Dec 4, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick looks on as his team improved to 10-2 Sunday in a win against the Rams. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick didn’t need to go all David Ortiz – or Troy Brown – for that matter in recalling the 2001 Patriots after Sunday’s 26-10 win over the Rams at Gillette Stadium.

Still, Belichick’s G-rated version of praise for the team that started all the winning of the past two decades was heartfelt.

Belichick was asked about his special feelings of appreciation for the Saturday night banquet that owner Robert Kraft threw for the 40-some members of the 2001 team that beat the Rams, 20-17, in Super Bowl XXXVI.

“Very special, absolutely. That was a great night for a couple of hours just to be able to see those guys again,” Belichick said. “A lot of them looked good. A lot of them looked like they could still play a couple of downs anyway. It was a lot of fun. It was great to see them. It was just a great opportunity to enjoy each other and reflect back on a great year.

“I would say not only what they did for the Patriots and the program and this organization but it was kind of a springboard for Boston sports over that decade. Not that we had anything to do with the Red Sox or the Celtics or the Bruins or anything else, but it was just the first one of many with those three great organizations. You kind of feel proud that we were the first one and that they all followed. And the [Boston] Cannons – throw them in there, too.”

Naturally, Belichick would include a lacrosse team in his historical reference.

Before Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yarder split the uprights in New Orleans, the city of Boston hadn’t celebrated a major championship since the Celtics won their 16th NBA title in 1986. The Bruins hadn’t won since 1972. The Red Sox were still mired in the 1918 Curse of the Bambino. And the Patriots, well they of course had never won it all.

Can the ’01 team (5-5 at one point) possibly inspire his current 10-2 Patriots?

“Well, every team is its own team, so there will never be another team like that one. There will never be another team like this one. It will be unique, but there’s certainly a good message there. I talked to the team a little bit about what that team did and how special they were. When I think back to that team, what they did was hard. It was really hard. With the way the season started and just what we had to go through, I’d say the way that team was coached, relative to the way some other teams had been coached.

“We had a lot of work to do. We had lot of I’d say foundation to build, a lot of structure to implement. But they didn’t blink. They responded to it. They met every challenge. They didn’t always come out on the winning end but we battled. We took some tough, tough losses – Miami in particular. After we beat Indianapolis I kind of thought we were getting back on track a little bit at 2-1 or 1-2. We quickly went to 1-3 down there so that was a hammering. But like I said, that team battled through.

“They battled through a tough loss to the Rams on Sunday Night and then won the rest of them. Not necessarily with a lot of style points but with enough game points at the end to be champions. It was pretty special. But yeah, I’m sure our guys respect what they do, love to hear it. They’ve heard about a lot of those guys, not so much from the ’01 team, [but] the ’01 team that also won ’03 and ’04 teams, so [Tedy] Bruschi and [Willie] McGinest, guys like that; Troy Brown. But there were some guys that were eon the ’01 team that didn’t play on the ’02 or ’03 or ’04 teams. I said it kind of makes them part of that special group.”

Did you know that ’01 team was special when they were 5-5 through 10 games?

“I think at that point, no. Every year is kind of like this. I think at that point we were 5-5. We were just trying to get to 6-5. When we were 6-5 we were just trying to get to 7-5. We just try to have one good day, try to have two good days, try to have a good week, try to play good, and start all over again. That team kept just believing in itself. We kept playing. Again, every game was a tough game other than the Carolina game at the end. The Miami game, that was really for the division and as it turns out a first-round bye.

“Each of those games, the Miami game and then Oakland, to Pittsburgh, to St. Louis – I mean, we were just trying to find a way to win. We didn’t really think of ourselves as anything special. I don’t think that really happened until really kind of it was all over. We were just trying to find a way to compete and find a way to win.

“I still think it’s pretty interesting how the NFL schedule gave us a bye the last week of the season, like, ‘You guys will be out of it so you can go ahead and start your vacation early. Go ahead on home.’ I think that certainly surprised them, surprised the schedule makers. Of course we ended up having to play because of the 9/11 game that got postponed with Carolina in Week 2. When the schedule came out and we saw that our bye was the last week of the season – I’m sure we didn’t follow along to the script that they had written for us but that’s all right.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Butch Stearns joins Glenn and Fred to react to the Patriots victory over the Rams. They discuss Tom Brady's record setting 201st quarterback victory and debate if he is truly the greatest player of all time.
Glenn and Fred open the show reacting to the Patriots beat down of the Los Angeles Rams. They discuss the defense and debate whether todays game is a sign of things to come.

FOXBORO — While Sunday was about the 2016 Patriots, the weekend as a whole was about the 15-year anniversary of the 2001 team that won Super Bowl XXXVI, coincidentally against the Rams.

