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Bill Belichick spoke at length about Pearl Harbor Wednesday on the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — On the 75th anniversary of the attack that changed the course of history forever, Bill Belichick took time to recall his naval roots and the lessons learned from Pearl Harbor, lessons that he continues to impart on his team to this day.

“It’s a pretty big day in our history, certainly in naval history,” Belichick said. “For me, the lesson on Pearl Harbor and for us as a team and individually I would say, is not what happened on Dec. 7, although that was a lesson there, but the response and what the response was from our nation, from our military, from our civilians, from our population to battle the world on two fronts and win both of them.

“What this country did under [Franklin] Roosevelt’s leadership as well as the multiple military leaders and to go fight in Europe and go fight in Southeast Asia and Japan in response to what happened on December 7, 1941 is pretty impressive.”

Belichick’s father, Steve, served in the Navy in World War II, something that greatly influenced the younger Belichick when he was growing up. Steve Belichick would return from his service and spend a lifetime working as an assistant football coach at the Naval Academy.

“I remember my dad talking a lot about that, and when it happened, when he found out and then when he went into the Navy and went to Great Lakes and eventually went to Europe and eventually went to Okinawa,” Belichick continued. “It was a tough time for this country but it was a great example of the patriotism of citizens, men, women, fighting together, pulling together and being victorious in a lot of different ways.

“It’s special, special day, one we hope we don’t have to see again. Tough day for the Navy but they responded, they bounced back. The Battle of Midway was really a huge turning point. Had that not gone the way it did, I don’t know. Probably been a longer fight.”

Belichick also noted the work of filmmaker Rhode Island filmmaker Tim Gray, a former sportscaster who has earned a reputation as one of the most respected historians and chroniclers of World War II.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Ed Hochuli will work as the referee for Monday’s Ravens-Patriots game.

Ed Hochuli will serve as the lead official for Sunday's Patriots-Ravens game. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Ed Hochuli will serve as the lead official for Sunday’s Patriots-Ravens game. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Ed Hochuli will work as the referee for Monday’s Ravens-Patriots game.

Maybe the most famous official in the league, the pumped-up Hochuli is given to over-explanations and increased on-air time. The 65-year-old has been an NFL referee since 1999 — this will be his first New England game of the season. He worked three Patriots games last year, including the AFC title game against the Broncos in Denver.

Here’s a look at who has worked as the referee for each New England regular-season game this year and the corresponding penalties for each game, not counting the flags that were offset or declined:

Sept. 11 at Arizona: Tony Corrente — 8 penalties, 69 yards (Cardinals — 6 penalties, 58 yards)
Sept. 18 vs. Miami: Craig Wrolstad — 7 penalties, 65 yards (Dolphins — 5 penalties, 49 yards)
Sept. 22 vs. Houston: Walt Coleman — 3 penalties, 15 yards (Texans — 6 penalties, 43 yards)
Oct. 2 vs. Buffalo: Pete Morelli — 9 penalties, 74 yards (Bills — 6 penalties, 60 yards)
Oct. 9 at Cleveland: Bill Vinovich — 5 penalties, 61 yards (Browns — 5 penalties, 35 yards)
Oct. 16 vs. Cincinnati: Ronald Torbert — 6 penalties, 55 yards (Bengals — 7 penalties, 46 yards)
Oct. 23 at Pittsburgh: Craig Wrolstad — 4 penalties, 40 yards (Steelers — 10 penalties, 85 yards)
Oct. 30 at Buffalo: John Parry — 10 penalties, 116 yards (Bills — 12 penalties, 84 yards)
Nov. 13 vs. Seattle: Gene Steratore — 7 penalties, 61 yards (Seahawks — 8 penalties, 60 yards)
Nov. 20 at San Francisco: Jeff Triplette — 5 penalties, 40 yards (Niners — 10 penalties, 68 yards)
Nov. 27 at New York Jets: Brad Allen — 2 penalties, 15 yards (Jets — 6 penalties, 66 yards)
Dec. 4 vs. Los Angeles: Jerome Boger — 8 penalties, 46 yards (Rams — 4 penalties, 30 yards)

For more on Hochuli work as a referee, check out his page at Pro Football Reference. For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Another AFC weekly award for the Patriots.

