spasms and is questionable for tonight. Pittsburgh running backs Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman and safety Will Allen have all sustained concussions this season while left tackle Max Starks is out for the season with a neck injury. Left guard Chris Kemoeatu has a knee injury and hasn't practiced this week. Pittsburgh is also coming off a short week after playing the Bengals on Monday night.

    Officials: The referee tonight is Carl Cheffers. The rest of his crew is umpire Undrey Wash, head linesman Keny Payne, line judge Darryll Lewis, field judge Boris Chek, side judge Jeff Lamberth, and back judge Todd Prukop.

    Pregame: Steel Magnolia will sing the national anthem and perform prior to kickoff. In case you missed it: Chad Finn has 5 things to know against the Steelers, Jim McBride has the Patriots-Steelers scouting report, and Greg Bedard checks in with what to watch for tonight.

    Final: Browns 34, Patriots 14

    Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff November 7, 2010 02:40 PM
    loading video... (please wait a moment)Requires Adobe Flash Player

    Peyton Hillis ran for a career high 184 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cleveland Browns to a 34-14 victory over the Patriots today at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

    The Browns jumped on top 10-0 before the Patriots even had the ball when they took the opening kickoff and drove for a field goal, then gained possession right away on a muffed kickoff by the Patriots and Hillis punched it in.

    It was the second big win in as many games for the Browns, who beat the defending Super Bowl champion Saints two weeks ago.

    4th quarter, 2:00, Browns 34-14: Brian Hoyer is in at QB for Patriots.

    Hoyer promptly throws an interception, Browns coach Eric Mangini has been given the Gatorade shower, and this is just about finished.

    4th quarter, 2:38, Browns 34-14: Peyton Hillis rips off a 35-yard TD run to seal this. Six plays cover 60 yards and eat up 3:59 of clock.

    Hillis has 28 carries for a career-high 181 yards.

    4th quarter, 3:48, Browns 27-14: Peyton Hillis continues to chew up yards on the ground, and Patriots can't do much to stop him.

    4th quarter, 6:37, Browns 27-14: Tom Brady finds Aaron Hernandez on a 2-yard TD pass, and Wes Welker adds the extra point. Caps a 14-play, 69-yard drive.

    Welker kicking isn't as strage as it sounds. He kicked a PAT and field goal against the Patriots in 2004 when he played for the Dolphins.

    Welker is also doing the kickoff.

    4th quarter, 10:45, Browns 27-7: Phil Dawson kicks a 37-yard field goal.

    End 3d quarter, Browns 24-7: Patriots LB Jerod Mayo is getting beaten repeatedly this drive on passes to Peyton Hillis, who also has 110 yards rushing. Browns on the move. one more score could put this away.

    Browns are dominating time of possession, holding a 10-minute advantage. Long day for Patriots' defense.

    3d quarter, 3:43, Browns 24-7: On third-and-12, Brandon Tate can't hang on, and the Patriots are stumped again. Really bad day for TE Rob Gronkowski, who added a holding penalty on that drive to his list of miscues.

    3d quarter, 5:53, Browns 24-7: The play stands. Patriots lose a timeout. Phil Dawson kicks PAT.

    3d quarter, 5:53, Browns 23-7: Browns QB Colt McCoy scrambles 16 yards for a touchdown, sprung free by a crucial block by Browns WR Josh Cribbs on Patriots S Brandon Meriweather. Play is under review, challenged by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

    3d quarter, 12:53, Browns 17-7: Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez unable to come down with catch on 3d-and-15, so Patriots punt and Browns take over at own 28. Kyle Arrington back on field for Patriots' defense.

    Halftime: Browns 17-7: The Patriots got back in gear and looked considerably better in the second quarter, but shot themselves in the foot with a critical fumble as they approached the end zone. As poorly as the Patriots played the first quarter, they came to life in the second and are certainly not out of this.

    Key things to watch in the second half will be who kicks for the Patriots, both kickoffs and field goals/extra points, as well as whether Kyle Arrington returns. PK Stephen Gostkowski is wearing a hat on the sideline, and could be seen pointing to his right thigh as he spoke with teammates, as though explaining his injury.

