New England Patriots: Troy Polamalu

Belichick spares Ridley on fumble

November, 3, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was spared responsibility for his third-quarter fumble by coach Bill Belichick, as Steelers safety Troy Polamalu ripped the ball out of his grasp after he caught a pass along the right sideline.

Since Ridley was benched in the season-opener due to ball-security issues, Belichick's post-game remarks were most significant.

"I thought Stevan did a good job. It was really a tremendous play by Polamalu," Belichick said. "Stevan caught his ball with his back to the defender. As he turned, Troy came in there and instead of making a tackle he was able to dislodge the ball. He anticipated Ridley turning up and Troy made a good play on it. I don't think Stevan really had much of a chance to do anything but turn.

"Sometimes turnovers are a result of real good defensive plays. Sometimes they're a result of sloppy plays offensively. I would, unfortunately, have to credit that one to Polamalu. He made a great play and that's one of those things you have to live with."

That will be welcome news to Ridley, who was charted on the field for a running back-high 51 snaps, as the Patriots turned to him as their workhorse one week after limiting him to just 20 snaps.

Belichick liked what he saw as Ridley totaled 115 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. It was Ridley's first 100-yard game of the season and fifth of his three-year career.

"Stevan ran hard, like he always does," he said. "He's a tough runner, he gets his yards, and then he always gets a few more because of his running style and his toughness and his pad level and getting downhill. He gave us that again."

Ridley, perhaps sensing that his role and fluctuating snaps would be a focal point of media-based discussion, declined comment after the game. But his teammates were happy to speak on his behalf.

"He runs so hard. You give it to him, you have so much confidence that you're going to gain yards," quarterback Tom Brady said. "He has a great spirit and energy about him, in what he brings to our offense in emotion. When he's confident, it helps our team immeasurably."

Polamalu remains big focus for Patriots

October, 30, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Gone are some of the familiar faces on the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense, as James Harrison is now in Cincinnati and James Farrior is in his second year of retirement, but the back end of the defense remains intact, led by safety Troy Polamalu, now in his 11th NFL season.

While some would suggest Polamalu's play has slipped as he's aged into his 30s, it's clear that he remains a focal point for the New England Patriots' offense this week as the unit prepares for a Sunday showdown.

"He is super-instinctive," tight end Rob Gronkowski said of Polamalu. "It's just unbelievable, the knack he has for the game of football. The way he busts into a gap, you don't know what gap he's going to bust in. He can come flying down into the line. He's an unbelievable player and you've got to watch out for him and watch out for him on every play."

"You just can't take him for granted," echoed quarterback Tom Brady. "You have to keep your eyes out and keep your eyes open for him and then hope you get a guy to block him. He's a great player."

Both Gronkowski and Brady stressed that part of the challenge in preparing for Polamalu is accounting for his ability to seemingly come out of nowhere.

"He's not really in a system where there's clearly defined roles," Brady said. "He's just a playmaker for them, so you know, you have to account for him on every play, you can't just go, 'Well, he's going to be here.'"

"He's a rare player," added Gronkowski. "You just watch film on him, see how he does it, you just prepare, think of different scenarios of stuff and what he can do. He's a great player."

Patriots show Polamalu some respect

November, 10, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The hair may be long and wild looking, spilling out of his Pittsburgh Steelers helmet, and he makes some extra money pushing shampoo because of his distinctive flowing locks.

But the New England Patriots' respect for Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has nothing to do with his hairstyle.

The respect comes from the intense, instinctive and aggressive way Polamalu, an eight-year veteran, plays the game as one of the leaders of Pittsburgh’s ferocious defense.

New England quarterback Tom Brady knows he will have to account for Polamalu, who moves around, lining up for plays at various spots on the field depending on the Steelers’ scheme and his own thoughts about what he thinks the offense is about to do.

“He does things his own way, going where he thinks the ball is going,” said Brady. “He’s very intuitive and athletic. He gets to the ball fast. He’s all over the field. If I were a defensive player I would like to play like he does.”

Veteran tight end Alge Crumpler has had his share of matchups with Polamalu, a 5-foot-10, 207-pounder.

“He’s a heckuva player,” said Crumpler. “It never ceases to amaze me the plays he makes, the way he studies the offenses. You do have to account for him (on every play).”