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Well, that was unexpected.
The New England Patriots celebrated their Super Bowl championship legacy Thursday night, unveiling the 2016 banner in a pregame ceremony, but they opened the 2017 season with a stunningly bad performance in a 42 27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tom Brady looked ordinary against the Chiefs defense, completing only 16 of 36 passes. And the Patriots secondary, which was supposed to be one of the NFL’s best, allowed Alex Smith to throw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns, two of them going for 75 and 78 yards.
That was the most points the Patriots have given up in a home game since 1984 against the Miami Dolphins. Dan Marino was the second year quarterback for the Dolphins that year.
It was a dreadful performance by a team many considered a clear favorite to repeat as Super Bowl champion.
The defense gave up a lot of big plays in the preseason, but no one expected it to carry over like this.
The game was embarrassing, especially since the Patriots spent so much time celebrating their Super Bowl championships in the pregame ceremony.
While the defense is going to take the bulk of the criticism – and it should for the gaping holes that Smith 28 of 35 https://www.patriotsnefans.com/malcom-brown-jersey-c-50.html , 368 yards exploited – the offense deserves its share, too.
Twice, New England had a fourth and short situation. Twice, the Chiefs stopped the Patriots.
The first stop may have changed the game.
The Patriots came out fast and scored on their opening drive, putting on an offensive clinic. Then, on Kansas City’s first play, Jordan Richards forced a fumble that Devin McCourty recovered at the Chiefs 32.
Brady appeared to throw a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, who made an amazing diving catch. Gillette Stadium was shaking. But on review https://www.patriotsnefans.com/ted-karras-jersey-c-49.html , the call was reversed because the ball appeared to hit the ground.
New England then had fourth and inches at the Chiefs 10. But newcomer Mike Gillislee, who scored three touchdowns in the game, was stuffed. The Chiefs took over, drove 90 yards for a touchdown, and the game was on.
The Patriots led 27 21 into the fourth quarter, but Smith found a mismatch and hit rookie Kareem Hunt – remember him from Toledo, UMaine fans? – for a 78 yard touchdown. Hunt burst past newly acquired linebacker Cassius Marsh and raced through the secondary to complete the score.
Hunt also rushed for 148 yards and scored three touchdowns.
There were bright spots for the Patriots. Newcomer Brandin Cooks showed why he is one of the most dangerous wide receivers in football, catching three passes for 88 yards, including a 54 yard reception that set up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
And Gillislee displayed his inside running with three short touchdown runs.
But the Patriots offense was never in sync in the second half https://www.patriotsnefans.com/stephon-gilmore-jersey-c-48.html , and maybe that’s no surprise. Julian Edelman isn’t available as Brady’s safety valve, his season ending in the third preseason game when he blew out his knee. He was role was limited to the pregame ceremony celebrating the five Super Bowl championships – he limped out, holding a Vince Lombardi Trophy high while the fans roared.
But he was sorely missed on the field. Edelman was Brady’s binky Cody Hollister Jersey , the one player he could go to in any tough situation and know the pass would be completed.
Without him, Brady struggled to keep drives going.
Someone is going to have to step up to replace Edelman. Someone is going to have to make the tough catch in traffic.
This is a team that has always been resilient, that has always bounced back. Champions do that.
And if the Patriots are going to be as good as everyone thinks they can, they need to find some answers fast.
Cliff Avril is 31. Old enough to remember Michael Jordan being so brilliant and legendary in basketball NBA officials were widely believed to have their own set of calls reserved for Jordan to get benefits of doubt during games.
Avril thinks Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s current version/recipient of such preferential treatment.
The Seahawks’ Pro Bowl defensive end wasn’t angry as much as he was incredulous at the illegal block penalty https://www.packersgbstore.com/adam-pankey-jersey-c-62.html Avril got for wholly unnecessary contact on the star quarterback in the first quarter of Seattle’s 17 9 loss Sunday in its season opener at Green Bay.