    2d quarter, :22, Browns 17-7: Rob Gronkowski fumbled on the goal line and Browns' Abram Elam recovered.

    2d quarter, 3:23, Browns 17-7: Browns touchdown by Chansi Stuckey, an 11-yard trick play run. Josh Cribbs took the snapped, slipped the ball to Stuckey, then rolled out. Stuckey delayed a moment, then swept to the left. Patriots CB Kyle Arrington injured on the play, and appears to be limping badly.

    2d quarter, 3:36, Browns 10-7: Press box announcement: Patriots PK Stephen Gostkowski has a thigh injury, his return is questionable.

    2d quarter, 8:36, Browns 10-7: Interesting sight on Patriots sideline. Punter Zoltan Mesko is practicing kickoffs, and WR Wes Welker is practicing field goals. No word on what may be wrong with PK Stephen Gostkowski, but his last kickoff was squibbed up the middle.

    2d quarter, 8:43, Browns 10-7: Using a no-huddle formation for much of the drive, Patriots finally score when Brady's pass is tipped in the front of the end zone by TE Rob Gronkowski and TE Aaron Hernandez caught it in the back of the end zone. Patriots looked much better, and converted on third down and also a fourth down.

    End 1st quarter, Browns 10-0: Nothing is going right for the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski has dropped three passes, the defensive line can't stop the Browns' Peyton Hillis, who already has 63 yards rushing, and the Patriots have only one first down.

    1st quarter, 1:24, Browns 10-0: Browns punt, Patriots fair catch at their own 10. Browns have a 130-16 edge in total yardage right now.

    1st quarter, 5:17, Browns 10-0: Patriots offense not exactly clicking. QB Tom Brady couldn't connect with Danny Woodhead on third down, so Patriots were forced to punt. Browns take over on own 20 after touchback.

    1st quarter, 7:50, Browns 10-0: Patriots CB Devin McCourty stripped Browns RB Peyton Hillis after a 16-yard run, and Brandon Meriweather recovered it. Patriots begin at own 30.

    1st quarter, 8:00, Browns 10-0: Browns gamble on 4th-and-1 pays off when McCoy sneaks for 3 yards after changing the play at the line of scrimmage and getting the Patriots to think it was all a ruse to draw them offside.

    Patriots C Dan Koppen has left the field. He ran off toward the locker room.

    1st quarter, 10:08, Browns 10-0: Browns have ball again as Patriots go three-and-out. TE Rob Gronkowski dropped a pair of passes, although on third down, the pass was behind him. Browns start on own 27.

    1st quarter, 10:49, Browns 10-0: Logan Mankins did indeed start for the Patriots at LG. Patriots offense finally on the field.

    1st quarter, 11:11, Browns 10-0: The Browns recovered a muffed kickoff, then took only two plays to punch it in, with Peyton Hillis plunging in from two yards out. A 17-yard pass from Colt McCoy to Evan Moore set up the Browns on the goal line.

    1st quarter, 11:49, Browns 3-0: Phil Dawson's 38 yard field capped a six-play, 42-yard drive. The highlight of the drive, set up by Josh Cribbs' excellent kickoff return, was Browns RB Peyton Hillis hurdling James Sanders during an 18-yard gain.

    Cleveland won the coin toss and has elected to receive.

    It's clear but cold (43 degrees) at Cleveland Browns Stadium, with kickoff a short time away. The Patriots are in their road white jerseys, and the Browns are wearing their brown jerseys with white pants with the orange stripe. We'll bring you game updates throughout today's game.

    Colt McCoy is the Browns' starter at QB, and Brett Ratliff is his only backup because both Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme are inactive for the Browns. If both McCoy and Ratiff were injured in this game, look for Josh Cribbs, who played quarterback at Kent State, to take the snaps, possibly in a wildcat formation.

    Final: Patriots 28, Vikings 18

    Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 31, 2010 05:48 PM

    1031benjarvus.jpg

    BenJarvus Green-Ellis scores on a third quarter touchdown. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)

    FOXBOROUGH -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 112 yards on 17 carries and had two touchdowns as the Patriots showed off its running game in 28-18 victory over the Vikings at Gillette Stadium.

    It was Green-Ellis' first career multi-touchdown game and his first 100-yard game of the season.

