Patriots notebook

Thomas fined $5,000 by NFL

Linebacker will appeal penalty for Edwards hit

By Monique Walker and Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / September 19, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - Linebacker Adalius Thomas isn’t sure what he could have done to avoid the roughing-the-passer penalty that resulted in a $5,000 fine issued by the NFL yesterday.

In the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 25-24 victory Monday over Buffalo, Thomas wrapped Bills quarterback Trent Edwards before bringing him to the ground. Thomas was flagged for roughing the passer, and yesterday he received a letter from the league citing he had been fined for slamming Edwards to the ground after the whistle was blown.

“It is what it is. I’ll appeal it and just go from there,’’ Thomas said. “I don’t know, either you got to have a fast whistle or the guy is going to get taken to the ground. I didn’t think I slammed him to the ground, nothing like that. Right before I got ready to swing him down or whatever or tackle him, my feet are off the ground and I’m on his back kind of.

“You don’t really know what to do. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do you let the guy go and let him throw the ball? He is a tough guy then.’’

The Bills had first and 10 at the New England 26 with 7:39 remaining. Thomas sacked Edwards at the 36, but the penalty gave the Bills a fresh set of downs at the 21. Five plays later, Edwards completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Fred Jackson that gave the Bills a 23-13 lead with 5:32 left.

Thomas said he didn’t hear the whistle, and wanted to prevent Edwards from scrambling to keep the play alive. A similar scenario unfolded in 2006 between the Giants and Titans, when Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka let go of Titans quarterback Vince Young while he was in his grasp on fourth down. Young scrambled for a first down to sustain the winning drive.

“Right, you’ve seen Ben Roethlisberger do it all the time,’’ said Thomas. “They have him wrapped up and then he runs out of there because everybody is scared to get a fine. I can’t play like that, so, like I said, I didn’t do anything intentional. I didn’t hear the whistle, so as far as I knew the play was still going. The next thing I knew, I got hit with a flag.’’

Fancy footwork
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski came up with the first fumble recovery of his career Monday when he charged into a pile of players and came away with the ball after Pierre Woods and Brandon Meriweather teamed up to force Buffalo’s Leodis McKelvin to fumble a kickoff return with two minutes left.

“I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and came out with it in the end,’’ Gostkowski said. “It was probably the most exciting play that I’ve ever been a part of in football because I’ve never heard a crowd go that crazy after a play that I’ve been a part of. So it was a neat experience.’’

The play set up Tom Brady to lead the Patriots on the winning touchdown drive.

Gostkowski missed his first field goal attempt of the season, from 41 yards in the first quarter, but came back to convert from 20 and 28 yards.

“I was upset that I missed my first kick,’’ Gostkowski said. “I’ve missed before and I’m sure I’ll miss again, but I was just upset that it was the first one of the year. You try to get off to a good start. You have to have a short memory and move on to the next kick.

“I feel like I’m going to help this team a lot more than I’m going to hurt it, and that’s the attitude I have to have, especially going into the next game.’’

Tomorrow’s venue, Giants Stadium, will be a much tougher environment in which to kick.

“I haven’t really had a game there where it’s been super windy like a Buffalo game, but there is always some sort of wind swirling in and out of there and it’s just a matter of getting out there early enough to get a feel for it,’’ Gostkowski said. “It’s windy in every stadium. It’s just getting a feel for what it’s doing to the ball.’’

Pain stakes
The Patriots have a number of players listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game: Wide receivers Wes Welker (knee) and Matt Slater (elbow), center Dan Connolly (back), guard Stephen Neal (back), linebacker Rob Ninkovich (calf), defensive lineman Myron Pryor (calf), and cornerback Terrence Wheatley (knee). Thomas (foot) and Brady (right shoulder) were listed as probable . . . Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins (back) is questionable for the Jets.

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