Avril’s foul cost the Seahawks a touchdown they never did score the rest of the day. Rookie defensive tackle Nazair Jones was returning his interception of Rodgers 64 yards for a score and what would have been a 7 0 lead for the Seahawks.
Avril’s contact wasn’t hard to Rodgers’ shoulder, though it wasn’t completely from the front. And, as coach Pete Carroll said after the loss https://www.packersgbstore.com/jordy-nelson-jersey-c-61.html , it was totally unnecessary.
Still, Avril couldn’t believe he got flagged — and didn’t even know it until two quarters later.
“I didn’t even know it was on me until the third quarter when teammate Richard Sherman was like, ‘Did you know that was on you?’ I was like, ‘Uhhhhh….’
“Yeah, I bet they threw it as soon as I touched him. I guaranteed they threw a flag. But that stopped us from scoring…He is A Rod. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league…
“That was crazy.
“But some guys get the ‘Michael Jordan Rule.’”
GRAHAM’S SILENT DAY
Star tight end Jimmy Graham began the final Dean Lowry Jersey season of his contract Seattle inherited when it traded Max Unger and a first round pick to New Orleans for him in 2015.
And it wasn’t a sterling start.
After Russell Wilson was under siege behind the malfunctioning offensive line in the first quarter, the Seahawks began keeping Graham , second tight end Luke Willson, even running backs Tre Madden, Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise in to help on pass protection. At the end of helping https://www.packersgbstore.com/lucas-patrick-jersey-c-63.html , Graham would peel off into short, dump off routes.
That’s why he had three catches for only 8 yards.
Read more here http //www.thenewstribune.com/sports/nfl/seattle seahawks/article172522816.html storylink cpy
The Falcons 2 0 return to the practice fields today, ahead of another great matchup with the Detroit Lions 2 0 this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. While they’re ready preparing to compete on the road, we’re busy bringing you the top news surrounding the team from around the country.
Today’s Early Bird Report includes the Falcons’ climb in various power rankings as well reasons to believe the 2017 Lions’ defense is for real.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Power Rankings Falcons sit atop a pair of rankings
It seems as though a vast majority of those who watched the Falcons beat the Packers on Sunday night came away thoroughly impressed. But how would that change their opinion of the Falcons standing in the NFL, as a whole? Judging by this week’s roundup of power rankings, it had a major positive impact. For the most wildly important rankings, Matt Tabeek – who is impervious to flattery – has you covered.
NFL.com No. 4 Last week No. 5
“Wonderful performance from the Falcons, even with the late nervousness Sunday night. Agreed wholeheartedly with Cris Collinsworth, who aptly pointed out the Falcons were decidedly more confident in playing man coverage ... especially with a healthy Desmond Trufant.”
CBS Sports No. 1 LW No. 2
“They still haven t quite clicked on offense yet, but it s coming. When it does https://www.falconsatljersey.com/mike-meyer-jersey-c-7.html , watch out.”
ESPN No. 1 LW No. 7
“Falcons fans can drop any concerns about Steve Sarkisian running the offense. FPI has the Falcons as the second rated offense so far this season, and Matt Ryan is averaging nearly 10 yards per pass attempt. The Falcons are just the fourth Super Bowl loser to start the next season 2 0.”
Yahoo Sports No. 2 LW No. 3
“We have to acknowledge that Kyle Shanahan’s new team hasn’t scored a touchdown, while the Falcons with Steve Sarkisian calling plays looked like a machine for most of Sunday night. While not taking anything away from Shanahan’s remarkable 2016 season, maybe his departure wasn’t that big of a deal if you still have Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones.”
Sporting News No. 4 LW No. 6
“Matt Ryan and Julio Jones haven t even exploded yet, and their offense has hummed along thanks to more great running from Devonta Freeman. The fast young defense is happy to have its old glue guy back at cornerback, Desmond Trufant.”
