New England Patriots: Laurence Maroney
Other than a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London, the Patriots had been 0-5 away from home before Sunday’s 17-10 win.
"It’s pretty embarrassing to not have a road win into the middle of December," Brady said. "That’s something that I think has been really bothering all of us. ... It was definitely good to get that [Sunday in Buffalo].
"It’s not like we ever lose confidence it’s just a matter of playing good. That’s what it comes down to. We’re still trying to find a way to play better football for 60 minutes, which we’ve done one time this year against Tennessee, which was obviously a great game for us."
Brady also praised running back Laurence Maroney, who rushed for 81 yards on 23 carries and scored a touchdown Sunday. For the season, Maroney has nine touchdowns and 735 yards on the ground. In particular, Brady said he has been impressed with Maroney’s aggressive approach, a trait many critics thought the running back had been lacking until recently.
"For a running back, just like every position, it’s about being decisive," Brady said. "You’re not going to be right all the time but whatever decision you do make you have to do it with confidence and explosion and with power.
"In the running game, being a downhill runner, when you make your read, you make your cut you go with it. You run with explosion through the hole. And Laurence certainly has been doing a better job of that, as evidenced by the number of carries that’s he had and the amount of yards he’s gaining. He has done a good job these last few weeks and I think that was something we definitely needed. That is a big part of controlling the game also."
No. 1 star: Sam Aiken -- Third receiver sets career highs with seven catches for 90 yards
No. 2 star: Laurence Maroney -- His fumble aside, he's the Patriots' most physical player in a game they mostly have the action taken to them. He totals 64 yards on 15 carries (4.3 average) with two touchdowns.
No. 3 star: Chris Hanson -- In three punts, he averages 46 yards and a 44-yard net.
On the other side, three players whose performances stood out for the wrong reasons:
1. Jonathan Wilhite/Leigh Bodden -- Wilhite is in coverage on Robert Meachem's 38-yard touchdown reception and on a backbreaking 68-yard catch by Marques Colston at the start of the third quarter, while Bodden is targeted on the game's first play for a 33-yard gain.
2. Brandon McGowan/Brandon Meriweather -- On a night in which there are some major defensive breakdowns and the Saints had seven plays of 20 yards or more, it falls on them.
3. Matt Light/Nick Kaczur -- Offensive tackles seem to be back on their heels as the Saints pressure dictates the game from the second quarter on.
1. Tom Brady passed Drew Bledsoe to become New England's all-time leading passer. Brady entered the game needing 163 yards to pass Bledsoe's mark of 29,657. He reached the milestone on an 11-yard pass to Sam Aiken in the third quarter, and now has 29,732 yards.
2. Running back Laurence Maroney scored a touchdown for the sixth straight game, which ties the second longest streak in franchise history.
3. Maroney now has eight touchdowns on the season, topping his previous high of six.
4. Wes Welker finished with six catches, and now has nine straight games with six or more receptions. He has caught six or more passes in 23 of his last 25 games.
5. Receiver Sam Aiken set career highs with seven catches for 90 yards. His previous highs were four catches for 66 yards.
WR Randy Moss – 76 of 83 snaps
WR Wes Welker – 64 of 83
TE Chris Baker – 57 of 83
TE Benjamin Watson – 56 of 83
RB Kevin Faulk – 39 of 83
RB Laurence Maroney – 37 of 83
WR Julian Edelman – 28 of 83
WR Isaiah Stanback – 23 of 83
RB/FB BenJarvus Green-Ellis – 20 of 83
FB Dan Connolly – 5 of 83
WR Matthew Slater – 5 of 83
TE Mark LeVoir – 3 of 83
(snaps include an offensive holding penalty, defensive holding penalty, offensive pass interference penalty and two delay of game penalties)
ANALYSIS: The 83 snaps tied a season-high for a game (vs. Falcons) and reflected the decisive time of possession advantage the Patriots had (39:54-20:06). … Maroney’s 37 snaps were a season-high. His 23 carries were the third highest total of his career (including playoffs) as his hard running – and the fact he seemed to be get stronger later in the game -- was a big part of the win. … Edelman’s playtime spiked from last week (5 snaps vs. Colts) as he was part of three- and four-receiver sets. … One of the interesting parts of the game was how Connolly started at right guard then moved to fullback on the start of the second series of the game before returning to guard. … Green-Ellis lined up as a lead-blocking fullback, running back, and in the shotgun in a two-back set. … Slater was the lone receiver in a power set with two tight ends and lead-blocking fullback.
The last back to score a rushing touchdowns in five or more consecutive games was Robert Edwards, who logged six from Sept. 7-Oct. 19, 1998. Curtis Martin holds the team record with touchdowns in seven consecutive games from Oct. 13-Nov. 24, 1996. Martin and Horace Ivory also had five-game streaks to match Maroney's current mark.
What's more, Maroney tied his career high with two scores, finding the end zone twice for the third time in his career. The other two games: Dec. 27, 2007 vs. the Giants and Oct. 1, 2006 vs. the Bengals.
