Players will later be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft during the week leading up to the game, which will be played on January 25, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, site of Super Bowl XLIX. (If the Patriots are one of the two teams involved in the Super Bowl, they’re excused from playing in the game.)
Here’s a portion of the release issued by the team:
Brady was named to the Pro Bowl for a franchise record 10th time in his 15-year career. This year’s selection moves Brady ahead of Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. It is Brady’s sixth consecutive selection to the all-star game. He was voted to the Pro Bowl after each of the following seasons: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and now, 2014. Brady heads into the final week of the season with 4,029 yards and 33 touchdown passes. He joined Drew Brees (9) and Peyton Manning (14) as the only NFL players to have at least seven seasons with 4,000 passing yards. Brady also guided the Patriots to their 12th division title of his career, the most by a quarterback in NFL history.
Gostkowski was named to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career and for the second straight season. He enters the final week of the season with an NFL-leading 147 points. He has led the NFL in points in 2008, 2012 and 2013 and can become just the third player to lead the NFL in points in at least four seasons. Gostkowski became the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer vs. Miami (12/14) and currently has 1,170 career points. He is 32-of-34 on field goals in 2014 for a 94.1 field goal percentage. If he stays on pace, that will be the highest field goal percentage in team history for a season. Gronkowski was named to the Pro Bowl for the third time after being selected in 2011 and 2012. He heads into the final game of the season with 1,124 yards on 82 receptions with 12 touchdowns. He became the first tight end in NFL history to with four seasons of 10 or more touchdowns and is the second tight end in NFL history to have two 1,000-yard and at least 10 touchdowns in a single season.
Revis was named to his sixth Pro Bowl in the last seven seasons. He was previously voted to the Pro Bowl following the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 seasons. Revis currently leads the NFL with 123 passes defensed since he entered the NFL in 2007 and has played a key role in a Patriots defense that is ranked 13th overall and eighth in scoring by allowing just 19.7 points per game.
Slater earned his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl selection as a special teams specialist. The former fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA earned a roster position with the Patriots as a rookie in 2008 with his contributions on special teams. Entering the 2011 season, teammates elected him as their special teams captain. That year, he was also selected to his first Pro Bowl. Since then, he has earned special teams captain honors to start each season and been voted to the Pro Bowl at season’s end. He led the Patriots in special teams tackles for three of the last four seasons and enters the final week of the 2014 season with a team-leading 14 special teams tackles.
FOXBORO — As he took the dais Tuesday for his weekly press conference at Gillette Stadium, Tom Brady was asked how much he’s looking forward to Christmas on Thursday and if he’s looking forward to getting something special under the tree.
“It’s better to give than receive. Things are good,” Brady said.
Certainly, the Bengals gift-wrapped a nice present on Monday, putting a nice bow on the No. 1 seed in the AFC for the Patriots and Brady, giving them home field throughout the playoffs before they take the field against the Bills.
“That was really out of our control [Monday] night,” Brady said, turning to more of a serious and somber mood. “I think we did our best to do our part on Sunday, which was good, but still the season is not over for us. There is plenty of time to think about things down the road down the road. This isn’t the time for it. We’ve got to go play well this week. That is the attitude and that is what all the leaders of the team have to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
But if you think that means Sunday doesn’t mean anything to Brady, think again.
“It’s important. They’re all important,” Brady said of the divisional matchup between the 12-3 Patriots and the 8-7 Bills. “I think they all take on different meanings, and this is a big game for us in that it gives us an opportunity to try to improve certainly on last week’s performance and with the week off, you realize we’re going to have a little time to rest up. We just want to go out and play well and see if we can string together as many good plays as possible.
“This defense will challenge you. They’ve got a good front, one of the best defenses in the league, one of the best defenses we’ve faced all year. They’re tops in the league in almost every category. We’ve played a lot of good defenses this year. This one doesn’t really take a backseat to anybody. We’ll have to, on a Christmas week, deal with a little bit of a different schedule like we are today and have enough mental toughness to go out there and try to be at our best.”
Brady said the team isn’t worried about entering the playoffs with momentum. The bigger concern, Brady said, is playing a solid game against the Bills.
“You can’t look past this week,” Brady said. “I think we have to improve our execution this week, and it starts with practice today to see if we can do a better job with our communication, with our overall understanding of one another and what we’re trying to accomplish out there on every play.
