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Tag:Tom Brady
Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:48 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:50 am
 

Report: Gronk's ankle will be OK for Super Bowl

By Josh Katzowitz

Although Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski appeared to suffer a bad ankle injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s AFC title win and although he was wearing a walking boot in the locker room after the game, a source tells the Boston Herald that Gronkowski will be ready to play in Super Bowl XLVI.

Championship Weekend Recap


“He’ll be ready to go,” the source told the Herald.

Gronkowski has become one of Tom Brady’s favorite receiving targets -- not to mention one of the two-best tight ends in the league -- and in New England’s win over the Ravens, he had five catches for 87 yards. Although he returned to the game after his injury, suffered when he was tackled awkwardly by Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, he didn’t catch any other passes.

But with two weeks to heal before the NFL’s final game of the season, Gronkowski has some time to get his ankle well. Which obviously would be great news for Brady and the Patriots

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 11:50 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 11:30 am
 

Super Bowl XLVI Odds: Patriots favored by 3.5

Brady and the Pats are early 3.5-point favorites in Vegas. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Super Bowl matchup is set -- we've got all the best storylines in Sorting the Sunday Pile -- and the Patriots and Giants will square off in a rematch of the epic 2007 Super Bowl.

Championship Weekend Recap

The odds won't be tilted quite as heavily towards the Patriots this time, though, as New England's been installed as "only" a three-point favorite according to Sportsbook.com. R.J. Bell of PreGame.com notes that the Patriots are a 3.5-point favorite.

When the two teams met in 2007, the Patriots closed as 12-point favorites in Vegas, but, of course, ultimately ended up losing straight-up.

Bell notes that the Vegas favorite has won 33 of 45 Super Bowls in NFL history, or 73 percent of the games played.

"Historically, the point-spread is an unmatched predictor of NFL games," Bell notes.

Currently, the over/under for the Super Bowl is a whopping 55.5 points according to Sportsbook, which means Vegas expects to see plenty of scoring from the two teams. That's no surprise given the Eli Manning-Tom Brady matchup and the pair of explosive offenses featured by the two teams.

Speaking of big numbers, Bell projects that over $10 billion -- yes, with a "b" -- will be wagered on this year's Super Bowl.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 11:18 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 2:00 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Championship Weekend Podcast Recap below and don't forget to
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Super Bowl Storylines

We have less than two weeks until Super Bowl XLVI is played in Indianapolis, and you need to be prepared for a slew of recurring storylines that will come forth over the next 14 days. Some are good, some are bad. Here are the biggest ones:

1. Playing in Peyton's House
No. 2 on this list will be the most talked about early on, but the biggest story of this Super Bowl is that this matchup takes place in the House of Peyton Manning. Peyton carved out a legacy as a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback in Indianapolis, and now the Colts quarterback is sidelined, unsure of his future in Indy, as he watches his most hated rival (Brady) battle his little brother (Eli) for a Super Bowl victory in the Colts stadium.

There's no telling how much face time Peyton will have to put in for the Colts over the next two weeks, and it could very well be minimal, but he's the city's most famous athlete (by a WIDE margin) and it's hard to imagine that he can just go underground while two guys whose lives are so closely parallel to his own prepare to do battle on his field.

2. 2007, All Over Again
Not sure if you heard or not, but the Giants beat the previously undefeated Patriots in the 2007 Super Bowl. It was a pretty good game. A lot of the people who will play in this year's game played in that game. (The Patriots are so bitter about 2007 that they were likely rooting for the Giants against the 49ers, just to get revenge.)

This will be the predominant storyline, whether you like it or not, over the next two weeks.

3. Tom Brady's Legacy
Brady is one of four quarterbacks with three Super Bowl wins. Another one moves him out of a tie with Troy Aikman (three each) and into a tie with Terry Bradshaw and his boyhood hero Joe Montana as quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins.

There will be a discussion as to whether Brady warrants mentioning as the greatest quarterback of all-time if he wins a fourth Super Bowl. There will be plenty of chatter about how he matches up with Montana. And there will also be a discussion about what a second Super Bowl loss would mean to Brady: he could conceivably move to 3-2 in NFL championship games. That's not "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not 4-1.

