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New England Patriots Links 12/20/11 - Belichick: Players 'Showed a lot of Mental Toughness'

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<em>Tiquan Underwood's hair has a higher calling</em>.
Tiquan Underwood's hair has a higher calling.

Bill Belichick likes the way the Patriots hung in there in Denver after a tough first quarter.

Like I said yesterday after the game, it feels good to go out there and win in Denver. Real good football team; Denver has obviously done a lot of things well the last few weeks, playing well in all three phases of the game. I thought our players really did a good job. It wasn't perfect, but they showed a lot of mental toughness on the road against a good football team - fell behind early, hung in there, finished the game [with] pretty good style. I think a lot of credit, really all the credit, needs to go to those guys for stepping in there and doing a good job in a tough environment against a good football team. We made enough plays to win. It was a good trip home.

Rob Ninkovich recaps the game on the Mut & Merloni show.

"You go into each week preparing for what that team has done in the previous few weeks, Ninkovich said. "Every team’s going to come in and do something different to you. Denver, you’ve got to give them credit for coming in and having a good, solid game plan that we had to adjust to."

"The first couple of drives, we didn’t have everything all together as far as our communication and all that stuff. We had to settle down a little bit and all come together and just say, hey, we can’t let this go on or else it’s not going to be a good game for us. We just had to stop the run, and those turnovers were huge for us."

"It’s the bend-but-don’t-break mentality," he said. "There’s always frustration when there’s big runs being broken out. You’ve just got to be calm and collected and talk to each other and make sure that we’re all on the same page. You can’t panic. As the year has gone on, yeah, we’ve let up some yardage. But when the game’s over, we’re still winning, so that’s all that matters."

Wes Welker talks to Mut & Merloni following Sunday's 41-23 victory over the Broncos in which nine Patriots caught passes from Tom Brady in another example of the team’s balance.

"I think that’s a key for us, is to make sure we’re spreading it around and make it where they can’t really focus on one guy, and everybody getting touches," Welker said. "It becomes a team game then. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s how you win football games. I think that’s the way we’ve got to play it."

On if he thinks about his contract expiring after this season. "I try to put it out of my mind," Welker said. "We’re having such a good year this year. We’re in such a great spot. To cause any sort of distraction to pull away from what we’re trying to achieve and what we’re trying to do as a team, it wouldn’t be in the best interest of what we’re trying to do. Do I think about it? I’m human. It’s hard not to. But at the same time, you’re professional, and you understand that. And you want to go out there and do your job to the best of your ability."

TEAM TALK

LOCAL LINKS

  • Christopher Price gets an NFL scout's take on this week's Miami game: "It's a tough matchup for New England."
  • Mike Reiss reports Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will be the CBS broadcast duo for this week's Miami Dolphins game at Gillette Stadium.
  • Shalise Manza Young reports the Patriots are the number seed in the AFC after Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Houston lost this weekend.
  • Ian Rapoport talks more about the Pats switch to a 3-4 after Andre Carter's injury at the end of the first quarter.
  • Christopher Price writes that without Andre Carter, Mark Anderson will lead the Patriots' pass rush.
  • Mike Reiss serves up some leftover thoughts from Mile High.
  • Gerry Callahan says Tim Tebow was glaringly overmatched when on the field against Tom Brady.
  • Rich Levine reports that the bigger story than Tim Tebow is that the Patriots improved.
  • Danny Picard says the week-to-week game plan is key for the Patriots offense.
  • Jeff Howe reports the Patriots doubled rookie defensive end Markell Carter's practice squad salary to $306,000 from $149,000.
  • Tony Massarotti tries to convince himself that the Patriots might be a tad better than he believes they are.
  • Mike Reiss offers some quick hits from Monday's conference calls with Belichick, Caserio and O'Brien.
  • Carolyn Thornton notes the Patriots are quick to put Denver behind them.
  • Mike Reiss takes a look at the snaps played by Patriots defenders in Sunday's win over the Broncos and analyzes what it means.
  • Mike Reiss points out the top players on special teams.
  • WEEI offers the transcript of Tom Brady's weekly Q&A with Dennis & Callahan. Brady says he's "got to find ways to get [Chad Ochocinco] the ball more."
  • WEEI highlights Boomer Esiason's Monday morning call-in to the Dennis & Callahan show.
  • Tedy Bruschi offers the transcript of his online chat following the big win in Denver by the Patriots.
  • Ian Rapoport Patriots Notebook: Andre Carter was put on IR Monday; Wes Welker is next up on the contract docket now that Jerod Mayo is signed; Bill O'Brien explains the Patriots pass play to Aaron Hernandez on 4th-and-1; Hernandez had a big game Sunday when the Broncos deciding to take away Rob Gronkowski; Bill Belichick holds onto his game plans, hats, T-shirts, draft books, notes, etc... saying it's hard to get rid of things he's worked so hard on.
  • Shalise Manza Young Patriots Notebook: Andre Carter tweeted that this season has "been a blast" before being placed on IR; Patriots could turn to Markell Carter who recently received a pay raise; Pats-Broncos was the network's highest regular-season overnight rating since the 2007 Patriots' 24-20 win over the Colts; Tom Brady admitted to being sore after the full-speed Elvis Dumervil sack; Chad Ochocinco helped Aaron Hernandez start a Twitter account.
  • Jeff Howe grades the Patriots in his Week 15 Report Card.
  • Kirk Minihane grades the Patriots in his Week 15 Report Card. Brady and Hernandez head the class.
  • Ron Borges issues his Week 15 Report Card with this observation: The Patriots defense makes every game an adventure.

NATIONAL NEWS