Friday, December 30, 2011

Fitzpatrick on Patriots' defense: Sometimes stats lie


When your defense gives up the most yards per game in the league, you better be able to score a touchdown or two.

Luckily, the Patriots can do a bit more than that offensively, and despite sub-par defense, New England has earned a playoff bye and is aiming to clinch home-field advantage this weekend against Buffalo.

Brady practices, listed as probable for season finale


Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t have much to say Friday about quarterback Tom Brady’s suspected left-shoulder injury, apparently suffered during last Sunday’s game vs. the Dolphins in Miami, other than that he expects Brady to be a go this week vs. the Bills.

Brady was listed on the team’s official injury report Friday.

Bills look to prevent a Patriots tight end clinic


In case you hadn’t noticed, the Patriots' tight ends are pretty good.

The Bills head into their final game this year well aware of that fact as they look to sweep New England to finish off the season.

Greene a yard away from 1,000, Rex guarantees it


Rex Ryan makes a lot of guarantees. His latest one is his most probable ever.

Jets running back Shonn Greene is a single yard away from amassing 1,000 yards rushing for the season, which will be the first time the third-year tailback has reach that mark.

Bush's season done a game short, ruled out vs. Jets


Reggie Bush was picking up as much steam as ever the second half of this season, but he'll be done a game short, as he's been ruled out of Sunday's season finale against the Jets with a knee injury.

Taylor to play last game, Tomlinson "could be" too


One of the era's best defensive players will be competing in his last NFL game Sunday, and an all-time great will be lining up across the way in what could be his final outing.

Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor officially announced Wednesday that he'll call it quits after Sunday's bout with the Jets, and Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson told reporters Thursday that he "could be" playing his last game, as well.

Report: Brady had shoulder X-ray, now on injury list


The Patriots listed quarterback Tom Brady as limited in practice on the official injury report Thursday, citing the left shoulder after saying Wednesday’s absence was not injury related.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Next men up, veteran leaders pace Patriots' defense


Heading into the 2011 season, it was not too uncommon to see Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork listed as a preseason Pro Bowl pick. But how many of those preseason projections had defensive end Andre Carter on the bill?

Fitzpatrick, Johnson hope to stay together next year


As the Bills’ season wraps up this weekend in Foxborough, fans may get their last look at the most successful passing duo in Buffalo since Jim Kelly and Andre Reed.

While Ryan Fitzpatrick, recent recipient of a 6-year, $59 million contract extension, won’t be packing his bags anytime soon, No. 1 wide receiver Stevie Johnson may be forced to pack his. The fourth-year Kentucky alum has been trying to work out an extension with the front office to no avail all season, as his four-year contract is quickly coming to a close. But the 25-year-old is optimistic; he told reporters Wednesday he thinks he’ll be back next season as a Bill.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Marshall thinks refs give Revis special treatment


Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall acknowledges that Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is good, but Marshall also thinks Revis gets a little help from the refs.

Rex gives opinion on Jets' Pro Bowl selections


Jets linebacker David Harris didn't make the Pro Bowl, and that apparently didn't sit well with Rex Ryan.

During his Wednesday presser, Ryan made an argument (a pretty good one) for why Harris deserved more than second alternate recognition on the AFC all-star roster.

Bills place another kicker on Injured Reserve


The third time probably won’t be a charm for the Bills in the kicking department, as Buffalo placed yet another leg on Injured Reserve this week.

Journeyman Dave Rayner, who came in to replace longtime Bills kicker Rian Lindell after he suffered a broken shoulder in Week 9, was placed on IR with an unconfirmed injury Wednesday, though he had been suffering from a sore pelvis.

By-committee RB stable works just fine for Patriots


The Patriots had five offensive starters get named to the Pro Bowl this week. None were running backs.

No surprise there. The Patriots haven’t had a game-changing headliner carrying the ball since Curtis Martin in the pre-Bill Belichick era, and only a few of the team’s backs since have taken on the workload he did.

Pair of 'well-deserved' Dolphins get Pro Bowl nod


Brandon Marshall wore his Pro Bowl jersey to practice earlier this season. He was just keeping it warm.

Marshall, the Dolphins' No. 1 wideout, will have another chance to don the red and white all-star uni when the season is over, as he was named to his second Pro Bowl. Dolphins left tackle Jake Long also got the nod to line up with the AFC's best, as he was named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth year in a row.

Jets sending a familiar trio to Hawaii for Pro Bowl


Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson punched their tickets to Hawaii -- again.

The trio made the Pro Bowl together for the third straight year, and Revis and Mangold will be going for the fourth time in as many seasons.

Bills shut out of Pro Bowl, Jackson injury didn't help


Thirteen players from across the AFC East will be shopping for new luau shirts this week as the NFL released the rosters for the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Bills players, however, will have to settle for new winter jackets.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Patriots tie for league's most 2012 Pro Bowl nods


The Patriots tied the 49ers for number of 2012 Pro Bowl players with eight.

Quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive end Andre Carter, guard Logan Mankins, guard Brian Waters, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and special teamer Matthew Slater made the bill, as was announced by the NFL Tuesday.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pouha: Rex's message to Jets Monday was positive


After a devastating loss to the Giants, the Jets enter Week 17 preparation needing a win and help from three other teams.

Jets coach Rex Ryan, however, was optimistic during team meetings Monday.

Numbers show QBs improve by parting with Schotty


Facts are facts. Quarterbacks get better after they part ways with Brian Schottenheimer, current (updated: former) offensive coordinator of the Jets.

