Tom Brady threw short touchdown passes to Danny Woodhead and Wes Welker while the defense stiffened after a shaky first quarter as the Patriots kept their hopes of a first-round bye alive with a 23-16 win over the Jaguars at EverBank Field in Jacksonville. Patrick Chung's second interception of the day in the end zone as time expired preserved the victory for the Patriots, as they improve to 11-4 on the season.
The Texans lost at home to the Vikings, meaning the Patriots can still wind up with a first-round bye if they beat the Dolphins and the Texans lose next week in Indianapolis. If that scenario holds, and Denver loses once, the Patriots can clinch the top seed with a win next week.
The Jaguars appeared ready to march in for the game-tying touchdown with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars had first-and-goal at the New England 1 but then the Jaguars committed a false start to move the ball back five yards. Dont'a Hightower sacked Chad Henne back at the 10. Then, on fourth-and-goal from the Patriots 10, Chandler Jones hit Chad Henne, forcing an interception by Chung at the goal line, New England's NFL-leading seventh forced turnover in the red zone.
Welker had 10 catches, his 18th game with double figure receptions, passing hall of fame receiver Jerry Rice.
The Patriots started off miserably on both sides of the ball. After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half as they normally do, the Patriots defense allowed the 31st ranked offense to march right down the field, going 78 yards in nine plays. The drive was capped by a 3-yard TD pass over the middle from Chad Henne to Justin Blackmon.
With starting linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard out with injuries, the Patriots were force to juggle the defensive starting lineup. Patrick Chung started at safety, Rob Ninkovich started at middle linebacker and Devin McCourty moved from safety to cornerback. With confusion abound, Jacksonville managed to rack up a franchise-record 202 yards in the first quarter.
Brady was intercepted twice in the first half but the Patriots escaped serious harm, as the Jaguars converted the two rare Brady miscues into a pair of field goals. Coming into the game, Brady was 5-0 lifetime against Jacksonville, including a pair of playoff wins while throwing 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady also felt pressure early and often in the first half, taking a pair of big hits from star defensive end Jason Babin, one of which left Brady shaking his right hand.
But Brady and the offense finally found their rhythm. Brady used an effective effort from Stevan Ridley on the ground and Danny Woodhead as a receiver out of the backfield to get the offense back on track. Brady's two biggest plays of the first half were to Woodhead. A 24-yard screen pass set up a 49-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Brady found Woodhead for 14 yards in the left flat, and Woodhead made a juggling catch and ran in for a game-tying touchdown with 18 seconds left in the half.
The Patriots opened the second half with their third straight scoring drive, capped by a 38-yard Gostkowski field goal that gave the Patriots their first lead of the day, 16-13.
Brady and the offense went three-and-out on their next series and Brady was hit hard on the next possession, winding up on the ground on three of the four snaps he took. The Patriots defense did their job, allowing just 83 yards total over the second and third quarters.
Brady engineered a 59-yard drive on nine plays, finished off when he found Wes Welker on a swing pass in the right flat. Welker fought off a tackle and extended the ball over the goal line for a touchdown with 14:20 left in the fourth quarter, putting the Patriots up, 23-13. Josh Scobee hit a 42-yard field goal to end a string of 20 straight New England points, making it 23-16 with 8:42 left in the fourth.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Christopher Price discuss Logan Mankins' breakdown of the offensive line and how it will look without Dante Scarnecchia. They also discussed Mankins' rebuttal to Brandon Spikes.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss Bill Parcells' Patriots Hall of Fame candidacy.
Tom Curran calls the show to discuss the Vince Wilfork contract situation. After texting with Vince this morning, Curran says that Vince's camp is possibly trying to put the "genie back in the lamp" and that the possibility of the Pro Bowl DT returning to the team has improved.
We wrap up the Celtics season by speaking with Celtics president Danny Ainge about this past season and the team's future.
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck joins Mut and Merloni to discuss and reflect on the Boston Marathon Bombings a year later.
Jackie MacMullan talks some Celtics with Mut and Merloni as the season is winding down and the team is positioned to have a high draft pick.
Dave O'Brien and Joe Castiglione talk with Red Sox pitcher John Lackey after he goes 8 solid innings in a great performance, while giving the Red Sox bullpen a night off. Lackey talks a little about what he thinks about Michael Pineda's ejection for having pine tar on his neck.
We check in with John Farrell live from Fenway Park with Dale, Holley and Steve Lyons. We talk Boagearts, Buchholz, Pierzynski, Lester, the losing and much much more.
Tim Wakefield discussed the Sox tough start to the season. He is optimistic that the guys can turn it around.
Andy Brickley, NESN; Joins Mut and Merloni to recap the Bruins win against the Red Wings in game 3
Shawn Thornton joined the show to discuss the Bruins win last night over the Red Wings. Shawn talked about Marchand's agitator status within the league.
Pierre McGuire of NBC Sports joins the program to talk about Game 3 between the Bruins and the Red Wings. He also discusses the issue of targeting player and weighs in on Matt Cooke's vicious knee hit to Tyson Barrie.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. The guys talked about Colbert joining Dave Letterman last night.
Aaron Boone joins Mut and Merloni to talk about the early season troubles the Red Sox have had and the defensive struggles.
Andy Brickley, NESN: Joins Mut and Merloni to recap the Bruins win against the Red Wings in game 3.
We tackle four topics all revolving around big time milestones in sports.
We discuss the Bruins win to take a 2-1 lead in Detroit, and how Brad Marchand is once again (for better or worse) making his presence felt in a series. Hey, he may be a rat, but he's OUR rat.
Nifty jumps on the Planet for an hour.
Lou Merloni did play-by-play with Joe Castiglione today and then joined The Planet Mikey Show to talk about what went wrong, and a few things that went right as the Red Sox started their campaign to defend their World Series title.
WEEI.com's Chris Price joins John Ryder and Chris Villani on Planet Mikey to discuss the signing of Revis Island
The 4th addition of WEEI’s Fantasy Football Offseason Podcast is loaded and ready. In this week’s conversation Jim Hackett and Pete Davidson of Rotobahn.com dig into the sinking draft stock of Teddy Bridgewater (much too their chagrin), while refocusing and emphasizing the immense scouting work done by Pete on players like Bridgewater, Zach Mettenberger, Blake Bortles, Bishop Sankey & Lache Seastrunk. Also, Jim & Pete touch on news from around the league regarding new Jet, Chris Johnson, Montee Ball in Denver and help you tune out all of the negative noise some in the media are trying to push. We’re not buying! Lots of Football love in this podcast for the Football lover. Enjoy!
Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports joins DJ to break down the first-round matchup between the Bruins and Red Wings. Also discussed is Zdeno Chara's Norris candidacy, transparency with voting for the NHL awards and whether the Canadiens will get out of the first round.
The Red Sox' High-A minor league team in Salem recently had a 16-game winning streak that spanned two seasons. So what? From the standpoint of making prospects better and fostering player development, does that matter? Salem manager Carlos Febles (who managed Salem for the end of their winning streak, but who was also in charge of a 50-87 Single-A Greenville team in 2013) and Salem radio play-by-play man Evan Lepler discuss -- while also touching on a number of prospects in search of the next Earl Weaver and Vinegar Bend Mizell.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. Today the guys discussed David Gregory's tanking Meet The Press ratings.More from this show
Dale and Michael speak with Patrice Bergeron on the phone from Detroit on Marathon Monday fresh off a Bruins optional skate. Patrice talks about the B's slow start in game one, putting it all together for the team in game two, how the rest of this series might play out, and what this anniversary of the Boston Marathon means to him.More from this show