Following his 4-for-4 performance on Sunday against the Rams, Stephen Gostkowski was named the AFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week. Of his four field goals, three of which were from 40 yards or longer.

Stephen Gostkowski

Stephen Gostkowski

FOXBORO — Another AFC weekly award for the Patriots.

Following his 4-for-4 performance on Sunday against the Rams, Stephen Gostkowski was named the AFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week. Of his four field goals, three of which were from 40 yards or longer.

It was his 11th career game with at least four field goals, and it marked the third time in his career that has mas been successful on three field goals of 40 or more yards in a single game.

For the season, Gostkowski is 20-for-24 on field goals this season.

It’s the eighth time this season that a Patriots player has earned an NFL honor.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Dec 4, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA;  Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) runs after the catch during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore Ravens defeated Miami Dolphins 38-6. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Smith, at the age of 37, is still running free from defenders. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots will not play a team with stronger mental toughness than the Baltimore Ravens. And leading the way is one of the toughest players in the NFL.

Steve Smith, Sr. is in the 16th season of a career that could very possibly earn him a place in Canton.

Smith has twice come back from career-threatening injuries, including an Achilles injury in 2015, in what was supposed to be his final season of his career. But instead of retiring, Smith decided to come back for a third season with the Ravens.

This year, fully healthy, Smith has 54 catches for 589 yards and three touchdowns for a Ravens team that is tied with the Steelers at 7-5 atop the AFC North.

What is it about Steve Smith, now 37, that makes him such a unique and still-productive receiver?

“What a tremendous competitor. This guy is tough. He plays extremely quick,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. “You wouldn’t really think that he has been in the league as long as he has but he out-competes his opponents every play. He’s just got a drive about him that is definitely, I would say a little bit of an old school mentality that just he’s not going to be out-worked, he’s not going to be out-hustled, he’s not going to be out-competed by anybody else on the field. He’s a tough guy. He plays with great strength and they do a good job of utilizing him.”

This is the same Steve Smith that, while playing for Carolina, caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown and returned a kick 30 yards against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII. This is also the same Smith who made headlines during training camp in 2008 when he was involved in an altercation with teammate Ken Lucas. Smith broke Lucas’ nose during the fight and was later sent home for the remainder of the day after reportedly apologizing.

He was given a two-game suspension by the team. Smith then suffered a severe concussion during the 2008 preseason opener against the Colts, where Smith was hit in the head when catching a pass. He continued to play that game, but did not travel with the team to their next game against the Eagles. After returning from suspension and scoring his first touchdown of the 2008 season, Smith presented the ball to Lucas on the sideline. His career is so remarkable that it was documented in the NFL Films “A Football Life” this season.

“They’re going to move him around, they’re going to put him in different positions and get him the ball where he can either make some people miss or try to run over some people, just kind of use his natural ability to create some space and get yardage,” Patricia said. “But this is a guy that will compete in the run game. He’s going to go in there and he’s going to block, he’s going to get after the defensive backs and he’s going to try to really impose his will and be a physical presence in the run game also – which you don’t see that out of all the receivers week in and week out. This is a guy that just comes to play every week.”

This is also a guy that is still looking for his first ring. He missed out in 2003 in the loss to the Patriots. He suffered a season-ending broken leg in the ’04 season opener. He came to Baltimore in 2014, two seasons after the Ravens’ second Super Bowl title. Now, in what actually could be his final season, he is still catching passes with the dream of getting back to the Super Bowl for one more shot.

Smith has adapted to the “West Coast” offense under offensive coordinator Marty Mornhigweg. His 54 catches are third-most on the Ravens behind Dennis Pitta (61) and Mike Wallace (57).

“I think the thing is there are different offenses that he’s played in so it has been some different types of schemes and systems,” Patricia said. “I’ll say with Baltimore though, for what they’re asking him to do, I don’t really see a – people want to say a decline, or anything like that – I don’t see it. I mean this is a guy that is really competitive and goes out and just out-works.

