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.”
“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.”
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
Belichick’s affinity for Taylor, who he coached during his time as New York Giants defensive coordinator in the 1980s, is well-documented. Taylor played 13 seasons and totaled 132.5 sacks, earning nine All-Pro awards over that span. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
That’s not to say Belichck doesn’t think Mack is a top-notch player, as he is one of the Patriots’ top concerns heading into Sunday’s road game against the Bears.
Mack has 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 1 interception returned for a touchdown for the 3-2 Bears.
“He’s big, strong and fast,” Belichick said. “He’s got a lot of power. He does a good job of power-rushing and he’s fast enough to get the edge. He has good ball awareness so he does a good job of tackling the quarterback when he has to tackle him, but if he has a chance to get the ball out he’s got good ball awareness and can strip it out.”
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.
In the meeting at the 2013 NFL scouting combine, Hernandez asked Belichick to have the Patriots trade him to a West Coast team or release him.
Hernandez said he “was not concerned about his own safety because he had money,” according to Belichick.
The Globe obtained a police report recounting the meeting, as Belichick had requested the interview not be recorded.
Belichick told police that he declined the requests to get him out of New England but offered to connect him with the Patriots’ security chief. Hernandez denied that offer but did accept help in searching for a new place to live.
The Hernandez-Belichick meeting came seven months after the shooting deaths of two men in Boston and a January 2013 incident in Florida in which Hernandez shot a friend who was with him at the Boston shooting.
The trade request also was made four months before Odin Lloyd was shot and killed by Hernandez.
Hernandez’s agent, Brian Murphy, testified about his client’s trade request to a grand jury in 2014, saying Hernandez wanted to get away from the Patriots because he thought he might be shot on the football field. At the combine meeting, Hernandez told Belichick that “he and his family would be a lot safer on the other side of the country,” according to Murphy.
Although Hernandez had expressed safety concerns, he ultimately chose to move to rent “the worst apartment with the least security” among several options, according to a Patriots staffer who relayed that point to Belichick. The then-Patriots tight end kept the apartment secret from Jenkins, using it as a “flophouse.”
Belichick told police that Hernandez said in May that he no longer had safety concerns.
Belichick’s comments give his side of a previously reported trade request from Hernandez. In 2013, Rolling Stone reported that Hernandez sought a trade. Hernandez’s attorney Jose Baez also wrote about the trade request in a book released in August.
“Coach Belichick wanted to make it very clear that he stands by what he told police investigators, 100%,” Stacey James, the Patriots’ vice president of media relations, told the Globe via email.
The team did not respond further to requests for comment from Belichick or other team officials and players.
Hernandez was found guilty of the murder of Lloyd in April 2015. The verdict was vacated in April 2017, after Hernandez killed himself in his prison cell while his case was pending appeal. A jury also found Hernandez not guilty of the Boston double homicide.
The Globe’s Spotlight division is releasing a six-part investigative series into Hernandez throughout the week. Previous parts detailed how Patriots teammates perceived the former football player and how Hernandez was sexually abused as a young boy growing up in Connecticut.
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.”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A fan at Gillette Stadium who threw beer on Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been identified by security, banned from the facility and had his case turned over to law enforcement.
The incident occurred after Hill’s 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game. Hill’s momentum carried him through the end zone to the barrier where fans can stand while watching the game. While some fans flipped off the receiver, another doused him with beer.
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.”
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.”