Matthew Slater says the Patriots are ready for anything the Seattle special teamers might throw at them. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Matthew Slater says the Patriots are ready for anything the Seattle special teamers might throw at them. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

CHANDLER, Ariz. ‘€” Over the course of the 2014 regular season, the Patriots were able to distinguish themselves as having one of the best special teams groups in the league. New England was able to deliver game-changing special teams plays almost every week, including blocked field-goal attempts, blocked punts and important returns.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was the second-best kicker in the league, converting 95 percent of his field-goal attempts. Meanwhile, punter Ryan Allen was 12th in the league in punting, and his work in a December win over the Chargers was enough to win him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Chris Jones, Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork and Jamie Collins all blocked field goal attempts, and punt returner Julian Edelman‘€™s 12 yards per opportunity was second-best in the league. Overall, Football Outsiders had the Patriots as the fifth-best special teams grouping in the league.

At the same time, the Seahawks also had a relatively steady and dependable group of special teamers over the course of the 2014 season. They were 19th in the NFL per Football Outsiders, but they’€™ve taken it to the next level in the playoffs. In their divisional playoff win over the Panthers, defensive back Kam Chancellor jumped over the pile twice in hopes of trying to block field goals. Punter Jon Ryan ‘€” while working as a holder ‘€” executed a perfect fake field goal that ended up going for a touchdown in the NFC title game. And kicker Steven Hauschka delivered a well-executed onsides kick to help set up the win over the Packers as well.

According to Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater, the focus this week for New England is playing with ‘€œa lot of alertness’€ against a sneaky group of Seattle special teamers.

‘€œI think that we have to understand that every time our unit takes the field, we have to expect them to be trying to make a big play to swing momentum,’€ Slater said. ‘€œIt’€™s our job to either stop that big play from happening or create one ourselves.

‘€œWe’€™ve watched a lot of film on these guys. We have to be prepared situationally moving into the game. When you talk about trick plays, you never can predict those. At the end of the day, we’€™re going to have to play fundamentally sound and be able to react if something like that does come up.’€

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Bill Belichick has great respect for Pete Carroll. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images).

Bill Belichick has great respect for Pete Carroll. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images).

CHANDLER, Ariz. — They are coaches with admittedly distinct and polar opposite demeanors. But Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll find themselves coaching against each other in the Super Bowl because of their common thread. Both coaches have teams that finished 12-4 and earned the top seed in their respective conferences. And both coaches are highly respected in their organization.

And Belichick, as he made clear on Monday at the team’s headquarters at the Sheraton Wild Horse Resort, certainly has respect for the coach he replaced in New England in 2000.

Belichick knows his team is eager to put the silliness of Deflategate behind them and have an intense week of preparation.

“I’€™m sure we’€™ll have a great week of preparation,” Belichick said. “We know we’€™re going to have our hands full with the Seattle Seahawks. There is no way that I could in a brief amount of time express the amount of admiration and respect that I have for that organization, in particular Pete Carroll. I think that Pete’€™s one of the great coaches in my time. We kind of came up together in the same vintage and have similar experiences as coordinators and head coaches at various places along the way.”

Ironically, Carroll and Belichick have both coached the Jets and Patriots. Carroll coached the Jets for just one season in 1994. Belichick was coached them twice without coaching a single game. In February 1997, after Super Bowl XXXI, Belichick was named interim coach for six days before the Patriots and Jets worked a deal for Bill Parcells to take over. When Parcells left after the 1999 season, Belichick was named head coach for one day before resigning. Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick have travelled fascinating parallel paths, a fact Belichick referenced Monday in paying respect to the job Carroll has done in bringing his team back to the Super Bowl.

“I never worked with Pete,” Belichick said. “Of course, I followed him into New England. And what he’€™s done at USC and now in his five years with Seattle is beyond impressive. I tried to study him closely and learn from many of the things that he and his organization have done. I’€™ve watched them build that organization very carefully. And although we haven’€™t competed directly with them since early in 2012, it’€™s very obvious to me now why they were the world champions last year and why they are here again this year.

“They have an outstanding organization. They are very well coached. They have a lot of great players. They’€™re very disciplined. They’€™re tough. They play very consistently. They are a great fourth quarter football team. To say in short, they do everything well most all of the time. We’€™re going to have to absolutely play our very best game this season to be able to compete with them.

“Again, no way that I could express how much respect I have for that organization and for Pete and the job that he’€™s done. I’€™ve tried to learn a lot from watching and studying and observing many things about that organization and the way that he coaches the team. I really feel like it’€™s an honor to compete with the Seattle Seahawks, with Coach Carroll and his outstanding staff this week. We know it’€™s going to be a great matchup. We look forward to it. We know it’€™s going to be tough.’€

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

PHOENIX – If the Legion of Boom has a Lex Luthor, it's loquacious ringleader Richard Sherman. But if you're looking for a Solomon Grundy to crack some skulls, well that's Kam Chancellor.

Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft get set to address the media Monday evening in Arizona. (Elsa/Getty Images)CHANDLER, Ariz. — As a franchise, the Patriots have now passed the point of no return.

PHOENIX — Another passing hour, and another development with Deflategate.

PHOENIX — Another passing hour, and another development with Deflategate.