    Brett Favre, who was questionable coming into the game for the Minnesota Vikings, threw for 259 yards and an interception before being knocked out by Patriots lineman Myron Pryor. Favre suffered a laceration as he was hit under his throat while attempting a pass at the 1-yard line. Tarvaris Jackson came in and tossed a touchdown in his absence.

    The Patriots (6-1) took the lead in the AFC East after the New York Jets (5-2) fell to the Green Bay Packers.

    1:56 4th quarter -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis gets the 2-yard touchdown after getting chopped in half by the Vikings' E.J. Henderson going over the pile. The play was reviewed in the booth but upheld. Stephen Gostowski's extra point is good. The drive was 13 plays, 80 yards in 5:30.

    3:18 4th quarter -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis goes over the 100-yard mark after a 26-yard run to the 1-yard line. He has 110 yard on the night.

    3:45 4th quarter -- Tom Brady completed a 16-yard pass to Danny Woodhead after receiving pressure from the blitz on third down. Woodhead, in typical fashion, broke two tackles to extend the Patriots' drive. The game has come down to whether the Patriots can score again to separate themselves from an overtime or game-winning threat (from Tarvaris Jackson no less) or run the clock out.

    6:00 4th quarter -- Update on Brett Favre. He has a laceration and he's questionable to return to the game.

    7:26 4th quarter -- Tarvaris Jackson threw a 1-yard TD pass to fullback Naufahu Tahi with 7:34 left in the quarter. Jackson then completed the 2-point conversion to Percy Harvin as Minnesota pulled within three. Brett Favre got popped under the chin and there was blood. TV cameras got a good shot of it. Patriots 21, Vikings 18.

    7:31 4th quarter -- As the Patriots got hit with another illegal contact penalty, Brett Favre got knocked out of the game on a hit by Myron Pryor. Tarvaris Jackson is now in the game at the 1-yard line.

    8:25 4th quarter -- Brandon Meriweather gets called for a pass interference after Randy Moss got loose on the left sideline for what was almost a guaranteed touchdown.

    10:10 4th quarter -- A questionable call on the field as Brett Favre looked like he completed a pass to Bernard Berrian who appeared to have fumbled the ball. It was recovered by the Patriots' Jerod Mayo. Belichick called a timeout after throwing the challenge flag on the field.

    13:30 4th quarter -- Aaron Hernandez continues to show why Bill Belichick loves these two tight end formations. He just caught a 27-yard pass from Brady in which he was one broken tackle away from turning Gillette Stadium into a track meet. It was his first catch of the day.

    0:00 3rd quarter -- The Patriots got another good defensive stop, holding the Vikings to a 3-and-out after a Brett Favre pass to Visanthe Shiancoe came up short for the first down. The Vikings haven't run this much this late in a game all season. Adrian Peterson has 25 carries for 92 yards at the end of the third.

    2:25 3rd quarter -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis breaks through the line behind left guard Dan Connolly and runs for a 13-yard touchdown. It was a 4-play, 37-yard drive in 1:48. The score was preceded by Devin McCourty's interception -- the game's first takeaway. Gostowski kick good. Patriots 21, Vikings 10.

    4:13 3rd quarter -- Devin McCourty gets a sweet interception that fell off of Percy Harvin's hands. He returned for 37 yards in the game's first turnover. Looks like he wasn't so nicked up after all.

    5:17 3rd quarter -- The Patriots go 3-and-out again for the third time this game. Tom Brady threw a pass that went to nobody, probably some miscommunication. Danny Woodhead continues to get major touches in the game while the Patriots have favored a two tight end look in a four-receiver spread formation.

    7:47 3rd quarter -- Devin McCourty got nicked up after recording a pass defensed on a long throw to the Vikings' Percy Harvin. Awaiting the word on him. However, it doesn't look too serious. The Patriots are thin at defensive back.

    7:59 3rd quarter -- Tom Brady bought some time and found Brandon Tate down the left sideline for a 65-yard touchdown on the game. It was Brady's 237th career touchdown, making him tied with Jim Kelly for 17th overall on the NFL's all-time list. Stephen Gostowski's extra point was good. It was also Brandon Tate's first career touchdown. The drive was a total of four plays, 80 yards in 1:32. Patriots 14, Vikings 10.