“When you don’t do it consistently, it’s hard to score points. The more we can be on the same page, the more we can understand the anticipation of each other and the more we understand what we’re all trying to do, the better we’re going to be and the more we’re going to score points. It’ll be good for us to go out there and try to score a lot of points this weekend. That’s really the goal is to try to score every time we touch the ball. This defense challenges you in a lot of ways to stop you from doing that, so it’ll be good for us to be able to do it.”
Here are more takeaways from Brady on Tuesday:
Q: Could you talk about how far the team has come since being 2-2 going into Week 5?
TB: Yeah, I think we’ve still got one really important game left for us, and we’re going to go out there and play really hard against a team that is a good team. They’ve played a lot of good football this year, and we’d obviously like to end on a high note and try to go out there and play a really good game for 60 minutes. That’d be great for our offense to be able to do.
Q: What did you see from this defense in the Green Bay and Denver games when they held those offenses in check?
TB: They’ve got a great defense. They challenge you. They’ve got good coverage. They’ve got 50 sacks, 30 turnovers. So, when you get two a game sacking the quarterback that means you’re forcing them into long-yardage situations and punting. So, between the turnovers and the punts, you just don’t score many points. They really have a lot of good players at every level of the defense, a very mentally and physically tough team. We’re going to have to match that, we’re going to have to bring our own intensity, bring some emotion and try to go out there and execute really well.
Q: What do you like about the way you guys have played at Gillette Stadium this year?
TB: That’s a good question. We’ve always played pretty well at home. Certainly, we’ve got great fans who support us. We’ve got the weather elements, conditions ‘ the wind always comes into play. Because we practice in that, I always feel like that’s a great advantage for us, too. I think trying to get ahead of these teams and staying ahead and playing from ahead is really important to get the crowd into it. Our defense really feeds off of it, kind of like what happened in the Miami week. We didn’t play really well in the first half, came out and made a bunch of plays in the second half and ended up winning by a bigger margin. We’ve got to be able to execute really well. I think more important than anything, the execution of what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish is the most important thing. We’ve done a good job of that at home. It’s going to be important this week to do that, for us to have a lot of urgency and to go out there and make as many good plays as possible.
Q: In the time you’ve spent practicing against him, what stands out to you about the play of Jamie Collins?
TB: He’s become really a great playmaker for us. Certainly, the play he made last week was a great play. I hope he continues to make them. It’s just his second year, so every year you grow and you learn more and you have a better understanding. Jamie has just done a great job in his role. We don’t go against him much in practice. Our offense doesn’t do that. He doesn’t play scout team anymore.
Q: Did you see this in him last year when he was on scout team?
TB: I didn’t pay attention much. He wasn’t playing much scout team last year, either ‘ maybe a little bit sporadically. All the credit goes to him and his work ethic and what he’s been able to accomplish.
Q: With the first round bye and the holiday season, there seems to be time for a sense of accomplishment to sink in with younger players. Do you stay on that, along with the other leaders on the team, to let them know you’re still building?
TB: I think Coach [Bill] Belichick always does a pretty good job of that. He expects our best every day. That’s what we’re obviously out there trying to do as well. Some weeks it looks better than others; some weeks it doesn’t. Every week is different; the matchups are different each week. I think you just try to approach it the same way. It could be weeks like this where Christmas is right in the middle of the week and there’s New Year’s around the corner, and you might have a lot of other things going on, but for us it’s football season and for guys who have been around it’s football season. We’ve worked pretty hard to get to this point. I think this is the time to put the pedal to the metal and not really go the other direction.
Q: As you go into the final week of the season, where does the offense stand and what needs to be done to get it to where it needs to be?
TB: I think we just have pretty high expectations for what we do. We’re trying to score a lot of points. Our communication and our anticipation of one another need to continually get better, so that’s what we go out in practice and try to do. Some weeks, like I said, it’s better than others. Some weeks test you in different ways, and there are different matchups. Hopefully this week can be better than last week.
Q: In the past, is what you do in the last four weeks collectively more important than what you do in the last week of the season heading into the playoffs?
TB: Every game is important. I don’t think you can just really generalize about months of football and so forth. Every game is really its own matchup. It’s a whole different team; it’s different everything. We just have to go out and execute as well as we can in this game. That’s the only thing that matters. Nothing in the past has mattered. Nothing weeks from now is going to matter. I just think everybody’s got to focus on what we need to do this week to try to make ourselves a better football team.
Q: How important is building momentum going into the playoffs?