Here's a simple breakdown of a trend of quarterbacks who played under Schottenheimer:

Brett Favre (Jets to Vikings)
Last season with Schotty: 217.0 yards/game, 81.0 QB rating.
First season without Schotty: 262.6 yards/game, 107.2 QB rating.

Chad Pennington (Jets to Dolphins)
Last season with Schotty: 196.1 yards/game, 86.1 QB rating.
First season without Schotty: 228.3 yards/game, 97.4 QB rating.

Drew Brees (Chargers to Saints)
Last season with Schotty (QB coach): 223.5 yards/game, 89.2 QB rating.
First season without Schotty: 276.1 yards/game, 96.2 QB rating.

Brady: Welker motivated Patriots with words, play


After the Patriots were shut out in the first half Saturday against the Dolphins, Wes Welker spoke to the offense. With his team in an unusual 17-point deficit, Welker owned up to his play and motivated the rest of the team to do so.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Spiller not used in red zone, Bills struggle inside 20


The Bills beat the Broncos Saturday thanks to a big day from the defense and special teams, but the offense still had its issues.

Buffalo was just 2-for-12 on third down and only converted on one of six red zone trips.

Jets don't control playoff destiny but still have shot


Like Rex Ryan's personality and capaciousness, the Jets' loss to the Giants Saturday was huge. Not only did Ryan's bravado backfire on him, but his team is now on the outside looking in.

Entering the game, the Jets had to win Saturday and next week against the Dolphins, and they were guaranteed a playoff spot. Now, the Jets need help.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Patriots' Gostkowski reflects on 'Oh, crap' moment


Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a critical play Saturday, and it wasn't a kick.

Gostkowski saved a would-be third-quarter touchdown when Dolphins' kick returner Clyde Gates hit a hole and ran for daylight up the right side of the field. Gostkowski dove for the returner's feet in a last-gasp effort and brought him down.

Dolphins' defense half-way effective against Brady


What a difference a half makes.

The Dolphins' defense knew the key to beating the Patriots Saturday was to shut down Tom Brady. And for 30 minutes, Miami did just that, holding Brady to seven completions and sacking him three times.

Bills' OL corps takes hit with loss of center Urbik


Despite handily defeating the Broncos, 40-14, the Bills' effective offensive line corps lost a strong piece of their unit as they head into their last game of the season.

Center Kraig Urbik went down in the second quarter of Saturday's game with a knee injury, forcing an early departure for the second-year starter. Urbik was replaced by backup right guard Colin Brown, who played center in high school before moving to right tackle at Missouri.

Reports: Jacobs, Ryan trade F-bombs, fat comments


Jets coach Rex Ryan and Giants running back Brandon Jacobs exchanged words following the Giants' 29-14 victory over the Jets Saturday.

What was said? Depends on who you ask.

Patriots overcome 17-point deficit to beat Dolphins


The New England Patriots were having a hard time finishing strong early this season. Saturday, it was the other way around.

New England overcame a 17 point deficit with 27 consecutive points and held on to beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-24, in Foxborough. With the victory, the Patriots clinched a first-round bye for the playoffs.

Bills snap 7-game skid in lopsided win over Broncos


The Buffalo Bills had a lot built up inside losing seven games in a row, and they unleashed it all on the Denver Broncos Saturday.

Buffalo's defense picked off Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow four times -- once for a score -- en route to a 40-14 rout.

Giants take ownership of NY with win over Jets


Rex Ryan wanted to find out who the better New York team was Saturday. He found out.

Ryan's New York Jets were awful on offense, anemic on special teams and not good enough on defense, falling to the New York Giants, 29-14, and seeing their playoff hopes take a huge shot.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bowles on key to stopping Brady: Hope he gets flu


One week after picking up his first victory as a (interim) head coach in the NFL, Todd Bowles gets the luxury of trying to figure out how to beat Tom Brady for win No. 2.

The Miami Dolphins' head guy's solution: Hope the New England Patriots' signal-caller "gets the flu and doesn't show up for the game."

Cruz says teams aren't afraid of Revis, Revis laughs


According to New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, "teams aren't really scared of (Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis) anymore."

And why would they be? asked Revis. "I'm not a monster."

Well, teams should be scared of Darrelle Revis because he's the best cornerback in the game, even if Cruz's fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks thinks he's "decent," as Nicks said this week when asked if Revis was the best corner in the NFL.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bills receiver Nelson well-versed in Tebow talk


Questions surrounding Tim Tebow and his matchup with the Buffalo Bills this weekend don't seem to faze Buffalo receiver David Nelson. Maybe that's because he's heard it all before.

Nelson is well-versed in all things Tebow, having been on the receiving end of Tebow's tosses for three years as a Florida Gator. And Nelson will be the first to tell you Tebow is not like other quarterbacks.

Fitzpatrick: Getting booed by fans was well-deserved


Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was booed at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday during Buffalo's loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Tuesday, Fitzpatrick took ownership of his poor play, which has contributed to the Bills' seven-game slide.

Moore's had many roles, but plays 'starter' pretty well


Matt Moore tossed five touchdowns to 10 picks in six games last season with the Carolina Panthers. Moore moved south to don a Miami Dolphins uniform this season, and in 11 games, he's throw 12 touchdowns to six interceptions.

The fifth-year player out of Oregon State has played the role of third-stringer, backup and starter throughout his career. He's doing the last one pretty well in 2011.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Belichick will never use 'Twitter, My Face, Yearbook'


New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker and tight end Aaron Hernandez recently joined Twitter, something social media guru and teammate receiver Chad Ochocinco will take some credit for.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, however, don't plan on Tweeting any time soon.