Maroney finished with 77 yards on 22 carries. He has 455 yards on 116 carries (3.92 yards per carry) with six touchdowns for the season.
"You have to keep a balance to keep the defense on their heels a little bit," said center Dan Koppen. "Changing it up on [the Jets] really helped us and the coaches did a really good job with play-calling today and [quarterback Tom] Brady sat back in the pocket and did what he could."
Maroney did fumble the ball away for the second time in as many weeks, surprising considering he now has three fumbles over four pro seasons. (Before last week, he hadn't lost a fumble since his rookie year.) Maroney atoned for the turnover with second- and fourth-quarter scores.
"Laurence is a competitor, he's a great player," said tackle Mark LeVoir, who filled in for Sebastian Vollmer at left tackle in the second quarter when Vollmer left with a head injury. "As you saw today, he ran hard, as all of our running backs did."
Maroney politely declined to talk to the media after the game, noting he didn't want to jinx his recent trend of solid games. Why mess with what works?
Jarvis Green on his return to practice. Defensive end Jarvis Green was hurrying out of the locker room to get a haircut, but stopped briefly to discuss his return to practice for the first time since undergoing knee surgery over the team’s bye week. “That was no dog and pony show,” he said, hopeful that he will be able to suit up Sunday. In addition to Green, outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain expressed similar optimism on his potential availability after suiting up for parts of practice Friday.
Moss hears Revis chatter. Veteran receiver Randy Moss responded to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, telling Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald: “I don’t feed into talking and all that crazy stuff. I’m a 12-year vet. So that stuff don’t bother me. My biggest thing is, when you talk like that, you better back it up. So, we’ll see. We’ll see what goes down."
Best practice squad in 10 years. Asked a question about the team’s practice squad by Andy Hart of Patriots Football Weekly, coach Bill Belichick took the opportunity to praise his personnel men, Nick Caserio (director of player personnel), Jason Licht (director of pro personnel) and Jon Robinson (director of college scouting). He called the practice squad probably the best group he’s had in his 10-year tenure as coach. He also pointed out rookie free agent Brian Hoyer, late-round draft picks like Julian Edelman, and free agent Rob Ninkovich as examples of how the personnel staff has done a good job finding players this year.
Maroney compares running backs to “Voltron” cartoon. Drawing a large media crowd at his locker, running back Laurence Maroney talked about the team’s running back corps returning to full health. He compared the situation to Voltron, the cartoon character in which five pieces connect together to form one large robot. Sammy Morris went through a full week of practice for the first time since injuring his knee Oct. 18, and Fred Taylor is apparently making progress in his recovery from ankle surgery on Oct. 8.
1) Without Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour, many questions have been asked about filling a leadership void on defense. This was the adversity-filled week to find out, and second-year linebacker Jerod Mayo officially declared that a big part of the torch has been passed his way with his strong remarks Thursday.
2) After playing all but two plays in a sub package against the Colts, this week's game should feature more of a return to the base 3-4 alignment against the Jets' No. 1 ranked rushing offense. The outside linebacker spot opposite Adalius Thomas will be important to watch. If Tully Canta-Cain isn't healthy enough to play, it could thrust Pierre Woods back into the lineup. Woods hasn't played on defense in the last three games.
3) The Patriots need to be more efficient in the red zone, but their 25th ranking in that area is a bit misleading when considering the Buccaneers are the NFL's top red-zone offense. Would you rather be the Buccaneers (12 TDs in 17 trips) or the Patriots (18 TDs in 40 trips)?
4) With Jarvis Green (knee) unlikely to play and Ty Warren with a nagging ankle injury, and with the physical Jets running game to stop, this could be the week the Patriots call on rookie Ron Brace more along the defensive line. Brace saw his first action since Week 2 when he was on the field for the final two goal-line plays Sunday in Indianapolis.
5) Nine games into the season, the Patriots have already had five different players as a primary kickoff returner because of injuries: Laurence Maroney, Julian Edelman, Kevin Faulk, Brandon Tate and Matthew Slater. That hasn't helped them in the field-position game. The team's average drive start is the 24.9 yard line -- 13th in the AFC and 22nd in the NFL.
A look at the Patriots' game-ball winners from last Sunday's 27-17 victory over the Dolphins:
Tully Banta-Cain -- Outside linebacker is credited by in-game statisticians with three quarterback hits and nine tackles (one for a loss), as he is on the field for every defensive play.
Dan Connolly -- Top reserve center/guard fills in after starting center Dan Koppen leaves the game with a knee injury in the second quarter, and the offense doesn't miss a beat.
Stephen Gostkowski -- Kicker is 4 for 4 on field goal attempts, with two crucial touchbacks on kickoffs, one of which comes from the 30-yard line after a penalty.
Laurence Maroney -- Running back generates positive momentum with 82 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Jerod Mayo -- Inside linebacker is part of every personnel package and totals a team-high 12 tackles (one for a loss) and one quarterback hit.
