Patriots Notebook

An unassisted triple play

Bodden’s picks highlight the day

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 23, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - It seemed like Leigh Bodden was wearing a magnet yesterday. No matter where he was on the field, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez found the Patriot cornerback.

Bodden had franchise record-tying three interceptions, returning the first for a touchdown. It was the ninth time a Patriot recorded three picks in a game, the first since Asante Samuel turned the trick against the Bears in 2006.

In a couple of instances Bodden was in the right place on a bad throw and on another he made a nifty move to snag a Sanchez offering. In preparing for the Jets, Bodden said he was able to tell some of Sanchez’s tendencies.

“We actually look at turnovers every week on Saturday,’’ Bodden said. “He’s thrown some balls to guys and we definitely knew we could probably get some of those [yesterday]. We just had to catch them. That’s what one of my old coaches said, ‘You just gotta catch the ones they throw to you’ and we did [yesterday.]’’

Bodden returned his first interception 53 yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

“To be honest with you man, I don’t what was up with that,’’ said Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, who also picked off Sanchez. “Leigh had a great day . . . He watched a lot of film this week and it showed.’’

Toeing the line
The Patriots offensive line was playing a game within a game yesterday. The group already was thin with tackle Matt Light (knee) and guard Stephen Neal (head) inactive. Dan Connolly received his first career start, stepping in at guard in place of Neal. Light has missed several games with rookie Sebastian Vollmer drawing praise for how he has filled in. But yesterday Vollmer sat out part of the first half with a head injury.

While he was out, Mark LeVoir subbed in at left tackle. LeVoir spent most of the season on the physically unable to perform list with a shoulder injury but was activated in October. When LeVoir wasn’t in at tackle, he checked in at tight end.

“You just prepare as if you’re playing the whole game,’’ said LeVoir, who recovered a fumble and put a big hit on Donald Strickland, knocking the Jets cornerback out of the game. “On the sideline, you stay in tune to what plays are being called and what adjustments they make so that if something unfortunate were to happen, you could just step in. It’s just a lot of mental reps.’’

Vollmer returned to start the third quarter. The Patriots line looked like it could be down another player when Nick Kaczur was caught in a pile after quarterback Tom Brady was sacked toward the end of the second quarter. Kaczur managed to shake off the injury and stayed in the game.

“They take their job to heart and want to come out and do good for the better of the team,’’ center Dan Koppen said. “We had some guys really toughing through some things and hats off to them.’’

Running back Kevin Faulk was also impressed.

“They were there to keep us in the game and hold their own,’’ Faulk said. “That’s what they’re here for. Coach [Bill Belichick] always says he doesn’t keep guys here that he doesn’t believe can do the job when another guy goes down.’’

Not so special
The special teams had a couple of uncharacteristic miscues. With 50 seconds left in the second quarter, Eric Smith blocked Chris Hanson’s punt, allowing Brad Smith to recover the ball and run 4 yards for a touchdown. The Jets were the last team to block a punt and return it for a touchdown against the Patriots in 2007. Hanson was the punter then, too.

Hanson said he will have to watch the film to see exactly what happened on the block.

“It was just a play that we didn’t execute and we’ll go back and look at film,’’ he said.

Hanson had five punts for 201 yards, averaging 40.2 a punt. He said he didn’t make many adjustments after the block.

“You try not to let that affect you,’’ Hanson said. “You just keep trying to do your same routine and your same thing and go from there. I think the guys for the most part did a real good job in that area [yesterday] compared to the first game.’’

The NFL chastised, but did not fine, Patriots security director Mark Briggs for throwing an NBC cameraman to the ground following the Patriots’ loss to the Colts. Briggs “received a letter of reprimand,’’ and the NFL “reminded our network partners to make sure their personnel follow the proper procedures,’’ the source said. The second part of that statement makes it clear the NFL placed part of the blame for the incident on the cameraman.

Following the 35-34 loss against the Colts, Briggs was escorting Belichick off the field when he forced down an NBC cameraman running beside Belichick.

Brady rolls along
Brady completed 28 of 41 passes 310 yards, breaking the 300-yard mark for the fifth straight game and sixth time this season. It is the longest streak in team history. The NFL record is six, owned by Steve Young (1998), Kurt Warner (2000), and Rich Gannon (2002). The game also pushed Brady to 3,049 yards for the season, tying Drew Bledsoe for the most 3,000-yard seasons in franchise history with seven. He needs 163 more passing yards to pass Bledsoe (29,495) in Patriot history. The victory was Brady’s 21st straight at home, including the postseason. His home record of 60-10 is the best since the NFL merger in 1970 . . . The Patriots took two delay of game penalties, which seemed to frustrate Brady. “I can see [the clock] go down and I put my head down with one [second] to snap it and I just think I’m getting that off. We typically go down pretty late in the count a lot of the time, but [the official] was pretty quick on that whistle today, which was unfortunate,’’ said Brady . . . Cornerback Shawn Springs was inactive for the second consecutive week. Springs was listed as probable on the practice/injury report with a knee injury but participated in full practice all week. Receiver Sam Aiken, who injured his hip against the Colts, also was inactive. He was seen before the game testing out his hip on the field. Other inactives included linebacker Rob Ninkovich, Neal, Light, defensive lineman Jarvis Green and running backs Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor. Junior Seau also did not play for the third straight game . . . Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski earned his 19th touchback of the season, a career-best and most for a Patriot since 1990 . . . Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain had two sacks, improving his team-best total to five.

Adam Kilgore of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Monique Walker can be reached at

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