"You'll never see me on Twitter, My Face, Yearbook or any of that," Belichick told the media Tuesday. "Forget about that."

Rex: Eli might be most accurate downfield thrower


New York Jets coach Rex Ryan loves to talk about his quarterback in Mark Sanchez, but he's pretty fond of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning as well. Ryan would just prefer his guy has the better game Saturday when the Jets and Giants square off.

Gailey latest to make Tebow-to-Elway comparison


Tim Tebow-to-John Elway comparisons have been eye-rolled all season. Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey isn't afraid to go there.

The Bills, losers of seven straight games, are slated to host Tebow and the Denver Broncos Saturday. The Broncos are 7-2 with Tebow calling signals quarterback.

Kiwanuka 'knows' Giants are better team than Jets


New York Jets coach Rex Ryan told the media Monday that the Jets have been a better team than the New York Giants lately, given the fact that the Jets have been to the AFC Championship Game the past two seasons and the Giants have missed the playoffs both years.

But Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka disagrees, and he plans to prove it Saturday when the two New York metropolitan-area teams face off on Christmas Eve.

Dolphins coach says Davis is 'becoming a true pro'


Miami Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles was responsible for the entire team Sunday in his first game as Miami's head guy. However, Bowles couldn't help but be particularly excited about the individual group he's been in charge of the past few years.

Bowles has coached the Dolphins' secondary since 2008, and he has watched third-year cornerback Vontae Davis make some big strides as of late.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gailey says he's lost "zero confidence" in Fitzpatrick


Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled the second half of the season, but so has his entire team.

The Bills have lost seven straight, with the latest defeat coming Sunday at home against the Miami Dolphins. Fitzpatrick tossed two touchdowns to three interceptions in that game, a week after throwing two picks and no scores while completing 38 percent of his passes against the San Diego Chargers.

Despite Fitzpatrick's drop in play since signing a $59 million contract extension during the team's Week 7 bye, he's still the Bills' franchise guy, at least in the eyes of coach Chan Gailey.

Brady: When you get hit, you should be first one up


Tom Brady was a little sorer than usual Monday, and with good reason.

Early in the fourth quarter of the New England Patriots' 41-23 victory over the Denver Broncos Sunday, Brady was essentially blindsided on his non-blindside by Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil. On a perfectly legal and clean it (which James Harrison would argue), Dumervil got a lane to Brady and drilled him in the chest.

Bush's elevation of play reaches new heights Sunday


Reggie Bush understood the questions critics had when the Miami Dolphins acquired Bush during the offseason to become the team's feature back.

With injury problems, lack of carries and general lack of production on the ground the last two years with the New Orleans Saints, Bush told the media Sunday, "People should be questioning me whether I can do it or not."

But Bush has been answering those questions over the latter half of this season, and he made a strong case Sunday in the Dolphins' win over the Buffalo Bills, amassing 203 rushing yards and logging his third game in a row with at least 100 yards on the ground.

Rex on playing Giants: You want to own your town


The New York Jets "host" the New York Giants Saturday in the teams' first regular-season bout since coach Rex Ryan took over the Jets two and a half years ago.

While the Giants have put out the overall better product over the past decade, the Jets have been the better team in the Ryan era. The Giants missed the playoffs the last two years while the Jets played in consecutive conference championship games.

On Christmas Eve, the two metropolitan New York teams will have a chance to settle the score in their brand new shared MetLife Stadium.

Patriots lock up division with strong finish in Denver


In quieting the Tebowmania — albeit even for just a few days — the New England Patriots (11-3) accomplished a few other things as well.

They traveled to Denver, a place where quarterback Tom Brady has won only one time in his career before Sunday’s 41-23 victory, rallied from 11 points down en route to a commanding win and locked up the team’s eighth AFC East title in nine years. The win was also New England’s sixth straight on the season.

Wilfork does some 'Tebowing' as Pats down Broncos


The New England Patriots' defense recorded a 29-yard sack on Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow late in the fourth quarter Sunday to seal a victory, and Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork seized the opportunity.

Wilfork, who had Tebow's right side shut down on the play after busting through the protection, got down on a knee and "Tebowed" following the sack. According to Wilfork, it was complimentary.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ochocinco makes rare appearance in Patriots' win


A lot was expected of Chad Ochocinco in joining forces with quarterback Tom Brady when the New England Patriots acquired the veteran wideout last offseason.

But Ochocinco has done little-to-nothing since donning the red, white and blue -- at least until Sunday.

Jets still in control of destiny despite blowout loss


The New York Jets played what quarterback Mark Sanchez called "embarrassing, not good, terrible football" in a 45-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday.

But as crazy as it sounds, it's no harm, no foul for the Jets (8-6), at least for now. Because of the Oakland Raiders' fourth-quarter collapse to the Detroit Lions, the Jets still hold the final Wildcard spot and will make the playoffs if they win their last two games.

Dolphins blank Bills' third-down offense... again


The only thing the Buffalo Bills did consistently Sunday was stink on third down. To the Miami Dolphins, it was a familiar sight.

The Dolphins' defense held the Bills' offense to an 0-for-11 conversion tally on third down in Miami's 30-23 victory over Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday. The Bills also failed to convert on a single third down when the Dolphins blew out the Bills in November.

