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Let the Tournament Begin!!!!

Wow, what a game on Sunday between Pittsburg and Denver. I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t see that coming. After the Huston win I was convinced we were going to be facing Pittsburg. I was sitting there pre-game and said I hope Denver pulled an upset as the Steelers scared me. That said, how does the expression go, “Be careful what you wish for!” Tebow looked scary. What I mean by that is on both sides. His first quarter was pathetic, but the remaining three were very impressive. I know it shouldn’t be an issue, but our defense against the pass is poor at best. It should be interesting, but I always get nervous especially when you have a 9-8 team going against a 12-4. Denver has nothing to lose and everything to gain. We are going to see just how stone cold, (or not) Tom Brady is. He has everything to lose. A loss in this game I feel would start to tarnish that legacy of his. Three, one and out in the playoffs would not bode well, especially if one of them is Denver. I am looking forward to Saturday night.

In Memory of Huston Antwine

Former Boston Patriot’s star Houston Antwine. Antwine 72 died after a long battle with kidney disease. A member of the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team , Antwine played with the Boston Patriots from 1961-71. “It didn’t take long for him to establish his identity,” former Patriots teammate Gino Cappelletti said. “He was so quick and durable. He never missed a game. I can’t recall him ever missing a practice. He was all-out all the time. He plugged a lot of holes for us.” Tragically his wife Evelyn also passed just hours after her husband. As you all know from our fifty greatest Patriot players, he was number 20 on our top fifty list.

Playoff Player Profile (check out the picture)

#55 Brandon Spikes – I chose Brandon because of the impact he could have this coming Saturday night. His specialty is stuffing the run and he has been missing for the past seven weeks with an injury. His return couldn’t come at a better time. If he is in game shape he could help the defense as it faces the #1 rushing team in the NFL. Brandon had three tackles in the last game of the year against Buffalo and looked good. While he didn’t play that much it was encouraging to see him out there. I would anticipate more playing time this coming weekend. 

 

Brandon was drafted out of Florida in the second round of the 2010 draft. Born in Shelby, NC he played high school football at Crest High School in Shelby. Brandon does carry some baggage with him for sure. At Florida he was suspended by his head coach, Urban Myers for his antics on the field in which he tried to gouge the eyes of Georgia’s Washaun Ealey. That said, his talent is not questioned. As a senior team captain, he was one of three finalists for the 2009 Chuck Bednarik Award, a finalist for the 2009 Butkus Award, a first-team All-SEC selection, and a consensus All-American, receiving first-team honors from The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation and second-team honors from the Associated Press.

 

On December 10, 2010, prior to the Patriots' Week 14 game against the Bears, Spikes was suspended four games (the remainder of the 2010 regular season) for a violation of the NFL's banned substances policy,  reportedly for an ingredient in Spikes' ADHD medication.  The same day, Spikes released the following statement: "I’ve been contacted by the NFL and informed that I will be suspended four games for the detection of an illegal substance in a drug test. The substance was a medication that I should have gotten clarification on before taking. It was not a performance enhancer or an illegal drug. The integrity of the game is very important to me. I understand the league’s ruling and apologize to my teammates, the fans and the Patriots organization for this mistake."

 

He finished his rookie season with 61 tackles, one interception, and three passes defensed. With his season shortened by the suspension, he played in 12 games, starting eight.

 

2011 Pro Bowl

Congratulations to the New England Patriots Pro Bowl selections!!!  For the second year in a row, eight members of the New England Patriots have been selected to the Pro Bowl. Amazingly all of them were voted to the starting lineup. The lineup includes, Tom Brady QB, Wes Welker WR, Rob Gronkowski TE, Logan Mankins & Brian Waters G, Andre Carter DE, Vince WIlfork DL, and Matthew Slater ST. Carter, Gronkowski and Slater earned their first Pro Bowl invitations. The Pats led the picks tied with San Francisco.

 

Carter earned his first Pro Bowl selection after registering double-digit sacks for the fourth time in his career with 10.0 sacks. Gronkowski is going to his first Pro Bowl after having a record-setting season in 2011. He set an NFL record for most touchdowns by a tight end in a single season with 16 (15 receiving and 1 rushing) with one game left to play. Slater is going to his first after being named Special Teams Captain by his teammates this year. Wes Welker is now going to his fourth straight Pro Bowl. Some of you might not be too familiar with him, but Brian Waters will go to his sixth Pro Bowl. His five others were with Kansas City. Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins will be going to his fourth and third in a row. Last but not least is the franchise himself Tom Brady who is about to become only the third quarterback in NFL history if he throws for 109 yards this weekend.

 

WEEK 13 PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

#18 Matthew Slater – born in Orange, California September 9, 1985. He is the son of “Hall of Famer” Jackie Slater. Matthew was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. Drafted out of UCLA as a wide receiver, he has played a significant role on special teams.

A piece of trivia for you sports trivia fans, Slater was one of two players selected in the 2008 Draft (the other being Chris Long), and the sixth in the history of the NFL Draft, who is a son of a Hall of Fame member. At the start of this season, Matthew was voted by fellow teammates to be one of the six team captains when he was named captain of special teams. A team favorite for his hard work and dedication he is a typical “Belichick” guy. He has also been nominated for the Probowl twice in his career as a special teamer.

This year he is now becoming one of a growing list of Patriot players making the jump from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side. In the most recent Miami game he played 70 out of 73 defensive downs! That is amazing. As a matter of fact it was the most football he has played as pro. Not bad considering he is a wide receiver. Well it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes for Matthew, but if Sunday was any indication I would expect to see more of him on defense.

