CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason, speaking with Dennis & Callahan Monday morning, said he foresees the Patriots beating the Ravens on Sunday in the AFC championship game. Esiason said Tom Brady has a renewed intensity and will lead New England back to the Super Bowl.
"He didn't have a great game against Baltimore in the playoffs a couple of years back. He did not have a great game last year against the New York Jets in the playoffs. But this is a different Tom Brady," Esiason said. "And I've been using this kind of theme over the last month or so, about how Tom said last year after the Jet loss [that] it was the worst loss of his career. And I think it's fueled a very competitive Tom Brady.
"[Chad] Ochocinco made mention of that last week in some interview -- I forget where it was -- that he has never seen a quarterback so intense in practice. Well, I extrapolate that as saying here's a guy that is extremely -- I mean, extremely -- determined to get back to the Super Bowl and win the game, if for nothing else than to cement a legacy that will be on par of Joe Montana's if he's able to do it."
Added Esiason: "He's always been a very competitive player, you can see that when he plays. But the last few weeks and the way that he's played and some of the things that have come out of the New England locker room this past week, he has taken it to another level. It's almost as if he is obsessed with winning the Super Bowl, which is exactly the level of commitment that you need in order to do it. And maybe he's recognizing that he has a very special team around him and this is the year it's going to get done again."
The Patriots came out and took it to the Broncos right from the opening snap Saturday.
"When I watched the game on Saturday night, when you see the Patriots come out and play like that offensively, there was a determination there," Esiason said. "It was almost like they were pissed that they were playing against Tim Tebow, who got all the headlines going into the game. And it's about us making sure everybody remembers that we're still here. I don't necessarily really feel like that's their motivation, but that was something to behold. That was vintage Tom Brady in his finest hour. He probably played as well Saturday night, against a team that he should have played well against, as any game we've ever seen him play.
"That level of intensity is there for the offense. I thought that the defense met it for the first time in a long time this year, where they really came to play, and they were saying, 'There's no way that Tim Tebow's coming into this building and beating us.' Now they're going to have to have the same kind of mindset with Joe Flacco. And this is going to be a much tougher game. Don't think for one moment that it won't be. Baltimore presents so much different challenges defensively."
With the New England offensive line also coming off perhaps its best game, the Patriots appear to be peaking at the right time.
"If the Patriots defense can do what they did against Denver, and do what Houston did yesterday to Joe Flacco, then I don't see how the Ravens can stay with the Patriots offense," Esiason said. "This is Tom Brady, this is the guy that's going to be standing back in the pocket. And if you ask me, maybe the most impressive performance -- other than Tom's six-touchdown performance on Saturday night -- is that of the offensive line of the Patriots. Tom might have gotten hit maybe once or twice in that game. That's what a healthy offensive line can do for you."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On the Patriots routing Tim Tebow and the Broncos: "Listen, that was a scrimmage. They were playing against a kid that's not ready for prime time yet. If you look at the Denver Broncos, they lost four out of their last five games. Their offense was terrible in those games, with the exception of the Pittsburgh game; Tim made some plays. But he was not ready to compete on a level that you need to compete at in order for them to win on Saturday night."
On the Patriots' resurgent defense: "I thought the Patriots defense played great on Saturday night. It was probably the best performance that we had seen all year. They really ramped up the intensity, it seemed to me. There were a lot more guys rallying to the football. [Rob] Ninkovich had a great first half. [Gerard] Warren and [Vince] Wilfork played their asses off in the middle."
On the aging Ravens defense: "They're not the players that they once were; nobody ever is. But I will say this: Ray Lewis made some great plays yesterday. In watching how he was hitting Arian Foster, somebody 15 years younger than him. I think about Ray Lewis and I think about it in conjunction with my own career. My last game was against him. I think it was Ray Lewis' second year. And that's when I realized, I said, 'Oh, my God. I don't necessarily know that I belong on the field with this kind of player out here.' I had never seen anybody like him. Now, he's not that player that he was some 14 years ago, but I'll tell you what, he's still a very formidable foe. And the one thing that he knows, is he knows how to communicate with the guys around him. In other words, nothing that the Patriots throw at them I think will surprise him simply because he will have the presence and he will have the poise to be able to react to it. I just don't think he has the speed that he used to have."