    9:37 3rd quarter -- The Patriots won a small battle in the Vikings' red zone, holding Minnesota to a Ryan Longwell 24-yard field goal after they marched down 67 yards on 11 plays in 5:27.

    12:04 3rd quarter -- Randy Moss gets his first catch of the day on a slant inside and he gets booed by the fans at Gillette. I guess his reception is not a welcome one.

    woodhead608.jpg

    Danny Woodhead got some early carries in the first quarter. Woodhead scored the Patriots' lone touchdown of the half on a direct snap. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

    0:00 2nd quarter -- So far, we're all notched up. No noise from Randy Moss, who we presume to be 100 percent healthy. But Brett Favre, who dominated the headlines for the last week because of the two fractures in his left ankle has been spot on in his play. He's 11-of-13 through the half for 121 yards passing.

    Tom Brady has been pretty good too. Brady is 8-of-13 for 98 yards.

    Adrian Peterson has carried the ball 18 times for 68 yards and a score.

    Danny Woodhead's 1-yard TD run on a direct snap tied the game up at the 10:28 mark of the second quarter.

    1:02 2nd quarter -- The Patriots stuffed the Vikings' Adrian Peterson on the 1-yard line with a little over a minute remaining in the half on fourth down. Brandon Spikes got the first hit on Peterson before he was finished off in the pile.

    1:55 2nd quarter -- Through the second quarter it's become clear as the Vikings drive down the field on the Patriots that New England is doubling up on Randy Moss. Percy Harvin has two catches on this drive underneath that are the direct benefit of the Patriots' respect for Moss. Brett Favre has been eyeing No. 84 (tossed it out of the end zone on one play in his direction) but they still haven't connected.

    6:32 2nd quarter -- The Patriots went 3-and-out as Brady misfired on a pass to Deion Branch and was pressured on third down from the Vikings' Jared Allen.

    7:20 2nd quarter -- Brett Favre got called for an intentional grounding penalty after receiving some pressure while looking in Randy Moss' direction. Moss is still without a catch or target. On the next play, Favre took a licking from Jermaine Cunningham on a pass to Toby Gerhart. Vikings punt.

    9:26 2nd quarter -- Percy Harvin caught a 15-yard pass from Brett Favre in which he streaked across the field. Looks like that ankle injury -- in which he was helped off the field in the first quarter for -- wasn't so bad.

    10:25 2nd quarter -- Percy Harvin is already back in the game for the Vikings, back deep for the kickoff.

    10:28 2nd quarter -- Direct snap to Danny Woodhead -- second time we've seen that play today -- for a 3-yard touchdown run. It was an 8-play, 75-yard drive spanning 4:32. Patriots 7, Vikings 7.

    12:55 2nd quarter -- Brandon Tate pulled a Terrell Owens -- sans touchdown -- catching a ball of the Vikings' Madieu Williams for 32 yards. The play was challenged by Vikings coach Brad Childress but was upheld. Vikings lose their first timeout. Deion Branch got his first catch of the game on a screen pass and saw daylight but couldn't break it. That could be his hamstring which had him listed as questionable for today's game.

    14:57 2nd quarter -- Ruling on the field stands as Adrian Peterson's 1-yard TD is upheld. The Patriots were charged with their second timeout of the game. It was a 12-play, 76-yard drive spanning 6:09. Oh, and Brett Favre is 4-for-4 so far. But Peterson has taken the load, touching the ball 14 of the Vikings' 19 plays.

    14:57 2nd quarter -- Touchdown for the Vikings as Adrian Peterson jumped over the pile and got whacked by Jerod Mayo. Bill Belichick is challenging the play.

    0:00 1st quarter -- The Patriots were charged with a late-hit penalty after Gary Guyton drilled Brett Favre. We're seeing a steady diet of Adrian Peterson who is stretching out the defense and finding holes. The Vikings are now at the 1-yard line after Peterson looked like he crossed the goal line on that last 5-yard run. Percy Harvin's return for the Vikings after an ankle injury is questionable.

    5:14 1st quarter -- Brett Favre may be the man of steel but his teammates sure isn't. After catching a 21-yard pass from the gunslinger, Percy Harvin got nicked up on the tackle. He had to be helped off the field.

