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Patriots opening defense 10.31.10 at 4:26 pm ET
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The Patriots opened with the following defensive personnel package:

DL: Brandon Deaderick, Vince Wilfork (at nose tackle), Mike Wright
ILBs: Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo,
OLBs: Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham
CBs: Kyle Arrington, Devin McCourty
S: Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders

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Patriots opening offense at 4:19 pm ET
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The Patriots opened with the following personnel on offense:

QB: Tom Brady
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
WRs: Wes Welker, Deion Branch
TEs: Aaron Hernandez (lined up in the backfield) Alge Crumpler
OL: Matt Light, Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Sebastian Vollmer

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Five Final Thoughts on Patriots-Vikings at 12:28 pm ET
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With kickoff looming, here are 10 final thoughts on Patriots-Vikings:

1. You’€™re fooling yourself if you think Brett Favre doesn’€™t start. And by the way, it was a savvy move by Favre telling ESPN that he feels like he’€™s ready to play. That way, it’€™s Brad Childress who takes the fall as The Guy Who Stopped The Streak. As I Tweeted earlier this week, the relationship between the coach and quarterback speaks to the raging dysfunction within the organization.

2. I’€™m kicking myself that I didn’€™t include this in the 10 things to look for, but it was initially Tweeted by Evan Silva of Pro Football Talk and then retweeted by our buddies at Pro Football Focus: ‘€œGood news Percy Harvin: Patriots vulnerable to slot receivers. Slot WRs have led the opposition in receiving against NE in 4 straight [games].’€

3. Fascinated to think about the reaction that both Favre and Randy Moss get both pre and postgame from the Gillette Stadium crowd. Gut feeling is that Favre gets booed and mocked heavily coming in and out the tunnel, while Moss hears loud cheers early and often. It’€™ll also be interesting to see what sort of reaction both draw coming off the field from players and coaches. In a region where postgame handshakes are analyzed like the Zapruder Film, the scene after the field and in the tunnel will likely be talked about for a few days.

4. The Patriots aren’€™t going to run a whole lot of Sunday, but they have to get more production out of the running game than they did last week. Doesn’€™t matter how many yards they get ‘€” that 4.0 yards per carry average is the magic number. If the crew of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Sammy Morris can hit that, it’€™ll be all good for New England.

5. Final thought: I think the Patriots win this thing, pulling away in the second half. Moss will catch a touchdown pass, but New England’€™s going to do a good job bottling up Adrian Peterson (which means holding him under 100 yards). It’€™s going to be close, but a late touchdown or turnover from the Vikings is the difference: Patriots 24, Vikings 17.

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Recalling Brett Favre’s past performances against the Patriots 10.29.10 at 1:03 am ET
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With the Patriots anticipating the sight of Brett Favre under center when the Vikings hit Foxboro on Sunday, let’€™s take a look at Favre’€™s career numbers against the Patriots.

As a starter, Favre is 3-4 against the Patriots and 2-2 against Bill Belichick New England defenses. In addition, he’€™s 128-for-209 (61 percent) with 1,438 passing yards. Perhaps the number that stands out the most when it comes to Favre and the Patriots is that while he has 12 career touchdowns passes against New England, he has just three picks.

Oct. 2, 1994: In his first career game against the Patriots, Favre went 25-for-47 for 294 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions in a 17-16 New England win at Foxboro Stadium.

Jan. 26, 1997: In perhaps his most memorable performance against the Patriots, Favre threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another in the 35-21 win over New England in Super Bowl XXXI. Favre ended up going 14-for-27 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns.

Oct. 27, 1997: Favre was efficient, going 23-for-34 and tossing for 239 yards and three touchdowns, but came away with a 28-10 loss to Pete Carroll and the Patriots at Foxboro Stadium.

Oct. 13, 2002: Favre threw for three touchdowns and 147 yards in a rainy afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Favre was 17-for-27 and had zero picks in a 28-10 win over the Patriots. It was contest that was more well known for two things: the return of Terry Glenn to New England (as a member of the Packers) and the Patriots’€™ ill-advised decision to wear blue shirts and blue game pants. Ugh.

Nov. 19, 2006: Perhaps Favre’€™s worst game against the Patriots ‘€” the Green Bay quarterback was knocked out early in a 35-0 New England win at Lambeau Field. The quarterback was just 5-for-15 for 73 yards before yielding to Aaron Rodgers.

Sept. 14, 2008: In Favre’€™s introduction to the Patriots-Jets rivalry New England got the best of the gunslinger with a 16-9 win at the Meadowlands. The Patriots held Favre to an 18-for-26 line for 181 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Nov. 13, 2008: It was old-school Favre, who reached into the past and pulled out a classic performance in a 34-31 overtime win over Matt Cassel and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Favre ended up 26-for-33 for 258 yards, a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions.

