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New England Patriots Links 1/02/12 - Patriots Start Slow, Finish Strong, Earn No. 1 Seed in AFC

Tom Brady is asked about what piling up individual records means to him.

I play this game for one reason and it's to win. There's nothing more important to me than that. As a quarterback you do everything you can do to help this team win. When your number is called upon to go out and execute certain plays, that's what you're expected to do. It's not something I think about, it's not something I ever [think], 'Man, I love throwing touchdowns,' or 'I love throwing for yards.' I love winning and that helps me sleep at night.

Bill Belichick talks about having Brian Hoyer throw to Rob Gronkowski on the final drive, with the team up 49-21, so he would have a chance to get the record.

"That last play, I had [offensive coordinator] Billy [O'Brien] call that because I wasn't sure exactly where he was and I thought he deserved a chance to go up and try to make another play. He's had a great year, he's worked hard, and I thought he deserved that."

Rob Gronkowski talks about Belichick giving him the chance to break the record for most TE receiving yards.

"It's unbelievable. It's surreal that they even let me get that opportunity. It's cool that they'd even let me go out there. We could have just kneed the ball, we put [backup quarterback Brian] Hoyer in the game, and he threw a nice pass, and I just went up and made a play. That's what is so great about being here with your teammates, with the coaches, everyone is so unselfish that it's crazy. I thanked them after the game letting me have a chance like that. It never would have been done without my teammates, without Aaron [Hernandez], without the QBs, without the coaches."



  • Ian Rapoport reports the Patriots closed out the regular season with a big rally, an eight-game win-streak, a No. 1 seed and more - but those slow starts have to stop.
  • Mike Reiss gives his first take on the Patriots 49-21 win over the Bills and analyzes what it means.
  • Shalise Manza Young notes it was fitting for the Patriots to come back from a 21-point deficit, because of the way they ran out to a 21-point lead in Week 3, and lost it.
  • Greg A. Bedard notes that by now, Pats fans are used to games being messy, but at the end of the day seeing a certain charm to the performance.
  • Paul Kenyon reports the Patriots turned the tables on Buffalo with 49 unanswered points.
  • Zuri Berry recaps Patriots-Bills with the drive-by-drive details.
  • Dan Shaughnessy calls this year's Patriots "a mirage".
  • Karen Guregian gets queasy every time the defense steps on the field.
  • Mike Reiss talks about the defensive adjustments made by the Patriots after Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 246 yards in the first half.
  • Steve Kranser reports on Tom Brady overtaking the 5,000-yard passing-yardage mark.
  • Steve Buckley points out some of the individual achievements earned by Tom Brady this season.
  • Mark Farinella calls the dynamic duo of tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, devastating and unstoppable.
  • Julian Benbow says Aaron Hernandez' high-stepping trip to the end zone sparked the Patriots offense.
  • Mike Rodak notes the use of Devin McCourty at safety for significant portions of Sunday's win.
  • Mark Farinella reports Belichick's McCourty to safety experiment was successful.
  • Mike Rodak notes rookie DB Sterling Moore had a career day in the season finale.
  • Jim Donaldson finds this Patriots season was one of big comebacks and many drawbacks.
  • Glen Farley says the heat's about to be cranked up on the Patriots.
  • Mike Reiss looks at the offensive snaps played by skill-position players and analyzes what it means.
  • Mike Reiss looks at the positional groupings utilized by the Patriots and notes the big TE is back.
  • Mark Farinella wonders what will happen if the Steelers or Ravens throw three quick TDs while the Patriots are still struggling to get out of their own way.
  • Tom E. Curran says the Patriots are playing with fire with the bad starts they've had.
  • Mike Reiss thinks the Bengals have one of the best chances to beat the Texans in Houston, and if they do, the Patriots avoid a Pittsburgh/Baltimore back-to-back scenario.
  • Ian Rapoport Patriots Notebook: Everyone was just as excited as Rob Gronkowski was when he broke the TE record; Bill Belichick rarely spotlights personal accomplishments but even he wanted Gronk to get this one; Players are happy they get to play at home throughout the playoffs; Belichick is the first NFL coach to win 13 or more games five times; Julian Edelman was back on D Sunday; Patrick Chung and Brandon Spikes returned to the field.
  • Shalise Manza Young Patriots Notebook: Bill O'Brien might be interviewed for a head coaching position in the NFL and at Penn State; Wes Welker is the second player in NFL history to record two seasons of 120 catches or more (Cris Carter is the other); Welker finished only three receptions shy of Troy Brown's team record of 557; and More.
  • Mike Reiss gives us his three up and three down for the Patriots.
  • Dan Duggan gives us the Best and Worst of Bills vs. Patriots.
  • Mary Paoletti offers her Best & Worst of Patriots-Bills.