According to Pro Football Talk, there is video surveillance from Gillette Stadium that shows an employee taking two bags of footballs into the bathroom on the way to the field for 90 seconds prior to the AFC championship. The source says 12 were the Colts’ and 12 were the Patriots’. Finally, the source adds the video was discovered by the Patriots and turned over to the NFL early in their investigation.

This comes after earlier in the day a Fox Sports report said the NFL is looking into a Patriots’ locker room attendant.

Robert Kraft made a strong statement earlier in the night when he maintained the Patriots did nothing wrong, and expects an apology from the league if they find the team had was indeed innocent.

For more Patriots news, check out

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable


Devin McCourty is no stranger to facing Russell WIlson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty is no stranger to facing Russell Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Sunday’s Super Bowl won’t be the first time Patriots safety Devin McCourty will be in a secondary opposing Russell Wilson at quarterback.

Besides when the two faced each other in 2012 in the NFL, the pair faced off when they were in college in the 2008 Papa John’ bowl — a game in which McCourty’s Rutgers’ Scarlet Knights team got the best of Wilson’s NC State Wolfpack, 29-23. Wilson was injured in the second half of the game and would later transfer to Wisconsin.

Having weeks to prepare for the game, McCourty watched a lot of film on Wilson and liked what we saw even then.

“I played him in college, so I always thought he was a really, really good quarterback,” McCourty said. “He kind of ate us up in college, so watching him, to me the amazing part is to see, you know, what we saw in college, him being able to still do it at a high level in the NFL. With staying in the pocket and throwing some balls deep down the field in spots that only the receiver can get it, and then also having the ability when a play breaks down to make three guys miss and then find a wide open guy.

“Usually when you do that in college the first thing they tell you is when you get to the NFL, everyone’€™s bigger, stronger, faster, you won’€™t be able to do that, and he still is able to do that. Watching him, I still see some of the great things he did in college, he does in the NFL.’€

Wilson threw for 3,475 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, while also running for 849 yards and six touchdowns, making him a tough quarterback to prepare for.

“A lot of things he does I don’€™t think any team in this league has a guy that can show you that in practice,” said McCourty. “You don’€™t have Russell Wilson in your locker room to practice against. I don’€™t care what quarterback you have on your roster. You can’€™t practice against it. So, a little bit of it is once you get out there in the game, realizing how fast he is or how deep he can throw the ball, all those things you won’€™t see until you get out there and you play against him. So I don’€™t know if it’€™s as much in the right place at the right time, but I think it’€™s more just his playmaking ability.”

This will be McCourty’s second Super Bowl, but in his five years in the league, he’s played in four AFC championship games, so he has the big game experience. Even with the big game experience, McCourty is very excited to be in Arizona and enjoy everything associated with playing in the Super Bowl.

“It’€™s great,” he said. “I think that’€™s why we all play the game. It’€™s a dream come true to play in this game, and to finally be here, it makes it even more real. Now we’€™re here. We’€™ll kick off practice Wednesday and start really zeroing in, but like I tell all the guys, enjoy the moment, enjoy the experiences, but, being in Arizona, nice weather, no complaints here.’€

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Bill Belichick speaks Monday at the team headquarters in Chandler, Ariz. (Mike Petraglia/

Bill Belichick speaks Monday at the team headquarters in Chandler, Ariz. (Mike Petraglia/

CHANDLER, Ariz. — After Robert Kraft took to the podium to give him a passionate and defiant vote of confidence, Bill Belichick said Monday he’s not talking about Deflategate anymore.

“I’€™m totally focused on Seattle,” Belichick said in his first press conference at the team’s Super Bowl headquarters at the Wild Horse Sheraton in Chandler. “That’€™s it. I’€™m totally focused on preparing our football team for the Seattle Seahawks. One hundred percent.

“Right now, the only thing I’€™m focused on is the Seattle Seahawks. That’€™s what we’€™re going to talk about. I’€™ve discussed everything else at length and there will be another point in time for it. But this week, it’€™s all about the Seattle Seahawks.”

Belichick was asked several times early in the press conference about Kraft’s statement and whether his position on the matter has changed in light of the Jay Glazer report Monday afternoon that the NFL is focusing its investigation on an equipment staffer in the Patriots locker room.

“I appreciate the question,” Belichick said. “I’€™ve spent, as you know, quite a bit of time. I’€™ve had two lengthy press conferences about that. My attention is totally turned now and focused on the Seattle Seahawks and our game Sunday, and that’€™s where it’€™s going to stay for this week.

“I appreciate the questions, but I’€™ve covered everything that I can cover in the previous week and my attention is focused on the Seattle Seahawks. Our job is to get ready to play this game Sunday and that’€™s where it’€™s going to be from here on out.”

As for the support of Kraft, Belichick recalled his first days with the organization in 2000, when the Patriots owner executed a trade with the Jets that would change the course of both franchises.

“I have a great relationship with Mr. Kraft,” Belichick said. “I really appreciate the opportunity every day to coach the New England Patriots. Mr. Kraft gave up quite a bit in order to work out the trade, basically that’€™s what it was, for me to be part of this organization after I resigned from the Jets. I’€™ll be forever indebted to him for that and the support that he and his family and his staff have given me as the football- to coach the football team has been tremendous. We have a great personal relationship and a very professional relationship.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

PHOENIX — Although much of Tom Brady‘s 17-minute press conference with the media Monday night at the team’s hotel centered around the actual football, there were some left over questions from the events of last week.