The Rich Eisen Show Matt Ryan shares how Navy SEALS helped Falcons prepare for 2017 season
Falcons coach Dan Quinn has had a unique approach to the team’s offseason training over the past couple of years, employing the help of the Acumen Performance Group, a collection of former Navy SEALS. Joining The Rich Eisen Show this week, Matt Ryan discussed how the training regimen prepared the Falcons for this season.
“That was one of the things Dan Quinn had us do during the offseason was have a group of Navy SEALS from a company called APG come in.” Ryan told Eisen. “We had worked with them before, but just https://www.falconsatljersey.com/josh-magee-jersey-c-8.html from a standpoint of mentally being able to move on to the next mission or the next opportunity, whatever it may be, really there’s nobody better to pick their brains than the SEALS. The group of guys that we’ve gotten to know the last two years, I think have really helped our team with that.”
Hall of Famer Jason Taylor expresses great love for Quinn
Before arriving in Atlanta to become the Falcons’ head coach, Dan Quinn forged his reputation as one of the best defensive minds in football. One such stop along the way was in Miami, where Quinn worked with the Dolphins’ star defensive end, Jason Taylor. While Quinn has said he learned a great deal from Taylor, who is now in the Hall of Fame, that is nothing compared to the praise Taylor relayed to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure.
We worked well together, and I loved, loved, loved playing for Dan Quinn, Taylor told McClure. I knew right from the beginning he was going to be a head coach. Couldn t understand why he was coaching me as a D line coach and not being a coordinator.
“I love him to death. I d run through a wall for him.
NEWS ON THE FALCONS’ OPPONENT Detroit Lions
Mlive.com Lions’ stingy defense vs. Falcons’ top 10 offense
Sunday’s game will be one of strength vs. strength, according to Brendan Savage of mlive.com. The Falcons’ offense is averaging 368 yards so far this season Julio Jones Jersey , which is eighth best in the NFL. Detroit’s defense, meanwhile, allows just 289 yards per game, the seventh least in the league. While the Falcons’ defense and the Lions’ offense have been solid through the first two weeks, this weekend could come down to each team’s true strengths.
Detroit Free Press 2 0 start proves Lions’ defense is for real
Through two games, the Lions have shown they can rush the pass and create turnovers – two critical components of a successful defense. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press https://www.falconsatljersey.com/matt-schaub-jersey-c-9.html , the players on Detroit’s defense know that this is no fluke. “Oh yeah, it’s for real,” cornerback Darius Slay told Birkett. The emergence of defense end Ziggy Ansah, who was limited by an ankle injury last season, has played a big part in this fast start. Against the Giants, Ansah recorded three sacks, two more than he had all of last season.
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
ESPN.com Panthers tight end Greg Olsen eligible to come off IR on Nov. 26
The loss of a Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen is a big one for the Panthers’ offense. Although he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Olsen is eligible to come off of IR on Nov. 26, according to ESPN’s David Newton. Olsen underwent surgery on Monday, and if he returns to action this season, it’s likely the Falcons will face him at least once this year, during their regular season finale against the Panthers on New Year’s Eve.
The Times Picayune Saints trade linebacker Stephone Anthony to Dolphins
The New Orleans Saints traded linebacker Stephone Anthony to the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, according to Herbie Teope of The Times Picayune. While the Saints’ announcement of the move stated that they were receiving an undisclosed 2018 draft pick in return for Anthony, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Dolphins were trading away a 5th round pick.
It feels strange to write this after the weekend, rather than before – but that’s the schedule that goes with Monday Night Football.
After a long wait, we know have our first chance to watch the Cowboys since that forgettable outing in Denver. It doesn’t look any easier this week, with another tough defense and another rowdy road stadium on the docket in Arizona.
It’ll be on the Cowboys to start better than they did last week if they’re going to get the result they want. With that in mind, here’s what I’m looking for when kickoff finally arrives.