SNL tweaks Tebow, Broncos and touches on Patriots


NBC's Saturday Night Live performed a skit on Tim Tebow, Jesus and the Denver Broncos Saturday night while talking a little Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jets' 'bellcow' Greene gets better by the carry


Shonn Greene gets better by the carry.

The New York Jets' third-year tailback has spent his young career starting off slow and finishing strong, putting up his best performances late in games and in the playoffs.

Dolphins' O-line vs. Bills' rush not marquee matchup


On paper, the matchup between the Buffalo Bills' pass rush and the Miami Dolphins' pass protection looks like a wash. And that's no compliment to either squad.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Taylor 'not big' on bulletin-board material like Bills


Buffalo Bills players voiced their displeasure this week about comments Miami Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell made after the Dolphins destroyed the Bills, 35-8, in November. Bell told the Palm Beach Post the Bills "laid down" when they got behind early.

The Bills were also quick to point out that the Dolphins were participating in "extracurricular activity" after the whistle on multiple occassions.

Dolphins veteran linebacker Jason Taylor is fine with Buffalo using Bell's words as motivation, but it's not a tactic he said he employs.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Westhoff talks keys to containing Jackson on return


Avoiding a DeSean Jackson punt return by booting the ball out of bounds every time is unrealistic, so Mike Westhoff will just coach up his punt coverage team the best he can.

Westhoff, the New York Jets' special teams coordinator, said the Philadelphia Eagles do a good job creating a pocket when rushing the punter, which doesn't allow the punter time or space to aim the kick left or right. Because of that, Jackson will have a chance to return almost every punt that comes his direction.

Tebowmania no surprise to former Gator Hernandez


Tebowmania has been taking over the NFL for half a dozen weeks now. And on Sunday, it’ll be up to the New England Patriots to mute the fiasco and put the fiery, spiritual Tim Tebow in his place.

But to those who know him, it’s no phenomenon that Tebow and the Denver Broncos keep winning. Just ask former Tebow teammate and receiver Aaron Hernandez, who is now one of two lethal tight ends on a high-octane Patriots offense.

Edelman focused on football with charges dropped


New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman released a statement Thursday after being informed that indecent assault charges against him had been dropped.

"I am very appreciative of the hard work of the County's public officials and of my attorney Amy McNamee," Edelman said. "I am humbled by the support of my teammates and the Patriots organization. I'm just looking forward to focusing on football."

In seeking a new deal, Bills' Johnson will be patient


Stevie Johnson wants to be a Bill, period.

That's what the team's top receiver told reporters Wednesday as questions of a contract extension arose. The Bills' seventh-round pick in 2008 is in the last year of his four-year rookie contract, and after notable deals featuring Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, tackle Eric Pears and nose tackle Kyle Williams, Johnson may be next on the front office's checklist.

Eagles wary of Jets' No. 1-ranked red zone offense


The New York Jets boast the best red zone offense in the NFL, as the Jets score touchdowns on nearly 72 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line.

“They have a receiver that is 6-5, 230-240 pounds, they have a really good tight end, and they have a balance with a pretty good running game," Eagles linebacker Jamar Chaney told the Philadelphia media Wednesday. "That’s pretty much all the things you need to have in the red zone."

'Phins light fire under Bills with postgame smack talk


After the Miami Dolphins blew out the Buffalo Bills last month, Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell was quoted in the Palm Beach Post saying Buffalo "laid down" in the first half.

To quote Ace Ventura: "Now you've pissed him off."

Ventura's talking butt aside, the Bills didn't take kindly to Bell's words and have a little extra motivation to pay back the Dolphins for the 35-8 butt-whooping the Bills were handed.

Dolphins' motivation for rest of year? Keeping jobs


The Miami Dolphins are 4-9, and general perception is that they have nothing to play for.

But Dolphins (ex-)coach Tony Sparano was fired Monday for performance reasons, and interim coach Todd Bowles reminded the team Wednesday that the players and coaches -- Bowles included -- are still being closely evaluated.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

According to Belichick, Tim Tebow is a good passer


Bill Belichick is very good at bending the truth. Wednesday was no exception.

When asked if he was surprised at Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow's success despite Tebow's suspect mechanics, the New England Patriots coach argued that Tebow is a "good" passer.

Avant: Playing the Jets is like playing the bullies


Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jason Avant called the New York Jets "bullies," and as far as Rex Ryan is concerned, there's probably no greater compliment.

" I think it’s a great challenge for us as receivers and also for our team because they’re like the bullies," Avant told the media Wednesday regarding the Eagles' upcoming bout with the Jets. "They’ll run the ball at you, a lot of them play man-to-man, so it’s like playing bullies or your big brothers.”

Bills fans to wait another year, Gailey feels their pain


Buffalo Bills fans heard two words this week that have unfortunately become part of their lingo: “No playoffs.”

After a strong 5-2 start during which the Bills took out the division rival New England Patriots at home for the first time since 2003, Buffalo has since dropped six straight, including three key divisional matchups.

After being mathematically knocked out of postseason contention following a loss to San Diego, coach Chan Gailey lamented with the Buffalo faithful this week, sharing his own personal fan struggles.

Brady: No Mile-High altitude advantage; Well, maybe


New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn't think the Broncos have an added home-field advantage with being used to Denver's high altitude.

Well, at first he didn't think so.

Taylor on Sparano firing: 'We kind of failed Tony'


Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was fired Monday after the Dolphins lost their ninth game in 13 tries, and his now ex-players acknowledge Sparano wasn't the whole problem.

