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.
With the Pats game on Friday night, MFB does a version of Patriots Friday a day early with Jerod Mayo. He talks about the Carolina Panthers.
WEEI.com's Chris Price and Mike Petraglia discuss the performances of Brandon LaFell and Darrelle Revis, among others, as Patriots training camp comes to a close.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
On today's Bradfo Show we talk to Dr Ken Polivy, Spine Surgeon at the Newton Wellesley Orthopedic Associates, about Shane Victorino's recent back surgery.
Kevin joins Merloni, Fauria and Benz to talk about the new commissioner in the MLB, as well as his thoughts on ways to speed up the game
Larry joined the show to discuss last nights festivities at Fenway.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys opened the show by discussing the great support shown by our listeners supporting the Jimmy Fund.
Brady reacts to the win over the Eagles and talks about the progression of Jimmy Garoppolo.
Bryan Cox told his team about ability with the ladies at a young age. The guys talk about white pants, and also... tapeworm!
Speaking at the WEEI NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon with Dennis and Callahan, Curt Schilling revealed that he had mouth cancer, a form called squamous cell carcinoma. He blames his use of smokeless tobacco and says it is his biggest regret in life. This revelation has sparked debate about whether MLB should ban the use of all tobacco.
Greg Dickerson, Jerry Thornton and Rob Bradford fill for Dale and Holley, and the 2014 Patriots debate is in full swing.
We tackle four topics inspired by the injury to Angels pitcher Garrett Richards in last night's sox game.
Co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, talks about his Sam Adams beer and the history of his brewery.
Danny picard is filling in for Mikey and talks with CSNNE's Mike Giardi about Clay Buchholz heading up the Red Sox pitching rotation, and how the Patriots have looked through training camp so far.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Sam Packard and Zach Geld provide a thrilling and dynamic recap of the LLWS so far and prepare you for this weekend's games.
The 2014 season has been a fascinating case study in the immense challenges that players face in the transition from Triple-A to becoming full-time big leaguers. A case can be made that the gap between the two highest levels of competition is now larger than ever. Red Sox hitting coordinator Tim Hyers and bench coach Torey Lovullo explore that phenomenon, while also examining some measures that the team can undertake to narrow that huge divide.
Sam Packard and Zach Geld recap the the first four days of the Little League World Series. Mo'Ne Davis dominates and we get you ready for Japan-South Korea and Pennsylvania-Nevada.
Former Pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and World Series Champion Curt Schilling joined the Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon to talk about his experiences with cancer. Curt was joined by Dr. Haddad. He revealed that, in February, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer of the mouth. He attributes his mouth cancer to his use of chewing tobacco throughout his playing career.More from this show
Brady reacts to the win over the Eagles and talks about the progression of Jimmy Garoppolo.More from this show
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.More from this show