Troy Brown stole the halftime show on Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Troy Brown stole the halftime show on Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — While Sunday was about the 2016 Patriots, the weekend as a whole was about the 15-year anniversary of the 2001 team that won Super Bowl XXXVI, coincidentally against the Rams.

Roughly 40 members of the team came back to Foxboro this weekend and were treated to a first-class experience with a function hosted by the Kraft family Saturday night and then were honored on the field at halftime on Sunday.

Four members of the team spoke, but Troy Brown stole the show.

“The best fans, we got them. The best coach, we got him. The best owner, we got him. The most rings, we’re working it,” Brown said. “This is the original group of guys who did their job. The Optum Lounge, the nice seats and the scoreboard is here because of this group. Fifteen years ago, the greatest show on turf lost to the greatest team on [expletive] Earth.”

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who lost his job to Tom Brady after the Mo Lewis hit in Week 2, thanked the fans.

“We were so proud to represent you because our fans are the best,” Bledsoe said. “We are all so proud to be part of the first team that started this tradition of champions. Go Patriots.”

Robert Kraft had the opening remarks where he reflected on the season as a whole and noted how much of a team the group was.

“It was the first Super Bowl after 9/11 and New Orleans was decorated in red, white and blue,” Kraft said. “Our fans waited 42 years for the opportunity to celebrate as champions. Few people expected us to beat the greatest show on turf, but championships are all about teamwork.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tom Brady walks off the field Sunday, after becoming the winningest quarterback in NFL history.</p>
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MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE


Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals in the Patriots' win against the Rams. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals in the Patriots’ win against the Rams. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Even though the Patriots only scored two touchdowns in the 26-10 win over the Rams, it meant it was a busy day for kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

After going through some recent struggles, it was a big day for the kicker as he kicked four field goals, including two from 40-plus yards.

Gostkowski entered the game missing four field goals this year, his highest number since 2012.

“It’s a start. It’s one game,” Gostkowski said. “Every week is a different challenge. You just got to battle, keep your head down, stay humble and show up but control your attitude and your effort and make sure both of those are good and have faith in the process that what you’ve been doing is going to continue.”

The kicker is in his 11th season and said he’s been around sports long enough not to get down after a few tough games.

“In athletics, I’ve gone through ups and downs my whole life,” he said. “I’ve always had my confidence when it comes to athletics. It’s sometimes stubborn to a fault. As long as I’m out there and getting a chance to play, I expect to do well. No one is harder on themselves than me when I do bad and I don’t plan on changing any time soon.”

It’s been noted Gostkowski has tweaked his kicking motion a few times over the year, but he said it’s nothing he hasn’t done in past seasons.

“You fine tune every week,” Gostkowski said. “When you play in New England you can have cold weather, hot weather, windy weather, or snow. It’s a daily change out there and it’s not a climate controlled environment so you’re fine-tuning every day. Your body feels different, but you’re going to go through all that during a long season so it’s no different from any other season I’ve had.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — Alan Branch got some good news on Saturday when his four-game suspension was overturned for violating the NFL’s drug use policy following an appeal.

Branch was originally suspended two weeks ago Monday, but was able to play last week against the Jets while the appeal was being heard.

Alan Branch reacted to his four-game suspension being overturned. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Alan Branch reacted to his four-game suspension being overturned. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Alan Branch got some good news on Saturday when his four-game suspension was overturned for violating the NFL’s drug use policy following an appeal.

Branch was originally suspended two weeks ago Monday, but was able to play last week against the Jets while the appeal was being heard.

The Patriots defensive tackle maintained he was innocent the entire time.

“I’m happy,” Branch said after Sunday’s game. “It’s kind of crazy just because — I mean I am happy, but I knew I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just kind of crazy the situation I was put in. The team and I were both confident that I was going to win it. It’s kind of just on to the next game after that. I don’t really have a reaction just because I wasn’t supposed to be in there in the first place.”

Added Branch: “It didn’t matter to me either way just because I know I didn’t do anything wrong. One way or the other, if it was early or late, I knew it shouldn’t have came out any other way. It was what it was at that point.”

The 31-year-old admitted it’s been a frustrating past couple of weeks.

“Of course,” he said. “Just having my name out there wasn’t the best of terms, especially my family and everything. I kind of just had to deal with it and move on at this point.”

There have been no specifics revealed as to why Branch was suspended in the first place and Branch said he’s confused as everyone else.

“It’s confusing to me, too,” he said. “I am in the same shoes as you guys are. I don’t know how it got that far. I’m just trying to get past it and keep playing ball.”

Branch had one tackle for a loss in Sunday’s 26-10 win over the Rams.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

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FOXBORO — Like he has for his entire 17-year playing career, Tom Brady wasn’t going to make Sunday’s 26-10 win over the Rams about him, even though he set the record for most wins by a quarterback in NFL history with 201, passing Peyton Manning.