Strong Start Sputtering to the End!!

Well, a win is a win and while we might all be unhappy with the ending I think it is important not to lose sight that every win in the NFL is a tough one, no matter who you play. I will take 9-3 any day. I dare say the Jets wish they were 9-3.

It was a great game for Ron Gronkowski. No the all-time leader in touchdowns in a season and one away from all-time in TD receptions. Too bad Tommy’s pass was really a lateral but I am sure there is one more somewhere in the next four games. Also, what a game on defense by Matthew Slater, another of those offensive guys that have made the jump. (see this weeks player profile) Let’s hope the boys put together a full sixty minutes this week against the Redskins. Their defense will be a solid test for Tommy and the offense.

SPANK THOSE EAGLES!! DREAM TEAM, ha ha ha

Well the boys came to play again! I must admit I got a bit nervous with the 10-0 start but Tommy and the offense got it together. There still are some issues on defense. While I know they only scored 20, seven of those in garbage time, they still gave up over 500 yards of offense. That will not bode well come the playoffs if they don’t tidy that up.

But, there is a bright side. We have a new Troy Brown in town, Julian Edleman. Did you see his stats for this past week? He had sixteen snaps on defense finishing with three tackles and one blitz. Remember he is a wide receiver and punt returner.

It was great to see Wes and Deon turn it around. I don’t know you noticed, but how does Dion not score on the pass from Tommy? I can’t believe how much he has slowed down over the years.

How about Gronk!! How lucky are we? He is going to be a joy to watch over the upcoming years. I don’t know if you caught it, but he said he was in Tommy’s dog house all week at practice, didn’t look that way during the game. Anyway, let’s hope they don’t take Indy for granted. That would be insulting if we gave them their first win of the season. That shouldn’t happen.

2011 WEEK 12 PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

#87 Rob Gronkowski - Born May 14, 1989. He has four other brothers, two of which are in the NFL as well. He was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Many of you may not remember the drama, but we almost lost him to the Baltimore Ravens in the last thirty seconds.

In 2006, he moved to Pennsylvania, where he attended Woodland Hills High School as a senior. He was initially ruled ineligible by the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, but that ruling was overturned and Gronkowski recorded eight receptions for 152 yards and four touchdowns at Woodland Hills. He was named a SuperPrep All-American, PrepStar All-American, Associated Press Class 4-A all-state, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22” Following high school, Gronkowski attended the University of Arizona. As a true freshman in 2007, Gronkowski recorded 28 receptions for 525 yards and six touchdowns. His 18.8 yards per reception average was the best on the team and his receiving yards were a then school record for a tight end. In 2008 he set the school tight end records for single-game, single-season, and career receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Gronkowski was named an Associated Press third-team All-American and All-Pac-10 first-team tight end.

This year up to last week, he caught his first touchdown of the 2011 season on a 10-yard pass from Tom Brady in the Patriots' Week 1 victory over the Miami Dolphins; Gronkowski's 6 passes accounted for 86 of Brady's franchise record 517 yards. After last week, he now has 11 touchdown passes, one more than all of last year. His famous spike has become a fan favorite.

Great Game !!

Whew! It is nice to see that we are back to normal. After two losses in a row I was getting worried. It has been so long since we have had a stretch like that it was becoming unnerving. Things are back to where they should be for now, but time will tell if it continue moving forward. It was a late one, but I didn’t miss a play. Gronkowski was unbelievable and even though the first half was a bit shaky, it was nice to see Tommy get back to his old form in the second half. The injuries are piling up on the defense which isn’t good except for the fact that the defense has basically been inept all year so the injuries couldn’t make it much worse. While I feel bad for Devon McCourty, when he left the game the defensive backfield actually got better. Did anyone see the hit by Julian Edelman at the end of the game when he was playing in the defensive backfield? You heard me right, the defensive backfield. It was a great shot on LaDainian Thomlinson. Well it is on to Kansas City next Monday night. I always get nervous when we face a team we should beat. Matt Cassel won’t be playing either as he was hurt yesterday and is going to require surgery on his hand.

Excellent Photo

Photo: Tim Farrell/THE STAR-LEDGER

 

2011 WEEK 8 PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

#17 Taylor Price - He was born in Hilliard, Ohio, October 8, 1987 and attended Hilliard Darby High School. As a junior he was a second-team all-conference selection and as a senior he was an honorable mention all-district selection. He played in all three phases of the game, and blocked five kicks on special teams as a junior.

Price attended Ohio University and played in 14 games as a true freshman in 2006, finishing the year with nine receptions for 77 yards. As a sophomore, Price started at wide receiver and recorded 33 receptions for 464 yards and four touchdowns. He also had six rushes for 23 yards and two passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. In 2008 as a junior, Price started 11 of 12 games made 51 catches for 694 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed five times for 19 yards and had two kickoff returns for 22 yards. In his senior season in 2009, Price started all 14 games and set a career high with 56 receptions for 784 yards, and also carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards. His 149 career receptions set an Ohio record, while his 2,019 receiving yards ranked second in school history. Price also had a 14-catch performance against Wyoming, a school record.

Price was drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round (90th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. On May 25, 2010, he signed a four-year deal with the Patriots. Price was inactive for the first 15 games of his rookie regular season before making his NFL debut in the Week 17 finale against the Miami Dolphins. He caught three passes for 41 yards in the game.

I’ve spotlighted Taylor because I think he is now on the verge of breaking out. He had an excellent preseason and we need his ability to shine. With the virtual disappearing act of Chad, we need someone to step up to take some heat off the tight ends and Wes Welker. This could be the week.

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