    6:14 1st quarter -- That's a 3-and-out for the Patriots after some pressure from the Vikings' Ray Edwards (colleague Greg A. Bedard warned us about him) a 7-yard pass to Danny Woodhead and incompletion to Aaron Hernandez. Punt, punt, punt.

    7:20 1st quarter -- The Patriots get a big stop on third down, pulling down Adrian Peterson for a loss of a yard.

    10:20 1st quarter -- Brett Favre's first pass was complete. We may see a steady stream of Adrian Peterson. His first rush was for eight yards.

    10:51 1st quarter -- The Patriots have definitely made Danny Woodhead a big part of their offense. They've now found a way to get him the ball twice and target him another. He also took a direct snap that was called back because of a penalty. The Patriots punted after seven plays.

    15:00 1st quarter -- The Minnesota Vikings have won the coin toss and deferred to the Patriots.

    We're live in Foxborough with in-game updates. Hit the refresh button early and often to stay up to date with all the goings on at Gillette Stadium.

    Reminders: Brett Favre is starting for the Vikings. Safety Patrick Chung is inactive for the Patriots, giving way to Sergio Brown. And it's Halloween. We've got tons of costumes in the building, including a whole row of fellas dressed up as Bob Kraft. Good times.

    Game 7: Vikings at Patriots

    Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff October 31, 2010 01:56 PM

    FOXBOROUGH -- It's football Sunday and the Patriots are taking on the Minnesota Vikings.

    The Patriots are 28-5 in the month of October since 2003 and 3-0 this month.

    Today will be a throwback of sorts. The Patriots are marking the 25th anniversary of their 1985 AFC championship team. So they'll be rockin' their throwback uniforms. It'll be the first time of two occasions this season they'll wear throwbacks.

    Here are the pertinent details about the game.

    Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.
    Records: Patriots: 5-1, Vikings: 2-4
    TV: FOX (Ch. 25) with Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver
    Radio: WBZ-FM (98.5) with Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti

    Projected starting lineups

    Patriots offense: Wes Welker, Matt Light, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Sebastian Neal, Sebastian Vollmer, Alge Crumpler, Brandon Tate, Tom Brady, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Sammy Morris.
    Vikings offense: Randy Moss, Brant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson, John Sullivan, Anthony Herrera, Phil Loadholt, Visanthe Shiancoe, Percy Harvin, Brett Favre, Naufahu Tahi and Adrian Peterson.
    Patriots defense: Gerard Warren, Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright, Rob Ninkovich, Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung
    Vikings defense: Ray Edwards, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, Ben Leber, Antoine Winfield, Asher Allen, Husain Abdullah, Madieu Williams.

    Will he, or won't he: Brett Favre remains the dominant storyline of the week. Will he play, in seeming defiance of Brad Childress' attempts to bench the 41-year-old quarterback with two fractures in his ankle? Or will Tarvaris Jackson get the nod after sitting on the pine the last two seasons in favor of the old gunslinger. Health is the primary factor in the decision making. At least that's what we've been told (over and over again). But an argument has been that the Vikings have to do what's best for the team. That may mean more carries for Adrian Peterson.

    Homecoming king: Randy Moss makes his return to Foxborough after being traded earlier this month with a seventh round pick for a third rounder from the Patriots. Since leaving the Patriots, he's tallied 12 catches, 166 yards and two touchdowns in three games. His return has been overshadowed by Brett Favre's ankle saga. Moss isn't the only Viking with New England ties. Vikings assistant special teams coach Chris White is a Haverhill native (graduate of Phillips Andover) and former quarterback at Colby College (1986-1989).