TB: When it ends well, every team is always building momentum. I think the team that ultimately wins the final game of the year is the one that has had the best ‘¦ There is only one team that wins the final game of the year once you start the playoffs, so everybody else has pretty bad seasons, unless you win the final game. Every team is trying to build, and I think when you win a bunch of games, you string a bunch together, you can build some momentum. Like I said, every game is different. Every game, you have an individual set of goals and you have an individual set of plays and matchups and so forth. You’re just trying to get to the things that you’re good at versus the things they’re not good at, and every week those things are going to change. It’s probably easier to look back and say we built momentum at that time rather than when you’re in it, and you don’t really feel like on a daily basis, like today was a good day for building momentum, so to speak. Like I said, it’s probably easier to look back after things are finished to evaluate that.
With the top seed in the AFC now locked up, how will Bill Belichick and Tom Brady play it this weekend against the Bills? (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO — There have been times this season when Josh McDaniels has come under sharp criticism for play calling and offensive game planning.
Like Sunday, when the Patriots couldn’t get going in the first half, only to gain a little momentum in the second half with a no-huddle look. That led to Tom Brady being asked after the game why the Patriots don’t stick more with the up-tempo look.
“I don’t know,” Brady said.
Brady made it clear on Tuesday he has no issues with Josh McDaniels. Just the opposite. There is no one Brady would rather have by his side than McDaniels on the sidelines.
“We’ve been together for a long time, and I’m lucky to have him,” Brady said of McDaniels who returned in 2011 in the middle of a run to the Super Bowl. “He’s a great coach, great person and a great friend. He’s everything you ask for in a coach.”
McDaniels has been on the Patriots since 2001, a year after Brady was drafted out of Michigan. McDaniels has been Brady’s quarterback since 2004, with a three-year hiatus starting in 2009 when he was head coach of the Denver Broncos and offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams.
“He makes everything easier for everybody,” Brady said. “He’s smart, he’s very mentally tough, he tries to get the best out of us every week, he has high expectations. I think he’s a great coach, a phenomenal coach.
Brady said Tuesday that he and McDaniels continue to have healthy conversations and debate during games, a dialogue he insists is productive.
“He and I are always in communication on things you’d like to do or like to see,” Brady said. “He’s the play caller, and you want to be confident in things you’re calling. As a quarterback you want to be confident in the things that you’re doing, too. There is always a balance that you find there. Sometimes I might like something more than Josh likes it. There are maybe times where he likes something more than I like it. But we have a great relationship in order to communicate those things.”
Has that dialogue ever turned bitter or sarcastic when things don’t go well offensively?
“I don’t think you ever point fingers in a team sport, and say, ‘Well that was your idea,’ or ‘That was your fault.’ You’re in it together, so you cheer for each other. You hope that someone has a great idea that works. That’s what you want. You want all the plays to be good plays at the end of the day, and you don’t want to feel like ‘¦ You’d never say, ‘That was a crappy call,’ or ‘That was a crappy throw.’
“Everyone knows we’re trying to get the best out of each other. You’re always dealing with the process more than necessarily the result, because if you’re always focused on the result, sometimes they make a good play, too. Even though you may make a good play, they make a better play and it doesn’t go for any yards. But as long as you’re thinking the right thing or seeing the right thing or evaluating the right thing and your process is still the right thing, you’ve got to think that you’re going to win more than you’re going to lose.”
There was that famous scene in the 2009 episode of a “A Football Life: Bill Belichick” when Brady walked into Bill Belichick’s office, sat down and went over game plan strategy. That was the first year without McDaniels. How has that quarterback-head coach dynamic changed since McDaniels returned?
“Coach [Belichick] and I, we’re always in communication, so we talk quite a bit throughout the week,” Brady said. “He does a good job of letting me play, and I let him coach. That’s what he wants me doing is going out there and playing well. And certainly with Josh, he and I are linked all the time in what we do.
“We’re in every meeting together. We’re always trying to figure out ways to gain more yards, score more points. That’s what our jobs are, so we try to do that as well as we possibly can and when it doesn’t go well, you go back and evaluate and you start again.”
Peter King of Sports Illustrated joins the show to talk about the Patriots clinching homefield advantage and who the AFC is contenders.