4. Is Eli Better Than Peyton?
We mentioned Peyton Manning already, but this is one that's going to get a lot of discussion: Manning's clearly established himself as a top-five NFL quarterback this season and he's putting together a ridiculous playoff résumé that is forging his overall legacy as an NFL quarterback.

In terms of raw statistical production, it's not even a contest right now, as Peyton's career numbers crush Eli's career numbers. Really, it's no contest. But Eli's also five years younger and has a shot at picking up his second Super Bowl, something Peyton doesn't have. Siblings can certainly be happy for one another when it comes to their respective success, but it's also going to be rough for both Peyton and Eli to find out how many times "Is Eli better than Peyton?" can be asked in a two-week span.

5. Brady and Eli in the Same Class
And our final quarterback comparison that will go down over the next fortnight: Brady and Eli. They'll go head-to-head for the second time in a Super Bowl over the past five years and this one has special meaning, and not just because Eli beat Brady the last time around. It's also because Eli said prior to the 2011 season that he belonged in the "same class" as Brady.

That's what any competitor should say, but Manning's spent all season long proving that he does belong on the same stage as Brady. A second Super Bowl win -- both over Tom Terrific -- would give Eli the last laugh if anyone asks him the same question before the 2012 season.

6. Bill Belichick's Best Coaching Job?
There's already a good argument that the 2011 Patriots are Bill Belichick's best coaching job in his career. That's a reasonable argument considering the Pats locked down the top seed in the AFC and made it to the Super Bowl despite continually starting Julian Edelman in their secondary.

Leading up to the Super Bowl, lots of people will point out that because of the defensive deficiencies and a number of other issues that a win cements this New England team as Belichick's finest work. They might very well be right.

7. Chad Ochocinco
The always-controversial wideout's been quiet this year and he was inactive for Sunday's AFC Championship Game after leaving the team to attend the funeral of his father. And though Chad fell in line with "The Patriot Way" this year, he's still an erstwhile celebrity, and he'll command some serious media attention over the next two weeks. Will he play? Will he make an impact? Can he play? Should he play? And so on and so forth.

8. Giants Defense
There's several different layers to New York's Big D. First of all, they're using the same formula as 2007, with a relentless pass rush. Secondly, you have to pressure Brady to stop him. Third, they run their mouths at an incredible (and awesome, if you're in the media) pace, and there's a decent chance we get a guarantee from someone (ahem, Jason Pierre-Paul and/or Antrel Rolle).

They'll be the difference-maker in this Super Bowl, because stopping Brady typically means stopping the Patriots, if you can provide enough offense to put some distance between the two.

Winners

Sterling Moore: With the Patriots already starting wideout Julian Edelman, Moore was signed off the street in September after being cut from the Raiders pratice squad. In the biggest moment of his life, he made the biggest plays, knocking the ball out of Lee Evans hands to spoil a Baltimore touchdown and then swatting a ball away from Dennis Pitta on third down to force a game-tying field goal attempt from Baltimore.

Eli Manning:
Manning became the first quarterback in NFL history to win five road playoff games on Sunday night. That's not just impressive, it's amazing: road wins aren't easy to pull off in the regular season but coming from behind and making clutch plays and winning in impossible/unlikely situations is just becoming Manning's modus operandi at this point.

Joe Flacco
: It never seemed realistic that Flacco could "win" if the Ravens lost, but he managed to silence his critics in the loss on Sunday night. There were things he could've done better, for sure, and he missed a pair of deep balls to Torrey Smith that might have given the Ravens a win. But he also put the Ravens in position to -- at worst -- send the game to overtime. Others screwed the pooch, not Flacco.

Giants Defense: Who do you want to give the award to on this side of the ball? Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka all registered at least half a sack against Alex Smith and that's precisely the reason why it's believable for the Giants to take down the Patriots in the Super Bowl one more time.

Alex Smith: Yeah, yeah, he lost. But it doesn't matter, because Smith played in horrible conditions against an insane pass rush on the biggest stage, and he played well. Sure, he didn't complete 32 passes like Eli. In fact, he only attempted 26. And only 12 of those were completions. But the dude made some plays with his legs (six rushes, 42 yards), and two of his passes were beautiful shots to Vernon Davis for scores, and Smith kept the 49ers in this game until the end.

Oh, Billy. Billy, Billy, Billy. (Getty Images)

Losers

Billy Cundiff: Can I just type "Ray Finkle" 50 times and call it a day? Cundiff's lack of range -- he was one of six from 50-plus yards in the 2011 regular season -- forced the Ravens hand on offense and then Cundiff shanked a potential game-tying field goal with mere seconds left.

Kyle Williams: It's not Williams fault that Ted Ginn missed a game that featured a ton of rain. But that doesn't mean he can go out there and muff a pair of punts to give the Giants the ball on the 49ers side of the field. Williams set the Giants up for a touchdown in regulation and a game-winning field goal in overtime.

Lee Evans: As noted above, Evans had a ball knocked out from his hands that would've been a touchdown. But it's pretty clear that he got lazy on the play -- hold onto the ball and the Ravens probably play in the Super Bowl. I'm sure his four passes caught in the regular season makes up for it though.

Ed Hochuli's Review Explanations: Four score and seven years ago, Hochuli faced the camera and began explaining why something happened in football. It took him -- literally -- a minute to explain the new playoff overtime rules, and he might've actually used 100 words to explain a false start at one point. Go back to being a gunshow.

Twitter: Aren't you guys rich enough to buy a server that doesn't crash during big NFL games?

GIF O' THE WEEK

Man, Vince Wilfork is steamed.


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Posted on: January 22, 2012 6:40 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 7:18 pm
 

Patriots find way to win despite bad Brady effort

Brady owes his teammates a big hug after the AFC Championship Game. (AP)
By Will Brinson

In the weirdest twist of events imaginable, Joe Flacco was great against the Patriots, Tom Brady was terrible against the Ravens, and New England still found a way to win the AFC Championship Game 23-20 on Sunday.

Brady's final statline -- 22 of 36 for 239 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions -- is the opposite of what you'd expect in a Pats victory, and that New England still won despite Brady should be terrifying for the Ravens.

"Well, I sucked pretty bad today but our defense saved us," Brady told CBS Sports Jim Nantz after the game. "I'm going to try and go out and do a better job in a couple weeks."

Both the Giants and the 49ers represent a similar issue for the Patriots as the Ravens: talented, pass-rushing defenses that can stymie any offense.

But Brady's got two weeks to prepare, Rob Gronkowski's got two weeks to heal, and Bill Belichick's got two weeks to gameplan. That's why New England will be the favorite regardless of who comes to Indianapolis from the NFC end of things.


It's also a testament to what the Patriots do best, which is -- somehow -- find unlikely, creative ways to win. Sterling Moore, who was cut from the Raiders practice squad in September, made two of the biggest plays of the game, knocking a would-be, go-ahead touchdown pass from Lee Evans hands and swatting a pass on the next play that forced the missed Billy Cundiff field goal with 15 seconds left.

Vince Wilfork was a monster all day and Brandon Spikes, rounding into form after dealing with injuries all season, made a critical interception of Joe Flacco just when the Ravens were starting to roll.

No, the Patriots defense wasn't "great" or even "good," but they found a way to limit the Ravens rushing attack (Ray Rice had just 67 yards on 21 carries) and make plays when they needed to.

Sixty more minutes of that, and they could find themselves holding another Lombardi Trophy. And the next time around, there's a pretty good chance that they don't end up having to save bad Brady's bacon.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 6:40 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 7:18 pm
 

Patriots find way to win despite bad Brady effort

Brady owes his teammates a big hug after the AFC Championship Game. (AP)
By Will Brinson

In the weirdest twist of events imaginable, Joe Flacco was great against the Patriots, Tom Brady was terrible against the Ravens, and New England still found a way to win the AFC Championship Game 23-20 on Sunday.

Brady's final statline -- 22 of 36 for 239 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions -- is the opposite of what you'd expect in a Pats victory, and that New England still won despite Brady should be terrifying for the Ravens.

"Well, I sucked pretty bad today but our defense saved us," Brady told CBS Sports Jim Nantz after the game. "I'm going to try and go out and do a better job in a couple weeks."

Both the Giants and the 49ers represent a similar issue for the Patriots as the Ravens: talented, pass-rushing defenses that can stymie any offense.

But Brady's got two weeks to prepare, Rob Gronkowski's got two weeks to heal, and Bill Belichick's got two weeks to gameplan. That's why New England will be the favorite regardless of who comes to Indianapolis from the NFC end of things.


It's also a testament to what the Patriots do best, which is -- somehow -- find unlikely, creative ways to win. Sterling Moore, who was cut from the Raiders practice squad in September, made two of the biggest plays of the game, knocking a would-be, go-ahead touchdown pass from Lee Evans hands and swatting a pass on the next play that forced the missed Billy Cundiff field goal with 15 seconds left.

Vince Wilfork was a monster all day and Brandon Spikes, rounding into form after dealing with injuries all season, made a critical interception of Joe Flacco just when the Ravens were starting to roll.

No, the Patriots defense wasn't "great" or even "good," but they found a way to limit the Ravens rushing attack (Ray Rice had just 67 yards on 21 carries) and make plays when they needed to.

Sixty more minutes of that, and they could find themselves holding another Lombardi Trophy. And the next time around, there's a pretty good chance that they don't end up having to save bad Brady's bacon.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 2:55 pm
 

Video: Tom Brady on possible return to Super Bowl


Patriots' Quarterback Tom Brady is a win away from a return to the big game. The NFL Today's Dan Marino has a chat with Brady as Tom gets set to face the Baltimore Ravens with the AFC Championship and a trip to Super Bowl XLVI on the line. 

By Ryan Wilson

CBS Sports' Dan Marino begins his conversation with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by looking back before glimpsing ahead: "Can you believe it's been 10 years (since the "tuck-rule" game)?"

"I can't," Brady responded with a smile on his face. "Because the memories feel so fresh" (Former Raiders' coaches and players would agree).

"That's when it all got started," Brady continued. "It's pretty unreal to think that it's been that long."

The two quarterbacks -- one in the Hall of Fame the other destined to be -- also talked about Brady's preparation, his on-field emotions, his six-touchdown performance against the Broncos last week, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis' impact for the Ravens, and whether he'd like another shot at the Giants in the Super Bowl.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:04 pm
 

Rex Ryan: 'Ravens are going to win this game'

Ryan likes Baltimore and Suggs. Welker's response: 'That's Rex for you.' (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Las Vegas and CBSSports.com's NFL experts may not give the Ravens much of a chance against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game but not everyone is sold on New England. Take unbiased observer, former Ravens defensive coordinator, and current Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who appeared on WFAN Friday to make his bold prediction.


“First off, the Ravens are going to win this game,” he told Mike Francesa. "But the truth is this. The only way you’re going to beat New England is if you have a great defense. And when you look at the teams that won – obviously Buffalo was the one exception – the Giants had a great game defensively, they were able to get pressure on the quarterback, make plays in the back end. The Ravens had beaten New England before with a dominant defense."

Seems reasonable enough, especially Ryan's implication that the Jets, who finished the season 8-8 and missed the playoffs, didn't have a great defense (they went 0-2 against the Patriots in 2011). And he alluded to that during his conversation with Francesa.

"We beat New England three times but we did it creatively … a different type of defense, (Tom Brady) wasn’t comfortable," Ryan said. "There are only a few teams…Pittsburgh, was more physical than New England. That’s why they won. So the Ravens, in my opinion, are going to take a similar approach to how the Giants played them. Meaning, they’re going to rush four guys on them, I truly think they’re going to rush four. I think Terrell Suggs might be the difference in this game. I don’t know how many guys can block Terrell Suggs. I’ve got the answer: none of them. So I think Suggs is going to be huge but they’ve got to be physical. And the Ravens’ offense does have to show up. They have to protect the football."

It's no surprise that Ryan likes Baltimore this weekend; he has ties to the organization and he's bound by rivalry to loathe New England. But he also lays out a game plan (if not wholly convincing then certainly credible) for stopping Tom Brady's high-powered offense. Ryan, after all, was the Ravens' defensive coordinator in 2007 when a not-very-good Baltimore team almost upended the undefeated Patriots. (Of course, Ryan's decision to call a timeout late in that game, when it appeared that Baltimore had stopped Brady on 4th and 1, played a non-trivial part in the outcome.)

Wide receiver Wes Welker, one of Brady's favorite targets, was asked Friday about Ryan's prognostication. "That’s Rex for you," he said according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard. "Hopefully we can prove him wrong."

As for slowing that tenacious Ravens' defense, guard Logan Mankins suggested more no-huddle.

"I think it helps," Mankins said via Bedard. "(The Ravens) do a lot of different things, so maybe (the no-huddle) will make them not do so many different things."


