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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Patriots beat the storm, get home safely

Hundreds of flights in and out of Logan Airport were scrapped Monday because of Hurricane Sandy. The Patriots were on one of the lucky ones that landed, touching down just before noon.

Initial plans called for the team to leave London later in the day, but in an attempt to beat the storm, the flight out of Heathrow was bumped up.

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It took a while for the plane to be cleared for takeoff, and some early reports had the flight’s destination unknown, even after it left London.

It landed at Logan late Monday morning, bringing the team back safely following a 45-7 win over the Rams Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

“Back in Boston it was a good trip!” offensive lineman Donald Thomas tweeted upon arrival.

With the team enjoying its bye this week, expect the Patriots to have a light practice load, then be given an extended weekend away from football.

Rookies alert

Once again the Patriots started four rookies on defense, but Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Tavon Wilson, and Alfonzo Dennard came up big. Jones had a sack (his team-high sixth), and Wilson and Dennard both had interceptions.

“Guys are weathering the storm, those young guys,” linebacker Jerod Mayo said.

“We always talk about ignoring the noise, but sometimes you can’t help but hear it. I think this game was a stepping-stone for people to grow. People can continue to get better. We feel if we can put a couple of things together, we can be a pretty dangerous team.”

Another defensive veteran, Vince Wilfork, said he saw signs of improvement last week, when the defense gave up 328 passing yards to Mark Sanchez in an overtime home win against the Jets.

“But I saw guys in that game being physical, using their hands, and sometimes being called for pass interference,” Wilfork said. “But it didn’t discourage them from doing what we wanted to do. We always talk about when the ball is in air, think of it as ours. They made those plays today.

“Everything is not going to be perfect. It’s football, nothing is perfect. We are definitely learning. We are still learning.

“But we are going to continue to play better. We try to get better each weekend, and hopefully this team will be a special team.”

Lionhearted

With two more touchdowns on Sunday, tight end Rob Gronkowski now has 35 in his career, which is only in its third season. The NFL record for touchdowns by a player over his first three years is 47, held by Barry Sanders. Gronkowski has 34 receiving touchdowns; the record for touchdown receptions by a player in the first three seasons is 43 by Randy Moss . . . Thanks to 304 more passing yards, Tom Brady is averaging 250 per game for his career, just the fifth quarterback who can say that. The others? Drew Brees (267.7), Peyton Manning (264.7), Kurt Warner (260.8), and Dan Marino (253.6) . . . Wilson’s third interception matched the number he had in college at Illinois.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.
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