“In a lot of cases the hustle, the things like that that show up, really out-produce anything else that maybe people are looking for. I think the routes and the system, the West Coast system, with Marty Mornhinweg and what they do from the passing game fits those quicker-type shorter throws where the ball is going to be on him fast and he’s going to be able to get the ball in his hands and be able to get yardage after the catch.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Dec 4, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA;  Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) runs after the catch during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore Ravens defeated Miami Dolphins 38-6. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Smith, at the age of 37, is still running free from defenders. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots will not play a team with stronger mental toughness than the Baltimore Ravens. And leading the way is one of the toughest players in the NFL.

Steve Smith, Sr. is in the 16th season of a career that could very possibly earn him a place in Canton.

Smith has twice come back from career-threatening injuries, including an Achilles injury in 2015, in what was supposed to be his final season of his career. But instead of retiring, Smith decided to come back for a third season with the Ravens.

This year, fully healthy, Smith has 54 catches for 589 yards and three touchdowns for a Ravens team that is tied with the Steelers at 7-5 atop the AFC North.

What is it about Steve Smith, now 37, that makes him such a unique and still-productive receiver?

“What a tremendous competitor. This guy is tough. He plays extremely quick,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. “You wouldn’t really think that he has been in the league as long as he has but he out-competes his opponents every play. He’s just got a drive about him that is definitely, I would say a little bit of an old school mentality that just he’s not going to be out-worked, he’s not going to be out-hustled, he’s not going to be out-competed by anybody else on the field. He’s a tough guy. He plays with great strength and they do a good job of utilizing him.”

This is the same Steve Smith that, while playing for Carolina, caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown and returned a kick 30 yards against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII. This is also the same Smith who made headlines during training camp in 2008 when he was involved in an altercation with teammate Ken Lucas. Smith broke Lucas’ nose during the fight and was later sent home for the remainder of the day after reportedly apologizing.

He was given a two-game suspension by the team. Smith then suffered a severe concussion during the 2008 preseason opener against the Colts, where Smith was hit in the head when catching a pass. He continued to play that game, but did not travel with the team to their next game against the Eagles. After returning from suspension and scoring his first touchdown of the 2008 season, Smith presented the ball to Lucas on the sideline. His career is so remarkable that it was documented in the NFL Films “A Football Life” this season.

“They’re going to move him around, they’re going to put him in different positions and get him the ball where he can either make some people miss or try to run over some people, just kind of use his natural ability to create some space and get yardage,” Patricia said. “But this is a guy that will compete in the run game. He’s going to go in there and he’s going to block, he’s going to get after the defensive backs and he’s going to try to really impose his will and be a physical presence in the run game also – which you don’t see that out of all the receivers week in and week out. This is a guy that just comes to play every week.”

This is also a guy that is still looking for his first ring. He missed out in 2003 in the loss to the Patriots. He suffered a season-ending broken leg in the ’04 season opener. He came to Baltimore in 2014, two seasons after the Ravens’ second Super Bowl title. Now, in what actually could be his final season, he is still catching passes with the dream of getting back to the Super Bowl for one more shot.

Smith has adapted to the “West Coast” offense under offensive coordinator Marty Mornhigweg. His 54 catches are third-most on the Ravens behind Dennis Pitta (61) and Mike Wallace (57).

“I think the thing is there are different offenses that he’s played in so it has been some different types of schemes and systems,” Patricia said. “I’ll say with Baltimore though, for what they’re asking him to do, I don’t really see a – people want to say a decline, or anything like that – I don’t see it. I mean this is a guy that is really competitive and goes out and just out-works.