"I think the part that we control, we kind of failed Tony a little bit," Dolphins veteran linebacker Jason Taylor told the media Monday during his annual ping pong benefit.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pats' O'Brien on Brady clash: 'I heard from my mom'


New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien wasn't too interested in discussing his sideline yelling match with quarterback Tom Brady Sunday when talking to the media Tuesday, but he did share some personal advice he received following the incident.

"I heard from my mom (to) watch my language," O'Brien said via conference call with New England reporters. "It's just two competitive guys that want the best for the team. We've moved on to Denver; getting ready for Denver now."

With 3 games left, streaky Jets in control of destiny


Everything has come in streaks for the New York Jets this season.

The team has been on two losing streaks and is on its third winning streak of the year. New York (8-5) will need to keep this last one going if it wants to see its third straight postseason birth.

The Jets started the season winning its first two games before losing three in a row. New York then bounced back to win three consecutive, lost two in a row and won its last three games. Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Jets seek their first four-game win streak of the season.

Fitzpatrick: Contract extension hasn't impacted play


Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was averaging a 95.5 quarterback rating a game entering his team's Week 7 bye.

Fitzpatrick came out of the midseason break with a $59 million contract extension and completed nearly 78 percent of his passes while throwing two touchdowns against the Washington Redskins. He put up a rating of 116.4, and the Bills were 5-2 at the time.

Since then, Fitzpatrick's quarterback rating has averaged 62.5 per game and the Bills have lost six straight.

Wilfork looking like a defensive back by the numbers


Six-foot-2, 325-pound Vince Wilfork has statistics of a defensive back.

The New England Patriots defensive tackle already had two interceptions, three passes defensed and a force fumble this season. Sunday, he added a touchdown.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ross, Ireland give billion reasons to re-hire Sparano


The Miami Dolphins fired coach Tony Sparano Monday, holding a press conference with owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland to officially announce the termination and answer questions.

In doing so, Ross and Ireland convinced us all that Sparano is the perfect fit for the Dolphins' vacant coaching position.

Gailey on an answer to Bills' woes: 'I don't have it'


If there's one thing Chan Gailey does well, it's hold himself accountable.

The Buffalo Bills coach has watched his team lose six games in a row after starting the season 5-2, and Gailey hasn't bothered to try and make excuses.

"It’s my responsibility to find the answer but I don’t have it,” Gailey told the media Sunday.

Jets suffer huge blow with Leonhard lost for season


The New York Jets confirmed Monday that safety Jim Leonhard will miss the remainder of the 2011 season to injury.

Leonhard, who acquired a torn patella tendon Sunday in the Jets' 37-10 victory over the Chiefs, will watch Gang Green fight for a playoff spot down the home stretch for the second year in a row. Leonhard suffered a season-ending leg injury late last season. He is in his final term of a three-year contract with the Jets.

Brady: Pats still looking to put together 60 minutes

By Sam Hollingsworth

The New England Patriots do a lot of things well, but quarterback Tom Brady has been clear that there is plenty room for his team to improve.

Throughout the season, the Patriots have stressed the need to play a "complete" game, but they have yet to do it, at least in their eyes. Two weeks ago, the winless Indianapolis Colts made a daunting push for an upset until they fell short, and it was more of the same from the Pats Sunday against the lowly Washington Redskins.

Dolphins fire Sparano, make Bowles interim coach

By Sam Hollingsworth

Hours after the Kansas City Chiefs fired head coach Todd Haley, the Miami Dolphins terminated Tony Sparano, just months after the coach received a contract extension.

Sparano did what he could the last month and a half to save face, but the damage was already done.

Leonhard likely lost for season with leg injury

By Nick St. Denis

For the second straight year, the communicator of the New York Jets' defense may be lost for the season with a December injury.

Safety Jim Leonhard, who is responsible for much of the Jets' pre-snap adjustments on defense (particularly in the secondary), was carted off Sunday during New York's 37-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Fitzpatrick, Bills put up stinker in loss to Chargers

By Nick St. Denis

Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick stunk Sunday. But in his defense, the rest of the team didn't play much better.

Buffalo continues to slide after its 5-2 start to the season, losing 37-10 to the San Diego Chargers in falling to 5-8. The Bills had a slight chance to make it a game down 16-10 in the third quarter, but the Chargers scored 21 consecutive points to finish the contest.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

'Phins give up 9 sacks, Moore hurt in loss to Eagles

By Nick St. Denis

The Miami Dolphins' defense kept Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy mostly in check, but Miami's offensive line couldn't get a handle on the Philadelphia Eagles' pass rush.

The Eagles' defense recorded nine sacks in a 26-10 victory over the Dolphins Sunday.

Brady on yelling match with O'Brien: 'I deserved it'

By Nick St. Denis

Tom Brady threw an interception Sunday, and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien let him hear about it.

New England, which eventually defeated the Washington Redskins, 34-27, was up by seven points late in the fourth quarter and third-and-goal from the 4-yard line when Redskins' Josh Wilson picked off Brady in the end zone to keep Washington's hopes alive.

Gronkowski sets record as Patriots beat Redskins

By Nick St. Denis

Another Sunday evening, another Rob Gronkowski headline.

The New England Patriots tight end was on the receiving end of two scoring passes from quarterback Tom Brady, recording his 14th and 15th touchdown receptions of the year to set a new NFL single-season record of receiving touchdowns by a tight end.

Sanchez, Greene lead Jets to victory over Chiefs

By Nick St. Denis

Sunday, coach Rex Ryan got a little reminder of why he and general manager Mike Tannenbaum made the 2009 draft decisions that they made.