    Follow all of the Globe writers and editors at the game on Twitter:

    @GlobePatriots - For all Patriots posts and articles
    @shalisemyoung - For Patriots beat writer Shalise Manza Young
    @Greg_A_Bedard - For National Football League writer Greg A. Bedard
    @monwalker - For Patriots writer Monique N. Walker
    @GLeeJr9472 - For senior assistant sports editor Greg Lee
    @cgasper - For Boston.com columnist Christopher L. Gasper
    @addisports - For me

    Final: Patriots 23, Chargers 20

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff October 24, 2010 06:12 PM
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    Patriots coach Bill Belichick dodged a week's worth of scrutiny when Chargers kicker Kris Brown's attempt at a game-tying field goal hit the upright with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and the Patriots held on for a 23-20 victory today at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

    Belichick decided to have the Patriots go for a first down on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots' 49 with two minutes left in the game, a situation strikingly similar to last season's game against the Colts when Belichick went for it on fourth-and-2 rather than punt and let his defense try to hold the Colts.

    Mike Blake/Reuters Green-Ellis was stopped by Antwan Applewhite. This time, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was stopped for a one-yard loss. Quarterback Philip Rivers drove the Chargers to the Patriots' 27 for the game-tying attempt, but a false start pushed them backto the 32 and Brown's kick was off the mark and struck the right upright.

    "I thought if we made it, we could pretty much end the game right there," Belichick said at his postgame press conference.

    Belichick said the same thing after the Colts loss, but his move backfired then. A short pass play to Kevin Faulk came up short, and the Colts took possession and won the game.

    Patriots quarterback Tom Brady defended Belichick's decision.

    "If we get the first down, the game’s pretty much over. You punt it back to them, and they have three timeouts with two minutes left, they only got to go 60 yards, and if you get the yard, it’s going to be tough for them to win the game, they’d have to use all their timeouts and you got a minute left in the game, so… we tried it, didn’t execute it very well, we didn’t execute a lot of things very well. It never should have come down to a fourth and 1. It was second-and-1, and we lost a yard there, then third-and-1, we didn't gain any yards there... we have to do a better job when it counts," Brady said.

    On Sunday, Mike Tolbert cut the Patriots' lead to 23-20 when he plunged through the Patriots' goal-line defense with 4:01 left in the fourth quarter.

    Survey: Did Patriots make right call on 4th down?Stephen Gostkowski kicked three field goals for the Patriots. Brady was only 19 of 32 for 159 yards and one touchdown, but the victory allowed the Patriots, at 5-1, to keep pace with the idle Jets in the AFC East race.

    "We had a hard time moving it at all. We couldn’t get into a rhythm out there, and the second half was better, I don’t think it was great by any stretch," Brady said. "It feels good to win, see the defense play the way they did, get those turnovers. We certainly can play a lot better offensively, but it’s good to win a game when you don’t play great. And I’d say that, too."

    Rivers was 34-for-50 for 336 yards and one touchdown, but the Chargers fell to 2-5.

    There were only two possessions in the third quarter.

    The Patriots received the second-half kickoff and held the ball for 8 minutes, 35 seconds. Brady engineered a 17-play drive that covered 79 yards, and Green-Ellis ran it in from one yard to give the Patriots a 20-3 lead.

    The Chargers then went 64 yards in 12 plays, using 6:25. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Brown kicked a 28-yard field goal that made it 20-6.

    The Chargers cut the lead to 23-13 later in the fourth quarter. Antonio Gates, who was a game-time decision because of a toe injury, caught a four-yard pass from Philip Rivers to cap an 11-play, 67-yard drive.

    In the first half, the Patriots capitalized on four Chargers turnovers and a costly pass interference penalty to make up for an offense that managed just 38 total yards before halftime.

    A pair of second-quarter field goals gave the Patriots a 13-3 lead at halftime. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 40-yarder to make it 10-3 after the Patriots picked up a backward pass by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was dropped by fullback Jacob Hester. Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich returned it 63 yards to the Chargers' 8, but the Patriots went backward and had to settle for the kick.

    Just before halftime, Gostkowski made it 13-3 with a 35-yard field goal to cap an eight-play drive that included a 29-yard pass interference call on the Chargers' Antoine Cason. Cason blocked Deion Branch's path to the ball as Branch attempted to run under a bomb from Brady on third-and-8.

    The Chargers scored first on a 32-yard field goal by Kris Brown in the first quarter. The Patriots forced a fumble on the Chargers' next possession, and linebacker Jerod Mayo recovered at the 22. Five plays later, Rob Gronkowski caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to put the Patriots up 7-3.

    patswin.jpg

    Patriots Jerod Mayo (51) Jermaine Cunningham (96) and Tully Banta-Cain (95) signalled "no good" after Chargers place-kicker Kris Brown (3, far right) missed a game tying field goal in the last minute. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

    The live blog play-by-play follows:

    Game over. Patriots run out the clock and win 23-20.