[0:00:53] ... seeing her every Christmas now. Peter after last night's loss by the DenverBroncos in Cincinnati we know that the AFC championship comes through Foxboro. Is there a team in the AFC that you fear could ... [0:02:36] ... the patriots got here but before we go there. Quite simply it's PeytonManning hurt in your opinion. I don't think he totally healthy Michael let. Question now. That similar find out from anybody it is put side by side early in the same pass. Think the only way you're going to be able to see that is. You know whether this environment. To be able to judge in the last night there was some weather in Cincinnati and and it rained a lot. I think each troubled by the wind Trentdilfer's that this week. He's just like I was late in his career to win really bothers them a lot you can tell. ... [0:04:17] ... surprisingly good solid look at forego the flutter ball knock knuckleball from PeytonManning. Got a couple of throws down the same worship while Peyton can make that they were pretty good rose. Didn't look like ... [0:06:53] ... off before they start playing. That's the great debate over a year MikeMcCarthy it's opium Monday in Green Bay I think you're really corrections and Smart. And he says I'm glad that we've got to ...
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price preview the Patriots and Buffalo Bills in the Week 17 regular season finale at Gillette Stadium. The 12-3 Patriots have nothing at stake in the game except to stay healthy and get ready for the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Petraglia and Price break down what the Patriots will be looking to accomplish in their playoff tuneup.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the Patriots' approach for Sunday's game against Buffalo, a game rendered essentially meaningless now that the Patriots have clinched the No. 1 seed.
[0:00:20] ... the Super Bowl in Glendale Arizona. Thanks to Andy Dalton and the CincinnatiBengals taking care of Peyton Manning in the DenverBroncos on Monday night. By a score of 37 to 28 for the patriots have a week to really get themselves healthy get themselves ready for the playoff push. But as the as bill well it second TomBrady were talking here on Tuesday. It's really not so much about looking towards the playoffs as that is making sure that they ... [0:02:16] ... week when you're looking at the patriots. All right double check and TomBrady again that would not offer any indication of exactly how much they're gonna play and that's no shock I mean we've seen that. For many years around here at Gillette Stadium but what was interesting to me. Was the fact that there is a single minded focus here at Gillette as you go into the playoffs and it was kind of a somber mood UT got the sense and and looking at Belichick and definitely talking to TomBrady they were not pleased with how things really unfolded. In New York on Sunday they got the win but still see it ... [0:04:03] ... of today to stay here to let stadium. Is the praise that TomBrady had. For Josh McDaniels Josh McDaniels we all know. Has been the butt of a lot of criticism but of a lot of jokes and really the subject of a lot of criticism. Among patriot fans and throughout patriot nation but TomBrady really stepped up today. And called him a phenomenal coach a great coach a close friend and somebody I trust. Really wholeheartedly ... [0:06:15] ... little bit different. I'm gonna ask you the prediction of how much TomBrady Rob Gronkowski and VinceWilfork play because that's really what a lot of fans are wondering about come Sunday. They can be looked good out of the ...
The Patriots signed defensive lineman Cameron Henderson to the practice squad and released defensive back Daxton Swanson from the practice squad on Tuesday. Here’s a portion of the release issued by the team on the move:
Henderson, 24, was signed by New England to the practice squad on Sept. 9, 2014 and released on Sept. 16, 2014. He originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Atlanta Falcons on April 29, 2013 out of Central Florida. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder, was released by the Falcons on Aug. 25, 2014 and was signed to the Cleveland Browns practice squad on Dec. 4, 2013. He went to training camp this past summer with Cleveland, but was released on Aug. 25, 2014. He played two seasons at Central Florida after beginning his college career at Vavarro College.
Swanson, 23, was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Sept. 1, 2014 and then released from the practice squad on Sept. 3, 2014 before being re-signed on Sept. 17. He was released again on Nov. 26 and re-signed on Dec. 3. Swanson was originally signed by the Patriots as a free agent on May 22, 2014. He entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Indianapolis Colts on April 30, 2013, out of Sam Houston State. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder was released by the Colts on Oct. 29, 2013 and was signed to the San Francisco 49ers practice squad on Nov. 18, 2013. He was released by San Francisco on May 12, 2014.
Every week over the course of the 2014 season, we’ll provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. Like all stats, the numbers have to be placed on context of game-situations and personnel. And while sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Currently, the Patriots are tied for 10th in the league in sacks with 38. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots after 15 games for the 2014 regular season:
FOXBORO — With the exception of practice squad defensive back Daxton Swanson, the Patriots had perfect attendance at practice on Tuesday.
New England was in sweats and shells on the lower grass fields behind Gillette Stadium, and the team was joined by new defensive end Cam Henderson, who was wearing No. 98. The Patriots continue preparing for their regular-season finale against the Bills Sunday afternoon in Foxboro.