The New York Jets' third-year quarterback-running back duo of Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene teamed up to blow out the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-10, and keep their season on track.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dolphins look to continue success on special teams

By Dan Begnoche

With an offense that is much-improved but was shaky early in the season, the Miami Dolphins' kicking game has had plenty of exposure, and it has risen to the challenge. In fact, Miami's special teams has been solid all season, and the Dolphins (4-8) look to continue that success against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles (4-8).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ryan expects warm crowd reception for Sanchez

By Nick St. Denis

Quarterback Mark Sanchez was booed during the pregame festivities three weeks ago when the New York Jets hosted the Buffalo Bills.

Sanchez went on to toss four touchdowns that game in a fourth-quarter comeback and helped the Jets to another fourth-quarter win last week against the Washington Redskins.

Jets coach Rex Ryan has arranged for the offense to be announced Sunday instead of the defense (which was up in the original rotation) when New York hosts the Kansas City Chiefs. He expects a different type of reception from the crowd this time around.

NFL fines Patriots LB Mayo $25K for hit on Orlovsky

By Nick St. Denis

The NFL announced Friday that New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo was fined $25,000 for a hit last Sunday on Indianapolis Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky.

Pats go as Brady goes, good or bad (mostly good)

By Nick St. Denis

The New England Patriots are dependent on Tom Brady.

That's a good thing, because Brady is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL and an all-time great. It also means that with all of their eggs in the Brady basket, he better not have an off day.

Jets optimistic guard Moore will play vs. Chiefs

By Nick St. Denis

New York Jets guard Brandon Moore is listed as questionable with a hip injury, but the Jets expect him to be ready Sunday when they host the Kansas City Chiefs.

"We're gonna actually get him to the stadium early, put him through a couple deals and make sure he's fine, but I think he is," Ryan told the media Friday.

Bills' Wilson, Byrd probable, ready to go for Sunday

By Nick St. Denis

The Buffalo Bills have been thin on positive injury news this season, but coach Chan Gailey told the media Friday that safeties George Wilson and Jairus Byrd are probable and should be ready to go for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

Bills TE Chandler ruled out against Chargers

By Nick St. Denis

Tight end Scott Chandler was ruled out of the Buffalo Bills' road game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday.

Bills coach Chan Gailey told the media Friday that Chandler's ankle injury, which he acquired last weekend against the Tennessee Titans, would keep Chandler out of action for at least a game. Chandler sat out of practice all week because of the injury.

Defending McCoy will be group effort for Dolphins

By Nick St. Denis

Who will be covering LeSean McCoy Sunday?

According to Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, "Everybody."

The Dolphins host the standout running back and the Philadelphia Eagles in a battle of two 4-8 teams that have underachieved for most of the season, though the Dolphins have won four of their last five and are headed in the right direction.

Jets' Rex Ryan: We've been down this road before

By Nick St. Denis

Since Rex Ryan took over as head coach of the Jets two and a half years ago, December in New York has been a bit more stressful for fans than they'd prefer.

It's also been a lot more exciting.

In 2009, the Jets had to win six of their last seven games to get into the postseason. Last year, New York clinched a playoff berth a little earlier than that but had some critical divisional and conference games late in the season. Both times, New York got hot at the right time and reached the AFC Championship game, falling just short of the Super Bowl.

This year, the Jets (7-5) are in a similar predicament as Ryan's rookie campaign.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kicker Lindell's IR trip makes Rayner full-time

By Dan Begnoche

Compounding the Bills’ injury woes, Buffalo placed kicker Rian Lindell on the Injured Reserve list Thursday, making that their 15th player to go out for the season.

Bills experimenting with early trip to West Coast

By Nick St. Denis

The Buffalo Bills are traveling to the West Coast to take on the San Diego Chargers Sunday, and they'll be flying Friday instead of the usual Saturday.

While the altered schedule may throw off Buffalo's routine, Bills coach Chan Gailey said the team is using the extra day to adjust to the time difference.

Skins' games vs. AFC East teams help Pats prepare

By Nick St. Denis

The Washington Redskins faced the New York Jets last weekend, and that was beneficial to the New England Patriots, who face the Redskins Sunday.

During his Wednesday press conference, Patriots coach Bill Belichick discussed the advantages of Team A facing a team that has already played a team in Team A's division.

Make sense? I'll let The Hoodie explain.

Dolphins' solid Moore especially effective at home

By Nick St. Denis

Last year and early this season, the Miami Dolphins were awful at home.

Matt Moore didn't get the memo.

Moore, since taking over the starting quarterback job after Chad Henne went down to a shoulder injury in Week 4, has been extremely effective at Sun Life Stadium.

Jones reflects on memories with Jets' Rex, Sanchez

By Nick St. Denis

Thomas Jones had the best season of his career with the New York Jets during Rex Ryan's first season as a head coach.

In 2009, Jones gained 1,402 yards on the ground and scored 14 touchdowns. Tough business decisions saw Jones wind up with the Kansas City Chiefs the following year, though Jones will return to the Meadowlands Sunday when the Chiefs visit the Jets.

Choice looks to make most of opportunity with Bills

By Dan Begnoche

Two weeks after being picked up off waivers, the Buffalo Bills' newest running back, Tashard Choice, has one thing in mind: production.

Buffalo is the third stop so far this year for the 5-foot-10, 218-pound fourth-year back. But to him, that’s not an issue. He's just focused on going out and making the best of his opportunities.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pats' Haynesworth end 'doesn't surprise' Shanahan

By Nick St. Denis

The New England Patriots started the season with two former Washington Redskins on the defensive line in Andre Carter and Albert Haynesworth.

