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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/27/2011

ESPNBoston.com writes about the emotional postgame scene in the Patriots locker room on Sunday after the Patriots win over the Dolphins. Coach Bill Belichick presented Patriots CEO and Chairman Robert Kraft with the game ball in honor of his late wife Myra Kraft. Kraft was also presented with a framed picture of from the team, presented by Matt Light. "We all know how important this team is to you and your family," Light said in presenting the photo. "We know how important this season is. We know who it is dedicated to, and the lasting memory she left on each and every one of us. As a way for each guy in this locker room -- coaches and players -- to show that appreciation, we asked that a custom piece be done that really shows that dedication." After the presentation Kraft said, "Thank God for you guys because this has been the roughest period of my life. I'm blessed with four great sons, eight grandchildren, but having his team has been like an extended family. Every one of you I'm happy to have at my dinner table. You're something special. I hope she's smiling, I know she is. This means a great deal to me and my four sons and I thank you all."

Michael Whitmer of the Boston Globe writes about the erratic game that Devin McCourty turned in on Sunday against the Dolphins. Even though McCourty allowed Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall to have a big game, he also made one of the pivotal plays that allowed the Patriots to come back from a 17 point deficit. "That's life playing corner,'' McCourty said. "You make a play, then they come right back and they make a play. With the receivers in this league, they're able to make some plays, so it's back and forth every week." The interception was the first of the season for McCourty.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes about the progression of rookie running back Stevan Ridley through his first 16 NFL games. The third-round draft pick has gone from seldom seeing the field to having a team-high 13 carries for 64 yards in Sunday's comeback win over the Dolphins. This performance comes on the heels of an 11 carry 65 yard game against the Denver Broncos. "He's a big guy. I think he's a slashing type of runner," offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said of Ridley. "I think they all have unique talents that they bring to the position. He's just a guy that fits in pretty well at that position. He has a little bit of size and things like that. He's going to continue to improve and try to get better at the nuances of playing that position. That's a very, very difficult position to play as a rookie because you're involved in so many different things - running game, blitz pickup, the passing game, route running vs. zone, vs. man. There are so many things that go into playing that position and he's gotten better, but he has a long way to go."

Greg A Bedard of the Boston Globe writes about the Patriots ability to adjust to Miami's blitz heavy defense on Sunday and gives his weekly grades. In the first half, Miami blitzed on 14 of Tom Brady's 22 dropbacks including seven blitzes of six or more players. At halftime, Brady had completed just seven passes and had been sacked three times. The second half only saw Brady hurried one time on 17 blitzes. Even with the adjustments, the offensive line and secondary received some of the lowest grades while the running backs and special teams received the highest marks.

Peter Schranger of FoxSports.com gives his projections for the 2012 Pro Bowl teams. His AFC projections put seven Patriots players on the squad: Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Logan Mankins, Brian Waters and Andre Carter. Brady, Welker, Gronkowski, Waters and Mankins are all projected to be Pro Bowl starters. According to Schranger, "It's not often you see two tight ends from the same team represent a conference, but this one was a no-brainer. The two second-year players both had monster seasons, seemingly alternating to put the dagger into an opponent's heart every other week. There wasn't even another tight end worth consideration."

Christopher Price of WEEI.com writes about what is being considered the Patriots best signing in an offseason full of them, guard Brian Waters. In an offseason the saw high profile names like Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis come to the team, Waters has been the most consistent, starting all 15 games. Sunday saw the seventh different starting lineup for the offensive line this season with the one constant being Waters at right guard. "If you've been around here this year, the one thing that you should know -- and again, it goes to the depth of this football team, and the professionalism of this football team -- is, you never know when it's your turn," Waters said. "If you're dressed, you prepare all week. You've got to be prepared to play, no matter what position you're in, no matter where you are on the depth chart."

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