2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots keep winning even when offense falters

By HOWARD ULMAN - AP Sports Writer
    2012-12-03 17:42

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tom Brady actually threw an interception.

Don't worry Patriots fans, your team finally has a decent defense and big-play special teams to step up when the NFL's best offense falters.

On a day when Brady was picked off for the first time in six games and New England gained a season-low 321 yards, the once-suspect defense delivered. It had its second stingiest game of the year, allowing just 277 yards, in a 23-16 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

That clinched the ninth AFC East title in 10 years for the Patriots (9-3) and extended their winning streak to six games.

``When (the) offense struggles, it's a chance for us to showcase how special we are on the defensive end,'' tackle Vince Wilfork said. ``Offense is OK to have a bad game here and there. They've done so much for us and one thing we want to do around here is we always want to play as a team.''

They've been doing that quite well lately.

In their last three games, the Patriots have scored 11 touchdowns on offense, three on defense and two on special teams.

They've cut down on the long completions by opposing quarterbacks. They've improved over the last two games from allowing the fifth most yards in the NFL to seventh.

Their turnover differential has gotten much better with 17 takeaways and just three giveaways during their six-game surge.

``We've had some better results recently, statistically,'' coach Bill Belichick said Monday. ``We've continued to win.''

If the defensive players improve the communication among themselves and their execution the longer they're together, he said, ``then we'll play better next week than we played this week.''

Even when the defense doesn't score, it's helped the offense by stopping opponents deep in their own territory and forcing them to punt. The Dolphins managed just two first downs on their first five possessions and gained less than 10 yards on six of their first nine series.

``(Sunday) was a great example of a team win,'' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. ``The defense really has made a lot of plays for us all season long, set us up with great field position with turnovers, and given us opportunities to get the ball in plus-field position a number of times.''

But McDaniels isn't used to seeing his offense sputter the way it did for much of the game in Miami. It had gained more than 440 yards in six of its previous eight games. Brady had thrown 20 touchdowns and two interceptions in that stretch.

But they didn't score a touchdown after the first six minutes of the second quarter against Miami.

``We didn't convert as often as we like,'' Brady said.

But they did that when they had a chance to close out the game. Leading 20-13, the Patriots got the ball with 8:28 and didn't give it back until just 1:10 remained. That 16-play, 77-yard drive lasted 7:18 and led to a field goal that made it a two-possession game.

That mattered a lot more to Belichick than the poor production earlier.

``We don't go into any game thinking, `It's going to be this way or it's going to be that way. This is going to be a 50-49 game or it's going to be a 3-2 game or that kind of thing,''' he said. ``Ultimately, at the end, it comes down to being able to make the plays you need to make to win the game.''

They did that Sunday.

``We've been in those situations before where we've thrown up a lot of big numbers,'' Belichick said, ``or scored some points and then get to that (late) point in the game and go three-and-out.''

Avoiding that could be critical next Monday night when Houston visits.

The Texans (11-1) currently have the top seed in the AFC with the Baltimore Ravens second. The Patriots must pass one of them in their four remaining regular-season games to get a first-round bye.

So coordinator Matt Patricia knows his defense will have to keep playing well against Houston.

``You're talking about a very balanced, very well-put-together offense,'' he said.

If the game is close, Belichick hopes his team can come up with big plays down the stretch, just as it did in Miami.

``That's what I'd like to see from an offense or a defense or any part of your team for that matter, to make the critical plays that you need to make to win the game,'' he said. ``That's really what it's all about, not a bunch of stats.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Adrian PetersonApr 23 05:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson may not be in the Dallas Cowboys' plans after all, according Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. Robinson said the Cowboys have not spoken to the Vikings regarding Peterson.

Demaryius ThomasApr 23 03:32p

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas has decided not to participate in offseason workouts because he does not want to suffer an injury, but general manager John Elway does not [ More ]

Will HillApr 23 03:12p

Baltimore Ravens restricted free-agent FS Will Hill signed his tender offer Thursday, April 23, according to sources. Hill received a one-year deal worth $1.54 million.