On the surging Giants: "They're playing so well right now, it's scary. The fact is is that they are healthy at the right time. And they do have such an athletic defensive line that when they're on their game, they can make plays. They can make plays like stripping the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands -- that's how smart Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are. This is still a team that has a penchant for giving up big plays. … Don't be surprised if San Francisco gives them a hell of a game. I think it's going to be a really close game."
Price calls Butch to discuss the March 2nd deadline for franchise tags, free agency and the Pats' plans going forward.
Shortly after the NFLRA released its statement demanding an apology from ESPN, Jim Quirk, the NFLRA's Executive Director, joined Mut to talk about the statement
WEEI's Chris Price joins Mut to talk about his experience of being in yesterday's Patriots championship parade, and which New England free agents could return to play for the Pats next season.
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
We talk to Chris Mannix from SI to break down the C's acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the crazy trade deadline in the rest of the NBA.
Jessica Camerato of basketballinsiders.com joins the show to talk about Marcus Smart, the starting lineup, and trade deadline.
The one and only Rob Bradford calls Butch to discuss his early thoughts on this Red Sox team, the potential in the rotation, how the outfield will shake out and more.
David Ortiz takes a few minutes to talk with Mut, Bradford, and Tomase about some of his new teammates, who Pablo Sandoval reminds him of, and the rules aimed at speeding up the game of baseball.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are talking Red Sox spring training. and talk with Red Sox DH David Ortiz about the rules aimed at speeding up the pace of the game
In the second of Sunday Skate, DJ and Joe discuss the approaching NHL trade deadline and what the B's will do. They get into the Boychuk move at the beginning of the season and Boychuk's brother venting on Twitter this morning about complaining B's fans. There is more discussion on the 3rd and 4th lines, their playoff chances and then they are joined by ESPN's Scott Burnside.
Another edition of Sunday Skate is upon us and DJ and Joe get into the B's big win over Arizona last night and the improvement of Ryan Spooner. They get into the Blackhawks giving up a 1st round pick for C Antoine Vermette - someone the B's could certainly use but weren't willing to give up the steep price of a 1st rounder. DJ and Joe also get into Claude's willingness to switch up lines as well as the performance of the 3rd and 4th lines. Finally, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sits down with the boys.
Scott Burnside joins the boys to discuss the Bruins and the NHL trade deadline.
All the latest stories brought you by Kirk Minihane.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk look at the Patriots choice not to use the franchise tag on Devin McCourty.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk kick off thier second to last day in Fort Myers by looking at the competition in center field.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News joins MFB to talk about his column about Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets' possible pursuit of Darrelle Revis
Jackie MacMullen of ESPN Boston joins MFB for their weekly to talk about Patriots offseason moves and news from the NBA
Tom E. Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England talks about the Patriots placing the franchise tag on Stephen Gostkowski and what is going on with Darrelle Revis' contract situation
Michael, Mike Mutnansky and Jerry Thornton talk Bruins AFTER the trade-deadline and check in with the fans.
We examine four trade deadline day deals that helped or affected Boston teams in recent history.
Michael, Mike Mutnansky and Jerry Thornton talk Bruins before the trade-deadline and check in with the fans.
Mikey, Mut, and Lenny are joined by the Rev girls, who are revealing the New Revolution uniform Tuesday at the House of Blues in Boston and talking about the Revs.
Mikey, Lenny, and Maggie talk Red Sox baseball with Red Sox Hall of Famer Bill Lee, who is in Florida and out of the snow that's perpetually burying the area.
Mikey gets a call from Kirk Minihane, who wants to clear the air with Mikey and get everything settled. It goes better than you think.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk talk about their time in Fort Myers and are joined by a special guest, Doug Lane.
Boston University coach David Quinn joins WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin to discuss the Terriers’ Beanpot title and how he feels about his team as the postseason approaches. Quinn also discusses reports about NHL interest in goalie Matt O’Connor and briefly touches on a recent misstep by Jack Eichel.
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