Sunday, April 20, 2014
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.
Before we get into some other stuff, here's something to consider:
The Patriots have the chance to clinch the AFC East title Sunday with a win or tie against the Dolphins in Miami. That would be their fifth consecutive AFC East title and 11th in 12 years.
And consider this: in the 12 seasons that Tom Brady has been the team's starting quarterback, the Patriots have won those 11 division titles. The only year they didn't win it with him at the helm was in 2002, when New England slipped to 9-7 after winning the first of its three Super Bowl championships.
Pretty impressive, eh?
The Patriots lost tight end Rob Gronkowski for the season when he suffered a knee injury in Sunday's 27-26 win over Cleveland, but they can't afford to waste any time thinking about it.
They play the Miami Dolphins Sunday with a chance to clinch the AFC East championships for the fifth consecutive year, 10th time in 11 years.
Speaking to the media Tuesday, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said the team is already trying to figure out how to move on without Tom Brady's best offensive weapon.
"I just know that any time you lose a player like that or you can't use a player like that, you need to put your time into a few different things, and other people have to play different roles,'' said McDaniels. "You play offense a little differently, and we do have experience.''
The New England Patriots placed tight end Rob Gronkowski on the Injured Reserve Monday, ending his season after he took a hellacious hit to his right knee in Sunday's27-26 win over Cleveland.
Anyone who saw the play in which Browns defensive back T.J. Ward tackled Gronkowski with a low hit knew this move was coming. Gronkowski had just caught a pass in the left seam and planted his right foot when Ward hit him.
Gronkowski immediately slammed his right fist into the turf. He had to be carted off the field.
The Patriots have withstood season-ending injuries to defensive players Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly, as well as right offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer to still put together a 10-3 record. Five of those wins have been fourth-quarter comebacks, including Sunday's in which the Patriots wiped out a 12-point deficit in the final two minutes.
While there was plenty to be happy about Sunday at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots weren't necessarily in a celebrating mood.
They once again came back from a big deficit to earn an implausible victory, this time scoring two touchdowns in the final 61 seconds - sandwiched around a successful onside kick - to beat the Cleveland Browns 27-26.
Tom Brady threw for over 400 yards. Shane Vereen became only the fourth back in the last 10 years to have over 150 receiving yards.
But all of this was tempered by the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski. He was injured midway through the third quarter when Cleveland's T.J. Ward went low and hit him on the outside of the right knee after he made a catch for 21 yards.
The running back carosel is back for the New England Patriots.'
Stevan Ridley, who sat out last weeks' win in Houston after fumbling in three consecutive games, is active for today's game with the Cleveland Browns. And Brandon Bolden is out.
Bolden's inactive status is not injury-related. He was listed as having missed Friday's practice with something that was "not injury related.'' He had practiced all week previously.
Ridley, meanwhile, was on the sidelines last week, holding a football in his right hand. He remains the team's leading rusher with 576 yards, but has lost four fumbles on the season, two being returned for touchdowns.