Patriots practice patience in 34-31 comeback win

Patriots practice patience in 34-31 comeback win
November 25, 2013, 6:17 pm
Share This Post

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) stretches for extra yardage as he is brought down by Denver Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard (52) in the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(APWF)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Patriots trailed 24-0. They had to pretend it was 0-0.

It worked.

Drive after successful drive, New England chipped away at that halftime deficit, stopped the NFL's best offense and stunned the Denver Broncos 34-31 in overtime on Sunday night.

Coach Bill Belichick's message to his still-determined players at intermission?

''Just to take it as a new ballgame,'' tight end Rob Gronkowski said. ''Don't think there is going to be a miracle where you can score a touchdown and it counts as more. So just take it one drive at a time.''

The Patriots had fumbled the ball on their first three possessions of the game. But they scored on their first five of the second half for a 31-24 lead.

That surge stemmed from a simple philosophy.

''No matter what the score is, just keep going. That should be the motto for everyone,'' defensive end Chandler Jones said Monday. ''For any team and not just for our team, any team that saw us play the other night. I'm pretty sure that there are other players that watched that game and it just goes to show - don't stop, just keep going.''

It helps, of course, to have Tom Brady and his skill at fourth-quarter comebacks.

In the Patriots' previous game, he got the ball at his 20-yard line with 59 seconds left and Carolina leading 24-20.

He drove them to the Panthers 18, but his pass on the last play was intercepted in the end zone about 5 yards in front of where Gronkowski was being bear-hugged by linebacker Luke Kuechly. A penalty flag was thrown for defensive pass interference, then waved off when the referee ruled the ball uncatchable.

The Patriots had a successful comeback four games earlier when they handed the New Orleans Saints one of their two losses. Brady led a 70-yard drive in just 1:08 to the winning touchdown with 5 seconds left in a 30-27 win.

And last December, the Patriots trailed the San Francisco 49ers 31-3 midway through the third quarter, then scored four touchdowns in the next 15 minutes to tie it before losing 41-34.

''One thing we've shown is that, mentally, we have some toughness. We've been in some bad situations,'' Belichick said. ''We've been able to hang in there even when it hasn't always looked great. But, really, I would say that the season for us is kind of starting now.

''The teams that play well in November, December and January,'' he said, ''those are the teams that are standing in the end.''

Starting in 2010, the Patriots are 25-4 in those months during the regular season. They have a good chance to make that 30-4 with games remaining against Houston, Cleveland, Miami, Baltimore and Buffalo - all with losing records.

But if those games are close, count on the Patriots to fight until the final play. That's when their last two games were decided.

''These games, they come down to the end almost every week now,'' defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. ''You never know what's going to happen, so it's that whole bend but don't break mentality of keep fighting, keep after your opponent to pull these wins out. It's a great way to win.''

Even if some unorthodox decisions are made.

The Patriots won the overtime coin toss and decided to kick off and force the Broncos to go into the wind - even if it meant giving Manning and his potent offense the ball.

''The whole situation was a little bit confusing,'' Belichick said, ''because when I told the captains that, there was a little bit of a question of, `Are you talking about deferring?' I was like, `No, we're not deferring. We're taking the wind, period.' ''

Denver reached the New England 37-yard line on its second overtime series but punted rather than try a long field goal into the wind.

The Patriots then punted from their 43. The ball bounced and hit Tony Carter of the Broncos. Nate Ebner pounced on it for New England at the Denver 13 and Stephen Gostkowski kicked the winning 31-yard field goal with 1:56 left in overtime.

''Luckily,'' Gostkowski said, ''we had the wind behind our back on that last kick.''

They shouldn't need any extra help next Sunday when they visit the Texans, losers of nine straight after winning their first two.

''You have to ride the momentum here of a great victory that we had last night and just continue to finish through here,'' Ninkovich said. ''We're going to prepare like we always do and be ready to play the Texans tough.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Texans - Team News
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Johnson briefly exited Sunday's game against the Bills in the fourth quarter. He said after the game that he was "fine," but felt a "pop" in the ankle. ...
Oct 1 3:41PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. Foster is likely going to miss plenty of practice reps this week before being a game-time decision against the Cowboys on Sunday. Foster said he wasn't 100 percent in Week...
Oct 1 3:38PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (meniscus) has resumed jogging, and hopes to return in a "few... Sidelined since September 7, Clowney was given a 4-6 week timetable upon going down. That makes a "few weeks" attainable, but not ahead of schedule. The Clowney...
Sep 30 3:18PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Texans coach Bill O'Brien referred to Arian Foster (hamstring) on Monday as "day to... Foster himself acknowledged he wasn't 100 percent in Sunday's win over the Bills, managing six yards on eight carries. He'll likely continue to be limited in practice all...
Sep 29 4:20PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Following Sunday's win over the Bills, Arian Foster (hamstring) admitted he "just wasn't... Foster rushed eight times for six yards while playing on just 54.1 percent of the snaps, but did salvage his box score a bit with seven catches for 55 yards. The good news...
Sep 29 8:42AM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson said the ankle injury that briefly sidelined him Sunday is "fine." "I was more scared than anything because I felt a pop, so I went in and got checked," Johnson said. We never like to hear about pops, but Johnson did come back...
Sep 28 5:37PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught three passes for 28 yards in Week 4 against the Bills. He was targeted five times. Graham is on pace for just 36 catches and 380 yards this season, but should be more involved going forward now that he's healthy. He was used in...
Sep 28 5:25PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue had nine carries for nine yards in Week 4 against the Bills. With Arian Foster playing through a hamstring injury, Blue was used in a committee and finished with more carries. He added two catches for 16 yards on three targets. Blue...
Sep 28 5:22PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's Week 4 win over... Hopkins beat Corey Graham for a 35-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. He finished with just six targets despite Andre Johnson missing time with an ankle injury....
Sep 28 5:03PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster totaled 61 yards on 15 touches in Sunday's Week 4 win over Buffalo. Foster was held to six yards on eight carries, but was targeted 10 times by checkdown artist Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was clearly running at half-speed and looked sluggish...
Sep 28 4:07PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25-of-37 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions... Fitzpatrick's only notable play was a 35-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins at the end of the first half. He managed the Texans to a win without any help from Arian Foster or...
Sep 28 3:55PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson left Sunday's Week 4 game against the Bills with an ankle injury. Johnson came up lame on a pass in the fourth quarter and was taken to the locker room. He was able to jog off under his own power and later returned to the game. Johnson...
Sep 28 3:01PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, Arian Foster (hamstring) is moving with a slight limp... Per Breer, the Texans will "monitor his hamstring early in the game, determine his workload from there." It's similar to what was reported by beat writer Tania...
Sep 28 11:40AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (hamstring) is active for Week 4 against the Bills. Foster will be available for a full workload after sitting out last week. He's Rotoworld's No. 12 running back against the Bills' top-five run defense. Inactive for the...
Sep 28 10:33AM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
According to the Houston Chronicle, Arian Foster will "definitely" play in Sunday's... The chronic hamstring issue Foster has been battling for two months is good to go. "Foster would't be active if he wasn't 100 percent. That means he'll get a full...
Sep 28 10:03AM Read More