“In a lot of cases the hustle, the things like that that show up, really out-produce anything else that maybe people are looking for. I think the routes and the system, the West Coast system, with Marty Mornhinweg and what they do from the passing game fits those quicker-type shorter throws where the ball is going to be on him fast and he’s going to be able to get the ball in his hands and be able to get yardage after the catch.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Terrell Suggs leads the Baltimore defense into Foxboro for another date with the Patriots. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Terrell Suggs leads the Baltimore defense into Foxboro for another date with the Patriots. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Five things you have to know about Ravens (7-5), who will travel to meet the Patriots (10-2) in a key AFC clash Monday night in Foxboro.

They’re OK at throwing the ball. Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco (321-for-497, 65 percent, 3,258 yards, 15 TDs, 11 INTs) leads a better-than-average passing attack that is currently 12th in the league (258 yards per game). Flacco does a nice job spreading things around in the passing game — six different offensive skill position players have 20 catches or more on the season, led by tight end Dennis Pitta (61 catches, 87 targets, 529 yards, 2 TDs), wide receiver Mike Wallace (57 catches, 92 targets, 851 yards, 4 TDs) and the ageless Steve Smith (54 catches, 76 targets, 589 yards, 3 TDs). The depth of the Baltimore passing game will be a good test for a New England secondary that has been tweaked a bit over the last few months.

They will occasionally have issues when it comes to pass defense. The Ravens are seventh in the league in passing yards allowed, having yielded an average of 222.3 yards per game. (Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning, Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton all had 250 or more passing yards against Baltimore.) The defense is pretty good when it comes to takeaways, as the Ravens have 14 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. (The 22 takeaways are tied for fourth in the league.) Safety Eric Weddle and linebacker C.J. Mosley are tied for the team lead with three interceptions each, while Terrell Suggs is tops on the team with eight sacks. One more note: former New England defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been Baltimore’s DC since 2012. In four career games vs. Pees’ Baltimore defenses, quarterback Tom Brady is 2-2, and has gone 104-for-171 (61 percent) for 1,194 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Not bad, but not great either. With Baltimore’s run defense so stout and Rob Gronkowski on the shelf, Monday will be a sizable challenge for Brady and the Patriots’ passing game.

They’re really good at stopping the run. From a statistical standpoint, this is the best run defense the Patriots will face all season. The Ravens allow a paltry 73.8 rushing yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry, both of which are the best total in the league. In nine of the 12 games they’ve played, they’ve held opponents to 65 yards or less on the ground. Only two backs (Matt Forte and Isaiah Crowell) have hit the 100-yard mark all year against them. Bottom line? Don’t look for the Patriots to run the ball a lot on Monday.

As good as they are at stopping the run, they struggle to run the ball as a team. If there’s a weakness to the Ravens, it’s probably their lack of a ground game. Baltimore averages 89.7 rushing yards per game, 28th in the league, while the 3.7 yards per carry is good for 26th overall. Terrance West (163 carries, 650 yards, 5 TDs) is the closest thing they have to a lead back, while Kenneth Dixon (46 carries, 206 yards, 18 catches, 100 yards) is their answer as a third-down/change-up guy. While the Ravens occasionally been able to get the running game cranked up — they had 130 yards in an October loss to the Raiders — they’re pretty much a one-dimensional offense.

Kicker Justin Tucker is one of the best in the league.
Tucker is the only regular kicker in the league who has been perfect when it comes to field goal attempts this season; the Texas product is 28-for-28 from the field (including 8-for-8 from 50-plus) and 20-for-20 on extra points. Punter Sam Koch is pretty good as well, as his 46 yards per punt average is 12th in the league and his 39.4 net is 21st. The Ravens have used a few different returners, but right now, veteran Devin Hester appears to be getting the majority of reps at both spots. Hester gas 24 punt returns for an average of 7 yards per chance and 17 kick returns for an average of 25.1 yards per opportunity. Good numbers, but nowhere near as impactful as he was earlier in his career. They do not have a return for touchdown, but yielded a punt return for a touchdown earlier in the season.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

