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Monday, December 20, 2010
Picked-up pieces from post-game

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Following up on five Patriots nuggets from the team's 31-27 win over the Packers:

1. Ed Hochuli's crew calls it tight. The Patriots were called for seven accepted penalties for 52 yards, some of them costly. It was surreal to watch Hochuli gather his officiating crew after Devin McCourty's hit on tight end tight end Andrew Quarless in the second quarter, see him look to the videoboard for a replay, and then have his crew throw a flag some 20-30 seconds after the play. Hochuli seems to enjoy inserting himself into the action. "Look, these guys call the most penalties of any crew in the league and they called them," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said afterwards. "We knew it was going to be a tight game and it was. I've got to do a better job of preparing the team." The Packers were called for two accepted penalties.

2. McCourty prepared for possible fine on hit. McCourty was asked about the hit on Quarless and explained how he was put in a tough spot, which resulted in what appeared to be helmet-to-helmet contact. "That's what is tough as a defender. He kind of dropped and bobbled it a little bit, so he was looking down at the ball and you're trying to knock the ball off him," McCourty explained. "You have to do it within the rules, so if they decide to fine me, you have to deal with it." Had Quarless caught the ball cleanly, there probably wouldn't have been any chance for helmet-to-helmet contact based on McCourty's tackling technique.

3. Sanders holds himself accountable for onside kick. The Packers executed a successful onside kick to open the game, kicking toward up-men James Sanders and Rob Ninkovich. "I hurt the team early in the game. I have to learn from that and make sure I don't make that mistake again," Sanders said. "We were out there, we alerted for the onside, we knew they had a good special teams unit known for doing certain things and we didn't execute."

4. Nickel 3-3-5 defense comes through in end. The Patriots played a 3-3-5 nickel for the game's final seven plays, with Eric Moore, Vince Wilfork and Tully Banta-Cain as down linemen and Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton and Dane Fletcher as off-the-line linebackers. That was a big spot to see a newcomer like Moore (2 sacks in 2 games) and a rookie like Fletcher (first NFL sack). Fletcher's quarterback takedown came on first-and-10 from the New England 24 on the Packers' final drive. "My assignment was to come hot off the [left] edge, and it looked like it was a man [blocking] scheme. The tackle went down on the end, the guard popped out for me, and I got a good jump on the ball," said Fletcher, who tapped his edge rushing skills from when he played defensive end at Montana State.

5. Flynn calls final Banta-Cain sack a credit to coverage. While Tully Banta-Cain wrapped up the game with a fourth-and-1 sack, Packers quarterback Matt Flynn described the play as one that broke down because of coverage. "They dropped eight into coverage," Flynn said. "When they do that, they're just rushing three and usually what happens when you have four verticals like that, you have to move around and try to make something happen and let receivers work in the end zone a little bit. I stepped up, and trying to do that, never saw [Banta-Cain] behind me."