Randy Moss -- Receiver finishes with six catches for 147 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 powerful stiff-arm.
Vince Wilfork -- Nose tackle shows his unselfishness and versatility by moving to right defensive end to match up against left tackle Jake Long, the first player chosen in the 2008 draft.
FOXBOROUGH -- The British are going to love Laurence Maroney. If they can coax him out of the team hotel.
The New England Patriots' fourth-year running back put on another entertaining locker room Q&A as the team prepared to depart for London, touching on the value of the dollar, riding London's double-decker busses, and his desire to not leave the team hotel.
Here are some highlights:
Are you looking forward to London?
"It's really not a vacation so I'm not really looking forward to going, it's more of a business trip. It's not like I'm going there to have fun and go sightseeing. I'm going for a job, to play Tampa Bay. I'll worry about London on a later note."
On adapting to the cultural differences
"I wasn't really even thinking about leaving the hotel, to be honest. Really, just stay in the hotel all day. So I don't have to worry about walking across nobody's street. It's not a vacation, it's a business trip. That's how I'm taking it. If I want to go sightseeing in London, I'll have to go on my own time. Right now I'm on Patriots' time."
On whether he'll join his teammates on a double-decker bus
"What is a double-decker bus? Do it cost [a lot]? I heard they're already cheating me. I gotta give them like $1.60 to get one pound. That's not fair, that's highway robbery. The dollar isn't even worth a pound. I'm not looking to spend any money."
On following up last week's performance
"That was just so last week. I forgot all about that. I'm taking it one game at a time now& I'm just expecting to go out there and play my game. I can't predict the future. I'm just going to go out there and play my game. If 100 yards is what I get, that's what I get. If 30 or 10 yards is what I get, that's what I get. All I can control is what I do and how hard I run."
After further review, handing out three stars in the Patriots' 59-0 victory over the Titans:
No. 1 star: Tom Brady -- Quarterback finishes 29 of 34 for 380 yards and six touchdowns. His trademark accuracy is back, as is the touch on the deep ball.
No. 3 star: Brandon McGowan/Brandon Meriweather -- Starting safeties team up for 10 tackles and two forced fumbles, adding a quarterback hit and a pass defended. McGowan also leads the way with two special teams tackles.
Normally the plan would be to list three players at the opposite end of the spectrum, and while the run defense could draw scrutiny for surrendering a few long runs, it is hard to point a finger anywhere in a 59-0 win. So here are three more stars:
No. 4 star: Laurence Maroney -- Running back finishes with 123 yards and 16 carries, including an impressive 45-yard touchdown run in which he shows patience to let the hole develop and then explosiveness to race away.
No. 5 star: Offensive line -- With rookie Sebastian Vollmer starting at left tackle, Brady enjoys solid protection and the interior linemen deliver some crunching blocks out in front of screen passes.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick made the point this week that the Broncos are especially disruptive when getting teams into third-and-long situations. Top pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, for example, has five of his NFL-leading eight sacks on third down.
So staying on schedule and gaining positive yards on early downs will be something to closely monitor from a Patriots perspective, specifically in the running game. Negative runs could be a major factor in the game.
The Patriots have had too many runs result in negative yardage this season, as 12 of their 112 attempts have been stopped behind the line of scrimmage.
The breakdown of negative runs:
Laurence Maroney -- 7 in 27 attempts
Fred Taylor -- 2 in 45 attempts
Sammy Morris -- 2 in 13 attempts
Kevin Faulk -- 1 in 16 attempts
This is one area where the Patriots figure to miss Taylor. Even when there wasn't much yardage to be gained, Taylor managed to avoid negative runs and keep the offense on schedule.
FOXBOROUGH -- Passing along a light moment from Wednesday at Gillette Stadium:
In the late morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick deflected a question on if this is the type of week he might make contact with Josh McDaniels early and wish him luck.
"Right now, the communication is between all the people that are involved with this team, trying to get ready to play our opponent," Belichick responded.
McDaniels was asked a similar question in an afternoon conference call with New England reporters.
"I've had a lot of communication with our staff this week," McDaniels answered. "We're working hard to try to beat them this week. That's where my focus is, and I'm sure that's where Bill's is as well."
When told his answer sounded a lot like Belichick's, McDaniels was quick with a witty response.
"That time difference between Eastern and Mountain time is pretty interesting," he said, laughing.
Perhaps Maroney would benefit from a week in which he was inactive. Maybe it would create a spark.
Maroney is coming off a disappointing performance in which he rushed for six yards on seven carries and couldn't generate positive momentum on kickoff returns (four for 75 yards, 18.8 avg.).
Yet the Patriots must consider the health of their other running backs when deciding how to utilize Maroney this week. Veteran Fred Taylor, who appeared to be shaken up at the end of Sunday's win over the Ravens, was not present for the start of practice Wednesday.
With Taylor's health an issue to monitor this week, Maroney's presence could take on added importance.