On Sunday against the Rams, the Patriots were hit with eight penalties for 46 yards, not including the calls that were declined or offset. Through 12 games this year, the Patriots have been whistled for 74 penalties (fifth fewest in the league) and 657 penalty yards (11th fewest in the league). Here’s a breakdown of the flags that have gone against New England after 12 regular-season games:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
OL Joe Thuney: 7 (4 offensive holding, 3 false starts), 55 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: 5 (offensive holding, 3 false starts, taunting), 40 yards
CB Justin Coleman: 4 (defensive holding, 2 defensive pass interference, clipping — special teams), 53 yards
OL Nate Solder: 4 (chop block, 2 offensive holding, false start), 40 yards
OL David Andrews: 4 (tripping, 3 offensive holding), 40 yards
OL Marcus Cannon: 4 (2 offensive holding, false start, ineligible downfield pass) 30 yards
CB Eric Rowe: 3 (2 defensive pass interference, illegal contact), 63 yards
CB Malcolm Butler: 3 (defensive pass interference, defensive holding, illegal use of hands), 31 yards
TE Martellus Bennett: 3 (3 offensive holding), 30 yards
CB Logan Ryan: 3 (defensive pass interference, illegal use of hands, defensive holding), 30 yards
Team/ST: 3 (illegal shift, 3 12 men on the field), 16 yards
LB Dont’a Hightower: 2 (unnecessary roughness, defensive pass interference), 22 yards
DE Chris Long: 2 (roughing the passer, defensive offsides), 20 yards
WR Chris Hogan: 2 (offensive pass interference, offensive holding), 14 yards
WR Julian Edelman: 2 (2 false starts), 10 yards
ST Jonathan Jones: 2 (offensive holding, false start), 10 yards
DL Alan Branch: 2 (encroachment, neutral zone infraction), 5 yards
RB LeGarrette Blount: 1 (unnecessary roughness), 15 yards
CB Cyrus Jones: 1 (disqualification), 15 yards
LB Jamie Collins: 1 (leaping), 15 yards
QB Tom Brady: 1 (intentional grounding), 10 yards
ST/S Devin McCourty: 1 (offensive holding — special teams), 10 yards
ST/S Nate Ebner: 1 (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
WR Danny Amendola: 1 (offensive pass interference), 10 yards
OL Shaq Mason: 1 (offensive holding), 10 yards
OL Ted Karras: 1 (offensive holding), 9 yards
DB/ST Brandon King: 1 (false start), 5 yards
P Ryan Allen: 1 (delay of game), 5 yards
TE AJ Derby: 1 (false start), 5 yards
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 1 (delay of game), 5 yards
LB Jonathan Freeny: 1 (defensive holding), 5 yards
LB/ST Barkevious Mingo: 1 (false start), 5 yards
DL Malcom Brown: 1 (defensive holding), 5 yards
LB Elandon Roberts: 1 (illegal contact), 5 yards
WR Malcolm Mitchell: 1 (false start), 5 yards

Most penalized by position
Offensive line: 21 penalties, 184 yards
Cornerback: 13 penalties, 183 yards
Tight end: 9 penalties, 75 yards
Special teams: 9 penalties, 59 yards
Wide receiver: 6 penalties, 39 yards
Linebacker: 5 penalties, 47 yards
Defensive line: 5 penalties, 30 yards
Team: 3 penalty, 10 yards
Quarterback: 2 penalty, 15 yards
Running back: 1 penalty, 15 yards

Most frequently called penalties
Offensive holding: 20
False start: 15
Defensive pass interference: 7
Defensive holding: 5
12 men on the field: 3
Delay of game: 2
Unnecessary roughness: 2
Offensive pass interference: 2
Illegal use of hands: 2
Illegal contact: 2
Leaping: 1
Disqualification: 1
Tripping: 1
Clipping: 1
Roughing the passer: 1
Chop block: 1
Ineligible downfield pass: 1
Defensive offsides: 1
Intentional grounding: 1
Illegal block above the waist: 1
Neutral zone infraction: 1
Illegal shift: 1
Encroachment: 1

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

With the stretch drive looming, the AFC playoff picture is starting to come into sharper focus. Here’s a snapshot of the current conference playoff chase, with a look at the top eight teams in the conference, their record, where they stand currently in the race for the postseason and their remaining schedule.