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 4:45 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 10:55 am
 

10 years later: the 'tuck rule' anniversary

Before January 19, 2001 everybody thought this was a fumble. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It's been exactly 10 years since two organizations, with vastly different histories up till that point, saw their fates changed forever. The Patriots were hosting the Raiders in an AFC Divisional matchup. With 2:24 left in a game played in blizzard-like conditions, and with Oakland leading 13-10, cornerback Charles Woodson stripped quarterback Tom Brady, the Raiders recovered, and they appeared headed to the conference championship.

Except that the tuck rule -- a term no one had heard of to that point -- saved Brady and the Patriots, and, you could argue, altered the future of both organizations. New England would go on to win this game, the Super Bowl, and two more before 2005. The Raiders, meanwhile, lost Jon Gruden to the Buccaneers a few weeks later and wouldn't win more than five games for the next seven seasons.

Time supposedly heals all wounds but whoever uttered those words couldn't have been a sports fan. Ask Raiders fans or former players about the immaculate reception and you can see the blood rush to their face. Bring up the tuck rule and they'll have their hands around your neck as you try not to lose consciousness.


Depending on your perspective, this was either "fun" or some "bulls---."

"We were robbed, and I still get sick thinking about it," Woodson, now a Packer, said when the Raiders played Green Bay last month.

He was slightly more emotional during his post-game comments at the time (and understandably so):  "It's some bulls---, it's some bulls---," Woodson said according to ESPN.com. "That's exactly how I feel, I feel like it was a bulls--- call. It never should have been overturned."

He makes a decent point. Up till that moment, nobody knew what a "tuck rule" was. Even Mike Periera, the former head of officials (a job he held on this fateful night, too) who now works for Fox Sports admits that the rule is a cop out for what everybody knows is a fumble.

"A pass should only be ruled incomplete if the ball comes loose in the actual act of passing the ball," he said. "If it comes loose in the tucking motion, then it should be a fumble."

Now we reflexively shout "tuck rule" anytime a quarterback fakes a throw, resets, and loses the ball after getting smacked by a defender. Even though common sense says it's clearly a fumble. It's the football version of the "I know it when I see it" explanation for what is and isn't obscene.

Last October, when the Patriots faced the Raiders, Brady, no doubt fighting back uncontrollable laughter at his good fortune, admitted that "We got a few breaks and situationally, we made some plays."

You don't say. Richard Seymour, who was with the Patriots at the time but now plays for the Raiders, couldn't contain a smile but wasn't interested in talking in specifics.

"I was on the opposite side of it, so I don't have a comment on it…" he said according to the San Francisco Chronicle, a grin now about to swallow his face. "What's funny is that me and (Steve) Wisniewski, Coach Wisniewski, we were lined up against each other that whole game."

In his book published in 2004, "Do You Love Football?!: Winning with Heart, Passion, and Not Much Sleep," Gruden addressed what happened in Foxboro on January 19, 2002. After referee Walt Coleman invoked the tuck rule Gruden wrote that:

"We had one timeout left, but I wasn't going to use it. As a result, the Patriots had to send out … Adam Vinatieri to try a 43-yard field goal. I didn't want to try and 'ice' (him) because I didn't want to give the Patriots' ground crew time for the same thing that had happened in that same stadium in 1982, when a work-release convict used a snowplow to clear a spot for John Smith to kick the winning field goal in New England's 3-0 victory over Miami."

Ah yes...


New England didn't need the help of the Massachusetts Dept. of Correction against Oakland.

Gruden continued: "Vinatieri was kicking the ball literally out of five inches of snow, into the wind. He made it, sending the game into overtime. In overtime, Vinatieri kicked another field goal out of all that snow." 

Vinatieri's recollection of those final few moments: "My holder and I are trying to kick as much snow out of the way as possible and the offensive linemen were sweeping and sweeping. Oakland calls a timeout to ice the kicker. I think it helped us out. We cleared a pretty decent spot. At least my footing was better for that one. Game winners in playoff games are never easy. They have a whole different feel. But after making the best kick of my life, I felt like I just couldn't miss that night. That one went right down the middle and it was over. That was fun."

That was the last time Gruden coached the Raiders. "… If my recalling of this game is matter-of-fact," he said in his book, "it's because it kills me to recall this sequence of plays."

Doesn't sound like that much fun.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com