Carter is still a Patriot and leads the team in sacks. Haynesworth, who has been a problem everywhere he's been in the NFL, isn't.

Bills safety Wilson limited but takes practice field

By Nick St. Denis

Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson was limited in practice Wednesday, but he's just happy to be back on the field.

Wilson hasn't played in more than three weeks due to a neck injury and looks to return to action when the Bills (5-7) travel to San Diego to face the Chargers (5-7) Sunday.

Eagles center: Dolphins one of more underrated 'D's

By Nick St. Denis

Quarterback Michael Vick will be back, but things won't get any easier for the Philadelphia Eagles' offense Sunday.

The Eagles (4-8) will travel to Miami to face a Dolphins team that has won four of its last five games. Much of Miami's success has had to do with its defense's ability to force opposing offenses to lean on the pass, which has resulted in turnovers and punts, putting the Dolphins' offense in favorable starting positions.

Jets preparing for Chiefs' heated-up pass rush

By Nick St. Denis

The New York Jets' offensive line will be up against a hot pass rush when the Jets (7-5) host the Kansas City Chiefs (5-7) Sunday.

The Chiefs' defense has recorded 11 sacks in the last three games, including seven last Sunday against the Chicago Bears and three against the New England Patriots three weeks ago. Kansas City tallied just nine sacks through the first nine games.

A look at AFC East playoff picture entering Week 14

By Nick St. Denis

The New England Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a victory over the Washington Redskins Sunday coupled with a New York Jets loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Either way, the Patriots are pretty much a lock to win the division, regardless.

The Jets (7-5) are currently battling with the Cincinnati Bengals (7-5), Tennessee Titans (7-5) and the Oakland Raiders (7-5) for the second Wildcard spot, though the Denver Broncos (7-5) are also in that mix, as they're leading the AFC West, which could also be won by the Broncos.

Revis talks zero coverage, role in Jets' defense

By Nick St. Denis

When Rex Ryan took over the New York Jets' head coaching job after the 2008 season, he and new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine approached cornerback Darrelle Revis with their philosophy.

Pettine explained to Revis that he would be playing legitimate man-to-man against the opposing team's No. 1 wide receiver, mostly without safety help so the Jets could roll coverage the other way and disrupt the rest of the opposing offense.

Dolphins' Bush effectively rebounding from bad start

By Sam Hollingsworth

Former first-round draft pick, 2005 Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl XLIII champion Reggie Bush has proven to the Miami Dolphins he is still worth a starting running back job.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dolphins' Taylor needs sack to climb all-time list

By Nick St. Denis

Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor needs one more sack to move up the all-time list.

Taylor is at 136.5 career sacks, one behind John Randle and Richard Dent, who are tied for sixth-most. If Taylor can get five more, he would tie Michael Strahan in getting into the top five.

Brady just single-digits from touchdown milestone

By Nick St. Denis

As the NFL season hits the home stretch, Tom Brady is chasing a milestone.

The New England Patriots' future Hall of Fame quarterback is now just nine touchdowns away from the 300 career mark, which would tie him with John Elway for fifth in all-time passing scores.

Spiller's work silver lining in Bills' loss of Jackson

By Nick St. Denis

The loss of Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson was certainly devastating, but the increased workload for second-year back C.J. Spiller is the silver lining.

Conley, Jets' punt coverage leading in fair catches

By Nick St. Denis

The kick return team has gotten most of the attention in terms of the New York Jets' special teams, but an overlooked aspect of coach Mike Westhoff's success is punt coverage.

Jets getting exactly what they wanted out of Maybin

By Nick St. Denis

The New York Jets acquired defensive end Aaron Maybin to work strictly as a pass-rush specialist. That he has been.

Patriots' patchwork team not looking like patchwork

By Sam Hollingsworth

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has certainly been considered versatile, among plenty of other less-flattering adjectives, but one thing he certainly is: resilient.

And while he hasn’t led the Pats (9-3) to the Lombardi Trophy in six years, he’s definitely had a knack for making believers out of doubters.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dolphins' solid tackler Davis finally reaches QB

By Nick St. Denis

Vontae Davis has blitzed before but never made it to the quarterback in time. He made it Sunday.

Davis had four tackles, including a sack on Carson Palmer, in the Dolphins' 34-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Can Dolphins finish with better record than Bills?

By Nick St. Denis

Five weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins were 0-7, and the Buffalo Bills were 5-2.

Now, the teams are just a game apart, which begs the question: Could the Dolphins (4-8) finish the season with a better record than the Bills (5-7)?

Short kickoffs not slowing down Jets' return team

By Nick St. Denis

The New York Jets are fine with any kind of kickoff.

New York's last few opponents have been kicking short to the Jets' return team to prevent Joe McKnight, who leads the NFL in return average, from taking one back on them.

December most wonderful time of year for Patriots

By Sam Hollingsworth

It’s no secret the New England Patriots play great football when there’s snow on the ground. But we’re still waiting for the first significant snowfall in Foxborough on game day and the Patriots continue to live up to their reputation as December dominators.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fitzpatrick 'shocked and disappointed' with Bills' play

By Nick St. Denis

The Buffalo Bills started the season 5-2 and looking like a playoff team.

Buffalo is now 5-7 and just looking to finish respectively after losing five straight.

"Yeah, extremely shocked and disappointed, all those words," Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick told the media Sunday after Buffalo lost to the Tennessee Titans.

