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.
We check in with the playmaker, the great number 88 Michael Irvin for his unique take on deflategate, the Patriots and the NFL.
Ben Volin has been a must-read on the Pats and Deflategate despite him ruffling the feathers of many Pats fans and he joins NFL Sunday to discuss the latest. He talks about the owners' meetings and what he expects to unfold this week as well as the showdown between Goodell and Kraft.
The guys provide more thoughts on the latest on Deflategate and get callers' reaction.
Greg Dickerson and John Tomase discuss the amazing season for the Celts and if they have any chance against Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs in a seven game series. If they do, HOW ... how do they get it done?
Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton speak to Red Sox Manager John Farrell live from Fenway Park for our weekly visit.
Joe & Dave talked to the rookie Sox catcher, who knocked in the go-ahead run against Felix Hernandez.
Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino fater the Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 and saw some great defense from Shane as well as a solo HR from him.
Don Sweeney, who was hired as the Bruins general manager yesterday speaks with Dale and Holley about his new position and where the Bruins go from here.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
Manish Mehta on Darrelle Revis's comments about the Patriots cheating.
The Sox GM joined the show to give his thoughts on the team being 2 games under 500 at the 40 game mark.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
Julian Edlow of the Green Street Blog and Draftkings.com joins the program to break down the the two conference finals series, the NBA Draft, and whether or not Corey Brewer is the ugliest player in the game?
NESN Color Commentator joins the guys to discuss what Don Sweeney will do as the new General Manager of the Bruins. What is the fate of coach Claude Julien?
The Letterman final show and Chris Mad Dog Russo still hasn't read the Wells Report
Dale, Michael and Jerry continue to discuss and take reaction to deflategate, with the latest wrinkles coming from the NFL social media department taking shots at the organization even after Robert Kraft capitulated to his team's punishment.
We wrap up the day with some of the best in sound you may have missed.
Mikey Adams is joined by Chris Villani as they take calls on the Friday night Two Minute Drill and discuss the ongoing DeflateGate saga with the New England Patriots and Roger Goodell's role in hearing the Tom Brady appeal.
Continued conversation on deflate-gate and the aftermath of the Brady suspension and sanctions passed down to the Patriots organization
Deflate-gate is still the hot topic, still gaining personal insight and what could come next
Ben, Russ, and Alex recap the Revs loss to Sporting KC and discuss what the Revs need moving forward. Also discussed is the FFP and how it will affect the transfer window.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk discuss Dino's rehab experience.
Mike Mutnansky preview the 140th Preakness Stakes with Matt Bernier of the Daily Racing Form and Dick Jerardi of Wpressbet.com.
Dale, Michael and Jerry bring you complete coverage of Robert Kraft's capitulation, and fan reaction which generally less than pleased with the Patriots latest action.More from this show