    00:23 fourth quarter: Kris Brown misses. Ball hits upright.

    00:28 fourth quarter: Now it's a 50-yard attempt following a false start penalty.

    00:28 fourth quarter: Chargers will try a field goal for the tie. Approximately 45 yards.

    1:55 fourth quarter: On 4th-and-1, Green-Ellis is stuffed. Flashbacks justified. Green-Ellis lost a yard.

    2:00 fourth quarter: Patriots dodge a bullet. Wes Welker caught a pass and dove for the first-down marker, and the ball popped loose as he touched it down out of bounds. The Chargers returned it into the end zone, but the play was whistled dead. Pats have a big 4th-and-1 coming up. Flashbacks to Indianapolis last season have begun.

    4:01 fourth quarter: Mike Tolbert pounds it into the end zone for San Diego. Gates dropped one in the end zone after being wide open. Gates made his second catch of the afternoon on this drive, 26 yards to the 13. Then Ajirotutu caught one for 20. You could have seen this coming after the Patriots failed to pull away after the four Charger turnovers in the first half.

    7:21 fourth quarter: Momentum shift. Chargers go for the onside kick, and get the ball back pending review as rookie Richard Goodman picked up the ball on a kickoff that appeared to travel the 10 yard distance required for a live ball. Patriots have called for a review.

    7:21 fourth quarter: Touchdown. Rivers finally hits Gates for a four yard completion... in the end zone. Rivers went back to Crayton right over the middle for a 17-yard gain to keep the drive alive on fourth down. Rivers had the Chargers first and goal after the first NFL reception by Seyi Ajirotutu. 11 plays, 67 yards, 4:06 on the drive.

    11:21 fourth quarter: Rivers sacked by Mike Wright. Then on a third and 15 Rivers hits Crayton for a 21 yard gain to midfield. Then Sprowles takes it down to the 37 on a 14 yard reception. Note: Antonio Gates has not had a ball thrown to him today.

    11:31 fourth quarter: The Patriots could not punch it in from inside the 20 this time. It's now a three-possession game after another Gostkowski field goal. 9 plays, for 59 yards, in 3:29 on the scoring drive.

    14:09 fourth quarter: Brady finally up over a 100 yards passing on the day. He's starting to pick apart the Charger backfield. Even Brandon Tate is catching the ball on this drive. A 24-yard pass to Aaron Hernandez has it back to the Chargers 20. Note: If the Chargers fail to score a touchdown, it will be the first time since 2002 that they've failed to do so.

    0:00 end third quarter: Chargers needed a touchdown, had to settle for the field goal. Each team held the ball for one drive in the third quarter. The Chargers scoring drive: 12 plays covering 64 yards in 6:29.

    1:53 third quarter: Darren Sproles is doing his best Danny Woodhead impersonation for the Chargers. He's catching, running, and has become the primary target in Philip Rivers's offense.

    4:42 third quarter: Rivers and the Chargers getting into a groove. San Diego has a first down at the Patriots 26 yard line. Short passes to Tolbert, Sproles, Crayton, and Davis doing the damage.

    7:40 third quarter: Third time is the charm. The Patriots finally take it all the way in after a sustained drive found them in another first and goal situation. Green-Ellis found his way into the end zone on a third and one. 17 plays for 79 yards in 8:35 on the long drive. A 16 yard pass to Woodhead on 2d-and-17 was among the key plays on the drive and took the ball down the Chargers 6 yard line.

    10:27 third quarter: Running game getting rolling. Danny Woodhead picked up eight on a third down play that left the Patriots a yard short at the 32 of San Diego, but Green-Ellis rammed forward for a couple of yards on a fourth and one play.

    12:49 third quarter: Patriots on the move. Brady had an 18-yard completion over the middle to Aaron Hernandez in the first drive of the second half, but another penalty, holding on Sebastian Vollmer is making it difficult for the offense to get rolling. Another third down play.

    0:00 halftime: