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Sony Michel of New England Patriots has MRI, reveals no serious damage


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots running back Sony Michel underwent an MRI on his left knee Monday and it revealed no structural damage, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Michel, who had elevated to a top spot on the depth chart alongside “passing back” James White, will be considered week-to-week, the source told Schefter.

This is a best-case scenario for Michel and the Patriots after he was helped to the sideline and then carted to the locker room, early in the second quarter of the team’s 38-31 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

The Patriots, who visit the Buffalo Bills on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Oct. 29, have just two other running backs on their 53-man roster: White and Kenjon Barner.

In his standard day-after-game conference call, head coach Bill Belichick said he didn’t have anything to add about Michel’s status, noting that the team will update its injury report the next time it is required to do so later this week.

In his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI, Belichick said that the team will explore the possibility of adding a running back.

“We’ll take a look at that over the next day or two and try to figure it out so when we start practicing for Buffalo, we’ll be ready to go. We’ll look at our options and see what we feel like the best thing is [and] see how long we think Sony might be out.”



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Chicago Bears’ Hail Mary comes up 1 yard short vs. New England Patriots


CHICAGO — The New England Patriots‘ 38-31 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday came down to an exciting final play, when Bears receiver Kevin White hauled in a Hail Mary pass from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at the 2-yard line but was kept out of the end zone by multiple defenders.

“They say it’s a game of inches and that’s kind of what it came down to,” Patriots running back James White said.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady described it as a play in which “you just kind of hold your breath.” He credited Trubisky, who faced pressure from outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, for making a good throw.

As for Trubisky, who was rolling out across his body to his left before planting his feet to throw from the Bears’ 36 yard-line, he initially believed it was a touchdown.

“I saw a group of receivers down there, Kevin made a heck of a catch. From my vantage point, I thought he was in,” he said.

Trubisky’s impressive heave covered 62 yards in the air, and referee Clay Martin reviewed the play to confirm that White — who turned quickly to his left after making the catch in an attempt to barrel through Patriots defenders Jason McCourty, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Jonathan Jones — was stopped short.

“It looked closer, I just saw him go up, catch the ball, and I just couldn’t tell exactly where he was, how he came down, what the extra effort was, and then you could see on tape we were just a little short,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “In a perfect world, you’d love to get into the end zone for that, but we were a little far away, and into the wind. … We were a yard away from tying the game.”

One of the unusual parts of the play for the Patriots was the presence of receiver Josh Gordon as a defender, which is a role tight end Rob Gronkowski usually plays, but Gronkowski was inactive due to a back injury.

Gordon’s assignment was as the “jumper,” but his attempt to bat the ball down was unsuccessful.

Gordon said it has been a while since he has assumed that role.

“Too many people around the ball at once to try to even figure out what’s going on. I wanted to grab it. Somebody else wanted to grab it. Pushing and pulling, and everything like that,” he said when asked what happened. “He ended up with it. It was a great play for him, definitely. But fortunately enough, we were able to hold them out of the end zone.”

Meanwhile, Harmon, one of the Patriots’ safeties, said that while the play didn’t necessarily unfold the way the Patriots would have liked, one positive was that everyone knew their role.

The Patriots had four players involved with the pass rush, dropping seven deep into coverage.

“You can’t prepare for every scenario, but you can have rules that you can always go to that always put you in a good situation and good position, and that’s what it was,” Harmon said. “We didn’t go over him catching the ball at the 2-yard line, but we did have rules and everybody did their rules. We had a jumper and everyone else kind of playing for the tip.

“When you see that everybody does their job, and resorts back to their rules and plays by their rules, we can get a good play out of a situation like that.”

Harmon also eyed Bears receiver Taylor Gabriel as a player White might have tried to pitch the ball to after making the catch.

“Gabriel was trying to call for the ball, but I made sure I put my arm around him, too. It’s the last play. Anything can happen. They had the ball right there,” Harmon said. “Just trying to do everything to make sure they couldn’t get the ball into the end zone.”



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Sony Michel of New England Patriots ruled out vs. Chicago Bears


CHICAGO — New England Patriots running back Sony Michel was carted to the locker room after injuring his knee early in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

After initially announcing that Michel’s return was questionable, the team ruled him out for the game in the third quarter.

Michel was running left when Bears defensive tackle Bilal Nichols twisted him to the ground with force, dislodging the ball.

A first-round draft choice out of Georgia, selected No. 31 overall, Michel appeared to be in considerable pain and required help getting to the sideline. After receiving help getting to the medical tent along the sideline, the club called for a cart to bring Michel to the locker room.

Michel, who has on the injury report as a limited participant in practice because of a knee injury, had elevated to a leading role in recent weeks with running backs Rex Burkhead (concussion, eligible to return) and Jeremy Hill (torn ACL, out for the year) on injured reserve.

Michel had missed all four of the team’s preseason games and the regular-season opener after undergoing a procedure to drain fluid from his knee.

His absence Sunday left the Patriots with just James White and Kenjon Barner at running back. If Michel’s absence is a long-term situation, it will likely force the Patriots into exploring the possibility of signing another player at the position.



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Patriots QB Tom Brady, as the closer, continues to impress teammates – New England Patriots Blog


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Matthew Slater was telling a story in the New England Patriots’ locker room earlier this week that summed up how playing with quarterback Tom Brady can be an uplifting experience, especially in pressure situations with the game on the line.

The story was from Sunday night’s 43-40 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Slater was dejected as he made his way to the sideline, his kickoff coverage unit having surrendered a 97-yard return that led to a quick Chiefs touchdown.

The score gave the Chiefs a 33-30 lead midway through the final quarter when Brady came up to Slater, knocked his fist, and said, “We’re good.”

To which Slater initially thought, “We are? It sure doesn’t feel that way.”

As Slater retold the story, he shrugged his shoulders and laughed. “I guess we were good,” he chuckled.

Then he turned a bit more serious, highlighting how Brady’s confidence in the face of adversity galvanized him and others.

“You can look in a man’s eyes and know, in pressure situations, this guy is not going to be able to handle this, he’s not going to be ready. You look into that guy’s eyes and it’s a laser-like focus,” said Slater, a team captain now in his 11th season with the club. “They haven’t always worked out for us, but you see extreme confidence in his eyes, and that’s because he’s prepared, he’s done it, and he believes in the guys around him.”

At 41 years old, Brady remains one of the game’s best closers, something that means a lot to him.

Two weeks ago, when asked during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI if he gets better when there is more pressure (such as the playoffs), Brady said, “I don’t think I get worse.”

His teammates have happily taken notice of that.

“He’s always clutch in big moments,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said.

“There are guys that flinch and there are guys that don’t flinch. He doesn’t flinch,” added Slater. “He’s just focused on the situation and executing every play, as its own play, and not worrying about what happened the last play or what’s going to happen the next play. He has a unique ability to do that.”

At the same time, Brady is often the first to point out that any success he’s had is more of a team accomplishment. That often starts in practice.

“Preparation is a big part of that and Coach [Bill] Belichick goes over those situations ad nauseam,” Slater said. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Man, we’re going over this again?’ And then it always comes up. It’s like he has a crystal ball.”

Brady has thrived in that ultra-detailed setting, with Sunday night’s victory over the Chiefs a shining example of it. This was highlighted in a video posted on Patriots.com, as an on-field conversation between Brady and Belichick is heard after a 39-yard catch by Gronkowski that set up the game-winning field goal.

In the video, Belichick explains that there are 17 seconds remaining in the game, and he wants Brady to center the ball to make the final 28-yard field goal easier for kicker Stephen Gostkowski. That’s when Brady asks Belichick, “Do you want to call the timeout [after that], or me?”

He’s always thinking. Always locked in.

“He obviously embraces the moment and the opportunity to go out there and attempt to do his job under pressure in those types of situations, which I think is the first thing you have to be able to do if you’re going to go out there and have some success,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said, after noting it takes a complete team effort.

“He’s a great leader under pressure like that because he stays calm, he has great poise, he’s very situationally aware. He knows the situation having gone through it a number of times — understanding the difference between having a minute and 10 seconds and no timeouts versus two minutes and 50 seconds and three timeouts. There’s a huge difference in those types of situations, and I think his experience under pressure in those scenarios, he understands what needs to be done and how long we have to do it.”

Offensive tackle Trent Brown, who is in his first year with the Patriots, said Brady’s presence has stood out to him.

“So even-keeled and cool,” he said.

But there’s plenty of fire with that as well — especially in crunch time.

“His overall competitive nature and desire to really be on the field in those situations, those are the things you hope for from your group on offense,” McDaniels said. “And he certainly does a great job of that as one of our captains.”



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New England Patriots’ head coach won’t put Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack in same class as former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been impressed with Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack this season, but his plaudits for Mack have limits.

When asked Wednesday if Mack is up there with Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, Belichick seemed almost offended by the question.

“Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now,” Belichick said. “I’m not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor.”



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Aaron Hernandez told Bill Belichick, New England Patriots he feared for family’s safety in 2013 trade request


Aaron Hernandez was worried about the safety of his fiancee and daughter when he came to Bill Belichick in February 2013 seeking a trade, the New England Patriots coach told authorities, according to documents obtained by The Boston Globe.

Belichick told Massachusetts State Police and a North Attleborough police captain that Hernandez expressed concern that “people might potentially harm” Shayanna Jenkins and their daughter.



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Ex-Aaron Hernandez teammates with New England Patriots describe odd behavior


Some of Aaron Hernandez’s former New England Patriots teammates described his behavior during his last season with the team as erratic and troubling, according to an investigative series by The Boston Globe.

“There would be swings where he’d be the most hyper-masculine, aggressive individual in the room, where he’d be ready to fight somebody in fits of rage,” said former Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd. “Or he’d be the most sensitive person in the room, talking about cuddling with his mother. Or he’d ask me, ‘Do you think I’m good enough to play?”’

The comments by Lloyd and others — as well as text messages obtained by The Globe’s Spotlight team for a six-part series — are the first extensive views from teammates of the troubled Hernandez in his last season with the team in 2012. Hernandez would eventually be convicted for the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. He killed himself in prison last year.

Lloyd recalled that Hernandez said he would “f— up” fellow receiver Wes Welker during 2012 training camp, after Welker had teased the tight end about needing help in the film room, according to the report.

That led to Welker offering a warning to Lloyd.

“He is looking at me wide-eyed,” Lloyd recalled of Welker, “and he says, ‘I just want to warn you that (Hernandez) is going to talk about being bathed by his mother. He’s going to have his genitalia out in front of you while you’re sitting on your stool. He’s going to talk about gay sex. Just do your best to ignore it. Even walk away.”’

The report also notes that star quarterback Tom Brady had once told Tim Tebow that he was trying to watch over Tebow’s former Florida teammates Hernandez and linebacker Brandon Spikes, but that they were “a lot to handle.”

Lloyd gave an example of one time when Brady had had enough of Hernandez, who was causing a disruption during a walk-through practice.

“(Hernandez) was out at the walkthrough in flip-flops trying to run around,” Lloyd said. “He was laughing. He was loud. And Tom keeps it serious in the walkthrough. And Tom says, ‘Shut the f— up. Get the f— out of here.”’

Lloyd said the change in Hernandez’s mood was instantaneous.

“It was like he went from this child-like, laughing, disruptive behavior,” Lloyd said, “and he storms off in a fit of rage.”

Former Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher, who like Hernandez was a rookie with the team in 2010, said he and Hernandez had a volatile relationship from the start, exchanging both insults and punches.

Fletcher told The Globe that one day Hernandez confronted him in the locker room, laughing at him “like the Joker in Batman” and reminding Fletcher how much he disliked him.

Fletcher cursed at Hernandez, who responded by saying, “But here’s the deal. I respect you.” Fletcher said, “I started laughing because for once he was the bigger man than me. That broke the shield between us.”

But Fletcher also said it was apparent to him and other players that the presence of Hernandez’s ex-convict friends from Bristol, Connecticut, was a red flag.

“I knew they were trouble,” Fletcher said. “Everybody kind of did.”



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Patriots show championship mettle in wild win over Chiefs – New England Patriots Blog


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots would have liked to finish more decisively what they started in Sunday night’s 43-40 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs — a game they won at the final gun with a 28-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

But the end result was still pretty sweet, as these are the types of games — with just one punt between the teams and a tense finish in which clutch plays needed to be made down the stretch — that can build championship mettle.

“I think we’ve got a lot of clutch players. I think we have no problem grinding it out,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “That’s what the football season’s all about.”

Even better for the Patriots: By improving to 4-2, and dropping the Chiefs to 5-1, it keeps them out of what could have been too deep of a hole from which to recover for possible home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

Of course, that’s a long way away.

The Patriots next visit the Chicago Bears, who were one of the surprise stories of the NFL after their 3-1 start but came off their bye Sunday and fell to quarterback Brock Osweiler and the Miami Dolphins, 31-28 in overtime.

The Patriots head to Chicago having learned a lot about their team.

Coach Bill Belichick has said that two of the most important characteristics of his best squads are mental toughness and the ability to rise up in the crucial situations to make winning plays. The 2018 Patriots showed Sunday night they are capable of that.

“That was a great job by our players and coaching staff. Just battling for 60 minutes. We talked about that all week,” Belichick said. “In the end, we were able to just do a little bit more, do enough. I’m really proud of the way we competed all the way through — from the opening kickoff to the final kick. It’s a great effort. I thought we went out and played hard. I think we deserved it.”

The Patriots led 24-9 at halftime, which at their home stadium is one of the most ironclad locks in professional sports. Since Brady took over as the starter in 2001, the Patriots are 95-1 in the regular season at home when leading at the half.

The lone loss came to the Chiefs (in the 2017 season opener), and in a stunning second-half turnaround Sunday night, it looked as if the Chiefs were ready to do it again.

A Patriots defense that forced two turnovers in the first half suddenly became vulnerable to the big play after halftime. Uncharacteristic decision-making from Brady led to a strip sack that Kansas City quickly turned into a third-quarter touchdown.

“I don’t think we’ve seen our best. We can all play a lot better,” Brady said. “And that’s what we plan to do.”

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Tom Brady floats the ball deep to Rob Gronkowski for a 39-yard gain, setting up Stephen Gostkowski for a 28-yard field goal to win the game.

But the Patriots showed fortitude in overcoming the slippage — a clutch play with the game on the line as old reliable Rob Gronkowski reeled in a 39-yard catch to set up the winning field goal as time expired — in what was a playoff-type environment.

“I’ll keep throwing to him in the biggest moments,” Brady said of Gronkowski, whose big catch was the 500th of his career. “We talked about competing for 60 minutes, and that’s what it took — right down to the last three seconds.”

In doing so, the Patriots improved to 94-2 at home with Brady as a starter when they get a double-digit lead.

“A lot of us had been expecting that all week, knowing that’s a high-powered offense,” Patriots receiver Josh Gordon said. “We had one of our own, so we were expecting to take it the full length of the game.”



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New England Patriots QB Tom Brady favored for record 56th straight game


Tom Brady has set plenty of records in his illustrious career. He’ll add one more on Sunday night, courtesy of Las Vegas oddsmakers.



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Patriots have had number of young QBs like Patrick Mahomes at home – New England Patriots Blog


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have had many notable accomplishments in the 19 years of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, and Sunday night’s showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs brings one to the forefront.

The Patriots are 23-0 at home in the regular season against quarterbacks younger than 25 years old, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information. It started with a win over Tim Couch and the Cleveland Browns in 2001, while the most recent game to fall into this category was the 2018 opener against Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.

Next up: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who became the first player to throw for 10 touchdowns in a team’s first two games. He turned 23 on Sept. 17.

As one would expect from a Belichick-coached team, the Patriots aren’t relying on history to win them a game Sunday night.

“He’s looking like he’s been playing in the league for a few years,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “You’re either a good pocket passer or a scramble quarterback, and obviously he does both well. One thing he does really well, that you don’t see a lot of young quarterbacks do, he tries to protect himself. A lot of runs, it’s him getting out of bounds or getting down a little sooner than expected. He’s a really good quarterback.”

At the same time, Mahomes has only six career starts, so Hightower acknowledged that part of the Patriots’ success Sunday night will be “maybe giving him some things he hasn’t seen before.”

That has helped against other under-25 quarterbacks who have come to Gillette Stadium over the past 19 years, a group including the Rams’ Jared Goff (2016), the Raiders’ Derek Carr (2014), the Colts’ Andrew Luck (2012) and the Falcons’ Matt Ryan (2009), among others.

On Sunday night, the quarterback matchup of Brady vs. Mahomes has an age gap of 18 years and 45 days between them. According to Elias, that is the largest age difference between opposing quarterbacks since 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck faced 21-year-old Jameis Winston in 2015 (the gap was 18 years, 103 days).

In practice, the Patriots had 24-year-old practice squad quarterback Danny Etling heave the ball as far as he could down the field — with safeties playing deep — to simulate Mahomes’ uncommon arm strength.

In studying the Chiefs, veteran safety Devin McCourty said Mahomes’ poise has stood out to him, as well as his control over the offense.

“He never really rushes to try to make a play or do the wrong thing,” he said.

While Mahomes hopes to become the first under-25 quarterback to win at Gillette Stadium against Belichick/Brady in the regular season, Joe Flacco (2009 wild-card round) and Mark Sanchez (2010 divisional round) did it in the playoffs.

And the youngest quarterback to win in the regular season at Gillette Stadium since 2001 was Colin Kaepernick (25 years, 43 days). He led the 49ers to a 41-34 win in 2012.



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