Patriots’ Kyle Arrington clamps down on Colts’ T.Y. Hilton
FOXBOROUGH — By most accounts, the Patriots have a true shutdown cornerback. In Sunday’s 45-7 win over the Colts in the AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium, an argument could be made that it was Kyle Arrington.
Blanketing T.Y. Hilton for most of the game, Arrington held the Colts’ top receiver to just one catch, for 36 yards. This, while covering a wideout who had 82 catches for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. In the Colts’ first two playoff games, Hilton had 10 catches for a team-leading 175 yards.
The Patriots have Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, new additions who no doubt have helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl for a record-tying eighth time. But the underrated Arrington drew the tough assignment on Sunday, and flourished.
He deflected the individual praise.
“It was a collective effort,” Arrington said. “[Safety Devin McCourty] was over the top a few times, and a couple times we had one-on-one matchups. The DBs in general did a great job today, proud of those guys.”
Hilton was targeted a team-high six times by Andrew Luck, so the Colts quarterback wasn’t shy about throwing at Arrington. But he did so without much success; the only catch Hilton had was a sideline grab on Indianapolis’s only touchdown drive. Arrington was flagged once for pass interference, a 10-yard penalty in the third quarter that he took issue with.
Usually it’s the other secondary starters who get the postgame media focus. This time, it was Arrington drawing the attention, much to the enjoyment of McCourty, Brandon Browner, Tavon Wilson, and Nate Ebner.
“Read ’em the stats! Read ’em the stats, Kyle!” McCourty shouted.
Arrington didn’t say much. The stats spoke for themselves.
For Hilton, he had seen this before. The Patriots held him to three catches for 24 meaningless yards in the teams’ regular-season meeting.
“[Patriots coach Bill Belichick] did the same thing, he had the same game plan. Arrington on me, McCourty over the top. They took away everything,” Hilton said. “They just doubled me, tripled me at times. They took me out of the game. They ran the same game plan, and it worked.”
Charges filed on Jets
Tampering charges were reportedly filed to the league office against the New York Jets over comments that Jets owner Woody Johnson made about Revis. During a press conference on Dec. 29 following the firing of head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, Johnson mentioned Revis, who spent the first six seasons of his NFL career (2007-12) with the Jets.
“Darrelle is a great player, and if I thought I could have gotten Darrelle for that, I would have taken him,” Johnson said, referring to the contract Revis signed with the Patriots in March. “It was our best judgment to do what we did. Darrelle’s a great player — I’d love for Darrelle to come back.”
It’s the final part of that comment that could bring some kind of disciplinary response from the NFL. According to league rules, “any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club’s player to that player’s agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of the anti-tampering policy.”
Following Johnson’s remarks, Belichick appeared on WEEI and said, “I would think that the league would look into those comments. I’m sure that’s something that they would look into.”
In a series of tweets after the press conference, the Jets quoted Johnson in an attempt to clarify his comments. “I misspoke today when I commented on Darrelle Revis,” Johnson was quoted as saying. “I would never interfere in the contractual relationship of a player with another team, and should not have used those words. I called Robert Kraft this afternoon to emphasize those points.”
Gray plays a bit
One of the pregame questions regarding Patriots personnel involved running back Jonas Gray, who torched the Colts for 201 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a 42-20 Week 11 win on Nov. 16 at Indianapolis. Gray hadn’t been seen much since, appearing in only four games and gaining 80 yards on 20 carries.
Gray was inactive in the playoff-opening win over Baltimore, leaving many to wonder if the Patriots would bench him again, or if he’d be in uniform, either because he’d be part of the game plan based on his previous game against the Colts, or the Patriots wanted them to think he was.
He was in uniform, but didn’t see the field on offense through three quarters. Gray was part of the Patriots kickoff team, and with the team scoring 45 points and kicking off often, he was kept busy on special teams.
With the game firmly in hand, Gray checked in midway through the fourth quarter and gained 1 yard on two carries. He finished with 4 yards on four carries.
Instead, LeGarrette Blount did all the heavy lifting, rushing 30 times for 148 yards and three touchdowns.
Chris Jones inactive
Even though he was listed as probable to play, Chris Jones was seen wearing a brace on his injured elbow before last week’s practices. When fellow defensive tackle Joe Vellano was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, it was an additional sign that Jones might not be healthy enough to play.
Turns out, he wasn’t. Jones was inactive against the Colts, the first game he’s missed since the season opener. Vellano, who started the opener and played in the next four games before being released and signed to the practice squad, saw spot duty at defensive tackle in the first half when Sealver Siliga briefly left with a foot injury.
Receiver Brian Tyms missed his first game since completing a four-game suspension and joining the active roster in time for the Week 6 game at Buffalo. Tyms, who had only five catches in the regular season and none in the playoff opener, was a healthy scratch.
The other inactives were rookie running back James White, rookie defensive lineman Zach Moore, receiver Josh Boyce, and offensive linemen Bryan Stork and Jordan Devey. Stork was the only player the Patriots ruled out on Friday after missing all three practices with a knee injury he suffered a week ago against the Ravens.
Lodish is matched
Move over, Mike Lodish, because you’re about to have company.
Who’s Mike Lodish, and why is he relevant? Lodish was a defensive tackle who spent 11 mostly obscure seasons in the NFL, mostly as a reserve. But he played on successful teams in Buffalo and Denver, and is the only player in league history to have played in six Super Bowls. Lodish was on the losing side in his first four appearances (Bills, 1990-93 seasons), then won Super Bowls with the Broncos after the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
With six appearances in the Super Bowl, Lodish has stood alone for 16 years. No longer. With Sunday’s win over the Colts, and barring something completely unexpected, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will play in his sixth Super Bowl. He has started the previous five, won three, and was the MVP of Super Bowls XXXVI (20-17 win over the Rams) and XXXVIII (32-29 win over the Panthers).
The Patriots managed to get through Sunday’s game without suffering any apparent major injuries. Revis left the game for five plays in the first quarter after assisting on a tackle of a scrambling Luck, but came back in on the same series. Julian Edelman suffered a hip injury while making a sliding catch along the Colts sideline. Edelman walked with members of the medical team to the locker room, came back to the sideline on the same drive, and returned to the game on the next offensive series. Siliga returned after his foot injury in the second quarter . . . After enjoying a time of possession advantage of nearly nine minutes in the regular-season game at Indianapolis, the Patriots enjoyed an even bigger edge with the ball this time. They held it for 37:49, compared to 22:11 for the Colts.
Honorary captains Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, and Troy Brown all exchanged pregame embraces with Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri; they were all teammates when the Patriots won three Super Bowls in a four-season span. Vinatieri served as one of the Colts captains, called heads, and saw the coin toss come up tails. The Patriots won the toss for the 14th time in 18 games this season, deferred their option to the second half (as usual), and kicked off to the Colts to start the game . . . With a 7-yard completion to Edelman in the first quarter, Brady reclaimed the NFL’s record for career playoff passing yardage. Brady had it after last week’s win over Baltimore, but then Peyton Manning inched past him in Denver’s loss. After 226 yards against the Colts, Brady now has 7,017 passing yards in 28 playoff games . . . Stephen Gostkowski became the 11th player in NFL history with at least 20 postseason field goals . . . The NFL Man of the Year finalists are Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, and Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. McCourty was the Patriots’ nominee.