Andre EllingtonApr 23 03:02p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington's (foot) injured foot is about 95 percent healed, and Ellington has not suffered any setbacks, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

M. Jones-DrewApr 23 02:22p

Free-agent RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Raiders) will sign a one-day deal to retire as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars next Tuesday, April 28. He played nine seasons and rushed [ More ]

Victor CruzApr 23 02:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) said he believes that he will be ready to play in the season opener next season and play like he did before he suffered the injury.

Justin TuckerApr 23 01:52p

Baltimore Ravens restricted free-agent PK Justin Tucker has signed his one-year tender offer. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Bear PascoeApr 23 12:52p

Free-agent TE Bear Pascoe (Falcons) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Thursday, April 23. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sam BradfordApr 23 01:53a

The Philadelphia Eagles and QB Sam Bradford have yet to make significant progress on a contract extension sparking speculation the quarterback might be traded again, although head coach Chip [ More ]

Brandin CooksApr 22 11:43p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandin Cooks (knee) spent time training together with QB Drew Brees during the offseason in San Diego. 'Man, I love everything about him, his makeup, [ More ]

Greg JenningsApr 22 06:13p

Free-agent WR Greg Jennings (Vikings) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, April 22.

Philip RiversApr 22 05:33p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers may be losing faith in the organization, according to NFL Network analyst and former Chargers' RB LaDainian Tomlinson. 'The parts around him keep [ More ]

Jacques McClendonApr 22 04:13p

Free-agent OG Jacques McClendon (Jaguars) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, April 22.

Adrian PetersonApr 22 02:23p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is not expected to be traded by the Vikings unless the team is overwhelmed by an offer from another team, according to a source. [ More ]

Antonio BrownApr 22 02:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown said he is not participating in voluntary workouts because he is spending time with his newborn child. Brown said he will report to offseason [ More ]

Marvin LewisApr 22 11:33a

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis signed a one-year extension Wednesday, April 22. He's under contract through the 2016 season.

S. RichardsonApr 21 05:23p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Shaquille Richardson (undisclosed) was released Tuesday, April 21, with a failure to disclose physical condition designation.

Adrian PetersonApr 21 01:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains a candidate to be traded, and a source close to the situation believes that if he isn't traded before or during the 2015 [ More ]

Dennis PittaApr 20 06:52p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) is participating in the team's voluntary conditioning program that started Monday, April 20. Pitta's career remains in doubt after fracturing his right hip [ More ]

Prince AmukamaraApr 20 05:22p

New York Giants CB Prince Amukamara (biceps) said he's about 90% recovered from a torn biceps he suffered last season.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 05:02p

Updating a previous item, free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) signed a contract to officially retire with the Arizona Cardinals.

Tim TebowApr 20 03:52p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) officially signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 20 01:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is not in attendance for the start of the team's offseason workout program Monday, April 20, according to league sources. However, Peterson hasn't attended [ More ]

Antonio BrownApr 20 11:02a

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is seeking a new contract and could hold out from minicamps and training camp, according to sources.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 07:22a

Free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) is expected to retire Monday, April 20, and join the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff. The Cardinals, the team Wilson played for from 2001-2012, have announced a press conference.

Tim TebowApr 19 07:42p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) is expected to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20.

Stefen WisniewskiApr 18 01:02p

Free-agent C Stefen Wisniewski (Raiders) signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday, April 18. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Ryan JensenApr 17 05:02p

Baltimore Ravens exclusive rights free-agent TE Phillip Supernaw, SS Brynden Trawick, CB Rashaan Melvin and OT Ryan Jensen re-signed with the team Friday, April 17. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 17 12:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said earlier this week that he's not sure if he'll participate in the team's offseason program. Minnesota is set to start their offseason workouts [ More ]

Adrian PetersonApr 16 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will not receive any further suspension after he is reinstated from the commissioner's exempt list, according to a source.

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group