After two weeks of dealing with quality cornerbacks https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/zac-dysert-jersey-c-2.html , I would expect Scott Linehan to come up with some creative ways to generate open space for Dez Bryant. The Cardinals will counter with Patrick Peterson and he will likely travel everywhere that Bryant goes. One of the best ways that offenses buy space for their receivers is by positioning and moving them within the formation. Traditionally, Bryant has played on the outside, but I could see a change this week. Linehan could choose to put Bryant in some tight bunch formations and then scatter from that. The other way I mentioned is to put him on the move with motion. This would give Bryant the opportunity to get moving and would keep Peterson’s hands off him. Regardless of which method Linehan chooses, it is something that he knows he has to do in order to help his receiver.
I believe we’re going to see some different defensive front combinations for the Cowboys this week with Damontre’ Moore back in the lineup. Moore can play either side of the line at defensive end and some nickel tackle, if needed. DeMarcus Lawrence has the left side locked down, which has made former starter Tyrone Crawford a rotational player. Benson Mayowa has been the starter at right end and rotating with Taco Charlton. What would be interesting is if Rod Marinelli, in looking to get his best five on the field, decides that putting Crawford on the right side over Mayowa and Charlton is his best option? The offensive line did that with Chaz Green at guard. Crawford might not have the quickness of a Mayowa or Charlton Lance Lenoir Jersey , but if the Cardinals take a page out of the Broncos’ playbook and try to run the ball, Crawford gives you some stoutness there.
Anthony Brown will step in for Nolan Carroll this week as the starter at left cornerback. Orlando Scandrick is back in the lineup, as well, after missing the Broncos game with an injured hand. After getting a full week of work, Jourdan Lewis should be the nickel and will come into the game when the situation calls for him. Bené Benewikere will be active for the first time this season since being traded from the Bengals. Between Scandrick https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/dan-bailey-jersey-c-4.html , Brown and Lewis, this might be the best combination of cover guys the Cowboys can put on the field. All three play well in press and are quick enough to react to the ball when playing zone. It’s a super competitive group that also has ball skills, with Brown and Lewis already having interceptions this season. Something to keep an eye on is how they handle Larry Fitzgerald in this contest. We’ve seen Rod Marinelli mixing up the coverage on other big play receivers before to keep them off balance. I would not be one bit surprised to see him do the same thing in this game.
Through two games this season https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/dak-prescott-jersey-c-3.html , when opponents have shown Dak Prescott a blitz, his passer rating is 61.98. When the Cardinals have blitzed opposing quarterbacks, their rating is 97.45, which is only 19th best in the league.
The Cardinals’ defense has allowed opponents to rush for 4 plus yards a carry on first down on 58 percent of snaps this season. As bad as things were for the Cowboys in Denver, they are still ranked fifth in the league, hitting that number 54 percent of the time. Staying ahead of the chains as always is going to be the key, because it sets up their play action game. That plays right into the strength of Dak Prescott.
I mentioned after studying the Broncos game, that if I were Rod Marinelli I’d consider using Xavier Woods more in the slot. He looked extremely comfortable playing inside covering receivers, and that kind of skill could be an asset going forward. In talking to a couple of scouts during the week, they mentioned that Woods did that quite a bit at Louisiana Tech. With Chidobe Awuzie being out for this game with a hamstring injury, don’t be surprised to see Woods take over Awuzie’s role in that dime package. I won’t be surprised if he plays well.
Ezekiel Elliott is a really good one back runner, and that’s why we don’t see much from Keith Smith at fullback. What I do like about Smith’s game is how physical he is digging those linebackers out of the hole. With the Cowboys struggling last week running the ball in “12” personnel, could we see Linehan go with some “21” and replace the tight end with Smith? I don’t completely see them going away from “12,” but it might be worth a shot to see if Smith can clear some things up inside and edge to give Elliott some traction carrying the ball. Running a fullback downhill at a defense can have a demoralizing effect, and that’s what Smith can bring.