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Patriots Injury Report: Chung, Branch are limited 10.28.10 at 4:02 pm ET
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Patriots Injury Report for Thursday
Did Not Participate

S Jarrad Page (calf)
RB Fred Taylor (toe)

Limited Participation
WR Deion Branch (hamstring)
S Patrick Chung (knee)
WR Matthew Slater (ankle)

Full Participation
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)

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Postgame notes from Patriots-Chargers 10.25.10 at 2:29 am ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are some postgame notes from Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers game:

The Patriots have started the season with at least five wins in their first six games for the fourth time under head coach Bill Belichick after improving to a 5-1 record with the win over San Diego. The Patriots best records through six games under Belichick are 6-0 in 2004, 5-1 in 2006 and 6-0 in 2007.

With the win today against San Diego, the Patriots improved to a 28-5 in the month of October since the 2003 season. The Patriots have won 19 of their last 21 games in October.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Snap Judgments: Patriots escape with 23-20 win over Chargers 10.24.10 at 7:26 pm ET
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After building a 20-3 lead, the Patriots withstood a furious late Chargers charge to claim a 23-20 victory in San Diego on Sunday afternoon. The win was not secure until there were 23 seconds left in regulation, when San Diego kicker Kris Brown knocked a potential game-tying, 50-yard field goal attempt off the right upright.

The win moved the Patriots to 5-1, and with the victory, they now hold a share of first place in the AFC East.


–Takeaways. New England was able to force turnovers in the first half, including the first interception of Devin McCourty‘€™s NFL career, which came on a pass meant for Chargers receiver Patrick Crayton. The Patriots also had a forced fumble by linebacker Dane Fletcher, as well as two boneheaded unforced errors that allowed New England to take control of the football. The Patriots weren’€™t able to do much with them, at least early on, but the ability to force takeaways is another positive sign for a young and rapidly improving New England defense. The turnovers allowed the Pats to win on a day when the Chargers had more than twice as many total yards (363-179) as New England.

Special teams. The Patriots, who went into the game with what seemed like a big special teams edge, were just a little bit better than the Chargers. Brown was 1-for-2 on on-sides attempts, and ended up booting a fourth-quarter kickoff out of bounds that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40-yard line. Brown initially lined up for a 45-yard attempt at the end of the game, but a false start penalty pushed it back to a 50-yard attempt, which ended up going off the upright. Meanwhile, Stephen Gostkowski booted three field goals (and has now converted on nine straight) and Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman were solid in the return game. (Points were deducted for long snapper Jake Ingram, who was flagged for holding and looked shaky throughout the afternoon.)

Consistent, complimentary football to start the second half. As sluggish as the New England offense looked in the first half, it answered with a killer drive at the start of the third quarter. In what was maybe its finest offensive sequence of the season, Tom Brady and New England went 79 yards in 17 plays, a drive that consumed 8:35 and made it 20-3 midway through the third quarter. The key yardage came on a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness against former BC product Antonio Garay, as well as a 16-yard gain on a pass play to running back Danny Woodhead on second-and-17. It was the drive of the game, as it featured two third-down conversions and a fourth-and-1 conversion as well.

Winning late. The Patriots nearly coughed up a 17-point second half lead, but held on for the win. The Chargers are not what they once were, but the Patriots ability to win away from Gillette Stadium ‘€” 3,000 miles away from home in a place where they have suffered some bad losses ‘€” cannot be overlooked. For the third straight game (and second consecutive road contest) the Patriots won away from home. Several Patriots talked this week about wanting to differentiate themselves from last year’€™s team, and impressive road victories are a big step in the right direction.


Despite the fact that the Chargers kept giving them the football, the Patriots offense struggled to put together any sort of sustained offensive attack throughout the first two quarters. New England was stuffed on several occasions by the San Diego defense, including a back-to-back sequence in the first half where the Patriots got the ball on the Chargers’€™ eight-yard line, but were forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal after sacks from Antwan Barnes and Shaun Phillips. There are all sorts of problems with San Diego, but the pass-defense ‘€” the best in the league entering Sunday’€™s game ‘€” isn’€™t one of them.

Against the best pass defense in the league, Tom Brady was clearly not at his best. The Patriots quarterback was 6-for-16 for 35 yards and one touchdown through the first two quarters, and finished 19-for-32 for 159 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots were also able to run the football for large stretches, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead had just 24 yards each and Green-Ellis was stopped on a key fourth-and-1 play that gave the ball back to the Chargers on downs and set the stage for the dramatic finish.

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