Gronk owns red zone again as Patriots win another

By Nick St. Denis

Rob Gronkowski is scoring so many receiving touchdowns that the refs are starting to categorize them.

Just kidding. Well, sort of.

Quarterback Tom Brady's favorite red zone target found the end zone via the air two times -- recording his 12th and 13th touchdown receptions of the season and seventh and eighth in the last five games -- as the Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 31-24.

Gailey: Lack of fundamentals culprit in Bills' loss

By Nick St. Denis

The Buffalo Bills were atop the league in takeaways in the first half of the season, but the Bills have been giving them all back since the bye week.

Giveaways haunted the Bills again Sunday, as they lost their fifth straight game, this time by a score of 23-17 against the Tennessee Titans.

Dolphins dominate on third down in rout of Raiders

By Nick St. Denis

The Miami Dolphins did some work on third down Sunday.

Miami, in winning its fourth game in five tries, held the Oakland Raiders' offense to a 2-for-11 third-down conversion rate in its 34-14 victory over the Raiders. Oakland (7-5) attempted 41 passes to just 14 rushes.

Offensive line paves way in Jets' win over Redskins

By Nick St. Denis

Shonn Greene's fantasy football owners finally got their big day. That is if they didn't have him on the bench.

Greene rushed for three touchdowns and 88 yards on 22 carries in the New York Jets' 34-19 victory over the Washington Redskins Sunday.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dolphins' protectors to face another tough task

By Dan Begnoche

As the Miami Dolphins look to win their fourth game in five tries, the Oakland Raiders will be looking to do what seemingly every team has been able to do against Miami this season: get to the quarterback.

Patriots look forward to long-awaited 1 p.m. game

By Nick St. Denis

The New England Patriots have had just one 1 p.m. kickoff so far in the 2011 season, and they haven't yet had one at home.

New England (8-3) gets that rare chance Sunday when it hosts the Indianapolis Colts (0-11) for an early-afternoon showdown.

A look at how Jets fit into AFC playoff picture

By Nick St. Denis

Looking at the playoff picture heading into Week 13, the New York Jets are still very much alive.

Only one of their final five regular-season opponents have a winning record in the New York Giants (6-5), however, the Washington Redskins (4-7),  Kansas City Chiefs (4-7), Philadelphia Eagles (4-8) and Miami Dolphins (3-8) are not pushovers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Titans eyed Dareus in draft, look to stop him Sunday

By Dan Begnoche

The last time the Tennesse Titans saw Marcell Dareus in action was during pre-draft workouts back in April.

Tennessee had its eyes on the defensive lineman from Alabama, hoping he would drop far enough to be snatched up with the eighth pick. Dareus didn’t make it past No. 3, and as the Titans enter Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday, Tennessee players and first-year head coach Mike Munchak will get a live look at the pick that got away.

Slauson firmly settled in on Jets' offensive line

By Nick St. Denis

New York Jets left guard Matt Slauson doesn't get a lot publicity, and that's usually a good thing for offensive linemen.

As a second-year player last year, Slauson won a training camp battle for the starting job in replacing the departed Alan Faneca. While Slauson struggled in the 2010 opener against the Baltimore Ravens, he's improved steadily since.

Bills' Johnson to face mental test in Titans' Finnegan

By Nick St. Denis

If Stevie Johnson needed a test on keeping his head, he'll get it this weekend.

The Buffalo Bills wide receiver will be up against Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who is among the dirtiest players in the NFL.

Raiders preparing for 3-1, not 3-8, Dolphins

By Nick St. Denis

After starting the season 0-7, the Miami Dolphins strung together three victories before suffering a 1-point loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week.

The Oakland Raiders (7-4), who are fighting to maintain a hold of the AFC West lead, have seen enough from the Dolphins this season to take their trip to Miami Sunday seriously.

Patriots' smart pickup of vet DE Carter paying off

By Nick St. Denis

The New England Patriots' defense has lost a bunch of veteran leaders over the past half decade, but coach Bill Belichick has been quietly reloading.

That's where Andre Carter comes in.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holmes to Hall: 'We know who our quarterback is'

By Nick St. Denis

Washington Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall told reporters Wednesday that Mark Sanchez has been "confused" this season, locking on to recievers and expecting them to get after the ball and make plays.

New York Jets receiver Santonio Holmes, however doesn't feel the same way. When asked Thursday about Hall's comments, the veteran wideout defended Sanchez.

Jets' offense looks to improve on 1st and 2nd downs

By Nick St. Denis

The New York Jets' third-down offense has been pretty good considering what it has had to work with, but quarterback Mark Sanchez knows New York needs to improve on the early sticks.

During his Wednesday press conference, Sanchez said his production on first and second down in the Jets' victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday was the worst it's ever been.

Marshall assesses Raiders' Asomugha-less defense

By Nick St. Denis

The Oakland Raiders are Nnamdi Asomugha-less, and Brandon Marshall wishes it wasn't so.

Marshall was asked Wednesday what the Raiders lost the most in the departure of Asomugha. "Leadership," Marshall said.

The Dolphins (3-8) host the Raiders (7-4) Sunday.

For Gronkowski, success, failure all about the route


As far as Rob Gronkowski is concerned, all it takes is a good route to be successful. On the other hand, a bad route can be just as impactful the other way.

The Patriot tight end burst on to the scene the last two seasons, reaching 20 receiving touchdowns (now has 27) faster than any other tight end in NFL history in becoming a critical part of quarterback Tom Brady's offense.

Gronkowski has it all figured out.